30 May 2007

The Allure of Kings

In 1689, British Parliament "hired" William & Mary to be king and queen of England. John Locke, a good buddy of Isaac Newton's, was the apologist for this Glorious Revolution and came over from Holland with Queen Mary. The brilliant and rather infectious idea behind this scheme of Parliament was simple but powerful: have a constitutional rather than absolute monarchy.

In an absolute monarchy, the monarch was the ultimate authority. In a constitutional monarchy, even the monarch is subject to the constitution. (And about a century later, the Americans decided that once a country had a constitution it had no need for a monarch.)

Still, some apparently yearn for the early days of one person's judgment trumping wearisome legal processes subject to appeals, delays, and confusion. How else to explain the fact that Americans now love Reagan, the man who decided that the constitution was too constraining and decided to launch a war without approval from congress, financed by illegally selling arms to Iran? Or the fact that Bush is still admired by about a third of Americans in spite of wiretapping proposals that John Ashcroft ruled unconstitutional? Or tacit approval of Bush's dismissal of constitutional rights in the Jose Padilla case?

There are plenty of Americans who would apparently love to simply vote in a monarch every 4 years and then let him have free reign.

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Jami Floyd of Court TV describes the sad condition of Jose Padilla and the even sadder condition of the legal process here.
"Padilla was held without charge for years as an enemy combatant. Padilla's lawyers have said that, as a result of his isolation and interrogation, their client is so mentally damaged that he is unable to assist in his own defense. He is so passive now, they say, so fearful that he is 'like a piece of furniture.'"

Alex Whalen writes about the illegality of the wiretapping program Bush was pushing for over the top of Ashcroft's sick body here.
"Amazingly, the President's own political appointees -- the two top Justice Department officials, including one (Ashcroft) who was known for his 'aggressive' use of law enforcement powers in the name of fighting terrorism and at the expense of civil liberties -- were so convinced of its illegality that they refused to certify it and were preparing, along with numerous other top DOJ officials, to resign en masse once they learned that the program would continue notwithstanding the President's knowledge that it was illegal."

7 comments:

Chrlane said...

And where did this wire-tapping technology come from? From whose science? And what are your solutions? It's easy to criticize.

Power is something most people are unable to handle, because our instincts are confused. I think once we have a degree of success, we become more interested in perpetuating it than we do in continuing to earn it.

You play many roles, and leave people guessing about what your true assertions are. I understand the reasons behind this tactic, but you must realize that in the long run, you lose credibility. In the end, it is all you, all of it is who you are. There is no longer any border between the absurd and the plausible.

If this frustrates you, then you must also realize that these criticisms you hand out so liberally are diluted by these questionable activities. You must take responsibility for this, and not blame others for your frustrations.

And acquisition is something which must always be balanced with civil liberties if corruption is to be washed down to a sustainable level. In the end, ethical business practices are the greatest form of selfishness there is.

Also, we may disdain the sore-footed waitress, but I've heard it said she has the power to spit in our food if we're an habitual bad tipper. I would never do that to my worst enemy, but then again, I have no class, right, Ron?

Damon said...

Charlane. Noticed some 'tension' on your comments towards Ron. Out of curiosity, what brings that to bear?

Because hey, we all think he's a bit off his rocker so we don't really take all that much offense to his blatherings.

It's sort of his "schtik" if you know what I mean.

So let it out. Whats up?

Chrlane said...

So far as addressing your post, when our conditioning is such that we value falsely, because our instincts are from a tender age, tainted, this problem of corruption becomes increasingly pronounced. It is perhaps more a symptom of our stage in evolution than anything. But it does not hurt to be aware of this.

It is evident to me that all systems will suffer from corruption after a certain point. It is the nature of evolution; decay sets in in order to create a fertile base for renewal.

On a unique level, we have the power to take a breather and introspect, and make changes to the psyche which can revolve our behaviors to a more viable model.

When groups are concerned, this process is hindered by competing egos. Even if a leader of merit should find his rightful position despite corruption around him, his voice would be stifled by the egos of those who vie for his position. In a system where such a person is increasingly rare, this becomes a significant obstacle.

And so, perhaps a constitutional monarchy would be more honest than Bush's continued vetoing of those around him, although it is painfully obvious that he is ultimately doing what his advisers are telling him to do.

Ultimately, I have no preference for either form of government. It is the benchmarks of power that I question; the things we place in high value in Western society. Much of it strikes me as dated. Trying to explain this to someone whose entire existence is wrapped around the acquisition of these items, without first having them walk in my shoes, is a weighty task, though. I am not trying to be this way, it's honestly the only way I can see that makes any sense at all, and I often find it burdensome.

Chrlane said...

Damon, I suppose I am also off my rocker, but it's MY rocker. I don't go sit one someone else's rocker and poke them in the eye with my "shtick" until they have a nervous breakdown, insisting they deserve to have one if they find the behavior offensive.

Sorry if that sounds unreasonable, but that's it in a nutshell. If he's going to pay attention to me, he should just be nice.

Dave said...

Hope this comment finds you well Ron.

Chrlane said...

Nice try.

ThomasLB said...

I think one solution would be to move beyond a two-party system. If there were half a dozen parties and presidents were forced to form coalitions and alliances, I think we'd have less of "I am the decider!" and more cooperation.