Thursday, October 11, 2007

This I believe - an open letter to Congress

There's a scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy is in a castle on the Austrian/German border. He looks over the edge of a balcony, down upon a secret German command center. Sighing, he pulls his head back and says to his companion, "Nazis! I really hate these guys."

President Bush, demanding "flexibility" in the pursuit of suspected terrorists, insisted Wednesday he would not sign a new domestic spying bill if it unduly limits the administration's authority to eavesdrop without warrants. (emphasis mine)

Sigh. George W. Bush and his cronies! I really hate these guys.

As an American, and as an American who has spent his life (and nearly lost it more than once) defending this nation, I am outraged. This is not hyperbole, I am truly filled with rage at this statement. I will NOT tolerate this kind of behavior from the elected leader of the United States. Every American should be outraged. If you do not immediately see why this is statement is unconstitutional, if you can not immediately see why this statement is the very epitome of tyranny, then you need to educate yourself. Stop reading this blog now, right now, and go read the United States Constitution. Read Every Word. Read it again and again until you understand it in your bones. Read the Declaration of Independence. Read the Federalist Papers. Read them out loud, you can hear the power, the sheer raw power, of the words. Read these documents until you understand that they are not just words, but ideals. Read these documents until you understand that those ideals are the single greatest achievement of the human race. Read them until you understand that these ideals are a sacred trust of every single American. Go do it, I'll wait.

As I may have mentioned elsewhere, I believe in the Constitution. I believe in the principles that this country was founded on. I believe in it so much, that I was willing to give most of my adult life in defense of those ideals. And to be perfectly blunt about it, I have come to the reluctant conclusion that the current administration is more, far more, of a threat to those principles than King George III, the Confederacy, Hitler, Hirohito, Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy, or that bearded pissant Osama Bin Laden ever was.

The wise and brilliant men who founded this country, those men who fought a bloody war against tyranny and oppression, those men who agonized over the drafting of the Constitution, had one burning concern above all others - that no one man, would ever again have unlimited power over his fellows. They rightly feared the power of government, even as they struggled to build a new government of their own, the likes of which had never been seen before in the history of mankind - a nation founded on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all of it's citizens, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people - Not a government TO the people like some blood spattered jackboot on the throat of it's citizens. A nation founded on ideals so powerful, so true, so pure, that over time they would change the very fabric of that nation and her people, all of her people, and indeed the whole world itself. Those words are powerful. The sheer force and beauty of those words have rung like a bell throughout the last two hundred and thirty one years of human history. For over two centuries, those words have flared like a brilliant unwavering beacon and inspired literally billions of people worldwide to risk their very lives and all they hold dear in pursuit of the ideals those words embody. There was a time, not so long ago, when millions came to shores of America, the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of distant teeming shores. They came because they believed in those words, because they saw the beacon of liberty and freedom burning in the wine dark sky, because they knew in their heart of hearts that America was the land of a free and brave people. They knew that America was a land where no one man would ever hold capricious and arbitrary power over their children again. That is why they came. There was a time, not so long ago, when other nations yearned to be like America, there were revolutions in Europe, in France especially, inspired by the 'noble experiment' that was America. There was a time, not so long ago, where America rode into the valley of death and sacrificed her children to free the peoples of Cuba, Europe, and Asia from injustice and tyranny and holocaust and they were welcomed with tears of joy. There was a time, not so long ago, when the name, America, inspired awe and hope among the oppressed peoples of the world, and struck utter abject fear in the hearts of tyrants, kings, despots, and dictators. There was a time, not so long ago, when Americans could be proud of their nation, their government, themselves.

No longer.

I believe, believe more strongly than anything I have ever believed in, that our great republic is truly in peril. More so now, under this simpering, lying, paranoid, smirking, childish, power mad, insane tyrant of a president, that America the Ideal is in great jeopardy. When a people become ashamed of their own nation, that nation is most surely in imminent peril. I truly believe that we, America, stand upon a precipice, and that we are sliding faster and faster into the dark festering depths of tyranny - the very thing that our founders feared above all else. The very thing that they warned us, their descendants, of over and over again. This is how it always ends, this is how all the great republics of history have died.

But it does not have to be this way.

A great man, a brilliant and wise man, Edmund Burke, once said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing," or words to that effect.

Congress, you are the elected representatives of America. You, you, represent all Americans, every single one - not just those who voted for you, not just those who gave you money and favors, not just those of your political party or your church or your country club - but every single man, women, and child in the United States. You carry on your shoulders the weight of history, past and future, you are the guardians of Democracy, Liberty, Freedom, Duty, Country, and the hopes and dreams of all those multitudes who gave their own lives for the last two hundred and thirty one years because they believed in the ideal that is America. It is your sworn and sacred duty to preserve this nation, to defend with your lives if necessary the principles of the Constitution. And you have been betrayed, all of you, all of us. This is a moment in history that will always be remembered, just as Julius Caesar's betrayal of the Roman Republic is remembered. You must stand together, you must hold, you must not waver, you must prevail - or this nation will indeed perish from the Earth. Republicans, Democrats, Independents it does not matter, party be dammed we have all been betrayed, you represent all of us - you, all of you, are the check that holds tyranny at bay. I implore you, don't give in to this evil, this President who has no intention of sharing power with you. This president who has made Americans afraid in their own country, who has made Americans ashamed of their own nation and identity. He casts aside those who displease him, those who don't knuckle under to his insane Orwellian vision of America. Only you can stand against him. Now is the time, right now, for good or ill history will remember what you do in this moment. Use the power of the Constitution, stand together as Americans and fight, Goddammit!

From the Declaration of Independence: "...Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..." Hear me, Congress, I do not consent. I DO NOT CONSENT. I. DO. NOT. CONSENT! I refuse to give up my rights. I refuse to go quietly into darkness and tyranny. I refuse to see the Republic perish because good men did nothing. I DO NOT CONSENT!

The president is not a king, he is not Caesar, unless you, good men and women, do nothing.


  1. Amen, brother.

    I don't have time today to do more than agree with you, as I am forced to earn a living today rather than surf the Web.

    There are several good books out on this very topic, though - one in particular by Charlie Savage.

  2. Well, yes.

    That oath I swore so long ago keeps nagging at me. "I swear to uphold, protect, and defend the Constitution..." And then the voice says, "So, whatcha going to do about it, Buchheit."

    I call those that are elected (whatever their party). I sit on my local government. I do not keep quiet. And come the day, I will vote the bastards out. If they choose to refuse that vote, well, that's when the "against all enemies, foreign and domestic," part will come to the fore. At this point I think the process of the document still works (even if it's limping badly). So I can work the process to heal her up.

    On the "just rhetoric" note, for these idiots it comes down to which direction you think rights flow, either toward the Constition, or from it. I'm of the former camp. I am human, I have my rights. I accept a government for the betterment of myself and fellow citizens (and I mean that word), so I relinquish some basic rights (blood debt, for example). But I hold those rights, nobody gave them to me, they are mine. These idiots in office feel that rights flow from the Constitution. That if the Constitution doesn't render the rights to the citizens (here they really mean subjects) the government reserves those rights (like the right to privacy). I say they are wrong, with every ounce of my being.

  3. Steve and Janiece, thank you both for your words.

    I meant it when I said "an open letter to Congress." I am in the process of emailing this (slightly cleaned up) to every Senator and Representative I can find addresses for. Earlier today, I snail mailed a copy of this, and a cover letter of thanks, to former President Jimmy Carter via the Carter Center.

    If I suddenly disappear, well you know what happened.

  4. You're not allowed to be "disappeared." I require my dancing monkeys to maintain some semblance of consistency in their efforts to amuse me. A stretch in Gitmo would not be conducive to my amusement.


    Having said that, I've been on the Steve Buchheit Letter Writing Campaign from Hell for a number of years now. No one's taken me away. Or perhaps I'm just not worth the trouble.

  5. Good luck.

    I posted a link to it from my blog (small as my own audience is).

  6. As a public service, when you contact your Senator or Reps by phone, if they are not available, you can leave a message. However, especially if you're attempting to change their mind/vote/perception, you can ask to speak with the person who advises them on such issues. Most national office holders have a good staff, and rely on their opinions about issues and bills (as the staff does the actual reading of the bills and the position papers, etc). If you can convince the advisor of your position, they can convince the representative. If they have scrupples, they will at least temper their advice with, "I've also talked with constituants that believe (whatever you talked about)."

  7. I agree fully with your post Jim and your comments Steve. I've always thought I would be the first against the wall when the Empire was born, at least now I know I won't be alone.

  8. Thanks for the advice about phone calls, Steve. I'll keep it in mind if I need to go that route. Right now I'm doing the email/snail mail thing. Not that I expect it to do any good, but I just can't sit by and watch the nation I defended for so long go down the shitter like this.

    Damn, this whole issue just pisses me off. I was a Navy IO Officer, I actually used to have an office in the Ken B. Rowlett building (better known as NSA OPS 3) at Ft Meade. From the first day I joined the service, we had one thing pounded into our heads over and over and over again - we DON'T monitor our own citizens, at home or overseas, period. We are the Department of Defense, not law enforcement, the Constitution and USC Code 10 forbid this under penalty of law. You will go to Leavenworth, period. If, as required by officially identified threat to national security, you are put in a position to monitor Americans or their allies - you will have in hand, signed by proper authority, authorization from the FISA court. No exceptions. Ever.

    I have to wonder what's going to happen to these kids, the ones in uniform, put in a position to break the law, when it all comes apart? Will they be the ones who are held accountable? Just like Abu Garrib, I will bet you even money that no officer, and no senior civilian in the Bush administration will go to prison. But those kids will be held accountable, you just watch if they aren't. Goddammit, we cannot get this asshole out of office fast enough. Don't they teach the Constitution in Texas? This jackass was supposedly a commissioned officer in the Air National Guard, he once swore an oath to the Constitution, but as his actions have shown for the last 7 years, hell, his whole dammed life, his sworn word means exactly jack shit. Argh!

    Ken, thanks for the thought and welcome to Stonekettle Station. One thing though, I have no intention of going to the wall - I figure I'll end up small and wizened, slightly greenish, and living in the swamps of Dagobah. Promoting revolution in the voice of Fozzy Bear.

  9. Hi Jim,
    I've only recently found your blog, and have gone back to read it from the start. I just came across this post, and it has struck home, hard.

    We have a leading candidate for the position of President of the United States who wants to lock up citizens of the United States because of their religion. And I swear on everything I believe in, the day that happens I will start tearing down his concentration camps with my own damned hands, because I am not going to let that happen to my country. This blowhard with his narcissm and demagoguery will not destroy my country. I am not going to abandon this land. I am not going to allow this egomaniacal paranoid turn my country into a Fascist state.

    Reading your post, I suspect you feel the same way. I'm relieved to know I'm not alone.


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