Requiem, USA
By John Brand, D.Min., J.D. Columnist (US)

The Constitution is under assault!
The Great Wall of China was breached not by invading hordes of terrorists but by betrayal from within. The threat to freedom is not the work of al-Qaeda, terrorists of any stripe -- Israeli, Muslims, whatever -- or a North Korean dictator. The attack has been launched from within the bastion of America by self-proclaiming loyalists to our Constitution. But they lie!
Super patriots, in response to this article, will raise high the flag and jeer "America - love it or leave it." But 30 second propagandistic slogans won't cut the mustard. The noose is being drawn ever tighter around the nation that no longer has a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people." Demagogues invading our living rooms via T.V. avow commitment to "freedom" and "democracy." But their empty words are devoid of evidence that they believe in Constitutional governance.
Flag waving, supercilious morality, display of military might, claims that the economy is healthy and well do not stop the spread of the deadly cancer. Its poisonous tentacles have metastasized throughout the nation's life-stream.
Do we embrace a Constitutional government based upon checks and balances? Are we willing to grant to everyone the protection of the Articles of the Bill of Rights? Is Valley Forge engraved in our hearts?
The answer, from all present evidence, is a resounding, "NO!"
While the propaganda machine turns out lofty-sounding slogans, the death squad is busy strangling America's soul. "Compassionate Conservatism" is the banner of the skull and bones society numbing our citizens into a state of insensitivity. "Leave no Child Behind" is the opiate deadening the soul of our nation to the real needs of our children. "No more taxes" is the venom destroying the infra-structure of our nation.
The ruling cabal makes a joke of Jefferson's words, "The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government." Today's conspirators against freedom elevate stone-cold, heartless, inhumane corporations to the position of the ultimate god. Everything is being sacrificed -- people, freedom, the Bill of Rights -- at the altar of the new god, "P and P," profit and power.
The conspiracy against America has fired three torpedoes sinking the ship of state. The missiles are not fired by the dispossessed, the disenfranchised, the disillusioned. The powerful, the controlling, the ruling have their trigger fingers on the red button unleashing the fury of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: the conquering imposter, war, starvation and death.
These, then, are the three destroyers of the founding fathers' dream for a government of justice, equity, and equal protection under the law.
Under the guise of a petty moralistic agenda, America's soul has been sucked dry by religious charlatans. Let's face facts. Many of our leaders in the past have been involved in immoral acts. It is no secret that FDR had a mistress. It was rumored that Ike had a mistress while he was Commanding General, ETO. There is little doubt that LBJ stole the election when he first became a United States Senator. JFK certainly had a number of liaisons.
But none of these private immoral acts caused these men to act immorally when it came to the interest and the welfare of America. FDR took over a nation in despair. He brought self-respect and hope to millions. Ike had a deep respect for Constitutional government and warned us of the nefarious union between big business and government.
LBJ's "Great Society" was more than a cheap slogan. He infused America with a sense of hope, of self-assurance, of prospects of a brighter tomorrow.
JFK, in spite of his indiscretions, instilled in America a spirit of confidence and hope. The emphasis was upon leveling the playing field to give the little people of our land a sense of self-respect and a feeling of participating in the great becoming of a great nation.
Now what have we got? A sense of a petty religiosity allowing self-righteous Pharisees to beat their chests bragging about their faith in God while pulling the noose ever tighter around America's soul. They preach of sin while neglecting the weightier matters of justice and mercy. They pretend to be pure and clean, bragging about their self-righteousness but within they are full of self-loathing and want to bind others to the death they sense in their own bones.
They give us a god who is small, divisive, parochial. They quote a few passages from the Bible and miss the splendor, the greatness, the mystery, the awe of God. They know little of love because they do not love themselves.
They know little of hope because they have no hope inside their entombed lives. They know little of faith because they have reduced faith to petty legalisms.
And millions, reduced to dryness and emptiness in their lives, respond to the shallow emotionalism of these religious charlatans and yet find little joy, little hope, little light. Their selfhood does not rest within themselves. These supposedly Christian preachers teach their followers to compare themselves to "sinners." But the "saints" are filled with judgment, condemnation, and hatred of all who do not follow their petty party line. In their hubris they fail to read and/or understand Matthew 23:15. "For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves."
Most of America does not understand that there are personal immoral acts and the scandalous iniquities of a social nature. While much publicity may be given to the former, it is the latter that brings destruction and death to our society.
I am not defending any acts of immorality. However, social wrong-doings affect the entire nation. Let HMOs make a profit center out of health care and all the people suffer. Let industries pollute the atmosphere and all the people suffer. Let corporations buy the government and all the people suffer.
The inability to understand that crimes against society are far more serious than personal immoral acts is a fact that has escaped most religious fundamentalists and evangelicals.
To preach without applying Matthew 23 to the current political scene is to totally miss the substance of the biblical message.
Pharisaical religiosity is tearing a gaping hole in the soul of our nation. How deceived can we be to think that elimination of abortion, persecution of homosexuals, or considering a constitutional amendment about marriage, will solve the problems of the lack of social justice, economic righteousness, and political equity?
"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not what I tell you?" (Luke 6:46)
Today's self-styled, popular Christianity is destructive of the essential character needed to maintain constitutional government. A self-serving, dogmatic religiosity bears little resemblance to the biblical prophetic tradition.
The Founding Fathers realized that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The Constitution's unique political contribution was to create safeguards so that no one branch of the government could usurp the powers of the other two.
Present day politicians fired the second torpedo tearing a hole in the ship of state. Denigration of the constitutional surety to maintain a government of strictly separated powers is proceeding at a record pace. Freedom depends upon the strictest observation of checks and balances. However, an evil and devious coterie of political hacks has almost totally eliminated this major thrust of constitutional government.
No written words can guarantee compliance with the essential conditions needed for freedom. The genesis for their fulfillment rests in the minds and heartbeats of its citizens and leaders. Leaders can scream "democracy" and "freedom" from the tallest steeple in the land but if there is no personal commitment to safeguard constitutional balance, their voices are just so much hot air.
The torpedo tearing a monstrous hole into the sinking the ship of state is fired by potentates in all three branches of the government. That which was to be a guarantee against a government of tyranny is being torn apart and asunder. The Executive Branch is aided and abetted in this degenerate trickery by the other branches.
What psychological factors cause intelligent men and women to destroy the noblest of all governmental forms? The time for being nice and polite is past! The time to call a spade a spade has come. I found a terse description of the man or woman set upon America's destruction in the writings of Nietzsche. "What is this man? A mass of diseases that reach out into the world through the spirit; there they want to get their prey. What is this man? A coil of wild serpents that are seldom at peace among themselves - so they go forth apart and seek prey in the world." (Zarathustra, First Part, 6)
President Eisenhower in an address to The Guildhall, London, spoke these words, "Humility must always be the portion of any man who received acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends." The entire political apparatus is standing on the shoulders of the soldiers who gave their lives to preserve the dream of the Fathers. However, I see no evidence of humility. Bravado and conceit, narcissism and vanity are the platforms disgorging disrespect for the Constitution throughout America.
Whatever deceitful statements serve the purpose to pervert the separation of powers spews forth from the Oval Office. Whatever mendacity serves the purpose of the moment hits the morning headlines and the evening TV news. One moment we are told that Saddam was the power behind 9/11. Then the tune changes when it is discovered that no Iraqis were involved in that plot. The panic button of WMD was pushed one day. When it becomes obvious there were so such weapons, the tune changes again. Was it bad intelligence that prevented us from intercepting 9/11? Was it misinterpretation of sound intelligence causing the terror? Was it blatant disregard of intelligence causing the death of 3000 civilians? Or is the change simply due to arouse stark, naked fear in the land? If so, to what purpose?
In the midst of panic, the Executive Office forced passage of an act totally destroying the balance of powers. The Patriot Act became the law of the land. A servile Congress, stunned by 9/11, bowed and scraped before the President and with one fell swoop put a deadly dagger into the heart of the Bill of Rights.
Did we not have laws on the books to protect ourselves against those who seek to destroy us? If not, should we not pass laws that with stiletto precision would seek out and punish terrorists? But what bill did the Executive Branch present to Congress under the ostensible façade of protecting America from terrorists? A bill that gives the Attorney General such broad powers that no man or woman is safe from a personal vendetta!
Was there ever enacted a piece of legislation as destructive of liberty as the Patriot Act? With one fell swoop, all civil liberties are subject to erasure! The A.G. is given unilateral power to declare anyone he chooses to be a terrorist. No definition is given of what constitutes a terrorist. Is it someone with a truckload of fertilizer in his garage? Is it someone hiding dangerous biological or chemical weapons in his basement? Is it someone expressing ideas critical of the President? Is it someone writing, "Requiem, U.S.A?"
All interpretations are left to the single opinion of the A.G.
No standards are set. What devious mental attitude does it take for the highest law enforcement official in the land to promote a law placing dictatorial powers into his sole hands? No one accused of being a terrorist has a right to an attorney, a right to have charges read to him, a right to notify family of his whereabouts. For six months, the A.G. can keep the accused incommunicado. At the end of that period, the A.G. without further ado can aver that the individual continues to be a threat and extend the period of confinement for another six months. This procedure can be extended in six month increments until the person dies.
What if the A.G. has a physically disabling condition and in this state decides that someone he doesn't like is a terrorist? He has the authority, granted by a Congress oblivious of its obligation to maintain the balance of powers, to issue the order and make a person a non-person. What if in the absence of physical pain but having gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, the A.G. decides that someone with a point of view different from the official party line is a terrorist? Again, that person becomes a non-person. One fallible individual at his sole whim is given power to eliminate the Bill of Rights! If that is not sinking America's ship, then what is?
Congress has not gone back and wiped this Act off the books. Our Representatives could have said that under the emotional temper of the moment, they over-reacted. They could have replaced the Patriot Act with legislation reflecting the hopes and ideals of the Fathers while still protecting us from terrorists. However, they did not. This, to me, is evidence that the separation of powers is past history. Congress caved in to the demands of a President whose press secretary said that to disagree with the President is evidence of a lack of patriotism. I say to make such a statement is the ultimate hubris denying the Constitution.
A President who publicly acclaimed that he would be the President of all the people shamelessly appoints the most reactionary, dogmatic individuals to the courts of the land. These justices and judges are mere rubber stamps for the agenda destroying constitutional precepts. Our President nominates attorneys to the judiciary who pass a litmus test based upon nothing more than his own personal value system. That system embraces the agenda of the wolves in sheep's clothing.
What personal prejudices, what religious convictions are more powerful in the minds of those justices who place their personal agendas above the protection of the Bill of Rights? What more evidence of a lack of respect for the separation of powers is demonstrated when a Justice of the Supreme Court has a little tete-a-tete prior to hearing a case in which the Vice President has a personal interest? Even if they just went duck hunting or whatever, the impropriety screams to high heaven.
The denigration of the Constitutional separation of powers calls to mind a scene from T.S. Eliot's play, "Murder in the Cathedral." As the knights kill Thomas Becket, a symbolic vision of the cabal killing the Bill of Rights, the chorus cries out, "Clean the air! Clean the sky! Wash the wind! Take stone from stone and wash them. The land is foul, our beasts and ourselves defiled with blood. Every horror had its definition, every sorrow a kind of end: in life there is not time to grieve long. But this, this is out of life, this is out of time, an instant eternity of evil and wrong. We are soiled by a filth that we cannot clean, united to a supernatural vermin.Clear the air! Clean the sky! Wash the windwash the brain, wash the soulwash them wash them!"
The third torpedo tearing a gaping hole in the ship of state is fired by the beggars in velvet. You do remember the nursery song, "Hark, hark, the dogs do bark. The beggars are coming to town. Some in rags and some in tags and some in velvety gowns?" We can readily see images of beggars in rags and tags. But who are these beggars in velvet?
In our day, they are the executives sitting in walnut paneled offices, surrounded by accountants and lawyers devising ever more devious ways to steal money from the tax payers. Under the guise of "private enterprise," they are devoted disciples of Adam Smith.
I wonder how many Americans know that Adam Smith's conception about capitalism is built on two assumptions? The first one is that this particular system of economics must only appeal to the self-centered interests of the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. All other considerations are to be cast aside. Only what benefits the capitalist directly has any validity.
Then, I suppose, the good philosopher had some second thoughts about his ideas. Smith suggested that there is an "unseen hand" that will take care of all other concerns. The only problem with Smith's proposal is there is not now, never has been, and never will be such an unseen hand. The whole capitalistic system eventually evolves into a rip-off of the public.
When capital buys government, as it has done in recent years, the system becomes the playing field for the raptors. Our "representatives," for the most part, are merely highly paid hustlers for their masters.
Probably the worst of the predators are the defense contractors. When the union between them and government is reality, Constitutional governance is history. Remember, that is the ultimate chicanery we were warned about by Ike!
Of course, we need a defense department. Given the territorial imperative that guides most human actions, we must be ready to defend ourselves. The only question is the needed degree of the defense apparatus.
At present, we are spending 399 billions annually on defense. Of course, that figure must be placed into a meaningful context. If our present and expected enemies were to spend 1 trillion dollars, we would not be spending enough. However, Russia spends 63 billion, China 47, and the "Axis of Evil" a paltry 7 billion dollars annually. In addition to our 399 billions, our allies put another 225 billions into defense. So the totals stack up this way: 624 billions on our side and 117 billions on the other side.
Who in the world needs this kind of imbalance? Our side spends more than 5 times as much as our combined enemies! Somebody is feeding at the trough of public money. It is not the liberals. It is not the welfare mothers. It is not the poor. It is the fat cats who believe in Adam Smith. They are taking his advice seriously. They only think of their self-interest and leave it to the unseen hand to take care of all other issues.
No other economic theory is based upon such a stupid assumption.
It creates the beggars in velvet. Rich, influential, amoral folks who hold out their fat palms demanding that the public put ever more money into the bottomless pit of their greedy, self-justifying, irrational demands.
But the defense folks are not the only pigs feeding at the public trough. Can anyone count the economic and environmental disaster inflicted by automobile manufacturers who not only insist upon producing gas-guzzlers but prevail upon their Congressional minions to provide all sorts of tax incentives and relaxation of emission devices for their product? All this while our men and women are dying and sacrificing their lives over a non-renewable resource.
Who can count the misery pharmaceutical companies and HMOs are inflicting upon the poor and the middle-class in our society? What ruin and devastation is poured upon millions who are encouraged to max out their credit cards and then apply for new ones? Avaricious bankers, protected by Congress, reap profits from less than judicious folks who only respond to the President's plea to "spend, spend, spend." No unseen hand is here to protect them. Only cupidity and rapacity drive the system.
While capitalists are destroying the very system that gave them birth and life, their paid lackeys provide a paltry 34 billion dollars for education and a miserly two billions to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. This imbalance of funding denigrates the nation.
Kenneth Lay, Martha Stewart, .com executives, Anderson Accounting, etc. are but the visible, putrid boils of a system permeated with the infection of utter greed, amorality, and the destruction of all decency at the altar of materialism.
Oswald Spengler in "The Decline of the West" described the latter days of the Roman Empire. "The Romans were barbarians who did not precede but closed a great development. Unspiritual, unphilosophical, devoid of art, clannish to the point of brutality, aiming relentlessly at tangible success, they stand between Hellenic culture and nothingness." Did he foresee America's ultimate demise?
Conservatives have succeeded in establishing the sound byte "liberal" as embracing everything evil and undemocratic while "private enterprise" stands for God's approval of all things promoted by the ruling elite. Walter Cronkite gives us this insight, "I looked up the definition of 'liberal' in a Random House dictionary. It gave the synonyms for 'liberal' as 'progressive,' 'broad-minded,' 'unprejudiced,' 'beneficent.' The antonyms it offered: 'reactionary' and 'intolerant."
Unless we soon have a change of heart and mind it will be time to play the funeral dirge for the Constitution: "Requiem, U.S.A."
[John Brand is a Purple Heart, Combat Infantry veteran of World War II. He received his Juris Doctor degree at Northwestern University and a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry at Southern Methodist University. He served as a Methodist minister for 19 years, was Vice President, Birkman & Associates, Industrial Psychologists, and concluded his career as Director, Organizational and Human Resources, Warren-King Enterprises, an independent oil and gas company. He is the author of <>"Shaking the Foundations" and <>"Rebuilding the Foundations".]
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