September 17, 2006

A Treasure Under Torture

By Mary Lyon

The irony is literally gob-smacking. September 17 th is the anniversary of the formal acceptance of the Constitution of the United States of America at the Federal Convention in Philadelphia . The paperwork that our Founders labored over, agonized about, argued through, which ultimately defined us as a country, determined such matters of statecraft as the rule of law our new nation would respect and follow, who had how much power, and who checked that power. It put down in black and beige (parchment, after all), in writing, what we're all about as Americans. And this year, it falls on the weekend immediately after a latter-day would-be King George has roared about his right to defile it in the worst way imaginable. Instead of reaffirming a more perfect union, establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity , he's aggressively pushing torture and other extra-constitutional ideas.

A more perfect union? Um - where? Here? Our country hasn't been this deeply divided since the Civil War era. George and his henchmen have us all very nearly at each other's throats. Our onetime union, which was as close to perfect as we've ever reached in the immediate wake of 9/11, is by now more imperfect than ever. And now, it even reaches into Bush's own party - among those who'll still swallow just about anything he wants to shove down their throats - except torture.

Justice? For whom? Osama bin Laden - whom he once targeted for bringing to justice but now casually shrugs the guy off? George denies he's disbanded the one entity charged specifically with tracking Osama down, but he has. And it's only now that he feels the hot breath of a losing mid-term election that he's even started mentioning the guy's name in speeches again. Meanwhile, George Washington University constitutional law scholar Jonathan Turley counts approximately 30 felonies Bush has already committed just in the NSA wiretapping scandal, all of which sure seem a lot more like high crimes and misdemeanors than does lying under oath about cheating on your wife.

Domestic tranquility? Here? When the discourse on most, if not all, of the news/information channels on radio and TV is full of hatred and divisiveness, and republi-CONS everywhere are trying to scare the voters stupid? Hell, if they have their way, you won't even be able to sleep at night, for fear of all the brown-skinned, bearded Boogie Men running amok out there unless you support the GOP. They all but say we're all going to die if we don't vote republi-CON.

The common defense? Ah yes, here George claims supremacy, even though his abysmal foreign policy has earned us nothing but new enemies, scorn, distrust, and hatred across the globe. Yeah, we're safer, alright. Yeah, SURE. We've squandered, literally, a WORLD of good will after 9/11, not to mention close to 3,000 American lives, many multitudes more of innocent Iraqi civilians, the viability of our armed forces, and how many hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars by now? Last time I checked, we were losing money in Iraq to the tune of approximately 100-thousand dollars a minute.

The general welfare? Well, in this case, yes - at least for the rich and the big corporations in the form of tax cuts, tax breaks, and an orgy of competition-suffocating monopolies. If you're among the haves or have mores, your interests are indeed well serviced. If you're anybody else, from a soldier stuck in Iraq wishing his Humvee was better reinforced, to a Katrina victim still waiting for ANY housing assistance at all, to the millions upon millions of Americans still without healthcare, you can just enjoy life at the back end of the line where you're simply left on ignore. Be sure to write if you get work, though.

The blessings of liberty? When we're spied upon illegally by our own government, some of us are denied due process, the rest of us are told we better watch what we say and what we do, and if we dare to dissent, we're either confused, appeasers of the terrorists, or flat-out traitors? And those unilaterally deemed enemies can, in fact, MUST, face torture. Evidently, under George the Smaller, liberty applies only to the worst bad-asses at the CIA and whatever extremes they select to get the information they want. Who is it - who REALLY hates us for our freedoms, George?

And he's still at it, fairly throwing a hissy fit during an end-of-the-week news conference on the White House lawn as a few unruly reporters stood up to challenge him. If his obedient servants in Congress didn't retroactively legalize all the violations of the Geneva Conventions that he approved, he threatened to yank the whole deal. Junior's new rule is - "it's MY way or else, and to hell with the Constitution!" Our precious founding document that was formally accepted in 1787 sought to define us as a nation - who we are and what we're about. And it certainly isn't torture. It's what has always given us moral authority, made us different from other nations, and set America apart as somehow just a little bit better, more free, more accepting, more noble of character (not lineage), more fair and more just - to and for all. At the rate Bush is going, flouting American and international law, he might as well take a copy of the Constitution, glue it to some rich old geezer's face, and send him out quail shooting with Dick Cheney. Thanks to this lawless regime, our treasured Constitution (and everything it says we're about as Americans) is literally under siege. It's being tortured.

Which brings me to the best idea I've seen in awhile. It came to me via an email from a girlfriend, whose cousin Joan now fears for the very existence of our Constitution. Considering what our latter-day king would like to do to it, it seems safe to say that our sacred founding blueprint is close to, if not already on, life support. Joan's idea is most worthy of repeating here:

"We are in a Constitutional Crisis. It's time for We the People to assure that our Constitution stays in place and is interpreted in the ways the Founding Fathers intended, which implies some adaptability to time and the passage of 200 plus years.

"Therefore, we resolve, that we will start a guard to be put in place at the National Archives on Constitution Avenue , Independence Park in Philadelphia , in statehouses around the country, in schools, on street corners.

"The guard will be made up of both individuals and groups. The basic encampment will be set up and maintained by a pre-designated responsible group. Each hour there will be a Changing of the Guard, with a ceremony which includes handing over a flag and a candle and a reading of one amendment to the Constitution.

"Part of the permanent encampment and guard will be an official signing table so that We the People, all of us, can add our signatures to the Constitution and revalidate our Constitution in this, the year 2006, adding life to the paper or vellum that it is. Each person participating in the guard would be issued a certificate attesting to that fact - suitable for framing, proof that they served their country and the Constitution. There might also be a lapel pin which they could wear with pride.

"Besides guarding or adding one's signature to the Constitution, it would also be a positive to have people capture their duties and responsibilities, understanding that there is no free lunch. This allows for a forum, for discussion, sadly lacking in the public arena."

This is the idea of one loyal, patriotic American, who cherishes her country and its foundational decree so much that she'd eagerly and literally stand guard in front of it. A worthy service to one's country, I'd say, and certainly in the spirit our Founders intended - wherein We The People rule. George clearly seems to have forgotten that. We should not.

Then go DO something about it.


Mary Lyon is a veteran broadcaster and five-time Golden Mike Award winner who has anchored, reported, and written for the Associated Press Radio Network, NBC Radio "The Source," and many Los Angeles-area stations including KRTH-FM/AM, KLOS-FM, KFWB-AM, and KTLA-TV, and occasional media analyst for ABC Radio News.  Mary began her career as a liberal activist with the Student Coalition for Humphrey / Muskie in 1968 and helped spearhead a regional campaign, The Power 18, to win the right to vote for 18-year-olds. She remains an advocate for liberal causes, responsibility and accountability in media, environmental education and support of the arts for children, and green living. Mary writes for,, World News Trust, and's We! Magazine. Mary is also a parenting expert, having written and illustrated the book "The Frazzled Working Woman's Practical Guide to Motherhood."

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