Carter: The United States Has No Functioning Democracy

carterWe have been discussing the collapse of the American civil liberties movement and the attacks on the free press and privacy under the Obama Administration. As discussed in prior columns, we continue to refer to the United States as the “land of the free” despite a comprehensive reduction of civil liberties and due process in this country. The Snowden affair has put that record in sharp relief as the White House and Congress has joined together in barring the prosecution of perjury by high ranking officials and pursuing Snowden with close to unhinged rage. As previously discussed, our governing class has created a new American Animal farm. Long ago, American politicians adopted a type of dismissive paternalism toward the public as shepherds to so many sheep. Then one sheep goes and spooks the flock. The response has been bipartisan rage that has included demands to cut off aid to entire nations if they grant sanctuary to this whistleblower and even boycott the Olympics. The shepherds want Snowden made into mutton for stampeding the flock and no measure appears too extreme. Now Jimmy Carter has entered the fray and said what many citizens are saying in denouncing our duopoly. Carter told Spiegel “America has no functioning democracy.” Of course, you have to live in Germany to read such views.

Carter has rightfully pointed to the dramatic reduction of the United States as a moral authority in the world after Bush and Obama. He clearly views Edward Snowden as a whistleblower. Yet, the media has yielded to the demand of the White House that Snowden not be called a whistleblower. This is follows media allies who have attacked Snowden and even mocked his concern about coming back home. As for the refusal to call him a whistleblower, it seems part of the full court press to demonize Snowden or prevent favorable references to him. [It brings to mind the successful effort to convince media to call waterboarding “enhanced interrogation” in the media rather than “torture” as it has long been defined by courts] Snowden is a whistleblower in my mind. It is true that the Administration can argue that these programs were lawful to the Supreme Court’s precedent stripping pen registers of full constitutional protection in Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735 (1979). Many of us disagree with that ruling, but this is a new application of the precedent. While the government has long sought the information for individuals, the Administration is essentially issuing a national security letter against the entire population. Moreover, it does appear that violations have occurred in these programs.

Putting aside the legality issue, whistleblowers are defined more probably by public interest organizations. For example, The Government Accountability Project, a leading nonprofit handling whistleblowers, defines the term as “an employee who discloses information that s/he reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, gross waste or fraud, mismanagement, abuse of power, general wrongdoing, or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety. Typically, whistleblowers speak out to parties that can influence and rectify the situation. These parties include the media, organizational managers, hotlines, or Congressional members/staff, to name a few.”

Snowden clearly fits that more common definition of whistleblower, even if the government contests the application of statutory protections. Many can legitimately question Snowden’s chosen means for objecting to this program. However, the hostile and dismissive treatment by the establishment reflects an obvious fear of the implications of this scandal. We saw the same full court press in defining Julien Assange in a way that avoids calling him a journalist or a whistleblower. He is just an Assange.

Carter’s voice at this moment is incredibly important. Most media has ignored such criticism of Obama and his authoritarian powers. Even the story on Carter has been given limited attention and only because smaller blogs have continued to spread the word. We are living in the greatest crisis of civil liberties in our history and the public is facing a unified front of all three branches against efforts to deal with erosion of the rights of citizens in this country. The question is whether the public will finally awaken to this peril. Carter’s courageous voice could not have been heard at a more critical time for this nation.

126 thoughts on “Carter: The United States Has No Functioning Democracy

  1. david blue fish, I first voted for McGovern, also. I think you can add gay marriage, immigration, voting rights and gun control to the list that divides the country. Christian fundamentalism plays a huge role.

  2. Infowars is a lot more than a conservative news site. It is a neo-confederate conspiracy theorist movement that spouts white supremacy and recently made George Zimmerman their hero for standing his ground and killing Trayvon Martin.

  3. I’m not really sure why it is important whether Carter said this or not. Those with eyes, ears and a functioning brain know we have no functioning democracy, just look at congress.

    Wall Street, multinational corporations, banks, Big Pharma, Big Aggie, the oil and energy industry and the weapons industry all own our government and country along with the 1%,

    We were told that the Patriot Acts, NDAA, etc, etc, are for our security. In reality these laws were put in place to one day be used against us as our country and society continue a downward spiral into the abyss.

  4. Mike s.,
    Great old Dylan song. I have not heard that one in years. It is a masterpiece of social commentary.

  5. LK,

    “We should look upon it as an evolved, macro-based form of literary appreciation.”

    I laughed out loud, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it.😀

  6. rafflaw,

    re: Iran N Korea, USA

    Iraq,US troops= depleted uranium poisoning, monsanto, Native Americans still being killed/injured.

    I don’t have time now to lay out the case yet a case can be made.

  7. ** Swarthmore mom 1, July 19, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Infowars is a lot more than a conservative news site. It is a neo-confederate conspiracy theorist movement that spouts white supremacy and recently made George Zimmerman their hero for standing his ground and killing Trayvon Martin.


    I made an honest mistake yesterday when I wrote J Turley’s blog had 17 million viewers. I think the story put up was this site has had 17 mil views.

    That was a simple mistake anyone could make & I corrected it.

    I thought I’d suggest you take another look at your comments above & see if you wished to do the same by correcting the mistakes.

    Or if you’re taking those opinions, falsely wrote as fact, from another source please explain who’s spreading that type info.

  8. Oky1, The list is lengthy but a few of the top of my head…. Rachel Maddow, Crooks and Liars, the Los Angeles Times, Right Wing Watch and,SPLC Have to run. I have a lunch appointment so I don’t have time to cut and paste but you can do the research if you chose to or watch some of the Infowars videos on Youtube.

  9. My sadness at what is happening in this country has become profound,, I admit I was a fool and supported the democratic ticket both time, more wholeheartedly the first time than the second but I tried to keep on believing. I don’t comment on here much anymore because I don’t have the slightest idea how to fix things….As I look at it we have a republican party that is so filled with hate for any number of groups and a democratic party that is lead by a constitutional lawyer who’s main job seems to be tearing the constitution apart and a bunch of sissy dems that have no backbone whatsoever. It seems to me that disaster is looming somewhere ahead..

    Blouise, I’m always hanging around just more quietly nowadays…

  10. davidbluefish, I was wrong in my above posting about the CIA section chief, he and 23 associates were tried for kidnapping 1 person in Italy for rendition. My bad. In any event, he, Robert Lady, is on his way back to the US today.

    His defense at the time of the time: “Lady was quoted by Il Giornale newspaper in 2009 as saying: “I’m not guilty. I’m only responsible for carrying out orders that I received from my superiors.””

    Ex-CIA official detained in Panama heading back to U.S.

  11. Our Constitution says that the first job of the President is to uphold the integrity of the Constitution. Former President Carter did so much less than other presidents in this regard, who have done nothing and harmed our rights, in fact. There is no watchdog at the helm to see that our rights are upheld and no president has upheld even the basics of our democracy. Certainly not Jimmy Carter. He may have had ideas but he didn’t know his job.
    Also, Jimmy Carter was not part of the legal monopoly that runs our governments and therefore, was subject to high opposition. It was intended that he particularly fail.
    Article 1, section 8 says essentially that govermental institutions will be created to provide for the security of the people and also preserve and protect the tenets of our (individual) rights pursuant to our Constitution. We have Homeland Security, for what’s it’s worth, but only recently created and already critized for its laxness.
    Americans have no rights as our country has become a tryanny.
    As a Pro Se litigant in our court system, I have had my Constitutional right to trial, the right to be heard on my civil cases routinely denied and dismissed. This is a 7th Amendment right. Even though my pleadings met the criteria of a lawsuit under procedural law, my civil cases were denied and dismissed (yes, I have a background in legal training). Even when I proved my cases at the time I filed my lawsuits with the court, my civil cases were still denied and dismissed.
    Judges practice the absolute power to destroy our rights and this power goes unchecked by our governments.
    Why? Because this elected legal monopoly of congressmen and senators know that if not re-elected, they go back to private practice and will have their income shredded by judges who will know that they opposed their power. The colusion in the legal profession is more than widespread.
    Who gives up money and power? The less rights we have , the more money and power goes into the pocket of this legal monopoly, so to speak. And justice that must be bought is no justice at all.
    Any existance of absolute power, in a position lower than what can be given to the President of the United States is tyranny and no longer a democracy.
    The right to trial, the right to be heard is the hinge on which all our rights depend, so observed Thomas Jefferson and he is absolutely right.
    Rule of Law does not exist where the law is not neutral and impartial. The destruction of law signals the presence of arbitrary rule and a condition of freedom demands that citizens must have a public sphere in which they are honored.
    This practice of absolute power by the courts, encourages the psychological and opportunistic financial abuse of our society and the workplace – a strategy to stamp out human nature and foster maliciousness in this society. This is a “soft” suppressive technique used by a functional tyranny.
    Indeed, our society now resembles a tyranny – the concentration of money and power in the hands of only 15% of the population, a minescule middle class which was “dangerously shrinking” even during the Bush administration, and how a multi-tiered lower class – many whose fortunes had slid during these recessions and poor economy. Approximately 1/5 of all Americans are on food stamps.
    These legal monopoly is always there to be elected and re-elected. The medial had brainwashed the citizenry into believing that alternative political parties are kooks and the cost of running a president campaign is beyond the grasp of decent candidates.
    So what to do? I would welcome answers to my question.

Comments are closed.