FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Laid Bare: the Façade of US Institutions

Prague.

The spectacles of the week–whether the sham hearings of the Senate judiciary committee, the 45* show at the United Nations, or the game of 3-Card Monte being played with the DOJ–expose once again that power not restrained by law is a menace, and that law is usually a tool to legitimize raw use of power.

For anyone really looking, the unprincipled naked exertion of power is evident, and the civics lesson mythology of U.S. governance has been slain. The prosecutor the GOP Senators hid behind came from the same Maricopa County, AZ as the lawless racist Sheriff that 45* pardoned. The GOP show rather than mollifying agitates.

Is law a process or a result? While the pathetic Dems wasted their time on process, they let the nominee of the hook on substance. Where the GOP controls the process, they will get their result. It’s about numbers, not truth, and dollars, not principles. “Law not served by power is an illusion; but power not ruled by law is a menace.” The first half of Justice Arthur Goldberg’s quote is often left out, but the reality of both clauses now lay bare.

The two-party system is a ruse. Losing is actually winning. Consider this: for all the Dems whining, their Senators do have the power to subpoena witnesses and hold a public hearing to get at the truth of the matter. Why do they not use that power to question Mark Judge and others under oath? Is it all just a show?

Hypocrisy abounds as incentives are perverted by the limitless supply of, and demands for, money in politics. Note how due process, federalism, and so many civic and jingoistic phrases are employed in favor of power and patriotism, and in wholly inconsistent ways by entrusted actors. Principle is absent.

The angry nominee invoked his prosecutor mother in a plea for the application of common sense. Ok, who has greater motivation to lie, accuser or accused? Based on your life experience, which gender is more honest? Common sense will have us believe women. Why do those in power hate women? How can they still sell their patriarchal politics of resentment when most voters are women?

The keyword of the speech at the UN by 45* was “sovereignty”. The architect of his foreign policy is John Bolton, who while US representative to the UN called for its destruction. When is sovereignty shorthand for impunity? For war profiteering?

Expecting ill-prepared people to decipher the media spin cycle is a recipe for authoritarian subjugation. The so-called liberal New York Times refers to right wing extremist jurists as “social conservatives”. They are more aptly “reactionary”. The mainstream press equates sovereignty with virtue. Separation of powers, checks and balances, democracy, and free and fair elections are rolled out as truisms. War is security. What can we do?

If we want a well-informed citizenry, then school civics curriculum should require these courses: Corporatocracy versus democracy: theory and practice; Critical thinking, media literacy and the perversion of language; Why should I believe it? In whose interest?; War: who profits?; Responsible energy policy: Protecting our planet; Power and privilege: the challenge of accountability, not impunity; The rule of law in theory and practice; Social change movements and history: how real change happens; Civil disobedience: when is breaking the law a moral obligation?

More articles by:

William A. Cohn, professor of jurisprudence at New York University and lecturer on law, ethics and critical thinking at the University of New York in Prague, is the author of Led Astray: Legal and Moral Blowback from the Global War on Terror (Routledge, 2017).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
April 06, 2020
Richard D. Wolff
COVID-19 and the Failures of Capitalism
W. T. Whitney
Donald Trump, Capitalism, and Letting Them Die
Cesar Chelala
Cuba’s Promising Approach to Cancer
David A. Schultz
Camus and Kübler-Ross in a Time of COVID-19 and Trump
Nomi Prins 
Wall Street Wins, Again: Bailouts in the Time of Coronavirus
Dean Baker
Getting to Medicare-for-All, Eventually
Dave Lindorff
Neither Pandemic Nor Economic Collapse is Going to Be a Short-Lived Crisis
Sonali Kolhatkar
Capitalism in America Has Dropped the Mask: Its Face is Cruel and Selfish
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 7 Pro-Contagion Reversals Increase the Coronavirus Toll
David Swanson
A Department of Actual Defense in a Time of Coronavirus
Ellen Brown
Was the Fed Just Nationalized?
Jeff Birkenstein
Postcards From Trump
Nick Licata
Authoritarian Leaders Rejected the Danger of a COVID-19 Pandemic Because It Challenged Their Image
Kathy Kelly
“He’s Got Eight Numbers, Just Like Everybody Else”
Graham Peebles
Change Love and the Need for Unity
Kim C. Domenico
Can We Transform Fear to Strength In A Time of Pandemic?
Mike Garrity
Alliance for the Wild Rockies Files Lawsuit to Stop Logging and Burning Project in Rocky Mountain Front Inventoried Roadless Area
Stephen Cooper
“The Soul Syndicate members dem, dem are all icons”: an Interview with Tony Chin
Weekend Edition
April 03, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Omar Shaban
Gaza’s New Conflict: COVID-19
Rob Urie
Work, Crisis and Pandemic
John Whitlow
Slumlord Capitalism v. Global Pandemic
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Strange Things Happening Every Day
Jonathan Cook
The Bigger Picture is Hiding Behind a Virus
Paul Street
Silver Linings Amidst the Capitalist Coronavirus Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Control of Nature
Louis Proyect
COVID-19 and the “Just-in-Time” Supply Chain: Why Hospitals Ran Out of Ventilators and Grocery Stores Ran Out of Toilet Paper
Kathleen Wallace
The Highly Contagious Idea
Kenneth Good
The Apartheid Wars: Non-Accountability and Freedom for Perpetrators.
Andrew Levine
Democracy in America: Sorry, But You Can’t Get There from Here.
Ramzy Baroud
Tunisia Leads the Way: New Report Exposes Israel’s False Democracy
David Rosen
Coronavirus and the State-of-Emergency Pandemic
Matthew Stevenson
Will Trump Cancel the Election? Will the Democrats Dump Joe?
Ron Jacobs
Seattle—Anti-Capitalist Hotbed
Michael T. Klare
Avenger Planet: Is the COVID-19 Pandemic Mother Nature’s Response to Human Transgression?
Jack Rasmus
COVID-19 and the Forgotten Working Class
Werner Lange
The Madness of More Nukes and Less Rights in Pandemic Times
J.P. Linstroth
Why a Race is Not a Virus and a Virus is Not a Race
John Feffer
We Need a Coronavirus Truce
Thomas S. Harrington
“New Corona Cases”: the Ultimate Floating Signifier
Victor Grossman
Corona and What Then?
Katie Fite
Permanent Pandemic on Public Lands: Welfare Sheep Ranchers and Their Enablers Hold the West’s Bighorns Hostage
Patrick Bond
Covid-19 Attacks the Down-and-Out in Ultra-Unequal South Africa
Eve Ottenberg
Capitalism vs. Humanity
Nicky Reid
Fear and Loathing in Coronaville Volume 2: Panic On the Streets of Tehran
Jonas Ecke
Would Dying for the Economy Help Anybody?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail