Sunday, September 26, 2010


There is what would best be described as a political puff-piece in the October issue of ‘The Atlantic’ magazine.

I don’t want to interject politics on this site so I am only mentioning that element of the article that I think has some direct relevance to SO matters.

The article is entitled ‘The Salesman’ and covers pages 93-105 of the print edition. It is about the political career of the current Vice-President.

On page 97 the author, Mark Bowden, reveals about Biden that “as a senator, his proudest legislative accomplishment was the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, which broadened law enforcement’s tools to protect women from abusive partners”.

I won’t get into what this says about Biden himself but I want to comment a bit on the entire trajectory of the politics that led to that Act and to the almost simultaneous Domestic Violence and SO Mania regimes.

First, certain elements of the Act were initially found partially unconstitutional by the Supreme Court – which might have served as an extra layer of warning as to just what was being contemplated. But in the eagerness to pander to a ‘demographic’ the politically-desperate Beltway was in no mood to entertain ‘too much thinking’ on the subject.*

Second, what survived judicial review was frakkulent enough: the queasy distinction-without-a-difference between ‘civil’ and ‘criminal; the deployment of police power within the theretofore Constitutionally sacrosanct realm of the Family and the Citizen’s Home&Hearth; the deployment of that police power on the single-party, ex-parte say-so of a complaining individual; the removal of any police discretion as to whether they could or should deploy that police power; the technically shrewd but substantively repugnant gamesmanship of loosening evidentiary rules by claiming that the Domestic Violence(DoVi) procedure was ‘merely civil’ while simultaneously enshrining any court’s Order stemming from an eventual Hearing as ‘criminal’; equally slyly, by declaring the initial DoVi procedures 'civil', the burden of proof (so utterly vital in this type of situation) can be shifted to the accused-defendant and away from the accuser-plantiff - which skews an already fraught matter and creates the possibility for much mischief; and in many States the maintenance – antedating the SO Registries – of a DoVi registry, EVEN IF the male (almost always) was found innocent by the Court at Hearing.

And so the accurate descriptor that the Act “broadened law enforcement’s tools to protect women from abusive partners” is grossly insufficient, and probably not accidentally so: as with a city broadening a downtown avenue, the space to do such broadening comes from demolishing buildings along the street. Protocols governing the entrance of the government police- power into the domestic area were regressed back to a more primitive era when the Sovereign authority could enter the home of the subject; rules of evidence designed to protect the Citizen against the arbitrary deployments of the Sovereign authority and to narrow and refine the scope of any such authority – all were regressed in order to make room for this ‘broadening’.

Thus, in order to create the required ‘space’ within the American political, social and Constitutional ethos, much of the existing ethos had to be demolished – which is precisely what the philosophical policy of Deconstruction is designed to do.

And at this point many Beltway interests and allies would like Us merely to focus on their own ‘spin’ of what they have done – rather than have voters and Citizens soberly and carefully examine the laws and policies for their success, for their costs and consequences, and for whatever indications of sober or reckless legislation and policy-making might be discovered.

Worse, in the name of ‘emergency’, the ancient demon of ‘delation’ was resurrected: the word of one person would be enough, unsupported, to trigger the police-power, as happened in both the Soviet and Nazi regimes. (It is inconceivable to me how so many of these truly frightening policies can be accepted by so many as ‘progressive’ when, in historical truth, they are actually profoundly ‘regressive’.)

There were, thus, profound and – I would say – lethal costs to the nation.

In defense of the Act against substantive objections, Biden himself made the stunningly revealing comment that “It may be a bad law, but it sends a great message” – which is and shall ever remain a glaring indicator of how the American legal system AND American legislative integrity were profoundly derailed in the early 1990s by the ‘governance feminism’ initiatives that flooded in during the Billary administration (but with high levels of ‘bipartisan’ support).

Clearly, despite the fact that the proposed legislation was considered “bad” by some legislators, and apparently was accepted as bad by the Act’s sponsor himself (Biden), YET STILL the Act’s sponsor continued to support the Act because of its symbolic value, that it would send a “great message”.

This is a landmark example of the awful confluence of ‘symbolic politics’ with ‘emergency politics’ and the ‘politics of stampede’ and the ‘politics of imposition’ (i.e. it’s not a good law but the government is going to make people go along with it anyway because the government can and must change people's behavior by using the civil and criminal law - 'people', by the way, who haven't learned how to conduct themselves as adults in society because the government, in a fit of pandering, has been Deconstructing not only Parental Authority - what do parents know? - but the utterly vital Family itself).

And thus – far more than the Rightist National Security State which since the beginning of the century had been considered the prime danger to democracy in the West – it was instead from the Left and by the so-called ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ that the great Constitutional protections were regressively rolled back in America in the 1990s for purposes of political gain. And if anybody wants to defend this lethal National Nanny State by claiming that the Constitutional ethos and protections had to be destroyed in order to extend them in ‘liberation’ to ‘everybody’ … well, feel free to make that nonsensical statement in public; the Vietnam-era Pentagon has already paved the way.

It is also impossible to then assert in the article’s next paragraphs that Biden is “a strong civil libertarian” – the profound regressions introduced in Constitutional law and the Constitutional vision and ethos by this Act and all of the assorted sub-regimes that it enabled have hugely weakened the foundations of civil liberties in the country.

Worse, it is repellently disingenuous to burble that Biden “clearly sees an active role for government in American life”.

In the first place, the foregoing comments should make clear just what such ‘activity’ actually means for the health and safety of the Constitutional ethos. The National Nanny State – for all its good intentions and ‘sensitivity’ – poses as profound a danger to the Constitutional ethos of a democratic republic as any National Security State.

In the second place, this Act also marks another step toward the habit of Emergency-Law governance that fatally weakened the Weimar Republic: if the President decided that the nation faced an ‘emergency’ then the usual requirements of a constitutional and democratic republic were suspended.

Rather than carefully consider the nature of the problem and the overall usefulness of the proposed solution – soberly judging the costs of consequences – Emergency-Law thinking and Emergency-Law politics ignore any ‘thinking’ at all and simply force you to focus on ‘the Emergency’ – at which point the government will do whatever it planned to do all along. And what it planned to do all along was most likely to cave in to whatever demands and whatever agendas were being pushed by whatever advocacy wanted some ‘action’ against this or that ‘emergency’.

The awful danger of ignoring Consequences should be clear in both foreign and domestic policy and legislation.

But it is also a hugely corrosive habit to induce in Citizens – who are losing the skills to deliberate and to consider the possible or probable costs and consequences of this or that Beltway policy. We cannot have both a Constitutionally-competent Citizenry that will function as The People AND a herd shuffling about in the background waiting to stampede on cue on behalf of this or that Good Thing.

And it is clear to me over the course of decades that the Beltway has more use for the herd than for The People.

And it can be no surprise – but perhaps a shock – to read that Biden describes his time (I’m not sure you can say ‘studies’ at Syracuse University School of Law as “boring”. THIS is the quality of legal ‘thinking’ and this is the level of esteem for Law that went into the VAWA. It was a ‘victory’ only in the sense that it was a successful ‘deal’ – a lemon that was nonetheless moved off the lot to the satisfaction of certain parties to the Deal, but not in the best interests of any larger (or Larger) ‘abstractions’. And do you think that this was the ONLY example of such an approach to legislation and national policy? Here, I would say, is another sub-surface but hugely influential element in the dynamics that drove and continue to drive these regime laws.

In his 2007 book “Diary of a Bad Year” (p.171 of the Penguin pb edition), the Australian writer J.M. Coetzee discusses how the security police in the 1970s in South Africa were widely empowered to come into any site and take whatever action they wanted to since the apartheid laws were somehow essential to the nation’s ‘security’.

WORSE, he notes that the police were indemnified in advance: through the enabling legislation they were legally immunized against civil suit or criminal prosecution for whatever actions they might in the future take in the service of apartheid. Members of the SO community may quickly recognize that toward the end of almost all of the main SO Mania enabling legislation from the 1990s there is a Section that specifically does this for police in the service of going after alleged SOs.

What has happened in this country over the past 20 years alone provides more than ample evidence that the greatest challenge for Americans today is that on their ‘watch’ the essentials of a genuine functioning Constitutional democracy as envisioned by the Framers – and as traditionally described by the term “the Great American Experiment” – may very well become merely a shell, bereft of any genuine democratic dynamic.

Whether this generation – broadly conceived – of Americans can realize this and take some sort of effective correction action is THE great political question of Our time.

The SO community – that has watched so much go so wrong in those 20 years – is far closer to the historic questions of the age than almost any other group in the country today.


*It is no coincidence that in the Friday, 24 September issue, ‘The Wall Street Journal’ discusses the latest Democratic Party ‘strategy’, which is to appeal to ‘youth and minorities’. As I have always said, it was the Democrats (and I am no fan of the Republicans) who – terrified in the mid-1960s by their fracturing of the old New Deal Labor-Old South electoral coalition – decided that rather than try to woo the old electoral elements into some new combination, they would be better off trying to create entirely new elements and ‘demographics’; thus, Minorities were raised up in their many sub-sets until finally almost the entire populations were favored Minorities. And as another demographic element, the Dems raised up ‘Youth’ – impatient, un-ballasted by any extensive experience, and tending to the simplistic in their appreciation of life’s complexities.

In the face of the highly dubious Content of much of what was ‘demanded’ by their new demographics (each of which, under the new rubric of Identity Politics, had to name an ‘enemy-oppressor’ AMONG THE NATIONAL CITIZENRY) and the queasy ‘revolutionary’ Method by which all these agendas were to be politically processed, Our deliberative and consensus-oriented democratic polity was radically derailed in the service of those ‘emergency politics’ discussed above. Aand the Beltway became to this country what Berlin became to the dying Weimar Republic.

This is not meant to be an anti-Democratic Party assessment since in the 1970s the Republicans also saw their way clear to try to embrace a politics of Identity-Pandering, erecting their own Fundamentalist and Business bases.

The politics of pandering bear directly upon SO concerns because when it became the demand of certain Identity advocacies that traditional Constitutional boundaries and procedural limitations and safeguards be dismantled, then in the matters of Sex and Violence (which were asserted to be the principal nature of the Male) the government responded to the ‘emergency’ of ‘oppression’ with forceful and direct action, dismissing all the boundaries as ‘quaint’ and as ‘supportive of oppression’.

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