I will weigh in only briefly on the death of Justice Scalia, if mainly to introduce and comment on this RealNews interview with retired Lt. Col Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff for Sect’y of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson, a regular on Real News, an excellent alternative news source out of Baltimore, is presently an adjunct professor at William and Mary, and one of the few high ranking military officers principled enough to not sell out to six-figure consultant jobs in the military-industrial complex.
The US military-industrial complex, incidentally, also must be considered ‘international’ in the scope of its vested corporate interests, to the extent it depends on steady and growing international sales and long-term strategies of US military global encirclement, already almost total, when the eastern alliances, in various permutations, began their full-on resistance in the last few years. I greatly respect Wilkerson for his willingness to take on sacred cows of the GOP and the “military-industrial-congressional” complex, as he calls it (echoing Ike’s original written words) as well as his informed commentary on the wayward paths of US foreign policy in the 21st century.
If the DOD’s budget is that of the next 7 or 8 powers combined (many of these are but abject puppet-‘allies’) then its high proportion of foreign sales suggests that even this most nation-oriented and justified of ‘federal’ activities is not so ‘nation-oriented’ in practice. Ponder the F-35 corporate boondoggle and death-trap. In USGov Departmental lingo, “Defense”, equals “Offense” in reality, and its preeminent duty, “protection of borders,” is neglected in defense of a corporate bottom line, which is more about ‘stimulating growth’ in an industry of death and destruction than ‘protecting’ anybody. We are, after all , the world’s greatest supplier of weapons to ISIS, Jubhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, and the other takfiri terrorist groups our NATO and Middle Eastern allies orchestrate in Syria and Iraq under the tutelage of US neo-cons and their Zionist string pullers.
Before I get too far off topic, here is Wilkerson’s interview:
In contrast to Scalia’s ‘originalism’, Wilkerson urges a balance between principled constitutionalism and flexibility. I agree, and believe that this can only be maintained if we agree that humans are endowed with moral thinking, with conscience. (We do not have to be monotheists to do this; but it will be hard for “dumb materialists”, that is, for those who believe “consciousness” emerges accidentally out of dumb matter.)
We need to recognize that 99 times out of 100, we will agree on what is right or wrong when cognizant of all the facts and all sides of the story. However, the basics of power and the way US legislation is written and enacted are hidden systematically from the public. What little information filters down is divided into “left” and “right”. The memes of political, cultural, and religious division purveyed by the massmedia and USGov are historically inaccurate and socially nihilistic. This is not by accident nor by rational argument but by mendacious design.
Literalism, when based on a narrow historical or cultural understanding, invites clumsy mistakes when interpreting any text, but when it comes to a legal or constitutional text it invites social disaster because it mistakes words about right and wrong for what is right and wrong. It makes the mistake opposite that of left-wing diatribists, who believe their own political correctness, which is often simple-minded and atheistic in ‘rationalization’ (no rational thinking needed) constitutes something like a direct ‘voice to God’. This allows them to dismiss all who appeal to our country’s founding documents as ideas superseded by the enlightened liberal consciousness of the 21st century. Both sides are hoodwinked, used, and abused, by those who control the categories and the dissemination of information and disinformation among “left” and “right”.
I saw Ammon Bundy react angrily only once, when a reporter accused him of “breaking the law”. I am not breaking the law, he replied, maybe “codes and regulations”. Rather, he said, I am trying to enforce the law. The distinction is crucial. The first is founded in Nature, in “natural law”, in our organic, human constitution, reflected in the consistent recommendations of “common law” systems around the world and throughout history. As elucidated in the work of former Alaska Superior Court, now Common Law, Judge Anna von Reitzinger, we now labor under a hijacked Constitution, subservient to the corporate principles of “maritime” or Admiralty law, that has been gradually re-cast to serve the interests of the corporate-state. This is not a system that can be fixed by ‘tweaking’. How can one assert “originalism” when working within a corporate-state set of principles? We will need to return to truly original constitutional principles, not their ‘re-written by the victors’ versions. But we will also have to access our common humanity, and our common human conscience, if we want to set things aright.
In fact, 95% of “shari’a” whose mere mention makes many “constitutionalists” shit in their pants, is coherent with most “common law” and “natural law” systems found worldwide. Unlike Catholicism, Islam understood the corruption in “institutionalized religion” and banned it. That is why there is no “Mosque” to pronounce against the takfiri and un-Islamic terrorism of al-CIAduh and the CIAliphate. That is why a fatwa is merely a legal opinion (despite the unlettered pretensions of al-CIAduh’s Osama bin Laden) not a judgment of God. Alone of Western monotheisms (considered globally that is the proper category) Islam did not sell out to the banksters, and never gave up its righteous injuctions against usury. This kept that society sane, relative to the West, for 1000 years. The Catholic Church sold itself out before God in the 1300s (before it became ‘the Vatican’). At the same time, with Boniface VII’s Unum sanctum, it declared itself the owner of the world with rights to distribute it as it saw fit.
Like Wilkerson, I think Scalia’s “originalism” was dead-letter Constitutional literalism, ‘several steps beyond conservatism’. He was not a stupid man, like others on the court, but nevertheless he served the most corrupt interests, whether knowingly or unknowingly, I am not certain. He may have died at their hand. However, he is no martyr; I will not name him in the same breath as the truer martyr assassinated in Oregon.
Depending on which ‘constitution’ you want to follow, the interpretive gap to span for a contemporary jurist became wider as society first industrialized, then post-industrialized, that is to say ‘financialized.’ Even if we say, for the sake of argument, that he had ‘good intentions’, nevertheless, Scalia was used by the corporate-state. They took hold of his “misplaced concreteness”, his simple-minded literalism, because, most crucially, it was not truly “conscience-driven”, it was text-driven literalism, and, because, well, you just don’t do “conscience” when you exercise “justice” in our society. How naive of me to propose we try to understand what conscience means.
But perhaps Scalia was naiver yet. While I will not guess at Scalia’s “original intent”, it is easy to see the leverage by which his clever, but not very smart, literalism was used by the powers-that-never-should-have-been.
Scalia erected an interpretive self-image that was detached from the real world. His facade of overly concrete rationalist originalism hid the world from his own eyes, and erased much complicated history intervening between the vaunted “origin-times” and the present. This historical erasure was double in nature, it concerned a society which grew increasingly complex — and increasingly corrupt. It was strikingly naive on the first account, damnably on the second.
Scalia’s theory and his epistemological naivete underpinned a profound disconnect. This lurked between the Divine Mysteries that allowed him to penetrate ‘Original Intent’ of our pre-industrial forefathers, and the realities of the society taking shape around him. Possibly he did not understand how his own efforts contributed to the demise of the already mostly-moribund Republic. Scalia especially helped remove sensible federal restrictions to criminal corporate control of government by signing on to Citizen’s United and most egregiously stamped on decency and democracy alike by helping Bush steal the elections of 2000.
Scalia made odd appeals to Constitutional authority when his most important decisions enabled history’s most vigorous “re-distribution” of wealth from the lower and middle classes to a tinier and tinier percentage of corporate international elites. It is particularly grating when these opinions were accompanied, as Wilkerson says, by an adamant hardheadness, an idiotic literalism of misplaced concreteness with gaping inconsistencies that refused to listen to real reason.
There is not a lot that separates the corporate-state private shenanigans of, say, the Clinton Foundation, and those enabled by Citizens United. Are we still pretending there is much difference between the criminal gangs on the left and those on the right? The best we could say about Scalia is that he was quite literally out of touch with the world, or in touch with another world, one entirely of his own fantasy, though replicating that 95% of the political and pundit class.
Nevertheless, I am disgusted to say that Scalia’s simple-minded and easily manipulated ‘originalism’ looks healthy and sane next to the gangland rule that the US populace– and the world — has been subjected to in the 21st century. However, it should be plain as day to all sane souls that nobody who makes it to the Supreme Court, hardly a single soul who makes it to Congress, is anything but deeply compromised.
The real leaders are not satisfied that their bait-and-switch left us admiralty, mercantile, corporate law of the sea running USA. Inc. and kept us “commoners” legally out of the loop. Nope, they are gangsters after all. Even though, from NAFTA to TPP and TTIP, the “rule of law” is written by international corporate lobbies, the real patriarchs of banking, commerce, and the “military-industrial-congressional” complex, still the corporate-state must engage in extra-judicial assassinations of foreign and domestic opposition, for any reason at all.
At the end of the clip, Wilkerson rails at Marco Rubio for suggesting Obama’s term in office ought to limit his capacity to appoint a Justice and waxes angry and righteous about Republican constitutionalist hypocrisy. This stinks to high heaven indeed, and seems engineered along the lines of the ‘divide-and-conquer-with-media-reversals-and-bald-face-lies” tactics we’ve seen so often.
But Wilkerson does not properly judge the outrage justifiably felt among those on the right who are aware that Scalia’s death also stinks to high heaven, and practically shouts assassination. Even at this early stage, this is evident for reasons that are obvious with even a passing glance at alternative media, so I won’t link anything here. Now, calling out Obama on a possible assassination attempt and cover-up would be a proper cry and righteous cause. But then the RNC is as invested in the system as the DNC, “conservatives” as much as “liberals.”