Third Party & Independents Archives

May 31, 2006

Gov't. Accountability Gone

The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision has moved in tangent with the Executive Branch to end government accountability as we have known it. The Christian Science Monitor reports: “Government employees do not enjoy free-speech protection against being disciplined for exposing official misconduct at work.”

CSM goes on to state:

In an important decision that will make it more difficult for some government whistle-blowers, the US Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that public workers who make allegations of misconduct in official reports and in work-related statements may be disciplined for their speech without violating First Amendment protections.

So, the Supreme Court has given carte blanche to government to threaten retalliation against whistle blowers of wrong doing by government officials. This spells the death knell of government accountability in my book. Secrecy is not healthy for democracy. But, combine secrecy with retalliative legal practices against any who would report wrong doing under the cloak of secrecy, and democracy's life is diminished significantly.

Ironic how history twists and turns. As Communist China inches toward greater freedom and accountability, the U.S. takes ever more steps toward becoming authoritarian. Authoritarian governments make up the rules of governance as they go along and needed to preserve power. This step by the Supreme Court is just another stride on the road toward more authoritarian government in the United States.

Iraq has elections. Iraq is not a stable democracy. Hamas had elections. Palestine is not a stable democracy. Just because America holds elections in which 94 to 97% of incumbents are reelected each and every election, does not mean democracy is stable and functional in America. It only means we hold elections. It is not too late for voters to take back democracy for America. Vote for challengers this November and VOID incumbent's attempts to steal our democracy.

Posted by David R. Remer at May 31, 2006 01:52 PM
Comments
Comment #153030

“In an important decision that will make it more difficult for some government whistle-blowers, the US Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that public workers who make allegations of misconduct in official reports and in work-related statements may be disciplined for their speech without violating First Amendment protections.”

Question:
Is this not against using the press to do the whistleblowing and not using a chain of command to correct problems?

Posted by: dawn at May 31, 2006 02:52 PM
Comment #153032

And ofcourse the Bush Administration is prosecuting the Press for revealing “State Secrets”.

Can’t report in the job. Can’t report to the Press.

Sounds pretty 1984 to me.

Posted by: Aldous at May 31, 2006 02:59 PM
Comment #153035

Dawn, it is far more reaching than that. It stipulates that even reporting wrong doing in memos and agency papers to be routed through the chain of command can be retalliated against. Freedom of Information Act is what is being circumvented here, by allowing government employees to be punished for even whistle blowing in internal documents which may become available to the media via the FOIA.

In other words, total blackout from oversight by the public as well as making employees fearful of even bringing deficiencies to supervisors attention in written form. Got a problem, tell your super verbally, so there is no paper trail of the wrong doing or cover-up.

This ruling walks hand in hand with authoritarian government.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 31, 2006 03:07 PM
Comment #153043

Dave:

I agree with everything you say - except for your solution. Our 2 new justices, Alito and Roberts, joined Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy in the majority.

To avoid having such a situation, we should have been able to prevent the confirmation of Alito and Roberts. The Democrats could not accomplish this. They were in the minority, and several of them voted to confirm.

But there is one independent in the Senate: Jeffords. What difference could he make? What difference could 2 or 3 independents make?

To avoid the confirmation of such horrible justices, we must increase the Democratic majority.

Voting for independents in local elections may have an impact. On a national level, you are effectively voting for the Republican Party. Did you already forget Ralph Nader?

Posted by: Paul Siegel at May 31, 2006 03:20 PM
Comment #153046

Maybe these guys should call the
ACLU. I mean those guys at the ACLU know how to keep their people in line. You can get in trouble there for giving your boss a dirty look.

Posted by: Jack at May 31, 2006 03:34 PM
Comment #153053

David-

So, the Supreme Court has given carte blanche to government to threaten retalliation against whistle blowers of wrong doing by government officials.

Carte blanche? California Whistle Blower Protection Act.

As Kennedy said there are protections other than the First Amendment that safeguard whistle-blowers.

I only read the article, but seems to me Stevens’ “sometimes” wouldn’t have been a better solution.

As to the court Paul, losing elections does have consequences.

Posted by: George in SC at May 31, 2006 03:45 PM
Comment #153070

Good article.
We all knew this was going to happen though, didn’t we? I expected exactly this kind of thing when the courts swung to the far right. There will no doubt to be other outrageous rulings like this one in the years ahead. Dark days for America, folks.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 31, 2006 04:19 PM
Comment #153083

Adrienne,

I heard on the news this morning that the eviction deadline is approaching for the residents of New London who got booted via eminant domain. The Kelo V. New London dissidents were O’Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas…the hardcore right wingers as they are called were the only ones to uphold the right to own property against seizure for private development.

I don’t think the erosion of our rights is limited to us right wingers…

David,

You’ve got my support for VOID. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Greg at May 31, 2006 04:44 PM
Comment #153096

Greg,
Re: Eminent domain.

Greg, I’m a liberal lefty and I was extremely disappointed by that SC ruling, too.

“I don’t think the erosion of our rights is limited to us right wingers…”

No, but then I don’t think a garden variety judge who leans to the right wouldn’t have given us this latest ruling stripping protections from whistleblowers. It’s because the SC court is now stacked with those from the far right, that we have so much reason to worry.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 31, 2006 05:11 PM
Comment #153140

This is absolutely insane. I can’t imagine how anyone could not see this as dangerous ground, for all the reasons that David mentioned. While I intend to read the official ruling myself, if what the Christian Science Monitor article says is true (and I’ve come to trust them to be fair), we are in trouble.

I don’t think that simply “voting Democrat” is the answer, though, as Pat suggested. I believe voting according to my conscience is the better thing to do.

Posted by: John at May 31, 2006 07:15 PM
Comment #153154

This isn’t the only time in American history that the Supreme Court has stood in the way of the public good. As the historian Howard Zinn has pointed out, the SC over the years has ruled against integration, workers rights, women’s rights, and ruled for corporations against individual rights and freedoms. Obviously, with this bunch, that sort of thing will continue.

And there will be a future Rosa Parks who will not go to the back of the bus, a future Eugene Debs who will not knuckle under to strike-busting stooges, or a Martin Luther King who will point out that war is antithetical to democracy and poverty undermines freedoms for us all.
There will be courageous people standing at the Edmund Pettis bridge, defying the dogs the nightsticks and the hate.

Ever since the Supreme Court ruled in 1879 that corporations have the same rights as a person these have been “dark days.” But ultimately, in the end, the Supreme Court cannot enforce unjust laws if the American people won’t put up with it. The forces of hate, racism, economic injustice and imperialism always, at the end of the day, fail. A lie, said Mark Twain, can get around the world in the time it takes the Truth to get its shoes on. But once the Truth comes, it cannot be held back.

My concern is the failure of the journalism to fully inform the people of the doings of government, and the failure of our educational system to teach critical thinking and reasoning. These twin failings of our nation concern me more than what the SCOTUS can twist and deform for the corporatocracy’s sake.

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 31, 2006 07:54 PM
Comment #153165

This is all mild compared to where it will be in 20 more years.

We keep re-electing them.
No wonder our severely bloated, do-nothing, bought-and-paid-for, corrupt, arrogant, elitist government grows and grows to nightmare proportions, violating the Constitution in more and more ways every year:

  • such as the tens of thousands of abuses of eminent domain abuse from 1998 to 2002 and who knows how many since 2002 … and condoned by the Supreme Court

  • wire-tapping and unlawful search and seizure of citizens without a warrant ?

  • spying on citizens; wire-tapping and unlawful search and seizure of citizens without a warrant ?

  • secret prisons,

  • torture; we even torture our own soldeirs … just ask Spc. Sean Baker (he was beaten and brain damaged at Guantanamo Bay and no one has ever been held accountable);

  • Gerrymangering,

  • corpocrisy, corporatism, the race to the bottom,

  • government excessively influenced by a few with vast wealth and power,

  • extremely irresponisible intelligence about WMD that lead to unnecessary war in Iraq,

  • the extremely irresponsible administration was totally unprepared to maintain order in Iraq (i.e. to prevent looting and chaos);

  • negligence and incompetence of the FEMA and the federal government in New Orleans; massive waste and decades of corruption; despite warnings about New Orleans for years, nothing was done by federal and local government; funds to strenghten the levees were plundered and redirected.?

  • despite warnings about securing cock-pit doors and illegal immigrants movements, the federal government can’t connect the dots or prevent planes from being used as missles.

  • rampant election fraud, and no one held accountable ?

  • abused presidential pardons, even for felon buddies that pled guilty, like the 140 felons pardoned by Bill Clinton ?

  • selective or insufficient enforcement of the law; some obviously are above the law; especially corrupt politicians,

  • the refusal of bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians to ever pass any common-sense reforms (e.g. One-Purpose-Per-Bill, campaign-finance-reform, balanced-budget-amendment, tax reform, etc., etc., etc.)?

  • ignoring Habeas Corpus ?

  • meddling, corrupt middlemen (government and insurance companies), and greedy lawyers that are destroying the healthcare system,

  • the USPS stealing mail in my area (5000 people affected); stealing it out of those blue mailboxes ?

  • unfair advantages of corrupt incumbent politicians,

  • an unfair and ridiculous tax systems, and the refusal to reform them,

  • the failure of the Congress to declare war (the Constitution states that only the Congress can declare war, but the cowardly Congress has abdicated that responsibility to the Executive Branch in all wars since WWII,

  • the growing problem of coporations stealing pensions and disability (such as ASRCO) ?

  • Homeland Security is a joke when sea ports and borders are practically wide open;

  • politicians that want votes and cheap labor, refusal to secure the borders and enforce the law, forcing net losses of $70 billion per year onto U.S. citizens

  • despite New Mexico and Arizona declaring a state of emergency, borders are still nearly wide open and the Senate has voted to grant guest worker privileges (a.k.a. amnesty) to 12 million illegal aliens;

  • despite warnings about pension systems, the PBGC and pensions are $450 billion in the hole;

  • declining quality and increasing cost of public education;

  • ponzi schemes (e.g. Social Security, Medicare, Federal Reserve),

  • despite warnings about Social Security, Medicare, and 77 million retiring baby boomers, they continue to plunder (steal) the surpluses that would now keep them solvent; to make it worse, politicians pander to buy votes for a prescription drug plan that will cost several hundreds of billions more per year (and escalating fast, with the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs);

  • $8.4 trillion National Debt, Social Security $12.8 trillion in the hole (surpluses in the form of worthless bonds), $32 trillion private debt nation-wide, huge trade deficits, and more deficits planned for years to come, adn government spending, borrowing, and printing money continues to increase;

  • What about the pork-barrel, graft, and corporate welfare ?

  • outrageous pork-barrel, graft, bribery, and corporate welfare, while our troops risking life and limb?

  • dysfunctional legal system, and perversion of the laws to do the very things the laws were supposed to prevent,

  • and the general fiscal and moral bankruptcy of the government.

… not to mention these 99 blunders.

When will Americans truly understand the problem and stop re-electing the very same incumbent politicians year after year ?

Posted by: d.a.n at May 31, 2006 08:32 PM
Comment #153185

d.a.n asked: “When will Americans truly understand the problem and stop re-electing the very same incumbent politicians year after year?”

Perhaps we will see movement in that direction this November. Everything on my radar screen indicates that will be the case. I don’t think we will see a 94% incumbent reelection rate this November. Though, if we get as low 85% I will be encouraged and mildly surprised.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 31, 2006 09:37 PM
Comment #153223

Here’s what we need …

Posted by: d.a.n at May 31, 2006 11:31 PM
Comment #154076

It’s funny. I think the implications considered in David’s article are probably the most important being considered right now at this blog—and it has among the lowest posts. Are the American people asleep?

Posted by: Tim Crow at June 3, 2006 04:32 PM
Comment #154215

Not asleep, just looking to their wallets. This issue isn’t directly dipping into their wallets, hence, the lack of interest. They don’t realize the myriad ways whistle blowers have protected their tax dollars in the past. Oh, well. You can lead a horse to water…

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 4, 2006 08:47 AM
Comment #154375

I care but I’m not surprised.
It’s just one more example of illegal decrees and overreaching

Christine

Posted by: Christine at June 4, 2006 11:42 PM
Comment #155175

Yes, they are asleep.
When they wake up, it will be too late.

Posted by: d.a.n at June 7, 2006 01:19 PM
Comment #155182

Tim Crow,
I agree.
It really is the most important issue.
Corrupt government is our biggest problem.
If voters do anything (if ever), it will only be when the pain level is much higher.
They ignorantly ignore the warnings along the way to those higher pain levels.
The voters will get what they deserve.
Too bad their children will have to suffer for their parents’ .

Posted by: d.a.n at June 7, 2006 01:37 PM
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