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The Quiet Coup

by geezer in Paris Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:14:56 PM EST

Old stuff. New stuff comes along to add to it every day.
Paris
February 5, 2006
                                The quiet Coup

"A coup consists of the infiltration of a small but crucial segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the
remainder."

Edward Nicolae Luttwak, "Coup d'etat: A Practical handbook"

Democracy is so damned chaotic. It seems to take forever just to decide where to build a bridge, let alone how to cope with terrorists. And if you KNOW what to do, if you know who the bad guys are and how to deal with them, democracy must be totally frustrating. After a half-century of study and action, I still never seem to know things for sure, and perhaps this is why I find myself quite fearful of those who seem without doubt. What's it like to know? To be truly certain? Maybe we could ask John Bolton. Not a whisper of doubt shows there. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld know too, along with their host of neocon allies. Judging by their long trail of actions and public statements, they certainly believe they know, and have known what needed to be done for five presidential administrations. Yet these have been administrations that were filled with failure and frustration for them, perhaps because they never had quite the right tools to work with. Well, they do now. Today, after 30 years of hard work and honing their skills, they finally have this:

-- A deeply conservative and corrupt Republican Congress, easily blackmailed or manipulated.

-- The Democratic Party divided and ineffective, so marginalized that even Harry Reid admits that passing real legislation is not possible today.

-- A federal judiciary stuffed with conservative Republican appointees.

-- An already very conservative supreme court that just got a lot more conservative and power friendly.

-- A sycophantic, subservient mainstream media about as aggressive in its' investigative function as a road kill.

-- A happy corporate constituency that has bought its right to wallow in the public trough through the K Street Bank, and is too busy gorging to look around.

-- A president who agrees with them, and is bright enough to memorize his lines, schmooze well, and call on a tame journalist when someone asks a question that is off-script.

--A distracted, sleepy electorate suffering the twin deficits of shabby education and "stuff" addiction, too busy to even try to ask good questions, let alone find real answers.

-- A religious right embodying (and spreading with missionary zeal) their powerfully authoritarian and deductive world view. A world in which "Doctrine" is unquestioned. A patriarchal world in which dictators and tyrants have always thrived.

 -- And now, wonder of wonders, 9/11. The perpetual war to focus support and resurrect the old notion that dissent is treasonous.  A miraculous gift of fate that they use to legitimize their worst excesses and disasters and create an endless holiday with the voters. With Diebold on their side, and the terrorist nightmare to sell, how can they lose?

It seems that the only way they could miss is if Larry Wilkerson's Cabal just no longer wants the power.

Think that's likely? Me neither.

Sidney Blumenthal wrote an important history of Dick Cheney in his piece for Salon, "The long march of Dick Cheney", but it's worth recapping Cheney's history briefly  

For Rumsfeld and Cheney, Nixon was a failure. Rumsfeld served in the Nixon administration as Nixon's counselor and chief of staff, and with Dick Cheney as his aide, rode that presidential horse as far as he could and then, even though Nixon never saw an institution he couldn't pervert, his distance from reality grew until facts caught him up, and his presidency just dropped dead. Ford turned out to be a weakie for Dick and Don, but they learned a lot in his administration. Then along came Reagan, and things looked up.
The disciples of the obscure neo-fascist philosopher Leo Strauss were making a lot of waves in the conservative community. Bright and well connected, they were emerging from the wings as a political organizing force to be reckoned with. Neither Cheney nor Rumsfeld were probably Straussians early on, but they seem to have taken happily to the theology when the Machiavellian brilliance of some of Leo's pupils showed itself. The Dick and Don show invited a lot of the old neocon talent to do guest appearances, and they stayed on- and soon it was hard to tell who was directing the show.

But realities began to interfere again. Reagan saw an opening with the soviets. The CIA told Reagan that they saw the Soviet Union as for the most part a paper tiger, on the brink of economic collapse. He believed that if he and Gorbachev could just talk it out, he could convince him-could bring him to reason. To Rumsfeld/Cheney this heresy was total folly, particularly if true. A dedicated and evil adversary was what was needed, to generate some healthy public fear and to stiffen the presidential backbone. Enter Leo's boys-the Neocons, and their "Team B". Team B was a backstage team of ideologues assembled by Rumsfeld and Cheney during the Ford administration who were tasked with reevaluating wholesale the CIA's views on the Soviet threat in order to reestablish it as the bogeyman du jour and scuttle detente and the SALT II agreement. A parallel spin team whose job was to-- well, -shape the intelligence around the policy. Sound familiar? Reagan capitulated to Team B in many ways- Salt II was never ratified, for example- but Team B's greatest utility was that it served as the prototype of what are now frighteningly numerous parallel structures that the Duo have set up to bypass recalcitrant bureaucracies, agencies or individuals, or to make policy without the encumbrance of the "old guard". These tools are also handy to discredit those who disagreed. Colin Powell was one of their first victims.

But Reagan was a bit dense, the Soviet Union just refused to play its evil empire role, and thanks to some pretty bright guys in Congress, the Iran-Contra bubble burst, taking with it the only remaining war in town. Once again Il Duo hustled off stage just ahead of the posse. But not for long. The first George Bush quietly reinstalled them in places of power in the executive, and they were off to a fine start in the Middle East, Matt Dillon style:

Our hero stepped slowly into the street, eyes hooded and grim resolution on his face- and in a flash of metal and gunsmoke, put a .45 slug right between the evil Arab's eyes. -----
Ah, not really. At the penultimate moment, no one followed the Duo's script, again, and Saddam went back to the Long Branch Saloon for a beer, instead of to Boot Hill. George Bush the Elder had his own opinions, and enough backbone to stick with them.

The pattern is obvious. Each effort, each new administration taught them lessons. They assembled like-minded talent, honed skills, made contacts and plans, made their move, -- and failed. But now they have the conditions above and , at long last, the break that they have been waiting for so long.
The tragic day of September 11 was the toxic seed crystal that dropped into a saturated solution of creeping authoritarianism, educational decay and subservient media. Before us proles even knew it, before Congress could get off the dime, it was done.

"A coup consists of the infiltration of a small but crucial segment of the state     apparatus"
The office of the president and vice president, executive branch. The office of the secretary of defense.
           'What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard  Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.''

"--decisions often that are the opposite of what you thought were made in the formal (decision-making) process.''
Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to the secretary of state, Colin Powell.
"--which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder."

--The executive branch shall construe as advisory the provisions of the Act, including sections 408, 616, 621, 633, and 1343(b), that purport to direct or burden the conduct of negotiations by the executive branch with foreign governments, international organizations, or other entities abroad or which purport to direct executive branch officials to use the U.S. voice and vote in international organizations to achieve specified foreign policy objectives. Such provisions, if construed as mandatory rather than advisory, would impermissibly interfere with the President's constitutional authorities to conduct the Nation's foreign affairs, participate in international negotiations, and supervise the unitary executive branch.
(Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003, President's signing statement. Note the use of "unitary executive").

The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President, evidenced in Title X, of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks---
---Finally, given the decision of the Congress reflected in subsections 1005(e) and 1005(h) that the amendments made to section 2241 of title 28, United States Code, shall apply to past, present, and future actions, including applications for writs of habeas corpus, described in that section, and noting that section 1005 does not confer any constitutional right upon an alien detained abroad as an enemy combatant, the executive branch shall construe section 1005 to preclude the Federal courts from exercising subject matter jurisdiction over any existing or future action, including applications for writs of habeas corpus, described in section 1005.
(President's signing statement, H.R. 2863, the "Department of Defense, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to Address Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pandemic Influenza Act, 2006" White House, December 30, 2005).

This is but a speck. The mass of evidence supporting a coup is very large, and can be accessed by anyone willing to honestly entertain the notion. The assumption of power by a small part of the whole and the disempowerment of normal and traditional policy creation machinery is obvious. The collapse of congressional oversight is equally obvious, and has been repeatedly commented on by both Republicans and Democrats and the growing supremacy of closely controlled parallel structures that bypass traditional or statutory structures has been remarked upon by numerous players, from all sides of the political spectrum. Most recently, we see the CIA being stripped of it's best and longest asset- it's analysis function- and this function  being "privatized". The current estimate is that about 70% of all intelligence analysis will now be done by private contractors, who conveniently are beyond the oversight of congress, and are largely outside even the skeletal guidance suplied to the military analysts by regulations, traditions and chain-of-command guidance. No UCMJ in the corporate world. Private intel analysis will be done on a product-oriented model, with corporate management stuctures applied. That means, to me that the product is designed to appeal to ther consumer, and so "intelligence" assumes the purpose of validating policy, not directing it. Scary stuff. But there is an underlying reality, and it will bite. The result will be that even the coup will be incompetent.

For those who scoff or doubt, an hour spent reading up on the "Unitary Executive" theory will quickly show that the difference between a  paternalistic protective fascism and what we have now is barely discernible. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the perfect "rescue" rationale, 9/11, falls apart as a justification for all these draconian changes when one realizes that most of the elements of the coup pre-date that disaster, some by decades. Even if you still disagree as to the appropriateness of calling this nest of snakes a "coup", our constitutional crisis is clear.
A couple years ago, Ron Susskind did a superb piece for the New York Times, in which he quotes a high administration official, whose remarks were made in a meeting in the White House.
Ron wrote:
The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
The exact time and manner in which the crisis came to pass, or the label of choice may not matter. We might better ask, today, "How can this be undone?" I believe it can be undone, but the first step is to admit that it has happened.
 If I take a soft focus on the whole pattern, as a sociologist I see a socio-cultural ecology in rapid change, unstable, deeply conflicted, a system that can attain temporary stability with a coup. But it is only temporary stability. People die, and the patriarch's niche is empty again. And the neocon theology can be reassuring for a population bombarded with terror images, but it is useless for governing. It has a cartoon-simple view of social space and human functioning, it is based on assumptions that just do not stand up to a hard look, and every time it has been used as a map for public policy it has failed disastrously. Fascism often falls apart after enough of that old objective reality creeps in and forces people to deal with it. That will happen  here too.

There will be more than enough Chinese currency diversification to shake us hard. Enough twin deficits. Enough peak oil at 90 bucks a barrel. Enough lost retirement hopes, enough dead young men. Today the administration rewrites legislation with "signing statements", literally as law comes into existence, a function clearly assigned to the legislative branch by the Constitution. Confident, unapologetic for torture, legal travesties, massive surveillance and dubious electoral practices, they no longer even pretend. Bush says, in essence, "I did it, I'll do it again, and you can just tough it." No wonder they fail. There will come a time when men and women of courage will have had enough of that.

Dick Cheney is running out of time. His life's work is on the line, he has serious health issues and he will not get another chance. He and Donald Rumsfeld are ruthless, brilliant and vindictive men, by all reports. If they see it all slipping away---what will they do? Revealingly, they already tried, as Al Gore pointed out, to have inserted into the Congressional authorization of force language that would have allowed them to use the military in domestic actions, but Congress refused. Again, some gutsy old guys in Congress, who will probably never be lauded for it, did a very smart thing. But Don and Dick and their mouthpiece Gonzales just did an end run, and declared that Congress was unnecessary.
If it begins to fail again, how far will they go? It is already falling apart. A majority of Americans support impeachment if Bush lied, and if he tapped without a warrant. He has already admitted to the latter, and the former has been long since proven. Every major Bush policy initiative has crashed and burned. The landscape is strewn with the wreckage of neocon dreams, even if Americans in their dozy denial have not yet allowed these facts to disturb their sleep. Dear God, it is past reveille.

Remember the moratorium? Most people don't. My son had never heard of it, at the age of 18. Yet it was the culmination of years of work and risk, of tear gas and broken heads, of families divided by bitterness. It helped to change the world. It is that time again.
The neoconmen are historically illiterate, for all their brilliance, or they would not be so  unaware that their piece of political theater has been acted out a hundred times throughout history, and therefore is pretty well understood- and pretty predictable. This battle has been fought before. Saul Alinsky knew these guys and their type pretty well. He taught that you should be of good cheer when the target heaps abuse and slings mud, when the spitballs and brickbats fly. Their hysterical abuse means we are getting their attention. The more the better. We need to re-read "Rules for Radicals", and start listing our assets. Its time to march to the offices and local outlets of CNN, FOX News and the rest of the dead media, to the offices of our congressmen and women, to the White House. Unfashionable? Perhaps. But it's past time that we learned from a couple million young French students just what can be done by mass action, and fashion -or "cool"- be damned.

 In a world with inconceivable wealth concentrated in the hands of those who live in a gated, sterilized world of comfy, quiet illusions and xenophobic fear, noise and courage are our best weapon.  I am proud of our long ago but well remembered raucous racket, our street theater, our march on Washington. Alinsky said, "Power goes to two poles: to those who've got money and those who've got people." And lest you think we are insufficient in number, remember:  Once the sleepers awake, there will be far more of us than they think. It must be our job to be the alarm clock. It does, however, take guts.

How bad do YOU want your republic back?

We need to get past the intellectual analysis of the causes and the pointless pointing fingers at guilty parties of the sinking of the titanic, and get to discussing how to plug the leak.  
Here in France singing is still socially acceptable. My girls come home from school with a new song about three times a week. I like that.
Anyone remember Woody Guthrie these days?
Woody said, (in the real, unsanitized version of this song)
Have you been working
Just as hard as you're able,
And getting crumbs from the rich man's table?
Have you been wondering if it's truth or fable?
This land was made for you and me.
His son Arlo said, on the flip side of Alice's Restaurant,
"You gotta sing loud if you want to end war."
I am proud that we ruined the Don and Dick show once, and I believe we can do it again. We need to be about that task.
Jim Miller


Display:
But realities began to interfere again. Reagan saw an opening with the soviets. The CIA told Reagan that they saw the Soviet Union as for the most part a paper tiger, on the brink of economic collapse. He believed that if he and Gorbachev could just talk it out, he could convince him-could bring him to reason. To Rumsfeld/Cheney this heresy was total folly, particularly if true. A dedicated and evil adversary was what was needed, to generate some healthy public fear and to stiffen the presidential backbone. Enter Leo's boys-the Neocons, and "Team B" was born. Team B was a backstage team of ideologues assembled by Rumsfeld and Cheney who were tasked with reevaluating wholesale the CIA's views on the Soviet threat in order to reestablish it as the bogeyman du jour and scuttle detente and the SALT II agreement. A parallel spin team whose job was to-- well, -shape the intelligence around the policy. Sound familiar? Reagan capitulated to Team B in many ways- Salt II was never ratified, for example- but Team B's greatest utility was that it served as the prototype of what are now frighteningly numerous parallel structures that the Duo have set up to bypass recalcitrant bureaucracies, agencies or individuals, or to make policy without the encumbrance of the "old guard". These tools are also handy to discredit those who disagreed. Colin Powell was one of their first victims.
Didn't Team B happen during the Ford administration, when Papa Bush was CIA director?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 06:56:56 PM EST
You are right, it had it's beginning then. But Susskind's article and another good private source tells me that it's most important function was to create a package of neocon perspective pieces that were used to massage Reagan's perception of the "Russian Menace", and the perceptions of many others as well.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 04:04:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
--The executive branch shall construe as advisory the provisions of the Act, including sections 408, 616, 621, 633, and 1343(b), that purport to direct or burden the conduct of negotiations by the executive branch with foreign governments, international organizations, or other entities abroad or which purport to direct executive branch officials to use the U.S. voice and vote in international organizations to achieve specified foreign policy objectives. Such provisions, if construed as mandatory rather than advisory, would impermissibly interfere with the President's constitutional authorities to conduct the Nation's foreign affairs, participate in international negotiations, and supervise the unitary executive branch.
(Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003, President's signing statement. Note the use of "unitary executive").
We all know about executive orders, but what in the name of the Invisible Pink Unicorn (PBUH) is a "president's signing statement"?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:00:38 PM EST
Read this.  It's long.  Read the whole thing.

The crux of the matter:

Bush is the first president in modern history who has never vetoed a bill, giving Congress no chance to override his judgments. Instead, he has signed every bill that reached his desk, often inviting the legislation's sponsors to signing ceremonies at which he lavishes praise upon their work.

Then, after the media and the lawmakers have left the White House, Bush quietly files ''signing statements" -- official documents in which a president lays out his legal interpretation of a bill for the federal bureaucracy to follow when implementing the new law. The statements are recorded in the federal register.

In his signing statements, Bush has repeatedly asserted that the Constitution gives him the right to ignore numerous sections of the bills -- sometimes including provisions that were the subject of negotiations with Congress in order to get lawmakers to pass the bill. He has appended such statements to more than one of every 10 bills he has signed.

Examples here.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 02:16:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This (just before the section you quote) is really bad... (my emphasis)
Common practice in '80s
Though Bush has gone further than any previous president, his actions are not unprecedented.

Since the early 19th century, American presidents have occasionally signed a large bill while declaring that they would not enforce a specific provision they believed was unconstitutional. On rare occasions, historians say, presidents also issued signing statements interpreting a law and explaining any concerns about it.

But it was not until the mid-1980s, midway through the tenure of President Reagan, that it became common for the president to issue signing statements. The change came about after then-Attorney General Edwin Meese decided that signing statements could be used to increase the power of the president.

When interpreting an ambiguous law, courts often look at the statute's legislative history, debate and testimony, to see what Congress intended it to mean. Meese realized that recording what the president thought the law meant in a signing statement might increase a president's influence over future court rulings.

Under Meese's direction in 1986, a young Justice Department lawyer named Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote a strategy memo about signing statements. It came to light in late 2005, after Bush named Alito to the Supreme Court.

In the memo, Alito predicted that Congress would resent the president's attempt to grab some of its power by seizing ''the last word on questions of interpretation." He suggested that Reagan's legal team should ''concentrate on points of true ambiguity, rather than issuing interpretations that may seem to conflict with those of Congress."

Reagan's successors continued this practice. George H.W. Bush challenged 232 statutes over four years in office, and Bill Clinton objected to 140 laws over his eight years, according to Kelley, the Miami University of Ohio professor.

Many of the challenges involved longstanding legal ambiguities and points of conflict between the president and Congress.

Throughout the past two decades, for example, each president -- including the current one -- has objected to provisions requiring him to get permission from a congressional committee before taking action. The Supreme Court made clear in 1983 that only the full Congress can direct the executive branch to do things, but lawmakers have continued writing laws giving congressional committees such a role.

I can't believe Congress gave Alito a pass. I was going to ask whether this whole thing is constitutional, but obviously with Alito on the SCOTUS the question is moot.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 04:59:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Neither Cheney nor Rumsfeld were probably Straussians early on, but they seem to have taken happily to the theology when the Machiavellian brilliance of some of Leo's pupils showed itself."

I was just reading an article about Dick Cheney in Vanity Fair (ahem) and they quoted someone who had worked for him as saying "I like the guy, but he's amoral."  When the person asked if he knew what he was saying, he replied, "Yep, I'm saying he's Machiavelli's prince writ large."

Alos, great diary and welcome!

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 01:43:34 AM EST
To me this reads like a cry from the wilderness. Yes, the government is over-run with Republicans--just like it was over-run with Democrats for a long time. Yes, the Supreme Court is stuffed with Republican appointees--just like it was stuffed with Democratic appointees for a long time. Yes, the Republicans have taken the lobbying to a new height of corruption, built on a solid foundation of Democratic corruption. Yes, the media is subservient and unquestioning, in its striving for profit--just like it has always been.

But the problem is that blaming it all on the Republicans completely misses the problem: The Democrats are just as bad.

There is a lot of hand-wringing about how terrible things are, yet there is NO willingness to actually move to a new party. There's lots of complaining about people like Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton because they don't toe the liberal line, but the fact is that they are the power in the Democratic party. On the one hand, blogs and other sources of politically correct communication blast Lieberman and Clinton every day, and yet on the other hand those same blogs also blast people like Ralph Nader as treasonous.

The fact is that there is not actually much support for liberal ideas like socialized health care, formal acceptance of gays, non-interventionist foreign policy, radical restructuring of energy policy, education reform, etc. Until Americans become willing to support an openly liberal party, the struggle will continue.

by asdf on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 08:36:22 AM EST
The Supreme Court hasn't become conservative yet.  We have four conservatives, four liberals, and one moderate -- the moderate being Kennedy, if I'm not mistaken.  Keep in mind, too, that we haven't seen much, if anything, from Bush's two appointees, and Supreme Court appointees often have a tendency to surprise us.  Daddy Bush, you'll recall appointed Souter, and Souter can safely be counted as a liberal -- perhaps the most liberal justice on the bench.

Also, the rich are not the xenophobes.  The xenophobes are largely of the middle and working classes.  Xenophobia is one of the phobias (along with homophobia) the Right uses to encourage the middle and working classes to vote against their economic interests.  The rich love foreigners ("furreners"), because foreigners do the same job for less money.  Xenophobia is bad for business, because it raises costs.  (It's the same reason for why racism and sexism are economically stupid, though they, obviously, still exist.)

As far as a coup is concerned, I think there are elements of a coup here.  Do I think it's as severe as you believe?  No.  Of course not.  But, if the Dems are stupid enough to run Hillary Clinton in 2008, the GOP won't need a coup to hold on to power, because McCain will slaughter her come election day.  Many American Liberals -- myself included -- despise Hillary Clinton for being a sellout and, in general, a piece of garbage.  She's the worst of both worlds -- a neocon, a coward on cultural issues, an economic know-nothing, etc.  I would still vote for her, if for no other reason than to stop the Religious Right (and with the hope of building up her courage), but I'm not sure others would.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 12:41:46 PM EST
As you can imagine, I don't agree.
By historic standards we began this latest round of appointments with a conservative court.
It's true that Souter surprised, as have other appointees occasionally surprised throughout history, but Judge Alito has a long judicial history that illuminates pretty clearly his viewpoint, and I think the primary issue here is that Alito is one of the architects of the "Imperial Presidency", or the "Unitary Executive"-- same animal. He will not surprise, I think.

Would sure like to be wrong.

I am not sure what you are referring to in your remark about zenophobia-- it's an interesting issue, one that I'd like to pursue sometime, but I don't think I wrote about it here. I agree that it is one of the favorite issues for the right-wing demagogues like lePen, but that's a centuries-old issue.
The only traditional component of a coup that is missing that I can see is the element of violence-- yet the objectives of most coups have still been accomplished. It seems that the pistol-waving was unnecessary here, unless you consider the intellectual and personal bullying of men like Boulton as violence. I do.

Some reading shows that many coups are not so much about ideology or policy as they are about naked power. In a strange way, that sort of event seems often less damaging than ours, which is about imposing a fundamental revolution in world view that is strongly at odds with the mainstream views of most Americans.
There is, in our coup, no aspect, no department, no function of importance that I can find that has not been rendered subordinate to the Coup's failed ideological doctrine. Hell, even the weather scientists have had a boot stuffed in their mouth-- worn by a 24-year-old pipsqueak kiss-ass, for a while.
Jeez.
We were well on the road to laying a lot of bad shit to rest, Drew, like homophobia and theocratic domination.
This is one of the two greatests ideological train wrecks in American history, I think. The other was the very similar red scare that led to the McCarthy period,  that very nearly led to a right-wing ideological coup then. A handful of brave men and women fought back.
Thank you, Ed Murrow, and the rest. Anyone big enough to fill those shoes, just speak up.  
   

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 03:22:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You mentioned xenophobia here, though my interpretation may have been incorrect:

In a world with inconceivable wealth concentrated in the hands of those who live in a gated, sterilized world of comfy, quiet illusions and xenophobic fear, noise and courage are our best weapon.

Just curious:

Some reading shows that many coups are not so much about ideology or policy as they are about naked power.

I'm having trouble thinking of many coups that actually were about ideology and policy.  I suppose the American Revolution was more about ideology, and I'm certain that there are plenty of other examples, but none that I can think of in very recent history.  The Bolshevik coup was clearly about power, in my opinion.  I suppose we could see the collapse of the Soviet bloc as a series of coups related to policy.

We were on the road to laying theocratic domination and homophobia to rest, and we are still on the road to laying the latter to rest, although it is a long and winding road that has, and will continue to, involve many setbacks.  As I've pointed out many times, public opinion has begun a fairly strong shift in favor of gay rights.  Theocratic domination also rests on the destruction of the right to privacy, which the Supreme Court has established quite clearly, and which the American people very much support.  Note how even the biggest lunatics in the GOP run away from the chance to state that they do not believe in that right.

Even if the Court were to throw out the right to privacy, tomorrow, Congress would be so fearful of an election-day revolt that it would pass a constitutional amendment in a matter of hours.  And don't think for a second that the states wouldn't pass it, too.  Even Florida, a state that is perhaps permanently dominated by the GOP (since it holds over 3/4s of each house, as well as the governer's mansion), recognizes the right to privacy.  (I believe it's even written in our state constitution, but I may be wrong.)  The public would go into a blind rage.

The point is that, given that the Religious Right's founding mission is really to throw out privacy (since that right is the foundation of, for example, Roe, it is, ultimately, a losing battle for the pseudo-Christian sociopaths.

But the two, homophobia and religious intolerance, really go hand-in-hand.  The Religious Right has been on the rise in this country for quite some time -- long before Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld were in any positions of serious power.  The Religious Right is virtually synonymous with the Old Racist Right.  (Not always, but more often than not, from what I've seen.  They're centered in the same parts of the country, among the same sorts of people -- namely, rural, working-class whites.)  The movement simply never got off the ground until Roe v. Wade was decided in the '70s.  And it didn't have any major impact on politics until 1980.

I would argue that the foundation for the current state of affairs was put into place in the mid-1950s, as the civil rights movement began to gather steam.  I would argue, further, that this is roughly as good as it gets for the Religious Right and the Neocons.  It's all downhill from here.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 06:27:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A few years ago I would have agreed with many of your points. That was before I began living outside the academic and social box that is the United States.

I think one can point to many ideological coups, including the bolshevic coup. Lots of people do believe in things, and lots of them will put their ass on the line for these beliefs. Latin America is the area of the world in which Ideology is remaking the political landscape, and has been pushing hard to do so for a long time. A howl of anger at a century or two of plunder. Most recently, Chavez has shown a powerful dedication to an ideology that may well finally break the endless cycle of needless poverty that has gripped Venezuela for so long. If he lives.
Zenophobia is an American trait, sadly. That's why gated communities have gates.
The racist current that flows in American culture was there long before the civil rights movement and Selma rubbed the collective bigot's noses in it- the civil rights movement would have been unnecessary otherwise.

Yes, the question of privacy rights is central. But, many strict constructionists and conservative constitutional scholars would argue with you on the idea that the constitution protects privacy at all. Judge Bork came within an ace of joining the court, and he did not believe that there exists any inherent constitutional right to privacy whatsoever. He is still a great hero to the conservative right, and today he would join the court in a easy, triumphal march, I bet. Every action of the Dick and Don cabal show that they have only contempt for the idea of such rights. And so far, they have won every round in their efforts to circumvent them.

Yes, the Neoconsevative policy framework has crashed and burned at every turn--but since when has reality conflict ever stopped a theology? I think it was Joachim Wach who devised the best model of the functioning of religious subcults, and in his model reality conflict brings outside persecution ---which is a powerful force unifying the faithful. So, in a perverse way, failure perpetuates failed theologies. It is and will be the same with the religious right, the economic neoliberals, the Perpetual Growth fanatics--. They will (and have) cast opposition as herisy. They may battle that herisy in a nasty way.

Why? Why is it so hard for them to see the failure? Some of the Neocons do see it. But the key here, I think,  is that the Neocons who are driving the bus and the religious right reason deductively- from incontrovertible truths- to generalizations about the world, and thence to policy. Since there are not too many incontrovertible truths to be had, their shit fails as policy. Interesting reveries are possible here about the theologically guided policies of the Muslim world and the conditions of life in the Muslim world, but that would blow up in my face, so I walk on that issue. The enlightenment brought the inquisition--that passionate conflict between Holy Writ and the new breed of thinkers who collected data about the world and tried to assemble the pieces into a coherent picture with predictive utility. It's called induction, and it leads inexorably to heresy. DaVinci could talk about that, if he were here. But heresy also sometimes leads to progress, and to good policy.

The last phase of the four inquisitions was finally decared over in 1834--but the official function of the Jesuits in that task did not end till sometime in the 1960's, I sorta remember.
My question related to how far the Neocons would go in the battle against heresy. And how long will it take till Americans relearn to reason inductively?

The fundamental skill needed to manage an effective coup is the ability to sense the currents of history, the prejudices and fears of the people, and swim downstream with them. These guys do it well.
We are the ones who must swim upstream.
Got your waterwings?

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu May 18th, 2006 at 06:51:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
God, do you realize the senile old geezer can't spell Herisy? Hericy? Heerisy?
OK, Deviationism.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu May 18th, 2006 at 06:58:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
YI think you have described the resons why Hillary is likely to win the Democratic nomination.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 06:35:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You may be right, unfortunately.  I still think the primary schedule works against her, given that it begins in Iowa, where she is not well loved, and then, with the exception of New Hampshire, is based largely on southern, midwestern and western states.  I'm hoping she'll lose ground in those srts of states, and that she'll run out of money by the time Super Tuesday arrives, since Super Tuesday involves states that she is likely to win.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue May 23rd, 2006 at 11:17:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome on board ! And good to see another "in Paris" triber. Hope you will keep posting.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Thu May 18th, 2006 at 02:16:27 PM EST


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