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Why It's Now or Never, Right Now, For The Republic

by cskendrick Fri Jun 1st, 2007 at 12:11:36 PM EST

In which I tell you that the Democrats' apparent plan to wait out the clock on the Bush Administration is an utterly dangerous thing to do --

...not because Bush is dangerous, but because a future President with at least twice his current approval ratings

...and all of Bush's acquired powers and asserted (without effective contest) precedents

...will be tempted to do everything we always feared Bush would do the Republic ---

...and do it to the sound of madly cheering crowds.

It will never be easier to remedy the Praetorian Presidency than now. It only seems dangerous and difficult now, because no one is thinking of how useless it would be to even try against even a mediocre occupant of the Oval Office.

Warning: Long diary. Skim to the bottom if you are in a hurry. :)


    The nightmare as it sometimes seems

Here is my perspective on the current landscape of constitutional mayhem in Washington DC --

At first blush, it looks terrifying.

And how the real Democratic leadership is responding is, while understandable, actually far more dangerous.

But let's go with how bad things look first...

The courts, the bureaucracy, the media and the upper level officer cadre of the armed forces -- the ones that have been allowed to remain -- are completely with Bush. Perhaps the fulltime and reserve troops would not go along with a coup, but they are for the most part on the far side of the planet, the largest group of Middle East hostages ever assembled. If there is trouble, Bush even has access to a constellation of private armies -- so-called defense contractors, one with a major installation not much more than 200 miles south of the capital.

The sense in Washington is that something very, very bad could happen at any moment. People are hurriedly adhering to the forms of legitimate competitive governance, to give both themselves and their constituents confidence that, the system of checks and balances continues to work. After all, there are hearings, investigations, subpoenas, and Bush officials are answering them and some resignations are being forced.

There is also an awareness that everything terrible that was whispered about among close confidantes was not just real, but far, far worse than expected, that the six years of steadily rising bars of surprise and outrage were not aberration, or mischance, but planned.

That in a world where anything bad can happen, and all confidence lost in government, that is not for ideological hostility to government, but rather hostility to our current form of it. And making Americans unsafe, uncertain, untrusting and unsure of their ability to compel positive change has been the game plan all along.

The message has not been - less government but less of this current type of it.

To enable this evisceration of our Republic, under the pretense of protecting it, we have seen a Republican Congress hand the President everything he has asked for including silent assent to his ability to not only line-item veto but rewrite legislation. Then to have advocates in Congress and the media cheer such usurpations and abuses.

To not only selectively obey and enforce existing law but declare it inapplicable to himself by fiat at any time. This, too, has been, first by silence, then by capitulation, surrendered to the President.  Then to have advocates in Congress and the media cheer such usurpations and abuses.

To not only apologize for, then proselytize suspension of centuries of moral progress in regards to the treatment of persons held as witnesses, suspects or prisoners of war, to not only actively subvert existing law but to openly declare that such moves are not only righteous but a duty.  Then to have advocates in Congress and the media cheer such usurpations and abuses...oh, and virtually entire contingent of Republican presidential contenders, as well. And, let's not overlook, the lone dissenter virtually assured his elimination as the 2008 nominee by doing so.

To encourage the rise of a national consciousness based on partisan affiliation, to subsidize by selective regulation, legislation and executive decree the makings of a Republican nation-within-a-nation, and to do so in broad daylight, with an official and media coterie leading the cheers for every defeat handed to Americans...if they aren't clearly Republicans.

I offer as my first exhibit the effective death of New Orleans by conspicuous neglect and forced relocation. So long as New Orleans is in critical care, so is the United States of America. I remain convinced this is a purposeful condition that the Bush cabal not only require for their plans but savor on a personal level, likewise their base.

I offer as the second the single most flagrant violation of the Constitution yet -- the bill of attainder against Michael Schiavo written in the middle of the night by the GOP Congress and signed by the President which, had it held would have ended the Republic right there and then.

The bad news is we no longer have a Supreme Court that would stop the Republicans, should they retake Congress again, and it sometimes seems that the Democratic Congress we have now is not quite doing the job they were sent to DC to do.

And that is a darn scary movie to be watching from the front row seats.

    What is saving us from open declaration of the New Order

Twenty-eight percent, that is what.

Not all the king's pundits, not all the king's men, can put the New Order together again...because Bush is beyond unpopular.

Were he to make any sort of bold move, Bush would immediately be in an untenable position. Oh, he might seemingly thrive for a short while (we are talking months, here) but the country would swiftly become ungovernable. Even if my own (very harrowing) scenarios of civil war did not materialize, the economy would be paralyzed, incidences of mass demonstration, partisan violence (assassinations and disappearances, for starters), absenteeism at work, runs on staples, arms and fuel -- oh, it would be bad, and only made worse by the sudden highly visible appearance of police, soldiers from trusted units and, last but not least, mercenaries who would not always be in uniform, sometimes in plainclothes more resembling Secret Service in appearance -- and a far more infamous S.S. in activity.

There would, rest assured, be a rapid shift to state-led, executive-dictated central planning and coordination of economics. Everything you ever thought you knew about Republicans, even what Republican voters think they know about Republicans, would be thrown out the window.

And it would fail.

It would be attempted, maybe, yet it would fail.

Not because these guys do not know how to govern. That is comforting, but it is also ridiculous; these are creatures of power and just because they willfully generate bad outcomes does not mean that they do not know what they are doing. They most certainly do so.

It would fail because the Bush regime is already very unpopular, and would only become more so should it step too far out of line.

Regardless Bush can, with all the legislated and tacitly-surrendered powers at his disposal, do a great deal of harm to the Republic.

However, at the end of the day I am not worried about what he can do with all these powers, as even if he were to assert the full range of the possible, it would backfire on him terribly, and quite likely be the death of the Republican Party, once and for all.

Bush is trouble, but his is in a very secure box of his own making: He might well be the single most hated man on the planet, and the single most hated man in his own country.

That is not a good place for an aspiring emperor to be.

    So why am I still angry...and more than a little worried?

Because Bush and his cabal are flagrantly violating every law and good effort on behalf of the United States of America that they can think of, and laughing at the rest of us because we dare not attempt to stop them, they think.

It's not a question in DC of the various GOPer witnesses lying to Congress.

It is common knowledge, even to the members of the Committees investigating them.

It would be nice to think that Kyle Sampson is a stupid schmuck, and that Monica Goodling is a ditz, but the truth is they are sharp, well-organized and highly motivated true believers that know precisely what they are doing, and why, and have no emotional trouble or lack of talent lying.

If they seem to slip, it is only because they seem to slip.

I learned as a teenager that the best way to avoid punishment for a serious crime is to flagrantly commit then confess to another (usually lesser) affront. To do so for no other purpose than to be caught, to attract attention, to eat up attention to run down the clock, to then get away with the affront or transgression that I really, really did not want noticed.

I see in the Bushies the same gambit being played, only on a far larger scale, with far superior organization and resources brought to bear.

The hearings only seem to expose; they in fact help the covering of up of transgressions that might bring down the government, and if that threat happens, then it might trigger a true constitutional crisis.

In your heart of hearts, you have been wondering the same thing, many of you. It's in all the live blog threads from the hearings:

What else is going on?
Why are we not seeing people arrested yet?
Why aren't the Committee members asking the questions that matter?
How many more hearings do we need to get an impeachment going?

I would say not because of complicity with the Bushies, but rather fear.

Fear of forcing the contest now, when all the Dems have to do is wait until November 2008 to have it all.

and that is barely more than 18 months away.

    Not forcing the contest might seem like a good idea

Figure this: So long as Bush is not painted into too tight a corner, he has no incentive to do more than be stubborn.

So long as the Republicans do not feel that what goes against Bush is not an attempt to execute the GOP past campaign rhetoric, they have no reason to choose between supporting a coup d'etat and running away from Bush in 2008.

For now, I am going to sidestep the minor detail that we should not even be having this conversation with the Republicans, but this is as I see it the way things are...because I think we are, if not on the path toward a partisan civil war, the topic has "Overtoned" into something that a wider range of commentators are wondering about.

Now, under the current situation, there is little need for pretty much anyone but the Bushies to contemplate alternatives to fair and free elections in 2008. Why? Because everyone else stands to win....just as back in the 1860s, it was clear that, like it or lump it (most these days liking the eventual outcome), slavery was on its way out the door, as there were only two so-called civilized countries left (Brazil and the southern portion of the United States) that adhered to it and the votes to keep the Poisonous Institution going were gone.

Likewise, the votes to keep on the path of conspicuous dismemberment of the Constitution and of American status as a civilized society are no longer there. In my opinion, it was not just the Iraq War but the Murder of New Orleans that sealed Bush's fate, and if they are not wise, that of the Republican Party as a major force in American politics.

In my opinion, once the Bush administration started killing American civilians by neglect and actively blocked of rescue and aid efforts, they crossed the line. That was entirely unacceptable. And I will never understand how anyone could lend aid and comfort, and political cover to such an outrage as that. (And, yes, you have been recognized, Joseph I. Lieberman.)

But back to topic: So, perhaps deferring the trouble is good. After all, time is on the side of progress, always.

Right?

Right.....

    The last time waiting for the next election went badly

So, perhaps we should look to the time when Republicans were (mostly) the good guys...and Democrats (mostly) were not so much. The issue was far more contentious and intimate to the lives and economies of the various states. There was a clear choice -- either work it out, somehow, as a country, or as two of them.

Yet there was geopolitics, too -- perceptions that Great Britain was intensely interested in the outcome of any possible split-up of the upstart United States.  "What England would do" was on the minds of the hotheads.

What Britain almost did was Go to war against the United States in 1861, after the USS San Jacinto stopped the HMS Trent and removed two Confederate emissaries on the grounds they were 'enemy dispatches'.

Britain sent 11,000 troops to Canada (and had committed to sending 100,000), Canada doubled the size of its militia (another 100,000); the British Fleet was placed on a war footing, ready to shut the Atlantic down to American shipping. Rather busy elsewhere, the Union Army had perhaps only 50,000 troops to spare for any hostilities emanating from British Canada. Plans for war with the United States were quite detailed.

Lincoln saw fit to pen an apology and release the Confederate commissioners. Britain was mollified, albeit its displeasure with Washington would continue for many years to come.

This is what happened right out the gate, so it was not atypical for persons in the run-up to the attack on Fort Sumter and the start of the American Civil War to speculate on British intentions. This only made tensions worse, knowing that a foreign power considerably more powerful at the time than the USA might well get involved at any time.

So, there was incentive to do two things (1) for the free states to keep the Union together at all costs, rather than contemplate being sandwiched between a British dominion to the north and an allied state to the south; and (2) a potential payday for secessionists, who could read the tea leaves as well as the abolitionists could, that so long as the South could hold out in a then-hypothetical context, in time the North would relent and Britain might recognize the Confederacy and compel a cease-fire by threat of its active involvement in the war.

This last almost happened in 1862, when from the sidelines it looked like the South was not only holding its own but making advances. That would end abruptly after first the Battle of Antietam, then the Battle of Gettysburg showed that the South was not going to obtain a decisive military victory, after all, and that in time the superior industrial might of the North was going to prevail by attrition. Still, in 1860 and earlier, no one knew that.

Why is this important? Because Britain factored into the motivations of the two sides in the emerging Civil War, and encouraged polarization of both camps. Possible British involvement was a reward/sanction that led to assumptions and actions that precipitated the conflict occurring when it did.

The slavery question thus became one not only of national politics, not only of national identity, but one of national existence as well, and (albeit with some parsing of language due to Britain's revulsion with slavery) one that interested the then-superpower as well.

Which leads us to the war that separates brother from brother in the here and nwo.

    Iraq as the Polarizing Factor in 2008

Same difference. It's a national issue; the very definition of American is now a question of support or opposition to the war,. No issue since slavery is as divisive, and the issue strongly favors opponents of the war in elections for the foreseeable future. And the rhetoric of the age is that if the Iraq non-war is 'lost' -- or if it is not made to get lost -- then very, very bad things will happen, and that cannot be abided.

At the heart of the matter is the nature of the international order to be, the choice between America as the sole hegemon and not only by might but an elaborate body of self-reinforcing, often-repeated legends the only appropriate superpower the world should ever seek to follow -- and people who don't like that idea are evil by definition. I might be flip in that delivery but the essence is deadly serious -- that any questioning of the continued enhancement of American control over world affairs is morally equivalent to flying a hijacked passenger plane into a skyscraper. And this message, once internalized, is difficult to reverse by suasion -- after all, talking against the war or questioning the patriotic course of the Bush administration is disloyal and therefore terrorism.

This arrogance extends to all venues of public and international, even scientific policy; any position that advocates a change away from that which has been in place for the past three generations, which moves away from How Things Are Right Now -- any change -- is treated as a potential threat to America-as-Hegemon.

Were it possible, I think, the Republicans would freeze history, that there would always be an Iraq War, always be instability and tyranny in the Middle East as justification for American regional dominance, that Palestine would never be anything but an almost-possession of Israel, with a snide veneer of sovereignty painted over it, that China would be a fine place to invest but never fix its daunting structural impairments and thus never in reality ever be more than a useful, polluted factory for cheap consumer goods.

That science, medicine, energy, economics, healthcare and the proliferation of the credit card debtor class would never, ever change.

Then there is the rest of the country, the part that feels that America is presently very powerful, that other regions and powers are developing, that rather than fear change America's greatest strength has been embracing progress even as so much of its constituency remained appalled by what it needed to tolerate in order to be enriched by it...and yet, if slowly, eventually embraced as well.

And much of the world sees a need for change as well, not at America's expense, but for America's profit as well, yet only expect those who name themselves world leaders to in deeds not just words actually led the world where it needs to go, not where it insists that it must remain.

This is the choice for, however you want to label it or constrain it, for internationalism...for a community of nations as well as states, for a path toward if not a world state but a world federation that, if not universally free, at least capable of restraining the worst impulses and occasional insanities of its membership.

In other words, the UN as it was chartered, as the victors of World War II intended. As if beating swords into plowshares and learning war no more were a good thing, not a call for contempt and conspicuous spitting on the ground.

And even if inarticulate, even if impolitic to notice too obviously, this is the world that is developing.

The Republican leadership and its friends in money and media fear it, fear it violently in some instances, have no position other than some variation on the theme that America deserves dominance, just because it's America and if that's not good enough, we can still make you sorry you don't like us....but we're really great guys so long as you don't disagree with us. Iraq is the litmus test; if we abandon Iraq, then that calls all of American foreign policy and national security values -- and value to the world--into question. Never mind Iraq; what happens should some ruckus start in Venezuela? What if Brazil starts to that that the time for new Western Hemisphere leadership is now (not likely for a century, but we're exploring paranoia here)? And Chavez wants the bomb! I just know it (heh heh, there's Cheney for you).

The Democratic elites appear to be of two minds in this at the moment, much as Republicans were in the 1860s about slavery, half uncomfortable with abandoning the Exceptional Superpower legend, the other well and truly fed up that, post Vietnam, we ever had to have this conversation, ever again. However, we are, and Iraq far more so than Vietnam is now doing America more harm than going across the spectrum of public policy interests, everyone sees this, both at home and abroad...except for approximately (as late May 2007) 28% of the American population.

And that is enough support, plus the power concentrated in Bush's hands, to allow Bush...

to have his war and fund it, too....

...to commit high crimes and misdemeanors, and to delegate them, too...

...to refuse summons, to produce evidence and testimony, to lie blatantly and cheerfully under oath, knowing that no one dare call the least of them out for it...

...to destroy in plain sight evidence of the greatest, most systematic destruction of our national security infrastructure since the British sailed up the Potomac and burned Washington DC to the ground and shelled every major port city on the Eastern Seaboard, to boot.

No, I take that back; it is in fact much worse. We used to have some idea of what secrets were compromised.

We now have a situation where thanks to Karl Rove's shadow email system, we have NO IDEA what secrets we kept.

However much the Bushies can continue on, and work to conceal, they cannot while under the spotlight easily and safely engage in new ventures, as that may kill the patience of the other 72% of the country, that come 2008 Bush will be gone, and then this will begin to pass like a bad dream.

And so we defer to 2008. And that is very, very bad, just not for the reasons you might think.

    It is not the Caesar you have that you need fear

The danger is not George W. Bush, rightful and stolen powers included, his military misadventures and his low contempt for civility and due process notwithstanding. Like Julius long before, he rose swiftly to fame, seemingly charmed, and while the Ides of March are not likely to be his fate, it is as likely that Bush will, in his time be an infamous figure, with no talented, determined nephew to refurbish his image later on, no romantic plays written to immortalize a vain, silly man who asked for powers and honors and yet never used them fully, and always used them badly and for venal ends.

Or maybe I have that wrong, and that nephew or relation will surface in future. There do seem to be no end of Bushes with political ambitions.

However, at 28% approval, there is not much that 'Caesar' can do, even with the vast arsenal of powers and precedents that he has had handed to him, free of charge, most with no strings attached, and where conditions and limits were set they were dishonored and ignored.

What I do fear is, in deferring a contest with such a despised President, in setting aside a duty to rebalance the branches of government, that Congress is setting itself up for its extinction as an effective participant in government no matter who wins the election in 2008.

Why? Oh, this one's really brief:

Consider what a 28% President with a six-year track record of outrage can still get away with.

Now replace Bush with a newly-elected President of either party, one with at least twice that approval rating right off the bat, and quite possibly higher.

Ask that newly-minted President to hand back powers or sign legislation to that effect.

Ask a Democratic congress to pass such legislation if a Democratic president is disinterested to do so.

Ask the Democrats in general why what is good for the goose is not good for the gander or the goose, either...and that devolving the powers back to Congress ...or the People..is a very, very good idea.

Or let's not pick on Democrats...what if a newly elected Republican president, with twice Bush's current popularity, asserts the same set of powers --- and vigorously?

Oops.

Say no one , Dem or Pub, in the field does so, but the possibility of doing so at any time is still on the table because Congress never, ever gets around to reasserting its powers, save in a collegial fashion, vis a vis the White House, because it did not do so when the Presidency was at its weakest...

...and once that opportunity passes, it will be gone for keeps.

And sooner or later, someone as vain and contemptuous of law and due process as George W. Bush, only far more ambitious, far more industrious, far more imaginative and far more popular, will appear.

And he or she will have their way with the Republic, and refashion it in their own image, and if all the tools Bush has been given or has stolen are not returned to Congress and remain in the kit of that President, it will not be George W. Bush that history reviles.

It will be those who should have remembered their duty, and done it, yet did not.

Display:
This is a revised version, specifically the section on Britain's near-involvement in the American Civil War.

I figured I'd better bring my "A" game if I was addressing Europeans. :)

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Fri Jun 1st, 2007 at 12:16:11 PM EST
I'm sorry, but I don't buy any of it.

If there's one thing that shines through the whole sorry history of this administration it is incompetence on a cosmic scale.

Whenever i get the choice of conspiracy or fuck-up I take the latter every time.

If there ever was a remote chance of the sort of scenarios you fear it shrivelled as Iraq deteriorated into anarchy and chaos, and ended altoegther with Katrina, which, while it may embody the callousness and the ineptitude of this administration, is IMHO nothing more than that.

Any claim the US ever had in respect of competence disappeared when they failed the test of any government worthy of the name: looking after their own.

I don't pretend to know what the end-game will be but I am confident that the great nation that the US still is will be capable of treading another - constructive -path.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Jun 1st, 2007 at 12:50:28 PM EST
But you are overlooking the key point -

The super concentration of powers in Bush's hands is a structural imbalance that future Presidents will exploit, and for America to be take that constructive path requires righting this imbalance, and it will never be easier than now, against said unpopular, incompetent president.

It is easy to say you do not subscribe to my interpretation. So be it.

The facts on the ground are that Bush, a very poor excuse for a Caesar, has nevertheless paved a golden path for the far more dangerous ones to come.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Fri Jun 1st, 2007 at 02:10:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can see Obama playing Augustus to Bush's Caesar.

Not that Bush has the stature of Caesar as a statesman, but in that in his attempt to acquire absolute power he's laying the groundwork for a successor to end the Republic.

I think Caligula is a more fitting analogue for Bush, of course.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 1st, 2007 at 02:54:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)
by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Fri Jun 1st, 2007 at 03:26:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't get me wrong. It's a very good piece, and a very good argument, but my intuitively optimistic (and maybe naive) view is that the moment is now past.

In a similar way, Brown, whether he wants to or not, will be unable to continue Blair's authoritarianism. New Labour has shot its bolt just as comprehensively as the New Republicans IMHO.

The "constructive" outcome I see coming derives from a new take on exactly what constitutes a nation state.

The collapse of hierarchy, and advent of collaboration implicit in a networked society will IMHO draw the teeth of the imbalances you identify.

There are truly tectonic shifts going on right now, I believe, which "change the game".

We must also take into account that the US is simply no longer able to impose itself by force of arms when a few "buy" or "sell" orders by one or two central banks is capable of wiping out the US financially.

Never forget who really controls the US: big Corporates, for whom riots on the street is bad business.

 

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Jun 1st, 2007 at 03:53:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Those are the post-nation-states that are coming down the pike.

Both use the same suite of telecommunications, computation and pervasive media immersion. The pieces of infrastructure are the same, the technological basis is the same.

But one form will use these tools to impose thought in highly intrusive ways -- realtime observation, micro-level predictive modeling of human behavior, operant conditioning by rewarding or sanctioning thought and statement with varying levels of access to bandwidth and the stimuli carried by same.

That's an orchestration. That is the coming form of tyranny.

The same tools can be used to assert individual autonomy, to level the playing field among individuals and associations, to reward useful and valuable creation or assembly of thought, organization, data, image and action and empower participation in a massively overlapping set of short- and long-lived sets of common interest and activity and affiliation.

That's a participation.

I think you see the one, the latter, but not the other.

And you are correct, the rules are going to change...but the technology of progress will always been in a footrace with the technology of reaction.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Fri Jun 1st, 2007 at 04:24:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My ow view is that the arrival and spread of WiMax will not only build on the ubiquity of connectedness, but actually be the greatest social revolution that W*estern societies have ever seen. WiMax is about to turn societies upside down and make them bottom up.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Jun 1st, 2007 at 04:47:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interested in how you think 'WiMax will not only build on the ubiquity of connectedness, but actually be the greatest social revolution that W*estern societies have ever seen. WiMax is about to turn societies upside down and make them bottom up.'

Please elaborate.

by An American in London on Sun Jun 3rd, 2007 at 03:37:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You fear an increasingly authoritarian and Orwellian  imposition by "them".

Those days are virtually over - the future lies in models where it is more "profitable" to cooperate than to compete. Already, the truly smart money is investing in just such disintermediating technologies and the collaborative/consensual legal protocols that enable them.

If I am part of a collaborative and cooperative State then there is no "them" - only "us".

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Jun 1st, 2007 at 04:56:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just because it won't work doesn't mean it won't be attempted, at a terrible cost.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 1st, 2007 at 05:25:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True, but my sense is that the only person callous and malevolent enough to attempt it has missed the chance: I'm talking about Cheney, of course.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jun 2nd, 2007 at 04:09:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Chris, it was always more profitable to cooperate than compete. Yet we have spent at least a century in merciless and unequal competition with our hemisphere to keep it poor and dependent.

Consider what the present might look like if our policy approach to "Our Hemisphere" had been to work, in cooperation, with South and Central America to build a prosperous middle class --who could have therefore afforded to buy our toys. And might look at us as benefactors, partners, instead of with thinly veiled hate.

The "great game" has very often trumped common sense. Even though a superficial knowledge of history will show you that the bottom of the ashpit is buried in players.

There is an atavistic corner of our collective soul that needs a "them", and needs to whup "them". Progressive government must admit this, and learn to throttle that demon.

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

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sat Jun 2nd, 2007 at 02:45:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet another argument against comparative advantage is that it relies on cooperation.

In the notorious England/Portugal example, trade is actually a form of cooperation.

Now England could - hypothetically - invade Portugal, reduce its population to slavery, and plunder the entire country.

While the 'world' economy as a whole might not be as healthy - Portugal's spending power would be somewhat reduced by the resulting genocide - England would do very well out of the deal.

So there is only ever one conflict in politics, and that's between absolutists, tyrants and oligarchs, and everyone else.

Unfortunately these have very different ideas about what constitutes efficiency and productivity. Tyrants will reliably prefer a diminishment of total wealth as long as their personal wealth increases.

Does that make them a 'them' or not? I think it does. Setting checks and balances on those with tyrannical tendencies is the biggest problem in history - currently more important than global warming, because the tyrants are a direct cause of global warming, and will do everything they can to keep it happening as long as they see it as a threat to their personal power and wealth.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jun 2nd, 2007 at 04:30:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
CC incompetence in outward practice cannot be confused with incompetence in their goal:  Power/Money/Oil.  Their gains continue unabated regardless of what happens in the world.

43rd=military-industrial-complex, could care less what happens to their people, much less to Iraqis or their countries, so they fail and keep mumbling throught it.  But they CONTINUE TO WIN/have NOT FAILED in increasing their power, their gains and the continued demand for the industries-of-fear.

I think it is dangerous to underestimate them as the enemy-of-the-people they are.  If they had an ounce of human value they would have all resigned by now over the incompetence, yet they hang on, by sheer inertia, because they keep winning.  It is not incompetence, it is planned, sociopathic "evil".

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sat Jun 2nd, 2007 at 01:20:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The great wonder is that, as you point out, they keep winning. Every round. I cannot believe our ability to see and deal with obvious lying bastards has deteriorated so far, so fast.
I'd like someone to point out a single instance in which their very effective campaign to assemble an imperial presidency has lost a round. Even in his weakened condition, they whupped the democratic congress over the pullout date- and every other significant issue,.
Gonzales' department of injustice is just amazing-- it's still there, and he's still driving.

I fear America will love it's next authoritarian leader, and he or she will not even need to pretend that congress has power.

They govern badly because they do not believe in
government. Self-fulfilling prophesy. See "justicey" department. Where everyone is truthy.

they do not see themselves as evil-- they just, like Strauss, think we need a keeper-- and they want to hold onto the job, or hand it on to their "keepers of the flame".

And, again like Leo Strauss, they live in an amazingly superficial world. Gunsmoke, and Matt Dillon, Perry Mason as an ideal narrative or frame for the world. God.
Google Shadia Drury, and read her work.

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

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sat Jun 2nd, 2007 at 02:33:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They govern badly because they do not believe in government.

It's even likely they believe in bad government.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jun 2nd, 2007 at 03:11:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think they keep winning because nobody can quite believe it they're actually half as bad as they look. The way I usually put it is that the Democrats still think politics is a gentlemen's game and don't really understand what hit them. Gore seems to be getting a clue, but last I heard he thinks Bush shouldn't be impeached because "we don't have the votes".

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 2nd, 2007 at 03:39:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It helps that they've bought and paid for half of the supposedly opposing forces. The Dems won't do anything as long as some of them are owned by the same cabals.

The only thing that might make a difference would be a huge grassroots 50-state movement to put populist Dems in every seat. But most of the population isn't engaged enough to see why that's necessary - qv Lamont vs Lieberman.

I think it's wrong to paint the Dems as spineless. I think some of them are actively complicit enablers.

Weeding them out is going to take a long time. And it may be too late by then.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jun 2nd, 2007 at 04:36:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you're right, Mig.

One of my favourite films is "Three Days of the Condor" where Robert Redford comes up against a renegade CIA sub-group pursuing a ruthless oil-based agenda which wipes out his entire CIA research department when he inadvertently stumbles across them.

I reckon that this Cheney government really has been ruthlessly pursuing an oil grab  - at any cost - for private profit which is simply beyond the comprehension of the idealists and implicitly condoned - as pointed out at the end of the film - by an American public interested only in keeping the lights on.

But it's not just about the US, is it? Other nations now have an economic veto, I believe, and would use it if it came to it.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jun 2nd, 2007 at 04:40:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I used to think that controlling oil production was the goal, but I don't think that's the case. Under that scenario, the US would attempt to turn oil producers into clients and those who refused would be invaded. The problem is that Iraq has made it clear just how vulnerable oil infrastructure is to sabotage. Therefore, one could well expect insurgencies in oil producing countries (especially those invaded by the US) that would stop the flow of oil. SO, in order to stamp them out the US would need to turn into a war economy and do a general moblisation to get the necessary number of troops (half a million in Iraq, maybe? Plus how many in Iran or Venezuela?).

So controlling oil production is not the goal. Controlling oil reserves is the goal. This is the oil endgame, and if by controlling the reserves you reduce production and accelerate the endgame it doesn't matter because you control the reserves.

Still, if the US withdraws troops from Iraq in significant numbers they'll lose control of the oil anyway. So, I still think it's not going to work. And while the US has been busy squandering I don't know how many billions of dollars on blowing shit up in Iraq and buttering Halliburton, China has used a much smaller amount of money to buy control of oil reserves with favours. So eventually the two are going to clash. Imagine if China and Venezuela entered into a cooperation agreement involving Venezuelan oil, Chinese manufactured goods and a promise of military protection. Or the same thing with Iran, say.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 3rd, 2007 at 02:03:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IMHO the goal - the literally unbelievable goal - WAS to control "production" in terms of the financial outcome from production.

ie reap huge profits from preferential access to oil.

What has changed has been that Iraq has demonstrated that the US cannot hope to impose - by force of arms - unfair economic terms in the medium and long term.

They are still trying - that is why Cheney was recently out there - but "Grand Theft Babylon"

http://www.antiwar.com/orig/berga.php?articleid=8862

is over, and with it has gone any prospect that the US would try the same tactic on Iran - which they surely would have if Iraq gone as planned.

I think that there will be a reckoning between China and the US before too long, but it will not be a military one- it will be a financial reckoning.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Jun 3rd, 2007 at 04:08:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for your posting. Impeachment is a necessity to see what has been done to the country and to rescind the directives, laws and policies which Bush & Co have created to wreak havoc on us.

As you so eloquently state; it is just as important if not more; to make sure there are checks and balances so no President can ever get away with this again.

I recommend you post your diary on Dkos because it deserves to be read by a great number of people.

To have confidence in the current system to be able to sort out the Imperial Presidency is folly as we live in a world of media manipulation and money directing our elected officials to do whatever their masters want.

The House should impeach the President and have Henry Waxman head the committee on impeachment. If impeachment is voted for by the House; the Seante will most likely not even convene for a trial before Bush's term is over; therefore, it is critical to have impeachment hearings. Trust your instincts as the eveidence which will come forth will sicken the country to such an extent; there will have to be reforms to protect us from this ever happening again.
There are enough middle level officials which when faced with jail will spill the beans on the entire apparatus of illegality by this administration.

by An American in London on Fri Jun 1st, 2007 at 01:54:13 PM EST
And thank you for your comments. :)

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)
by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Fri Jun 1st, 2007 at 02:10:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow.

Need to read this again, and chew it over.

Long about a century ago, I wrote a far less ambitious post called "The Quiet Coup" that made some of the same points- a few liked it, and it was actually a good piece, I think, but there were never many really substantive responses, here or on Kos. Heresy black.
At this point, I will just say that the relationship you lay out, the potential paths that this process might take I can largely agree with.

The man who abandoned Tipitina's and the Maple Leaf should burn in hell. Though we can surely weep for the loss of the Big Easy (and I do, --often) I'm not sure that the New Orleans event is a good bellwether. No matter. Small point.

In my opinion there are three key issues:

1) We might get lucky, and someone with clout and principle might get elected, and appoint some good justices and hand all those newly stolen powers back. But I think this sort of crisis has happened before, because some of the structural weaknesses are constitutional, and have been with us for a long time.  

2)There will be no impeachment because, though the people detest George, -- enough of the people want what he wants. They want the oil. They want revenge. Even if it's on the wrong guys. As Chomsky says, the 650,000 Arabs are "unworthy victims", so they just disappear. They detest George not because he is a constitution-trashing, torturing shit, but because he didn't get them their revenge and their oil- or their empire.
It is absolutely forbidden to admit that. Even saying this will surely get me flamed, even here on genteel ET, (do I hear the sound of a match striking in Wchurchill's hand?) but I believe it is the single most important reason why Georgie will sit there for another 18 months, and poop into the works of the constitution many more times, unimpeded.

3)Many people will(have) welcome(d) an authoritarian administration-- one that will "make the trains run on time", a la Mussolini. Why? I think that the current state of the American people's ability to reason, to solve problems and discuss policy rationally is at an all-time low, and this could push the course of events in a far more authoritarian direction than many see. People who are ill-equipped to even take a shot at making sense of the world feel the need of someone to do it for them. Also, congress is composed of most all old geezers like me, and, though you may not like their ethics, most of them can think pretty well. Out of touch with the real world and "enterprise Village" (my post-read it) they  do not realize just how disabled their constituents are. Rovians are an exception- they get it, and use it. The conquerors were not exactly welcomed in Baghdad, but they may well be welcomed in Columbus.
In the end, most who read your piece will call us tinfoil hat types---utterly unaware that they are parroting a propaganda concept the repubes slipped into their heads, and thus making it powerful.
Democracy is a conspiracy.
Thanks for all the work.    

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

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Jun 1st, 2007 at 02:22:31 PM EST
Take heart!, all ye who write here.  Let´s not give up before "we get started".

  1.  wc is an anomaly here, not the rule.

  2.  I beg to differ about Congress, because if they were "mostly geezers like you", the US wouldn´t be in this nightmare = they would be able to reason and have the ethics to think of others (as you do).  I hope the USian people are coming out of consuming hibernation, but the Congress is still in lobbyist-sheep mode and therefore do not think well, if at all.


Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sat Jun 2nd, 2007 at 12:59:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In which I tell you that the Democrats' apparent plan to wait out the clock on the Bush Administration is an utterly dangerous thing to do --

...not because Bush is dangerous, but because a future President with at least twice his current approval ratings

...and all of Bush's acquired powers and asserted (without effective contest) precedents

...will be tempted to do everything we always feared Bush would do the Republic ---

...and do it to the sound of madly cheering crowds.

It will never be easier to remedy the Praetorian Presidency than now. It only seems dangerous and difficult now, because no one is thinking of how useless it would be to even try against even a mediocre occupant of the Oval Office.

After the Dems won last November I challeged Kos in a comment with exactly that scenario: that by arguing against impeachment on expediency grounds and because it might cost the Democrats the 2008 election, he was signalling that, if and when a Democrat is inaugurated in 2009, he and other Democratic supporters would suddenly find that the Unitary Executive comes in really handy.

I'd say no Democratic Presidential Hopeful deserves a vote in the primary unless they pledge to reverse Bush's policies at the start of his term in office.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 1st, 2007 at 02:51:00 PM EST
to even dare to run for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)
by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Fri Jun 1st, 2007 at 03:25:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Try to propose that on DKos, see how quickly they throw you out.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 2nd, 2007 at 05:03:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kossacks responded fairly strongly to that.

It was the top -ranked diary there for a while

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 01:55:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great Idea, migeru. It desrves to be pushed hard. I wonder how it might be done.
What sort of response did you get from Kos?

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sat Jun 2nd, 2007 at 03:04:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
None. Are you surprised?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 2nd, 2007 at 03:48:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I strongly agree that (1) the powers of the presidency have grown far too large, and (2) that this is the best time to cut them back, for more-or-less the reasons you present. Some remarks --

  • In part, we're playing the defencive side of a battle -- defence of constitutionality, etc. -- and defence is usually a strong position. Unfortunately, enough ground has been lost that there's also a need for a counteroffensive, but regaining recently lost ground still has much in common with defence.

  • This struggle is inherently conservative, in the true sense of the word. A wide slice of the public will shift in our direction if we are simultaneously conservative and liberal, and we are: This is a struggle to conserve a liberal tradition.

  • The Left has a habit of demonizing "conservatives", largely because it identifies them with a Radical Right that has seized and perverted the term. It's time to stop: More voters self-identify with the syllables "con-serve-a-tive" than with "lib-er-al", and we should get over it.

  • We need to draw a distinction that denies the legitimacy of describing the Radical Right as conservative (what do they conserve?). For example, contrast "the Radical Right" with "genuine [or true] conservatives", a.k.a. just "conservatives".

  • If this gags word-obsessed lefties, then neologise and speak of something like "political conservers", or "defenders of the American tradition".


Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Sat Jun 2nd, 2007 at 02:58:19 AM EST
That distinction is indeed critical. If the Dems had a media consultant worth the powder to blow his car to scrap, a good campaign drawing that distinction would be resonating all over the media world.
There are lots of things worth conserving:
What?
Rule of law
Constitution
An informed and competent electorate (Therefore a real educational system)
Tradition of compassion
lots.
 

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sat Jun 2nd, 2007 at 03:09:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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