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The Empire- Baseworld, and Blackstar, updated.

by geezer in Paris Sat Sep 8th, 2007 at 05:30:23 AM EST

--- Conventional military power as the definitive source of American Empire's power is failing. Big time. Iraq is a flop. Not only because it was badly done, but because it was a bad idea.

   ---The real power of the Empire, for the last several decades, was in the ability of its consumers to devour the output of "stuff" produced around the world. As the Empire's consumers are impoverished, that power is fading.

   ---The entire economic strategy of the empire- neoliberal economics- is also failing. And I think they know it.

   ---The realities of global warming, and oil depletion are about to totally change the game, and in the coming game, due largely to its own blindness, the "Empire" is holding a rather poor hand.

The United States not only does not know how to deal with an economy based on conservation, the U.S. is passionately opposed to the very idea.

So what's left? What will the Empire do? And how will it affect Europe?

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Welcome to the Empire

by geezer in Paris Sat Sep 1st, 2007 at 06:15:04 AM EST

Part One: Twenty years ago, the Vanguard of the Empire wore a mouse suit, or a stupid hat and apron-suit, and slapped burgers under the Golden Arches. It was an assault of great power, for all the lack of big bangs. The Big Mac was a tremendous weapon, and the mouse?--- What was the phrase? "A cultural Chernobyl ".

Well, the mouse has outlasted two French heads of state, and probably gets more votes in a week than they did in the elections. You can see those arched ballots on any French street, in the small towns and large cities--everywhere.

Conquest can come in many ways- among them, bombs, ballots or ---burgers.

So, now it's too late. The EMPIRE is here. And you, my French friends, are a part of it. Oh, so you think my cheap chapeau is lined with foil, --eh? A burger is just a quick way to get fed before going back to work--right?

So you think I am just another dingbat with messianic leanings? OK- perhaps. But read my links, consider my arguments before you slam the door in your mind.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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To War or Not to War

by geezer in Paris Sat Aug 25th, 2007 at 09:02:38 AM EST

     
Pretend for a moment that we are competent, professional information analysts who would like to get a grip on the question of whether the U. S. administration intends war with Iran.  
God! I've got a headache already. Not bloody likely!

OK, pretend we are a collection of reasonably bright and semi-informed putzers who would like to get a sense of the odds on the same question.
Phew. I feel more at home here.  

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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Health Care at the End of the Earth

by geezer in Paris Sun Jun 24th, 2007 at 05:57:34 AM EST

It was the winter of 1996, and Nuuk, Greenland was bitterly cold in the last days before Christmas.
The wind howled across the airport ramp as the ground crew cut down through the ice to tie down our small aircraft, and we groped our backpacks out from the back in the growing dark. I held Adrian against the wind, and to ease his shaky knees. My son was seven, and a bit shell shocked. Our trip plan had been abruptly altered when ground fog prevented us from landing at Narsarsauak for the night, and Nuuk was our alternate destination- a long, cold three hundred miles across the ice cap after a long but gorgeous flight from Goose Bay, Canada. We were supposed to be snug in a hotel in Narse tonight, and instead---what's this? "Nuuk?" (more below)

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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Enterprise village

by geezer in Paris Sun Jun 3rd, 2007 at 08:42:41 AM EST

             Enterprise Village

     --or, Foundations of Democracy?

Some years ago we needed to return to the US because of what was becoming a family diplomatic emergency- a new baby was coming. Relatives were overwhelmed with the need to participate in that strange ritual of being as involved as possible in the rather sloppy birth drama.  It was the middle of the school year. My son Adrian was ten, and would need to get into school, but we were not too worried- he had available to him one of the better public schools in the area, and all his records were in order.
When we registered him, we were told that we were fortunate- that a new program called "Enterprise Village" was being initiated for the good students, and that he could participate---if his three years of French schooling had not retarded his educational development too severely. When tests showed him to be about two years ahead of his American cohorts, we heard no more about that issue.

From the diaries - afew

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One Mile per Hour

by geezer in Paris Tue May 1st, 2007 at 05:23:16 AM EST

Science fairs. Thousands of them, all over the country.  Troops of bored judges from the stuffmakers and slaughter industries, sorting through the adolescent masses for talent. The search for the wunderkind.And they were there to be found.

For the select, supervised visits to the design facility at Battelle Memorial Institute would follow, carefully shepherded cruises past the atlas nose cone facility, the B-70 landing gear test stand, then through the computer room, security badges dangling, young eyes round with wonder. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and the officer's club, and a magic summer of instruction with an instructor in Cessna's sweet but noisy little trainer jet, known as "Tweety Bird"--Irresistible.

From the diaries - afew

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Authoritarians and the reality wars.

by geezer in Paris Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 10:14:42 AM EST

Jerome,

Reality exists- it is just desperately unpopular these days. You may have noticed that.

It was the height of the Viet Nam era, and a half million people died in Cambodia under a rain of bombs while our president lied to everyone.
I was a student at the immense factory for flunkies and functionaries, Ohio State University, where the general political tone was about as right as possible. You couldn't get three people to even talk about Nam- they were all on their way across campus in their uniforms to the drill ground, and did not want to be late for ROTC. The Lantern, the campus newspaper, was of the general opinion that the only good Vietnamese was a dead Vietnamese. The university administration was run by Novice G Fawcett, a useless authoritarian dingbat who used to look over the girl's dormitories with field glasses, note the room numbers of those young women who failed to pull their blinds and report them for disciplinary action.  

Across from the diaries with an edit - afew

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A bit to help you sleep (not)

by geezer in Paris Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 05:08:59 PM EST

It is said, that two carrier groups is a "robust statement". Three is a declaration.
May would appear to be "Declaration Day".

-------------------------------------------------

Coal Township woman is candidate for prothonotary
January 30, 2007

COAL TOWNSHIP -- Betty Nicola, of Coal Township, has announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Northumberland County prothonotary and clerk of courts.

She has been employed by the Northumberland County Human Resources office as the retirement specialist since 1992.

Mrs. Nicola said her strong organizational skills have made the retirement process an efficient and pleasant one for those needing her assistance. She said she frequently has taken calls and made visits to retirees and prospective retirees on her own time to ensure that their needs are met.

Mrs. Nicola said she will bring this same professional, courteous and dedicated service to the prothonotary's office, pledging that she will be a full-time prothonotary.

Mrs. Nicola has taken college-level classes at Bloomsburg University and the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit. Before working for Northumberland County, she worked in the retail business and garment industry.

---------------------------------------------

Mrs. Nicola is a lifelong resident of the Shamokin and Coal Township area, one of eight children born to the late David and Bella (Maurer) McCormick, of Shamokin.

She has been married for 35 years to Tom Nicola, formerly of Kulpmont. They have lived in the Tharptown section of Coal Township for 33 years and have three sons. Sam, his wife, Traci, and their daughters, Victoria and Samantha, live in Coal Township. Tom Jr., who serves in the Navy, and his wife, Shiloh, are stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Francis, also serving in the Navy, and his wife, Jenifer, are based in the San Diego, Calif., area. Francis is stationed aboard the USS Nimitz and will be deploying to the Middle East in April.

The Committee to Elect Nicola is chaired by Colleen Iwanski, of Coal Township. Dan Rowe, of Shamokin, serves as treasurer.

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Archetypes, Quanta and the new Iran story

by geezer in Paris Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 07:40:35 AM EST

What does quantum physics have to do with Iran?
More than you would think.
And---archetypes? Sheesh. A bit far afield here, aren't we?

Tell that to Carl Rove.
Crossposted from KOS

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How to lie with statistics, or Spin 401

by geezer in Paris Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 10:33:58 AM EST

My first statistics course was taught by a bright, funny man-- with a very limited career in academia, it turned out. He was the news director of one of the largest television stations in America at the time, and a man of integrity- fatal flaws in both worlds, apparently. Along with the usual arid stat text, we read "How to Lie With Statistics", (Huff and Geis, 1954)and I am grateful for this.
Here is a grin --albeit a pained one-- for the post- SOTU  word.

The Hill (excerpt)(SOTU falls flat-))

 Bill Clinton's approval rating jumped six points after his 1996 speech and 10 points after his 1998 address. Only one poll has come out to date with an approval rating, and Rasmussen reports Bush's approval down three points in the days after the speech.
There are other measures of success, and Bush's speech lags on most of them. According to Gallup, 48 percent of those who watched Bush had a "very positive" reaction -- the lowest since Gallup began keeping track in 1998, except for Bush's own 2004 appearance (45 percent were very positive).
Over 80 percent of those who watched Clinton's speeches were convinced afterward that he was leading us in the right direction. Bush's speech convinced just 44 percent of those who saw it that the economy was getting better and only 40 percent that our situation in Iraq was improving. Those failures are particularly striking when one considers that only 25 percent of Bush's audience was Democrats, while 52 percent were Republicans.
Even more important than history is political necessity. A president's approval rating is his most potent weapon. Bush's rating is already lower than that of any other second-term president at a comparable point, except for Richard Nixon, soon to resign.

CNN (excerpt)

President's speech received favorably

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Overall, President Bush's State of the Union was received favorably by a sample of speech watchers interviewed by CNN and Opinion Research Corporation immediately after his 50-minute address to a joint session of Congress.

But the poll showed that Bush registered his lowest "very positive" post-State of the Union reaction of his presidency. Bush reached a high water mark of a 60% "very positive" response immediately following his 2005 speech. In 2006, 48% of speech watchers described his address as "very positive."

As for Tuesday night's speech, only 20% of those polled had a "negative" reaction to Bush's speech, while 41% walked away with a "very positive" feeling about the speech and 37% had a "somewhat positive" reaction.

A bare majority of Americans who watched the speech said they were confident that the U.S. would achieve its goals in Iraq; 46% were not confident. Compare that to the 2004 State of the Union, less than a year after the start of the Iraq war, when 71% of people who watched that speech expressed confidence about Iraq.

On the issue of bipartisanship, 53% of speech watchers said Bush's remarks were more likely to lead to cooperation between Democrats and the White House, while 43% did not think the address would help bridge the political differences.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll interviewed 370 adult Americans -- 32% Republican, 31% Democrat and 36% Independent -- who watched Bush's speech.

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It's still the crap detector

by geezer in Paris Fri Dec 29th, 2006 at 01:32:41 PM EST

George Soros is right- there is a political process driven by the principles of consumerism that devours thought and endangers any rational public discourse. But it is more than that, I think. There is much recent evidence that we come into the world with a lot of preprogrammed responses and behavior- far more than hitherto though.

For almost a century now, it has been unfashionable to suggest that human beings are born with a lot of preprogrammed behavior and behavioral tendencies. "Like father, like son" is seen as cruel and false.
The "Blank slate" theory of human development is currently fashionable. Without much evidence, I think.
When I must explain to my kids some inexplicable, often painful event in their social lives I tell them that human beings- each one- is like a crystal with many facets, through which the human heart and mind can be seen-- a different view through each facet. I do not yet mention that these facets can be doors as well as windows, through which the personality can be "managed".

Why is it so hard to quit smoking? I think I know. It's because fire has been our essential friend and servant for at least a half million years, and a whiff of smoke and the sight of a glowing ember stirs up a deep, atavistic feeling of security and satisfaction in most of us. So also does the possession of "Stuff" stir something very deep in the human psyche. Even if the stuff is crap. My first wife Joyce could never resist a garage sale- she understood well that part of herself, and laughingly called it "the crow in me", while doing serious battle with it.
The marketing gurus who are most successful sell by tapping into these deep patterns, but since the whole concept of inherited behavior is suspect these days, let alone inherited knowledge, they construct a quasi-logical conceptual framework to explain why their stuff works, without getting into the heresy.

The battle with racism is endless and universal because  that facet of human psyche which reveals a human willingness to crudely typecast the "us" and the "them", and then label according to our ancestry is universal and powerful, and is therefore terribly tempting as a handle to use to manipulate us.
An awful lot of us DID love Ronnie, and Dubya. Even some of those who would croak before admitting it. Our reasons remain unexamined, since we cannot admit the attraction.
The German people were deeply anti-semitic at the end of the Weimar Republic- they were living in a hell of a collapsing economy and the sour taste of defeat, and needed a scapegoat, someone to blame. But find one today who will admit- or perhaps remember- that secret satisfaction that came when the evil Christ-killers were drug off to--- somewhere they didn't want to think of.

A well-attended event in French history was the guillotine.
"For a time, executions by guillotine were a popular entertainment that attracted great crowds of spectators. Vendors would sell programs listing the names of those scheduled to die. Regulars would come day after day and vie for the best seats. Parents would bring their children. By the end of the Terror the crowds had thinned drastically. Excessive repetition had staled even this most grisly of entertainments, and audiences grew bored." ----Wikipedia.

GWB is a product that is being marketed to us in the US by his handlers because he appeals to, I think, several of the darker facets of the human character, -particularly to some of us who believe ourselves to be beyond such things. In public, we deny the attraction, but it is effective on a deeper level. If not, --why do we tolerate torture IN OUR NAME for even one day? We could change it practically overnight, you know. What would be the future of Guantanimo, if a million people showed up one well-publicized day in Washington, all wearing a blood-red article of clothing, --or carrying a length of electrical cord, or a waterboard"-like object? Too busy, are you?

To know that we are "being sold a bill of goods" offers little if any protection from the pitch. The only protection is what Neil Postman called a "built-in crap detector" in his 60's book, "Teaching As a Subversive Activity", and the creation of this crap detector is the real function of education. We no longer do this kind of teaching. Quite the contrary. We teach regurgitation, get-along acceptance, sycophancy, and the value of greed.  

I believe that GWB is, for some, an instrument to act in ways that they would not dare to act themselves. A surrogate to take bloody vengeance.

To some, I think he is the father figure, the patriarch who will relieve them of the obligation to think for themselves.

To others, he is an instrument of religious fulfillment, whether their religion is Christian Fundamentalism or Neoconservative doctrine, or Neoliberal Marketworship. Bizarrely, he has become an instrument of doctrinal support- the face that proves the case- for the Jihadist Muslim. For who in the world more perfectly represents their stereotypic American imperialist, than GWB--and us, by association? He is America's symbol, the US's archetype.

Ronnie was also such a powerful public product, and we bought the package. We need to have the courage to admit that we are the ones who sat on our ass while our cute little pop-up land mines, designed at Ft. Huachuka, Arizona, cut the legs off their children. We need to know why we bought. It aint the elites here, ducky, who sat on their asses. It's us. The info was all there, on C-span, where I learned it. You didn't know? Could it be that you didn't want to know?

Another thing I tell my kids, and that I live by, is, "Hope that it's your fault. Because if it's THEIR fault, it's really hard to change. But if it's YOUR fault,--why, YOU are in charge of that problem." The bogie man is ephemeral, smoke, conveniently immune to occam's razor. But if it is us,--then we can deal with it.

We will never be safe from "products" like bush and Reagan until we can show people what the real cost of these delusional products are- the real costs that come with that comfortable "package".
We will never be able to spot these pied pipers until we reconstruct our educational system into a place where young people learn again to persistently and skillfully question all things, including their own motives and beliefs.
The rest is word games.

Comments >> (17 comments)

We got what we thought we wanted.

by geezer in Paris Wed Dec 27th, 2006 at 04:37:22 AM EST

Could it happen here?
from the diaries, with small format edit. -- Jérôme.

This is an updated version of an old post of mine from KOS, that I reread today. It's still an important question, --and flamebait. Still, here it is, for those who want to take a swing. Better forum here. perhaps I will get some real thought- though there were some good responses on KOS when I first opened this door.

No matter how he was elected, G.W. Bush was for years a very popular president by a ratio of better than two to one. Reflecting us, (and their bottom line), the media uncritically slurped up his pronouncements, and passed them on to us,---because we liked it. We were somehow satisfied.

He was dealing in near-complete reality morphing, and there was plenty of evidence to support that fact, even early on in his first term but, for years, we loved it. And him.

Why?

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Culture is a slippery thing

by geezer in Paris Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 08:44:17 AM EST

A moving response from the diaries to this earlier post of mine. Jerome

Frederic Martel is missing the point.

I want to extend a comment made earlier- a comment on a post of Jerome's, quoting an interview with cultural attache' Frederic Martel. One might want to read Jerome's post first-"USA-A vibrant culture open to minorities, better funded than in France".

I came to Paris the first time for love- love of the culture.I came the last time to stay- for medical treatment, but still for the culture, -- not just the art, or the music or the cuisine- I came for the cultural depth.

In Jerome's post on culture and the following good discussion, somehow culture has not been defined, so here is my take.

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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

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