Saturday, June 09, 2007

Giving up the Soul of America

Bush wages war against Iraq and loses! He wages war against America and wins. As someone said early on: let's give Iraq our Constitution. We don't have any use for it anymore.

Bush doesn't care that terrorism has gotten worse since he began the war. He doesn't care that when Ronald Reagan waged his "war on terrorism" in Lebanon, terrorism got worse. During the back-to-back Reagan/Bush debacles, there were a total of 306 acts of terrorism against US interests at home and abroad. During Clinton only 151. Those stats had been published by the Brookings Institution but are available from the FBI. [See: Terrorism in the United States Scroll down to pg 43 PDF file]

We measure Bush against FDR or Bill Clinton and find him lacking. Neocons measure him against other tyrants and find him a success. It was Pat Buchanan who spoke of the "culture war" at the GOP National Convention held in Houston in 1992. Though it was called a "hate speech" at the time, not even Buchanan could have had this in mind. What is left of Bush's support is most surely of another culture, a set of false values, a cynical Machiavellianism. It is not representative of the "America" I knew or grew up in. Could this, a conspiracy of Republicans to prop up a mean-spirited dictator, be the "culture war" that Pat Buchanan had in mind?

Bush calls his dictatorship a unitary executive.
When President Bush signed the new law, sponsored by Senator McCain, restricting the use of torture when interrogating detainees, he also issued a Presidential signing statement. That statement asserted that his power as Commander-in-Chief gives him the authority to bypass the very law he had just signed.

This news came fast on the heels of Bush's shocking admission that, since 2002, he has repeatedly authorized the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance without a warrant, in flagrant violation of applicable federal law.

And before that, Bush declared he had the unilateral authority to ignore the Geneva Conventions and to indefinitely detain without due process both immigrants and citizens as enemy combatants.

-The Unitary Executive: Is The Doctrine Behind the Bush Presidency Consistent with a Democratic State? Findlaw
The Bush position flies in the face of Chief Justice John Marshall's decision in Marbury v. Madison, which held that the Court is the final arbiter of what is and is not the law. Marshall famously wrote there:
Between these alternatives there is no middle ground. The constitution is either a superior, paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary means, or it is on a level with ordinary legislative acts, and like other acts, is alterable when the legislature shall please to alter it.

If the former part of the alternative be true, then a legislative act contrary to the constitution is not law: if the latter part be true, then written constitutions are absurd attempts, on the part of the people, to limit a power in its own nature illimitable.

Certainly all those who have framed written constitutions contemplate them as forming the fundamental and paramount law of the nation, and consequently the theory of every such government must be, that an act of the legislature repugnant to the constitution is void.

This theory is essentially attached to a written constitution, and is consequently to be considered by this court as one of the fundamental principles of our society. It is not therefore to be lost sight of in the further consideration of this subject.

If an act of the legislature, repugnant to the constitution, is void, does it, notwithstanding its invalidity, bind the courts and oblige them to give it effect? Or, in other words, though it be not law, does it constitute a rule as operative as if it was a law? This would be to overthrow in fact what was established in theory; and would seem, at first view, an absurdity too gross to be insisted on. It shall, however, receive a more attentive consideration.

It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases, must of necessity expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the courts must decide on the operation of each.

-Chief Justice John Marshal, MARBURY v. MADISON, 5 U.S. 137 (1803), 5 U.S. 137 (Cranch), WILLIAM MARBURY v. JAMES MADISON, Secretary of State of the United States, February Term, 1803
So many voices have been raised, so little has been done. It is fair to ask: is anyone paying attention? America! You have given up your Constitution. You have given up Due Process of Law. You have given up habeas corpus. You have given up the rule of law! If Bush is allowed to make it all up as he goes along, ruling by decree (signing statements), then you will have given up freedom itself. As William Wallace might have said: What will you do without freedom?
In its disregard for truth, public opinion, the separation of powers, the Geneva Conventions, the U.S. Constitution, and statutory law, the Bush administration has been more of a regime than an administration.

- Paul Craig Roberts, Are Democrats Turning A Blind Eye to Civil Liberty?
What did you get in return for this Faustian bargain? You have given up the soul of America.
Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?

-A Man for All Seasons
How did this come to pass? Simply, Bush did it the Adolf Hitler way. The tactics were described by Hermann Goering to American psychologist, Dr. Gustav Gilbert, at Nuremberg. Goering, we can imagine, slapped his thigh, laughed, and called the whole process "easy". Even before his capture and trial, Goering was shooting off his mouth about the Reichstag Fire, a "terrorist" act exploited by Hitler to justify the seizure of dictatorial powers, the end of German democracy.
General Franz Halder, provided evidence on the Reichstag Fire at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial in 1946.

At a luncheon on the birthday of Hitler in 1942 the conversation turned to the topic of the Reichstag building and its artistic value. I heard with my own ears when Goering interrupted the conversation and shouted: "The only one who really knows about the Reichstag is I, because I set it on fire!" With that he slapped his thigh with the flat of his hand.

After the Reichstag Fire on 27th February, 1933, Goering launched a wave of violence against members of the German Communist Party and other left-wing opponents of the regime. He also joined with Heinrich Himmler, head of the Schutz Staffeinel, in setting up Germany's concentration camps.-Spartacus, Hermann Goering
You will find the same account in William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It is often quipped that the difference between the Reichstag Fire and 911 is that no one died in the Reichstag fire.

The Bush strategy was originally outlined by Adolf Hitler himself:
The broad mass of the nation ... will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.

- Adolph Hitler

Though we know it to be a big lie, Bush still links his war against Iraq with the events of 9/11. By now, I should not have to repeat the obvious. The mainstream media has apparently not made the point effectively: Bush's invasion of Iraq had nothing whatever to do with 911. Saddam had nothing whatsoever to do with 911. Iraq had nothing to do with the "war on terrorism" until after US troops showed up in Iraq. Since that time, the war in Iraq has made terrorism worse as it has made of US troops a convenient target.

These are all issues about which Bush continues to lie. The Bush regime deliberately lied to Americans about Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction". Colin Powell has since apologized for his fraudulent presentation to the United Nations.

In the meantime, the war in Iraq grinds on. Thousands more will die so that Bush might enjoy absolute rule in what had been the "land of the free". How long can the American people assuage their consciences with a sop to naivete: but we were duped!

Hopes that a Democratic majority might moderate a radical White House have faded. Bush flack Tony Snow raises the specter of "permanent bases", presumably to guard oil fields seized by the US. Bushies now talk about a permanent presence of between 30,000-40,000 troops. This premised, of coruse, upon a friendly government in Baghdad and, that in turn, implies a series of CIA sponsored coups until the US gets what it wants. Viet Nam redux.

Is that what "bringing to Democracy to Iraq" was supposed to be about? In fact, no! It is another product of the "bait and switch" White House. When nothing else done by Bush has worked for anyone but Exxon-Mobil and Halliburton, what chance has yet another crazy scheme to steal Iraqi oil and, thus prop up our inarticulate tin horn dictator in Washington?

In the meantime, the ever courageous Dennis Kucinich says that Bush's planned theft of Iraqi oil is a war crime. Kucinich is absolutely correct.

The so-called "war on terrorism" gets worse because it is lost, because Bush never defined winning, except perhaps privately to the oil barons who conspired with Dick Cheney at what was intended to be a secret meeting of the "Energy Task Force". The very idea of "permanent bases" gave the game away. Bush's war against the people of Iraq was never intended to be won. It was never intended to be anything but an Orwellian state of emergency and endless war. It was never intended to end terrorism or to bring Democracy to Iraq. It was intended to distract the American public and keep George W. Bush in the White House. Let's look at things through George W. Bush's lens. Winning the war in Iraq means we leave and, in leaving, we lose the oil fields. Alas, Bush has embarked upon a "new frontier": tyranny and dictatorship.

Some notes on our "awakening" by Bill Moyers:

And now for something completely different:

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Friday, June 08, 2007

GOP: Sick People Desparately Seeking Scapegoats

The GOP is a sick party of sick people. Nasty, mean-spirited and delusional, it blames its favorite phantom menace, liberals, for all our nation's woes though liberals have not wielded real power since the New Deal. How rational, therefore, is this perpetual, tiresome GOP jihad? Republicans may very well be "nuts" but that misstates the situation. What we are witnessing from outside America's increasingly radical, imperialist party is the ugly puss that oozes from an open sore: Republicanism, desperately seeking scapegoats.

Bush's tar baby, Iraq, has become the GOP tar baby, not easily scraped off. Thus the GOP is the party of monumental failure, a party that will most surely preside over the dissolution, the fall, the complete collapse of the "great" American empire. It is no wonder that Republicans now blame one another and the Democrats. The GOP will try to suck democrats into the quagmire. That is to be expected; it is the nature of evil that it tries to compromise its opposition. Still - a murderer bears more responsibility than those who merely fail to stop him.

Democratic regimes, moderate to a fault, have provided little relief from right wing oppression and orthodoxy that has all but killed America. The myriad of sins heaped on "liberals" and "secular humanists" by goppers is most certainly a deliberate campaign of frauds and lies -the kind we come to expect from the party of George W. Bush, Alberto Gonzales[See: Senate Conservatives Refuse To Put Gonzales Under Oath], Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich and Jack Abramoff. But what, I want to know, is the GOP still pissed about?

Joe Klein, Who Claimed Liberals "Hate America," Now Slams Progressives' "Bile"


Time magazine blogger Joe Klein is upset with the way the progressive blogosphere is treating him these days. In his latest piece, "Beware the Bloggers' Bile," Klein expresses bafflement that he's been criticized by liberal bloggers recently.

Klein writes that much of the progressive blogosphere these days is "is being drowned out by a fierce, bullying, often witless tone of intolerance."

Klein expresses dismay at his critics and tries to play up his supposedly liberal credentials. He writes that he's being unfairly targeted. As far as he's concerned, "the left-liberals in the blogosphere are merely aping the odious, disdainful—and politically successful—tone that right-wing radio talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh pioneered."

Wow, that's a pretty heavy charge.

There's only one problem that the supposedly reasonable and "unfairly" criticized Klein fails to point out.

The fact is, Klein himself has been guilty of the most vicious, Rush Limbaugh-like attacks on liberals in recent years.

Here's an example (as reported last year by Media Matters). On April 11, 2006, Klein declared that Democrats wouldn't find success among voters "if their message is that they hate America -- which is what has been the message of the liberal wing of the party for the past 20 years."

Let me see if I understand this correctly: Klein claims liberals "hate" America. And then he turns around and claims that the progressive blogs are guilty of "intolerance" and Rush Limbaugh-like tactics because they dared to criticize him.
And what is Bill O'Reilly so pissed off about when clearly the sorry state of American society is his fault and that of Fox, the propaganda arm of the GOP and the GWB specifically:

Anger and bile pour from Bill O'Reilly's every pore. O'Reilly is mad at a world that his targets could not possibly have created or influenced except marginally. In fact, we liberals have more reason to be angry at much, much more than has O'Reilly. Delusional, paid very well to lie, Billo obliges with more lies. Typically, he blames the phantom menace for the hell of his creation.

Certainly, recent GOP vehemence is of a radical sort, substantively different from Barry Goldwater and, more recently, Pat Buchanan, who, from time to time, experiences moments of critical lucidity rare in a Republican.

PJB: Does ‘The Decider’ Decide on War?

Why does Congress not enact the resolution Nancy Pelosi pulled down, which declares that nothing in present law authorizes President Bush to launch a pre-emptive strike or preventive war on Iran – and before launching any such attack, he must get prior approval from both houses of Congress?

If we are going to war, is it not imperative that, this time, we know exactly why we must go to war, what exactly the threat is from Iran, what are the likely consequences of a US attack on a third Islamic country and what are the alternatives to war?

-Pat Buchanan

All makes sense when one realizes that the GOP does not hold power legitimately. The election of 2000 was a fraud and the GOP leadership must know this. They planned it. Secondly, GOP members are not angry because liberalism failed but, rather, because it succeeded. Clinton, specifically, but every other Democrat as well will never be forgiven for proving the GOP to be wrong about almost everything.

If "liberals" and Democrats are to be faulted, it is for not having opposed the GOP more effectively, more strenuously. If you listen to the GOP, however, you would think the Democrats had actually accomplished something. I wish they had. Democrats might have been justified in shouting in the face of GOP criticism: "Bring it on!"

The nation may be as truly screwed up as the GOP thinks it is but it is only the GOP who's had a chance to do the screwing. Indeed, the nation is screwed up -by the GOP. Democrats have had neither the time nor the money to do much and, true to form, it hasn't.

The GOP meanwhile has done much --to America, not for America. The GOP stole enough votes and sold enough souls to screw both the nation and the world. And to our everlasting chagrin they have succeeded but not admirably.

The responsibility for the fall of the American empire and its imminent financial collapse must be laid at the feet of George W. Bush and a record of over twenty years of incompetence [See: Time Archives], frauds, and just downright mean-spirited evil! I'm talkin' GOP! I'm talking about the gang of crooks who screwed us, the nation, and now the world.

As the race for the White House heats up, the many failures of the Bush coup d'etat are manifest. GOP candidates will naturally try to distance themselves from the failed emperor even as they try to tar the opposition with an old canard - "liberal". There is little else in their bag of tricks save another terrorist attack.
A WHILE before 11 September the American historian, Arthur Schlesinger Jr, suggested that despite the "absence of international checks and balances" in the modern unipolar world, the United States would not "stroll too far down the perilous highway to hubris . . . No one nation is going to be able to assume the role of world arbitrator and policeman" (1). Like many American intellectuals, he remained confident about US democracy and the rationality of decision making. And Charles William Maynes, an influential voice in US foreign policy, asserted: "America is a country with imperial capabilities but without an imperial mind" (2).

But now we must face facts: a new imperial doctrine is taking shape under George Bush. Now is reminiscent of the late 19th century, when the US began its colonial expansion into the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, the first steps to world power. Then the US was seized by great imperialist fervour. Journalists, businessmen, bankers and politicians vied to promote policies of world conquest.

-Philip S Golub, Westward the course of Empire, Le Monde Diplomatique

To be fair, American criticism of empire is not the sole province of left or right. Arguably, Pat Buchanan, remembered, primarily for his "hate speech" to the GOP National Convention in Houston in 1992, has often been as critical of American imperial ambitions as Gore Vidal who rails from the opposite end of the political spectrum.
There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself. And in that struggle for the soul of America, Clinton & Clinton are on the other side, and George Bush is on our side. And so, we have to come home, and stand beside him.

- Pat Buchanan, GOP National Convention Speech, Houston, 1992

For Vidal, , is but a tragic reprise of the fall of Rome. Vidal's term "national security state" denotes and sums up the oppressive nature of the Military/Industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about. In his Decline and Fall of the American Empire, Vidal attributes the creation of the American empire to a conspiracy between Democratic President Harry Truman and Senator Arthur Vandenburg who told Truman that he would have to scare the hell out of the American people in order to pull it off. Indeed, I cannot remember a time in which the American people have not been afraid of something -commies, black people, immigrants, drugs, porn, Russians, terrorists and most absurdly of late: Michael Moore, french fries, and the Dixie Chicks.

In the meantime, we seem almost accustomed now to a White House increasingly disconnected from reality, a new Nero, whom early Christians most certainly believed was the Anti-Christ.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Life is a Cabaret but tomorrow belongs to Mein Fuhrer!

German playwright Bertolt Brecht wrote a fable that sums up the slow death that Bush and his NEOCON partners in crime have cooked up for the American people. It goes something like this:
A man living alone answers a knock at the door. When he opens it, he sees in the doorway the powerful body, the cruel face, of The Tyrant. The Tyrant asks, “Will you submit?” The man does not reply. He steps aside. The Tyrant enters and establishes himself in the man’s house. The man serves him for years. Then The Tyrant becomes sick from food poisoning. He dies. The man wraps the body, opens the door, gets rid of the body, comes back to his house, closes the door behind him, and says, firmly, “No.”

- Howard Zinn, Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology

Submission to a tyrant takes many forms. Most people just muddle through when forced to choose: either your life or your soul. Few are so dramatically challenged. Most of us live our lives in the grayish hinterland of compromise. Most of us seek and find, for awhile anyway, safety in the no man's land of "no affirmation" and "no denial".

But that is not the stuff of high existentialist drama. Poets and playwrights, rather, find in tyranny the seeds of personal crisis. In this crucible is sometimes born a hero's death ala Sir Thomas More as portrayed in "A Man for All Season". Submission is not a choice, though some may think so. But neither is living when life becomes but slow death from a thousand cuts. If not the body, the soul is bled to die quickly or slowly, but like ashes, it simply melts away in gray rain.

Here's the official description of tyranny:
A tyrant is a single ruler holding vast, if not absolute power through a state or in an organization. The term carries connotations of a harsh and cruel ruler who place their own interests or the interests of a small oligarchy over the best interests of the general population which they govern or control. This mode of rule is referred to as tyranny. Many individual rulers or government officials get accused of tyranny, with the label almost always a matter of controversy.

- Tyranny

That description applies to many tyrannies including that of Adolf Hitler and, more recently, George W. Bush.

As we are told, life is a cabaret but never more poignantly, tragically than in times of repression, times in which your life is thought by power to be expendable in service to some higher, ideological ideal. German cabaret, for example, blossomed in post-war Germany just as a young Adolf Hitler exploited the angst that birthed cabaret. Americans' best exposure to cabaret came to us in the form of Bertolt Brecht's "Three Penny Opera"

Through a cultural filter, we absorbed the Cabaret version of I Am a Camera, a 1951 play by John Van Druten.

By the 30's Nazis had begun to repress criticism. That included journalism and popular forms of entertainment including cabaret. In 1935, Werner Finck was briefly imprisoned and sent to a concentration camp. Kurt Tucholsky committed suicide while almost all German-speaking cabaret artists fled into exile in Switzerland, Scandinavia or the US.