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History of the Future
Several weeks ago, I posted an informal poll
at Big Brass Blog wherein I posed the simple question, "Will the Presidential Election of 2008 be held?" A slim majority of respondents to the admittedly unscientific survey indicated that, no, the election that's supposed to be held next year will not be. The title of the poll was "The (Once upon a Time) Unthinkable."
The very idea that more than a tiny minority of generally rational citizens would contemplate a real chance of the suspension of elections is indicative of just how profoundly the Right-wing Republicans in their many guises have eroded confidence in the rule of law. Indeed, the very term "rule of law" is revealed as being insubstantial when the laws, themselves, have been reworked to cynically, and with greater and greater openness, favor the wealthy, the hateful, and the belligerent.
In comments on the cross-post at Pam's House Blend
of my article, "Right-Wing Judge Dismisses Suit by Spy Exposed by Bush Administration
," contributor Stephanie wrote as follows:
"Assuming an administration has no intentions of surrendering the office, what are the chances they would be successful? Would the general populace be accepting of such a situation? Even with an "external" provocation, would there be acceptance beyond the very short term?
"9/11 was very shocking to the American psyche: if 2001 had been an election year, would the suspension of elections have been accepted? No matter how horrible another attack would be, nothing is as shocking as the first time. After 7 years of a secure homeland and the growing cynicism about GWOT, would the shock of an another incident be enough for a majority to completely dispense with democracy?
Even if a majority was accepting, there would no doubt still be widespread active dissent; how would that dissent be controlled? And what about international political and economic sanctions that would no doubt be imposed by extremely concerned other democratic countries?
If this is their intent, I wonder if they have planned the aftermath any better than they did... after the "regime change" they engineered in Iraq? Or do they expect that Americans will greet the riot squads with flowers and candy?
My response, edited and expanded, to that comment is intended to challenge those who oppose this Administration and see, as I and others now do, the gravity of the peril now facing the Republic.
With no intention whatsoever to respond in what might seem at first blush a cynical matter, the "People" as a body capable of dispensing collective will on the timely executors of the laws of the Republic are entirely irrelevant in this matter. This Presidentindeed, this entire Administration in its dizzying array of agencies, departments, and personnelhas already put on wanton display a raw, daring gauntlet for any who would pose to stop the progressive engine of repressive laws and radically antiquated judicial interpretation of the Constitution.
Over the course of the past nearly seven years, Mr. Bushor, more accurately, those who animate Right-wing will through the vessel he provideshas shaped an entirely facile federal judiciary, which is now creating a new body of law by separating statutory and common law into that which is useful to the agenda of the Right and that other which is irrelevant by judges' simple, casual refusal to recognize, much less enforce, it. Judge Bates, the jurist who swept aside the complaint by Valerie Plame, simply declared in utterly sweeping terms that his court is jurisdictionally forum non conveniens
by the argumentive fiat of "separation of powers." Directly consequential is that Ms. Plame, wronged as she wasboth individually and as an agent of the United States Constitutionhas no right of redress. Should this determination be upheld at appellate, it will mean that the President and all of those who serve him are above the law.
Much more importantly, though, is this: because the decision of a court creates
law, it establishes a rule of law containing
an exemption from laws for the President and his agents. In other words, within the rule of law as it is now evolving in this country is immunity from prosecution for a class of individuals by virtue of their public station. At a longer time frame, as more Right-wing judges affirm this principle, it takes on a life of its own, providing clear ratio decidendi
(underlying reason and principle) for other courts to rule similarly.
In street-level, practical terms, all the way from the U.S. Marshals Service to the offices of the United States Attorneys, federal law enforcement instrumentalities answer to the Executive Branch. Congress, and even judges ruling contrary to the mounting precedents, have no independent power to either physically or in his activities arrest a criminal President.
Mr. Bush is free to commit such acts as he deems necessary to protect himself, his position, and the office he holds; and when it comes right down to the licklog, no lawful power exists that can stop him. None.
In truth, this is not at all a matter of the President being "above the law": the federal judiciary is specifically constructing
a new direction arguably, a new body
of common law through recent decisions. Adding to this emergent body of common, the last several Congresses have enacted legislation (i.e., the Military Commissions Act and the Patriot Acts) providing statutory basis for extraordinary powers vested in the Executive Branch; and the President, himself, through such vehicles as signing statements and Executive Orders, has further set forth the foundation for the veil of legality for what Mr. Bush is now doing.
That, unfortunately, is the reality of the situation right now: George W. Bush may do whatever he wishes, and the Congress cannot stop him, the federal judiciaryemanating as it does from the United States Supreme Courtwill not stop him, and such law enforcement instrumentalities that could exercise an arrest warrant upon him cannot if he orders them not to do so because they would then be in breach of their duty to him. (And in this regard, duty to the Constitution is entirely vague, as it always has been, requiring the concession of those who are sworn to uphold it to act to that end without so much as a hint
in statutory law that such a choice would not be punished by courts already demonstrating fealty to the Administration's positions and activities.)
That leaves two potential, countervailing forces: the armed forces and the common mob. While the former would have restive, potentially troublesome brigades that would chafe at the prospect of accepting orders to martial law, discipline would be restored in due time, and the authority of the commander-in-chief would prevail, hopes by some to the contrary notwithstanding.
As for the mob, even if it were to become significant in numbers, tactics, and will, historical examples are not particularly encouraging. To that point, I invite interested readers to review my article, "The Ancient Future
," for an exemplary primer on the likely outcome of rebellion.
Now, does all of what I've written above mean hope is lost?
Certainly not; but I strongly encourage those deeply concerned about the near future of this Republic to consider, in their bleakest scenarios, the challenge I have set forth on previous occasions: Given all that you have found in this world for which to live, for what, if anything, are you willing to be vilified, beaten, imprisoned, and perhaps even killed?
Before anyone raises a hand or stabs a fist into the air, think carefully. Are you really, really ready to stop Krystalnacht
? Can you contemplate being in a running gun battle through the alleys of the Warsaw Ghetto? Can you honestly say you could watch your own face pouring across television screens as a known, villainous enemy of the Soviet Republic? Could you hide on a hill and watch the men of a small village in Guatemala forced to dig their own graves and then get shot so they fall into them? Could you stand in a collapsing phalanx of unarmed protesters at Tiananmen Square getting machine gunned like so many cattle?
Would you be ready at some as-yet ill-defined point to stop the mealy-mouthed rhetoric about "working within the system" so you can get down with the idea of being an honest-to-God enemy of the State? (Who knows?you might already be a winner on that score just by virtue of what you're doing right this very minute on the Internet.)
Could youI mean really
even believe it if the horror show you claim is happening at the behest and hand of this Administration manifestly became the living, breathing, incontrovertibly visible Reality TV of the United States of America?
Wouldn't it be better just to watch some television, maybe catch a movie and have dinner with friends?
Wouldn't it be more fun to have a round of tee-hee-hee-aren't-we-naughty, joyless, empty sex and listen to some mind-dulling music thumping away your consciousness?
Wouldn't it be nicer to stay indoors and have Me-Time with a good book and some computer games?
Wouldn't it be the best thing to simply let it go?
The future story of a nation might very well one day hinge upon the honest answers millions upon millions of people whisper, then cry or roar, to questions like those.
Unfortunately, I already know the answers.
The Dark Wraith has spoken.
When in the Course of human events...
This horrifying scenario has been the too frequent topic of conversation here. I cannot pretend (rather Hellenic religious leanings aside) to be oracle enough to say how this would end. Instead, I have found myself musing that Americans, having 'inherited' their democratic republic, and not really having needed to fight for it as our Founding Fathers did, or Lincoln and his armies did, have gotten lazy. Complacent.
I fear that if the above scenario does play out, it will be because America has earned a turn in the barrel that may HAVE to go over the "falls" to learn that democracy is NOT paid for by military members on FOREIGN soil. As for the questions above.....I live in an area with an unusual saturation of military bases. The thought of them loosed upon crowds makes me tremble. The WTO mess just north or me a few years back sent me into orbit. I DO see myself being ready to be run over by a tank, or shot in the streets......or perhaps torching myself upon steps of some capital building. Or upon my own Labyrinth.
Questions alway arise when talk gets down to creating a new Republic.
One of the most asked is what can the general citizen do? Certain "implements" could be difficult to obtain...not necessarily. If that were the case, there would be fewer drive by's.
It would behoove the "assembled, diverse street associations " to put aside differences and concentrate on cooperation with other interested parties.
About your already known answer DW, reminders need go out about collaborators during WWII. And while it would be difficult to argue with our many friends in uniform (who may, for while, follow orders), there would be little compunction to respect those civilians, radio and TV personalities that helped create the current situation.
I don't know about the alleys of Warsaw; I've never considered myself visual-genic; but I do know how "I" would react.
I took an oath once.
"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).
"I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God." (DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)
It's the domestic part that opens a whole new world; and the fact that arguments have raged about officers and the UCMJ. I just re-wrote an executive order that pertains only to me by virtue of my interpretation of The United States Constitution.
"...we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
That single piece of 231 year old paper means more to me (at least) than blindly acceding to the insane rantings of a psychopath and his cadre of greed-mongers.
I know my answer.
Then perhaps my editorial double-dog-dare is worth getting yelled at for writing.
Just in case, mind you.
Nevertheless, the Dark Wraith would prefer the movie and dinner.
[At my age, I can do without having to find friends for such an otherwise pleasant evening.]
Movie AND dinner?
"Well, this time, John Wayne does not ride into the sunset with Grace Kelly." "It's Gary Cooper, asshole," replies John. - Die Hard
"Have you... killed people?" – Jamie Lee Curtis
"Yes, but they were all bad." – Arnold Schwartzenegger
True Lies, 1994
"Now, you've got to listen to me! You have any idea what you'd have to look forward to if you stayed here? Nine chances out of ten, we'd both wind up in a concentration camp. Isn't that true, Louie? - somebody named..Rick!
Ancestors of mine died at Guilford Courthouse, Antietam, Marne, Iwo Jima, and Luzon.
I could do no less. As the quote at the top of my blog says:
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” - Thomas Jefferson
Movies are overrated.
While movies MAY be overrated, they sure did a hell of a lot for morale during WWII.
Maybe WE have become overrated!
"Wouldn't it be more fun to have a round of" --edited for modesty-- "thumping away..." instead? ;-)
"This might very well be the Apocalyse, but we're still stopping at the next exit to get some fast food."
Rebellion 2008, DethBlog Productions
I've been thinking along similar lines for some time. I've said as much about Peak Oil, that we won't be motivated as a nation to do something, until its too late.
Dennis Perrin makes similar points at:
There is a chance that Bush and Cheney will be impeached and this whole mess turned around but as Dennis puts it, "More likely, you'll be hit by lightning while riding a unicorn."
Now once they aren't impeached and serve out their term, will they stay in office because of a nuclear attack in the US as Cheney has predicted will happen, or will the next residents of the White House simply build on the foundation that Bush built? Either way, the Tree of Liberty is infested with bark beetles and dying.
And how is it that Cheney thinks a nuclear attack in a major city in the US city is very likely? Either that is a very irresponsible thing to say, or he has good intel on a plot and doesn't intend to block it. Is he lying, or does he know the folks that are going to do it?
The Bush/Cheney/NeoCon Iraq War HAD to happen! What other way could they have changed our laws?
Someone; name me one thing this administration has done that has absolutely nothing to do with the war or wasn't influenced by the war.
The shear incompetence of these people would have gotten nothing done; the Republican Congress would have done nothing for the people; and nothing for the people HAS been done.
But they did a lot for big business.
Glad he wasn't a divider!
I am currently reading "Rising Tide", an excellent account of the Mississippi flood of 1927. The power elite model seems to be very alive and well, but there are several instances where the stinking masses did rise and settle accounts, if only to be again overtaken by a different power elite. Mostly it seems to me that alot of blood was spilled for no really lasting change.
But that is exactly where we are, in a period of real change with the existing power structure desperate to hang on at all costs.
I am humbled by some of the comments made here today, it isn't easy being true to one's beliefs. My greatest concern is that many either have no real beliefs or think that they do. Social Darwinism never held much hope for me.
What I maybe understand best is that change is a real bitch.
Action and reaction are also subject to economics.
Tremendous inertia can only be swayed by an even greater outside force.
It may be the middle of this century, when society faces the post-industrial peonage that fossil fuel depletion brings about for all but the most wealthy, along with the twenty foot sea level rise when Arctic melts, before there are forces strong enough to break the hegemony ascending today.
But seriously, I have no intention of standing around being passively machine gunned (or microwaved) at a protest. Nor do I think you or your readers will! If it hits the fan in a big way, I think we will all be surprised at what we will do to protect those we love.
Good evening, kelley b.
You are correct: I will not be surprised by what the few do for the many.
At the same time, neither will I be surprised by what the many do for themselves.
The Dark Wraith notes what they have done for themselves by continuing to put corrupt Republicans in power since the beginning of the "Republican Revolution."
Good evenong, all.
DW:At the same time, neither will I be surprised by what the many do for themselves.
Exactly. This was brought home to me when I first got involved in union organizing at the jobsites I worked at. I would guesstimate that 80/90% of the workers I talked to had no interest in lifting everybody up by organizing. Their only concern was making themselves look good. They were encouraged by the management in this thinking. The best way to do this...let the bosses know how the other workers were unworthy. Wanna see a REAL asshole? Give these suckasses a dollar an hour raise, and a walkie-talkie/clipboard. Most of those newly organized are GOLD to the contractors. I have heard people bragging on the fact that they spent the weekend at the owner's house working on the new patio deck! I don't remember any talk about being invited to any cookouts afterward, however.
My fear is that by the time the majority of people figure out that a rebellion is in order, they'll be inspecting the business side of a work camp.
As long as those internment camps don't have latte bars serving detainees after their floggings.
The Dark Wraith hates trying to liberate people during their coffee breaks.
Perhaps my organizing efforts will have better results there.
By the way, after reading the comments from The Ancient Future post, you mention having dental problems, something I can relate to now. I have a loose tooth that split in half, and when it decides to participate in these discussions, well let's just say that it would prefer Free Republic free range fisticuffs.
Yes, trog, if my count is accurate, since that post, on my own I have extracted two-and-a-half teeth, most of which has been in piecemeal fashion. The dental bill for removing just one tooth literally nearly put me back on the street, and the whole thing had the look of genuine scam as I ended up being required to go to one visit after another, culminating in a big fat list of what they were going to do to fix me all up nice and new. The tab for their entire wish list was close to $12,000, counting a little fun some orthodontist was going to have "saving" my incisors (which, thank God, are actually still planted in my head, although not very firmly, as I write this).
I still can't believe I let them sucker me in for as many visits as they did. I was being led into a trap like the way it used to work with some auto repair shops.
I trust that folks here will forgive me when I eventually publish an article ripping Michael Moore a new one for assuming I want anything whatsoever to do with the government paying crooks to keep their racket going without first doing a major overhaul of regulatory and criminal law that addresses the fundamental problems with the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.
As things stand now, I spent a total of less than fifteen bucks to buy pliers at Walmart and some dental equipment at a booth at a giant flea market, and for that investment, I've already saved myself more than a thousand dollars in dental bills.
Last year, I saved myself another five hundred bucks or so by splinting my own knee I tore up being stupid in my exercise regimen. And I'd say I've probably saved more than I could even pay with a year's salary for blood pressure, diabetes, and heart medications by dropping and holding my body mass index at 19 through extremely low-calorie diet and exercise.
At the same time, though, there are millions of uninsured people out there–especially millions of uninsured children out there–in this prosperous nation of ours who need proper healthcare right now, and the debate over healthcare pricing reform and national health insurance needs to lay off until we deal with the immediate problem, particularly for the kids. My mind simply numbs at the utter venality of Bush vetoing legislation to fully and adequately fund a healthcare insurance program for impoverished young people. His behavior, and that of the Republicans who stood with him on that deal, is the mark of a real sicko, to borrow a term from Mr. Moore.
Anyway, I'll let the criticism come as it will for the article I'm going to publish on healthcare reform. I would ask, though, that people of goodwill hold their fire until they read my policy layout. It actually has some good ideas in it.
The Dark Wraith thinks so, anyway.
I'll listen, my debt is at least 6 figures by now with no insurance.
HAHA, splint on yer knee. My right wrist has been broken since football camp in the summer of 9th grade. I broke my left wrist in almost identical fashion at the ass end of an extended work slow down in my territory,(no insurance) right after accepting a job 1500 miles away. With a combination of extended release morphine tablets during work and epic quantities of alcohol afterwards, I continued working for 6 years. My work involved cutting aluminum sheeting and stainless steel with aviation snips and industrial shears, climbing scaffolding and ladders many times a day. I made the mistake of quitting drinking(after 20+ years of prodigious consumption) and trading the morphine for methadone, sending me careening into major depression, which I still enjoy to this day. I couldn't stop working until 2 years ago, or my pension would have been MUCH less. The good news is that my medicare just kicked in, so even though I don't do anything about my medical problems, at least I could!
I should add that it wasn't ALL agony. I truly enjoyed my work, and i had a reputation that was starting to proceed me as a really top notch metal layout and vessel fabrication mechanic. And running the metal shop meant I didn't have to take shit from anyone!
I would think not, what with a lathe and blowtorch within reaching distance.
The Dark Wraith has parts he would prefer to keep.
A jug of wine, a Plasma torch, and thou...Hey, where ya goin'?
grim morrow to you dw..
back in 2005 i posted a piece about my view of the cycles of the history of class warfare. i concluded, stunningly naively as it turns out, that the time for cudgels and pitchforks had not yet arrived. to mix metaphors a bit....the water has now reached close to a boil and some of our fellow frogs are already cooked. if it comes to martial law i hope i have the sense and grit to arm myself with more firepower than a pitchfork, but one never really knows till that time arrives. i am in that part of your audience who thinks that there is a slim but alarmingly real possibility of the suspension of elections.
i'll try a link here for anyone who may be interested in my rant.
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