Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 26, 2007

Stalemate?

by Rick
lifted from a comment

Uncle, I checked out your link Is There Something Wrong with the System? and found an excellent discussion there at Huffington Post. I would say the system is broken, but that would imply it was working correctly before. That is not to say some things haven’t gotten better for “We, The People”.

In the two to three hundred years that our country has struggled to become an exemplary nation, there certainly have been successes. There have been definite improvements in human dignity regarding race and creed, definite improvements in social programs for the poor, and generally (except during specific instances of war and economic depressions), definite improvements in our standard of living. In fact, overall, one would have to admit that some positive implementations of socialism have improved many lives here in America.

In that respect, as noted months ago, I don’t necessarily subscribe to the “Ratchet Effect” theory, at least as experienced in the long term. The effects of advanced technology and larger populations work together to require additional socialistic solutions no matter what political persuasion one subscribes to.

I have problems with politicians of the left and of the right, with those who call themselves conservative and those who call themselves liberals. In short, I have problems with political labels, and more recently, I have deep misgivings with those who directly support one party over another without true examination of our broken and corrupt “Two Party System”. Political misuse of labels certainly contributes to our broken political system.

Let me explain by an example:

Last week, Vice President Cheney, in a live television interview, was asked if Hillary Clinton, would make a good President. The response from Cheney was quick and short, and although I don’t have the transcript in front of me, if my memory serves me half-way correct, Cheney answered something like the following: “no she would not, she is a Democrat, and I don’t agree with the principles of the Democratic Party”.

There were not any further details from Cheney on exactly what and why Hillary’s principles were insufficient to run the country. With Rush Limbaugh speaking to over 13 million devoted listeners weekly, and Limbaugh’s distinguished use of divisive tactics, how easy it is for millions of “ditto heads” (and a million or so others that these ditto heads influence) to accept Cheney’s poor response.

Our politicians constantly use labels and division to our detriment. In a less obvious and extreme way, our American political system reminds me of Iraq; that is, labels are used by both parties and even by non-party citizens of America, sort of like Iraqis now being allowed to live or die on whether they are Shiite or Sunni.

Are such labels as left or right, so commonly used, so really important here in America, or do they serve a more devious purpose?

Personally, I consider myself a “Conservative”. And I do not see free enterprise as necessarily an enemy of social cooperation. Now before every social progressive shouts me down with personal attacks in all capital letters, let me further say that for example, just off the top of my head, I would have no problem with:

  1. Socializing American energy (gas, oil, etc.).
  2. Socializing our communication infrastructure.
  3. Having a decent socialized medical program available for all.
  4. Removing and/or changing much of the overly protective copyright/patent rights.
  5. Federal and State funded/regulated campaigning open to anyone regardless of party or persuasion.
  6. Removing from corporations, however possible, any political power/influence on our political system and political decision-making.

The last issue is of most importance. Readers here at Moon have heard me time and time again speak out against Corporatism. It is truly, in my mind, a form of Fascism. The problems in America are readily apparent but naturally not addressed by our "elected" representatives.

The academic definition of Fascism is extreme nationalism. But that definition is surely incomplete in today’s global corporate world. Since even before the East India Trading Company, multinational operating corporations have afflicted populations. But such ill consequences have never been on a scale that the poor and marginal of the world are experiencing today. By the term marginal, I am addressing most of us in the developed world.

Regarding my last post concerning Bush’s State of the Union Speech and Webb’s rebuttal, I wish to expound to further explain some points above.

Again, not to beat a dead horse, and definitely Jim Webb is not a dead horse, but I do fault Webb for being part of the system yet not speaking out more clearly against the ills that this system brings - not only to Americans, but to all people of this world.

Examining his speech once more from annie’s link to Crooks & Liars: First the headline from the linked post:

Sen. Webb’s Democratic Response to the SoTU: The war’s costs to our nation have been staggering

This headline is not too off the mark in summary of the Democratic rebuttal. As noted earlier, no mention of the massive loss of Iraqi lives and treasure.

Concerning Iraq and speech specifics, Jim Webb compares Iraq to the Korean War where Eisenhower called for an end to a bloody stalemate. Looking up “stalemate” synonyms from dictionary.com, one finds: impasse, standoff, standstill.

To be sure, The Iraq War is not a stalemate. And as an aside note, the U.S. continues to maintain troops in Korea, and at some significant cost. Certainly, such an ending for Iraq would have repercussions in the area and would probably not respect the sovereignty of Iraq. And I am not implying that this is what Webb recommends.

Looking at Jim Webb’s impressive background, it is discouraging to see Webb, above all people, quoting Eisenhower in such a manner. For most Internet and independent (independent as to thinking, not relating to the political party) thinkers, and I take the liberty of using “we” here, we think of a different quote by Eisenhower, a quote that warns Americans of military/government corporate collusion.

However, looking at the Iraq picture from a political party point of view – from either the Republican or the Democratic Party, such evisceration is exactly what one can expect.  The political parties have become nothing more than a cancer upon the American people, feeding on our military tax dollars and the dollars we are all but forced to pay to large corporate entities.

I would like to expand more, but again, time is limited. In summary though, it is not just America’s political system that is broken, but America’s religious institutions, social support systems, and unfortunately, even our culture is diseased with some form of this cancer.

Most surprising, is how this cancer has eaten away our religious institutions. Unimaginable that today we see many -so-called “Christians” accepting the notion of torture for the “common good”. I can only explain this by divisive actions (labeling, i.e. distorting the character and removing the human dignity of the detainee), tactics used by those with influence and power.

As a footnote, I refer again to Webb’s reference of an American and Iraqi “stalemate”. Such a characterization is not just an understatement, but such a comparison was wrong on so many levels. As for the understatement, it is surely wrong to compare evils, such as U.S. to Iraqi body counts, but let not any of us ignore the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi lives lost. Our collective guilt for lost lives is engraved in stone in a monument that stands before the whole world.

Moreover, the question left unanswered, and not even asked, is: “What exactly is to follow this so called “stalemate”. Any attempt to describe the bleakness of Iraq’s future was avoided, a bleakness due totally by faults of our American Congress and President, and I say this with emphasis that American transgressions were performed by Administrations of both political parties, beginning with the first Gulf War, then the sanctions under both Clinton and Bush, then the second invasion with almost full support of both parties, and now the continued totality of U.S. involvement.

What specifically wasn’t said, with all its implications, is that the puppet Iraqi government can not self-exist in its present form. Again, I am more than unimpressed and more than thoroughly disgusted with both of our major political parties. I cannot even imagine the rage that an Iraqi has towards America.

Stalemate? No, there is no stalemate in Iraq. The stalemate is in our broken political system and culture.

Posted by b on January 26, 2007 at 8:14 UTC | Permalink

Comments

[this comment is by Uncle $cam made on other thread but belonging here - b.]

"Personally, I consider myself a “Conservative”. And I do not see free enterprise as necessarily an enemy of social cooperation. Now before every social progressive shouts me down with personal attacks in all capital letters..."

They'll be no capitial letter's or admonishment from this stool. Unlike what John Dean writes about in 'Conservatives Without Conscience' if in fact you are a conservative, your writing, ideals above and seeminly deeds have proven you are a conservative with a conscience. Within which I can admire and respect. I suspect you have a profound admiration for the spirit of humanity, regardless of the label. I wish there were thousands more like that whom consider themselves conservative, and indeed, I suspect there are , however they and we are being and have been drown out.

As Hannah Arendt, in his 'Origins Of Totalitarianism' wrote, "In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. ... Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness."

Of course that is a blanket statement and simply does not cover all labels as we talked about above, but generally seems true of the masses as a whole. Especially the educatedly dumbed down American civilization. Which perhaps, could be argued --in the emmbedded link anyway--could be taken out of context.

I saw the same subtle governing of thought (i.e., what I call prop-agenda) in the recent cheering of Senator Chuck Hagel as you speak of, and rightly so, in Web. These so called 'public servants', have no vision, no loyalty to country nor constitution, no compassion for their fellow men and women here in America let alone any where else.

"..it is not just America’s political system that is broken, but America’s religious institutions, social support systems, and unfortunately, even our culture is diseased.."


I can agree with the above, as a way of understanding your prior point, as well as observed events in the material world, I have come to at least provisionally accept the counter-initiation thesis of Rene Guenon. At least in part, In that he talks of the spiritually empty shell of true civilization and religion, he writes, "If you remove the esotericism of a living tradition then it atrophies and becomes a dead shell, if not a "counter traditional" movement itself." In that I do resonate with the ideal of the rachet effect, or the pendulum paradigm.

"Democracy, in actual working, rarely permits a country to be governed by its ablest. The opinions of the mass prevail over those of the thinking few. Simply because they are dupted by the elite. We must strive for some better way of conducting human affairs than the lottery of the ballot box".

What has been happening in our country during the past 58 years has been lucidly, and with prophetic vision, described by Rene Guenon in his book "The crisis of the world", translated by Arthur Osborne.

I myself am a praying atheist, however the only god I believe in is a god with skin, that's you and me, brother, sister. I don't know where I'm going with this, I am not a good writer, but I am a deep thinker, hence the reason for asking patrons what the thought of the said post. And I resonate with the vast majority of what you have shared here. So thank-you for responding. Left/right, what about right and wrong, it ultimately gets down to morals, ethics nad human dignity and relations. None of which these 'law makers' believe in. It's like negotiating with insanity. They fancy themselves benevolent, hell, their ego's tell them they are 'little gods', titans among us mere mortals.

'Law'

It's like what 70's punk rocker Jello Biafra said, "when the law braks the law , there is no law". If I have learned anything in my anthropological training, and more so in my autodidatic thirst, it is that Inequality is not a natural phenomenon, it requires an active effort by the ptb. Plato speaks of levels of madness, as the highest being Divine madness, more over, levels of eros or great love of deity; he was wrong. These self proclaimed calavnist's are drunk on love of cruelty hubris and greed, and futher and much more the worse, indifference. A dark eros. A pathos of pathology of power.

We are the witnesses of a barely perceptible transformation in ordinary language by which verbs that formerly designated satisfying actions are replaced by nouns that denote packages designed for passive consumption only: for example, "to learn" becomes "acquisition of credits." A profound change in individual and social self-images is here reflected. And the layman is not the only one who has difficulty in accurately describing what he experiences. The professional economist is unable to recognize the poverty his conventional instruments fail to uncover. Nevertheless, the new mutant of impoverishment continues to spread.

- Ivan Illich, Toward a History of Needs

Posted by: | Jan 26 2007 11:00 utc | 1

Wise words and well thought out, Rick and Uncle. Make what you say available and completely understandable to the "dumbed down" and see what happens.

I think you should give Webb some time. I think he "gets" it and how much could he say in such a short speech. Even then it was almost twice as long as it was supposed to be. He's the best I've seen in a long time and knows how to deliver it seems.

Posted by: beq | Jan 26 2007 13:36 utc | 2

As a ‘genuine’ leftist (heh, whatever that is, something that does not exist, so, a figment...) I have been saying for years now give me a paleo-conservative any day over a ‘softie leftie’ e.g. your typical Socialist where I live (some of these are so repugnant I can’t describe it), a certain brand of Democrat in the US. This attitude has gone so far with me that yesterday when asked who I would vote for in the French elections I answered Le Pen.

Left-right politics are dead. Many countries have sunk to a level of tribal political identity run with labels, a sort of smoke screen of socio-cultural issues or minor tax thingies that only serve to divide, provide some excitement and froth, and a lot of argument. Say, about the difference between ‘racism’ and ‘racialism’ (that is what I heard on France Culture yesterday, though it is a good radio station.)

Religion has gone the same way. I know a few young people who brand themselves Muslim. What they know about Islam boils down to exactly two facts: God is called Allaaah, and the religion is strict about girls clothing, which should be modest. Right.

Rick’s 6 point program (‘having no problem with’..props. 1 to 6), many would judge, shows he is not a Conservative, but a radical Socialist or perhaps even a dastardly commie. What it spells for me is that the labels are dead and should be junked. However, that would mean more and different fractioning (something the PTB want to avoid, they want to conserve a tribal spin on everything and control the rifts) and thus turning to real issues to drive political attitudes and behavior in the voting booth, e.g. the nationalization of the energy sector. Issue politics is difficult, traditionally democracies are run by allegiance to a certain group, a kind of soft consensus around a range of opinions on all kinds of matters, etc. - and the bosses decide, the people follow. The group is all...you are a card carrying member, an adherent, or not. That is one (but only one) of the reasons that the left has not been able to reinvent itself. It sways between issues and allegiance in a peculiar way; unable to use either to good effect; always dependent on the deciders who belong to the other camp....

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 26 2007 16:19 utc | 3

The common conception of political parties changing is that they slowly evolve as the members change their views. This is the driving motivation behind most internet activists on the left. If only they get into the Democratic party, they can elect their people and have them slowly take over! Then we can convince Americans to have universal health care and stop invading countries!

While this is tempting in its lack of stressors or dramatic shock to people's lives, it's not the way I view political change. If people are comfortable with their situation, they won't want change. They will remain essentially conservative, ie, not wanting dramatic changes.

By this view, the Democrats are the essentially conservative party of American politics. Their primary goals are to maintain things like the health care system, gas prices, the American middle-class way of life. Their goals are to keep these things in place, while perhaps making them more efficient or accessible to all. The Republican party, driven by the unholy alliance of anti-tax activists like Grover Norquist, moral majority theocrats, and foreign policy neoconservatives, are the party demanding great changes.

The problem is, most Americans with power (the middle-class and above) are comfortable with their place in the world, and thus will vote "conservatively." The Republicans have their rhetoric in place for this conservativism, because, well, they're conservatives in the popular parlance. The Democrats attempt to seize this advantage with their bullshit rhetoric about "american values," taking back the country," or "a stronger America!" It'll be an amusing race between three expert panderers - Edwards, Clinton, or Obama - to come up with the most insipid slogan. I'm half expecting an Obama "America is good!" to counter Edwards' "Livin' the American Dream!"

At any rate, the way I view politics is as a crystallization of views focused on certain parties (or sides, as in Left and Right) in a consistent cycle of formulation then shattering. That is, the parties form around collections of views which eventually either are demonstrated to be mutually incompatible, or a new, dramatically different Issue is introduced which makes the previous combination of views seem irrelevant. These are going on currently, I think. The former is occurring in the Republican Party, with the authoritarianism of the neoconservatives and religious blight grating on the libertarian instincts of many in the party. Meanwhile, the Iraq issue is forcing the Democratic Party to crack at the seams, with isolationism appearing in the face of what had been a neoliberal consensus (amongst other things)

These major shifts and redefinitions seem to occur every 30-40 years, and last for 10-15 years. The Civil War, of course, is the most dramatic of them in American history. After that, there was a decent political consensus until the combination of the "progressive" era and new overseas imperialism led to a new one, which was quickly shattered by the Great Depression. Roosevelt managed to create a new political consensus which held until the Vietnam/Civil Rights era broke that, and it reformed into the form that we're working with currently, with the Republicans standing for "traditional" morality and stronger American exceptionalism, and the Democrats for the neoliberal order with a slightly more egalitarian worldview.

9/11 might not have shattered this crystallization on its own, but Bush's reactions, both his authoritarianism and his foreign policy, are pushing the issue, as is the increasing awareness of ecological collapse. If new political consensus is created in the next few years, we should attempt to have one of the parties be based around ecological sustainability, anti-authoritarianism, a defensive or even isolationist foreign policy, and economic egalitarianism. Regardless of whether it's left or right, or Democrat, Republican, or something new.


Posted by: Rowan | Jan 26 2007 17:34 utc | 4

I do fault Webb for being part of the system yet not speaking out more clearly against the ills that this system brings - not only to Americans, but to all people of this world.

while i agree webb did not address the repercussions of american aggression outside of our borders i would have to disagree w/you about his speaking clearly against these ills to americans, in his speech both wrt economic and militarily. "two areas where our respective parties have largely stood in contradiction"

the speech was a rebuttal which was prefaced w/the explanation time did not allow him to cover everything.
although he didn't address eisenhowers famous military/industrial complex quote nor did he connect the economic/military positions with which parties stand in contradiction, the bulk of the speech addressed those 2 issues quite clearly devoid of party loyalties.

the SOTU speech and it's rebuttal is not a SOTW speech. perhaps it should be. perhaps politicians and citizens would be at an advantage to view the US in the context of the globe, since certainly the ones who wish to control us think globally.

conservatives have no problem w/socialism they support, that being a socialized military industrial complex that funnels the citizens money upward to the rich. socialism for the rich vs socialism for the poor/middle classes.

Concerning Iraq and speech specifics, Jim Webb compares Iraq to the Korean War where Eisenhower called for an end to a bloody stalemate.

i think that is a stretch. let's review what he said.

As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate. "When comes the end?"

we called it a stalemate, the communists called it a win. i am not seeing a comparable conflict but then i don't really comprehend the context of the cold war outside of the similarities of illusions vs reality wrt communism/terrorism.

instead of battling it out on the streets of baghdad, for the most part we have kicked an anthill turning iraq into a bloody pulp thru instigating a civil war that all sign point will rage on without our presence. so hell no there is no standstill, what there is that compares to korea is the realization that we are outnumbered and achieving an 'ultimate goal' that is acceptable to the american people is next to nil. the stalemate is not against our 'enemy' it is against the percieved goal.

the will of the public to make sacrifice against an ideal could be percieved as a stalemate. the ideal was merely an excuse for greed. once the illusion is lifted, and it has been lifted to all but the blind, what are we fighting for? for the riches of warmongers? one could call it a stalemate, i'd call it a sinking ship.

it is so disgusting regular americans hands are seemingly tied as iraqis pay the consequece of our deadly national slumber.

Posted by: annie | Jan 26 2007 17:41 utc | 5

When it comes to Webb, I believe that he needs to put forth a philosophy on which he can build a new constituency. The trouble with third-party politics in the US is that, too often, it is founded on a single personality without a clear political agenda and philosophy.

When the word "philosophy" is brought up among Americans, the most frequent reaction is for eyes to glaze over. Americans are, unfortunately, not deep thinkers. This accounts for why people like George W. Bush can become president.

Without philosophies to guide their political positions, the politics breaks up into narrow and simplistic sub-sectors, which is exactly what Karl Rove has done in forming the Republican party. The idea has been to get people so worked up in one narrow field that they will partner with other corporate interests which actually work against their own benefit without their even knowing it. Slogans replace thought.

The trouble with this kind of alliance is that even the dumbest meatheads will eventually figure out that they have been screwed. This has happened with the Christian right already.

Now the time is right for a new political philosophy. The current Republican and Democratic parties has been serving warmed up leftovers for too long, and the leftovers now stink.

The good thing about Webb is that he sees how the different parts fit together on the social, corporate, economic, military, political and diplomatic fronts.

If he is willing to talk, I'm willing to listen.

Posted by: Chris Marlowe | Jan 26 2007 19:17 utc | 6

Now, about the 6 point program - a concrete example, and the weight of the conservatism Rowan refered to.

What exactly Rick means by ‘socializing’ is not clear, as it couldn’t be in that type of post, no criticism implied. There are many different models / aspects - e.g. relative freedom for corps but a stupendous redistributive tax, direct or indirect (see the French model), to a wide swath of shareholders (the US model, see pension funds etc.) to ‘nationalized’ schemes for industry / health care, etc. (e.g. Cuba, Venezuela.) Examples are just for flavor, nothing is so black and white.

‘Nationalized’ only implies a different locus of control, presumably one controlled by ‘the people’ but as the right likes to point out, in many instances, simply then run by a class of bureaucratic cadres who often prefer the status quo to innovation (e.g. US energy policy!) mostly because it takes them a long time to reach powerful positions (both in democracies or dictatorships - referring to different regimes vaguely) but also because they are ignorant of the businesses themselves, and are out for numbah one. So they count on stability above all. Progress can scare them or send them into inappropriate overdrive.

And::

The difference between: (from Rick)

1. Socializing American energy (gas, oil, etc.)

3. Having a decent socialized medical program available for all.

3/ Could be achieved, exists in part today (Medicare, free emergency care, health insurance paid by employer, etc.) It is a big Democrat calling card (see Hillary in the past), many State arrangements or attempts right now (Mass.) tend in that direction. Accomplishing it would imply - amongst others, to make things simple - curbing or fixing doctors salaries, cracking down or negotiating with big pharma, introducing some controls, and some competition! where neither exist right now. Of course, much opposition would raise its head, etc. but it is not beyond the realm of imaginable possibilities. The upshot would be that the rich pay for the care of the poor in a much larger proportion; yet the win-win aspect might easily be made clear to all.

By contrast, 1/ seems illusory. (?) The American life style is dependent on American clout, its army and nukes. The US depends on imports and the guns it points, and thus on the concept of the ‘free market’ abroad and thus within its own borders. US energy cannot be ‘nationalised’ as the energy comes in a large part from other countries - Canada, Saudi, Venezuela, to mention only contrasted exporters. If nationalization would change anything, one wonders what. Would the ‘people’ or ‘elected representatives’ force conservation or rationing? Demonstrate for 3 months for light rail? Give up free market principles? Ban SUVs, imported exotic foods? Withdraw immediately from Iraq? No. The Gvmt. might control prices at the pump, to smooth them out. That it could do, while taking care not to cut into oil company profits. Well it is doing that already, I guess.

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 26 2007 19:54 utc | 7

You guys are awesome.

Only have time of late to read here, but read I do, every day.

Posted by: Hamburger | Jan 26 2007 20:13 utc | 8

If Chuck Hagel runs for President, we'll have someone with a 100% rating from Focus on the Family, 0% rating for NARAL, who voted to eliminate the minimum wage, but is the most consistent and best rhetorical opponent of Bush's Iraq policy in the Senate short of Robert Byrd.

I suspect we'd see a massive crack in the political consensus then - Hagel has been just THAT good on Iraq.

And independent Gore run could do it, too. That's pretty unlikely, but I'd support it.

Posted by: Rowan | Jan 26 2007 20:53 utc | 9

The political apparatus is a stage play performed by well heeled actors.

Whomsoever hires the politicians, whomsoever provides the monies to get them elected, and then to reward them for their government service and their lucrative business or academic or think tank careers after government, are the true patrons of the play. They own the production, and they approve all the scripts.

The 2008 Presidential election is predicted to be the first billion dollar election in US history. That's how much money it takes to even get to Election Day. That money does not come from we, the people. We are in the audience.

Via the miracle of money being deemed free speech, politicians are almost directly hired by the economic elites to entertain the populace with mythos and drama, with bread and circuses -- while behind closed doors they are ever busy constructing and reconstructing the written laws of the land to further tighten the control of the economic elites over the monies, aspirations, and lives of the populace.

When people speak of Corporatism, of the merger of corporations with government to the point where there is no functional difference between them, they are only pointing out the 'front end' of the scam.

Behind Corporatism is the debt virus, the deficit-financed nature of modern money. Privately held Central Banks are the 'back end' of the scam. Money and finance, credit for consumers and corporations and governments alike is controlled by a few shareholders in each nation's Central Bank. Often these shareholders are the same across even economically competing nations.

These Central Banks can inflate or deflate at will, can increase or decrease the availability of money at will (by setting interest rates and controlling the availability of loans). The public myth is that the Central Bank struggles mightily to control the mysterious marketplace; it valiantly fights to provide financial stability and monetary consistency to good citizens everywhere, in a never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.

In plain fact, they are in business for themselves, seeking to maximize their profits just as all corporations are sworn to do. They arrange boom and bust business cycles in order to boost their own profits and assets.

The 'back end' to the scam of Corporatism is that the economy is controlled and managed for the benefit of the few who already hold most of the capital. They therefore get to dominate and control politics, the media, and government itself toward their own purposes. By the daily operations of fractional reserve lending, and the miracle of compound interest, these capital holdings only grow larger every day, these massive capital accumulations become more and more the sole masters of many millions of lives.

It's been said that the function of government is the redistribution of wealth. Modern governments are so thoroughly distorted by the amassing of huge international capital funds that they are no longer in possession of this primary power of government. They are not even in a position to look out for, or care for, their own citizens.

The logical result of Corporatism is to invest all power in a CEO, a Boss, a Great Leader. That this person is a puppet for economic masters is never seriously examined or challenged in the stage play called politics. The government whips the public into dramatic commitments to war on this or that noun as if this will improve the public man's lot in life, while all the while its real work is government by, of and for Friends Of Our Leader (FOOLs).

Corporatism, Fasicism, Totalitarianism -- let us step back and describe them all by their common feature, which is ultimate concentration of economic (and therefore political) power in a very few hands. Is it not clear that economic power will be indifferent to which of these political faces it wears, as long as economic power is protected and concentrated?

You cannot tie two elephants to one post. You cannot have two captains on one ship. The people cannot possess a nation that is already private property of a few fortunates who are heirs of monstrous wealth.

It is not possible to contemplate self-government in America, or any nation, where corporations are persons, where money is a private fiefdom, and where free speech is equated with cash.

Posted by: Antifa | Jan 26 2007 20:59 utc | 10

federal reserve

Posted by: annie | Jan 26 2007 22:46 utc | 11

Friends of our leader, priceless

Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 26 2007 23:07 utc | 12

@annie, et al....


"Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies."
--Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 26 2007 23:31 utc | 13

Once upon a time (I maybe should go ahead and add the "in a far away land" for the sake of sounding utterly trite), liberalism stood for what was rather conspicuously rooted in the word itself: liberty. To be a liberal was just that: to be a proponent of liberty. Simple. Since the early 1830s --that is, the inception date of 'whiggism', or embryonic 'liberalism', semantically-speaking -- liberalism has undergone an appalling face lift, morphing from a movement promoting the supremacy of Congress over Executive power along with slow social-change, to a dirty, disparaging household-term associated with treachery and far-reaching deviations from the social norm.

Rick is absolutely correct; Cheney's concise yet crude and curt response to Blitzer's question says it all. To them --them meaning Republicans-- Democrats are fundamentally devoid of the philosophical-wherewithal to 'play the game', to use Sy Hersh's words, of politics. To them, there exists only two ways: the right way (theirs), and the wrong way (any other way that does not mirror theirs).

Until humanity at large can 'learn' how to re-adjust its binary and Manicheanistic Weltanschauung, the existing polarity will only continue to stretch and stretch, and labels will continue to demarcate the good and the bad, the sane and the insane, the healthy from the lepers.

Posted by: A | Jan 26 2007 23:39 utc | 14

Our Supreme Leader decided to torture us again by reminding us that he is the decision-maker.

Since I'm not a psychologist, I don't why a 60-year old person has to constantly remind the world that he is a decider or decision-maker. It reminds me of a little boy in a sandbox saying: "I decide who can take toys from the sandbox."

Speaking for myself, I never questioned that the president of the US never had to make decisions, and I never thought of taking that responsibility away from him.

The problem which most of us have is the quality of the decisions he has made, which, to put it politely, really stink.

When most adults make bad decisions, we make bad career decisions or bad money decisions. The scope of the damage is relatively limited.

When the president of the US makes bad decisions, people die. In Bush's case, a lot of innocent people have died needlessly and for bad reasons.

That's the problem with Bush's decision-making.

Posted by: Chris Marlowe | Jan 26 2007 23:54 utc | 15

Antifa wrote "These Central Banks can inflate or deflate at will, can increase or decrease the availability of money at will (by setting interest rates and controlling the availability of loans)."

Robert Anton Wilson's take, in Schrödinger's Cat, page 474

“Now, what is money?” Naismith asked. “Money is information. Ask any computer programmer about that, if you don’t believe it Money is a signal, a unit of pure information. It is a abstract as mathematics. Cattle served as money once. So did leather. So did the precious metals. They were commodity monies, because they were worth something in themselves. Modern paper money is pure information, worth absolutely zilch, except for the signals printed on it. “ ....

“Think of it this way,” Naismith said, warming to his subject. “This is a corny old Sufi parable, but it might help you to get the picture.”

The great Sufi sage Nasrudin, Naismith said, once invented a magic wand. Wishing to patent such a valuable device, Nasrudin waved the wand and creatd a patent office, which immediately appeared in 3-D Technicolor.

Nasrudin then walked in and told the clerk, “I want to patent a magic wand.”

“You can’t do that,” said the clerk. “There is no such thing as a magic wand.”

Nasrudin immediately waved his wand again, and the patent office and the clerk both disappeared.

”Jesus and Ludwig Christ!” Clem Cotex cried....Clem sat down at his desk and spread out a large piece of paper. He drew an elaborate scroll around it and printed at the top, “COTEX RESERVE SYSTEM.” He made it a cashier’s check to the Teasury of Unistat for ten million dollars, to be repaid at the prime interest rate of 15 percent. he then decorated another piece of paper, making it a Unistat National Bond, payable to the Cotex Reserve System for ten million dallars, thereby giving CRS the credit to loan ten million to Unistat.

He then switched the pieces of paper around on the desk. Cotex Reserve seemed to be ten million dollars ahead, and yet Unistat owed them ten million plus 15 percent interest per year.....

(“You can’t do that. There’s no such thing as a magic wand.”)

Clem laughed hysterically..... for nearly fifteen minutes. The next time he met Blake Williams, he unleashed his Illumination in an aphorism that he was convinced would, for once, startle the seemingly unflappable anthropologist.

“Money is the Schrödinger’s Cat of economics,” Clem said, waiting for some sensational reaction.

“Oh,” Williams said quietly, “you’ve noticed that too?”

Posted by: catlady | Jan 27 2007 4:13 utc | 16

catlady,
thanks for the RAW quote - I've been looking for that sort of explanation. didn't realize it was in my own libary waiting to get read. nice.

Posted by: citizen | Jan 27 2007 5:14 utc | 17

Annie: “conservatives have no problem w/socialism they support, that being a socialized military industrial complex that funnels the citizens money upward to the rich. socialism for the rich vs socialism for the poor/middle classes.

Annie, I hope in your broad use of the "conservative" label that you weren’t speaking for me. I have no current interests (not even desires) in “making money off” any of the 6 points I mentioned. Neither I, nor my wife in her name, own any Stocks or Bonds, and the property we own is highly mortgaged, so technically that is even “owned” by the bank. Each of us both work more than 40 hours per week, and New Years in Hamburg was the longest vacation I have had in years. My father is dead, my mother is senile with full time care that our family is paying for now by borrowing from her home, so inheritance is not a factor that I would use in investing in those 6 points I mentioned.

I know many “poor” conservatives, those who, like myself, believe in strong individual rights and limited government power, where human dignity is a priority above that of the state. It is not a matter of money. And yes, “conservatives” along with many people, like to own a home free from state intrusion as much as possible. And yes, they like to see limited government, as once protected by our Constitution, wherever possible – including the U.S. Military. In fact, most true conservatives, support stronger local police, and a limited role in Federal authority. But again, I wish to stress, I don’t see “conservatism” as a matter of money.

Please tell me who are these “conservatives” you are speaking of? Do I know them, and would I call them "conservative"? Do you know them?

Posted by: Rick | Jan 27 2007 5:26 utc | 18

@ Antifa # 10:

Yes!

Concise and clear. This is the background for everything else.

Posted by: Gaianne | Jan 27 2007 6:42 utc | 19

ok rick, i shouldn't have used that term, after all i don't believe a conservative is conservative. i should have stated the policies of the (non) conservatives in the rethug party. or something.

Posted by: annie | Jan 27 2007 6:48 utc | 20

@Mssr. Marlowe (#15)

The use of the phrase "Decider", "Decision-Maker", et cetera, goes a mite further back for this Codpiece-In-Chief than the ousting of Rumsfeld. I watched a press conference in early 2003 in which everyone knew that the invasion of Iraq was a done deal, but everyone was still playing games as if it were contingent upon Hans Blix, UN Resolution 1441, or whatever justification was being batted around on that particular day, when a reporter (who I never recall being identified)had the temerity to cut through the BS and asked a direct question about the timetable for the imminent invasion.

Bush looked sneeringly at him and dismissed the question with the phrase "I decide when we go to war. Not you." It struck me at the time as having the same tone a redneck father takes when he patiently explains to his children "Because I said so. That's why." Since that time, that's been my lens for every public utterance the man makes. It feels like he thinks he is addressing his daughters whenever he talks about US policy.

I'm not sure which is more pathological; these leaders who infantilize entire nations or the nations who seem to love being infantilized.

@Rick (in general)

This is far from the first time we've lamented over the inapplicability of the modern use of political "labeling". Any competent marketer will tell you that labeling serves a heuristic, rather than a descriptive, function. That is to say, it's nothing more than shorthand for people who can't juggle more than a few variables in their heads at a time (as demonstrated by your example of Cheney's response about the platform of H. Clinton). They have no meaning, per se; only function.

As such, I rejected politico-philosophical labeling as a productive means of conveying anything more than a reflexive opposition on one other notable occasion... and I was summarily and virtually biatch-slapped for suggesting that some folk stop tossing out increasingly meaningless referents and join the rest of us in the spirit of genuine inquiry.

Unfortunately, this would cut severely into those particular folks' ivory-tower arsenal when they wanted to play "Define Your Terms!" later. It's a perfectly understandable response for people who don't want to be perfectly understandable. A few convenient and descriptive labels to describe those folk spring readily to my mind, but I'll keep them to myself more out of deference to my own sensibilities than to theirs.

Just as you seem to be incapable of seeing the conservatives" that Annie points to, for my part, I keep looking out for the American "liberals" constantly referred to by the likes of Coulter, Limbaugh and Malkin. I can only conclude that they must be standing somewhere behind all the Well-To-The-Right-Of-Moderates. We have to call people something, though, to justify the notion that there is more than a single political party in the United States, so we end up with absurdities and indistinguishables like Democrats and Republicans... or oxymorons like a formal and organized "Libertarian Party".

If you want to continue being ontological about it, you're working at cross purposes with the bulk of humanity. Of course it doesn't make any sense... and most folk seem to like it that way. Hence, the jargon.

Posted by: Monolycus | Jan 27 2007 6:49 utc | 21

Hannah Arendt talks about the way intelligent people respond to the big lies of authoritarian types, government types.

They know they are being lied to, as they hear the lies. But challenging authority is scary, and embarrassing, and risky to one's standing and profession in many cases. If you're a reporter, you lose access to sources. So the listeners listen to the lies, knowingly, nodding to one another, winking, but avoiding the embarrassing challenge.

No one wants to be the first one to call bullshit, over at the White House press pool. What if you stand alone in doing so? What about that paycheck? That mortgage? That career track?

Then, when the lie is soon enough proven a big lie and made public, each listener either has to admit to themselves that they are a fool -- they have to inwardly see themselves as a jackass, standing there with their pants around their ankles and their thumb in their mouth -- or they can become completely cynical about the whole situation, about their profession. "I knew it all along. Of course they lie. It is all a lie, not real at all."

They are thereafter partners in cynical government-by-lying. They subconsciously join the 'winning' side, the side of the ones clever enough to lie with a straight face. They offer no resistance to evil thereafter, no matter the size, shape or price of the lies. The lies can be repeated endlessly after that, and they will treat them as what's real. You can fax them lies over the wires, and they will print them as reality.

They will resist with all their powers any attempt to portray them as jackasses with their pants around their ankles. They can't go there.

Posted by: Antifa | Jan 27 2007 10:27 utc | 22

@Monolycus et al

Our Supreme Leader decided to torture us again by reminding us that he is the decision-maker.

Since I'm not a psychologist, I don't why a 60-year old person has to constantly remind the world that he is a decider or decision-maker. It reminds me of a little boy in a sandbox saying: "I decide who can take toys from the sandbox."

Here is a great piece I found in which two psych professionals analyze Bush, and the results ain't pretty. It will help you understand why he does that "I'm the decider" thing and it will also drive home how well and truly sunk we are to have such a person with his hands on the trigger of our "nucular" arsenal. Basically they say that his ability to make informed decisions is severely compromised by his psychodynamic profile.

">http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/011807J.shtml"> Bush and the Psychology of Incompetent Decisions by Briggs and Briggs

Posted by: Bea | Jan 27 2007 12:41 utc | 23

Briggs and Briggs

Bea, there is a priview button dear... ;-p

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 27 2007 12:50 utc | 24

@ Bea #23

I wonder how long until he starts ranting about a conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids

Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 27 2007 14:18 utc | 25

Thanks Uncle. Believe it or not I do preview every single post but I confess I get impatient about clicking on links that appear to work to see if they really do... I try to be careful but generally I am moving pretty fast... I will try and check more carefully in the future.

Posted by: Bea | Jan 27 2007 14:34 utc | 26

Certainly, as Rowan said, the Democrats (European Socialists..etc) are more conservative that the Repubs.

That is partly because the 'Dems.' have a broader base, a more varied base, composed of much more ‘opinions’, desires, and so on; they are thus forced to adopt compromise positions and avoid extremism at all costs. The Repubs. (or the ‘right’ generally), as they rely more strongly on allegiance, on social conformity (conformity to party views as well) can be more slipshod, rougher, more extreme. And extremism in politics often pays.

About issues, yes, and the Repubs. right now are facing muted or overt clashes between the Straussian closet Zionists, the old guard with its carefully calculated yet narrow real-politik, and from the base, anti-authoritarian strands and hard headed business interests. It it all hangs together by a frayed thread it is because of lack of alternatives.

However, after having said the labels need to be junked, there is one difference that is traditional and remains in part: the Democrats represent some minorities (political, cultural, ethnic, class) and the Repub. roots lie with the white men in suits, the rich, those in charge, if I may put it that way. It is the latter group that has always - in the US, and this is very particular to the US - had an interest in creating enemies to promote national cohesion, to wash away the differences, and make US interests uniquely “American” and not those of some group. Offer a supra-ordinate goal...With communism it was a success; foreign policy ran smoothly facing that demon (though in many ways it was all shadows and masks), and at the same time, internal dissidents could be vilified, chased, cast out. Very neat, very simple. The war on drugs was a pathetic failure in that regard, and the present war on ‘terror’, with its stigmatization of a particular ‘racial’ or ‘religious’ group (Arabs etc.) is a confused mess, as that kind of prejudice is contrary to US values.

The Repubs. attempted to substitute racial hate and primitive scare-mongering for foreign policy, as they could not state what the foreign policy was actually about. The Democrats do not dare to denounce this strategy, unmask what is really going on, so are left shuffling about, and going to the extreme of saying it is comprehensible that people attacked (9/11) America...We thus see that both parties are willing to go to great lengths to preserve the status quo, and that the original differences between the two parties wash away because of a common goal that is never mentioned: Preserve unity.

One aspect. (see Antifa... for a broader pov...)

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 27 2007 15:26 utc | 27

Thanks for the Briggs & Briggs, Bea... and thanks, Unca for the cleaned up link.

I know it was vaguely off-topic to begin with: trying to take a man seriously who can't make a decision about whether he is the "Decider" or the "Decision-Maker" (my bet is that Rove introduced the use of hyphenation here), but I think this simple vacillation is only more fuel for the "Man ain't got the confidence he pretends to" model that B&B (Briggs and Briggs... not b and Bea) are proposing. In any case, people are starting to notice.

I'm still not dropping the paternalistic interpretation... that is, Bush sees himself as playing "Daddy" and the citizens of the US should bounce happily on his knee and trust in his wisdom.

Incidentally, Rick, Cheney's refusal to deliver a clear and logically sound response to questions aren't limited to his political opponents, such as explaining in any certain terms what it is precisely that distinguishes Hillary Clinton from a NeoCon apart from calling her a Democrat. That one still fools a lot of people... although the labelling technique is wearing slightly thin. For instance, Joe Lieberman must be described as a "nudge nudge 'Democrat' snicker snicker", which doesn't fit neatly on most ballots.

But none of this "Decider" nonsense matters to Cheney. He doesn't need to declare himself to be anything, apparently. If the label technique doesn't work, he'll just tell you to "go fuck yourself" (as he did to Leahy),
snarl menacingly
(as he did to his faithful sycophant, Wolf Blitzer), or just shoot you in the face with a shotgun (you really need a link for that?)

Incidentally... some other classic Cheney disinfo techniques have come to light recently as a by-product of Fitzgerald's foot-dragging (Ex-Cheney aide details media tactics). Something tells me that this story, like the Downing Street Memos, will spend its short life confined to a wheelchair after failing to grow any legs in the public psyche.

Baby Bush may have Daddy issues, but at least he's saying something. Shotgun Dick just shuts down the debate. No labelling required.

Posted by: Monolycus | Jan 28 2007 10:41 utc | 28

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