Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 19, 2007

All Perfectly Predictable

Commentator UESLA adds points on a creepy process that deserve a lift to the front page.

As preface some observations by me, Bernhard.

From today's NYT we learn that at least four White House lawyers pondered the question of burning evidence of their crimes by deleting video tapes (I believe there are copies) of the CIA torture on Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri:

One former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said there had been “vigorous sentiment” among some top White House officials to destroy the tapes. The former official did not specify which White House officials took this position, but he said that some believed in 2005 that any disclosure of the tapes could have been particularly damaging after revelations a year earlier of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The WH lawyers involved were Miers, Bellinger, Gonzales and Addington. Miers and Gonzales are lightweights. I don't know about Bellinger, but Eddington has been the heavyweight on the team all along. Being Cheney's henchmen he explained the general overall strategy:

"We're going to push and push and push until some larger force makes us stop."

But what if no larger force appears?

The process is well known:

What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if he people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security.

That text applies to torture laws, the FISA changes, the Patriot Act and the War on Iraq budgets that still fly through Congress without any significant protest.

But it was written in 1955 and is an interview with an intellectual German about the 1930s/40s. The Goebbels strategy was "push and push and push" too. Back then the larger force appeared only in a very bloody fight over Stalingrad and even after that took years to succeed.

It is the creeping process that is alarming. It is still going on, strong. Several of the last Billmon posts warned about this.

The recent offhanded use of the words "bureau procedures" by the veteran reporter Walter Pincus to describe serious enacted laws really set off my alarm bells.

The creeping slime has seeped into the better folks minds. UESLA goes from there:

This is a difficult phase during our nation's rise to imperial glory. The transition from the rule of law to the rule of Strong Men requires, at times, the utmost patience from true patriots.

It is not something that happens overnight, although it will seem like that when it finally blossoms into full view.

Although done without fanfare, it is an absolutely vital step to refer to laws prohibiting torture as mere procedures. It is masterful. It is well over 51% of the victory, for it quietly and adroitly hollows out those laws. They no longer quite apply, and laws that no longer quite apply -- quite effectively no longer exist.

There are dumb laws in every State of the Union forbidding various things like eating ice cream on Sunday, using elephants to plow cotton fields, or keeping horses indoors. No one pays any attention to them, other than to chuckle over their inanity. Laws against torture, and treaties banning torture, are relentlessly joining this list.

Now that the restraints against torture have been effectively removed, the next steps will be easy. In the coming few years, this Mueller fellow will eventually be replaced with someone who is not hampered by regard for defunct laws, who can rule his domain within the empire by fiat and decree.

The same process is taking place in every domain of government. Inch by inch, decrepit laws like habeas corpus and quaint concepts like freedom of speech, honest elections, freedom of movement and assembly, and personal privacy become first hollow procedures, then dumb laws, and finally treason. In the vacuum left when laws become dumb, only Strong Men can hold society together.

America set out on this course many long years ago, with the birth of the National Security State after Dubya Dubya Two. We are approaching the flowering time.

The true nature of the Unitary Executive is the Führer Prinzip, rule by a hierarchy of Strong Men, each ruling their domain with absolute authority. This is precisely the slippery slope of legalized gangsterism rising in America, blithely overlooked by its consumers, the majority of whom still believe they live in a free society.

They don't. They have built their own prison, and elected their own jailers. They are living in a nation of hollow laws, a nation of procedures on their way to becoming dumb laws left on the books only for comic effect. Mute laws, stupid laws, quaint laws for the era before empire, for the era before Strong Men.

The Unitary Executive is rule by thuggery, by fiat, and by raw power. But it is not the cause of America's fall. No, it is the last symptom of America's internal rot, of the merger of unchecked corporate and institutional power with the institution of government itself. The businessman, the soldier, the priest, and the politician are standing forth now as the Strong Men who will ultimately save the nation from dumb laws like that "goddammed piece of paper" the Constitution.

The American populace made room for Strong Men by neglecting the duties of citizenship in favor of life as consumers. They made Strong Men necessary by letting crooks run the banks and towers of corporate power, and shysters write the laws. They demand Strong Men and Messiahs on every hand now to extricate themselves from the consequences of living beyond their means, beyond restraint, beyond moderation or common sense.

Just as they want a Messiah to rescue them from death itself, they want a Strong Man to rescue them from the rigors of citizenship, from the demanding duties of managing the nation. They habitually turn to boundless consumption, constant entertainment, and self congratulation instead, letting whomever promises more of all this to run the country, write the laws, and rule the airwaves.

In such a setting, reality becomes what you wish it to be.

The result is the largest pool of debt in human history, a bankrupt nation currently masquerading as the largest economy in the world. All hollowed out, all ruled by gangsters, by men above the law. The result is that the great American consumer party is over, and the result will be the American Reich, as Americans demand Strong Men to save them from consequences.

All perfectly predictable.

Posted by b on December 19, 2007 at 19:29 UTC | Permalink


What can one add to something that says it all in few words and perfect grasp of the process?

Posted by: jlcg | Dec 19 2007 20:01 utc | 1

That is a horrific ride down the slippery slope, Bernhard. But unlike many other rhetorical slippery slopes, there is ample historical and personal motivationl evidence to suggest this is precisely what is happening.

It is long past time for David Addington to go down. If there are ever any war crime tribunals of the Bu$h years, he should stand trial. Let's hope the next person in the Oval Office is not inclined to forgive and forget.

Forgetting about these criminals is a good way to end up in a future concentration camp for their political opposition.

Posted by: kelley b. | Dec 19 2007 20:11 utc | 2

Forgetting about these criminals is a good way to end up in a future concentration camp for their political opposition.

All of the relevant folks were deeply involved in Iran/Contra.

Nonebut a scapegoat Lt.Col. were punished. There is no reason to expect they will be punished now. That's the process ... slow, but deliberate.

Posted by: b | Dec 19 2007 20:25 utc | 3

In terms of what's happening, very bad things have happened in the past, as immigrants, minorities, union organizers and others could attest. I'm not sure that the repression is worse now than it has been at several other times in U.S. history. I've been trying to decide whether things are worse anyway.

Some differences -- the mealy-mouthed deference to the Constitution and the rights of man are no longer operative. That removes a major incentive by those who believe in the deference to use it as a lever to take back power from elites. For example, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were used effectively in the civil rights struggles. Another difference -- the elites now control truly staggering physical force through the strong military, the private armies (Blackwater, for example), and control of so many systems (transportation, media, public infrastructure). When this is combined with tottering economic power, the potential for angry lashing out by very powerful people who feel themselves aggrieved is scarily strong.

Posted by: nihil obstet | Dec 19 2007 21:50 utc | 4

Today the Cheney Branch Georgians solved the pesky problem of how to get those
personal-viewing porn copies of erased CIA torture tapes out of the White House
Admin Building. Wha-la! Oh, the horror! The horror! All those melted video tapes!
You'd think they would have just hauled a burn barrel up onto the roof! Juno!!!

B, one of the most interesting narratives I've ever read, was about the common
German in 1939, the butcher, the baker, the shoemaker, who joined the Nazi Party,
and found for the first time in their lives, they were someone important, with
an important job, a superior to answer to and take orders from, but most of all,
a brand new uniform, a new leather belt, high hat, and soft, supple jack boots.

It took a bit than that to turn Americans into Whores for Chertoff's Wehrmacht!

Posted by: Wha La | Dec 19 2007 22:43 utc | 5

cia crimes - a useful anthology

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 19 2007 23:03 utc | 6

What is most agonizing to watch and to live through in America is the complete capitulation of the Democratic Party in Congress. There would only need to be ten elected Representatives or Senators to shut down Congress, to prevent this Unitary Executive madness from proceeding with its war and thuggery.

It would take only ten people refusing to let Congress proceed with business as usual. Instead, the whole lot allow themselves to be ignored, mocked and hollowed out by an out of control and criminal Executive branch.

Like the dithering and ineffectual Parliament that attempted to rule Germany for fourteen years after WWI, now referred to as the Weimar Republic, the current American Congress shows neither the ability to resist or impede Bush and Cheney, nor even the capacity to understand the urgency of doing exactly that.

The Weimaraners in the American Congress are lazy hounds who will not hunt the crooks stalking the halls of government, will not howl as the Treasury is looted, and will not leave the front porch to administer a sniff test to anything the Republicans say.

They may be content with table scraps, but the American people are increasingly fed up with their boot licking, groveling, and doe-eyed helplessness.

These dogs don't hunt, and that won't do.

Posted by: UESLA | Dec 20 2007 0:59 utc | 7

Good piece Bernhard, and you are right, no special glasses needed to see the the writing on the wall, it's been there for a while now.

Whilst the US is certainly the 500 pound gorilla in the zoo, over in the Insatiable Nations section, it's by far not the only one. Europeans, Australians, Canadians etc. are not all that different. John Howard, the neocon Australian PM who made the country take part in the coalition of the killing, was reelected 3 times, only to be replaced by Kevin Rudd, the new labor (think Tony Blair) Prime Minister who just looooves the USA, which according to him remains an "overwhelming force force for good in the world."

Kohl, Schroeder, Merkel, same same. No one has the guts to call a spade a spade, to tell the emperor he ain't wearing no clothes. They are all in bed with each other. Two party systems, same dog, different head. Be that in the US or in Europe. Consumers are consumers, if they speak English or not, the mentality is alike. Just don't rattle the cage honey, we have a mortgage to pay.

The school system is already designed to produce brain dead worker bees to support the fat kings/queens who are running the hive. Tangle some flash looking car or a big screen TV as a carrot, and like lemmings the people will follow.

Here a translation from a Hans Soellner song (Bavarian singer/songwriter). The song I've chosen is titled "Hey Staat", meaning in English "Hey State", from his 1989 album with the same name.

Hey State!

I go to school and learn only what you think I need to know, if that is of interest to me is of no interest to you, you couldn't care less

From the beginning, all you are trying to do is to bend me the way you need me, I let it happen thinking that you probably know what's right

Then I go to work and I slog 8 hours every day in my damned job, and from the money I earn you deduct straight away two thirds

And the few bucks I am left with just about pay the rent, gas and light, and I need to go into debt so not to freeze in winter time

Refrain: Hey State, hey State, hey State,..... today I tell you about all the tings I do for you, and then you tell me what it is you do for me

You tell me what I should wear, how to cut my hair, my education and my job. Even my religion you prescribe, and I fool pay although I don't even have a god.

The one who points his finger at me, I am meant to respect and honour him! The one who has killed entire people or converted over the barrel of a gun.

Buying your drugs, beer and schnaps, but you reprimand me when I take'em, discriminate against me because I smoke, hey you are the state, its you who earns.

You are well off because of people like me, for that you should actually be grateful that we sustain you, pay you, for your blah blah, your insults and lies.

Oh man, I am not good enough for your daughters, before others you are ashamed of me
You call me a ferral and dumb, should be glad that there are still dumb ones. Only through the brownnosers can you live, through the ones who don't complain and who hold their hands before their mouths when they talk

For thirty years I played along, and did what you told me, but now, that I stand up and stick up for myself, coz' I finally feel that enough is enough, yeah then you call me a grouch and criminal, wishing you could line me up against the wall.

And today we are standing at the Odeon's Square and are singing "Blowing in the Wind", with thousands of other peaceniks are we standing here, Three thousand who show you that protests can be peaceful and responsible, but on TV you show forty skinheads on a rampage somewhere.

You show run amok rioters in Wackersdorf*, how bricks and bottles are thrown
But not the protesters who in sympathy care for your police.

Yeah I am ashamed of the people who fired shots at the Startbahn West protest, but its you who makes sure that everyone believes that all of us are like that.

You also should be ashamed sometimes, hey state, maybe for the little kids who are dying on leukemia and their parents who are holding their hands and cry.

Your time is up, just like mine, and in the end it won't touch me all that much, but my son has sixty years ahead of him and I'll do everything so that he'll make it.

You are no role model anymore for me, you got obese from all the money that others had to earn with sweat, and even the hunger in this world is good for your laughs and profits, with which you run a genocide
oh man none of us voted you in to pull that crap.

Hey State, hey State, hey State,..... today I tell you about all the tings I do for you, and then hey state, I tell you what I think you represent to me.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Dec 20 2007 4:00 utc | 8

I think we need to consider our (in the US) habituation to scandal, corruption, and criminal activity in our government, and the wholesale hubris of our leaders. When an administration is characterized by one scandal, the whole world is aghast. But when one is struck by scandal after scandal, deception after deception, and lie after lie we reach a sub-threshold stimulus where we no longer have an ability to react. There is no time to recover before the next scandal erupts, no resolution, no justice. The wickedness becomes one, long, drawn out, chronic drag on our consciousness. Before one is even investigated another one springs up, and then another, and then another until the very substance of the scandal appears unreal. One gets the impression that everyone is beating the air. I would give three inches of my dog's tail just to see one little bit of progress. The paranoid part of me, which often is wiser than my rational side, feels that their policy is to leak so many of their scandals to the press that no one has the energy to fight them anymore.

Posted by: Diogenes | Dec 20 2007 4:07 utc | 9

All perfectly predictable.

Quite. And it just makes it all that much worse.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Dec 20 2007 4:20 utc | 10

So many outrages, so little time.

Posted by: Susan | Dec 20 2007 7:23 utc | 11

Outstanding post b!

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 20 2007 7:46 utc | 12

"push and push and push"

This is how it is done: EPA Chief Denies Calif. Limit on Auto Emissions

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson yesterday denied California's petition to limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, overruling the unanimous recommendation of the agency's legal and technical staffs.

The decision set in motion a legal battle that EPA's lawyers expect to lose and demonstrated the Bush administration's determination to oppose any mandatory measures specifically targeted at curbing global warming pollution. A total of 18 states, representing 45 percent of the nation's auto market, have either adopted or pledged to implement California's proposed tailpipe emissions rules, which seek to cut vehicles' greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent between 2009 and 2016.

I expect Johnson to find a "friendly" judge and get this push done - again, without meeting real resistance.

Posted by: b | Dec 20 2007 7:47 utc | 13

I wonder when the CIA will be flooded with spam mail touting pills for supobena enhancement pills: "Increase size and staying power of your supobena by up to 30% overnight!" "Tired of showing up at congressional hearings with a small, flaccid supobena? Try this: guaranteed to please your favorite senate panel!"

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 20 2007 9:41 utc | 14

All Perfectly Predictable eh?

Fire in National Security Council staff office

The Lede is following the fire at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington with frequent updates during the day, in chronological order — scroll to the bottom of the post for the latest additions.

Maybe the whole building will PANCAKE suddenly and we'll find Hugo Chavez's passport in the rubble. Then we can attack.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 20 2007 11:12 utc | 15

Excellent post, kudos to both

"They demand Strong Men and Messiahs on every hand now to extricate themselves from the consequences of living beyond their means, beyond restraint, beyond moderation or common sense."

A large group of people put their faith in these "Strong Leaders" in the belief the gangsters will save them from crisis X

Yet somehow, faith and belief aren't dangerous

History never repeats...

Posted by: jcairo | Dec 20 2007 13:08 utc | 16

Naomi Wolf - A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot

Posted by: | Dec 20 2007 14:45 utc | 17

You all hit the nail on the head once again -- dictatorship is not announced on the evening news, well, maybe, as "a new, bold development in securing Freedom, Democracy and the Purity of the Nation, our Leader takes temporary powers..."

Slightly OT: in Denmark it surfaced today that when the police arrested terror suspects here in 2006 and 07, besides the handcuffs (plastic strips) they also had hoods pulled over their heads. I mention this because it seems to me that this kind of shit is contagious.

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Dec 20 2007 15:57 utc | 18

Wha La wrote:

B, one of the most interesting narratives I've ever read, was about the common German in 1939, the butcher, the baker, the shoemaker, who joined the Nazi Party, and found for the first time in their lives, they were someone important, with an important job, a superior to answer to and take orders from, but most of all a brand new uniform...

Blocher (People’s Party in English, so PP) has just been ousted from the Gvmt. of Switz. A night of long knives, democratically (!) managed.


PP voters, mainly Blocher voters (they vote for the person first, not the party), since Oct 07 (parliamentary elections), are the first party in Switz. with 29 % of the vote, are a bit of a mystery to the media, sociologists, and ‘thinkers’.


a) many don’t care to go find out, b) some think mainstream attention will create more adherents, c) these voters are dismissed out of hand as loonies, d) nobody will answer questions.

Party bosses spout generalities, members refer back to the party bosses, and few admit to voting PP.

From the outside Swiss politics looks like a smooth quiet stream - inside it can be vicious to a degree the politically correct Anglo ppl *cannot* imagine.

PP voters are under the radar. Basically, they are opposition voters, from all over the political board. Little ppl done badly by, anti-immigrant; business ppl, industrials, the rich who want more ‘free market’ and lower taxes; farmers who want more subsidies; poor ppl who want more health coverage; even greens who want to protect the eidelweiss and mountain creatures. Nostalgics for the True Original Switzerland, and so on.

Opposition with a big O - Blocher was a low level genius in making up discourse that would by pass real issues and federate all of them together.

It is an uneasy line to toe and bound to fail in the long run. As it did recently.

What does the PP offer its adherents?

Not a uniform, even being identified as a PP voter in the public place can be dangerous. If a pater familias ‘comes out’ his children may be attacked on the way to school. Not just with snowballs or tomatoes.

Being part of a community... the PP offers evening activities, communal meets, clubs, etc. This aspect is ignored by the ‘thinkers’. A place to go, a place to be yourself away from the TV and the vid games, a venue where you can express yourself, are listened to and respected. The status of being a non-sheeple, an opponent, is thrilling. Stay at home moms, poor farmers, clerics, part time workers, the under-employed, the badly paid, teens kicked out of the system, struggling small biz types, etc. all find validation in the PP. They acquire a *voice*, become important.

The comparison with Hizbulla or Hamas is far fetched, as religion plays no role at all, poverty only in a minor/relative way in this rich country, and violence is mainly symbolic; if physical it is directed straight at PP members, and it reinforces their group belonging, they themselves never indulge in it.

In the US, all such opposition is perpetually divided by the PTB and the media.

bit long! Scusi.

Posted by: Tangerine | Dec 20 2007 18:45 utc | 19

The transition from the rule of law to the rule of Strong Men...

great illustration of this in senator schumer's rationale on why he was voting for mukasey as AG last month --

"I am voting today to support Michael B. Mukasey for attorney general for one critical reason: the Department of Justice — once the crown jewel among our government institutions — is a shambles and is in desperate need of a strong leader, committed to depoliticizing the agency’s operations." [nyt opinion piece]

"I intend to vote to confirm Michael B. Mukasey to be the 81st Attorney General of the United States. I do so for one overarching reason: the Department of Justice, one of the crown jewels among our Government institutions--once the crown jewel--is now adrift and rudderless. It desperately needs a strong and independent leader at the helm to set it back on course." [transcript from congressional record]

Posted by: b real | Dec 21 2007 3:14 utc | 20

On the White House lawyers, Miers, Gonzales, Bellinger and Addington. and the torture tapes. Miers had already denied to have favored obstruction. Now Bellinger and Gonzales have denied that too.

That leaves Addington ...

Posted by: b | Dec 21 2007 9:54 utc | 21

The American populace made room for Strong Men by neglecting the duties of citizenship in favor of life as consumers. They made Strong Men necessary by letting crooks run the banks and towers of corporate power, and shysters write the laws.

Well said, b... pretty much sums it up.

Re: Iraq, a similar eloquent sumnation of the endeavor was made by a commenter on Alica Blog several days ago... highly recommended.

Posted by: jdmckay | Dec 22 2007 14:17 utc | 22

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