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It's Coming (addendum)

I added an addendum to my post from a few days ago about BushCo's dictatorial so-called 'Continuity of Government' presidential directive. I'll just provide a quick summary here...

Unbridled Executive Power: The Unitary King George

Bush could use this directive to suspend the election... Bush and Cheney may be unwilling to relinquish power to a successor administration.

Qaeda Video Threatens Attacks on America

...your failure to heed our demands and the demands of reason means that you and your people will — Allah willing — experience things which will make you forget all about the horrors of September 11th, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Virginia Tech.

US military begins planning for avian flu pandemic

Transportation within states or internationally will be restricted to contain the spread of the virus, and communities may voluntarily close schools and limit public gatherings.
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"When directed by the president, DoD will provide support to civil authorities in the event of a civil disturbance," the document said. "DoD will augment civilian law enforcement efforts to restore and maintain order in accordance with existing statutes."

Can you say Burning of the Reichstag?


A Cursory Glance In Passing Down A Deep Political Chasm

In doing a bit of quick research into Carl Schmitt I came across this article by Alan Wolfe. It's worth a read. I just want to quickly share a few pregnant excerpts from it.
  • In The Concept of the Political, Schmitt wrote that every realm of human endeavor is structured by an irreducible duality. Morality is concerned with good and evil, aesthetics with the beautiful and ugly, and economics with the profitable and unprofitable. In politics, the core distinction is between friend and enemy. That is what makes politics different from everything else. Jesus's call to love your enemy is perfectly appropriate for religion, but it is incompatible with the life-or-death stakes politics always involves. Moral philosophers are preoccupied with justice, but politics has nothing to do with making the world fairer. Economic exchange requires only competition; it does not demand annihilation. Not so politics.

  • No wonder that Schmitt admired thinkers such as Machiavelli and Hobbes, who treated politics without illusions. Leaders inspired by them, in no way in thrall to the individualism of liberal thought, are willing to recognize that sometimes politics involves the sacrifice of life. They are better at fighting wars than liberals because they dispense with such notions as the common good or the interests of all humanity. ("Humanity," Schmitt wrote in a typically terse formulation that is brilliant if you admire it and chilling if you do not, "cannot wage war because it has no enemy.") Conservatives are not bothered by injustice because they recognize that politics means maximizing your side's advantages, not giving them away. If unity can be achieved only by repressing dissent, even at risk of violating the rule of law, that is how conservatives will achieve it.

  • Liberals think of politics as a means; conservatives as an end. Politics, for liberals, stops at the water's edge; for conservatives, politics never stops. Liberals think of conservatives as potential future allies; conservatives treat liberals as unworthy of recognition. Liberals believe that policies ought to be judged against an independent ideal such as human welfare or the greatest good for the greatest number; conservatives evaluate policies by whether they advance their conservative causes. Liberals instinctively want to dampen passions; conservatives are bent on inflaming them. Liberals think there is a third way between liberalism and conservatism; conservatives believe that anyone who is not a conservative is a liberal. Liberals want to put boundaries on the political by claiming that individuals have certain rights that no government can take away; conservatives argue that in cases of emergency — conservatives always find cases of emergency — the reach and capacity of the state cannot be challenged.

(I'm not going to split semantic hairs by trying to introduce nomenclatural precision. Since this is a cursory glance I will permit these antipodal generalizations to stand.)

If ... (if) ... these generalizations are true — or, at the least, provide an introductory way to approach such different political styles — then it goes some way towards explaining the chasm that exists between those who seek a better world — a world where justice and mutual actualization are paramount objectives — and those who seek to preserve the status quo at all costs, or their own aggrandizement, or just plain simple power. The problem is that one side is playing a game to be won at all costs, while the other side takes into account factors unrelated to gaming.

In some ways this is all moot now, though, since it seems that everyone in government is playing the same game, a game completely unrelated to improving the lives of their constituents. We should also note that Mr. Wolfe's distinction between liberals and conservatives should not lead one to draw a similar distinction between demoncraps and repugnicans: there are certainly differences between parasites and predators, but no one wants to be a victim of either.

It also goes some way towards explaining how a certain reputed democratic ship of state is quickly bearing towards an authoritarian iceberg.

Politics is war conducted by other means. In political warfare you do not fight just to prevail in an argument, but to destroy the enemy's fighting ability... In political wars, the aggressor usually prevails... You cannot cripple an opponent by outwitting him in a political debate. You can do it only by following Lenin's injunction: 'In political conflicts, the goal is not to refute your opponent's argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth.'
     —David Horowitz, conservative activist unhinged asshole


It's Coming

First, a few tiny milestones, a mere sampling:

On May 9, 2007...
National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive
Subject: National Continuity Policy

Highlights (all emphases mine):

  • 1: This directive establishes a comprehensive national policy on the continuity of Federal Government structures and operations and a single National Continuity Coordinator responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of Federal continuity policies... to ensure a comprehensive and integrated national continuity program that will enhance the credibility of our national security posture and enable a more rapid and effective response to and recovery from a national emergency.

  • 2b: "Catastrophic Emergency" means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions

  • 2c: "Continuity of Government," or "COG," means a coordinated effort within the Federal Government's executive branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed during a Catastrophic Emergency;

  • 2e: "Enduring Constitutional Government," or "ECG," means a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers among the branches, to preserve the constitutional framework under which the Nation is governed and the capability of all three branches of government to execute constitutional responsibilities and provide for orderly succession, appropriate transition of leadership, and interoperability and support of the National Essential Functions during a catastrophic emergency

  • 4: Continuity requirements shall be incorporated into daily operations of all executive departments and agencies. As a result of the asymmetric threat environment, adequate warning of potential emergencies that could pose a significant risk to the homeland might not be available, and therefore all continuity planning shall be based on the assumption that no such warning will be received. Emphasis will be placed upon geographic dispersion of leadership, staff, and infrastructure in order to increase survivability and maintain uninterrupted Government Functions. Risk management principles shall be applied to ensure that appropriate operational readiness decisions are based on the probability of an attack or other incident and its consequences.

  • 11b: Succession orders and pre-planned devolution of authorities that ensure the emergency delegation of authority must be planned and documented in advance in accordance with applicable law

  • 12: In order to provide a coordinated response to escalating threat levels or actual emergencies, the Continuity of Government Readiness Conditions (COGCON) system establishes executive branch continuity program readiness levels, focusing on possible threats to the National Capital Region. The President will determine and issue the COGCON Level. Executive departments and agencies shall comply with the requirements and assigned responsibilities under the COGCON program. During COOP activation, executive departments and agencies shall report their readiness status to the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Secretary's designee.

  • 23: Annex A and the classified Continuity Annexes, attached hereto, are hereby incorporated into and made a part of this directive.

  • 24: Security. This directive and the information contained herein shall be protected from unauthorized disclosure, provided that, except for Annex A, the Annexes attached to this directive are classified and shall be accorded appropriate handling, consistent with applicable Executive Orders.

Some thoughts from the peanut gallery...

  • Bush grants presidency extraordinary powers
    But the new directive appears to supersede the National Emergency Act by creating the new position of national continuity coordinator without any specific act of Congress authorizing the position, Corsi says.

    The directive also makes no reference to Congress and its language appears to negate any requirement that the president submit to Congress a determination that a national emergency exists.

    It suggests instead that the powers of the directive can be implemented without any congressional approval or oversight.

  • Bush makes power grab

  • Translated into layman's terms, when the president determines a national emergency has occurred, the president can declare to the office of the presidency powers usually assumed by dictators to direct any and all government and business activities until the emergency is declared over.

    Ironically, the directive sees no contradiction in the assumption of dictatorial powers by the president with the goal of maintaining constitutional continuity through an emergency.

  • Bush To Be Dictator In A Catastrophic Emergency

    The language written in the directive is disturbing because it doesn't say that the President will work with the other branches of government equally to ensure a constitutional government is protected. It says clearly that there will be a cooperative effort among the three branches that will be coordinated by the President. If the President is coordinating these efforts it effectively puts him in charge of every branch. The language in the directive is entirely Orwellian in nature making it seem that it is a cooperative effort between all three branches but than it says that the President is in charge of the cooperative effort.
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    The directive itself recognizes that each branch is already responsible for directing their own continuity of government procedures. If that's the case than why does the President need to coordinate these procedures for all of the branches? This is nothing more than a power grab that centralizes power and will make the President a dictator in the case of a so called Catastrophic Emergency.

  • Bush Anoints Himself as the Insurer of Constitutional Government in Emergency

    It defines a "catastrophic emergency" as "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government function."

    This could mean another 9/11, or another Katrina, or a major earthquake in California, I imagine, since it says it would include "localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies."

    The document emphasizes the need to ensure "the continued function of our form of government under the Constitution, including the functioning of the three separate branches of government," it states.

    But it says flat out: "The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government."
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    The document also contains "classified Continuity Annexes."

Plus, it appears I'm not the only one who sees how it might unfold.

It is so over...

If the constitution of a state is democratic, then every exceptional negation of democratic principles, every exercise of state power independent of the approval of the majority, can be called dictatorship.
     —Carl Schmitt

The Senate and the Empire

The Senate lived on for a while after the fall of the Republic, technically maintaining its old powers, but the Emperor had the support of the military, and the Senate's powers were ultimately doomed. As soon as the Senate bowed to the Emperor Augustus, it was a downhill trend. The Roman Senate became a pathetic rubber-stamp body. When it tried to oppose some of the emperors, the emperors often relied on intimidation and brute force to get their way. In one famous incident, soldiers were ominously marched into the senate; they did nothing, but the terrified Senators backed away from challenging the emperor's dictates. At other times, there were active purges and slaughters of the Senatorial families, and the senate was stacked with nobility reliant on the Emperor for their positions and support.

The Senate was one of the few remaining Republican political institutions that survived into the Empire. By Tacitus' time, the Senate was almost completely dominated by the various emperors. The proud and aristocratic Senators, who had never been champions of the common Roman in any case, bristled under the murderous authority of the Emperor as subjects themselves.

The rich and powerful had contempt for "average" Roman. The elites' greedy attempts to undermine the few freedoms enjoyed by the Republicans resulted in their own ultimate enslavement to a succession of corrupt families and brutal emperors.

     —The Roman Senate

Note: The following added May 31, 2007 [again, all em. mine]

Marjorie Cohn:

Unbridled Executive Power: The Unitary King George

As of December 22, 2006, Bush had used the words "unitary executive" 145 times in his signing statements and executive orders. [former deputy assistant attorney general John] Yoo, one of the chief architects of Bush's doctrine of unfettered executive power, wrote memoranda advising Bush that because he was commander in chief, he could make war any time he thought there was a threat, and he didn't have to comply with the Geneva Conventions.

In a 2005 debate with Notre Dame professor Doug Cassel, Yoo argued there is no law that could prevent the President from ordering that a young child of a suspect in custody be tortured, even by crushing the child's testicles.
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One wonders what Bush & Co. are setting up with the new Presidential Directive. What if, heaven forbid, some sort of catastrophic event were to occur just before the 2008 election? Bush could use this directive to suspend the election. This administration has gone to great lengths to remain in Iraq. It has built huge permanent military bases and pushed to privatize Iraq's oil. Bush and Cheney may be unwilling to relinquish power to a successor administration.

(This is what I've been saying all along. Glad others are starting to ken this.)

So... is it conceivable that the following horrific threat could be preparing us for the inevitable catastrophic emergency? It sure would provide a convenient excuse to help BushCo finally alleviate their hegemonic blueballs from all that Iranian nuclear cockteasing, wouldn't it?

Qaeda Video Threatens Attacks on America

By ANNA JOHNSON; Associated Press; May 31, 2007
CAIRO, Egypt An American member of Al Qaeda warned President Bush to end American involvement in all Islamic lands or face an attack worse than the September 11, 2001, assault, according to a new videotape.

Here's a snippet from the video:
In other words, you're losing on all fronts and losing big time.

Bush, the die has been cast and the blood has been spilled and there is no way to undo what you have done.
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This is not a call for negotiations. We don't negotiate with baby killers and war criminals like you. No, these are legitimate demands which must be met. And your failure to heed our demands and the demands of reason means that you and your people will — Allah willing — experience things which will make you forget all about the horrors of September 11th, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Virginia Tech.

No? Too obvious? (But when did that ever stop them from anything?)

How about this one — it's a bit more subtle, and has had a much longer gestation period to help us get used to the idea:

US military begins planning for avian flu pandemic

The US military has begun to plan for a possible avian flu pandemic that could kill as many as three million people in the United States in as little as six weeks, a Pentagon planning document said.

The Defense Department's "Implementation Plan for Pandemic Influenza," which was posted Wednesday on a Pentagon website, lays out guidelines and planning assumptions for US military services and combatant commands.

Possible scenarios include US troops being called in to put down riots, guard pharmaceutical plants and shipments, and help restrict the movement of people inside the country and across its borders.

The plan envisions fast moving, catastrophic waves of disease that would overwhelm health facilities and cripple the ability of state and local authorities to provide even basic commodities or services.

"A pandemic in the United States could result in 20-35 percent of the population becoming ill, three percent being hospitalized, and a fatality rate of one percent," the document said in a section on "planning assumptions."
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Transportation within states or internationally will be restricted to contain the spread of the virus, and communities may voluntarily close schools and limit public gatherings.

Additionally, the Defense Department will develop a plan to ensure the continuity of operations of the US government and be prepared to support civilian authorities with medical supplies, airlift and security forces.
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"When directed by the president, DoD will provide support to civil authorities in the event of a civil disturbance," the document said. "DoD will augment civilian law enforcement efforts to restore and maintain order in accordance with existing statutes."

(This, too, is what I've been saying.)

Keep your eyes open... there are probably some more PR-promulgated apocalyptic scenarios coming soon to a meme near you!

Note: Read this for more signs of the impending Engineered Catastrophic Event.


"Reckoning will come, though..."

Joe Bageant
In the world's big picture, however — the unedited version we are never allowed to see in American media — most American fundamentalists are being screwed blue by the same global economic pillage as, say, the Quiche Indians of Guatemala. Working class American fundamentalists suffer extractive capitalism's vampirism the same as the Third World, but by a more incremental yet nonetheless relentless process. A scam is a scam and while you may blame the victims for ignorance, you cannot blame them for trust and good will toward men.

Now hold onto your drawers and get this. Some working class fundamentalists are beginning to get a sense of what even the most educated of Americans seem congenitally blind to — the inevitable brutality of capitalism's march through history — mainly because it is marching in their direction this time, creating bankruptcy, lost homes, credit meltdowns, and job insecurity for the hardest working, most obedient and faithful people in America — the traditional working class. Just like their brothers in the Third World, the economic "cures" they are subjected to always turn out to be worse than the sickness. Some now notice that when unemployment rises, so does the stock market, and when real wages drop the "economy" soars, according to the news reports. All sorts of folks are beginning to disabuse themselves of the notion that the American economy and the American people are the same thing. As in: "I work like hell, get paid and I buy stuff and I pay taxes. Ain't that the fucking economy?" Or as one very dedicated local blue collar fundamentalist put it a while back when I was writing my book, "The big guys have always had it all over the little feller, but it's gettin' entawrly out of hand. Sooner or later somethin's gotta be done to give a workin man a chance again. This ain't what Our Lord intended."

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Reckoning will come though, and it will come like it always does for the human race, too late, and long after the princes of the earth have absconded with the goods. For Americans it will come when the secret militias in this country start cracking open their basement arms caches, and exercise those skills learned in Iraq, Afghanistan and along the perimeter of the Empire's last desperate efforts on behalf of the richest of the rich. By then however, it will be too late for a thin network of firepower and explosives to do much except add its members to the official terrorist list, along side scores of Muslim cab drivers and halal meat vendors.

⋅ ⋅ ⋅

The good news is that genuine human liberation for ordinary humanity can come much sooner than catastrophe. And in coming it will require real leaders, born of and among the lost and wasted lifetimes of toil — not from the political theorists, nor the meaninglessly educated hothouse plants from the managing classes. Working class liberation leaders are beginning to evolve from the sons and daughters of Baptist truck drivers or 55-year old Wal-Mart greeters with varicose veins and no health insurance. I get emails from them and I find them in corners of American politics such as West Virginia's emerging but understandably as yet disoriented Mountain Party. Liberation's future leadership is out there right now, stocking the shelves of the supermarkets tonight, buffing the floors of the nation's universities and banks, checking on the calf-cow pairs in the late season snows of Montana, and likely as not they are gun owning, non-drinking Christians doing solitary jobs with lots of time to think. And they experience things like loneliness, modern alienation, and an inner emptiness within that now quaint concept called the soul. Which drives so many of them to the last place that even addresses the souls of people such as themselves — fundamentalist churches.


Beth Shulman
The “you are on your own” notion of government and freedom has meant that American families must live with stagnant wages at a time of high profits and productivity without a way to get ahead no matter how hard they try. It has meant health insecurity for workers and their families as fewer and fewer jobs provide health care coverage. It has meant that workers face their older years without the means they counted on to retire, as corporations have slashed traditional pension plans. And it has meant that half of Americans don’t have the fundamental right to take a day off from work when they are sick without losing a job or a paycheck.

It has meant parents having to forgo a child’s high school or college graduation or a PTA meeting because twenty percent of America’s workers do not have any vacation or personal days. It has meant parents tag teaming their shifts to provide their children supervision leading to increased divorce rates because they can’t afford child care. It has meant families who are more stressed out as jobs become more and more insecure. And it has meant more families just struggling to get by with one out of every three workers making less than what it takes to have basic self-sufficiency. All this has been dumped on the already sagging shoulders of working families while government has stood on the sidelines.
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This is a false freedom that forces us to make false choices. Americans aren’t free when they have to choose between paying the rent and providing child care for their children. Parents aren’t free when they must choose between being responsible workers and responsible family members. The elderly aren’t free when they must choose to continue working in their later years because they don’t have pensions. Families aren’t free when they have to declare bankruptcy when they can’t pay their hospital bills. Mothers and fathers aren’t free when they don’t have time to be with their children because they are working two or three jobs just to make ends meet. And children aren’t free when they can’t get the basic tools to succeed and fulfill their potential as human beings.

Normal Finkelstein
Q: Do you think that professors have an obligation to engage in political activity?

A: They don't have an obligation as professors; they have an obligation as citizens. They have the luxury of devoting their working life to trying to ferret out the facts and the truth about what's going on.

For most other working people, their working lives are devoted to jobs which have minimal levels of personal gratification and have very little to do with mental activity of the sort that creates informed citizens. So since you have the luxury of sitting around and reading books, you do have an obligation as a citizen to pursue and expose the truth.

Thomas Jefferson
...the spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims. It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united. From the conclusion of this [Revolutionary] war we shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion.

Alexander Berkman
Yet the American worker remains loyal to the government and is the first to defend it against criticism. He is still the most devoted champion of the "grand and noble institutions of the greatest country on earth." Why? because he believes that they are his institutions, that he, as sovereign and free citizen, is running them and that he could change if he so wished. It is his faith in the existing order that constitutes its greatest security against revolution. His faith is stupid and unjustified, and some day it will break down and with it American capitalism and despotism. But as long as that faith persists, American plutocracy is safe against revolution.

As men's minds broaden and develop, as they advance to new ideas and lose faith in their former beliefs, institutions begin to change and are ultimately done away with. The people grow to understand their former views were false, that they were not truth but prejudice and superstition.

In this way many ideas, once held to be true, have come to be regarded as wrong and evil. Thus the ideas of the divine right of kings, of slavery and serfdom. There was a time when the whole world believed those institutions to be right, just, and unchangeable. In the measure that those superstitions and false beliefs were fought by advanced thinkers, they became discredited and lost their hold upon the people, and finally the institutions that incorporated those ideas were abolished.

Everywhere inequality is a cause of revolution, but an inequality in which there is no proportion — for instance, a perpetual monarchy among equals; and always it is the desire of equality which rises in rebellion.
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What share insolence and avarice have in creating revolutions, and how they work, is plain enough. When the magistrates are insolent and grasping they conspire against one another and also against the constitution from which they derive their power, making their gains either at the expense of individuals or of the public.