Friday :: Feb 24, 2006

"It's Munich In America"

by pessimist

We can see the trend for ourselves in the headlines:

* Iraqi Government Orders Daytime Curfews.

* Princeton Tilts Right

* Authorities keep tabs on non-violent Seattle activists in hunt for al-Qaida

* Stateside Gitmos: Is the Pentagon building U.S.-based prison camps for Muslim immigrants?

* REPORT: 98 Detainees Have Died While In U.S. Custody

* "Our mission is to maximize shareholder value. Which, by the measure of our strategic interests and our historical ideals, amounts to selling America short."

Sure, not all of these headlines are American stories. But every one of them involves and affects America.

The current 'government' in Iraq is de facto under US control and influence. Their negative attitudes toward democratic government (as displayed through the tortured process of creating the 'permanent' government under their 'constitution') would thus have been shaded by those of their American military instructors. The recent racial, sexual, and religious problems at the American military academies are the proof I offer of that contention.

The surveillance of Americans expressing their Constitutionally-guaranteed rights should be another sign of alarm, as should the building of domestic 'detainment' camps and the fact that so many have died while in US custody.

These are ominous portents, especially if allowed to continue to infest the United States, once upon a time truly Ronald Reagan's 'Shining City on the Hill'. Are we headed toward a darker future, one that will repel the world instead of attracting it?

Some say yes.

It’s Munich In America. There Will Be No Normandy.
by David Michael Green
David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.

This is it, folks. This is the scenario our Founders lost sleep over. This is the day they prepared us for.
America may not be a fascist country today, but it’s not for want of trying. [E]ven George F. Will is worried. You know you’re in a seriously bad place when that happens.

America is not a fascist country (if it was, you wouldn’t be reading this), but pardon me if I don’t defer to Bush defenders and ringside Democrats who consider me hysterical for worrying about the direction in which we’re heading. [F]orgive me if I don’t trust their judgement on matters of rather serious importance. Forgive me if I don’t stand by hoping they’re right as the two hundred year-old experiment in American democracy goes down the toilet.

It’s Munich in America, people. We can dream the pleasant dream that if we just stand by quietly while the Boy King gobbles up some of our liberties, he won’t want any more, but that would be a lot like Chamberlain dreaming that a chunk of Czechoslovakia would be enough to appease Hitler. It wasn’t, and it won’t be.

[A]rguably the three most brilliant inventions of the Constitution are separation of powers, the guarantee of civil liberties, and federalism. In fact, all three of these key constitutional doctrines are suffering under a brutal assault from a regime which finds democracy and liberty fundamentally inconvenient to their aspirations for unlimited power.

The truth is, there is a government in office which seeks such complete power and dominance that even some conservatives have started to notice.
They know that the only difference between the monarchism our Founders so reviled and contemporary Cheneyism is that the technology of our time allows George Bush to turn George III into George Orwell. And we are, in fact, in a world of hurt. Already they’ve torn large chunks out of the Constitution. Those shreds of parchment on the floor of the National Archives aren’t from Mrs. Washington’s shopping list, I’m afraid to say.
There’s not much left of the Constitution now that these guys have tortured it as if it were some personal project in Lynndie England’s basement.
Is this the beginning of the end for American democracy? Maybe. I have no doubt that unchecked Cheneyism intends precisely that. It’s therefore up to the rest of us to stop it. It’s up to us to say yes to Philadelphia, and no to Munich. Because there will be no Normandy.

It is, I’m afraid, Munich in America, and now we must decide whether to appease the bullies and pray for happy endings, or fight back to preserve a two hundred year-old experiment in democracy. But the spot we’re in now is actually worse than Munich, because there will be no Normandy in this war, and no Stalingrad.

No country with the deterrent threat of a nuclear arsenal can ever be invaded by another country or group of countries, regardless of the magnitude of the latter’s own military power.
[N]obody will be storming our beaches and scrambling up our cliffs to liberate us from our own folly. Hell, if they weren’t so worried about the international menace we represent, they’d probably be laughing at us, anyhow, thinking how richly we deserved the government we got.

That means we’re on our own, folks.

And this is what we are up against:

Cheney's coup
A 3-year-old executive order that vastly expanded his powers illuminates how the vice president and his minions led us into war.
By Sidney Blumenthal
Feb. 23, 2006

Perhaps, for a blinding moment, Cheney imagined he might classify his shooting party top secret.

After shooting Austin lawyer Harry Whittington, Dick Cheney's immediate impulse was to control the intelligence. His most revealing answer came [during] an interview to friendly Fox News in response to a question about something other than the hunting accident.

Cheney was asked about court papers filed by his former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice in the investigation of the leaking of the identity of an undercover CIA operative, Valerie Plame. In those papers, Libby laid out a line of defense that he had leaked classified material at the behest of "his superiors" (to wit, Cheney).

Indeed, Cheney explained, he has the power to declassify intelligence. "There is an executive order to that effect," he said.
The first vice president, John Adams, called his position "the most insignificant office ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." John Nance Garner, Franklin D. Roosevelt's first vice president, said it was not worth "a warm bucket of spit." When Dick Cheney was secretary of defense under the first President Bush, he reprimanded Vice President Dan Quayle for asserting power he did not possess by calling a meeting of the National Security Council when the elder Bush was abroad.

Cheney well knew the vice president had no authority in the chain of command. Since the coup d'état of Executive Order 13292, however, the vice presidency has been transformed.

On March 25, 2003, President Bush signed Executive Order 13292, a hitherto little known document that grants the greatest expansion of the power of the vice president in American history.
Bush operates on the radical notion of the "unitary executive," that the president has inherent and limitless powers in his role as commander in chief, above the system of checks and balances. By his extraordinary order, he elevated Cheney to his level, an acknowledgment that the vice president was already the de facto executive in national security. Never before has any president diminished and divided his power in this manner. Now the unitary executive inherently includes the unitary vice president.

"De la loi, il est moi!" - This might as well be the motto of Cheney and Bu$hCo. Anyone not agree? Step over here:

Detention Camp Jitters
by Maureen Farrell for
[extensively abridged - reading the entire article very strongly recommended]

"Recent pronouncements from the Bush Administration and national security initiatives put in place in the Reagan era could see internment camps and martial law in the United States."
-- The Sydney Morning Herald, July 27, 2002
The idea that dissidents could be sent to detention facilities is perhaps the most widely circulated theory, and it is as popular under President George W. Bush as it was under President Bill Clinton. And though Daniel Ellsberg has also suggested that dissidents could be targeted, most of the theories rest upon circumstantial evidence and long stretches of the imagination.

What we do know, however, thanks to the Sydney Morning Herald's investigation into Reagan-era initiatives, alongside documents leaked to the Miami Herald in 1987, is that when Col. Oliver North helped draft contingency plans in the early 80s, one of the reasons cited for possible martial law and internment was "national opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad" -- a scenario which would become more
likely with additional wars
and in the event of the return of the draft.

With the military stretched to the breaking point, questions of conscription and subsequent draft-dodging are hardly far-fetched, but the very act of protesting, in and of itself, could become a federal offense.
Though conservative columnist William Safire was one of the first to warn of Mr. Bush's "dictatorial powers," and editorials across the country have since voiced similar concerns, few are picking up on attempts to criminalize dissent -- an observation made by former White House counsel John Dean as early as Oct. 2001, who wrote that, thanks to the hastily passed Patriot Act, the "right to dissent" is in jeopardy, with protesters possibly considered "terrorists."

National Lawyers Guild president Michael Avery said that the Bush administration was "trying to criminalize dissent, characterize protesters as terrorists and trying to intimidate and marginalize those opposed to its policies."

After a New York state jury refused to convict four Catholic antiwar activists for protesting at a U.S. military recruiting office in 2005, the federal government stepped in, filing charges including "conspiracy to impede an officer of the United States," which could send each protester to prison for up six years.

Provisions in the new Patriot Act have also raised concerns. The first questionable provision could make "breaching security perimeters" at any "special event of national significance" a felony while the second calls for the creation of a new federalized "permanent
police force" which would be given the authority to arrest citizens in violation of the Bill of Rights.

"The obvious purpose of the act is to prevent demonstrations at Bush/Cheney events," former Reagan administration official Paul Craig Roberts recently wrote, adding that the law has "dire implications" for First Amendment guarantees.

"We can take for granted that the new federal police will be used to suppress dissent and to break up opposition. The Brownshirts are now arming themselves with a Gestapo."
Even before Sept. 11, a document entitled "Domestic Operational Law Handbook for Judge Advocates" [PDF] reflected a movement towards a more militarized society. The JAG document, which called for "providing military assistance for civil disturbances" cited the '60s era Operation Garden Plot, the United States Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, which gave federal forces the power to "put down" "disruptive elements" and called for "deadly force to be used against any extremist or dissident perpetrating any and all forms of civil disorder."

As Frank Morales stated in an update to his 2003 Project Censored award-winning story "The Pentagon Wages War on America":

Operation Garden Plot, originating in 1968 and continually updated, is according to the JAG handbook, tasked with the mission of conducting 'civil disturbance operations throughout the United States,' providing 'wide latitude to a commander to use federal forces to assist civil law enforcement in restoring law and order.'
The truth is, we won't know the real purpose of these centers unless contingency plans are needed. And by then, it will be too late.

Bill Berry of Stevens Point, WI, wrote of these concerns in the Madison, WI Capital Times:

Perhaps more frightening is this: If this brand of thinking is now mainstream, what is next? What supplants the right at the far end of the spectrum? What will feed the monster in coming years?

You might begin to answer that question by looking here. I've written about these people before:

Christian Movement Moving Into Palmetto State
By Ron Barnett, USA TODAY

Cory Burnell, a 30-year-old financial adviser and founder of Christian Exodus, believes thousands of religious conservatives across the USA agree with him when he says their influence on government is diluted by liberals and Republicans who have failed to do what mainstream Americans elected them to do.

The answer he came up with in late 2003: Move like-minded Christians to one state: South Carolina. Burnell has picked six counties as the first targets for local action. And in the ones where he once estimated it would take 500 emigrants to turn the tide, he now says it will take 100. By 2008, he hopes to see a strong presence of Christian Exodus-backed candidates in all six counties, and he anticipates an "overwhelmingly impact" statewide elections in 2014.

With a decisive majority, Burnell says, his group would be able to pass laws that line up with their biblical principles and their interpretation of the U.S. Constitution - laws that include outlawing abortion and homosexual relations, allowing governmental displays of Christian symbols and ending state-funded education.
The idea isn't as far-fetched as it may sound, said Laura Olson, a political science professor at Clemson University who studies religion's influence on politics. "In many states I would say no chance, but in a state like South Carolina ... where lots of people are on that sort of boat to begin with, it's the sort of thing that's not unfathomable," she said.

Edwin Gaustad, professor emeritus of history and religious studies at the University of California-Riverside, on the other hand, said, "I would think it would have little chance of going anywhere unless there was a secession of South Carolina from the union."

That's an option Burnell and his followers would consider, although they say it would be a last resort.

'Grave Concern' From Some

Not everybody is standing at the state line with open arms.

Xanthene Norris, a Greenville County councilwoman who just last year saw her dream of a Martin Luther King holiday passed by the council, said she has grave concerns'. "We welcome people coming to Greenville to live, but if you're coming to Greenville only with the idea that you're going to influence the people we elect for local government ... I have some problems with that," she said.

Katon Dawson, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, said much the same thing. He welcomes conservatives who want to move here, he said, but he thinks the conservative agenda is moving forward fine without outside help. "I think someone who would attempt to try to paint President Bush in an unfavorable light down here in South Carolina would not find a cheering audience," Dawson said.

Not every Red State could end up a lost cause in the Lost Cause. Despite all the recent commentary questioning the mental facilities of Kansans, there seems to be a growing recognition - at least among some - that things have gone too far and they need to take action:


From Abu Ghraib abuses to secret CIA detainee prisons to the Valerie Plame affair, critics say, Roberts has become a dependable shill for the White House, ever ready to shield Bush policy from criticism and ever willing to compromise Congress' legitimate oversight role.

What's bothering many, though, is that Roberts seems prepared to write the Bush team a series of blank checks to conduct the war on terror, even to the point of ignoring policy mistakes and possible violations of law.

That's not oversight -- it's looking the other way.

If Kansans are done 'looking the other way' concerning Bu$hCo excesses, maybe they would consider supporting someone other than a Republican for office? There are some coming along that they should be able to support:

Taking On the Chickenhawks

Will the dozens of Democratic vets running for office from coast to coast reverse the Republican revolution and help take back Congress?

Military veterans who speak out strongly against this Administration's wasteful, dishonest, and incompetent war-making policies have the potential to galvanize voters. Even voters who chose Bush in the last election are troubled by this President's complicated relationship to the truth, and his cavalier attitude about the safety of U.S. troops.

In a February 9 Pew poll, 50 percent of registered voters said they were planning to vote for Democrats this year, while only 41 percent said they were planning to vote Republican. The flood of evidence that the Republicans have bungled Iraq, botched Katrina relief, and used the sacrifice and suffering of American victims of terrorism--at home, on 9/11, and abroad, in Iraq--to hoard power for themselves, makes this a ripe political moment. The time is right for a strong opposition to drive home the message that Americans--including American troops--deserve a better government.

It IS possible for Democratic veterans to gain a special edge in the upcoming election. The lesson for this year's veteran candidates: shoot straight, and draw a sharp contrast with an Administration that doesn't.

What they need is for the political courage of the party leadership to match the battlefield courage of the candidates.

But, despite the chiding I took in another thread that I'm becoming optimistic, I'm not convinced that the electoral process has much longer to live in America. Why else would the (mi$)Admini$tration go to the trouble and expense of establishing detention camps (yes, I know they aren't built yet!) if they have no intention of using them? Why would they even need them if ANY form of protest was not illegal?

This Dubai port management scandal is just the tip of the awareness iceberg. Bu$hCo and their backers are too close to achieving their goals to let us muck it up now! Anyone who gets in their way now has to be dealt with very harshly if they are to retain power and have no interference with their plans. As awareness expands and more people discover what they are about, they will need to stifle the growing opposition before it can damage them.

It's all about power and control. The wealth is just a way of keeping score. They don't need it if they just take what they want when they want it. Why pay for what you can just steal?

We are headed into a very dark time in the history of the world. We didn't learn the lessons of modern militant nationalism being taught in 1871, 1914, 1939, 1981-1992, or 2003 to date. We will have to endure the unendurable if we are to get through this in any form.

There no longer is any other choice.

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