By CS K endrick
The issues of the day bear heavily on my heart, this concern that something I once wrote in jest is in truth the game plan of a president who well and truly would be king, and the sad reality that there are about 100 million of people who we call, sometimes, our fellow Americans who would be happy to see him on the throne, rather than suffer sharing power with the other 200 million of us.
Today I offer a shout through the countryside: We are far closer to a coup than we know, unless we via our elected Congress do something about it.
A very long time ago, I wrote this speculative diary, on how I would go about setting up myself as absolute sovereign of the rich lands between Canada and Mexico, on the continent of North America. I post that diary in full, here.
It occurs to me that if I were interested in upending the Republic and setting myself up as king, then I'd have a lot of work cut out for me. After all, the United States' very existence is an explict eff you to monarchy.
Regardless, fascinations with power, with destiny, with imposing one's superior vision on a restive and chaotic public for its own good fill American history. An ancient example is Aaron Burr; a more recent one...well, you know the guy. He's the one claiming powers of legislation and judicial review lately.
But this isn't about them. This is about my master plan to assume dominion and lord it over everyone.
And if this stops being amusing very quickly: that's kind of the point. You're not supposed to be amused. You're supposed to wonder: Hmm...someone could really do this someday.
Monarchies are invariably religious societies -- rather, they are societies in which an influential theocracy wields considerable influence over public opinion, monied and landed interests, the courts, the promulgation of law, and the very constitution itself.
In a country like the United States, the mission is manifold, and will likely take decades to implement the following interrelated goals:
- Change Perceptions: Make Monarchism Cool.
- Control the Conversation: Frames, Media Ownership, Participation.
- Act Precipitately: To Conceal the Few Moves That Matter.
- Demand Loyalty: Raise No Allies. Make Vassals.
- Gather Arms and Gold: Prepare for the Final Confrontation.
- Fine-Grained Organization: Personal Involvement
- Empower the Faithful: Define the Crusade
- Enter the New Order: By Default, for the Old One Dies
Alrighty. Let's elaborate on that.
Implement a campaign to protect the Constitution -- by challenging the legitimacy of all competing efforts to interpret it, to declare oneself a strict constructionist, then from a position of unassailable dedication to the 'original intent' of the Founding Fathers, interpret it however I/we/We please. Not: I/we/We do not say 'Framers', but Founding Fathers; we're all about the patrimony in this exercise. I mean, we're setting up a monarchy, folks.
Ignorant me. I was unaware of the existence of signing statements when I wrote the original diary. If that's not conflation of both legislation and judicial review with the power of the executive, then nothing is. Sure, presidents have added notes in the past...but not accompanied same with staring contests vis a vis Congress...and won, every time.
We can scratch this one off the list, folks.
Demonize Congress as the source of corruption and confusion, waste and wrongness with Washington. I mean, all those greedy, venal little men with little power, conniving at every turn, making...compromises. They are the problem...so we need to throw them all out and get people in Congress who are godly, and place a higher power (me) first over their own self-advancement, and never, ever compromise their principles. Then, once safely ensconced, such moral notables can do what such moral notables always do when given free rein -- exactly the same (if not worse) than the class before it. And I/we/We will encourage them to...indulge themselves. Tht only discredits Congress as an institution further.
The Abramoff scandal attributes almost exclusively to the Congress -- sure, one can say the Republican Congress, but the Bushies and their friends in the media have made very certain that he remains above the fray and now has been given a golden opportunity to be a part of the 'solution' -- with his precipitate intervention in the FBI raid of Jefferson's offices, and by extension supporting, and yet not, an intrusion by the Executive over the Legislative.
This is less about a short-term gain than having a precedent to raid Congress, period, no matter which party is in the majority. Taking a step back from my original outrage about Pelosi issuing a joint statement with Hastert: I think they got this one right, uncomfortable as it is for me to reverse myself on this matter. (My, crow for breakfast! Pass the ketchup, please.)
One thing that aids and abets the perception of Congress as weak is its bipartisan commitment to appearing on bended knee before the throne of the President, whenever His Sovereign Majesty beckons them, or worse -- whenever he sends the least of his cabinet to Congress, they bow in their own seat of power(lessness) to them, as well. Having hearings, yet not compelling AG Gonzales and others to speak under oath, is an outrage. It's also a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Do you really think you'd have the option of not taking the oath, should you ever appear before Congress. That would be a big....no.
In other words, Congress is decadent and weak and feckless and feeble, and only the President can clean it up. Watch for that narrative to roll on out.
Why? Because the Pubs are basically giving up on control of Congress, at least the Republicans that matter. Gutting the institution now, before the Democrats take over the lease, is a high priority action item for the GOP now.
And they're doing a darn good job of it.
Get in good with the landowners. That means real estate developers, natural resource extractors, and farmers. Land = commodities for consumption and export. That means leverage. We'll promote subsidies and tax breaks and special access for these good, loyal friends of the Republic. They will come to depend on such favors, and I will be the sole dispensary for same. At first they will love Us, then come to fear losing Our love.
A few words and acronyms: ANWR. Roadbuilding in national forests. Clear-cutting national forests. Mining in national parks. Selling tracks of national parks to developers. Have I missed anything?
Oh, yeah. Sometimes it's not selling public lands, so much as selling permission for deals: case in point, the Dubai Ports fiasco. But that outrage was used to conceal something else: obtaining the concession that it's cool for the President to rule on any transfer of ownership that has the least impact on national security matters.
He might not own it, even indirectly via the American people, but he controls who gets what in many ways now.
And in our outrage, we kind of missed missing what was in fact taken from us.
Create a political climate of hostility toward institutions, parties and politicians, to ideas old and ideas new, a condition of agitation looking for release, any release. In such a Hobbesian condition, he who is strongest prevails, and it is a naked contest of power and will, and being the king-in-waiting, who do you think shall win? It shall be Us.
By Us, of course, I mean the President. At this very moment, Bush supporters are playing up that their man is strong and in charge and a good guy doing great deeds, as best as they can. At the same time, the opposition is assessing both friends and rivals, checking off who is "good" and who is "bad" (or at least more or less vulnerable, when rating the other team's players). Institutional affinity is at an all-time low; people are not going to risk their jobs, their freedom, their physical safety and that of their families for rule of law, or Congress, or the Constitution, or the Supreme Court, or even the Presidency. People aren't thinking like that anymore, and this plays right into the hands of demogogues. Now, perhaps at 29-37ish (range of polls of late)
Bush doesn't seem to be doing demogoguery very effectively. That's not the point. The point is that he retains the high ground, intense loyalty of what might as well be called the King's Men, the complete docility of both parties in both houses of Congress, the courts, the media and after successive purges what remains of both the intel services and the armed forces. And that apparatus is increasingly being focused on keeping order not in Iraq but control inside the United States of America.
If you are imagining that the man who would be king would just vacate his throne because he's unpopular, or an impeachment and removal vote ever came to pass, well, that's just crazy talk.
Like I said: Support for institutions in this country, save for the military, is grossly down. No one will oppose the president, not in any meaningful way, if he were to refuse to leave office, or acted in a unitary fashion, say, to start arresting opponents in Congress wholesale.
At least, no one has yet. Some barking, from the likes of Arlen Specter. But when you are counting on the gentleman from the great (and embarrassed) state of Pennsylvania to do more than regale the gallery with another faithless eulogy to the Constitution, then defend the President's right to pare down the Constitution the very next day, well, you're betting on the wrong pony.
Do all of the above cloaked in the guise of promoting morality and values, just shy of being in the name of God, which of course would be untrue. We are doing this in the name of Ourselves. However, one must honor the customs of the conquered, in order to rule them.
Bush has the rhetoric down. Sometimes his delivery, even of lame-seeming lines, is frightfully good. At other times, though, his delivery of solid prose is clumsy, and that's being charitable. What carries him more often than not is sticking to a simple language, rich in context, that evokes
"WTFs?!" from progressives, "Huh's?" from moderates and "Thank you, Jesus-es!" from conservatives, and he comes armed with a dedicated network of radio, television, cable and online vendors, happily creating a political context in which to supersaturate as many minds as possible with emotive associations to the words that the president uses.
Short form: You watch FoxNews often enough, and regularly enough, you really will be brainwashed. No, you won't go off and bomb something like, say, that famous conservative Timothy McVeigh did, but it will become physically uncomfortable for you to think at variance to the 'soft-wiring' that the combination of musical bursts and patriotic banners and slogan banners and intense emotional provocation instills in you.
Assert that the Founders never really meant Separation of Church and State -- not because I believe any such silly thing, but because asserting such a thing empowers my movement, and casts a wide range of liberties and customs contingent on that foundation into doubt. Assert that America was founded as a (Protestant) Christian nation -- again, not because it is true, but because at the present time, most practicing faith-holders cleave to (Protestant) Christianity. Were I two generations later, perhaps I would press for closer ties to Rome, then engineer a schism with Holy Mother Church. But that's not going to happen; We are becoming your Sovereign now.
Taxpayer funding of faith-based movements, special access of religious extremists, even to the point of compelling gross breaches of the Constitution (see: Terri Schiavo) has become the rule under Bush rule. The interplay of church and politics is both longstanding and in my opinion okay. The comingling of agendas formed by clergy at events such as the Southern Baptist Convention with American public policy, including national security policy, is a threat to the very safety and existence of the Republic.
But that's what it's for: not to empower freedom, but to rein it in, ostensibly for good and godly purposes. That's just the packaging, though. It's all about concentration of power, of establishing legitimacy via a higher power that (quite conveniently) speaks only to people who are in on the fix. And anyone else claims that God is second-guessing the king, well, you know what happens. Don't make me spell it out for you.
Reveal to the indulgent Congress -- especially those of my party -- just how short their leash is: Punish a few to send a message to the others, that their power, even their very freedom, is at Our pleasure. That those who do their King's will shall enjoy their high offices, and those who displease Us will be tossed over the wall to the howling mob.
I do not think that DOJ suddenly happened to have a bead on Dennis Hastert, the same day he issued a joint statement with the Democratic Leader of the House.
At the same time, aggrandize my office with the powers that a dissolute Congress cannot bar me from taking, on account it is busy defending itself from charges, and testing the length of its new tether.
Signing statements, flouting of existing Acts of Congress, refusal to provide information, spying on Americans. You know...the usual power-grab stuff.
Raise wealth from those persons who made much of their latter-day fortune from my patronage. As with Congress, send a clear message to the rich and powerful that they, too, can be spared justice and spared nothing, as suits their Sovereign. For those who are suitable to the forms of the order to be, no crime cannot be forgiven. For those who imagine themselves to be aloof, no refuge shall protect them from Justice and her wrath. All to the forms and laws, of course...and yet it is a wondrous thing, what command of the bench and of the office of the prosecutor can accomplish.
The Schrushys played ball; they get a pass. Ken Lay proved to be embarrassing; ripping off California was cool. But when he bilked Texans, he went over the line.
Generate a steady diet of little crises, as proving grounds for various strategies and tactics, to test the wits and resolve of enemies and provide training and experience to loyalists. The particulars are unimportant, the more trivial and irrelevant to national interest the better; the point is establishing an appetite for high-level intervention, for action by the King and the King's Men, and even where no interest is raised, acting anyway. The people must become acccustomed to a vigorous and assertive executive.
This is why Bush gets involved, no matter if its appropriate or even logical. He must be part of the solution or the problem. The public must become resigned to the fact that Bush is always there...even come to depend on his presence in all matters of public importance.
Appear to compromise with other institutions, leaders, the opposition party, even the states...but honor no promises that do not aggrandize central authority and the rise of new institutions, customs and persons who raise Our imperium with every gesture, every uttered word. Leave such persons explaining their unrewarded trust, having to choose between making justification and acknowledging incompetency. It is the same to Us.
Thus, every gain in Bush's power seemingly comes, freely offered up by those who lose as he gains. It is for some a theater, as in when GOP Congressionals gut their own institutional power. For others, it's a crisis in courage or character; they are simply stared down. For others, there's a trade-off of some sort.
Find a dire foe, first and foremost one that dwells within the Republic, enjoys the same liberties and privileges of the old order as loyalists. Make the idea of equality with such persons unbearable to those who love the king (easy), embarrassing to support to those who do not..then move to gradually reduce the value of such liberties, first slowly, then aggressively.
I mean, we can't have just anybody being allowed to, oh, have sex...get married...adopt kids...vote...breathe oxygen...
If done properly, by the time the last jot of freedom is removed from the Republic, the crowd will carry Bush to his throne in the Capitol Rotunda.
The only rational and humane response
You know, I'm going to leave that to you guys. I think Bush is this close to dispensing with any pretense of playing by rules that he can barely tolerate acknowledging at all.
But let's consider the checklist at the top, as of March 2007.
- You have media, academics, elected and appointed officials stating openly that Bush is a unitary executive and can well and truly tell both Congress and the Constitution to go to hell, and are actively egging Bush to do just that, openly and fearlessly. People are choosing a very nasty side -- pro-torture, anti-people, pro-power, anti-law, pro-business, anti-environment, pro-war, anti-life, pro-corporate, anti-consumer -- in opposition to all others. They are tight, they are in consensus, and they feel that they are fighting for a truly righteous cause. There is no shortcut inexcusable, no crime that is not justified in the name of...making George W. Bush their king and yours.
- We're now seeing degreed psychologists dispute in academic journals the propriety of torture. We are discussing here at DKOs at what point that one affront too many will occur....and despairing of any such trigger being pulled before the gun is to the head of the Republic itself. The only free speech available -- online -- takes place with no meaningful anonymity at all and rest assured, like it or not, if the fur starts flying if you ever made a strong anti-Bush statement online you are going to either be in the fight, in a gulag, or in an unmarked mass grave somewhere out in the woods. That is, if it gets that far. My advice - it's too late to be quiet now. Use your tongue while you still have one. Use your voice while it's still yours. Use your hands and hit the keys and post your thoughts while access to audiences friendly and foul is yet allowed you.
- In my experience, every revelation or body thrown over the wall by the Bushies is either a diversion or a stopgap, concealment for far greater crimes. These are not men and women who violate mere law, or process, or ethics. Those who are caught are for one reason or the other too expensive to protect...or too valuable as cannon fodder. The real crimes though are treason and that visceral hatred of freedom and American civilization as it exists -- progressive, egalitarian, prosperous, peace-loving, principled and tolerant -- that they ascribe to others, deny in themselves and demonstrate (see: New Orleans) every day they continue to hold power.
- The Bushies have no allies, only vassals. The DA outrage is the utmost example of a movement that places personal loyalty to a liege-lord -- explicit monarchism -- over all other considerations, even the chain of command in the military, even the integrity of our system of laws and justice. I do not believe at this point that the removal of the Republicans from nominal control of the Executive branch is sufficient. There will have to be a mass reinstatement, much of it for Republican officeholders who did not make the loyalty qualification, in the wake of removing the Bush administration. Making this a bipartisan, principled project is essential. It must be done, done swiftly, assertively, or else the entirety of the Bush administration must be defunded, and let the chips fall where they may. It's either a tough political fight, with recourse to laws and the courts ...or a fight in the streets, no rules, no limits on what weapons are used and what is targeted. And think: Oklahoma City bombing, before you wonder what the conservatives, the Bush loyalists, rather, are willing to do from the word go, once the balloon goes up.
- Gather Arms and Gold. I think the Bushies have been ripping off the public treasury for at least hundreds of billions, perhaps trillions of dollars, using the ultimate money-laundry service -- the Iraq War -- as cover for the relocation of vast amounts of not only funds but weapons into the hands of loyalists. I think exhausting the national guard has been part of this; the states, even if they were of a mind to balk, have no means to defend themselves at this point. It's Bush, and it's Bush's army, and then a ridiculous notion that private citizens can defend their liberty. And, perhaps the military might balk as an institution at being turned into a partisan war machine. Problem is, the military is mostly overseas now. What units are in place here in the country, and what is their current operational status? Who are their commanders? Are they recent fast-trackers, beneficiaries of Bush largesse? Who remains, of the officer cadre, that can be counted on to say 'no', to orders to, say, reduce an American city to Fallujah-like status? I think many would say no; I think just as many would champ at the bit to lay waste to a Dem stronghold, and consider that action righteous, even personally enjoyable. After all, their sovereign approves.
- I think Bush is in on everything. This is a man who has two compelling appetites, and we've been misled, pleasingly misled, to forget both: one, his utmost contempt for rules, that he alone is above command and reproach and, two, his appetite for absolute control. He can't be everywhere, but he can take the measure of those in his service, and reward and punish loyalty. The one saving grace is he can be outsmarted by loyalists who know how to tell him what he wishes to hear, whose interests are very much aligned with those of the president, and quite frankly most yes-men are by definition inefficient thinkers and doers on their very best days, and absurdly foolish and incompetent as a class. Follow the tractable and the stupid -- you'll identify 90% of the Bush loyalists.
- The adherence of the Bushies on religious authority is reaching terrifying levels. I had long suspected the politicization not only of the pulpit, but of Sunday school class curricula, to introduce via bible study (this being an overwhelmingly Christian phenomenon) talking points and receptivity of same to classes. Long ago, in 2003, class themes seemed to have a crusader bent to them. Lately, it's readings from the Book of Hebrews, which is very much a questioning of the ultimate source of moral and legal authority -- that secular laws are weak, impermanent and ineffectual, yet God's Law is all-powerful, everlasting and righteous. The subtext is explicit: Revolutionary deliverance. I don't know what sort of congregation or any you attend or have any familiarity with, but if what I'm wondering about is happening in an Episcopal church you've got to ask yourself what's going on across the street at the Baptist church.
- And lastly, we come to outright calls for replacing the old order, or more precisely, of declaring all of Bush's super-aggrandizement of power ni the One True Unitary Executive to be fait accompli, and legitimate by right of superior force and media acclaim. Funny, how that's only now happening that the Pubs are out of power in Congress.
My message - We are this close to losing everything. All that separates The Republic now from becoming The Republican Republic is one flinch, one blink, one hesitation.
We are either brave, now, with law and justice and the people at our back, or we can be cowards when not one of the three is with us, and it is all swiftly taken away.
Much of what I say is heated, but much of what can be said, I leave for other voices. For either We the People speak, in defense of our liberty and, yes, that means Democrats and Republicans alike, or we will be no people at all.
I think these people in power are willing to bet everything, have the country lose everything, rather than be removed in disgrace, be exposed as disgraceful.
I think we are going to have to confront them. That can either take place in the halls of power or out in the forests and the fields, the streets and the subdivisions.
I'm guessing most people still like the notion that we remain a republic of laws that is rightly in the hands of lawgivers, where justice means fairness, not favoritism, where law means rules, not abuse, where power over others is a trust that is swiftly and rightly removed, when betrayed.
This last has not occurred in timely fashion. The deferment now imperils the very existence of the Republic.
Many would prefer not to fight, today. Many would prefer to do the right thing, tomorrow.
I know the feeling. Believe you me, I do.
And I can assure you, there are worse things by far than staking your happiness, your liberty, your very life on being free.
Just ask the next slave you run into. You'll know him or her on sight; they'll be the ones who are afraid to look you in the eye.
And they're everywhere these days.
Please...please be free with me.