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Chalmers Johnson on Our ‘Managed Democracy’

Posted on May 15, 2008
book cover

By Chalmers Johnson

It is not news that the United States is in great trouble. The pre-emptive war it launched against Iraq more than five years ago was and is a mistake of monumental proportions—one that most Americans still fail to acknowledge. Instead they are arguing about whether we should push on to “victory” when even our own generals tell us that a military victory is today inconceivable. Our economy has been hollowed out by excessive military spending over many decades while our competitors have devoted themselves to investments in lucrative new industries that serve civilian needs. Our political system of checks and balances has been virtually destroyed by rampant cronyism and corruption in Washington, D.C., and by a two-term president who goes around crowing “I am the decider,” a concept fundamentally hostile to our constitutional system. We have allowed our elections, the one nonnegotiable institution in a democracy, to be debased and hijacked—as was the 2000 presidential election in Florida—with scarcely any protest from the public or the self-proclaimed press guardians of the “Fourth Estate.” We now engage in torture of defenseless prisoners although it defames and demoralizes our armed forces and intelligence agencies.


book cover


Democracy Incorporated


By Sheldon S. Wolin


Princeton University Press, 376 pages


Buy the book


The problem is that there are too many things going wrong at the same time for anyone to have a broad understanding of the disaster that has overcome us and what, if anything, can be done to return our country to constitutional government and at least a degree of democracy. By now, there are hundreds of books on particular aspects of our situation—the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bloated and unsupervised “defense” budgets, the imperial presidency and its contempt for our civil liberties, the widespread privatization of traditional governmental functions, and a political system in which no leader dares even to utter the words imperialism and militarism in public.

There are, however, a few attempts at more complex analyses of how we arrived at this sorry state. They include Naomi Klein, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” on how “private” economic power now is almost coequal with legitimate political power; John W. Dean, “Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches,” on the perversion of our main defenses against dictatorship and tyranny; Arianna Huffington, “Right Is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe,” on the manipulation of fear in our political life and the primary role played by the media; and Naomi Wolf, “The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot,” on “Ten Steps to Fascism” and where we currently stand on this staircase. My own book, “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic,” on militarism as an inescapable accompaniment of imperialism, also belongs to this genre.

We now have a new, comprehensive diagnosis of our failings as a democratic polity by one of our most seasoned and respected political philosophers. For well over two generations, Sheldon Wolin taught the history of political philosophy from Plato to the present to Berkeley and Princeton graduate students (including me; I took his seminars at Berkeley in the late 1950s, thus influencing my approach to political science ever since). He is the author of the prize-winning classic “Politics and Vision” (1960; expanded edition, 2006) and “Tocqueville Between Two Worlds” (2001), among many other works.

His new book, “Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism,” is a devastating critique of the contemporary government of the United States—including what has happened to it in recent years and what must be done if it is not to disappear into history along with its classic totalitarian predecessors: Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Bolshevik Russia. The hour is very late and the possibility that the American people might pay attention to what is wrong and take the difficult steps to avoid a national Götterdämmerung are remote, but Wolin’s is the best analysis of why the presidential election of 2008 probably will not do anything to mitigate our fate. This book demonstrates why political science, properly practiced, is the master social science.

Wolin’s work is fully accessible. Understanding his argument does not depend on possessing any specialized knowledge, but it would still be wise to read him in short bursts and think about what he is saying before moving on. His analysis of the contemporary American crisis relies on a historical perspective going back to the original constitutional agreement of 1789 and includes particular attention to the advanced levels of social democracy attained during the New Deal and the contemporary mythology that the U.S., beginning during World War II, wields unprecedented world power.

Given this historical backdrop, Wolin introduces three new concepts to help analyze what we have lost as a nation. His master idea is “inverted totalitarianism,” which is reinforced by two subordinate notions that accompany and promote it—“managed democracy” and “Superpower,” the latter always capitalized and used without a direct article. Until the reader gets used to this particular literary tic, the term Superpower can be confusing. The author uses it as if it were an independent agent, comparable to Superman or Spiderman, and one that is inherently incompatible with constitutional government and democracy.

Wolin writes, “Our thesis ... is this: it is possible for a form of totalitarianism, different from the classical one, to evolve from a putatively ‘strong democracy’ instead of a ‘failed’ one.” His understanding of democracy is classical but also populist, anti-elitist and only slightly represented in the Constitution of the United States. “Democracy,” he writes, “is about the conditions that make it possible for ordinary people to better their lives by becoming political beings and by making power responsive to their hopes and needs.” It depends on the existence of a demos—“a politically engaged and empowered citizenry, one that voted, deliberated, and occupied all branches of public office.” Wolin argues that to the extent the United States on occasion came close to genuine democracy, it was because its citizens struggled against and momentarily defeated the elitism that was written into the Constitution.

“No working man or ordinary farmer or shopkeeper,” Wolin points out, “helped to write the Constitution.” He argues, “The American political system was not born a democracy, but born with a bias against democracy. It was constructed by those who were either skeptical about democracy or hostile to it. Democratic advance proved to be slow, uphill, forever incomplete. The republic existed for three-quarters of a century before formal slavery was ended; another hundred years before black Americans were assured of their voting rights. Only in the twentieth century were women guaranteed the vote and trade unions the right to bargain collectively. In none of these instances has victory been complete: women still lack full equality, racism persists, and the destruction of the remnants of trade unions remains a goal of corporate strategies. Far from being innate, democracy in America has gone against the grain, against the very forms by which the political and economic power of the country has been and continues to be ordered.” Wolin can easily control his enthusiasm for James Madison, the primary author of the Constitution, and he sees the New Deal as perhaps the only period of American history in which rule by a true demos prevailed.

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By cyrena, August 30, 2008 at 4:12 pm Link to this comment


“Quickly joined the Dems establishment”?????

So exactly what IS the ‘dems’ establishment? He’s ALWAYS been a democrat, just as I’ve always been a democrat, (when I wasn’t an independent). So how do you define the ‘establishment’ dems from any other person who happens to be a member of that party? You can’t.

•  “…who espouse war abroad and a police state at home. “ ???

And you cannot claim that the Democrats (as an establishment or anything else)  ‘espouse’ war abroad and a police state at home. We already KNOW who espouses that, and as a Civil Rights attorney, Obama isn’t one of them, any more than I am.

You’re contradicting your own bullshit rhetoric here folktruther, when you insist (and rightly so in this case) that this is NEW. The move to totalitarianism is new to the US since the highjacking of our government by the neocon Coup of 2000, which HARDLY represents the democratic party, because they don’t even represent the establishment Republican Party.

It is new at least to the making of the police state part of it. The totalitarian nature of it as defined by the cohabitation of the state and the corporations has been building for decades, but this police state is new to the Unitary Executive doctrine espoused and implemented by Dick Cheney et al.
So stop mixing the political theories and realites of varying historical time periods to create all of these broad accusations, and stop thinking you can define the entire Democratic Party or any other one, with one set of descriptives, because you can’t. And don’t tell me what MLK was about, because you don’t know that any better than I do, and probably not as well.

And Paracelsus, stop talking about who you’re going to ‘write in’ because somebody else on this site has already exposed you (and verified what I suspected long ago) as a non-citizen who can’t even vote in US elections.

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By Lawrence G. Hrebiniak, Ph.D., June 3, 2008 at 5:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The U.S. indeed is in big trouble, as Chalmers Johnson suggests, and the situation is complex and difficult to change. I, too,look at the troubles facing the country, but I take a perspective based on management or, rather, mismanagement and the woes it’s generating. As a Wharton School professor, I’m very concerned about the costs and dangers of horrific management and poor organization. I’m concerned that the country is in trouble, not just because of terrorism and other external threats, but because of the actions (and inaction) of our leaders in Washington, the very people who have sworn to keep America financially sound, democratic, and safe in a threatening world. Fiscal and financial mismanagement, poorly designed intelligence capabilities, a dysfunctional, money-based power structure, and myopic leadership are coalescing to create turbulent times ahead. Our leaders must soon bite the bullet or else the country will soon be in big trouble.

Lawrence G. Hrebiniak, Ph.D.
The Wharton School, U of PA
Author of The Mismanagement of America, Inc.(iUniverse, 2008).

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By Michael Shaw, May 29, 2008 at 8:38 am Link to this comment

It made the Rothschild’s and the Dupont’s, Carnegie, the Rockefeller’s and others the richest and most powerful people in the world. It has also seen to it that no other system beyond their own is tolerable. They are the founders of the so called free market and the MIC. They are the merchants of death.

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By Michael Shaw, May 29, 2008 at 7:45 am Link to this comment

Well Mark I agree with you about the dumbing down of America. I would also note that beyond fictitious history taught in our schools, the media has for at least a century(or longer) played a role in leading us in the wrong direction. Randolf Hearst and his “Remember the Maine” crap. Even before that when Santa Clara vs the Southern Pacific Railroad happened. As you recall that was how the robber barons used the 14th amendment to argue corporations are as living persons and thus should be granted the same rights as the individual. Then after a lower court ruling which was upheld by the supreme court calling that hogwash happened, they took a court note scribbled down by one of the railroad lawyers saying corporations have the same rights as the individual. Every paper in the nation put that on the front page after the ruling judge conveniently died. That’s what led to the McKinley Era and ultimately the great depression. Eventually when Reagan seized power and busted up unions, corporations once again began to seriously consider this falsity and today, well need more be said? That was the beginning of the end. A slow deliberate process leading up to this current blatant fascism.

As for the US going bankrupt there is no doubt. Just think about the billions we’ve spend for more than 30 years simply to contain the Soviets. That is what bankrupted them and also in fact weakened our own society. That’s what has led to this ridicules military spending, as much as the rest of the world combined. Now on top of that we have tax breaks to the rich Bush and company want to make permanent. I guess they like the idea of a Road Warrior society.

As for scraps from the table, I’m not sure I follow you or in fact what you’re really after. Civil rights, civil liberties, the rights of workers to organize, social security, the fight for a minimum wage and an 8 hour work day, an end to child labor….I don’t see these as scraps from the table. In comparison to the corporate ripoff perhaps but without these movements none of those things would exist. They are important! That’s why they are still jeopardized! And that’s why it is more important than ever for people to mobilize and make themselves be heard.

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By debbie S, May 28, 2008 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I would like to add along with the lists of books in reference to this article Derrick Jensens The Culture of Make Believe.The worship of production,competition and economy for profit is the root of all the wars and misery.

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By Mark Davis, May 28, 2008 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So what do we do?  The simple answer is to survive.  The long run trends are towards more personal liberty and freedom, we just happen to be at the end of the life-cycle for the state that is used to rule us with.  In the short-run we will see more and more power accruing to the central planners as people grow more fearful, even panic.  Thus individual liberties will bow to the collective will as is typical in frightened herds. 

The ability to fund itself through fiat credit-money creation stemming from being able to print the world’s “international currency” has extended the life-span of the U.S. IFG for decades longer than it otherwise would have been able to continue.  However, the overextension of military commitments combined with the tendency of voters to demand evermore handouts will eventually bankrupt the IMG.  Probably within the next 15 to 25 years depending on how many more money-pits we invade and how many goodies people vote for themselves.  My energy is directed at providing shelter from this coming storm for my children and creating networks with friends, neighbors and associates who are doing the same.  The larger the remnant of liberty loving people that survive this storm the better off society will be.  Perhaps a few readers here will too.

The USSR collapsed because it went bankrupt and the USA will do the same.  We should be so lucky to do it as peacefully as they did.  Luckily Americans have infinitely more social networks that are not controlled by the state to fall back on.  But if we go right back to the same Social-Democratic-Corporate-State system we have been brainwashed into believing is the end-all be-all of social organization, then we will just end up with a Putin-Lite.  Anyway, it is way too late to waste energy on the proverbial “rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic” by protesting the powers that be for scraps from the table.  Let it go and set yourself free.

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By Mark Davis, May 28, 2008 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Inbred would be before birth, but I do agree with your assessment.  Government schools have been very successful accomplishing their intended purpose of molding inquisitive young minds into brainwashed citizens.  Most people do naturally seek the comforts of conforming to what “everybody knows” as a social coping mechanism.  This is why it so easy to brainwash so many.  After twelve+ years of swearing allegiance to the Federal Government first thing every week-day morning followed by six to seven hours of unmitigated indoctrination in American self-glorification and exceptionalism, no, I’m certainly not surprised at where we are today.  A primary component of this indoctrinating process is the belief that voting equates to freedom and that elected leaders are superior to other types of leaders, in spite of obvious facts to the contrary.  The façade of democratic elections provide cover for an inherently immoral social organization that is basically a monopoly on the use of force.  The modern view that has evolved from this process is that we may legitimately argue over how this monopoly on the use of force (state) is wielded and who shall do the wielding, but never acknowledge challenges to its moral standing (under God you know).  How else could someone with half a brain and a few years under their belt believe that the Imperial Federal Government (IFG) stands for “liberty and justice for all”?

Therefore, if an institution is based on an immoral premise (that the initiation of the use of force can be used to obtain desired results, i.e. the end justifies the means), then that institution is immoral and those who support it are immoral as well (nothing personal of course).  This state of affairs results in the vast majority of people having to realize that they have not only been duped, but that the majority of their belief system has an immoral foundation.  The intellectual fortitude required to overcome a lifetime of conditioning is significant and largely lacking in the general population.  I hope that this subjective judgment is incorrect, but I think not far off.

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By Michael Shaw, May 28, 2008 at 8:25 am Link to this comment

Well Mark first of all you are not my judge and jury(thankfully)though you obviously believe you are.  Under your guidelines and whether our people are ignorant or not to the facts, most of our population is evil when they vote. Secondly this talk of good vs evil as opposed to right and wrong or logical or illogical, tends to drag on more so like some glorified doctrine of the moral majority, who in fact are neither. It also sounds an awful lot like president Bush with his “evildoers” anthem. Your suggestion regarding a massive non vote(during perhaps the most crucial election in US history) is questionable.

The idea of voting has been inbred in us from birth. When we were under British monarchy we had no vote. That is why it has become so important. You make it sound as though it can be turned off like a light switch or in fact that it should be. Of course at times it has been throughout history, but not because of the will of the people. Often the opposite has occurred too where people have been forced to vote at gunpoint. Today’s fascists are far more subtle. They use the current voting method, IE electronic voting, voter suppression etc as a defense mechanism, a ploy to appease and lull the masses into believing their vote actually counts and that voter suppression(Voter ID) is necessary to national security. Many of us realize these implications, though it seems you are not too concerned with them.(Or are you?) The truth is, with a fair election process our votes would count. The fact that so much of our electorate never votes also makes it easier to steal and manipulate elections. And lots of folks have been non voting for quite some time now.

Though arguably there might be some merit to a massive non vote, non voting itself has as much to do with someones moral compass as it does with his ignorance and laziness. And non voting is not the cure all you suggest it to be either. The truth is the current sitting president has never been elected. The democrats remain content and obvious so too do the multitudes of Americans(who voted or not) who haven’t raised a finger let alone a question concerning this hijacking. Perhaps it’s fear or downright stupidity or even collusion. I tend to think all three play a role. The fact is there should have been a recall election using hand written ballots, especially in view of the blatant manipulations that were so evident. But there wasn’t and no one it seems bothered to lift a finger over it.

I acknowledge the federal election process as it is, is a sham. But if people simply stopped voting, what is bad now(and as you indicate) would become far worse and eventually lead us (no doubt) to a bloody revolution. Of course that might be inevitable anyway. But even if there was a revolution(which seems to be the direction you are pointing in), the perpetrators have the ways and means to escape it if not outright crush it. They won’t simply quit because no one is voting. They’ll just do what Bush intended to do all along, declare marshal law and suspend elections. 

The way to stop corrupt government is not to not vote,  it is to peacefully and civilly disobey. I’m talking sit down strikes and peace marches, things people must collectively become involved in. Let’s make the million man march a ten million man march! If we did these things, we would get our country back. If only half of us did it! Or even a third! Or a quarter! Or a 5th! This is the best way to peacefully affect change. It has succeeded many times in the past and it can do so again, unlike non-voting which has always been with us and has never-ever tangibly affected change for the better.

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By Nomascerdo, May 27, 2008 at 10:16 pm Link to this comment

Actually Ron Paul has been speaking consistently and loudly about many of the things that you claim “no one is talking about”.  Perhaps you meant to say none of the hand picked elite candidates are talking about it, or perhaps no candidate that actually can win the nomination.  That said, Ron Paul is about to record his best primary result yet in Idaho, tonight with 23% of the vote so far.

His latest book, The Revolution, debuted at # 7 on the NY Times bestseller list, hit #1 in it’s second week, and now sits at #5.

While it sounds like you probably would disagree with Ron Paul’s views on a number of issues, he is still in the race, and it doesn’t take a leap of faith regarding his views on the most critical threats to our republic.  Obama has already flip flopped on his views on Iran and is already talking about how we should essentially be militarily involved in South America as it relates to the failed War on Drugs policy.

The only way to protect liberty from things like ‘inverted totalitarianism’ is to restrict the influence and power of ‘the state’. Remove the blank check and the power from Washington and give it back to the people where we can exert more influence over our local communities.  Have faith in humanity, instead of in the false promise of government.

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By Mark Davis, May 27, 2008 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Abstaining from doing evil can only be perceived as evil by those whom support that evil.  Referring to this abstention as “doing nothing” is a red herring at best.  First do no evil is a sound principle especially when it is so obvious that voting has never had the desired results.  Supporting mob rule through participation in the ritual of voting gives legitimacy to those that rule us.  Think about this:  Would we be better off if everybody, 100% of “eligible” voters if you wish, participated in the glory of the coming election of the next Emperor or if nobody, 0%, zero, nada showed up at the altar of democracy?  The first scenario would give the Chosen One more power (typically called mandates in the MSM) than God on earth to make war, take money from working people and generally screw with people’s lives.  The second scenario would be a serious problem for those whom rely on the sheep to line up for sheering on their own.  If you want to organize protests then the only peaceful alternative is to abstain from participating in the forging of your chains and spread the word.

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By Michael Shaw, May 27, 2008 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

Well Mark in as much as I agree with you I am still one of the stupid many. I am supporting a candidate in the hope that one of these corporate chosen will turn out to be something the corporations don’t think he is. It happened with FDR who the elitists saw as one of their own. Could it happen again? Thus my stance. However the only way to affect real change will not be gained in the electoral process but by activism, physical activism in droves on the streets. Since that too seems improbable, at least for the time being, what else can we do? Is doing nothing not just as evil?

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By Mark Davis, May 27, 2008 at 11:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”
Henry Louis Mencken

Political science is a modern version of astrology.  The state is an immoral system based on violent coercion and it does not matter who manages this evil apparatus or how the managers are chosen.  Politics is the problem, not the answer.  Growing apathy with political theater has a better chance of ending the elite exploitation of the working man than the endless hand wringing over the politicians de jure.  Supporting any politician to manage society via the state means you support this evil system.  Believing the state is a necessary evil undermines the moral foundation of even the best of intentions that you may have for its use.

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By Michael Shaw, May 27, 2008 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

I’m the guy who called this current administration a regime, but I did not take Clinton off the hook. Nor the democrats. My reflections go back in decades, long before George Bush became the president. Actually I agree with most of what you’re saying, especially about the third party option. I would also mention the 2006 election when the dems won the house and we thought, finally something will be done. Then of course nothing was done, the new speaker of the house taking impeachment off the table on her first day! I would point out though that on a national level a third party will never be more than a spoiler until it gains viable seats in the house and senate. On the local level third party’s have done well. The Green Party for example. But nationally it is meaningless and will continue to be meaningless as long as the election process remains so corrupt. As one noted author put it, it wouldn’t matter if they had Jesus Christ as a candidate.

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By cyrena, May 27, 2008 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

Saggy writes:

“...The above scenario is repeated in essence with every important issue.  What the hell did the US citizenry know about Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Guatemala, Iran, Iraq, Chile, etc., before we attacked/overthrew them?  Ans:  absolutely nothing.  What say did the electorate have?  Ans:  absolutely none.  This is the NORM in the US.”

And, I have to agree. The US citizenry didn’t know ANYTHING about ANY of these overthrows, INCLUDING many (or most) of the US troops who lost their lives in these battles.

I was talking with my stepdad maybe 2 years ago, about ALL of these wars, and while he himself fought and was permanently wounded in the Korean conflict, he said that he never really understood why we were there either.

Even today, as I read these comments on multiple threads, the most belligerent war mongers among them, don’t have a clue that the US was even responsible for the disasters in Cuba, Vietnam, Guatemale, Iran, Chile, and others. Even as I write, these same uninformed or misinformed people don’t even know of the on-going cooperation that the US provides in maintaining the dictatorships in places like Columbia, or that we assisted in the genocides of Rwanda and the Balkans. YEARS after the fact, some truth begins to come to light, but only to for the few who are willing to search it out and make it available, and the few who are willing to look for it and learn it.

STILL, there is every effort to prevent that, and to sell a collection of myths instead. Sadly, that IS the norm.

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By Michael Shaw, May 27, 2008 at 9:05 am Link to this comment

IE “The US populace is comatose.” Well you’re right! We have been fooled, manipulated and indoctrinated for years now and the same corporations who pick our candidates control the media. They also have us working two jobs or more just to pay the rent, giving us little time or energy to pursue the truth.

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By Michael Shaw, May 27, 2008 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

Steve you make the New Deal sound like a bad thing. I wonder why? And as for the FED, never in it’s history has it become more of a private piggy bank for Wall Street than today.

I see the biggest problem we have coming from the election process. If there was ever a bigger canard I’d like to see it. It gives the illusion of democracy while it gives us handpicked choices that are favorable to corporations. The best choices are not only abandoned by their own party, they’re own party actually works to get them unelected, as is the case with Dennis Kucinich in Ohio. Now that 75% of the election process is electronic and we’ve seen what’s happened in Ohio, New Hampshire, NYC, Florida, and elsewhere, is it any wonder as to why George W. Bush and his cronies are so blatant? Is it because they are not afraid of democrats or because they know the electorate can do nothing to stop them? I’d say both. Meanwhile not one candidate is talking about the unitary executive, the patriot act, the return of habeas corpus and an end to torture. No one is talking about ending NAFTA and this free trade debacle. No one is talking about passing legislation that would put an end to illegal domestic spying. No one is saying anything about Impeachment. In other words, no one is saying anything. And here we are caught up in this election circus, in some cases working our asses off for our candidate in the hope it will matter, feeding the canard with our hopeful optimism only reinforcing the notion that most of us haven’t got a clue.

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By Steve Stip, May 27, 2008 at 12:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I grew weary about how great the New Deal is so perhaps I missed a reference to the government-backed banking cartel established in 1913 with the creation of the Federal Reserve.  Until we have an honest monetary system, should we be looking at more esoteric causes for our present troubles?

I could say much but I will only say this:  We would not have had the Great Depression, The New Deal and World War II except for the Federal Reserve and the banking cartel it backed up.

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By Michael Shaw, May 26, 2008 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

Successful propaganda…how true Doc! While Bush wraps himself in the flag and takes his staged public appearances to military bases, he gives not a damn of the troops in harms way. He’s even skirted the GI Bill by removing benefits to wounded soldiers who are no longer of use to him, even though they were forced into extended duty beyond their service.

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By Michael Shaw, May 26, 2008 at 11:45 am Link to this comment

I would add further in regard to Alexander Hamilton, that any form of government is only as good or bad as it’s leadership. If the leadership is bad so too is the government. Even monarchy has had some good rulers. So it goes with democracy here in America. Some good leadership, some bad leadership and today the worst.

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By Michael Shaw, May 26, 2008 at 11:39 am Link to this comment

Well Doc in their minds it was better than a ground war and also fed the military cash cow that in turn feeds campaign finance. The bottom line is Saddam was a monster, but “our” monster when he committed most of his worst atrocities. We all realize that his war machine was funded by both Reagan and George H W Bush. It wasn’t until he decided to switch to Euros when he became the vicious, evil, devil sent hell spawn that George W Bush had to eliminate.

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By Michael Shaw, May 26, 2008 at 11:29 am Link to this comment

Well Cyrena, don’t rule out the possibility in her becoming the next vice president. It could still happen. They are caught between a rock and a hard place are the democrats. They will have to include Florida and Michigan, giving her the popular vote, because if they don’t they will alienate those two big states in the general election. Also don’t forget it was republicans who pushed their primaries ahead of schedule, not the democrats. As bad as it might seem to us Obama supporters, the truth is Hillary is getting votes Obama isn’t and in key states. We’re going to have a primary whereby Obama gets the most delegates and Hillary gets the popular vote. That can’t be ignored.

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By Michael Shaw, May 26, 2008 at 11:16 am Link to this comment

Well Saggy I tend to go along with Slim Tim. It is not democracy that is the sham but rather those in charge of government(the neocons) who disregard democracy on an unprecedented scale. Today’s white house is the real sham and the most blatant sham in US history.

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By SlimTim, May 24, 2008 at 8:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

True, citizenry needs to be informed. Of course, the state of societies have always been “Who controls what,” taking example from the fact that every war has been fought over land and resources, exempting the very few wars initiated by the truly oppressed. We’re imperfect beings, but we’re learning how to contol public opinion as we go.

Take media coverage during war time. “They,” who typically control the majority of “what” were not as careful as current leaders to manage the sights and sounds that transfered from Vietnam to U.S. soil. That, in conjunction with other things (draft) ended the war. The public was able to privy the truth. Not so this time because the folks who run the bulk of media outlets tend to play nine holes with the legislators on the weekends.

If you want a good example of information/awareness control, read this short article and you’ll get a better idea.

The HIV Morning After Pill

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By Crimes of the State Blog, May 23, 2008 at 2:31 pm Link to this comment

Hi guys.  I may have been a little short with CJ, and I haven’t heard him speak on 9/11 or “Al Qaeda” in several years.  I’d love to interview him on these questions for my blog, but am unsure how to try and contact him.

Someone mentioned “this regime” where the implication was that Clinton was somehow NOT involved in coddling terrorists (including the bin Laden network).  This is demonstrably false.

The fraud of the “war on terror” is a bipartisan project, and thus without a viable third party challenge we are screwed.

by Michel Chossudovsky

Resentful west spurned Sudan’s key terror files

CIA Insider Says Osama Hunt Flawed
“Scheuer says the bin Laden unit was slated for elimination in the spring of 1998…”

Bin Laden Expert Steps Forward
Ex-CIA Agent Assesses Terror War In 60 Minutes Interview
“In a letter to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees earlier this year, Scheuer says his agents provided the U.S. government with about ten opportunities to capture bin Laden before Sept. 11, and that all of them were rejected.”

There is quite a bit more, including the cover-up after 9/11 of “foreign governments” (plural, Senator Bob Graham) assisting the alleged 9/11 hijackers.  If the Democrats were interested in the truth, they would certainly divulge what these “foreign governments” did to attack America on 9/11.  Keeping it secret seems like cut and dry treason.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 23, 2008 at 1:34 pm Link to this comment

How true saggy, how true! Democracy can only have a chance to work if the citizenry are informed about what is going on. The atomic bomb lead to the locked down national security state that has been the norm ever since.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 23, 2008 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

You see in the new order, it is welfare socialism for the rich, free market for the poor. Do you remember the flap about lack of Kevlar vests? Retired Col. David Hackworth pointed out that the amount of money spent on President Bush’s security for a trip to Asia, could buy a Kevlar vest for every United States soldier in Iraq.
It is indeed very sad to know, that those who believe in this so-called mission, did not realize how little the leadership cares about them. It is one of the cruelest examples of successful propaganda.

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By Michael Shaw, May 23, 2008 at 7:33 am Link to this comment

Cyrena like you I don’t think CJ is falling for anything, he is only using what he has. If he had more he would certainly reflect it. Beyond a great historical knowledge and background, one thing he does have, just like most of the rest of us, is a well placed distaste and mistrust for this regime.

As for the building up of security on the pretense of terror, that falls in hand with the decades in building up law enforcement. If falls in line with the war on drugs as much as it does terrorism or any other excuse. The merchants of death have been insisting on a build up since Nixon. The peace and civil rights marches were one reason. People on the streets scare the hell out of them. That is why we spend ten times the amount in tax dollars to lock people up as compared to educating them. They realize as corporate fascism digs deeper and deeper into the wellbeing of the average citizen, bringing us further and further down the food chain, that more restlessness will unfold. It’s inevitable! I believe those camps in the mid-west are a part of that. And those private security firms. They expect unrest. They’ve been expecting it for years. And they are planning on dealing with it. Especially in light of the economic crisis they have manufactured.

Al Queda poses a minimal threat to us. Listen to McCain calling Cuba a threat to our national security!  Next it will be Pogo, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. How about St Thomas Island! After all, you need an excuse for all of this defense spending and garnished rights. Whether there are enemies or not, this system depends on them. It creates them where they don’t exist. And fear is the key to their success.

Blow back theory or not, it all amounts to the same thing. If the neocons planned the attacks or simply ignored the threats and allowed them to happen it’s still an act in treason and the results would still have been exactly the same. Increased defense spending, tax breaks to the rich, loss of liberty for the average citizen, unfettered capitalism for the mega-corporations and the need for security, not for us but from us.

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By cyrena, May 23, 2008 at 6:07 am Link to this comment

Thanks to you both for this further elaboration.(Beer doc and Michael Shaw) I’m trying to tie this all together, and within the next week or 10 days, since that’s all the time I have for several projects.

Mostly, I’m trying to put together how we have become an authoritarian state, and I need to show it by way of the same dynamics that have developed all authoritarian states. (Or, at least the ones that I’m using). So, while there are many forms of such, (that I mentioned in an earlier post) I’m going to try to narrow it down to those that are common across several operations..The Nazis, the Soviets under Stalin, and and a few of the totalitarian regimes that developed in South America. (Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, and a few more at the periphery).

Needless to say, we are unlikely to ever become as completely immersed in it as these other states did. But, my argument is that it HAS already begun here, even though it has not yet been recognized as such by the majority of Americans.

Anyway, that’s what made this particular story and thread sort of ‘right up my alley’ and of course 9/11 and the so-called ‘the war on terror’ are common to all of these totalitarian regimes. Of course there are other components as well, like the gulags and concentration camps, and the spying, and the torture, and the imprisonment of much of the population as political opponents, etc, etc.

Not ALL of those things have happened on a grand scale here…as of YET. But there are certainly episodes of those things, and more.

Anyway, thanks to you. This input has really been helpful.

Meantime, as an aside, that Hillary Rodham is just getting further and further into the desperate acts mode. I mean I’ve just about had it with her after these speeches from today, and the comparison of her campaign to the Civil Rights struggle, and even the current Zimbabwe struggle for self-determination.

I read on another blog, that “Maturity was the ability to refrain from beating the living shit out of someone who so richly deserves it.”

So Ok, Ok, I’m mature. BUT, maybe my maturity isn’t being all that tested, since HRC isn’t within my immediate reach. smile

She really IS starting to piss me off now. I’m tired of this.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 23, 2008 at 5:35 am Link to this comment

Cyrena, the perpetual war strategy does make you wonder about all of the accepted “facts”. The war on terrorism is a ridiculous proposition. As Gore Vidal has pointed out, you might as well declare war on dandruff. If Al Qaeda does exist… after reading books by Robert Fisk, I believe it does… it is still a cult of religious zealots, made to appear much more important and powerful by the insane bluster of the Bush administration.
What is very diabolical about this is the use of language and symbols misappropriated from World War Two, the last officially declared war. Thus you hear that 9/11 is this generation’s Pearl Harbor. Never mind that was an attack on a sovereign country by another sovereign country, with a real military, with real weapons. So since this “enemy” now is so elusive that it supposedly hides in caves, the government in its zeal to demonize has turned the Islamic faith into the enemy. And mind you, we are talking about over a billion people. This is right out of Orwell to be sure. It is not surprising that a large segment of the population believes falsely that Barack Obama is a Muslim.
But the real question is: why should that matter at all? The right wing have their lot of religious zealots, what the late Hunter Thompson called “bull fruit”. Pastor John Hagee immediately comes to mind.

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By cyrena, May 23, 2008 at 3:35 am Link to this comment

•  “This is imperialism 2.0, a generation ahead in terms of the covert false flag nature of the beast.  Sure, the Nazis used false flag attacks too, but they went to “war” with nations, not an amorphous tactic like “terrorism.”

But COS, do you really think that CJ ‘buys into’ this? I’m not sure. I mean I agree with you for sure about the fraudulent nature of the ‘war on terror’, but unless I missed it, (and I may have, so I should go back to my own notes) I didn’t perceive that Chalmers was still supporting the ‘Blowback” theory.

More than anything though, I think the comparison to Nazi and Soviet style Totalitarianism is really close on many of the dynamics that make for a totalitarian scene. Not all of them by any means, and of course the false flag stuff is only one of the components, (usually the first, so that it can then be the ‘reason’ for all of the ‘national security’) but certainly there are many of the same components here.

As for the difference between the Nazis going to ‘war’ with nations rather than going to ‘war’ against an amorphous tactic like ‘terrorism’, I would argue that this is EXACTLY what the US regime has done. They’ve ‘gone to war’ against NATIONS, (Afghanistan, Iraq, with Iran and Syria up next on the agenda) and simply chosen to ‘call’ it a war against a tactic, to provide for all of the mechanisms involved in a totalitarian power grab here at home, and global hegemony over the rest of the world, but specifically the middle east.

In other words, I think I can say with a degree of certainty that BY NOW, nobody believes this ‘war on terror’ stuff, IF they ever did. (I never did) It’s a war against whoever may have had previous control over the resources of the Middle East, and to prevent any other entity from ever gaining that control. That seems pretty clear cut as described in the Clean Break paper, and presented as policy by the PNAC.

Ah say that here. I should have read further. I have a tendency to jump ahead..

•  “..Ample evidence exists that we have been hoodwinked, and that “Al Qaeda” is more of creation of proxy intelligence services than any serious threat to anyone, least of all the United States of America.”..

I agree. I’ve never believed al-Qaeda to be the boogeyman that they’ve been designed to portray, but the image is easily put over as a ‘hoodwink’ because they do in fact exist, and because earlier operations have been attributed to them. (The Embassies in Africa and the USS Cole most recently).

In fact, that’s why the ‘Blowback” theory has been allowed to perpetrate, at least in my opinion, among generally smart and perceptive folks like CJ. It has been a widely accepted theory in academia, and that’s because the elements of it DO have some legitimacy. I mean, Imperialism and hegemony forced by militarism is hardly new to the US or Britain, or France. But those most victimized most recently, have been the nations of the Middle East.

So, I’ve only said that to say that I believe that’s why the local thugs in the administration, in creating the false flag operation and blaming it on ‘they hate our freedoms’ was actually co-opting an ideology that had some legitimacy. They DO ‘hate the freedoms’ that the US exercises in its forced imperialism. The ‘freedoms’ that the US exercises to take it’s war machines anywhere in the world it chooses to be, regardless of the International legal standards that are supposed to govern the behavior of all nation states.

And then of course there’s the standard theory that has existed from day one…many Americans have believed that 9/11 was a response to the on-going atrocities perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinians and other Arab peoples of the ME, and the US support for that.

So, while I am inclined to believe that 9/11 was clearly a false flag attack perpetrated by those within the US administration, it makes sense to me that others would buy into the “Blowback” theory.

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By Crimes of the State Blog, May 21, 2008 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

I like CJ, but he does not understand the fraudulent nature of the “war on terror.” (erroneously calling it “blowback” uncritical of the sponsorship of the allged ‘blowback’) 

He’s still fighting the last war, and trying to fit America into the Nazi and/or Soviet model.

This is imperialism 2.0, a generation ahead in terms of the covert false flag nature of the beast.  Sure, the Nazis used false flag attacks too, but they went to “war” with nations, not an amorphous tactic like “terrorism.” 

Racist and religious motives contribute, but so do the conspiratorial arrangements with terrorists, drug lords and foreign governments/intelligence services.  There is collusion behind the scenes, a far reaching collusion to provide justifications for wars.  This is never explored by the official, and semi-official corporate media—nor by Johnson and many “alternative” voices either.  Ample evidence exists that we have been hoodwinked, and that “Al Qaeda” is more of creation of proxy intelligence services than any serious threat to anyone, least of all the United States of America.  But worse, the CIA apparently went to great lengths to prevent the alleged 9/11 plotters from being caught ahead of the attacks.  The fingerprints of intelligence were all over the operation.  The puppet masters weren’t all that far from the show.

Add to that a Project Mockingbird irrational attack on those who question the false flag nature of the 9/11 attacks, and I’d say we are now living in an intelligence-topia, a place where the Big Lie is so solidified, that even intelligent, well meaning investigators like Johnson can’t bring themselves to dig that extra bit.

John Doraemi publishes Crimes of the State Blog

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By al-kaon, May 21, 2008 at 10:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

goooooooooooood work

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By thebeerdoctor, May 20, 2008 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

Thank you Cyrena and Michael Shaw, for your kind words of encouragement. Something that is somewhat distressing is the tendency to wax poetic about Gulf War One. Even Obama has praised Herbert Walker Bush for putting together a U.N. coalition that strong armed other nations to give money, if not arms, to the enterprise George H.W. Bush referred to as “our glorious victory in the gulf”. The junior Senator from Illinois has hinted that this is the way to go about it, since it did not break the republic, at least economically. Such revisionist history is always dangerous, because it inevitably leads to new folly, based on false assumptions.
Gulf War One is one of the main points of origin that lead to the predicament this country faces now. First, it too was based upon lies. Can anyone recall Ambassador April Glaspie, who on July 25,1990, told Saddam Hussein: “We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Sec. Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960’s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.”
Four days later, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Then the long United States buildup to the war began, complete with propaganda about Iraqi soldiers pulling babies out of incubators. Since the internet was still in its infancy, the complete news blackout was sustained. Then the newspeak mantra of “support our troops” became a kind of redemptive call for the loss in Vietnam, telling the people of the United States that the military knows how to win a desert war.
This is also when the United States established a full scale military presence in the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, who rebuked Osama Bin Laden when he complained about allowing the infidels (that is the U.S.) onto the holy lands.
There was also the betrayal of the Kurds and Shia Muslims, who were encouraged by Papa Bush to overthrow the Saddam Hussein regime, only to be brutally cut down by helicopter gun ships, lent to him by the United States.
The sanctions imposed on Iraq, at the end of Gulf War One, that remained in effect through the entire eight years of the Clinton administration, lead to the deaths of a last a half million Iraqi children. A brutal policy that Secretary of State Madeline Albright told Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes was “worth it”.
So what was all this about? It has been noted that when Saddam Hussein demanded euros instead of dollars for Iraqi oil, the neo-consvervative hawks screamed for war, and baby Bush was more than happy to give it to them.

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By Michael Shaw, May 20, 2008 at 9:13 am Link to this comment

Another point, look at all the money we’re borrowing from China to finance this war. Most of that money is going to all of the captains of industry and the MIC, those who are(allegedly) rebuilding the infrastructure along with the private security corporations who protect them. And we’re stuck with the tab. So here we are in insurmountable debt on top of gas prices that have increased the cost of everything across the board. Meanwhile and as state governors provide across the board cuts to social welfare programs to maintain the enormous tax cuts to the rich, job outsourcing continues in step with the unfettered capitalism that is the free market canard and and without lifting a finger to do something about the cost of oil and these other travesties he enabled, Bush continues to borrow even more money in an obvious attempt to slow the inevitable collapse that will come after he is safely out of office. The perfect time to blame the left for all of these problems and leave the rest of us, (the poorer half) dangling helplessly in the wind.

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By Michael Shaw, May 20, 2008 at 8:14 am Link to this comment

Good points Cyrena! I would add that oil was only 20 dollars a barrel prior to invasion (2002) and now it’s over a hundred and rising. Just imagine how much it will be when McCain(or Bush) hits Iran? There is little doubt in my mind nation building was the number two priority and the disruption of the flow of oil the number one priority. Number two was a gamble, number one a sure thing.

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By Michael Shaw, May 20, 2008 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

Good points Cyrena! I would add that oil was only 20 dollars a barrel prior to invasion (2002) and now it over a hundred. Just imagine how much it will be when McCain hits Iran? There is no doubt in my mind nation building was the number two priority and the disruption of the flow of oil the number one priority. Number two was a gamble, number one a sure thing.

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By cyrena, May 20, 2008 at 8:09 am Link to this comment

Dr. Know…I just swooped in on this..

“Here I am, a retired professional, and I’m getting very interested in maybe taking a course, maybe a degree, in government.  I can see where, if everyone had great government teachers, we’d now be in an altogether different, probably far better, place than we are now.  This has been an amazing thread!”

Can I suggest…DO THIS!!! Yeah…why not? Here you are sitting around as a retired professional, and we NEED you!! I don’t know where you live, but there are a bunch of programs in this, that won’t take you a lifetime to do. We’ve got people from the DoS coming around here all of the time, looking for retired professionals. We need teachers in this stuff too. Our best in the business can’t work forever. (although I do have to say, that’s ONE thing they can do for a real long time…even if we have to wheel ‘em up to the podium to do the lectures)

You really should check this out. You’d love it!! And, you wouldn’t be alone. I mean, the kids are a whole lot smarter than they might look, but they still need good directions.

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By Michael Shaw, May 20, 2008 at 8:01 am Link to this comment

that FDR was not the guy the bankers and captains of industry thought he was. He did a great snow job on them. That is why after his first hundred days, which included regulations on corporations and more taxes to the rich, they did all they could to dismantle his New Deal. The rich literally hated Roosevelt. To them he was a traitor, one of their own who stabbed them in the back. I wonder how they would have felt about him had he lived after the war? At that point he had a bold plan to provide permanent housing for every American.

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By cyrena, May 20, 2008 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

Beer Doctor,

I somehow missed this from you earlier, which is part of an excellent post, but this part jumped right out at me:

•  “…It is useful to remember that George W Bush said, during the 2000 debates that he was not interested in nation building, or becoming entangled in foreign struggles.”

Not because it’s any more or less important than the rest, but only because I recently read these SAME words as quoted from Donald Rumsfeld, SPECIFICALLY the part about the US not being into ‘nation building’ and this was shortly after the invasion of Iraq.

Now in the context that I read them, (unaware that the shrub has said the same thing during a debate…I have SUCH a difficult time listening to that goon speak) I knew exactly what RUMSFELD MEANT…they WEREN’T trying to do any ‘nation building’ in Iraq, they were just there to take over the infrastructure and get the OIL. They didn’t plan on building anything like a nation for Iraqis, but just another American Kingdom in the Middle East, just like the one that they constructed in Saudi Arabia, but with full power, unshared with that monarchy.

And, I’m sure that Georgie never intended to become ‘entangled’ there at all. He expected to swoop right in, and do whatever they planned to do, which they have done. The Green Zone is no small thing, and neither is the Embassy now costing us about a billion dollars. Baghdad is now the US capitol of the Middle East. But it was never intended as any nation BUILDING exercise. It was intended as the beginning of a 21st Century neo-colonization effort, and they didn’t even do THAT right! I mean, how stupid was it to dissolve the remaining army that Saddam had? How stupid was it to run out ALL of the Baathists, when they made up 90% of the professional infrastructure? If anything, these morons were intent on DESTROYING the place, and they didn’t plan on any ‘entanglements’ because they didn’t expect any resistance.

Still, even as georgie was debating the issues, he HAD to be lying, because the plan to take over the Middle East, beginning with Iraq, was already on paper, and had been for a few years by then. (I think Non Credo told me 1996, though I’d thought it was 1997). By 1998, they were telling Slick Willie to blast Saddam out of the way, but he wasn’t going for it. And, I only just found out that Israel had already bombed Iraq way back in 1981, (don’t know why I didn’t know it before) in a planned attack that they claimed ‘pre-emptive’ self-defense on…even back then. And, that became the Bush Doctrine when the little creep announced his expansive new policy of pre-emptive military action on June 1, 2002. In short, he just TOTALLY by-passed article 51 of the UN Charter, and decided he would make pre-emptive military force against anybody he wanted to, for whatever the hell reason he wanted to, gradually establishing the most dangerous precedents in the history of the world.

But of course by THEN, he could get away with it, because nobody else had the capacity to retaliate. In other words, the ‘mutually assured destruction’ that had kept everyone pretty much in line from the beginning of WMD, was no longer an issue. He could just BLAST AWAY, and not worry about another nation BLASTING right back!!

In comparison, I don’t believe that Barack Obama is lying. He may be very cautious, and seeming to hug too close to the center for my own or others’ liking. But there’s no comparison to his caution, and Dick Bushes outright lies and treachery.

So, while we may not know what a ‘president’ Obama would do, in so far as specific details are concerned, I DON’T see him blasting other countries off the map, or continuing the plan of the PNAC. More than anything, I see him concerning himself with DOMESTIC policy, with really DOES mean not meddling in the business of the rest of the world.

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By Michael Shaw, May 20, 2008 at 7:46 am Link to this comment

Well I listen to Democracy Now practically on a daily basis from the local university’s free radio station and I never heard a peep about the Obama question. I wasn’t sure if I might have missed a show or not, but I was still surprise she was able to get close enough to him to ask him a question and get a response.

I think you’re right, it would be great to have Obama on the show. I also missed the Bill Clinton one though I wish I hadn’t. I’ll have to check in their archives and see what happened. I can only imagine!

Seems to me politicians fear her show. There are a few exceptions of course. I guess real questions pose real problems for most politicians. If most of them were real, there wouldn’t be a problem.

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By cyrena, May 20, 2008 at 7:16 am Link to this comment

Thanks for the clarification BeerDoc.

I thought maybe I’d missed it. Now of course I think he and Amy would be just fine on her program, and I’m not comparing Slick Willie’s stumbles to anything that Obama might do.

Still, I won’t have my fingers crossed, since one of my toes already is, and not because I want it that way.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 20, 2008 at 6:51 am Link to this comment

When I said he was questioned by Amy Goodman, Obama did not appear on Democracy Now! She merely was able to pop him a quick question that was captured on audio, on his way to a rally. I wish Barack Obama would do a sit down interview with Ms. Goodman on Democracy Now! But if you ever heard the infamous Bill Clinton radio interview on election day 2000, when he stumbled on to her program; you probably shouldn’t have your fingers crossed.
Amy Goodman: It’s good to have you with us.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, May 20, 2008 at 4:34 am Link to this comment

When I think about your process, I’m not surprised that our government has been allowed to take the course it has.  IMO this is one of its great flaws.  Reminds me of a labyrinth with so many blind passages and walls making access to the “corruption” just about impossible and making it likely that irreparable damage can be done before access if finally gained.

Our government is so unweildy and huge that correcting its abuses requires some mechanism I don’t think we yet have, at least, not an effective one, as you suggest.

Maybe someone can refer me, if what I say is true, to some ideas and discussion on this notion being explored by people more learned about than I am.

Here I am, a retired professional, and I’m getting very interested in maybe taking a course, maybe a degree, in government.  I can see where, if everyone had great government teachers, we’d now be in an altogether different, probably far better, place than we are now.  This has been an amazing thread!

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By cyrena, May 19, 2008 at 10:22 pm Link to this comment

Part 1 of 2
Dyspeptic Teleologist,

I think you’re right that we do agree in general, and even on some specifics. In reference to Obama, I was expounding a bit on what Michael Shaw had said, about us having a tendency (now) to grab each and every thing, and analyze it to the point of wearing it down, and while there will in fact be a time when that will be necessary, I don’t think it much helps at this point. In my view, it’s kind of like ‘doing things out of order’ and that makes it less efficient. Now imagine if we’d done this before Dick Bush highjacked us. (I tried, but that was before we had such an instrument as these blogs to communicate with)

We do disagree on whether or not there is a ‘movement’ behind Barack Obama, but I think it might just be a difference of what we think of as a “movement’, and what we think of as a politician. I view it as a movement because of the sheer numbers involved, and my view is from the middle, in terms of age and history, (I’m 55) But I’ve always been forward thinking, and I am attached to that ‘crowd’ in my own environment in academia. In other words, regardless of age, most people in my own particular academic environment are in fact forward thinking. Not so much to totally dismiss the past, because I don’t believe in that at all. (my own secondary field of study is HISTORY). But, I have a take on the ‘politics of the past’ that is similar to Obama’s. If the politics of the past, are what got us to where we are now???? You get my point.

Yes, it IS still a class struggle. It’s the same class struggle movement that began with Martin Luther King, Jr, as well as Malcolm X, and pretty much STOPPED with the deaths of them both. And, we CANNOT GO BACK. It’s been too long, and too much has changed. On the other hand, I DO see the first stirrings of another similar movement, and again…I call it a ‘movement’ because it has BROUGHT MILLIONS of people into the process, that have NOT been in the process, for at least 4 decades.

Now because I’m one of those types that have bemoaned this apathy for almost as long as it has been pervasive, (so, 40 years, give or take) I can very much appreciate just this interest and this involvement, by ‘the classes’ and I would be an ingrate if I didn’t.  (I mean, I’m the one who’s been hollering at everybody to get up off their asses and DO SOMETHING!) Well, they have. And, I’m grateful for that much alone, because it’s a start. And, I don’t think the rest of us do ourselves any favors by dismissing them as a ‘cult’ just because they may look different, or seem to have different values or priorities than the ones that we all had back in the day. In fact, I think we do ourselves harm, by making that assumption.

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By cyrena, May 19, 2008 at 10:18 pm Link to this comment

Part 2 of 2

Just as an example, (and I know this occurs more with me than it might with the average citizen my age) I saw a kid a few months ago, just before Super Tuesday, here in my small community in Southern California. He was probably in his early 20’s, and dressed sort of weirded out…blond hair in spikes, a few earrings in both ears, and a leather jacket with the sleeves cut off of it. He (or somebody) had managed to paint some sort of Obama support slogan on the back of it. Now I just saw this kid on the street, as I was walking home from an errand myself. A few days later, this same kid appeared on campus as part of a group of youngsters from the OneWorld organization, to deliver a presentation. The presentation was excellent by the way, and he had on that same outfit. (hopefully he’d bathed, but I don’t know that for a fact). I spoke to him at length later, (along with several others from the organization) and they were ALL –ON TOP OF THE STUFF-! In other words, these kids aren’t playing around. They KNOW what the hell is going on, and they’re taking the kind of action that I haven’t seen in well…40 years.

Another example is a long term friend who’s 43 year old son recently took a leave of absence from his job at CHEVRON, to go down to assist with the Obama campaign in North Carolina. This grown man is a West Point graduate, and he did his time in the military, and he’s been a very responsible and successful citizen since. He also lost his 23 year old cousin to a roadside bomb in Iraq 2 years ago. My friend said she’d never seen her son cry until then. (well, at least not since he was a kid). All he could keep saying was, ‘Why her?’ (his cousin that is, who had also just graduated from West Point before she was blown up in Iraq).

So, I said all of that to say that I think this really is NOT ‘about’ Barack Obama. This is about people finally mobilizing to do what hasn’t been done in far too long. It’s what we have failed to do, (in my own generation at least) and so I’m not about to criticize it. That’s not to suggest that I don’t believe there’s anything to be gained from the past, but it seems pretty obvious to ME, that things are pretty fucked up NOW, so how much of the ‘past’ do we really want to duplicate? I mean, come on! SOMETHING has obviously gone very much awry. Matter of fact, a whole BUNCH of stuff has, and it didn’t happen overnight.

That said, if the OLD stuff didn’t work out so well, and we can see from what Wolsin is saying here, (I think the book should be here by tomorrow, so I’ll find out what else he says) that it HASN’T, then I’m ALL FOR trying something new, and I’m equally ALL FOR these youngsters doing the part that THEY have the physical energy to do. (I don’t). 

Now, if Obama is the type that can get this kind of inspiration in gear, (and he has) then that’s fine with me. But I still say that it’s not about HIM, as much as it is about US. Now we can dig in our heels, and say no, no, I’m not gonna go along with this, that, or the other thing. (like my mother who refuses to use a walker, even though she keeps falling and hurting herself). But at the end of the day, it’s gonna happen anyway, and while I’m not at all ‘religious’,  I AM thanking God or whatever spirits there are out there, because as a collective of 300 plus million people, we ain’t gonna last much longer if we DON’T do some serious direction changing, and PDQ I might add.

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By Michael Shaw, May 19, 2008 at 9:49 pm Link to this comment

Well I too was ticked at your suggestion that we were placing all of our bets on a miracle. I think we are basically on the same page. If I became too pompous, I apologize for that shortcoming.

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By Michael Shaw, May 19, 2008 at 9:31 pm Link to this comment

Points taken DT. I suppose it is up to the real movement to see to it we are not displaced. We have at this point, once again become a power to be reckoned with. I don’t see that changing anytime soon, in spite of who wins this election.

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By Michael Shaw, May 19, 2008 at 9:02 pm Link to this comment

DT I am almost in 100% agreement with you. One thing though…...“I can think of no examples—and of course I may be wrong—where a politician was the catalyst for progressive change.”

I believe Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor would in fact fit that bill. The reasons of course might be construed by some as circumstantial or perhaps even lucky. I see some validity in that, but can the tenacity of the human spirit or the compassion in one’s heart not also be taken into account?

For Eleanor this circumstance came with a loneliness and separate life to Franklin, basically an opened marriage which opened doors to personal interests, eventually allowing her to pursue women’s and minority rights and other social passions. In Franklin’s case and perhaps ironically, it came in the form of Hot Springs, Georgia a project he himself funded in fact after protests from Eleanor. But she eventually caved in.

In that tiny dilapidated place in the middle of nowhere, he spent most of his own fortune, 2/3’s of it to develop a clinic for children who like him were victims of child paralysis. The times he spent there were the happiest of his life and those he shared these times with grew to love him and he them. Those times also enabled him to sneak off and drive through the Georgia countryside and meet rural Americans and dirt farmers. He asked them questions, noticed their plights and more importantly he learned that all people have great personal struggles, just as he did…. (This all began before he became the governor of NY but we must remember he was being groomed as a politician his entire life).... I think he admired these people, their tenacity, and their courage, things he had no small amounts in himself. I think he felt for them too. His whole objective in going to Hot Springs was to use the miraculous waters and heal his own disintegrating leg muscles. But still a cripple, he left there with something far more important, the human spirit, it’s compassion and it’s ability to overcome all obstacles.

The lengths he went through to appear as though walking so he would have a chance to the office of governor and then the presidency stands in testimony that we should never choose a leader simply because they can’t jog after breakfast every morning.

Today’s politician lives in a superficial reality, much like the politicians of that period. Roosevelt broke the mold and proved there was nothing superficial about him. He was exactly what was called for when a frightened and starving nation was nearly on the brink and when they needed hope and real leadership to bring them out of it. Of course he was not perfect either. He made mistakes, plenty of them. But he had the courage and the wisdom to understand when one thing did not work, try something else. He wouldn’t give up and he gave the rest of the nation the inclination to do the same, in the most detrimental moments in US history. If there ever was or is such a thing as a political Messiah, it was him. I have seen no other, either before him or since. And now we are here again, at the most detrimental period in US history.

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By jackpine savage, May 19, 2008 at 8:24 pm Link to this comment

I agree on where our most serious problems lie, doc.  However, if “change” is going to occur it can only happen in two ways.  One: the people in the streets with torches and pitchforks.  Or two: institutionalizing “change”.

Getting a bunch of new people to actually run for office at local levels will not clean up the mess that we’ve made in the Middle East.  But it would have the ability to shift the paradigm of American politics; after all, today’s city council members are tomorrows state representatives…and so on.  Moreover, our government is structured in such a way that local pressure with broad momentum can change national politics.

I believe i’m correct in stating that if 2/3 of the state legislatures enacted articles of impeachment then Congress would have to move. (Someone correct me if i’m wrong…)

And he could offer other suggestions.  The State Department is bleeding people from attrition.  Obama could be telling the young people who swoon for him that they can help change the world by applying at the DoS.  (Sure, few of them will actually make the cut…i think that they receive 30,000 candidates/year and only take 300 or so, but still.)

My point was more about seeing the “movement” rather than calling a campaign a “movement”.  We can hold their feet to the fire, but not so long as our sole input is a vote every couple of years.

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By Michael Shaw, May 19, 2008 at 7:53 pm Link to this comment

Oh how true Doc! We can never acquiesce(fall asleep) as we did leading up to the Bush debacle and we can never let them take us for granted.

In 2006 the republicans lost seats. It looks like they will lose even more seats in congress. They’re bailing like a ship of rats. But even because of these victories, the Leiberman’s, the Feinstein’s and the blue dog democrats have consistently derailed our efforts, making the entire party look weak at best or at worst, the same republican animal. If the democrats fail to act, we must get in their faces, we must stay there, steer them in the right direction and vote against the democrats who let us down. We must let them know every step of the way we are watching even if they miraculously bring us back on track.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 19, 2008 at 6:34 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena, I do agree that the truly progressive members of the Democratic party are the best, and perhaps only reason to vote democratic. As you and other posters on this thread have pointed out, this neocon imbecility has to be overturned. When you do consider the members in congress who do stand up for reason and justice, they are too often marginalized by the DLC and the ilk that has gorged themselves on Clinton crime family gains. This is the real power struggle.
Who knows what a President Obama might do? It is useful to remember that George W Bush said, during the 2000 debates that he was not interested in nation building, or becoming entangled in foreign struggles. Well, look what happened.
The last two presidential elections were fixed, and despite those who scream “get over it”, this does not change the facts. Rep. John Conyers revealed the truth about 2004, but did anybody listen? The true democrats, I mean those who know it is job one, to protect the have nots from the abuses of the ownership class. These are the folks that need to be listened to.
The people who speak of Obama as Messiah, reveal in their derisive comments proof, that cynicism is the refuge of those who have been idealistically wounded.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, May 19, 2008 at 5:52 pm Link to this comment

“Saying, “We are the ones that we’ve been waiting for,” would have far more weight if it was followed by telling his audience to run for school boards, city councils, etc.”

Our real problems are at the national and international levels. 

If Obama is the Messiah we hope for, then his biggest job will be to build a DC coalition willing to face certain obstruction by those who have worked so hard to build the gov. Wolin is talking about. 
Can Obama do that?  Possibly.  But those of us who really believe in it and want it, have to hold his and his supporters’ feet to the fire. How we do that, I’m not really sure. 

The 2006 election turned out to be disappointing because of lack of accountability.  I think the attitude in DC is that the electorate acquiesced.
It’ll be too damn bad if that happens again, especially if Obama gets a mandate, and I think he might. We’ll again repeat the mistake Wolin claims got us where we are now.

I just wish I knew how 300 million people could hold their politicians’ feet to the fire.  Voting them out four or eight years later simply doesn’t work.  The damage is already done, sometimes, no, usually, irreparably.  No confidence?????

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By cyrena, May 19, 2008 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment

Michael Shaw, I think you’re right as well. I didn’t know that Obama had been on Amy Goodman. I think that is a very good thing.

Beer Doctor,

I do find it somewhat troubling that Obama hasn’t signed on to the destruction of Blackwater, but I don’t know, (as yet) what his motivations or reasoning is on that. I DON’T think that it’s because he’s pandering to the corps in that respect however. I DO think that it could be pragmatism that prevents him from committing to anything until he knows the lay-of-the-land, which I simply don’t believe ANY of us have a real knowledge of. I mean, what did Pelosi gain from her most recent visit there?

I also agree with the suggestion that this is a power struggle of sorts taking place in the Democratic Party, and so for the moment, that may be taking the front seat to anything else, and probably it should. Now that’s just my own opinion, but it’s because I don’t see any real ‘change’ happening as long as the DLC remains in power. I’ve said before, that the DLC as represented by the, well…DLC, is no different than the GOP. BUT, there are hard working coalitions within the progressive arm of the Democratic Party, who are making some progress. Groups like the Out of Iraq Caucas, and others may not make a whole lot of noise, or garner much attention, (Barbara Lee comes to mind, as does Henry Waxman) but they manage a whole lot of the grunt work that supports the foundation of change.

Meantime, here’s something that may be of interest in the broader view.

  Why Change Happens: Ten Theories
  By Sara Robinson
  The Campaign for America’s Future
  Tuesday 13 May 2008

  One of the grandest - and most frustrating - things about carrying on the great democratic conversation via blog is finding out how many of your fellow citizens (including many who are nominally on your side) turn out to be looking at the world from a completely different set of assumptions than you are. In fact, there’s simply nothing like the Internet if you want to be thrown together with people who have ordered their entire lives around fundamental propositions that would never have occurred to you if you lived to be 100. Behold your fellow earthlings, in all their bizarre and twisted glory….

  A lot of these disconnects have to do with all the weird and wonderful theories people have about why change happens. Because we each have our own pet theories of how the world works, different people can look at the same situation, and come to completely different conclusions about what’s likely to happen next. Since these often unspoken understandings are among the things futurists are trained to look for, I thought I’d offer a short taxonomy of the various assumptions people bring to their thinking about what drives social change.

  Professional futurists have, through the years, boiled down all the various change theories down to about ten basic classifications. (There may be others: the list changes with new information, and we’re always open to suggestions.) But, as a practical working thesis, almost any theory you can name can be sorted into one (or, occasionally, more) of these bins:

Get the ‘scoop’ at the link:

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By Dyspeptic Teleologist, May 19, 2008 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment

Thanks, cyrena, for taking the time to write such a detailed reaction.  I think we agree on many general themes.  I did not mean to imply that only mobilization is important.  Elections are of course a necessary condition of democracy.  What I was trying to say was that they are not sufficient.  On this, I think we agree.  Only, I would add that if you take any piece of legislation or other accomplishment of formal politics, you will find when you dig beneath its public expression a long history of struggle between specific groups with specific interests.  What used to be called, in the days when what Obama likes to call “the politics of the past” prevailed, “the class struggle.”

Although we agree on much of this, I strongly disagree with the assertion that the Obama phenomenon is a “movement” in any substantive sense.  From what I gather in my own reading (admittedly superficial), movements, in the sense that Obama would have us believe his own to be, usually drag politicians to formulate their positions in more concrete, specific ways, not the other way around.  The latter would be more a fleeting charismatic phenomenon, or a cult. (This is in no way to diminish Obama’s talent and intelligence, nor that of his supporters).  I can think of no examples—and of course I may be wrong—where a politician was the catalyst for progressive change.  One of the things I resent about Obama (but not only him - this applies to the majority of Democrats) is their tendency to turn up after others, average everyday people, have won struggles, and claim them as Democratic victories.  Another is the way they blithely dismiss every person or group who challenges their monopoly on the definition of “progress” as residing somehow outside of the realm of respectability, for example, quips about “the politics of the past” and such.

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By Dyspeptic Teleologist, May 19, 2008 at 3:53 pm Link to this comment

Yes, obviously Bush et al are worse than Clinton et al.  I did not intend to suggest otherwise, nor do I subscribe to the notion that there is no difference between Dems and the GOP.  But it is also important not to forget that “compromise” when deployed by D’s has an unhappy tendency to parallel—or at least not to go against—one particular Democratic faction’s wish list of objectives, specifically the DLC’s.  This should have been clear from my last comment about why I will vote for Obama (digression: if I am living in a swing-state at the time - I am in the process of moving).  But the difference for me is not between progressive Obama and reactionary McCain (though the latter is without doubt reactionary).  The difference is: McCain is much more likely to blow up the planet.

I think the real issue here is that as long we have a de facto two-party system, we are condemned to this choice.  That’s why I emphasize mobilization and solidarity.  Change comes when the government is truly afraid of the people.  They have to believe that enough of us will say no, strike, etc.  Elections, while of course a necessary condition of democracy, must be put into perspective, especially when they persuade people that they are a replacement for grass-roots action (as I believe they are doing now, with the Obama “movement”).

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By jackpine savage, May 19, 2008 at 3:36 pm Link to this comment

Excellent post.

Any movement will have leaders rise to the top, but building a movement around a leader is dangerous business.  And that danger is not only in “cultish” behavior or the extreme example of Hitler’s NSDAP. 

What if a great deal of hope for change is invested in one man who must also work within the confines of the political landscape?  Disappointment is likely to beget apathy…or worse.  Does Obama mean dealing with rational republicans when he talks of bi-partisanship, or will he simply capitulate like Clinton?  Will his supporters really go for him governing from the center?

And this is my biggest disappointment with the Obama campaign.  If he was building a movement that followed his rhetorical ideals, then i would expect to hear his stump speeches littered with exhortations to organize…not just for electing Obama.  Saying, “We are the ones that we’ve been waiting for,” would have far more weight if it was followed by telling his audience to run for school boards, city councils, etc.

I guess that we’ll just have to wait and see, but i believe that if he succeeds…it will come in spite of him.  That is, people will realize that they can organize and do it themselves.  And then he won’t be able to hold back the tide of his own creation.

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By cyrena, May 19, 2008 at 3:16 pm Link to this comment

Dyspeptic Teleologist,

Just some thoughts on a few of your comments, though I find them thought provoking…

First, I’m not so certain that Obama IS ‘dissembling’ on Israel, corporate welfare, etc, etc, but that’s for another conversation, since we’d have to break down each one of those things, in order to get a sense of the reality of his position on any of them, and how or why he holds whatever positions he’s claiming himself, and not what we are assuming he claims.

But on this, I think there are some things to consider further.

•  “The second assumption, namely, elections are the path to progress.  I wonder if voting in primaries, caucuses or general elections have resulted in any of the progressive victories of the past century.  I am not so sure. My feeling is that true engagement and change occur outside the ballots, by organizing and mobilizing for progress and against reaction.  Again, I think Obama (or any other individual) is a red herring.”

First, elections ARE the path to progress, depending on what you call progress. They are the path to progress WHEN they involve a larger part of the constituency that we’ve ever had involved before. No, they are NOT the ‘path to progress’ when only a certain minority of the population gets to cast a vote. That has been far more the case in the past Century, which is how and why we wind up with people who eventually disillusion a large portion of us.

I would agree to all the rest about true engagement/organization and mobilizing for progress and against reaction, but suggesting that it can only occur OUTSIDE the ballot seems like a contradiction or other enormous paradox. What’s the point in organizing, engagement, and mobilizing for progress if it doesn’t amount to putting progressive candidates with progressive agenda’s into positions that allow them/us to advance those progressive agendas?

The mobilization/engagement/organization IS critical, but that’s what we’ve seen come from the Obama movement anyway. So are you suggesting that there is no reason to carry it any further to the voting booth? This is a confusing thing here.

And, if elections were NOT so important, why in the world would the GOP have spent SO MUCH time, energy, and money doing their dirty best to PREVENT so many progressive people from having their voices heard at the voting booth?
I would also agree that no one INDIVIDUAL is going to bring about progressive change, (though I don’t believe Obama to be in a category of a ‘red herring’) but that’s the whole point of the movement that is behind him.
I suspect that maybe we are still stuck in the old belief system, (which is understandable) of giving all the responsibility for everything to one person, or one administration, and that has somehow caused far too many of us to see the trees instead of the forest.

We are not electing a King here, or a monarchy, but rather a leader. Leaders are important, but the change has to be directed from within, as you’ve suggested. That’s what I see happening, for the first time in my life, in the movement that Barack Obama has created. So the ‘change’ that you don’t excpet, has ALREADY BEGUN!

Here again, I think we need to listen to ourselves and each other, and hopefully from a 21st Century mindset.

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By Michael Shaw, May 19, 2008 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

“My pessimism notwithstanding, I will probably vote for Obama, given the other two choices.”

No non credo, I’m quite happy with your answer. That is all I was asking for.

I could have done without your, “Don’t like hearing that? Well, tough shit.” commentary.

Surely that wasn’t necessary.

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By Michael Shaw, May 19, 2008 at 1:47 pm Link to this comment

Beer Doctor, I think the fact that any presidential candidate who even allowed himself to be interviewed or questioned by Amy Goodman presents a great victory for the progressive movement. Would John McCain ever allow that? Hillary? Bush?

You’re disappointments concerning Blackwater are not unfounded but perhaps the best way to get rid of them is to continue the investigations already underway and push for new laws that prevent the military from being privatized by corporations.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 19, 2008 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Dyspeptic Teleologist for the insightful analysis. I am old enough to remember in August of 1964, when President Johnson hinted that after the election, he would begin withdrawing the troops from Vietnam. My late father, who was opposed to that war from the beginning, said to me: “he better get them out now.” But he voted for Johnson in the hope that he would follow up on what he said. But of course, he did not. The Gulf of Tonkin resolution was that war’s mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction. My dad never voted again, feeling guilt and shame from helping the bastard get elected

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By Michael Shaw, May 19, 2008 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment

The political process often boils down to compromise. In fact it should. Sometimes this works out fine and sometimes it doesn’t.

First of all, when you look at any bill in play, even the ill-begotten NAFTA, you also have to look at all of the other aspects that came with that. The complete package. Political bill’s just like media sound bytes can be cherry picked and used to sway public opinion one way or the other. Though I personally see Clinton’s appeasement to conservatives concerning NAFTA and social welfare as capitulations or selling out, at least there was a will to compromise, not this current “my way or the hi-way” philosophy enacted by the neocons. Granted political pandering is a major problem, perhaps the worst we face. But even you would have to admit, any wrongdoings created by democrats, dare I say collectively since Jackson, has been dwarfed in comparison to Bush and “his” Project for the New American Century, which by the way Clinton rejected as folly when he was president.

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By Michael Shaw, May 19, 2008 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena I think you’re right. We are all guilty of analyzing every little thing we come across as soon as we see it, then we pounce upon it and as a result we often forget the big picture and what’s really at stake.

In my view and without a crystal ball, I believe regardless of what Obama may or may not do is less relevant than is the need to remove the neocons from office. They have to go! At this point and on the grounds of at least attempting a peaceful resolution to the many problems we face (thanks to Bushco) and with a belief and hope this great experiment we call the United States of America has not yet ended, more than anything else, and in reflection to Mr. Rosenblatt’s commentary, this is what does put “We the People” right in their goddamn faces! It will send a clear message that we are tired of their bullshit and we want them out! That we are as mad as hell and we aren’t going to take it anymore!

Our chances of being heard (I believe) fair far better with the democrats then they ever will with the neo-morphed republicans. We already know what they will do and what they’ve done! We need no crystal ball for that! And attacks on Obama at this crucial stage only strengthens their chances in continuing with the same failed and compassion-less policies(travesties), or in other words, the road to demise for this great experiment. These assaults weaken our chances in getting rid of them and may well leave us in an empty ring with McCain’s hand being raised in victory.

Finally we should remember, Barrack Obama is neither the current president, nor did he support or lie us into the war in Iraq. It was not he who overthrew the Bill of Rights or who initiated illegal domestic spying. He didn’t establish torture. He didn’t enable the FCC to gobble up independent media. He didn’t give tax breaks to the rich in war time and he didn’t privatize government. He has of yet to proved himself to be an enemy. The neocons, however…well need I say more?

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By Dyspeptic Teleologist, May 19, 2008 at 11:54 am Link to this comment

Two assumptions in the discussion of Obama that are interesting are the following:

1. He is dissembling on issues such as corporate welfare, Israel, etc. in order not to fatally undermine his “true” campaign, which, it is assumed, is *really* for popular interests such as universal healthcare, anti-imperialism/militarism, economic justice etc. 

2. That elections and voting are the primary if not only way for the people to shape the political process.

I have two concerns with regard to the first assumption:

First, this was exactly what progressives thought about many previous Democratic candidates, including Bill Clinton and Jesse Jackson.  Whether successful or not, these Democratic-establishment vetted candidates quickly cut deals with conservative opponents once they had successfully co-opted progressive supporters with windy slogans which appealed to this bloc’s self-regard.  On this issue, I think that Adolph Reed, who has written a lot about the DLC, Jackson and the psychologically satisfying myths of the Democrats, has some pretty interesting and prophetic things to say: for example, the black candidate with little or no history of caring about or doing anything to promote progressive causes who comes out of nowhere to seize the imagination of a classist and class-blind white “progressive” establishment and who instantaneously becomes the “leading voice” on issues of race and class for said establishment.  His candidacy subsequently ends in compromise with the forces of reaction (read, DLC), scattering the “progressives” into desperate search for another messiah.  The candidate was of course Jesse Jackson, and Reed was writing this in 1986!  Democratic progressives need to read some history before anointing any new messiahs.

Second: say Obama does win the general election.  Having done so in so small measure owing to his currying favor with right-wing interests (AIPAC, corporations, etc. etc.), do Obama supporters actually think that during his administration he will suddenly switch to his supposedly progressive instincts, thus alienating the aforementioned rightwing bloc which got him elected in the first place?  This does not seem likely, unless his plan is to lose the second White House run.

The second assumption, namely, elections are the path to progress.  I wonder if voting in primaries, caucuses or general elections have resulted in any of the progressive victories of the past century.  I am not so sure. My feeling is that true engagement and change occur outside the ballots, by organizing and mobilizing for progress and against reaction.  Again, I think Obama (or any other individual) is a red herring. 

So, I will vote, probably for Obama, as a way of avoiding the totally hopeless situation of a McCain presidency.  But I will not expect that this will do anything for change.  That will have to come from a longer, more gradual process.

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By Michael Shaw, May 19, 2008 at 11:12 am Link to this comment

The Internet has provided the masses with a whole lot of information the power elite would rather we didn’t have. Thus the attempt to end network neutrality and place a stronger hold over the content we see.

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By Michael Shaw, May 19, 2008 at 10:05 am Link to this comment

Non-Credo if you read my post in reply to you the first time and you understood it, you would have realized what I meant in my “hope springs eternal vs blind faith” comment. Barrack Obama is not as of yet my darling. He will not be my darling until if elected he addresses at least some of the many problems we face the way he should. I think he could be. He has the ability. Whether he uses it or not is still in question. But he will have to do something if he ever wishes a second term. He gives us a chance, I believe the only real chance at this point. That is why I’m supporting him and will do so until he gives me reason to do otherwise.

As for his ardent applause of Israel, like any politician he is trapped in the role of putting everyone at ease, including, unfortunately, home grown pro-Zionist’s. This nation is a mesh of many fractions and all of them have to be appeased. This is the election process. This is the dilemma. Frankly I didn’t like it when I heard him say he would not negotiate with Hammas, because just as he must negotiate with those here, even some who he might find personally distasteful, to win an election, he must also negotiate with all of the factions involved in the Middle East if he is ever to find peace. He had it right the first time. I think he knows that. But he backed down as a political strategy. The neocons are trying to paint him as a Muslim radical as you know. Some people actually still believe he is in fact Muslim. They are playing the fear card, not only on the electorate here at home, but on Israel as well in the hope their powerful lobbies will hurt him in November.

As for the Messiah end of this conversation, as I recall,it was you who first put that notion into play. I merely threw it back back at you.

I’d also point out that the candidate I voted for in the primary was Dennis Kucinich, but sadly he lost.

You say now you will bite the bullet and vote for Obama when the time comes. So if I am nonsensical, then surely you are too. I would say in fact the opposite. We are both of us left in the same position, a position that neither of us are necessarily happy with or perhaps even pessimistic about. But as your friend Expat says, you work with what you’ve got.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, May 19, 2008 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

Well stated.  But, look at where we’re at now.  Our government evolved into Wolin’s inverted totalitarianism despite a now wide-spread feeling of alarm.

So, it seems to me there are some problems here and maybe even a Catch-22.

1)  You have to recognize that this is happening in its earliest stages.
2)  Citizens have to be convinced.  Education is key.
3)  Since it’s organic (not sure this is the right word), that is, comes from the government itself, then there has to be a mechanism to stop it before it gains a foothold and this mechanism cannot be that government.  This is why I am so interested in unbiased, intelligent information.  Wanting to be educated implies that you don’t know, and you may not even know, therefore, if the info you’re getting is true.  It might simply be more propaganda of either the right or the left.  Also, you might be prone to buying into info you believe to be true because it aligns with your own political bias.  It’s just not simple.  I don’t know if the general public can be educated about such complexities, especially given the power of a totalitarian government to promote itself through the media and demogougery. 

All this to say that public schools, in their role to prepare kids for citizenship may be seriously neglecting the need to teach government and its complexities even before they (we) teach anything else.  Kids need to learn to see through lies before they wake up to find they have no future or freedom.

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By Jane, May 19, 2008 at 6:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Outsourcing is the key word for neocons (cheney and co.).THE CONTRACTORS ARE TELLING THE MILITARY WHat to do, in matters of intelligence (for profit). Where is Bush-Cheney..oops Cheney-Bush going to get the money to spend.? I see, money is not a concern.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 19, 2008 at 5:39 am Link to this comment

More troubling than his pandering to AIPAC is Obama’s brief exchange with Amy Goodman, when he would not say he would get rid of Blackwater.
Corporate entities are not afraid of Barack Obama. They know, despite all the rhetoric that his campaign is essentially about a power struggle in the Democratic party. It is between House of Clinton and those who formerly worked for them, who now feel betrayed. Just ask yourself this: If Obama is the last light of the world, why in hell did he go campaign for Joe Lieberman? Strangely, Ned Lamont now supports Barack Obama for president.
If it comes down to Obama or McCain, that is a no brainer. Just do not expect very much to change.

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By jackpine savage, May 19, 2008 at 4:35 am Link to this comment

While there’s a great deal that could be done to our educational system to improve it, the single biggest action we could take to improve critical thinking, etc. in young Americans starts in the home.

A village may be the best means of a raising a child, but at the very least it requires dedicated family and teachers.  A dedicated family can outweigh less than stellar teaching, but the reverse is not true.  It’s about making education important in its own right.  I figure that my mother said, “look it up,” more times over the course of three boys than any other phrase.

Beyond that, teaching ‘children’ how to think doesn’t seem to be a part of the curriculum at all.  We’re taught how to repeat/regurgitate information, not how to draw our own conclusions from raw information.

And our history textbooks are terrible.  Not only are they dry and boring, but they’re full of simple half-truths and the establishment of “facts” to fit a neat, convenient conclusion.  Maybe they’ve improved, but i spent a lot of time in HS explaining to my classes (and sometimes the teacher) how/why the book was full of shit.

Too often we treat our students like idiots and then wonder why they turn out to be idiots.  Then those idiots go on to raise children (and sometimes take jobs as teachers).  A village of idiots will raise an idiot 9 times out of 10.

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By cyrena, May 18, 2008 at 10:49 pm Link to this comment

Non Credo,

Just so you know, I have these VERY SAME concerns about Obama, in reference to the dastardly deeds of Israel over the past 60 years. And, they are my MAJOR concern, because obviously, this is the largest problem that we face in foreign policy, not to mention what I already KNOW, has set us up for attack and hatred from thoughout the world.

Now I don’t remember Obama doing any ‘ardent applause’ of Israel’s crimes of 2006 in their savaging of Lebanon THAT TIME, (I mean, Israel has attacked Lebanon so many times over the decades that I lose track myself). That doesn’t mean that he didn’t do it, (though you have to admit that ‘ardent applause might be a bit of an exaggeration - though I’m prone to making them myself).

Still, the point is that I’m not ignoring that, and I do have some serious questions of my own on Obama’s policy there, and so I’ve been paying close attention. Very often, (maybe most of the time) we have to listen as much to the nuance and what is NOT said, as much as what IS. Now he DID say recently, (and it doesn’t sound like much, except that it’s different from anything that ANY OTHER politician other than Jimmy Carter would say) that he did NOT and WOULD not necessarily agree with everything that Israel does. (I’ll try to find that piece if you’re interested).

My larger point though, is that for the purposes of this election and an ALL NEW administration, I’m willing to set that aside and put it temporarily into the ‘Foreign Policy’ box, that he can and will do something about, once he’s able. I say ‘set-aside’ when I really mean that I’m considering it as another component of everything else that needs to be achieved on the domestic front, and those are not small things either.

THAT is why troublesums comments were 99.9 percent hate mongering type pessimism. Because, as problematic as Israel is to the Middle East, US, and the world, there are these other issues that spell our decline as well, and it is THOSE issues…the economy, employment, more accessible health care, the environment, international affairs, education, and general welfare for US citizens that Obama can and will address. And, he’ll do it by selecting good advisors, because we know for a fact that he cannot accomplish all of this stuff otherwise.

So, sit tight if you can. It’s already been nearly 8 years, and we can’t really KNOW all that Barack Obama will or will not do, when he’s in a position to do or not do. “Appearances’ can be deceiving, and while I hate the thought of ‘deception’ in general, a great deal of it comes from our own interpretations and assumptions of what is being said or not said.

That is NOT to suggest that I’m saying ‘just trust me’ or ‘just trust’ anybody, including Obama. I am saying that for now, we have to do a combination of reading between the lines, and making some clear separations on the issues that have to be addressed, or that he will be expected to deal with, and not alone.

Oh, there is another group of Jewish citizens that have formed to hopefully combat the destructive effects of AIPAC. I’ve got that information somewhere here too, if you haven’t seen it. Can’t remember the exact details without referencing the articles.

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By cyrena, May 18, 2008 at 10:24 pm Link to this comment

Here’s the part that I mentioned in the earlier post. You can check out TomDispatch at his log, and remains as one of my favorites for the best collection from everywhere, on all topics. Robert Parry also runs an excellent column at: and his has probably been the longest one running that I’m aware of, since about 1994.

Tomgram: Mark Engler, How to Rule the World After Bush

A mere eight months to go until George W. Bush and Dick Cheney leave office—though, given the cast of characters, it could seem like a lifetime. Still, it’s a reasonable moment to begin to look back over the last years—and also toward the post-Bush era. What a crater we’ll have to climb out of by then!

My last post, “Kiss American Security Goodbye,” was meant to mark the beginning of what will, over the coming months, be a number of Bush legacy pieces at Tomdispatch. So consider that series officially inaugurated by Foreign Policy in Focus analyst Mark Engler, who has just authored a new book that couldn’t be more relevant to our looming moment of transition: How to Rule the World: The Coming Battle Over the Global Economy.

The question Engler is curious to have answered is this: If Bush-style “imperial globalization” is rejected in January, what will American ruling elites try to turn to—Clinton-style economic globalization? Certainly, as Engler points out, many in the business and financial communities are now rallying to the Democrats. After all, while John Edwards received the headlines this week for throwing his support behind Barack Obama, that presidential candidate also got the nod from three former Securities and Exchange Commission chairmen—William Donaldson, David Ruder, and Clinton appointee Arthur Levitt Jr. The campaign promptly “released a joint statement by the former SEC chiefs, as well as former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, that praised Obama’s ‘positive leadership and judgment’ on economic issues.”!

The United States, however, is a very different creature than it was in the confident years when these men rode high. Now, the world is looking at things much differently. Let Engler explain… Tom

Globalizers, Neocons, or…?
The World After Bush
By Mark Engler

Picture January 20, 2009, the day George W. Bush has to vacate the Oval Office.

It’s easy enough to imagine a party marking this fine occasion, with antiwar protestors, civil libertarians, community leaders, environmentalists, health-care advocates, and trade unionists clinking glasses to toast the end of an unfortunate era. Even Americans not normally inclined to political life might be tempted to join the festivities, bringing their own bottles of bubbly to the party. Given that presidential job approval ratings have rarely broken 40% for two years and now remain obdurately around or below 30%—historic lows—it would not surprising if this were a sizeable celebration.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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By cyrena, May 18, 2008 at 10:16 pm Link to this comment

Doctor know,

Looks like you got several good responses to your questions.

I would only add that while I agree with evilive, (about the indoctrination that occurs in the public school system)I would also say that in my experience of late, this kind of thing, (like Wolsin’s book) IS making it’s way into the curriculum, but we’re talking about at the university level, and it should of course be available way before that, and not JUST in the formal education environment, because not everybody wants or needs the stuff that a formal curricula both offers and demands, and most are too busy trying to survive.

Even at the University level, it’s not ‘easy’ to slip it in, because of the constant harrassment from the right. In fact, over the past year, we’ve been innundated by those warning of Islamofascism, and all too much time, (in my opinion) has been wasted on the need to defend the right to academic freedom. But, that too is a product of this inverted Fascism.

I would only add a few more sources to the excellent ones already provided by Michael Shaw and others. The Nation Institute and are at the top of my list, (though I regularly access the others mentioned as well). I would recommend that for curricula sources. I just noticed a piece added to Truthdig here, that I also received in my email from the TomDispach blog. TomDispatch is associated with the Nation, as are several other contributors for things that have been introduced to the curriculum here at my own institution.

Anyway, that piece is the one you see here from Mark Engler, “How to Rule the World After Bush.

I’m going to include the first part of the blog from TomDispatch, where he introduces this piece as part of his series, on this very topic, and hopefully you’ll get some additional stuff from there.

In all honesty, I’m overwhelmingly optimistic about the sources now available to most of us via the Internet, because they have come up mostly in the past 5 or 6 years, in order to counter this inverted Fascism, by way of non-biased and non-partisan information. Before that, I was just as overwhelmingly depressed and dismayed by the general lack of real knowledge and correct information available to us. If I have a passion, it is that ALL citizens have a right and a responsibility to be informed. But it took a few years, (and the disaster of this Administration) to begin to bring us out of that fog that has been intentionally manufactured by the Cabal over a period of decades. As you said, this didn’t happen overnight.

At one time, (it’s probably been a couple of years ago now) I had assembled a collection of resources to send to my own family and former colleagues from the Corporate Plantation, just because that’s where the amnesia and indoctrination seem to be most prevalent. Yep, it’s true…Jaded Parole mentioned this about the private sector, because in my opinion, they remain the most ‘out of touch’ of all, and intentionally so. And yes, I still routinely chastise my sister, (a college educated homemaker) about her affinity for Oprah and Dr. Phil. Now I can’t keep her from watching that stuff, (she’s a grown woman) but at LEAST I’ve been able to provide some resources, and slowly introduce her to some portions of reality. And yep, it’s been working.

So, I said that to say that by now, it’s not that there aren’t plenty of resources available, via the Internet, but it would be helpful to semi-consolidate them, (yeah, I know that’s a dirty word) just so that there IS what you reference as a place to go for this kind of information. So, I’ll include that link to Tom Dispatch, and the introduction to his series of articles on the topic in the next post.

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By Richard D. Rosenblatt, May 18, 2008 at 5:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you for your kind remarks.


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By Michael Shaw, May 18, 2008 at 2:32 pm Link to this comment

Lastly, my comments were aimed at non-credo, not you Expat. Are you his public relations analyst?

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By Michael Shaw, May 18, 2008 at 2:23 pm Link to this comment

Expat, it seems to me you are ducking the questions I’ve asked by feeding me general-isms. This no more shows a prerequisite to knowledge and understanding then it does to an attempt to remain illusive. Furthermore there is no reply button in your commentary, that is why I answered you in the arena of the good Mr. Rosenblatt.

Lastly I do not believe in a political Messiah any more than I do in Rumpelstiltskin. In fact I agree with Mr. Rosenblatt, that regardless of who is in power, we must get in their faces. I do that and have been doing that for years now. I am working with the things I have. But alas you already know of my things but I still have no idea what your things are.

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By Michael Shaw, May 18, 2008 at 1:53 pm Link to this comment

Ah the McCarthy hearings! I far more enjoyed the part when “Have you no decency sir?” Have you no decency?”, came into play.

Well Beer Doctor to answer your question (tongue in cheek aside), no I have never been a card carrying member of the neocon party. Nor have I been indoctrinated. Exposed to them? Yes! Can we help it these days?

What worries me is that eventually being a card carrying neocon might become a prerequisite to being an American citizen. Indoctrination camps have been established elsewhere. Brings food for thought to all of those so called immigration camps that are springing up throughout the southwest.

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By Michael Shaw, May 18, 2008 at 1:34 pm Link to this comment

I see the forefathers as rolling in their graves!

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By thebeerdoctor, May 18, 2008 at 1:21 pm Link to this comment

Do you have a public library card?

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By thebeerdoctor, May 18, 2008 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment

Michael Shaw, I have in my pocket 200 card carrying members of the Neocon Party, have you eever been a card carrying member of the Neocon Party? Have you ever been exposed to Neocon indoctrination and Neocon sympathizers? A Point Of Order Here!

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By Michael Shaw, May 18, 2008 at 1:02 pm Link to this comment

Yes but Kath I think you’re missing the point. When these issues are propagandized for a political agenda as was the Schiavo case, then turned into a huge media circus, while all eyes are on that, the real garbage going on is ignored. What gave the government the right to intervene on this family? What gave religion a right? These are real question we need to ask. But another real question that needs asking is why didn’t the derailing of the Bill of Rights get any media at all? Isn’t that big news too?

That brain dead woman was victimized by the government, stuck helplessly between heaven and hell and Jeb Bush decided to keep her that way and roll her husband through the mud simply to support a political agenda in misdirection. It was really something the neocon’s (and their friends in media) could sink their teeth in. At the same time that was going on, enhancements to the Patriot Act were being secretly passed through congress while the judiciary was being politicized.

When political leaders decide what’s best for a patient rather than the doctors and their spouses, we are all in big trouble. We’re in even bigger trouble when government cherry picks what they want us to see while they hide the things that are the most detrimentally importance to us.

Stories like these are big, that is why they provide far more impact on the society at large then does Brittany Spears dysfunctional lifestyle. Those too play a role of course, but a far smaller one in comparison to these stories.

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By Michael Shaw, May 18, 2008 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment

Well he didn’t actually call us idiots, I shouldn’t have enforced that. What he said was a two term Bush was an insult to the intellect of the American people.

You’re points are valid ones though. Most people are forced to work two jobs just to survive. That gives them little time to keep tabs on government. Most people tiredly end up in front of the tube watching propaganda from the FOX channel before they fall asleep and start the grind all over again.

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By Michael Shaw, May 18, 2008 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment

Sounds like you too would make a pretty good teacher!

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By Michael Shaw, May 18, 2008 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment

Oh and evilive, thank you!

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, May 18, 2008 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment

Thanks, evilive, for your references.  I’ll look into them.  And, I do agree with your assessment of things public education.  Public ed. has limited resources which means we need to take a long hard look at what we’re teaching and what our goals are.  Clearly, we can’t be everything to everyone.  I have to say, kids come to us with an untold amount of baggage and it’s increasing by the day. 

I do think, though, that we could do a better job, as you suggest, in getting kids to think critically, especially about what their government is doing and why.  Then phenomona such as Wolin’s inverted totalitarianism might be averted.

I didn’t mean to direct the discussion toward schools.  I do think this thread, as others have said, is extremely interesting and maybe of huge importance to the future of our country.

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By Michael Shaw, May 18, 2008 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment

Hey you’re welcome Doc. The Center for Public Integrity is non-partisan, they go after the left too. So you shouldn’t have too much trouble with that. They are publicly funded just like PBS. Anyone or anything that investigates power and those behind it will be construed as leftist. Now a days even free speech and free thought are under attack. Here lies the dilemma. One thing you might do is get your class to do reports on some of these great works. Have them get those books out of the library and throw in some William F. Buckley and other conservative authors for good measure. Then have your class form a debate based upon those readings and their findings. Good luck!

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By Michael Shaw, May 18, 2008 at 11:50 am Link to this comment

You’re right Tahut. But when I made that remark I really meant that giving fealty to one’s nation is to honor the Constitution rather than a mere symbol. As Scott Ritter once pointed out, you can train any monkey to wave a flag but you can’t teach him the Bill of Rights. Our true loyalties should lie in the Constitution, a document that’s been trashed by most of those pin wearers. Walking the walk shows far more fealty then does talking the talk. I think having fealty for one’s nation is the duty of every American, as long as we understand where that fealty truly belongs.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, May 18, 2008 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

Thanks, Michael. I really appreciate your suggestions.  I looked up watchdog groups and came up with some others, too.

Being the skeptic that I am, I would want to know how much I could trust anything said or printed.  TD is decidedly pro-left and my being “liberal” might make me vulnerable to “left propaganda” even though it might be false. I try to be open.

I was amazed when I found out who directors are in some very politically active foundations. 

I’ll be very interested to check out at your suggestion since it’s name implies that it’s a good idea to know where information you get comes from.  Thanks again. I’ll bookmark these.

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By Michael Shaw, May 18, 2008 at 11:29 am Link to this comment

“Invoking religious symbols on the currency has an important place in managing democracy.”

Absolutely! As you point out, although much of this god stuff originated with the civil war, they didn’t become official motto’s until the McCarthy Era during the Eisenhower Administration. We remember him, the guy who gave us the MIC then warned us to be forever vigilant (after letting Pandora out of the box). All of it was meant to steer us away from the “godless” communists and anyone the powers believed were associated with them. This included labor unions, educators, actors, writers, anyone who didn’t believe in the new brand of fascism. If you read a certain newspaper you were a communist. If you were a member of the ACLU you were a communist sympathizer. If you went to a party where a communist allegedly was you too were construed a red, including the most famous red of all, Lucille Ball. And of course nothing was done about it until McCarthy called the commanders of the joint chiefs of staff communists. Only then did they realize someone had to stop this maniac. Well he’s back and more determined than ever.

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By Michael Shaw, May 18, 2008 at 11:07 am Link to this comment

So did H.L. Mencken. A lot of what Gore Vidal said in that interview came from him.

Sadly the bulk of our population is not well educated. If they were then educated folks like Gore Vidal wouldn’t be calling them idiots. Voting Bush in for two terms was surely an act in lunacy, even though they stole both elections. Many millions of the electorate, people below wealth status readily ran to the polls to vote for their beloved president. Of course they are not entirely to blame. They’ve been hoodwinked and propagandized for the last 40 years.

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By Michael Shaw, May 18, 2008 at 10:55 am Link to this comment

Hey Doc, try The Center for Public Integrity.

As for Wolin’s book, it should be mandatory reading for everyone. So should the books of Gore Vidal, Chalmers Johnson, William Rivers Pitt and Noam Chomsky. I doubt the power elite would ever allow that in school curriculum. But surely they cannot keep these things out of a public library.

You could also add Democracy Now to your school curriculum. I know that UCSC does as do many other colleges and Universities across the nation.

Another interesting project is called Source Watch. The Center for Freedom and Democracy are behind that. They’re keeping tabs on the members of the Project for a New American Century. Lot’s of information about the boys who wanted a New Pearl Harbor and a new world order. It has a complete list of all its members and who backs them. Bill Kristol of FOX News was a co-founder. Scaife Mellon one of it’s leading supporters and as you know most of Bush’s cabinet are members.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, May 18, 2008 at 10:00 am Link to this comment

Being a public school teacher in the arts, I think a lot about curricula, not just in my field, but generally.

This “inverted totalitarianism” thing didn’t happen overnight.  Granted, some students of economics and politics have been watching—and probably—warning all along. 

One of the functions of public education is supposed to be to advance and protect our democracy and to prepare students for respoonsible citizenship. 

I would be curious to hear from anyone, educator or not, about what implications Wolin’s book/ideas might have for curricula.  Also, is there a compact, concise but thorough periodical put out regularly by non-partisan citizen’s groups in which citizens and voters may be kept abreast of even the tiniest seed of non-democratic ideals being sown by unscrupulous politicians. 

It’s hard to convince people things are going amok, but it seems to me, now more than ever, that if everyone knew where they could turn for unbiased information, they might go for it in the little time they have for such things, being so tied up with trying to keep their heads above the rising tide of inverted totalitarianism.  The internet is so easy to use and so many do make regular use of it.  If there were a dependable site, easy to access and properly advertised as “the place to go” it might help.  Any ideas?

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By Expat, May 18, 2008 at 8:33 am Link to this comment

Oh, and yes, we are idiots; cretins actually, thank you!

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By Expat, May 18, 2008 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

“G” Gore Vidal.

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By troublesum, May 18, 2008 at 7:50 am Link to this comment

Core Vidal says “The American people are idiots.”

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By thebeerdoctor, May 18, 2008 at 7:21 am Link to this comment

Invoking religious symbols on the currency has an important place in managing democracy. What percentage of the American population, I wonder, knows when the term “in God we trust” found its way onto United States money? Again, like many other actions with lengthy ramifications, this goes back to the Civil War, when a Reverend Watkinson, from Ridley Township, Pennsylvania, wrote Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, a letter on the thirteenth of November, 1861:
“You are probably a Christian,” he wrote in part. “What if our Republic were not shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation? What I propose is that instead of the goddess of liberty we shall have next inside the 13 stars a ring inscribed with the words PERPETUAL UNION; within the ring the allseeing eye, crowned with a halo;”
This call for divine protection was heeded by Secretary Chase, who wrote an instruction to James Pollock, Director of the Mint, on November 20, 1861:
“Dear Sir: No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins.”
But this is not to say that Salmon P. Chase can be compared to the bible thumping, focus on the family values bunch we find today. Chase worked heroically to end slavery in this country. He was a lawyer who defended the right of escaped slaves to remain free. The mistaken policy of placing a deity on the coins is probably best understood by the moral upheaval at that time.
But not everybody saw the issue this way. Fifty plus years later, Theodore Roosevelt wrote to William Boldly on the eleventh of November, 1907, stating:
“My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence. which comes dangerously close to sacrilege…”
In this matter, TR had it correct.

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By Purple Girl, May 18, 2008 at 6:57 am Link to this comment

First I am a female- and have no indtest in writing out every nuance= shall I say ‘and womankind and Aphroditic Kind and Trans gender kind and and and ..
I’m basically an theist too- but find the mental conncetion and summation of what I mena is easier to sum up in the word ‘God’ interchangeable to me with Nature ‘soul’interchangeable with emotional connection. don’t assume my ‘Short hand’ has anything other than that in mind.
I also disregard ‘African American community’ , If I Am ‘White’ the can be ‘Black’. I’m actually a Scotch Irish (Norman French migrants), Italian, Luthuanian- shall we add American Now Too. I’m an white AmericaN.Plus not all Blacks family hertiage came directly from Africa, some are islanders,  S.Americans,europeans…And they 9as all of Us) are more a Product (and more connected to) Their Ethnic background over their Racial identification with in the last few generations- We all came from Africa- Mother land of I skip that Too.
Being Hyper sensitive about such distinctions not only distracts Us from the more pertinent conversations,but insults the riches of cultural diversity-We’r edisreagrding our ral ancestoral backgounds and what they have contributed in forming Us today.We are a product of our upbringing and our cultural heritage- Race is just an external Biological manifestation- it does not define Us (More Sun/less sun) Irrelevanat- same for Gender,biological facts but not overly significant when ‘Stewardship’ is taken seriously- Men & Women are equally responsible.

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By Tahut, May 18, 2008 at 6:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As someone said ... “anyone who needs a lapel pin to advertise his fealty presents in serious question as to whether this fealty is real or perceived” ... I must agree.

Where in the Constitution does it state one must give their fealty to the Nation in order to be considered loyal? I do believe it is silent on this subject. Furthermore, I believe the papers written by the founders that are the basis for the Constitution clearly indicate they believed freedom meant one didn’t have to swear fealty to the nation or persons elected to the offices within. I think it had something to do with being forced to swearing oaths of fealty to King George.

In my opinion, we lose our freedoms once we are forced to submit in giving fealty to a symbol as proof our loyalty to those who demand it. To be free means one doesn’t have to unless they personally wish to, and by not doing so is not grounds to be labeled unpatriotic.

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By kath cantarella, May 18, 2008 at 6:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

‘Prominent examples of the elite use of such incidents to divide and inflame the public are the Terri Schiavo case of 2005, in which a brain-dead woman was kept artificially alive, and the 2008 case of women and children living in a polygamous commune in Texas who were allegedly sexually mistreated.’

These issues are not distractions: they are, fundamentally, about basic human rights. Divisive they may be, but they must be confronted, not swept under the carpet.

At an early point you mention in passing that women have not achieved equality, then you characterize two important issues involving women’s basic human rights as distractions from the really important stuff. This is not new, women have been hearing this for decades.

To illustrate your point, you should’ve chosen examples that are truly petty: like Britney Spears’ custody battle, and Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial over a consensual blowjob.

I won’t be buying the book. i have limited funds for such things.

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By Expat, May 18, 2008 at 5:54 am Link to this comment

^  and the last and maybe only statesman we have is Senator Robert Byrd.  Kennedy might qualify as well.

You opine; “I don’t think that if they came back today they would be horrified at what we’ve done to their precious document…because i don’t think that they ever viewed it as something precious the way that we do.  I do think that they would be horrified that (especially over the last 100 years) we’ve focused so narrowly on the letter of the document rather than the intent.”

I should think Jefferson would be horrified; some of my favorite quotes come from him. 
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
Thomas Jefferson
All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.
Thomas Jefferson
As our enemies have found we can reason like men, so now let us show them we can fight like men also.
Thomas Jefferson
Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.
Thomas Jefferson
Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our government.
Thomas Jefferson

Anyway, food for thought.  And serious, critical thinking is most needed.  Diligence by a responsible electorate is required.  I liked your post.

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By jackpine savage, May 18, 2008 at 4:51 am Link to this comment

This has been an excellent thread.  Cheers to all.

A complimentary book review might be written on American Creation by Joseph Ellis (2007).  We’ve buried the founding of our nation under a heap of myths that make for good stories but do us a greater disservice.

Instead, we have been asked to choose between two simplistic narratives of the founding, one featuring the founders as demigods who were permitted to glimpse the eternal truths, or, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once put it, ‘to see God face to face,’ the other crowded with a cast of villains who collectively comprise the deadest, whitest males in American History.

We also have a habit of transference; that is, confusing our idea of modern politics with the founding of the nation.  (This goes along with something i said far below about confusing the meaning of words used in the late 18th century with the meaning of those same words in the late 20th century.)

We see the word “People” writ large at the top of the Constitution.  But did the founders really mean the People as we view them?  A modern politician hears “people” and thinks about polling, pressure groups, and votes.  But the founders weren’t politicians, they were statesmen…with classical educations.  More likely, they meant “the Public”, a much hazier grouping that would have fit well with their Roman aspirations…SPQR.

They knew full well that the Constitution wasn’t perfect, nor was it even recognized as the best solution by everyone at the time.  They understood that big issues and questions were left unresolved, because while they postured for history, they lived within the constraints of their present.

I don’t think that if they came back today they would be horrified at what we’ve done to their precious document…because i don’t think that they ever viewed it as something precious the way that we do.  I do think that they would be horrified that (especially over the last 100 years) we’ve focused so narrowly on the letter of the document rather than the intent.

They called their creation a more perfect union, clearly indicating a work not yet finished.  We’ve done precious little to continue the perfection of the union, in no small part because we’ve fettered ourselves to a mythology that elevates an unresolved debate into something akin to the ten commandments.  And those same shackles keep us tied down with ideals, even as every last commandment is brazenly broken in the name of authoritarianism.

Unfortunately, we have no Cincinnatus willing to leave his fields one more time and the City Tavern is just an overpriced restaurant/tourist attraction.  Worse, we suffer from a surplus of politicians and a deficit of statesmen.  That will leave it up to “We the People”...but we’ll have to see ourselves as The Public rather than people and i don’t know that we’re up to that.

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