Monday, July 23, 2007

We May Be Rescued By The Victims

Russ Daggatt offers another illuminating look at the crisis:

”It was widely acknowledged before and after last November's elections that probably the biggest consequence of Democrats gaining control of one or both Houses of Congress would be their acquisition of subpoena power. (In October 2006, Pelosi was asked what was most important about regaining majority status. "Subpoena power," she said.) After six years of a Rubber-Stamp Republican Congress there might, at last, be some oversight of the Bush administration.

“Yet even before the election, the Bush administration was preparing to defy those subpoenas. A Bush strategist told TIME magazine last October (as it was becoming increasingly clear that the Democrats would win at least one House of Congress) that the administration would fight any efforts at Congressional oversight, "all the way to the Supreme Court on every issue, every time, no compromise, no discussion, no negotiation."

“A bit of background: The office of Attorney General and the offices of US Attorney are creations of Congress and, pursuant to Article I of the US Constitution, Congress has the power, "To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for ... the execution of all powers ... vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof."

As a matter of Constitutional law, there is simply no question that Congress may pass laws that regulate the conduct of the Attorney General and the US Attorneys. One such law is 2 U.S.C. 194, which deals with enforcing a Congressional contempt citation. It provides that when the House has voted for contempt it may then certify that fact to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, "whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action." 2 U.S.C. 194 (my emphasis). That is the law. The US Attorney shall bring the matter before a grand jury. It is his legal duty. Nothing elective there. Nothing up to the president or Attorney General.

“So how do you think Bush plans to get around the law that provides for enforcement of Congressional contempt citations? Simple. Just defy it (as he defied the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- FISA -- and any other law he doesn't like). As one "Senior White House Official" said recently, "We are not going to blink on this one. The President is not going to buckle to the threat of subpoenas."

“So is it now perfectly clear why it was so important to Bush and Rove that the US Attorneys all be compliant partisans? If you control the enforcement mechanism, you can frustrate any attempts at Congressional oversight -- at least long enough to run out the clock. And if anyone actually is found guilty of contempt of Congress? Can you spell S-C-O-O-T-E-R?”


-----

Whoosh… please everybody read up on this!

Things are coming to a head. The neocons appear confident that they have stacked the Justice Department, so that US Attorneys won’t enforce Congressional subpoenas.

And then, in a layered defense, that they have stacked the Court, so it won’t support the principles of transparency, accountability or oversight. Or even precedent.

Failing there, they seem convinced that Bush pardons can ensure the safety, impunity and loyalty of the top thousand henchmen. It all seems good for the next 18 months. But thereafter?

How about the mind-bogglingly hypocritical and short-sighted approach to establishing precedents of imperial presidential power? Precedents that a Democratic president might use? How to explain why those Bush supporters who aren’t worried about indictments aren’t wringing their hands about a super-empowered Hillary, right now?

Alas, explanations range from dim-wittedness to scary confidence:

1) “When a dem president is in office, we’ll deny we supported ANY of this! And you smarty pants moderates can scream hypocrisy all you like, but who cares? We control the media.”

2) “When a dem is in office, he or she will get all prissy and refuse these powers! So we haven’t a thing to worry about. Still, seeds will be planted for when it is our turn again.”

3) “We have solid reasons to believe that no democrat will ever take office to use these powers. No matter what polls say or what the people want. So go $&*#! yourselves.”



Okay, let’s pause a moment.

Look, my forte is asking people to step back and see things from a different light. So I am going to once again appeal for folks to see this at another level than just a partisan political fight.

And yes, what I am about to say repeats a rant that I (and only I) have been shouting for six years. Still, I feel that I must go over the ground again, praying that Cassandra will be heard, this time.

We will not win this fight through normal politics… or even abnormal politics, like subpoenas and hearings, or going through the (stacked) Justice Department and (stacked) Courts.

It has all gone too far. Hell, even if we win the next dozen battles, loosen the monsters’ grip on the Republic and make it through elections that turn the bastards out in droves, that will do some good, but it will still leave us mired in “culture war,” with one third of our countrymen nursing grudges that would make the post-Watergate GOP look like Pollyanna.

Moreover, that one-third will be poised to use every trick to win back the one-sixth they’ll need for “another round”. Even marginalized, they can make life hell for all of us. Remember Monica. They don’t need a meaningful pretext. Only hate.

The real challenge for us is not to win the next round of Culture War, but to end it.

And we have only one real hope for that to happen. The entire neocon movement must be stripped so bare, revealing so many horrors, that 80% of Americans see how horrible this has been and that the remaining Culture Warriors are genuine, certifiable loons.

So that a decent American conservatism can begin rebuilding with Barry Goldwater as its model, and not Savanarola.

There is only one way that any of this can happen. It will not be a miracle wrought by politicians. It will not be a revolution led by the People - though they will rise up when it all comes out.

This is a matter that requires action by the tens of thousands of skilled men and women who we have hired to protect us. It is time for the pros to stand up, to listen to their hearts and obey the oaths that they have sworn.


I have long forecast that our nation-saving breakthrough may only come from a rebellion in favor of the law and Constitution, on the part of the skilled professionals in the horrifically abused civil service, intelligence community and US Officer Corps.

In this particular case, an appointed US Attorney -- or even a civil servant, non-appointed DEPUTY US Attorney -- might gather the courage to defy his or her screeching/tyrant boss and make the test case, by serving enforcement papers upon Harriet Meiers and others who have been subpoenaed, in obedience to the legal and constitutional powers of Congress.

Ponder it.

The spectre that the Bushites have most to fear is such a rebellion in favor of law, in even one small part of the professional caste, spreading to other parts. Already the biggest victim of the monsters – the military Officer Corps – is roiling with so much anger that they may refuse, when the inevitable order comes down, to create political distractions by attacking Iran. If the CIA likewise were to report to Congress (as it is legally obliged to do) that the pretexts are bogus…

…well, that’s just one example of a situation in which sworn protectors might show the guts and brains that we hired them for.

Indeed, helping the professionals feel ready to take such steps should be seen as the number one goal and objective of Democratic endeavors and rhetoric. Because if such a dam were ever to burst, encouraging other professionals to tattle, the cleansing tsunami that followed might sweep all the monsters away.

Clearly, the Bushites know this, or they would not have bent almost all of their efforts, across a decade, to harrying, bullying, browbeating , suborning and destroying the professional caste.

It is their most consistent behavior set...

...just as the most consistent pattern of the Democrats has been to stupidly ignore this issue. The one totally non-political and no-brainer, killer issue that crosses all party lines and should appeal as much to honest conservatives as it does to liberals!

The one issue that might instantly unify the nation.

The issue that could crush the monsters, as if they were made of spun sugar.

If any major Dem were to speak out about the War Against Professionalism, offering our public servants protection and shelter from the freaks and inquisitors who have oppressed them for a decade, the levee might, indeed burst.

Bigtime.

Their failure to do so speaks volumes about how poorly the opposition is led.

.

46 comments:

Al said...

I'm seriously at a loss of what to do here. I trust the Democrats marginally over Republicans, mainly because they haven't tried to dismantle the government, not because of any intrinsic worth.

I think you're wrong if you expect anyone to rise up. I think the age of Imperial America has begun (and probably ended as well but it will take a while for the death throes of our nation). I seriously contemplate leaving for an actual functioning republic as I have the skills and education to do that.

I'm afraid our nation and people are lost.

Don Quijote said...

I would go with option 1. As soon as Bush leaves office, "Operation shove the last eight years down the Memory Hole" will start, and eight years from now Bush will have either been forgotten or more likely he will be great leader who was stabbed in the back by the America-hating left.

The only way to prevent any of the above scenarios from occurring is to impeach Cheney and Bush.

Their failure to do so speaks volumes about how poorly the opposition is led.

We have known that for years, any political party that screws over it's base as often and as regularly as the Democrats do is bound to lose it's base and with it it's power. The only thing that is keeping them relevant is the sheer mind blowing incompetence of the Bush Administration.

The real challenge for us is not to win the next round of Culture War, but to end it.

You cannot end the culture war, it is what keeps the Republicans together, remove that and what do your lower-middle class Christian evangelical, your middle class good government country-club republican,and your Wall Street Financier have in common? Not much!

If you doubt, look at how the recent immigration debate went, your lower middle class Christian Evangelical saw his job and his wages being threatened, the country club republican and the Wall Street Financiers saw lower wages and more profits.

Equivalency:

Bush and the Republicans have no respect for the law, The Democrats are almost as bad because they are unwilling/unable to stand up to Bush and the Republicans.

Doug S, said...

The rebellion has started, at least in a small way; remember who complained about Cheney's office not following the rules about classified information?

Jose said...

The culture war in the US isn't going to end anytime soon. The level of animosity and partisanship that exsists in the US doesn't disappear in a country over night. And since it's irrational it's highly resistant to daylight.

The "culture war" isn't the driver behind this it's a tactic. The real driver is the political parties themselves, something's happened to the political culture (not just in the US but also in the UK and Canada- the three countries tend to share political trends). These parties have consolidated power amongst themselves and their infighting has become more mean spirited and vicious. Gone are the days when politicians would vigorously debate amongst each other during the day and enjoy a friendly drink in the evening. We're in a different era and the modus operandi seems to be Winner Take All.

Tony Fisk said...

Pemberton NJ is a military town (it services McGuire AFB and Fort Dix). The tale told in 'The Age' recently suggests that King George can no longer assume blind obedience from that quarter.

Damon said...

Permit a crude analogy:

The Culture War is like HIV, attacking our immune system and the Neocons are like pneumonia. If we had a more robust system, we could easily fend them off, but in our weakened state, even a small ideological infection can get out of hand.

What should we do? Recognize that we are sick, stop sleeping around with fledgling Middle East democracies, and get ourselves on some anti-retroviral agents. We have to repair the immune system and I agree with our illustrious host that it is the Professional Bureaucrat (I mean no slander using that word) who is our T-cell. It would be nice if the American populace would rise up in outrage, but that would be like all the cells of the body starting apoptosis on their own initiative.

Of course, understanding something through analogy is like lacing your shoes with spaghetti.

Carl said...

Well, the candidate who is the biggest stickler for the rule of law and the Constitution is Ron Paul. A victory by Paul in the Republican primaries would be a very sound trouncing of the neocons.

The typical Republican primary voters are not likely to do this, however. A hostile takeover is needed. A large crossover vote of independents and democrats in the primaries is required.

And BTW, in the last quarter Ron Paul received more donations from people in the military than any other candidate.

TheRadicalModerate said...

David, let me see if I can paraphrase your position:

1) You want bureaucrats to take actions on their own initiative in defiance of their superiors, up to and including the prez.

2) You want officers to refuse orders from their chain of command. (Presumably, you don't advocate all field-grade officers resigning, as that would merely exacerabate the situation that you're railing against in the first place. Therefore, somebody's gonna have to refuse a direct order.)

3) You would like members of Congress to incite both of the above actions.

Tell me: how is this different from a coup?

sedicious said...

The way to end the culture war is to just split up the nation, already, a la Jesusland. Too difficult, probably, to do all at once, but individual secession by a few of the Blue States (starting with Hawaii and perhaps New Hampshire, followed by California) could get the ball rolling.

Zechariah said...

yeesh, I wouldn't want to split the country. That just screams "bad idea"

I could see a military officer refusing an order if he could ground his decision on his oath to uphold the constitution. It's still a frightenting concept.

I haven't been watching the Dem debates as much. Which of them has the best track record for transparency and small government?

zorgon the malevolent said...

The level of pessimism from Dr. Brin's readerships proves startling as well as disappointing.

Jose remarked:
The culture war in the US isn't going to end anytime soon.

Actually, the culture war is ending -- and I can prove it.

Look at this traffic graph from Alexa for the hatemonger site www.littlegreenfootballs.com:
http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?q=&url=littlegreenfootballs.com

You may recall Little Green Footballs as the site where commenters rhapsodized about the joys of cutting liberals' heads off with bowie knives. Traffic has dropped 41% over the last 3 months. This site's ranking has collapsed 8,646 downwards in the rankings over the last 3 months. At this rate, by 2008, there'll only be two guys and a dog viewing the hate speech at www.littlegreenfootballs.com.

Dr. Brin averred:
The real challenge for us is not to win the next round of Culture War, but to end it.


What needs to happen is not violent revolution or rioting in the streets or impeachment or Weatherman-style bombings of government buildings, but what happened at the end of the movie Twelve Angry Men.

Remember?

Remember when Lee J. Cobb screamed racist venom at the end of that movie? And everyone else in the room just turned their backs on him?

Cobb ranted and raved about "those people" and how they needed to be "put in their place" and "kept down," and everyone else in the room just shunned him.

No violence.

No screaming.

No fisticuffs. They just turned their backs on him until he was left alone, howling and shrieking to the silent walls.

That's what needs to happen today in America.

The hatemongers like Ann Coulter need the rest of America to turn their backs on them. The purveyors of venoms like Rush Limbaugh need to watch their listening audience drop and drop and drop until they're left shrieking and fuming to a dead microphone in a studio with the lights turned off because their listening audience has abandoned them. The Michelle Malkins and Bil O"Reillys of the world need to scream and howl to empty walls and silent studios with no viewers and no readers, until they realize they're wasting their time.

When Ann Coulter's books drop off the bestseller list, we'll know the culture wars in America are over.

And guess what?

It's happening.

The hate sites are seeing their page views dry up. FOX News its watching is viewership collapse -- down 28% now since last August:

http://tinyurl.com/d4j5v

Slowly but surely, all of America is turning their backs, silently and relentlessly, on the hatemongers.

This process will continue. It's not quick and it's not spectacular, but it is inexorable. Like a giant aircraft carrier, the American people are slow to change their course, but they are changing it -- and it's a course headed away from the hate, away from the lies, away from the screaming invective, away from the howls of fury and the lynch mob frenzy of the neocons and their grubby flatulent red-faced co-conspirators in the right wing propaganda machine.

Radical Moderate suggested that Dr. Brin was calling for a "coup":

1) You want bureaucrats to take actions on their own initiative in defiance of their superiors, up to and including the prez.

2) You want officers to refuse orders from their chain of command.


With the utmost respect to Radical Moderate, this appears to be a case of the classic logical fallacy of appealing to extremes:
Either the assistant U.S. attorneys and the military Chiefs of Staff must conspire in sedition, or everyone must crawl obsequiously as they grovel before any order the drunk-driving C student in the Oval Office gives.

No, there are many options in between outright disobedience and Quisling-like collaboration.

Haven't you ever heard of "work to rule"?
Merely by folloging the exact letter of the rulebook for their particular discipline, professionals can make the system grind to a halt. It's not illegal, and it's not sedition, and it's not a coup...but boy, it would sure shut down the government.

In fact, the rebellion of the professionals in the U.S. military has already begun:

CENTCOM Commander's Veto Sank Bush's Threatening Gulf Buildup
Admiral William Fallon, then President George W. Bush’s nominee to head the Central Command (CENTCOM), expressed strong opposition in February to an administration plan to increase the number of carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf from two to three and vowed privately there would be no war against Iran as long as he was chief of CENTCOM, according to sources with access to his thinking.
Fallon's resistance to the proposed deployment of a third aircraft carrier was followed by a shift in the Bush administration’s Iran policy in February and March away from increased military threats and toward diplomatic engagement with Iran. That shift, for which no credible explanation has been offered by administration officials, suggests that Fallon’s resistance to a crucial deployment was a major factor in the intra-administration struggle over policy toward Iran.

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/05/15/1212/

I didn't hear anyone wailing about a "coup" by the CENTCOM Commander. I didn't any talk of "treason" or "sedition." Our military and legal professionals are smart folks. They can throw sand in the gears and shut everything down without outright direct disobedience to orders. And what's more, the evidence shows that they've been doing it for some time now.

Once again, the bad idea of splitting up the country. No. NO!! We're all in this together. Our diversity is what gives us our strength. We're stronger than that. We're better than that. We don't have to give up any part of our varied American-ness to rid ourselves of these liars and parasites who've taken over the government. We run don't have to run away from our differences with other American hide like scared rabbits from our own diversity. We can all do it together, and we will all do it together. And we'll be stronger for it afterwards.

Al lamented:
I'm seriously at a loss of what to do here.

C'mon, folks! Buck up. This is no time for despair.

You come from a long line of the toughest and most courageous people on earth. Your ancestors fought to a standstill the most colossal military machine machine on earth, the British army at the very height of its imperial power -- and your ancestors did it armed with nothing more than hatchets and hand-hewn flintlock muskets. Your ancestors crushed the greatest army of the 18th century and they did it barefoot, starving, wearing rags.

And now you people tell me you despair?

Please! Remember who you are. You're the American people. You hold all the power here. You have all the winning cards. The pitiful forces arrayed against you are quaking with terror. They're filling the airwaves with propaganda, and still you refuse to cave in. They're making threatening noises about confiscating your property if you protest this illegal immoral war in Iraq, and that still hasn't stopped you from protesting in public.

You have unimaginable power. You, the American people, don't just have to rely on the professional class. If they fail you, you can rise up in a general strike. Imagine if the drunk-driving C student in the Oval Office came to work one day and the lights were off. The phones didn't work. The internet was shut down. All traffic in Washington D.C. at a standstill. Every business, every factory, every office buildilng closed. Imagine if the drunk-driivng C student looked out his windows and saw millions of people standing there, refusing to budge.

No violence. No screaming. Just millions of people who wouldn't go back to work until he resigned.

How long do you think the drunk-driving C student in the Oval Office would last?

You need to re-read Homer's Odyssey. Don't you remember when Odysseus beat himself on the breast and cried out, "Be strong, my heart! You have many times suffered far worse than this!"?

We've been through slavery, race riots, lynching of blacks and Irishmen and Chinese immigrants and Jews, we've survived WW I, WW II, the civil war when brother murdered brother, we've fought the British Empire and we've beaten back the slave armies of Hitler and we crushed the genocidal torturing mass-murderers of of Stalinist communism, and we did that without even firing a shot. We found ourselves faced with 3,000 nuclear warheads for 50 years -- and we never lost our nerve. We beat every last one of those crises, we kicked their asses, we gave them a whipping, and we did it with style. And now you're telling me we, the American people, are going to falter and collapse faced with some pissant little ex-cheerleader from Texas?

Our struggle right now, today, is a piece of cake by comparison with the Cold War or the Civil War, or our battle to free ourselves from the British Empire!

You have the power here, ladies and gentlemen. You're the American people. You hold all the cards. The other guys, the neocons and the hatemongers, are holding busted flushes and deuces that aren't even wild. They've got nothing. You're the ones in charge here. This is America.

If a general strike doesn't happen, what about non-violent resistance? Satyagraha works What would happen if every Congressman got into a cab and said "Take me to the capitol buildilng," and the cabbie said, "Not until you impeach both of those bastards."

And what if the Congressmen got out of the cab and started running to the capitol and found out the front doors were locked. And when he turned to one of the capitol police and said, "Unlock this door!" what if the policeman answer, "Not until you impeach both of those bastards"?

And what if the Congressman returned to his home -- but his driveway was blocked by protestors. And his front door was blocked by protestors. And everywhere he turned he couldn't eat, he couldn't walk, he couldn't do anything -- because non-violent protestors were lying down and standing in his path, and every time he told them to get out of his way, they answered, "Not until you impeach both of those bastards."

One tiny little "half naked fakir" brought the British Empire to its knees in India. There are 330 million of you. It is within your power to stand up and say "No." Three hundred million Ghandis, three hundred million Martin Luther Kings. Do you think anything or anyone could stand against that? There are only a few thosuand of the hatemongers and the neocons. What chance do you think they have? Do you think it's even a contest?

Really, you guys are all much too pessimistic. The American people, slow to awaken to anger, prove invincible when roused. They have now awakened.

You guys all need to read more Carl Sandburg:

The people yes
The people will live on.
The learning and blundering people will live on.
They will be tricked and sold and again sold
And go back to the nourishing earth for rootholds,
The people so peculiar in renewal and comeback,
You can't laugh off their capacity to take it.
The mammoth rests between his cyclonic dramas....
This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers.
There are men who can't be bought.
The fireborn are at home in fire.

David Brin said...

Radical, you left out my CAREFULLY EXPLICIT use of the phrase "rebellion in service of law and the Constitution."

The professionals of the Civil Service and Intelligence Community and Officer Corps are EVERY BIT AS MUCH BEHOLDEN TO THE CONGRESS THAT PASSES LAWS AS THEY ARE TO THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH THAT ENFORCES THOSE LAWS.

Someday soon a brave deputy US Attorney will say:

"In my opinion as a professional career officer of the Justice Department, it will be dereliction of my duty and job definition, according to laws duly passed by Congress, to obey orders that flout those laws, given to me by the (moronic, dogmatic, treasonous, incompetent hack) politician who has been appointed over me.

"I shall, instead, carry out my functions in a manner that I (while seeking the best advice of counsel and my civil service peers) deem to best and most-closely follow my oath, my duty to the people, and the law."

Let's be quite clear about several things:

1) This would be an act of great courage. But it is within a civil servant's power, when those politically-appointed above him are demonstrably unworthy and disqualified from command. And yes, the courts may not agree with the civil servant's interpretation of circumstances! In which case, he has exposed himself to possible firing. Why do you think the Bushites have striven so hard to stack the courts?

2) The extreme case is one we all know. Military personel are told repeatedly - "there may come a day when it will be your duty to disobey a clearly illegal command."

Yes, the line should be drawn FAR into the territory of giving superiors in the chain of command the benefit of the doubt, especially the commander in chief! Nevertheless, the principle is firm.

Moreover, the biggest fear that the monsters must face, is the possibility than members of the professional caste may start making test cases, forcing the Bush court appointees to show their hands, affecting public opinion...

...and possibly even getting some of those court appointees to start pondering THEIR basic loyalties to a republic of laws and open systems. And justice.

Tony Fisk said...

Hear! Hear! (and the toastmaster's award goes to...)

Zorgon, do read that Pemberton piece, I think you'll find it relevant.

Radical Moderate, if you haven't already, go read 'A Force More Powerful' to see how these ideas have worked in the past (in India, Poland, Russia(!), the Third Reich, the Philippines, the southern states...

No coups required.

I would be surprised (and truly in despair) if these tactics were not discussed at Westpoint at some level. You can even game them!

And yes, there are plenty of examples where executive directives have been 'subject to interpretation', without causing a coup. Nelson turning his blind eye to admiralty signals ('I see no orders'). A drugged up Nixon dazedly ordering anti-war protestors to be shot ('Did the President say something?'). There was also the fascinating case of the speech with no applause ('A sober atmosphere? Can do, sir!')

And, at a fictional but still very relevant level, check out the B5 episode 'Chains of Command'.

All it takes is a little creative thinking.

David Brin said...

Wow, Zorgon, I hadn't read your post. Yipes. Post of the day.

Genius said...

> A large crossover vote of independents and democrats in the primaries is required.

I agree. the best way to win this sort of battle is to win as soon as you can - you want to go into the election where there is no 'win scenario' for the remaining followers of the current administration.

A dream scenario involves a republican leader isolating and shaming into silence the worst of his supporters and then still suffering a marginal loss based on their bad smell that still hangs around making it clear what they need to do to stand a chance next time.

sedicious said...

Zechariah: a "bad idea" for whom?

zorgon the malevolent: pessimism and skepticism are not the same thing. Your statistics, while interesting, and encouraging, do not, I think, demonstrate an end to the Culture War. A softening, perhaps, a tactical retreat, even. But retreat is not at all the same as surrender.

You say we're all in this together, and I don't really disagree. But it seems to me that a very big reason we're in this mess in the first place is the unnecessary concentration of power in Washington. What is it Washington needs so much power for, today? The fact is it really doesn't, and the sooner we undertake to divide that power, the safer we, and our democracy(s), will be. If you want to dismantle an empire, you need to dismember its outsized military, and even a successfully forced resignation of Bush and Cheney wouldn't bring that about. If we really want to undo the terrible damage Dubya has done to the international order, I'm afraid that nothing less then dismemberment of Washington will effectively do it.

I'm not calling for war, after all. I'm not even calling for animosity, or even competition. I'm just calling for states to start disowning Washington. It can be done within the umbrella of NAFTA, and perhaps even of the nascent North American Union; it doesn't have to be about turning our backs on each other. It's more a matter, in my eyes, of waking up to the whole world beyond the borders of the U.S.A., and deciding to engage it, from now on, as peers, rather than as a bully. And like it or not, I just don't see how we can possibly do that as long as we really do weigh 800lbs.

ErnieG said...

We need to go back to a union of States, Jefferson, Madison and others knew that the way to curb the excesses of a central government was for the States to have the power.

Take a look at the Declaration Of Independence. The First Line:
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united STATES of AMERICA...

Notice the emphasis.

Zargon> I'm just calling for states to start disowning Washington.

Exactly , one of the biggest attacks on the republic was the 17th Amendment, popular elections of Senators.
With one fell swoop under the disguise of democracy and liberty the States lost a tremendous amount of power.

Senators were no longer beholden to the States ut to the nebulous 'people' , when you dilute responsibility like that you effectively eliminate it.

Repeal the 17th Amendment as a step towards the States asserting themselves.

Go back to a true union of 'independent' States.

TheRadicalModerate said...

David--

I withdraw the "coup" reference and plead guilty to being obtuse.

However:

...you left out my CAREFULLY EXPLICIT use of the phrase "rebellion in service of law and the Constitution."

I left it out because it's an oxymoron. If it's legal, it's not a rebellion.

For active duty field-grade officers, the customary way of refusing to accept a policy is to resign. While it is true that illegal orders must be refused, the UCMJ and the Manual for Courts-Martial are both quite explicit that soldiers refuse orders at their own peril, especially if the order isn't "patently unlawful." Furthermore, if public refusal of an order might encourage others to do likewise, the individual may be liable for Article 94 mutiny and sedition charges--those are capital crimes.

I wonder if a subpoena or warrant served in defiance of a superior's order would have legal standing. Anybody know?

In any case, the proper course for both soldiers and bureaucrats is obvious and time-honored: If you can't support the policy, resign. Then shout to the rooftops as a private citizen. This has been used several times over the past couple of years, to great effect.

This part of the system ain't broke--let's not fix it.

Michael said...

Conservatives have been waging a very careful war of propaganda that demonized liberals and found its ultimate expression in Fox News and their "news entertainment." The culture war is not over, and will not end until average Americans get over the thrill of attacking the messenger instead of debating the message.

Eventually, perhaps, we'll get tired of all this reckless mudslinging and name-calling. Maybe. Given how we crave scandal and have for the majority of our tenure as a nation, I don't really see that happening. All I can suggest is that we counter sensationalism with reason and remember not to fall prey to the temptation of attacking messengers. I know perfectly how easy it is to demonize people, since I'm extremely fond of referring to our questionably-elected President as "our Glorious Leader" (hint: consider the amazing parallels between him and North Korea's Jong Il).

The only way to counter a propaganda war is with a counter offensive. We don't need to demonize Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter; they can do it easily enough themselves. But we have to be aggressive in countering their claims, exposing their lies and demonstrating to people that they aren't nearly as trustworthy as they've been hyped. Remind people that it's the message that's important, not how it's delivered.

The average American doesn't have time to examine each and every claim made by the government or media. I like to think of myself as something other than an average American, and I don't have time to examine everything. That's how this culture war has gone so wrong. The people interested in shifting America's focus have long understood that they just need to repeat a lie often enough before people believe it. We need to prove decisively that the media celebrities that folks are depending on for good information are not trustworthy.

Until we can convince our leaders and bureaucrats that the average American will not believe the slander and lies of spin doctors like Fox News, few deputy Attorney Generals or military officers are going to have the courage to defy illegal orders. Officers have already used the "illegal order" argument to defy the Bush administration, and they're being persecuted for it. They need a great deal more support before their examples will be followed on such a scale that it brings government to a halt.

kenshi said...

The rancorous partisanship now seen in our political system is not a function of one side being on the side of right and law and the other being on the side of evil and rapacious monsters. That's ridiculous on its face, and I'm surprised to see someone like David Brin fall into it. I'm even more surprised to hear David Brin propose what would essentially be a coup d'etat by the bureaucracy (which, should something like that ever happen in the United States, would be disastrous on a level far beyond the minor usurpations of an uppity President).

No, the partisanship and rancor are a function of the breakdown of trust in our civil order and fellow citizens. Party politics in the Uniteds States now looks like nothing so much as the Blue v. Green partisanship of Sixth Century Constantinople during the reign of Justinian: bitter, intractable, completely arbitrary, and pointless. Let us hope that the outcomes are not similar.

You once wrote that people should endeavor to remember several very powerful words when interacting with their fellows, "I am a member of a civilization," and act accordingly. Yes. But also remember that your fellow citizens, including the hated Blues (or NeoCons, or whatever you're calling them) are too. What's more important? Our civilization, or gaining the upper hand through advocacy of a disastrous policy in a partisan squabble over meaningless spoils?

Anonymous said...

Brin is sounding far more like a Technocrat than a Libertarian. ;)

I must confess to being made a little nervous by his suggestion. The bedrock of a functioning democracy is the absolute, reliable, and non-partisan obedience of the civil service to elected government. When the civil service, an in particular the military, starts feeling able to pass judgment, you get onto a very slippery and steep slope indeed. (insert JFK conspiracy theory of your choice here)

And when government changes hands, incoming politicians need to feel that neutrality and obedience, or things can get very bad indeed, just look around the world.

Mind you, absolutely the worst thing the Bushies have done is their attempt to politicize the civil service, this is worse than the war and the insane policies and even the partisan appointments to the judiciary. I don't think they've done irreparable damage yet, but another neocon administration would be very dangerous indeed.

There are increasing signs that the public service (including the military) is beginning to stir a little, but I don't think we are going to see anything like what Dr. Brin is suggesting. I strongly suspect that what the public servants are doing right now is thinking: only two more years.... Which is probably what they should be thinking.

The fact of democracy in pretty much every country is that there is never a fully majority party. All successful parties are coalitions, usually unholy ones, that contain the seeds of their own destruction. The Dems ran things for a long time, based on an unnatural coalition of Northern Liberals and Southern Dixiecrats. The culture wars of the 60s and Reaganism broke that, as was bound to happen eventually.

The Republican party is a coalition of (usually evangelical) social conservatives, insane neocons, corrupt business elites, and country clubbers/Goldwater types. They've pretty much lost the last, and the business boys will go with whoever is in power that they can corrupt (sadly, probably just as true of the Dems as the Republicans), so they're probably out of power for the next while.

In fact, their big tent, originally owned by the last two groups, probably cannot stand in their absence-- the neocons and social conservatives actually have absolutely nothing in common at all, aside from the viciousness of rabid junk-yard dogs and a complete divorce from reality.

(What scares me a little is that the Dems right now essentially consist of a coaltion of people pretty much only united around their disgust/hatred for the Bushies, and once they win, things will fall apart very quickly indeed.

Ultimately the culture war will end mostly because the non-players (ie the general public) get tired of it (just like the red-scares did), which it is pretty clear is already happening. I think Lincoln's great dictum ("You can lie to some of the people ...") is coming true in spades, really, as people realize what a fairy-tale they have been sold.

This will produce rather less anger than you would expect, mostly people would just totally lose interest in it. I don't think that it will take great explanations and revealings of the facts and commissions and charges and so on (though of course there will be some of that, of great interest to those who actually are deeply angered, but they won't be a majority), I think it will simply become a matter of everyone starting to yawn whenever Coulter or Limbaugh open their pie-holes. Just like with McCarthy.

(And a few loonies will linger on, just like the John Birchers did, crouching in their cellars chewing over their old bones. The politically insane, like the poor, we will always have with us.)

Canuckistan Bob

Enterik said...

Ron Paul is a fringe element allowed at the table so that other Gang Of Pirate candidates seem less extreme, maybe even as centrist or moderate, by comparison. As a bonus, the party can be seen as inclusive of radical libertarian positions.

His agenda is hopelessly naive in its idealogy and seems no more pragmatic than the fevered dreams of Nineteenth Century Anarchists.

TheRadicalModerate said...

C. Bob--

Nice post, but I'm not quite so sanguine. The problem is that the media has a lot invested in a business model where extremism sells. In fact, the 24/7 newsitainment channels and the blogs simply can't exist--at least as currently constructed--without a steady diet of extremist-du-jour to masticate and spread over the hapless electorate.

I agree that the current brands of crazy from both sides of the spectrum are getting a bit boring. About time! But I don't see how you get from where we are now to a rational, moderate discourse. (A good start would be a little civility and a bunch of news shows where only one person gets to shout at a time...)

Joel said...

By the way, if you're looking for the opposite of Cassandra, try Jonah.

He's the prototype of a prophet whose warnings were heard. He sat up on a hill waiting for the fireworks he had promised, and was humiliated: the people decided to repent, and the wrath he had foreseen withered on the vine.

I hope that, in the tradition of good sci fi writers, you turn out to be another Jonah, not a Cassandra.

Joel said...

enterik: I prefer a different backronym for the GOP:

Graft, Oubliettes, and Pollution.

It's a little obscure, but I think it's more fitting.

Stefan Jones said...

Did anyone catch Gonzales' "testimony" today?

Isn't his decision to stay on the job and clean up the problems at the justice department heartwarming?

Congress has the power to impeach and try this stooge, and they should. And if Bush tries to pardon him, he should be impeached and tried for obstruction of justice.

Because that is exactly what is going on here. Gonzales was hired to obstruct justice. They started it as a scheme to ensure GOP hegemony, and they're keeping it going because they don't want to end up in jail.

No, we cannot wait two more years. We can't wait for some pendulum to swing or for people to get bored. Real damage is being done now by the Bush administration.

They belong in jail. They deserve to be disgraced and ruined. There should be no chance for these manipulative schemers to get hired by think tanks and then get rehabilitated and poison our country again twenty years down the road.

I don't think jail is too extreme, but I'll settle for Truth and Reconciliation hearings.

Marc said...

As a Progressive, or Democrat or whatever someone wants to call me these days,.. I saw way back in 2000 after the elections were stolen and a future Supreme court justice joined ranks with James Baker to lead a phony protest and just a bus load of men shut down the recount. The supreme court, then broke ranks and helped stop the recount and appointed Bush president -- I knew right then and there we weren't getting out of this mess with a "vote."

As many people who look to Ghandi or Martin Luther King as models of non-violent protest, what they don't understand is that non-violence works, only when people are frightened of the Black Panthers or something else. The fat cats of the status quo ignore MLK, until they fear the violent uprisings in the cities of California that took place.

The only thing that is going to move the "status quo" calculations of people like Pelosi, is a fear that the house of cards is going to fall.

While the Democratic representatives may appear clueless, if you only depend upon the Lame Stream Media to get your news. They have also bee censored by the press. While I and my like-minded bloggers have been screaming about weak-willed political opportunists amongst the Democrats who don't fight for the power of their conviction.

Almost 70% of Americans now support impeachment.

If the economy weren't propped up by military DEBT spending -- there would be a lot more people howling because they bleed from their wallets.

I'm really getting the jitters now, because so many other people are starting to say things that I've been saying -- it makes it more real. The Bush administration does not seem to be acting like lame ducks -- and if they allow Democrats to get control, there will be a lot of investigations that overturn their putsch... they haven't worked so hard to lose their fascist dreams for another generation.

So as the Dems slowly maneuver their backs into the wall -- I think both sides are realizing more and more what they are dealing with; The Dems are realizing that they have a corrupt, group of "do anything" fascists, that have already corrupted the courts, and the Republicans are realizing that the Dems may not be as spineless as they are calculating, and that they don't pounce until their mouse is caught in it's own trap...

... but I see George Bush as a man who would shoot his own horse, rather than admit it lost the race.

And to see the fence-sitting Libertarians, now agreeing with Dems (while of course, saying that they don't go in for whatever extreme things dems are into) -- is a little heartening and a little scary.

When I mention the Black Panthers -- I think back to what I warned some troll about 4 years ago... I said; "You don't have to worry about the Liberals ... you have to worry about the TRUE Conservative believers. The Klansmen who feel betrayed because it wasn't about hurting the ethnic folk -- it was about pulling up the ladder of opportunity for EVERYONE. The bible-thumpers are going to feel betrayed, because their theocratic nation will end up drying up like a mist -- they won't be able to blame their own vitriolic bile for the reaction of the masses -- so they will blame NeoCon leaders. The marginal "pro-business" people will finally realize that THEIR business isn't on the inside of the country club walls -- and you will start seeing corporate in-fighting because in a Fascist state -- there are only a few winners... an early entry into this rebellion is the greening of DuPont (incredible ... one of the worst polluters now is proving that Kyoto makes sense and they are saving money by conserving).

There are so many potential Timothy McVeighs out there. Some of the "Anne Coulter" fans will stay until the end... right up to the moment when they see their leaders, begging for forgiveness. People addicted to hate will follow Anne Coulter, Hannity, O'Reilly, and other shills to the grave -- as long as they appear strong. But show a bit of weakness and it is like a chicken with blood on it in a pecking party.

***
The big crisis will start if and when BushCo invades Iran, or if and when they have their next false flag. I'm sure they run the calculations of prison vs. absolute power every day. As they lose power, they will become more desperate. Their gamble may work...

... but just look at Iraq. It is an example of someone trying to "win their way out of" an addiction to the Lottery. Either they want to bankrupt our country, create genocide for the Saudis, or they were honestly thinking their Reaganomics would work and were surprised that it didn't (my guess is, that the leaders gave their followers the agenda that best suited their various insecurities). But these people don't change, because as a group they've always gotten ahead by being more brazen, and passing more blame -- success or failure only makes a NeoCon more of a NeoCon. So they keep throwing more troops, more death, more bombs, rather than admit that Iraq needed a Martial plan.

I can only see the hands of international bankers, who seem to be the only ones not going into debt in the follies of all these NeoCon led nations as the only benefactors of BushCo's reign.

However this turns out -- it is going to get very messy, unless the Republicans in power realize that if THEY don't impeach Bush, they will have Democrats with all the powers they tried to gain, or even Worse -- Bush will succeed in creating his decidership, and he won't have any use for them.

Liberal pacifism will be embraced as soon as people are frightened of their former allies in the NeoCon cabal -- this always seems to be the case. Liberalism is actually a Centrist -- people movement. It's the hub all these spokes hang off of. There isn't really a reason for many of the NeoCon and Conservative factions to work with each other, if one of them wins.

Dang, I wish I could make this point better. To generalize: A Liberal believes in the common good -- not beholden to just capitalism or socialism. Now I won't say their isn't some "protect every fluffy animal with food stamps" mentality, but a lot of that idea about liberals has been a concerted attempt by the corporate class to discredit Populist movements.

Just look at the media and the Bush administration and try to tell me, there aren't a lot of haters who planned this. Tell me how so many extremely screwed up people got to the top of the food chain at all these evangelical churches, and they started making deals with the devil if it wasn't a conspiracy to infiltrate and take over various religions. Why did Rove promote people he found out were Pedophiles? Why do we see this pattern around the world where NeoCons have taken root?

Please, do a google search on the topic before you discount this notion; "Politician involved in sex crime" and then see who they were connected to, and who they helped before they got caught -- watch as their wrist gets slapped. But what are the odds that so many NeoCons are this way? I don't think it is the followers that are this way -- but when you compromise a politician, it's better than having lobbyist money and a lot cheaper.

So here is the structure I'm trying to make clear; Liberalism has been seen as the "wimps" -- but it is really Populism, the idea of what is good for everyone -- and it can go capitalist here or socialist there or sometimes even Libertarian --- what you folks refer to as the lowercase letters.

The Conservatives are really not much more than powerful leader worshipping and a collection of neurotic people who are frightened of something -- where they lean depends upon what they fear (hardly the strong man types they revere -- but that's why they crave the Swarzeneggar illusion so much). So if they hate disorder and fear their own urges -- they go NeoCon bible thumper. If they love money, but hate people making them feel guilty, they Listen to Neal Boortz and pretend to be not-NeoCons, but still supporting Republicans (if the shoe fits, wear it). If they hate compassion as a weakness, and fear people not like them, they go Klan or paper over their racism with concern about "urban" habits, gays, gun laws -- a collection of people who form "Bush's real base" and these are the people I think everyone fears. They aren't so much a threat to Liberals if they don't have a leader. So if Bush succeeds -- these guys get to win because they will be free to hate. If he fails -- they will be the ones he has to fear, because they hate weakness. Bush wins, and SOME corporatists win, but MOST lose.

So, there will be a rush to the Liberals by all the losing factions. If the Liberals were to move with the power of their convictions, and stop being "politically smart" with people like Pelosi, Hillary, and Obama -- then they might even get some of the Coulter fans, because these people hate weakness more than compassion. They like Ron Paul or Murtha types. The corporate types will embrace the status Quo Hillary or Obama -- and you will see the shills like Limbaugh and Fox New's Hannity holding their nose and endorsing Hillary Clinton.

The NeoCon leadership are in a transition phase right now. As they consolidate political power in the executive and perhaps with more war -- they lose support. As winners emerge in the multi-national monopoly game, it will become clear that not every one of them will be banking in Dubai and will be out in the cold. As Supreme Court starts showing it's Federalists and Fascists for what they are, the Moonies and the Evangelicals will realize that they won't be getting THEIR theocracy, but someone's else's. Though I think that Pat Robertson could care less if they followed JC or Santa -- there are definitely adherents who care WHICH group becomes the state religion.

So, in order to not take the heat of these various colliding interests the NeoCons best move is; A) Let a status Quo Democrat win, and then let all those IOUs come back and ruin the economy -- like it did when Jimmy Carter had to pay for the Republican debts. B) A "bad thing happens" and this means that martial law is declared and of course due to the threat, we won't have elections in 2008 -- so sorry. C) Try and keep stalling, and doing the same things, as infighting makes groups move to the Liberals as a sort of "no man's land." The move will horse trade with Compromised Dems, to spread the taint around, and make everyone become increasingly more depressed with both political parties (most likely).

All of these, by the way, require the Dems to NOT IMPEACH.

>> Best of luck, Mr. Brin, with the "Military does the right thing angle." I really hope you are right. But Blackwater is in the US, and generals don't get stars by not carrying water. You have always been one of the most interesting and best informed blog sites I know of... but NOW I'm starting to agree with you -- or YOU are perhaps starting to agree with me. Perhaps after you've seen one or two real conspiracies you start realizing that there need to be checks and balances and that government needs to play a role in limiting the power of the wealthy class -- not just in profits (sorry-- I can't help myself, just happy to see your change of mind).

I know I sound a little wacky -- but I think the way you are writing now, would seem VERY wacky to yourself about 5 years ago.

>> Best regards,
Mark J

Marc said...

David Brin said...
Moreover, the biggest fear that the monsters must face, is the possibility than members of the professional caste may start making test cases, forcing the Bush court appointees to show their hands, affecting public opinion...

...and possibly even getting some of those court appointees to start pondering THEIR basic loyalties to a republic of laws and open systems. And justice.


I think we are already starting to see some of these test cases -- where "business" folk start testing the real standings of the courts.

I don't hold much hope for Bush appointees "seeing the light" about justice. The #1 qualification for a Bush appointee is that they helped fund raise and the #2 quality for a Bush appointee is that they couldn't get a good paying job without their feckless loyalty to the Bush administration.

Gonzales got Bush out of Jury duty in Texas -- because then he'd have to admit some things under oath... and A G has failed upwards ever since. You can look at the Monica Goodling case as another example. Or "heckuva job" Brownie as another. FEMA outsourced the evacuation busses to the former head of FEMA, and like a good Contractor, he outsourced the entire job (sans of course, his nice little "Executive fee"), to another group that failed to arrive with buses because they were making profit every hour they didn't rent some buses and go pick up people.

So, the real hope is with the "Old Guard" amongst the bureaucrats -- the underlings you appealed to. I suspect that they've been helping us all along -- that's how we find anything out about BushCo, is through a sneaky whistle-blower passing on some dirt.

But I think this vanishing breed of committed and competent person has been hard tested these many years. Those that haven't quit have been frightened by the numerous retaliations on whistle-blowers.

But that has un-done the Bush administration in the Attorney firings case -- because it was the smear campaign directed against the former prosecutors that made them complain in the first place.

The ally against BushCo, is the competent people left in his administration -- he can't get rid of every one of them, because his loyalists couldn't manage a bake sale without these people.

What we really need, is to start putting together funds for Whistle Blowers. Like $1 Million to the person who can come forward with evidence of what damage occurred to Brewster-Jennings. What needs to happen, is a real grass roots efforts with enough money to help our allies within BushCo, survive the crash landing that they will have by being made an example of.

I'd figure about 5 would do it. 5 People with some dynamite dirt -- all within the span of 5 weeks. What do you say? Get a lot of Constitution-loving Business folks together, and we all pitch in to create Bounties for Bush.

While I'm a bit cynical that mere facts of wrongdoing would move anything (we still have people on the web who make the ludicrous claim that we can't impeach because we don't have any credible evidence) -- what this would really serve to do is to drive a wedge between Bush and his Republican support -- AND, take the fear away from career bureaucrats in coming forward (fear is what holds them together).

Marc said...

Tony Fisk said...
And, at a fictional but still very relevant level, check out the B5 episode 'Chains of Command'.

All it takes is a little creative thinking.


Hmmm. Anyone who likes B5 is a person to listen to. Yeah, that does seem to give me some reason for hope.

I like Bill Clinton's quote on top of that; "What is wrong with America can be fixed by what is right with America." -- stuff like that almost makes me forget about NAFTA and allowing for the media consolidation to go through.

Marc said...

ernieg said...
We need to go back to a union of States, Jefferson, Madison and others knew that the way to curb the excesses of a central government was for the States to have the power.

Take a look at the Declaration Of Independence. The First Line:
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united STATES of AMERICA...

Notice the emphasis.

Zargon> I'm just calling for states to start disowning Washington.

Exactly , one of the biggest attacks on the republic was the 17th Amendment, popular elections of Senators.
...


I'm definitely for more increase states rights as part of the solution. What should happen, is a REFOCUS on making the Citizen sovereign, and then the states and then the Federal government -- you know, when that "old piece of paper was written."

I would balance the right of the State to elect the Senator directly, with an end to the Electoral College -- which doesn't seem to serve a purpose AT BEST, and also serves to remove any hope of anything but two parties.

And while we are dreaming of this perfect world that both Dems and Republican leaders would fight tooth and nail, let's go for Instant Run-off voting with proportional votes... meaning you vote on down the list who you like in order -- in any party.

So you don't vote for Hillary, because you think she can win and you couldn't stomach Guilliani -- you vote for Kucinich, and on down the line to put Hillary at the end. You don't sacrifice your preferred candidate for the lesser evil. That would end overnight the politics of division.

Add to this, public funding of elections. Anyone want to tell me, why it's so expensive to fund elections when NOT funding elections makes us waste $1 Trillion in Iraq?

Doug S. said...

Approval voting > Instant Runoff Voting.

TheRadicalModerate said...

I just saw this report that Schwarzenegger is going to propose that California fund research into Robert Bussard's inertial electrostatic confinement fusion system. Since Bussard thought he could pull off a power-producing reactor for about $200M, this could be a big deal.

For more info, check out this pretty good Wikipedia entry, and this talk by Bussard, entitled, "Should Google Go Nuclear?"

It may be nothing more than smoke and (magnetic) mirrors, but it sure beats wringing your hands over how we can maybe save 5% of the US energy budget in 30 years if plug-in hybrids happen to take off.

Tony Fisk said...

Speaking of a call for an increase in states' independence, we had this little bombshell this morning:
Howard to Take Over Control of Murray Basin Water Allocation.

It's not a straightforward power grab by Commonwealth, and the issue of whether Australia has the population base to support three tiers of government has always been an topic of debate.

Nor do I see Howard as being in quite the same league as your motley crew in the US. (although he definitely rates as 'Straussian' in outlook)

Still, he's been getting very pre-emptive of late. eg: taking direct control of the running of aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory on the pretext of weeding out pedophiles (while quietly re-pocketing their land titles)

-----
RM: sounds good. But can't fusion power be pursued whilst wringing hands over the 5% reduction from hybrids? (Sorry if that sounds semantically picky, but we have a problem that requires all avenues to be investigated)

David Brin said...

Alert. Has anyone out there seen or heard confirmation that O’Reilly has slammed ME for “inciting treason” with this particular blog entry?

???!!!???

Actually, the version of this entry that appeared on Daily Kos (where I sometimes duplicate-post my political pieces.)
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/7/23/32643/4649

I am surprised because this time I was VERY careful to parse the rebellion "in favor of the law and the Constitution" ... and thus BY DEFINITION not advocating anything illegal.

Secondly, why would he even draw attention to my tiny, ignored corner of rant-ocracy?

You all could help of course, by raising my attention score on Kos. Even reposting some of your comments here.

Still, my main curiosity is as to whether the O’Reilly rumor is true.

----

Genius, I agree with your dream scenario. Alas, except for Ron Paul, all the Gopper candidates have sold their souls to the plutocrats and the loons. That’s what “loyalty to your base” does to American politics. It gives the indignation junkies total power over a pragmatist civilization.

Yes, I hope Ron Paul can draw decent libertarian-minded conservatives. Still, his chief effect will be to make it LEGITIMATE for such people to keep calling the GOP their home, even while the tent is filled with the stench of monstrous treason. Oh, I don’t mind if you folks in red states throw votes and cash his way, as a meaningful gesture. But do you actually think he’ll swing the center of GOP gravity back toward, say, the Bob Dole era, let alone actual libertarianism? No chance.

Sedicious, like most libertarians, you blame the tool - government - and not the ones who have stolen our hammer and screwdriver and started beating us with them! As a quasi libertarian, I share the dream of small government. But your position is like blaming firehoses for the way segregationists used them in Selma.

Dig it. And grok it. What we are seeing is an attempted putsch by a sub-section of the aristocracy. And Adam Smith himself would tell you that “cronies of the king” have always been THE biggest danger to free markets... and freedom in general.

Moreover, under Clinton/Gore, government worked WELL! And it got (slightly) SMALLER. Those are two things any sane person should want, even if their inclination is to want it smaller, still. (Reminder, dems have lessened govt more than goppers EVER did.)

We are NOT seeing a difference of degree, but a difference of kind, and one worth fighting over. Hard.

Radical, it is rebellion if you refuse the orders of a superior who NORMALLY has the right to give you orders. But some rebellions are legal. That is the contention of the Declaration of Independence and the Nuremberg rulings. It happens that the “rebellion” I am speaking of is heroic, lawful (ultimately), ethical and obligatory upon those civil servants who can open their eyes and see what is being done to their country.

But they must be very, very careful. I agree about that. They must be punctilious. I am asking them to step into a minefield. I know that. But they chose professions that inherently are about serving a civilization that they supposedly love. One that they are sworn to defend.

Yes, resignation is honorable and can have political effects. But I am sure the neocons have taken that into account and each resignation is one less brave public servant to have to browbeat and cow. It is time to be much more effective than that.

Now is the time.

Kenshi, I never felt this way about ANY previous political opponents. As a contrarian, I always found good things to say about Reagan and Dole, especially when liberal friends got too full of dudgeon. (I enjoy poking at ALL dogmatists, even those who are 90% right.)

But this is an exception. The neocons are genuine traitors and monsters. They want to cover us in darkness and utter secrecy and chains of permanent lordship. It took me years to reach this point, but I can honestly say there are NO redeeming qualities of the Cheneykleps. They are out to directly and irreversibly take our Great Experiment away from us. There are no other explanations even remotely consistent with the facts. Though I am still not sure whether they are doing this in service of a foreign power.

If Red America cannot rouse itself enough to see that Culture War has gone too far, then they are not open to reason or evidence. We must use cleverness and great care and fresh ideas to pull the decent conservatives of America out of Rove’s Big Tent, so that the residual fevered folk of Red America can start to feel what they need to, in order to heal... realization, embarrassment, maturity, citizenship.

Oh, but try this on your ostrich friends. “Imagine the VERY WORST tales you heard about Clinton, including “whitewater murders” and black helicopters. Not one of those tales was true. But multiply it by a hundred and you’ll not touch the truth about the blackwater neocons.

Anonymous said: “I must confess to being made a little nervous by his suggestion. The bedrock of a functioning democracy is the absolute, reliable, and non-partisan obedience of the civil service to elected government. When the civil service, an in particular the military, starts feeling able to pass judgment, you get onto a very slippery and steep slope...”

Yes indeed! Do you think I reached this point easily? I am horrified to find myself in such a position! Asking sincere public servants to gather combat-levels of courage, and then to risk all they have in courageous stand? And to in some cases thus somewhat undermine the assured and reflexive Marshallian acceptance of executive/civilian authority?

This is a horror story! I say it with open eyes and pounding my chest for having failed -- FAILED -- to find any better way to save the nation and civilization that I love.

-----
Dems corruptible? See:
http://www.davidbrin.com/blackmail.html
Demand that your new Democratic representative read it too!
Before it is too late.

Joel, I love your mention of Jonah! The JOB of sci fi is to offer ”self-preventing prophecies.”

Stefan, we need LOTS more evidence before anyone can be impeached without doing great harm to the Republic. That’s where the civil servants come in. Even if they lack the courage to stand up in the glare, they can LEAK! Oh please. Leak like mad. It is called accountability. It’s a duty.

But Stefan, you touch on an important point. I care far less about the nine US attorneys who were fired, for not toeing the line, than I care about the eighty or so who Gonzales found “acceptable”! Why aren’t THEY an issue??????

They are the calamities. The cancer in America’s throat.

But if any of them stepped up, now, they would be heroes in our eyes, forever.

---
Marc, try this on your ostrich pals. “What political party did EVERY SINGLE CONVICTED AMERICAN TRAITOR since 1974 belong to? Including all the spies who betrayed America by handing secrets to the KGB?”

Marc, part of ending culture war is to redefine “liberal” more in tune with its older meaning. A meaning that includes John Locke and Adam Smith, alongside ML King. Ah, but you imply another shift. Anyone notice the DECLINE OF LIBERAL INTEREST IN GUN CONTROL? Anyone want to ponder that?

Please. Do NOT ponder it here. I don’t need that kind of attention.

Finally, I favor a different kind of states rights. States can ALREADY call meetings and agree to uniform law codes. The Uniform Business Code is an example. They are free to do this without a scintilla of permission from Congress or the president! Though with some care for areas of federal supremacy. In fact I call for just such a meeting:
http://www.davidbrin.com/gerrymandering1.html

What a session. What a community.
If only...

Genius said...

David,
maybe you are right. I guess it depends on a lot of things which you might understand better than me, being in the US.

Still - in NZ it is a coup in the socialist party that crippled socialism in NZ. In Israel it was a strong conservitive leader who was able to start moving settlements (OK, only a few...).

Its like how coporations support both political parties presumably with the idea that it is great to have a fierce political battle as long as both sides are your side.

Many on the left have been critical for a long time of how the you get to vote between coke and pepsi come election day.

Tony Fisk said...

Well, buck up!

I gather that the Miers and Bolton are being cited for contempt on ignoring subpoenas, despite what the whitehouse has to say about executive privilege.

Something to ponder over the morning's cornflakes.

Don Quijote said...

2008 Presidential Election Candidates on the Issues

Pick Your Candidate

Pick Your Candidate - Stats

TER-OR said...

Each time I hear a candidate accuse someone of fanning the flames of a Culture War, I want to scream 'TOO LATE!' There is a culture war, and anyone without clout is losing. Even if you think you're on the same side as the Republican party, you're not. Money = speech = power - this nation is a plutocracy. It may always have been.

Anyway, as for the definition of Democracy, I think a much simpler model holds. Democracy is the right of the people to stand up and yell "Bullshit" to those in power. Oh, and not be hauled off to the gulag.

Just once I'd like to see a debate where one candidate turns to the other and says BS! Or the moderator keeps telling the candidate to answer the question - I can sit here all night...OK I live in fantasyland.

We see the Neocon model with PrezBushII's speeches in front of invitation-only audiences. Even those audiences are too quiet now, so loyalists are placed near every microphone and the target of each camera.

And we'll have to see whether the next person in the Executive office uses the newfound tools to reverse some of the damage done over the past 8 years. Declassifying everything according to law would be a start....

Zechariah said...

Possible "transparent society" alert?

Friend claims it's just the RIAA trying to use the 'National Security' angle to shut down the p2p's they don't like.

Link

WASHINGTON--Politicians charged on Tuesday that peer-to-peer networks can pose a "national security threat" because they enable federal employees to share sensitive or classified documents accidentally from their computers.

At a hearing on the topic, Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said, without offering details, that he is considering new laws aimed at addressing the problem. He said he was troubled by the possibility that foreign governments, terrorists or organized crime could gain access to documents that reveal national secrets.

Also at the hearing, Mark Gorton, the chairman of Lime Wire, which makes the peer-to-peer software LimeWire, was assailed for allegedly harming national security through offering his product.

The documents at risk of exposure supposedly include classified government military orders, confidential corporate-accounting documents, localized terrorist threat assessments, as well as personal information such as federal workers' credit card numbers, bank statements, tax returns and medical records, according to recent studies by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and private researchers.

Evidence that sensitive information is accessible through peer-to-peer networks illustrates "the importance of strengthening the laws and rules protecting personal information held by federal agencies" and other organizations, said Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), the committee's ranking member, who has sponsored a bill that would impose new requirements on government agencies that discover security breaches. "We need to do this quickly."

The politicians present Tuesday generally said they believe that there are benefits to peer-to-peer technology but that it will imperil national security, intrude on personal privacy and violate copyright law, if not properly restricted. Both Waxman and Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) dubbed P2P networks ongoing national security threats.

Congressional gripes about P2P networks are hardly new, and in the past, they have reinforced concerns raised by the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America. Four years ago, the same committee held a pair of hearings that condemned pornography sharing on P2P networks and also explored leaks of sensitive information. And throughout 2004, Congress considered multiple proposals that would have restricted--or effectively banned--many popular file-swapping networks. Waxman noted that he was not seeking to ban peer-to-peer networks this time around but rather to "achieve a balance that protects sensitive government, personal and corporate information and copyright laws."

To be sure, the kind of information leaks that alarmed politicians at Tuesday's hearing are most likely already against the law or federal policy. It is illegal for government employees to leak certain types of classified documents without approval, either electronically or through traditional paper means.

Mary Koelbel Engle, the associate director for advertising practices in the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said her agency has found in its studies of peer-to-peer network use that risks to sensitive information "stem largely from how individuals use the technology rather than being inherent in the technology itself."

Some politicians nonetheless lashed out at the sole representative from a peer-to-peer software company at Tuesday's hearing: Lime Wire's Gorton, who is also CEO of parent company Lime Group.

The most scathing criticism came from Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), who launched into a lengthy monologue in which he deemed Gorton "one of the most naive chairmen and CEOs I've ever run across," and accused his company of making the "skeleton keys" that grant access to material harmful to U.S. national security.

"I'd feel more than a shade of guilt at this point, having made the laptop a dangerous weapon against the security of the United States," Cooper said. "Mr. Gorton, you seem to lack imagination about how your product can be deliberately misused by evildoers against this country." (Cooper also, at one point, claimed that Gorton's own home computer was probably leaking sensitive documents.)

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) warned Gorton that Lime Wire's practices may open the company up to serious legal liability.

"Would it surprise you if you have a string of lawsuits for inherent defect in your product if people like Charlie Mueller of Missouri finds out he's lost his IRS filings and feels he's been damaged?" Issa asked.

Gorton repeatedly defended his company's practices and said he wasn't aware of the extent to which national security information was being accessed through his network.

Lime Wire strives to make its product easier to understand and is working on a new version even more tailored to the "neophyte" user, Gorton said. The software incorporates a number of warnings intended to stave off inadvertent file sharing, he added. For instance, pop-up messages appear when users attempt to share folders, such as the all-encompassing "My Documents" folder and the root directory, which are considered likely to contain sensitive information.

"A lot of the information that gets out there now is because people accidentally share directories that they wouldn't mean to share clearly," Gorton said. "Those warnings are not enough, at least in a handful of cases."

That assertion drew sharp disagreement from Thomas Sydnor, an attorney-advisor in the Patent Office's copyright group. He said peer-to-peer users are being tricked into sharing files they don't intend to make public and claimed that LimeWire's warnings to that effect don't always appear as they should.

In research for a report released in March, the Patent Office found it "stunning to see features that are incredibly easy to misuse," Sydnor said. "You can go to an interface in these programs that looks like you're doing nothing except choosing a place to store files, and you end up sharing recursively all the folders on your computer. It's very easy to make a catastrophic mistake."

Earlier this year, the Department of Transportation experienced an incident in which an employee's daughter installed LimeWire on the home computer that her mother occasionally uses for telework--and misconfigured it in such a way that documents from the department and the National Archives were open to others using the network--including a Fox News reporter. Forensic analysis determined that some of those documents were already publicly accessible and that none of the DOT documents contained sensitive personally identifiable information about anyone other than the employee herself.

The agency's chief information officer, Daniel Mintz, told the committee that his agency already has sufficient authority to combat "inadvertent" file sharing and that it already is required to take such activity into account in its annual information security reports to Congress.

The key to preventing additional incidents like that one, Mintz told the politicians, is for his agency to step up oversight and "to make sure we're really pushing the policy," which requires written authorization for installation of P2P programs on government machines. That also means beefing up training for its employees and making sure that they're aware of what the limits are, he added.

General Wesley Clark, who now serves on the board of a small company called Tiversa that makes applications designed to monitor peer-to-peer file-sharing activity, called for "some pretty hard-nosed policies by business and government contractors that prevent people from doing government work on computers that have anything to do with the peer-to-peer networks."

"Even when people...are sophisticated with computers, they can still make a mistake, and all that material can be gone in an instant," the former Democratic presidential candidate told the committee.

Anonymous said...

I still hold out hope that the people of this country will awaken and stand up to dictatorship.

Tony Fisk said...

Did that committee think to invite Bill Gates along for a roasting?

They should get a Linux!

(Ever hear of 'BackOrifice'?)

Naum said...

Politicians charged on Tuesday that peer-to-peer networks can pose a "national security threat" because they enable federal employees to share sensitive or classified documents accidentally from their computers.

This would be hilarious if it wasn't another vivid reminder of how clueless our elected leaders are about technology.

Um, Chairman Waxman, the whole internet is a P2P network. A web browser can unleash all sorts of sinister traps and tricks.

I just can't believe this is a serious topic — Good Gates, while I a serve as a small fry web developer now, I have much experience engineering $BigFortune500CompanySystems and navigating through IT structures and any competent staff can easily implement measures to eliminate intrusion risks and reduce user destruction.

And if job is that sensitive, then the workstations should be untethered to the internet, or at least secure (i.e., requiring VPN and other encryption tools to access).

So tragic that the D's are falling over themselves to maintain oligarchic dinosaurs wishing to remain in the 20th century… …when the attention should be on critical issues like ending an illegal/immoral invasion/occupation, health care, education, poverty and presently, rooting out the corruption and criminality of the current executive office holders.

Tony Fisk said...

I might just add that I forwarded that P2P article to Groklaw, and PJ's opinion is it's unlikely to get any further than political gasbagging.
(BTW, she has won the Google O'Reilly FUD fighter of the year award)

Madscience said...

When you talk about the Professional Class resisting the current administrations policies it occurs to me that that there have been examples of this since the beginning of this administration. I think the media has failed to report on many many excellent qualified people working with the administration who "resigned over principle", "resigned to spend more time with family", et cetera. I'd give my eyeteeth to see a comprehensive list of every important officer/ appointee/ member of the DOD who has retired, been fired, or quit during this administrations run. It would be really nice if these same individuals would stand up and be counted. Of course this is a challenge for the media to practice real journalism. The impact would be enormous if this could be summarized, reported, explored and explained for the general public. The public would want to know if our public servants are being bullied out of their jobs to the detriment of American society. Facts, names, repeated situations, these are building bricks to construct a consensus. Fortify the meme, so to speak, with the trail of conscientious objectors.

Woozle said...

"...PJ's opinion is it's unlikely to get any further than political gasbagging."

I hope so... but it seems unlikely to me that that would be the end of it. The People In Charge have a huge vested interest in turning the internet into another centralized medium (TV, radio, print publications) before the citizenry really start using it to get organized. The PiC are probably getting a bit antsy to get this project going, given that the citizen-organization is slowly but surely starting to happen.

My guess is that this is just a marketing trial -- to see how strongly people react against it, who are the most vocal opponents, what kinds of arguments are raised for and against, etc. so that they can refine their approach for the next attempt.

Remember, they've already pretty much destroyed radio, which used to be much more of a vehicle for propagation of local views and tastes.

sedicious said...

I'm afraid this thread is pretty stale now, but I still want to respond to Brin's comment directed to me. First of all, for the record, I don't think I am any more of a libertarian than Brin is. But more to the point, no, I am not blaming the tool. Blaming the plutocrats, though, is not good enough either—yes, they should all be imprisoned, if not hanged, but ultimately it is The People who are responsible for the actions of this government. Brin himself said:

If Red America cannot rouse itself enough to see that Culture War has gone too far, then they are not open to reason or evidence.

Well, for me, 2004 was more than enough to convince me of that. I don't care that it was only 51% of voters who re-elected Bush-Cheney, that's at least 46% too many. Clearly, the people of this country are too ignorant and/or complacent to be entrusted with their own government, nevermind government of a world empire. It's not the system that's at fault, it's the people.

So, the people need to be disarmed of their empire. It's that simple. They cannot be trusted to serve this role. It breaks my heart to say that of my own countrymen, but what else can you say? They have not held up their end of the bargain in this Great Experiment, to remain educated and vigilant, and they present today a clear and present danger to the entire planet, which the rest of the world now recognizes. So, there are two choices: a) dismantle the empire willingly, and peacefully, or b) cling to it fiercely until the rest of the world subdues us. You tell me, which do you think is the better option?