The danger facing America, the names of the guilty, and our best hope for reform

Summary: Let’s cut through the doomster hysteria about Trump and the hopeful proposals for magic institutional changes. Let’s name the names of the people responsible for America’s perilous condition and discuss how to reform the Republic.

“It has been frequently remarked, that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country to decide, by their conduct and example, the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force.”
— Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist Papers #1.

Roman Senate

Like Rome, America Could be Ripe for Tyranny

By Robert W. Merry at The American Conservative, 18 July 2017.
The dangers that confront late-stage democracy.

I strongly recommend reading this; it is too good and complex to excerpt. Merry provides a excellent and brief historical summary of late Republican Rome — and its collapse into the Empire. He accurately describes some parallels with our time. However, I believe his analysis is totally wrong in its most essential aspect.

Merry describes the fall of Rome as a result of institutional failure due to social change. That’s obviously correct. But it misses the key point. The unwritten Roman constitution and the parchment American Constitution are both just “paper bullets of the mind.” They have no significance except when they live in the hearts of a people who are willing to fight and die to make them the basis of their political regime. People who see them as their means to liberty and self-government. That, not clever political design, was the basis of the Founders’ hopes for America.

"Caesar" by Christian Meier
Available at Amazon.

“{W}hatever fine declarations may be inserted in any constitution respecting it, must altogether depend on public opinion, and on the general spirit of the people and of the government.”

— Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist papers #84. He is speaking specifically about freedom of the press, but this is the general tenor of the Papers regarding our liberty.

No political machinery can last forever, functioning despite changing social and economic circumstances of its society. But a people jealous of their liberty will adapt the regimes machinery to their current needs. The Roman Republic stood for five centuries as Rome grew from nothing to domination of its world. It fell when its people tired of the burden of self-government, after which the only uncertainty was who would rule them.

The story of the Republic’s last days is well told in Christian Meier’s Caesar: A Biography. I strongly recommend it, since it might tell our story as well. Also see America isn’t falling like the Roman Empire. It’s falling like Rome’s Republic.

Death of the republic

The different diagnoses of Merry and I determine the best course for political reform. Merry’s conclusion is to hope for the best.

“Perhaps the American republic will summon from within its essence the famous civic resilience, flexibility, and creativity that have guided us through all past crises with soaring success. Perhaps we will shake off the current crisis, get through the Trump years, and wend our way to a restoration of the relative unity and tranquility of yore, with a new direction set by a new consensus leader and embraced by the populace.”

I recommend that those seeking political reform work to rekindle the love of liberty in the American people, tell us that we are strong when we stand together, and encourage us to once again assume responsibility for America. See specifics in Reforming America: steps to new politics. There is no other path to a good future for us. Without this first step political activism is hopeless.

Our liberty is protected by “above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America; a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.
— — James Madison in The Federalist Papers #57.

A look at our future

Merry mentions a typically pseudo-scholarly article by Andrew Sullivan in NY Mag (now doomster central): “Democracies end when they are too democratic” — “In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event. It’s long past time we started treating him as such.” This is too dumb for words. Trump is a clown President. He makes Jimmy Carter look like George Washington. Trump is incompetent as President, unpopular, and will be lucky if the Republicans in Congress do not dump him. Trump’s election is, however, a milestone.

The face of Tacitus

“Although Nero’s death had at first been welcomed with outbursts of joy, it roused varying emotions, not only in the city among the senators and people and the city soldiery, but also among all the legions and generals; for the secret of empire was now revealed, that an emperor could be made elsewhere than at Rome.”

— From The Histories by Cornelius Tacitus (~56 – 117 A.D.).

Trump began with almost nothing in terms of campaign organization, reputation, or funding — especially compared to the front-runners Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. He ignored or mocked the standard campaign procedures. He showed manifest unsuitability for the job. And he won.

Trump’s success reveals the hollowness of America’s political regime. I am certain that notice has been taken. Now strong leaders are making plans to gain power. They might be politicians, from Wall Street, corporate America, or the military. But no matter where they are, they are thinking “if a clown like Trump can take the White House so can I.” They will have more appetite for power than Trump. They might have bold ideas for reshaping America, and will consult us before implementing them. For details see Trump’s win revealed the hollowness of US politics. Stronger leaders will exploit this.

Fear who comes after Trump. My guess is that both Left and Right would quickly bow before a strong leader making lavish promises about American renewal. But we can still turn away from this path. The words of The Federalist Papers can still inspire us.

“Every man who loves peace; every man who loves his country; every man who loves liberty, ought to have it ever before his eyes, that he may cherish in his heart a due attachment to the union of America, and be able to set a due value on the means of preserving it.”
— James Madison in The Federalist Papers #41.

For More Information.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about politics in AmericaTrump, Campaign 2016, and the new populismreforming America: steps to new politics, and especially these…

  1. ImportantA 4th of July reminder that America is ours to keep – or to lose!
  2. Gallup warns us to prepare for fascism!
  3. Advice from a sage about America and its future. Listen to this man. — Alexis de Tocqueville.
  4. Americans trust the military most. 29% are ready for a coup. Ready for fascism?
  5. America isn’t falling like the Roman Empire. It’s falling like Rome’s Republic.
  6. New research reveals the people guilty of wrecking America!

Refresh ourselves from the source.

The Federalist Papers
Available at Amazon.

The Federalist Papers are essential reading for all Americans. Written for the average American — farmers, shopkeepers, craftsman — it explains the Founders’ vision for the Constitution and the Republic founded upon it. From the publisher…

“These eighty-five articles explains and defends the ideals behind the highest form of law in the United States. The essays were written and published anonymously in New York newspapers during the years 1787 and 1788 by three of the Constitution’s framers and ratifiers: Alexander Hamilton, General George Washington’s Chief of Staff and first Secretary of the Treasury; John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States; and James Madison, father of the Constitution, author of the Bill of Rights, and fourth President of the United States.

“Thomas Jefferson hailed The Federalist Papers as the best commentary ever written about the principles of government.”

 

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31 thoughts on “The danger facing America, the names of the guilty, and our best hope for reform

    1. If courage to stand for what is right is the key, then obviously Trump is the right man now, and the post above is way out of touch with that truth, in demeaning him rather than thanking God for him. Anyone who demeans Trump so far is really only advertising that they want “political business as usual”, not the critically needed reform.

      Like

    2. Harry,

      “If courage to stand for what is right is the key”

      In real life there is no one “key”. For example, there are 12 Scout Laws, and they are not prioritized. Honesty and competence, for example, are key traits for a leader — neither of which Trump has.

      “Anyone who demeans Trump so far is really only advertising that they want “political business as usual”, not the critically needed reform.”

      Trump has been in office for six months. Not only has he not staffed many key posts, his senior ranks are filled with “business as usual” people — the rich, CEOs, generals. Which explains why there has been so little reform. What has been done is mostly betrayal of the populism that was the keynote of Trump’s campaign.

      “in demeaning him rather than thanking God for him”

      Wow.

      Like

  1. Two thoughts here:
    1. The most likely end to the current stalemate is a crisis of some sort. The nature of the crisis, who responds effectively to it, and what tools they use will tell us whether the Second Republic survives or the form of the Third Republic as it ascends. Please note the following:
    – I do not actually wish for this, I just state that it is the most likely resolution of the stalemate
    – When I say “who responds,” I am not just speaking of leaders. I would prefer that the middle class and poor respond to the crisis without effective leadership from the wealthy and government although I’ve just had a rude awakening on this front

    2. The majority of Trump voters wanted gridlock in some form in Washington and are well-pleased with the results they have gotten from the President so far. They view the US government as the biggest threat to their way of life because it is a powerful tool in the hands of the rich and the liberal (united by the Clintons in the form of neoliberalism).

    Trump ran on an impossible platform and his voters were not as stupid as most analyst think. They would have loved for Trump to make a concerted effort to turn the platform into reality but I believe most of them doubted that he would succeed. They voted for him on the grounds that they would get a little peace and quiet out of Washington instead of the very quiet steady push of extremely liberal social policies combined with government support for policies that reduce their standard of living. So far they are getting what they wanted.

    The rest of the Republican party desperately wants the Trump voters in the 2018 election (apparently not realizing that Trump voters despise them only slightly less than they do Democratic politicians) and will not rise up against Trump until after they have proof that he is not going to deliver those votes for them.

    The resulting chaos of pro and anti-Trump Republicans whipping each other publicly during the impeachment process may trigger the crisis I mentioned in my first point. If it does, there is little chance that the Second Republic will survive.

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    1. Puto,

      “The most likely end to the current stalemate is a crisis of some sort.”

      What “stalemate”? The GOP rules at all levels of government, and has been steadily advancing their policy objectives for decades. Slow and steady wins.

      “The majority of Trump voters wanted gridlock in some form in Washington”

      Evidence for this? I believe that they want the exact opposite. The people wearing the MAGA hats — the major initiative of the Trump campaign — don’t want gridlock.

      “Trump ran on an impossible platform ”

      I wrote scores of posts refuting that falsehood. Much of Trump’s platform was similar to Sanders.

      “The resulting chaos of pro and anti-Trump Republicans whipping each other publicly during the impeachment process may trigger the crisis ”

      If the Republican leaders move against him, it will be after Trump has destroyed his support among the American people (it’s already down to the GOP base). Since the Democrats are already signed on, it probably will blow through Congress quickly. Guessing, Trump might prove to be a creampuff like Sarah Palin, and quit rather than fight.

      Like

    2. Pluto,

      About that “gridlock”: “Six ways Trump is ‘dismantling’ the US after six months in office” in today’s Guardian — “Trump has been paralyzed on healthcare and tax reform, but his administration has been active in eroding safeguards and protections elsewhere.” The list of Team Trump initiatives is quite long. And growing.

      Plus Trump’s massive success at ramping up our mad foreign wars and beginning large boosts to military spending.

      the news media have ignored these, preferring to focus on the release of unauthorized truths to the America people. Such as the DNC hack and the promised but not delivered info on Hillary Clinton that lured Trump Jr. to meet some Russians.

      The obvious historical parallel is with Bush Jr. Mocked by the Left as stupid and ineffectual, he had more influence than most presidents except those on Mt. Rushmore (and LBJ).

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    3. FM: “What “stalemate”? The GOP rules at all levels of government, and has been steadily advancing their policy objectives for decades. Slow and steady wins.”

      I’m going to say this a lot, but you are basically right. The GOP rules but is splintering into more and more factions. The healthcare bill showed the tip of the iceberg. It is possible, but not likely, that the Republicans will not win passage of a single major initiative. It has become increasingly hard to move major initiatives through Congress, the last one being Obamacare and that was 7 years ago. That is the stalemate to which I am referring.

      You will undoubtedly point out that lots of small incremental advances equal one big push, and you’ll be right again. That is the way that the Third Republic wins its wars. But a crisis will come someday that will push our leaders up against the wall and I suspect that they will show that they are great managers but not great leaders.

      FM: “Evidence for this? The people wearing the MAGA hats — the major initiative of the Trump campaign — don’t want gridlock.”

      I don’t really have any evidence other than talking with a lot of Trump voters. The people wearing the MAGA hats are still strong Trump supporters, sharing with each other that Trump is still Trump even though he is Washington and that “bad people” are misdirecting his efforts. I tend to agree with both statements.

      FM: “I wrote scores of posts refuting that falsehood. Much of Trump’s platform was similar to Sanders.”

      When I said impossible, I meant impossible to put into action in the current political environment of 2016. You are right that the platform was similar to Sanders’. Sanders’ platform was also impossible to enact.

      FM: “If the Republican leaders move against him, it will be after Trump has destroyed his support among the American people (it’s already down to the GOP base). Since the Democrats are already signed on, it probably will blow through Congress quickly.”

      The Republican leaders will move against Trump after he destroys his support among the GOP base, not the American people. The Democratic party leaders are NOT already signed on, they aren’t saying much but they seem to think that they are better off with Trump embarrassing and harassing the Republican leadership than they would be with Pence. They are probably right. The below article discusses some of this but is two months old.

      https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/trump-impeachment-democrats-russia-investigation-comey/527094/

      I am uncertain how Trump will respond to a serious impeachment attempt. I don’t think he really wanted the job but Trump NEVER wants to be viewed as defeated or forced to retreat. My best guess is the opposite of yours: he will hang on with all of his might, focus on rallying his supporters and shredding his attackers. He will show more skill and energy than at any point since the campaign and will cause serious damage to the future of the Republican party. But I could easily be wrong.

      FM: “The list of Team Trump initiatives is quite long. And growing.”

      Agreed again but he is dispersing his effort in a lot of different directions and is generally limiting himself to methods can be reversed relatively quickly. Obama and Bush Jr. made their mark by passing major legislation that permanently changed the course of the nation. Trump’s sole irreversible contribution has been Justice Goresuch.

      FM: “The obvious historical parallel is with Bush Jr. Mocked by the Left as stupid and ineffectual, he had more influence than most presidents except those on Mt. Rushmore (and LBJ).”

      I strongly agree with your statements about Bush although I would ascribe a lot of his successes to reaction to 9/11 and to the evil genius of Dick Cheney, the man who will probably be viewed as one of the largest contributors to the destruction of the Second Republic.

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    4. Pluto,

      “It has become increasingly hard to move major initiatives through Congress, the last one being Obamacare and that was 7 years ago”

      Because there was a Democrat as President and a GOP president. That’s no longer true.

      “You will undoubtedly point out that lots of small incremental advances equal one big push, and you’ll be right again.”

      Rather I’ll say the Congress will do big things and Trump will sign them. They picked at poor first choice. This showed astonishing incompetence, but imo it’s premature to extrapolate from this.

      “When I said impossible, I meant impossible to put into action in the current political environment of 2016.”

      Every president wins with a platform containing some pie-in-the-sky ideas. But they also include a core of feasible ideas. That’s true of Trump’s as well. Trump is like Obama in that both had an unusually large number of proposals they had no intention of seen trying to implement. In both cases many of those were, imo, feasible.

      “Agreed again but he is dispersing his effort in a lot of different directions”

      Like FDR and LBJ. I don’t see your point.

      “generally limiting himself to methods can be reversed relatively quickly.”

      What can a President do quickly that can’t be reversed quickly? Congress can do more enduring things, but Congress usually moves slowly.

      “although I would ascribe a lot of his successes to reaction to 9/11”

      Just like Lincoln (civil war), FDR (great depression), and LBJ (Kennedy’s assassination). I doubt that large-scale political change is possible in America without some form of shock event.

      “the man who will probably be viewed as one of the largest contributors to the destruction of the Second Republic.”

      Perhaps so, but these in-the-shadows guys tend to be forgotten in popular histories. The key contributors are us — but that too is unlikely to be mentioned by historians.

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  2. I think this quote fairly sums up to what you been saying.

    “Political rights do not exist because they have been legally set down on a piece of paper, but only when they have become the ingrown habit of a people, and when any attempt to impair them will meet with the fierce resistance of the populace. Where this is not the case, there is no help in any parliamentary Opposition or any Platonic appeals to the constitution. One compels respect from others when he knows how to defend his dignity as a human being. This is not only true in private life, it has always been the same in political life as well.”

    — Rudolph Rocker in Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice (1938).

    .
    .
    Editor’s note: Rudolf Rocker (1873 – 1958) was an anarcho-syndicalist anarchist, writer, historian and prominent social activist. See his Wikipedia entry.

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  3. “It fell when its people tired of the burden of self-government, after which the only uncertainty was who would rule them.”

    This is not what I took away from Merry’s essay or Myer’s work on which much of this essay was based (at least what was quoted in the essay, I haven’t read Myer’s book). Myers and Merry seem to point to increasing direct democracy, along with a general breakdown in historical and cultural customs and norms. Yes, once things went to shit the people only cared who ruled them, but that’s not how it started.

    Your postings on the breakdown of the American Constitutional Republic usually contain this theme, that the people have tired of the burden of self-government. And yet, what is outlined in Merry’s essay is a Roman populism in the form of the tribunes, used as an allegory for American reforms over the years both formal – like the 17th amendment – and informal such as the disintegration of the elite media. These came about in Rome because the plebeians demanded representation in the Senate – indicating a growing interest in the burden of self-government. In America, the democratization of politics, media and culture has come about due to the perception of corruption and/or misrepresentation by the elites in their respective fields, again showing the willingness of the common man to enter the fray. Is this for the better or worse?

    I am conflicted by this analysis. On the one hand, I strongly believe that many of the checks against populism that the Founders put in place were needed, and the removal of those has enabled a tyranny of the majority and a populace to continue to vote itself bread and circuses. On the other hand, the challenging of the elites in media and academia is to be cheered.

    I definitely agree that we are witnessing a breakdown in the shared culture and norms necessary for a stable nation-state, and maybe that is the bottom line, although that is very different than tiring of the burden of self-government. Even if everyone was properly motivated to accept the burden of self-government, if there can be no agreement on what that entails, then political solutions are impossible. A gloomy thought.

    Anyways, thanks for the thought-provoking article and pointer to Merry’s essay. I’ll have to check out Myer’s book.

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    1. Obe,

      “This is not what I took away from Merry’s essay”

      Of course my theory is not Merry’s. Let’s replay the opening paragraphs, with bold emphasis added.

      “I strongly recommend reading this; it is too good and complex to excerpt. Merry provides a excellent and brief historical summary of late Republican Rome — and its collapse into the Empire. He accurately describes some parallels with our time. However, I believe his analysis is totally wrong in its most essential aspect.

      “Merry describes the fall of Rome as a result of institutional failure due to social change. That’s obviously correct. But it misses the key point. …”

      “Is this for the better or worse?”

      The broadening of political representation and participation accompanied increased vigor and strength for both Roman and Western societies (esp UK and US). Of course it is for the “better”.

      “and the removal of those has enabled a tyranny of the majority and a populace to continue to vote itself bread and circuses.”

      What are these “bread and circuses” that Americans have voted themselves.

      “we are witnessing a breakdown in the shared culture and norms necessary for a stable nation-state, and maybe that is the bottom line, although that is very different than tiring of the burden of self-government.”

      Are those different phenomena, or from a common cause? It’s an important question. I have no idea as to the answer.

      “I’ll have to check out Myer’s book.”

      I haven’t read it. I strongly recommend reading Meier’s bio of Caesar. It’s probably more fun, and might be more useful to understand America.

      Like

  4. I guess this is supposed to be comforting:

    “Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities … to defend basic domestic order and human security,” the report said, in case of “unforeseen economic collapse,” “pervasive public health emergencies,” and “catastrophic natural and human disasters,” among other possible crises.

    The report also suggests the new (Barack Obama) administration could face a “strategic shock” within the first eight months in office.”

    Observations on the 2008 Army War College Report:
    http://veteransforcommonsense.org/2008/12/30/army-war-college-report-domestic-unrest-due-to-economic-crisis-could-result-in-use-of-soldiers-inside-us/

    And Tiger Swan, aka Blackwater security forces were deployed against Standing Rock protesters. I guess civilian control of the military was just a quaint idea we can no longer afford.

    Like

    1. Boatwright,

      (1) People find these reports very disturbing. Because there is never enough real news, these things get lots of exciting news coverage. They should not do so for three reasons.

      First, it is not an official report or plan. As it says in the opening.

      Second, learning thru actual war is unpleasant, so professors and military officers at War Colleges are encouraged to stretch their imaginations by writing about hypotheticals. As Nathan P. Freier does in this essay. He is a retired Lieutenant Colonel and a visiting professor at the Army’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute.

      Third, military organizations are expected to be prepared for anything. “Wow, we didn’t think of that” isn’t an acceptable excuse. So they plan for all sorts of wild scenarios. Such as War Plan Red — a war against Britain — including an invasion of Canada. It was declassified in 1974.

      If you are still interested, see the actual essay here.

      (2) “I guess civilian control of the military was just a quaint idea we can no longer afford.”

      Ha Ha. Blackwater is not part of the US military. Americans are free to hire armed guards, depending on state law. Private businesses do it frequently.

      Like

  5. A hasty and sloppy comment on my part. I didn’t mean to suggest that Blackwater was part of the military. To clarify, my point was that a private military force was turned loose on peaceful protesters. The only parallel I’m aware of is Pinkerton agents being used to break union strikes.

    The U.S. military has been training local police forces in a number of cities. Police forces in a few cities have been getting training from the Israeli military.

    My concern is the increasing militarization of Swat forces and military responses, private or governmental, used against American citizens.

    Blackwater/Tiger Swan is hardly a typical armed security force. They were using a military vehicle called an MRAP. This strikes me as an ominous development.
    https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/surveillance-state-descends-dakota-access-pipeline-spirit-camp

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    1. Boatwright,

      “The only parallel I’m aware of is Pinkerton agents being used to break union strikes.”

      Use of private security by businesses at strikes was common when I was a shop steward for Civil Service Employees Association in the late 1970s.

      As for militarization of police, it’s a serious problem and getting worse. Started with SWAT, but has gone far beyond that in the past decade. See these posts.

      As for militarization of private security, I predicted that would a consequence of so many vets hitting the streets after our wars — applying all that COIN training. Gonna get worse, or much worse.

      Like

  6. FM and Obe re: what are the “bread and circuses” we have voted for?–mightn’t the abundance of entertainment, sports, “news”, social media and other distractions qualify? While we don’t vote for them in a voting booth, we vote for them in the daily choices we make of how we spend our time. Not to mention the “bread” masquerading as food that we consume on the physical level. It creates a vicious cycle. The more “bread and circuses” we consume, whether mis-education from schools, misinformation, disinformation or food that compromises our heath, the less likely we are to extract ourselves. That seems to be what we have collectively created so far, anyways, in current consumerist/materialist Western way of living and (non-) thinking.

    Crises will interrupt the current patterns at some point. What follows I do not know.

    I think awareness and trying to create something different right now–at even the most small/personal/mundane/local the level, will help develop my ability to create social structures in line with my values. I’m hopeful, in that I keep seeing other ways of choosing and creating, on the immediate practical level, and take action. In spite of the existing social vicious cycles, it’s possible to move in other directions.

    Lots of people changing their thinking and taking even small actions are what can make a difference, and I think this is what this post is ultimately about.

    Like

    1. W4,

      I don’t understand your point. Obe referred to the history of “bread and circuses” provided by the plutocrats of late Republican Rome as a means to buy popular support. The analogy, which I questioned, is that public funds are being used to do the equivalent today.

      You appear to dislike how people are spending their own money. Which is your right. I doubt many share your belief that there is some higher standard by which you can judge them. Freedom and all that.

      Attempting to persuade people to change their values is likewise your right. Many get nervous at this however, given the long history of people imposing their values on others. I live in the San Francisco Bay area. I remember an intelligent well-educated woman talking about changing consumerism. I said that people are unlikely to do so. I remember her cold voice to this day as she said “Then they should be made to change.

      Like

  7. FM, you said “The analogy, which I questioned, is that public funds are being used to do the equivalent today.”

    Thanks for your thoughtful response.

    I should have clarified that I think public funds are indeed being used, both directly and indirectly (e.g. via corporate/government overlap), to channel the decisions we make in how we use our time, what we eat, etc. The control mechanisms used today are less direct and less transparent than in the Roman “bread and circuses” days of late Republican Rome. We don’t literally vote for “bread and circuses” but we vote for a limited range of corporate-controlled politicians who create excellent “bread and circus” social structures that make it challenging for other structures to thrive. Consider how the media has become increasingly consolidated and controlled, thanks to politicians we elected, yet whose decisions the (non-super-wealthy) voters are presently unable to influence (as per research documenting that public preferences have little or no impact on legislation and policies). These elected politicians and government staff nonetheless play a similar role in controlling public behavior and limiting or channeling our perceived choices in predictable ways–i.e., it leads to bread and circuses, and increasing distraction and disengagement.

    I’ve long been interested in doing things that open up peoples’ actual and perceived range of choices, whether or not I agree with their choices. This means becoming aware of influences that might tend to limit my thinking (e.g., that climate change doom is an impending certainty and that all scientists and intelligent, credible people agree with this “fact”). It means I have to take a more active part in seeking out other information and opinions than what existing government & information systems currently provide.

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  8. Well there they go again. Another War College study. Long story short at Raw Story:
    http://www.rawstory.com/2017/07/american-empire-may-be-collapsing-so-pentagon-recommends-increasing-military-dominance-report/

    And the original at Alternet:
    http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/pentagon-study-declares-american-empire-collapsing

    I don’t have the chops to question or analyze the sources for Alternet’s article. I would genuinely appreciate your take.

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  9. Right, right. So what are the chances of cutting the Pentagon budget by 50% and abolishing the CIA? The world would be a far safer place and we could put all that money to productive uses. I mean after Trump either leaves office or is impeached of course.
    And we elect a sane President and Congress with a sane majority.

    On second thought, nevermind. I probably won’t live that long. I still plan on abolishing prisons in America, which will be simple compared to electing a sane President.

    Any thoughts about Critical Resistance? Gonna pay them a visit next month and see if they wanna help me take over the Green Party.

    Like

    1. Boatwright,

      “So what are the chances of cutting the Pentagon budget by 50% and abolishing the CIA?”

      Very high, once a majority of American want it done.

      “I mean after Trump either leaves office or is impeached of course.”

      So you think President Pence will cut DoD and CIA spending? Or that President Hillary would have done so? LOL.

      “And we elect a sane President and Congress with a sane majority.”

      As I have said in a hundred posts, this kind of self-deception makes reform impossible. Trump is sane and successful. The members of Congress are sane and successful; most are capable and loyal servants of the 1%.

      “Critical Resistance?”

      I haven’t heard of them. I was at a meeting of San Francisco Bay area leftists this week. I’m too discouraged to even write about it. They couldn’t reform a child’s lemonade stand.

      Like

  10. If Trump is sane how do you explain his tweets or his recent NY Times interview? Bush 43 had a better command of the English language.

    Members of Congress are successful servants of their Masters, but sane? Is acting batshit crazy a political tactic? In that case, Dana Rohrbacher is very accomplished.

    I visited Occupy L.A. & Occupy City Hall with BLM. Very amusing. Critical Resistance wants to abolish prisons. No idea if they know how.

    Like

    1. Boatwright,

      This is why the Left keeps losing.

      “If Trump is sane how do you explain his tweets or his recent NY Times interview?”

      You must have a very high bar for defining “sane.” How many people would meet your criteria? Try a thought experiment to break thru those ideological blinders. Take a person off the street and put them at the controls of a 747 in flight. Then watch his or her mistakes, panic, flailing — and declare them insane.

      It’s a commonplace delusion of Americans that running a mega-corp or nation is just like running a shop or house. It’s not.

      “Bush 43 had a better command of the English language.”

      So now poor command of the English language is a definition of insanity. Well, OK then. Paging Dr. Freud, someone has an update for you!

      “Members of Congress are successful servants of their Masters, but sane? Is acting batshit crazy a political tactic?”

      They’re not acting “batshit crazy.” Really, how many people on this planet do you consider sane? Perhaps you like the standard totalitarian trick — the left is esp fond of this — of considering people who disagree with you to be mad. Very Stalinist.

      Like

  11. I don’t usually read most stories on All Gore’s internet. I click through 10-15 sites every morning over coffee. I read The Archdruid Report, Naked Capitalism, Wolf Street, SCOTUS and Verdict Juris.

    I went back and read this story:
    Though the hearing was mostly routine, Rohrabacher felt like “the most important thing” needed to be asked. “One of the benefits, I should say, of your activities, is that, well — you have all these robots all over the universe and beyond,” he said, according to the Washington Post. “Let me just note . . . that I’ve been around for a while.”

    “I ask for permission for one minute for this question,” Rohrabacher said. “You have indicated that Mars was totally different thousands of years ago . . . Is it possible that there was a civilization on Mars thousands of years ago?”

    http://www.salon.com/2017/07/20/congressman-dana-rohrabacher-asked-nasa-scientists-if-aliens-occupied-mars-thousands-of-years-ago/

    I dunno, are Alex Jones’ listeners rational? Are The Illuminati an existential threat?
    http://www.xrisksinstitute.com/

    Disagreeing with me is not insane. Some folks with Pretty Heavy Degrees once tried to convince a judge that I was crazy. They may have been right. I was on the debate team in High School & College. I can frequently argue the opinion of someone who disagrees with me better than they can.

    There are always two sides to every story. The old joke (caution: humor is frequently offensive to delicate sensibilities and wtf did Lennie Bruce know anyhow): you put two Jews in a room and they will have at least three opinions on everything.

    Maybe Trump is the smartest President we ever had. Maybe he doesn’t really believe health insurance costs $12 per year. Might just be a little out of touch. Maybe orange comb-overs are really hip, slick and cool. I don’t see it. I don’t get it.

    Like

    1. Boatwright,

      At some point, I call a violation of the five minute rule. This “all these folks I disagree with are mad” just becomes science denial. Read a psychology textbook.

      Rohrabacher is 70. For much of his life the belief that there might have been life on Mars was a common one. It was considered respectable among scientists until roughly WWI, and faded from the public consciousness only slowly in the next few generations.

      That is a reasonable belief compared to ideas with large followings much later. Immanuel Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision (1950) and subsequent books propounded a wild theory, which the AAAS attempted to quash with a conference in 1974. The book about that, “Scientists Confront Velikovsky” relates how scientists at the meeting found that many of them believed large parts of the book — parts outside their fields.

      People believe all sorts of fantastic things — witches, astrology, the illuminati, magic stones, etc. They restore enchantment to the world, something lost for most with the rise of science and death of God in people’s hearts. These do no harm unless they seriously affect people’s decision-making, which is rare.

      That you consider so many people mad is just sad. That’s all I have to say about it. It’s off topic. I’m been a good sport about this nonsense, but please — no more.

      Like

  12. (rant continued). I used to watch Firing Line and Dick Cavett religiously. I was a wierd child. One of my all time favorite Firing Lines was Kenneth Galbraith and WF Buckley. Another was WFB and Mortimer Adler discussing The Paidea Proposal:. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paideia_Proposal

    My parents were Sunday School teachers so I had an extremely warped childhood. The expression “Some people’s children” comes to mind. I dunno. Does Power Cause Brain Damage?
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/528711/

    Ok. Venting is good! I feel better now.

    Like

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