9.25.2008

i fear my fears are coming true

The US Government has seized control of the largest, most powerful insurance company in the country, along with the entire mortgage industry and large portions of the financial services industry.

The US Army is in training for domestic operations.

The Republican candidate for president suspends his campaign.

And all this must be seen in context of a Government that has been systematically expanding its powers and operating as an autocracy, a Government that was not elected by popular vote in the first place, then fixed elections to maintain its power.

I've been amazed - dismayed, horrified - as progressive people cheer on Obama seemingly without a thought to this context, as if the peaceful transfer of power from one party to another, based on a fair election, is a certainty. When that's not what we've seen for the past two elections, and nothing has been corrected. And those in power have continued to shut down the Constitution.

For a long time, I've been wondering if the White House junta would cancel the 2008 elections. Reading Naomi Wolf helped solidify the whole picture for me. (The archived wmtc posts I'm linking to are just samples. You could click on the category "election fraud" or "fascist shift" to see a lot more.)

[Correction. Shortly after I wrote this, I realized that my thoughts and fears about the United States becoming a fascist state were solidified long before I read Naomi Wolf's The End of America. In fact, it's fair to say that was the bottom-line reason we emigrated to Canada. Reading that book, however, gave me a clear historical context for thinking about how democracies become autocracies, and what it looks like when they do. It gave me better language to describe it. It helped me sum up my thoughts in a more concise form, and most importantly, it gave me something to recommend to others that would explain what is happening.]

In the history of civilization, has any powerful group of people consolidated and expanded their power, shut down and/or falsified all legal avenues of opposition, then willingly and peacefully handed over power to others?

Last night we were watching the Red Sox with our laptops in front of us. I saw the headline "McCain Suspends Campaign" in my CBC feed, and my heart froze. I read it to Allan and we looked at each other in shock. What is happening?

I fear my fears are coming true.

44 comments:

James said...

McCain hasn't suspended anything. He's still doing his planned campaign speeches today, and never came close to cancelling them. The only thing even close to a suspension was his call for Friday's candidate debate to be postponned so he can concentrate on this astoundingly autocratic bailout bill. Like so much of US politics these days, the whole thing is a meaningless word-game designed to make the speaker look serious and concerned without actually demanding any action from him.

James said...

Oh, a couple of other interesting comments that have come up with regard to McCain's dedication to dealing with the serious issues of the day:

- He has a speech today that will prevent him from attending the Congressional meeting on the bailout proposal -- so much for "suspending the campaign to deal with the crisis".

- He hasn't actually shown up for any Senate votes this year, which means that Ted Kennedy has done more in the Senate since his brain cancer operation than McCain has.

Scott M. said...

I think it's a heck of a lot more likely that McCain wants to postpone the debates, and possibly cancel the VP debate.

Only time will tell though...

Amy said...

I agree with James and Scott---this is a purely political ploy to delay the debates and to make it appear that McCain is needed to "solve" the bailout problem. Obama quickly called him out on this.

The election will happen. It is the outcome of it that worries me. I am more concerned with more fraud and disenfranchisement than I am with the election being "cancelled."

redsock said...

L has written before of her fear of "an event" would prompt the US to suspend the election ("for a short time", of course) until things return to normal.

Naturally, we've been thinking of the US nudging along another terrorist attack -- as they did so successfully in 2001. But an attack would (a) have to be much worse (a nuke in a major city, for example) than 9/11 to allow them to suspend elections and (b) would undercut their "we've kept you safe" nonsense.

So when I was reading the Greenwald piece linked a day or three ago, I immediately thought that the collapse and bailout could be "the event". It is not as visually traumatic as a 9/11-type attack, but it's far more scary and damaging to the future of the US.

As L says, why would these criminals, after spending eight years doing little more than grabbing as much power as possible -- including, for example, the legal right to imprison any American citizen without charges for life on no more evidence than "just because" -- why would they simply walk away from that hard-won power and willingly and without question turn it over to the other party? I do not have a good answer for that.

And now we read that Shitforbrains is asking Obama and McCain to come to Washington for a meeting of what to do. I wonder what the consensus of that meeting will be.

James said...

The election will happen. It is the outcome of it that worries me. I am more concerned with more fraud and disenfranchisement than I am with the election being "cancelled."

A rigged "real" election would be far more valuable to these people than a cancelled election. There's a reason why so many one-party dictatorships go through the theatre of holding sham elections...

L-girl said...

A rigged "real" election would be far more valuable to these people than a cancelled election. There's a reason why so many one-party dictatorships go through the theatre of holding sham elections...

I agree. When Allan and I have discussed this (which we have for years), I've always maintained that it would be more beneficial for them to keep up the facade of democracy, no matter how thin.

However, people with huge amounts of unchecked power usually do over-reach, and cannot be counted on to make rational choices.

L-girl said...

Also, in case this isn't clear to newer readers, I am hugely, massively hoping to be wrong. This isn't about my wanting my own prediction to come true so I can be right.

However, if there was no election, the world would see them more clearly for what they are. With a stolen election, people will continue to maintain that the US is a democrat country under the rule of law.

Which of course is why it's best for them to have a fraudulent election...

James said...

Paul Krugman says:

My sneaking suspicion is that they started with a determination to throw money at the financial industry, and everything else is just an excuse.

...which works just as well if you change a couple of words, too:

My sneaking suspicion is that they started with a determination to invade Iraq, and everything else is just an excuse.

John F said...

I agree that things are getting bad in your old home. However, I'm not ready to seriously entertain the idea that the election will be suspended or delayed. Just as you're hugely, massively hoping to be proven wrong, I am desperately hoping to be proven right!

We are, indeed, living in interesting times.

L-girl said...

However, I'm not ready to seriously entertain the idea that the election will be suspended or delayed.

John F, a while back you said you didn't believe the US was behind the 9/11 attacks. Allan and I both asked you what research or reading led you to that conclusion, but I think you didn't come back to the thread.

Many people don't believe the US could or would do something as extreme as suspend elections or engineer a terrorist attack "on their own people" (as the cliche goes). But what are these beliefs based on? A combination of something to horrible to contemplate, too outside our experience, too different from conventional wisdom, and as you say above, something they are "not ready to seriously entertain".

These are all part of a belief system, but not based on factual evidence. The fact that most people won't "seriously entertain" the idea doesn't mean one thing or the other.

I'm not saying that I know there will be no election in 2008. That would be absurd.

But we have to look at the possibilities outside of what we're "ready to seriously entertain". History is full of horrors we would not be ready to believe if they hadn't actually happened.

Canada Calling said...

I have to agree with L in her fears of "an event" would prompt the US to suspend the election.
I don't think stealing another election will be enough. And ‘why would they simply walk away from that hard-won power and willingly and without question turn it over to the other party?' Take it one step further, why would they turn it over to another President of either party. Shitforbrains and regime are not going to let that kind of power vaporize from their grip.

West End Bob said...

Speaking of Naomis, Naomi Klein's
"Shock Doctrine" comes to mind . . . .

L-girl said...

Yes, now out in paperback!

Lisa said...

Speaking of Naomi Klein, she's speaking at the Bloor Cinema in Toronto on September 29th.

Btw, this is all really scary shit.

L-girl said...

Lisa, thanks for the info! I hope I can go see her.

And yes, deeply scary.

James said...

James K. Galbraith has weighed in with WaPo article called A Bailout We Don't Need.

James said...

McCain has now stated that, in spite of suspending his campaign, he has not had a chance to read the three-page bailout proposal that has been all over the net for the past week. He seems unaware of the "no oversight" clause.

But then again, he's also stated that he doesn't know how to use computers -- even that he can't use computers because he was tortured as a POW -- so...

nikolas74 said...

Sadly Laura, I feel the same way.

When will the tipping point happen when people around the world start seeing the United States in the same spot as when Germany yielded to the Nazi, Italy to the Fascists, Japan to it's inspirations to be an Empire. Every great power fails and then crashes and burns...I just never thought I'd see it in my lifetime.

M@ said...

The US Army is in training for domestic operations.

The second amendment, for the very first time in my life, sounds like a good idea.

James said...

Now this rant gets right to the point!

John F said...

I'm not saying that I know there will be no election in 2008. That would be absurd.

I never thought that you counted cancelled elections as a certainty, but that you feared it as a possibility. If I read you correctly, you think it probable that there will be an election, but that it will be stolen like in 2000. On that, we are agreed.

John F, a while back you said you didn't believe the US was behind the 9/11 attacks. Allan and I both asked you what research or reading led you to that conclusion, but I think you didn't come back to the thread.

I missed the comment where you asked me to do that. I remember a comment where you said you hoped I would follow all the links provided in the 9/11 interview posts.

I freely admit that, for the most part, I did not do as you suggested. For what it's worth, I still plan to go back to those posts and follow the links in depth.

If I'm more optimistic than you and Redsock, it's probably because, as a Canadian, I've had it easier. Our governments can be inept, arrogant and a bit corrupt, but not actively evil (not until recently, anyway). I suppose I've had fewer of my hopes crushed!

L-girl said...

For what it's worth, I still plan to go back to those posts and follow the links in depth.

That's great. That's all I would ask.

And in case it wasn't clear, I don't mean to single you out or pick on you or anything like that.

A lot of people can't get their minds around the US being that far gone - which is part of the problem, I think. Too many of us are still treating it like it's a legitimate democracy, not the rouge state that it has become.

But I was using your statement as an example of some commonly-held beliefs.

If I'm more optimistic than you and Redsock, it's probably because, as a Canadian, I've had it easier. Our governments can be inept, arrogant and a bit corrupt, but not actively evil (not until recently, anyway). I suppose I've had fewer of my hopes crushed!

We've watched our country be dismantled, and we weren't too keen on it in the first place. We've read too much history for that.

L-girl said...

I never thought that you counted cancelled elections as a certainty, but that you feared it as a possibility.

Exactly. I fear it as a possibility, and I won't count it out until the day passes.

If I read you correctly, you think it probable that there will be an election, but that it will be stolen like in 2000. On that, we are agreed.

I'll add "stolen like 2000 and 2004".

I'll also add that, while I think it probably there will be an election, I will not be altogether surprised if there is not.

And now, yes, you're reading me correctly! :)

M@ said...

I'll add "stolen like 2000 and 2004".

One of the things that tells me that things are going to go very, very badly this time around is that people don't seem to know, believe, or care that the 2004 election was stolen.

I don't know why the Democrats don't say this constantly. Where is the benefit to them in having another election stolen? Even if they're as bad as the Republicans, don't they want their turn at the trough? I don't get it.

In any case, I concur with both the desperate hope that things will change with this election, and a deep pessimism about that being possible.

L-girl said...

I don't know why the Democrats don't say this constantly. Where is the benefit to them in having another election stolen? Even if they're as bad as the Republicans, don't they want their turn at the trough? I don't get it.

Allan tells me an answer to this, one that I'm not completely ready to believe.

My own answer is that they're all drinking from the same trough, benefitting from the same system, and so unwilling to rock the boat. I also think they don't want to be perceived as sore losers, crybabies, etc. (That is, defenders of democracy.)

But perhaps this is insufficient, and Allan is right. They're all in on it together. (Big shorthand there.)

Yet I don't think the spoils are shared that widely.

redsock said...

Our governments can be inept, arrogant and a bit corrupt, but not actively evil (not until recently, anyway).

Canada has done some fairly evil things to people inside its own borders. I'd like to read a Zinnian history of Canada if such a thing exists.

I count the Canadian military's presence in Afghanistan as evil -- and that happened under the Liberals, not Harper.

L-girl said...

people don't seem to know, believe, or care that the 2004 election was stolen.

Even among people who know the 2000 election was stolen!

L-girl said...

Our governments can be inept, arrogant and a bit corrupt, but not actively evil (not until recently, anyway).

Canada has done some fairly evil things to people inside its own borders. I'd like to read a Zinnian history of Canada if such a thing exists.


I don't think a Zinn-esque history of Canada is as necessary, because Canada doesn't mythologize its own past as much as the US, so needs less of a correction. Canada has mostly owned up to its mistakes, not simply buried them or repackaged them.

Also, Canada hasn't had the kind of military power and reach that the US has had, so it follows that it hasn't abused its power to the same extent.

I count the Canadian military's presence in Afghanistan as evil -- and that happened under the Liberals, not Harper.

Yep. So sorry we couldn't make that Iraq thing, will you accept Afghanistan as a rain date?

M@ said...

they're all drinking from the same trough, benefitting from the same system, and so unwilling to rock the boat. I also think they don't want to be perceived as sore losers, crybabies, etc.

I think this is where I land, too.

The idea that they're all in on it together crossed my mind too. But in that case wouldn't it make more sense, for the sake of the narrative, for the two parties to "share" power between them?

I had a history professor once who advised "when you hear conspiracy*, look for cock-up**." I think that's often true on the micro scale. On the large scale, I think the IQ of a large group of people is far lower than most -- if not all -- of the IQs in the group.

To me, it's perfectly plausible that a huge population such as the USA's, numbed and underserved by their own massive media and therefore unable to judge a candidate according to his or her policies and so choosing based on a personality-based narrative, could easily be persuaded to elect an ignorant cretin like Bush. Even twice.

The theft of the vote, as we've discussed before, requires that they actually get close -- though how close they need to be is probably expanding at quite a rapid pace.


* (I'm quoting him directly but I'm aware that "conspiracy" is a loaded word and I'm not trying to pass judgment here.)

** (He was Scottish. It sounded really good coming from him.)

M@ said...

I'd like to read a Zinnian history of Canada if such a thing exists.

I hope one someday does. I don't know that anything of the kind exists now. I think every country should have a clear understanding of its history, for better or for worse. It seems the only reliable antidote to the poison of self-delusion.

James said...

My own answer is that they're all drinking from the same trough, benefitting from the same system, and so unwilling to rock the boat. I also think they don't want to be perceived as sore losers, crybabies, etc. (That is, defenders of democracy.)

The biggest problem is that the Dems have allowed the Republicans to dictate the terms of every encounter (with the press's assistance). How many times have the Republicans used "this isn't the time for finger-pointing" after the revelation of yet another horrendous mess they've created? Not to mention "get over it".

Sure, it's a big mess, but the important thing is that we fix it, not assinging blame. And who better to fix it than those who were in charge when it happened?

Some group should buy up 282 plastic anatomy-class skeletons, extract the spines, and hand them out to Democrats as they head up onto Capitol Hill some morning.

redsock said...

I had a history professor once who advised "when you hear conspiracy*, look for cock-up**."

I think he got it backwards.

From where I sit "When you hear incompetence, think conspiracy" makes far more sense.

L-girl said...

I'd be interested in knowing when and why the word "conspiracy" became a pejorative. We certainly know that groups of people act in concert to accomplish nefarious deeds, often covertly. Organized crime can be seen that way. Stephen Kinzer's Overthrow is, on one level, a litany of conspiracies - all irrefutable - to overthrow governments, beginning with Hawaii.

Yet the word has been so discredited that people feel the need to deny being "conspiracy theorists" before beginning rational discussion.

(M@, I trust you know this is not directed at you.)

It's something I've long wondered. I wrote something about it here and here, but I didn't get to the heart of it.

Was it the alternate theories about the JFK assassination, and how that spawned a cottage industry? Was it deliberate, the way "liberal" and "feminist" were deliberately discredited? (Ack, conspiracy again!)

Who knows.

redsock said...

The idea that they're all in on it together crossed my mind too.

Or rather that the multi-national corporations that give both parties so much money basically pull the strings, and how men and women act on both sides of the aisle is often very much alike.

But in that case wouldn't it make more sense, for the sake of the narrative, for the two parties to "share" power between them?

Isn't that what they do? Bush I gives way to Clinton (no lefty, he), who promptly does a bunch of right-wing shit, but gets tarred and feathered by the right-wing as a socialist.

The theft of the vote, as we've discussed before, requires that they actually get close

That is why I think these US polls that have McCain and Obama at basically 50-50 are bogus. How is that possible -- how can that be squared with polls giving Bush an approval rating in the mid-20s, at best?

It makes absolutely no sense - UNLESS you see it as a political version of scripted, staged professional wrestling.

James said...

From where I sit "When you hear incompetence, think conspiracy" makes far more sense.

Harlan Ellison's version of the same adage was "Don't attribute to malice what is adequately explained by stupidity," and I think he has it right. Idiots are far, far more common than Macchiavellis. Of course, worst of all is Macchiavellian idiots...

redsock said...

I'd be interested in knowing when and why the word "conspiracy" became a pejorative.

L and I were talking about this over dinner.

I once had a writing project idea of researching the evolution of the term "conspiracy theorist".

As I recall, I saw that someone else had done it, so I moved on. ... Now, if I could only recall who and what the earlier work was .....!

L-girl said...

To me, it's perfectly plausible that a huge population such as the USA's, numbed and underserved by their own massive media and therefore unable to judge a candidate according to his or her policies and so choosing based on a personality-based narrative, could easily be persuaded to elect an ignorant cretin like Bush. Even twice.

I agree. But that doesn't mean it happened! :)

The theft of the vote, as we've discussed before, requires that they actually get close

Not necessarily. Electronic voting can see to that and then the exit polls explained away.

The biggest problem is that the Dems have allowed the Republicans to dictate the terms of every encounter (with the press's assistance).

Yes, and it's been going on a long, long time. We were gritting our teeth and pulling out our hair (Allan had hair then :) ) as Michael Dukakis denied being a liberal, instead of standing up and saying, yes, I am a liberal, and proud of it, this country was built on liberal principles, etc. etc. When you allow the other side to dictate the terms of the debate, you have already lost.

Good call re Krugman/excuses/Iraq, btw. Fits right in.

L-girl said...

Harlan Ellison's version of the same adage was "Don't attribute to malice what is adequately explained by stupidity," and I think he has it right. Idiots are far, far more common than Macchiavellis. Of course, worst of all is Macchiavellian idiots...

However, when people reap vast profits from what appears to be stupidity, we do well to look deeper.

In both Katrina and Iraq, among other examples, the same people profitted by the billions to what is often chalked up to incompetency. I think it is foolish and naive to accept that as the cause.

James said...

I'd be interested in knowing when and why the word "conspiracy" became a pejorative.

Around about the time that some conspiracy proponents started going off the deep end with their scenarios, drawing up more and more and more complex -- and increasingly ridiculous -- stories to try to cover the holes in their original notions, rather than stepping back and figuring out what made sense.

"Oswald was in the pay of the CIA" is a plausable conspiracy theory. "Oswald wasn't involved and there were several shooters at various locations" is much less plausible. "The Bush administration conned Al Quaeda operatives into pulling off the 9/11 attacks for their own end" is plausible. "The towers were designed from the start in 1972 with explosives in place to detonate in 2001 to give an excuse to attack Iraq" is not plausible. "There were no planes at all and all the film footage showing the planes hitting the towers was faked" is not plausible. I've heard both of those last two, and that sort of fantasy doesn't help the cause of those who think that the more plausible scenarios might have been in play.

redsock said...

People don't rise that high in the political system by being dumb or ignorant. They get that far by playing by the rules of the game.

Franklin D. Roosevelt: "In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way."

L-girl said...

I'd be interested in knowing when and why the word "conspiracy" became a pejorative.

Around about the time that some conspiracy proponents started going off the deep end with their scenarios, drawing up more and more and more complex -- and increasingly ridiculous -- stories to try to cover the holes in their original notions, rather than stepping back and figuring out what made sense.


That happened, but we don't actually know if that's when the word became an insult.

"The Bush administration conned Al Quaeda operatives into pulling off the 9/11 attacks for their own end" is plausible. "The towers were designed from the start in 1972 with explosives in place to detonate in 2001 to give an excuse to attack Iraq" is not plausible. "There were no planes at all and all the film footage showing the planes hitting the towers was faked" is not plausible. I've heard both of those last two, and that sort of fantasy doesn't help the cause of those who think that the more plausible scenarios might have been in play.

I agree completely. (They're called "no-planers" by the way. And yes, they are insane.) (Or plants.)

Despite this, we don't really know if that's what caused the word to be used almost exclusively as an insult. I don't mean to nitpick, I am just very interested in the history of language and how meanings change over time. I'd love to go back through newspapers and transcripts and see if I could trace it.

However, I have a baseball game to watch. ;)

James said...

Despite this, we don't really know if that's what caused the word to be used almost exclusively as an insult. I don't mean to nitpick, I am just very interested in the history of language and how meanings change over time. I'd love to go back through newspapers and transcripts and see if I could trace it.

It's not a new development. The problem is that one of the most common manifestation of paranoid schizophrenia is conspiracy theorizing -- after all, it's paranoid. This immediately associates conspiracy theorizing with schizophrenia, tinfoil hats, mind-control waves, and the whole thing. Further, it's the oddest, most extreme theorizing that catches people's attention, so that just amplifies the effect.

Here is a classic, but recent example: a woman who's convinced that rainbows never appeared in sprinkler spray until the government's HAARP project did something to the world. A librarian acquaintance of mine thinks she knows this person, a regular at the library, and very obviously in serious need of help.

People like the Sprinkler Lady, the Moon Hoaxers, the No-Planers, David Icke and his Reptilian Invasion, David Irving and his Holocaust Revisionism, etc, are the public face of "conspiracy theories" and are why the term gets such derision. Watch some of the YouTube videos that come up when you search for "conspiracy" and you'll immediately see why the term elicits such a negative reaction.

L-girl said...

I wanted to add something to my comment, above.

We certainly know that groups of people act in concert to accomplish nefarious deeds, often covertly. Organized crime can be seen that way. Stephen Kinzer's Overthrow is, on one level, a litany of conspiracies - all irrefutable - to overthrow governments, beginning with Hawaii.

In each of the episodes in US history that Kinzer examines, and in the many others that he mentions but which don't fit the narrow limits of "overthrow" that he sets out for himself, the official story - coming from the govt and reported in a compliant media - was never what really happened. Never. Not once.

Think of it.

1. The official story was always either a homegrown plot from the country itself, terrorism, incompetence, or an attack against US interests.

2. The precipitating attacks were real, but they were engineered by US interests. In each, civilians were killed, often including Americans.

3. Each of these official stories has since been completely discredited.

4. Many people in the US govt knew the stories were pure bullshit at the time, but went along with the lie.

5. People who questioned the story and wondered if the US govt had a hand in it were marginalized, thought to be crazy. (This is not a big part of Kinzer's book, but I've read snippets of it in many places.)

6. People who questioned the need for war based on any of these incidents were tarred as unpatriotic, communist, unamerican, etc.

Today's "conspiracy theorist" is often tomorrow's historian.