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'Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely' - Lord Acton
June 17, 2006 7:20 AM   Subscribe

James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper No. 47:

The accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few or many...may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

That extraordinary powers have, under Bush, been accumulated in the "same hands" is now undeniable. For the first time in more than thirty years, and to a greater extent than even then, our constitutional form of government is in jeopardy.
Power Grab
posted by y2karl (76 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
See also

A Slow Motion Coup

Absolute power corrupts

The Neo-Monarchy of George W. Bush

America's problem is again a usurping king called George

The Man Who Would Be King
posted by y2karl at 7:21 AM on June 17, 2006


.
posted by psmealey at 7:23 AM on June 17, 2006


Perfectly adequate summary of what anyone who reads a newspaper already knows. OK, so now what?
posted by twsf at 7:29 AM on June 17, 2006


Fuck Bush.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:33 AM on June 17, 2006


The question that keeps coming up in my mind is: why? This Administration isn't competent to run an Orange Julius stand, yet they have exponentially increased the scope and reach of executive power in the past five years. Why do they want this?
posted by psmealey at 7:35 AM on June 17, 2006


It's all for Jeb, psmealey. For Jeb.

He'll know what to do with it.
posted by notyou at 7:39 AM on June 17, 2006


Why do they want this?

Look at the page title.

And, you know, it's easier to rule as a dictator. Bush told us that.
posted by eriko at 7:44 AM on June 17, 2006


The best of the web is a 'What I read in the NYTimes in 2005-6' book report?

[y2karl the following isn't directed at you personally.] Snark aside, this isn't new, only well-phrased for the most part. twsf raises the right question. So much of MetaFilter's political chatter (and that all across Left Blogistan) is a bit like trying to start a fire by piling more and more sticks in a field. 'Look at this amazing stick!'

'Yes, but did will someone please light a match?'

'No but look, more sticks I mean look over here whoa look!'

'A match? Anyone?'

Apparently the theory is that if you stare hard enough at the sticks they'll fucking spontaneously combust. An activist philosophy worthy of Barbara Bush, or for that matter Weird Science.
posted by waxbanks at 7:44 AM on June 17, 2006 [2 favorites]


there's a simple constitutional remedy for this ... it's called impeachment and conviction

if congress isn't willing to do that, then they're just going to have to put up with the unitary executive

and yes, i know ... they're not willing
posted by pyramid termite at 7:53 AM on June 17, 2006


Look at the page title.

That's only one possible explanation. There are a few others that are even more ominous.
posted by psmealey at 7:56 AM on June 17, 2006


Perfectly adequate summary of what anyone who reads a newspaper already knows. OK, so now what?
posted by twsf


If that's so, then I guess that I am the only person in the civilized world who didn't know about the "heretofore obscure doctrine called the unitary executive..." and its two meanings.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:01 AM on June 17, 2006


Thanks for the links, y2karl.

Thirty years from now, the only people who will look more foolish than the GOPers will be the hipsters on the sidelines who specialized in posting snarky comments and contributing to the critical mass of apathy and inaction in the US as all this went down.
posted by digaman at 8:07 AM on June 17, 2006


I'm with the WHY? and NOW WHAT? crowd.

Who exactly has been pulling the strings for the last six years? Is it some sort of cabal? I don't mean to imply a conspiracy, but there is a lack of transparency about what is going on that would allow for those kinds of conclusions.

I guess I gots me some research to do.
posted by jaronson at 8:13 AM on June 17, 2006


Thirty years from now, the only people who will look more foolish than the GOPers will be the hipsters on the sidelines who specialized in posting snarky comments and contributing to the critical mass of apathy and inaction in the US as all this went down.

I think if someone finds your comment in 30 years. I bet they might get a bigger chuckle then me. But carry on im sure we can expect some more hard hitting stories from you in the pages of Wired Magazine. Top 7 Toasters that support Ogg-Vorbis will really show this administration. :)

I'll let you get back to your circle jerk...
posted by Dreamghost at 8:15 AM on June 17, 2006


digaman : "Thirty years from now, the only people who will look more foolish than the GOPers will be the hipsters on the sidelines who specialized in posting snarky comments and contributing to the critical mass of apathy and inaction in the US as all this went down."

Sure, they'll look foolish, but there will be a bunch of people who look more foolish. After all, who looks foolish from the 1970s? Some politicians, sure, some journalists, sure, but the Village People and the Bee Gees have them hands down. I'm guessing that in 2030, True Norwegian Black Metal folks and Slipknot will be on the top of the looking foolish list.
posted by Bugbread at 8:32 AM on June 17, 2006


Quick—everybody go rent the 1976 movie called “Network.” In that film, one can clearly see the beginning of the end of democracy.

The current Bush administration’s power grab has just been a final mop-up in that battle against our freedoms.

Making major strides in the Reagan years, especially the gutting of the Fairness Doctrine in media, and climaxing in the current G.W. Bush era, we are all victims of an evil coup D' etat. The country has clearly been handed over to corporate control.

In fact, if this post isn’t deleted before I have a chance to finish typing, the Neocons monsters are now casting their eyes on the Internet. Even they look to places like this.

Using phrases like “take the Internet out of government hands” the Bush power grabbers will soon control the final frontier of free speech. And, y2Karl, we can soon expect a knock at our doors from the corporate thought police. Oh, wait a minute, forget the knock.

Anyway, the only hope, if hope can still be found, is to somehow overcome the rigged elections and take back control of the House and Senate in November.
posted by BillyElmore at 8:32 AM on June 17, 2006


waxbanks:

What do you suggest we do? The right has a stranglehold on the system from most angles. You make it sound like there's something obvious the left is missing. If it's obvious maybe you could point it out to me.
posted by modernerd at 8:34 AM on June 17, 2006


Well, our first chance to start the process of thwarting this consolidation of power in the most inept of hands is November. Vote early, vote often and get your friends to vote too.

Apathy is the handmaiden of the Power Grab!
posted by fenriq at 8:35 AM on June 17, 2006


thanks for the post, y2karl
posted by matteo at 8:38 AM on June 17, 2006


As much as soooo many people like to bash on daily kos, you could start to do something simply by reading through a month or so of the posts there. There are plenty of donate and volunteer links for numerous progressive candidates and there is usually a hefty amount of research to go along with them.

Personally I really like Ned Lamont, and Tester, although a lot of people seem to hate Lamont because he is running against Lieberman, but then if you look at this photo it's pretty clear that Lieberman is not really a democrat.



kissy kissy.
posted by sourbrew at 8:40 AM on June 17, 2006


The problem of mass apathy is only made worse by comments like yours, modernerd. Here's one thing that anyone can do - turn off your TV. Stop spending your evenings watching media garbage, and spending your days rehashing it with your fellow human beings. This will eventually result in you having to find something else to talk about, and quite possibly the fact that your country is slipping/has slipped into corporate totalitarianism will come up. It can only help.

I, for one, appreciate the links, thanks y2karl.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:45 AM on June 17, 2006


President Bush is making out with Supreme Chancellor Palpatine?
posted by Dreamghost at 8:45 AM on June 17, 2006


I tend less and less to post anything any longer at this site because of the crap comments that are filled with hate, venom, or just plain cruelty. My view: if someone posts something and you don't think the post worthy, just ignore and move on.

As for what is in this post: congress clearly is at fault for allowing this stuff to take place. Congress is controlled by the GOP, and the GOP gives Bush what he wants. Impeachment can not happen so long as the GOP in control.

Want a change, a return?: then work to get Congress in hand of Democrats but insist to your candidates that they restore our Rights and have them make a pledge in public.
posted by Postroad at 9:01 AM on June 17, 2006


One expects crooks to steal. But it's dispiriting to see so many people throwing their wallets at them.
posted by RavinDave at 9:04 AM on June 17, 2006


the Bush power grabbers will soon control the final frontier of free speech. And, y2Karl, we can soon expect a knock at our doors from the corporate thought police.

that's so 20th century ... and as hitler and stalin found out, woefully inefficient

a smart cabal of power doesn't control the people by sending them off to jail when they say something ... it controls them by giving them affluence and entertaining them ... and allows the malcontents to blow off steam in places where a small minority can hear them while making sure that the people who might represent them are bought off ... or perceived by the majority as "moonbats"

as long as most of the american people are living the good life they won't want to do anything extreme to screw up their comfortable lives

even in our foreign adventures, we follow the same scheme ... look at afghanistan ... when the soviets went in, they got the guns out and tried to do away with everyone who wasn't building a socialist afghanistan and ended up with a lot of dead soldiers ... when we went in, we simply bought people off ... result - most of the warlords are happy and we don't have anywhere near as many dead soldiers

in short, they're not going to knock on your door, they're going to buy you off ... if they can't buy you off, then they'll just let you vent someplace where you won't be paid attention to
posted by pyramid termite at 9:19 AM on June 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


It's true. I often suspect that even the most sinister actors are just riding a trend that they do not understand. This is a systemic problem brought on by the conjunction of mass media and a large, commercial, democratic republic.

Oh, and forget Network. If you want to see the beginning of the end, check out Walter Lippmann's Public Opinion, published in 1922. Lippmann crows about successfully hornswoggling the US into WWI, after Woodrow Wilson had won his election on an anti-war platform.

I'm also reminded of Machiavelli, in his Discourses on Livy:

"In order to make Rome greater and bring it to the greatness it attained, she [fortuna] judged it necessary to defeat it.... In ordaining this she prepared everything for its recovery [manipulating events] to form a great vanguard under a commander untainted by any shame of defeat and whose reputation was intact for the recovery of his homeland."

That's from the section titled, "When Fortune Does Not Want Men to Oppose Her Plans, She Blinds Their Minds." :-) In my fantasy world, Jonathan Stewart plays the 'commander untainted by any shame.' Except Half Baked, maybe.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:20 AM on June 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


What I am reading in this thread is enough to make me lose hope. Fortunately, I remember Viet Nam. For years the anti-war movement was led by a lot of freaks who liked to demonstrate or who beat it to Canada to avoid the draft. The powers that were did not try to buy them off, they gave them as hard a time as they could. It was only after the middle classes began to wake up that anything positive began to happen. I recall an ad that ran in the LA Times, which must have taken up ten pages of very small print with thousands of names of people who opposed the war. It contained a lot of names that were familiar to many as those of the "straight", "unhip" middle classes - business leaders, local politicians and film stars. The ad was timed to greet President Johnson on a trip to LA to drum up support. He must certainly have seen this ad and within a very short time after this, he announced that he would not run for re-election. The silent majority had come out from the shadows and it had its effect. Of course, it had taken a long time and we didn't finally stop the madness until Nixon's reign. But it was that ad, in LA anyway, that made it safe, and almost necessary to finally come out and to back the opposition.
posted by donfactor at 9:42 AM on June 17, 2006


Thirty years from now

More like 14 years from now (2020).. perhaps a bit sooner. 3 more presidential terms is enough to the damage. I don't see the Baby Boomers producing a President with the non-nonsense pragmatic ability to reform, not until things have been so screwed up the country is falling apart will someone with that strength emerge - we'll get there soon enough, 2020 or so.
posted by stbalbach at 9:47 AM on June 17, 2006


donfactor: one thing Johnson did not have was the smoldering remnant of a national landmark to point to over and over again and use as the justification for everything he wants to do, no matter how unrelated or even counterproductive. The mouthbreathers buy into it every time, and they seem to constitute just about half of the electorate.

Another thing he almost certainly did not have was a few tame state governments and voting machine manufacturers willing and able to to help if that "just about half" isn't quite enough.

Looking for something productive to do other than just complain on MetaFilter for the thousandth time? Get involved in election reform in your state. If the Bushies are so sure they won legitimately, then they can have no quarrel with honest elections, can they? This is a battle it is possible to win, and everything else hinges on it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:53 AM on June 17, 2006


If the Bushies are so sure they won legitimately, then they can have no quarrel with honest elections, can they?

The Republican spin on this issue is going to be that the voting machines have been sufficiently examined by third parties and that the true threat to vote integrity is Democrats bringing unregistered illegal immigrants to the polls.

There are movements in Republican quarters trying to get a picture ID requirement for voting. (I also hear stuff about literacy requirements, but I think this is freeper nonsense, not something any politician will really try.)
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:12 AM on June 17, 2006


sonofsamiam, there'll be a lot more spin than that, and you can expect to hear the words "conspiracy theory" and "tinfoil hats" over and over again on all the cable channels.

If the prospect of that worries you rather than making you snort with laughter you're already half-beaten. The answer you hammer them with is a pithy "why are you so afraid of verifiable voting?" Over and over again. Learn from the oppostion, make your retort pithy and inarguable. Remember, if you're explaining, you're losing.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:34 AM on June 17, 2006


Remember, if you're explaining, you're losing.

true ... and if it has to be explained, it won't get dealt with ... which explains why things are getting so messy, doesn't it?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:41 AM on June 17, 2006


Unconstitutional laws are surely unenforceable and the President surely has to obey the Constitution. The question is whether a President has to presume that all statutes that go on the books are Constitutional, even if he thinks not, until and unless a judge agrees with him that they are not.

There is an obvious solution to this: someone who is in the class to be protected or served by a statute the enforcement of which is purported to be circumscribed by a signing statement needs to apply for an injunction compelling the President to enforce the statute as it is written.

(For example the ACLU could apply on behalf Osama bin Laden to clarify that the McCain amendment will prevent the CIA from waterboarding him if he were captured.)

The courts would fast-track this issue, and there'd be a flood of amici briefs from every law professor and interest group in the country. It would get to the Supreme Court within a year or two tops, and then the validity (or not) of signing statements would be permanently resolved.
posted by MattD at 10:45 AM on June 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


Get involved in election reform in your state.

Here in Washington State's 7th Congressional District, our representative is Jim McDermott. Nonetheless, it is a good suggestion in general.
posted by y2karl at 10:48 AM on June 17, 2006


I think BillyElmore is most accurate: we are all victims of an evil coup D' etat. The country has clearly been handed over to corporate control.

I'm not a conspiracy nut, and I don't believe that people grab power purely for the sake of grabbing power. Power is a means to an end, whether it's wealth or control or whatever. Clearly our elected officials are motivated by wealth, and those who support them (referring specifically to the hard right) by control. Some are actually motivated by fear, etc.

All of the left/right arguing that consumes so much energy and results in so many words being vomited up, in print, online, on TV, is the Big Distraction. It keeps us all from following the money to realize who is calling the shots and why. Ann Coulter might say repulsive things, but she's not an idiot--she knows exactly what she's saying, and exactly how outrageous it is. She also knows what effect it will have--to turn the debate to her obviously ridiculous, hateful words. She is one among many who perpetuate this process of ongoing distraction in the public sphere, all of which amounts to 'don't follow the money! Look, look over here!'

Corporations, psychopathic institutions that they are, have one goal: profit. It is SO much easier to have lots of profit if you can condition the population into malleable passivity and convince them that consumption is their central value. Then it becomes MUCH easier to increase profit exponentially if you can convince the government to do whatever you want--start a war, reduce taxes, ignore non-payment of taxes, ignore outright theft, award multi-billion dollar no-bid contracts, etc. etc.

All of this religious/civil rights/partisan debate is the smoke screen, in my opinion. My life, day to day, is negatively affected far more directly by fucking corporate control of my culture and government, than by any boogeymen of religious absolutism or partisan dogmatism.

On further reading, pyramid termite sums it up accurately: as long as most of the american people are living the good life they won't want to do anything extreme to screw up their comfortable lives.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:51 AM on June 17, 2006 [2 favorites]


MattD- OBL doesn't have standing.

There are three requirements for Article III standing: (1) injury in fact, which means an invasion of a legally protected interest that is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical; (2) a causal relationship between the injury and the challenged conduct, which means that the injury fairly can be traced to the challenged action of the defendant, and has not resulted from the independent action of some third party not before the court; and (3) a likelihood that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision, which means that the prospect of obtaining relief from the injury as a result of a favorable ruling is not too speculative.

posted by anotherpanacea at 10:53 AM on June 17, 2006


Thanks again y2karl.
posted by bardic at 10:57 AM on June 17, 2006


The question is whether a President has to presume that all statutes that go on the books are Constitutional, even if he thinks not, until and unless a judge agrees with him that they are not.

This is indeed the primary issue, but I don't think there's any question about it. I cannot understand how anyone can act like this is OK.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it give the Executive the perogative to make that distinction.

Whatever "inherent powers" the Executive has, it does not have the power to choose to ignore signed and passed legislation and that is what the Executive has done.

That is the reason the Executive has done everything it can to keep this issue from going to court, where it surely would, as you said, be resolved decisively and quickly.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:23 AM on June 17, 2006


a smart cabal of power doesn't control the people by sending them off to jail when they say something ... it controls them by giving them affluence and entertaining them ...

Hey, that's my kind of dictatorship! What a rallying cry to mobilize the left: "Down with affluence and entertainment!" Come to think of it, that always HAS been the rallying cry of the left. And that's why the left is out of power.

Has it ever occured to any of you guys, that all the power that Bush is accruing to the executive branch will be inherited by the next Democratic president? You should see this big heap of executive power as an opportunity, not a threat. Get your man (or woman -- I like Hillary, myself) elected president, and all that power will be YOURS to do what you like with. You can tap the phones of the loony right. You can have Ann Coulter sent to Gitmo. You can order up an unconstitutional war against the Idaho panhandle. You can spy on TV evangelists. Bush has gathered up all this power, with only two years left on his ticket. Whatever Democrat wins in 08, will have it from the start of his or her administration, and will be able to go wild on the enemies of righteousness.
posted by Faze at 11:41 AM on June 17, 2006


Faze, some of us would like America to be, y'know, America. Not, say, Iraq under Saddam.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:46 AM on June 17, 2006


Faze : "Has it ever occured to any of you guys, that all the power that Bush is accruing to the executive branch will be inherited by the next Democratic president? You should see this big heap of executive power as an opportunity, not a threat."

Well, it'll be an opportunity for the next president (Democrat or Republican), but that doesn't mean that it won't be a threat for the citizens. That's the whole damn problem.
posted by Bugbread at 11:47 AM on June 17, 2006


Of course, the only reason anybody might care about our slide into authoritarianism is to spite the Republicans!

Life is so simple when you look at it that way!
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:50 AM on June 17, 2006


Faze : "Has it ever occured to any of you guys, that all the power that Bush is accruing to the executive branch will be inherited by the next Democratic president? You should see this big heap of executive power as an opportunity, not a threat."

Don't be silly, Faze. All these executive powers will only be usable when you're a war president, buddy. You can rest assured that, by truly stunning coincidence, Osama Bin Laden will be caught and the war on terror will end the day before the next Democrat president steps into office.
posted by kaemaril at 11:56 AM on June 17, 2006


Laws that ought to be passed to prevent this crap in the future.

Vote Fraud should be treason.

Signing statements should be illegal.

Corporate Lobbying should be eradicated by an amendment stating first and foremost that the constitution exists to protect the people and not corporate interests.

Scientists and science in general need to be insulated from political fall out for releasing statements that are possibly construed as being negative towards the party in power.

Gerry Mandering needs to be addressed on a national level.

Finally a roll back of the expansion of the power of the executive branch.
posted by sourbrew at 12:02 PM on June 17, 2006


Gerry Mandering needs to be addressed on a national level.

"Dear Mr. Mandering..."

Don't be silly, Faze. All these executive powers will only be usable when you're a war president, buddy.

A Democratic president can always start a harmless little war somewhere. Every U.S. President since maybe Grant has done so.
posted by Faze at 12:07 PM on June 17, 2006


That axe sharp yet?
posted by techgnollogic at 12:12 PM on June 17, 2006


What I am reading in this thread is enough to make me lose hope. Fortunately, I remember Viet Nam. For years the anti-war movement was led by a lot of freaks who liked to demonstrate or who beat it to Canada to avoid the draft. The powers that were did not try to buy them off, they gave them as hard a time as they could. It was only after the middle classes began to wake up that anything positive began to happen.

The middle classes began to wake up when it was their children getting drafted and coming home in body bags, and because they were seeing pictures on television of death and carnage and horror. The government has learned a lot about running a war since then.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:21 PM on June 17, 2006


Has it ever occured to any of you guys, that all the power that Bush is accruing to the executive branch will be inherited by the next Democratic president? You should see this big heap of executive power as an opportunity, not a threat.

Way to completely miss the point. I don't think I'm in the minority here when I say that I don't want any executive to have too much power, regardless of party. This is not a partisan issue.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:23 PM on June 17, 2006


There was a time when most of the time, we were Americans of one stamp or another, not Republicans vs. Democrats all the time. If I had to pick a moment when that changed, it was when Reagan's people made a deal with the Iranians to keep the American hostages until Carter was out of office. That was when the Republicans decided that being a Republican meant more than being an American, and we've been in a quietly simmering civil war ever since.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:35 PM on June 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


as long as most of the american people are living the good life they won't want to do anything extreme to screw up their comfortable lives.

Too true. Give me liberty or give me death? Only if it doesn't break my big-screen TV.
posted by kgasmart at 12:36 PM on June 17, 2006


one thing Johnson did not have was the smoldering remnant of a national landmark to point to over and over again and use as the justification for everything he wants to do

According to the Homeland Security Department, New York City doesn't have any national landmarks.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:38 PM on June 17, 2006


This is not a partisan issue.

Hallelujah. That's why we need to pound the Federalist argument home. It's a matter of framing the factionalism of the republic. When the constitution's authors set out to justify this crazy experiment, they argued that no faction would ever let the executive get out of control, for fear of losing that absolute power a few years later. Yet if one of the factions is militating for a King, and the other respects the balance of powers, the factional arrangement breaks down. One of the parties is ham-stringing itself by fighting to preserve these institutions, while the other plays chicken with dictatorship. It's brinkmanship, and it's very effective; witness the so-called 'nuclear option.' The Dems backed down to preserve the legislature, while the Republicans threatened to dismantle it rule by rule to get what they wanted. More evidence that Madison and Hamilton had no inkling of the real possibilities of zealotry, religious or simply venal. There is no solution, save dissolution and reconstitution. Start from scratch, I say.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:43 PM on June 17, 2006


There is no solution, save dissolution and reconstitution. Start from scratch, I say.

I think that sometimes. Red and blue? Let's divide the place. But two things would happen:

1. Economically, lue states would far outstrip red states almost immediately, and the gap would rapidly widen - leading to number 2:

2. Red states would ultimately make war on blue states.
posted by kgasmart at 12:46 PM on June 17, 2006


Presidents are not kings. That's why America was founded, and that's why it's so troubling to see an administration trample upon the rule of law.
posted by bardic at 12:50 PM on June 17, 2006


as long as most of the american people are living the good life they won't want to do anything extreme to screw up their comfortable lives.

I'd say, giving "most of the American people" the "good life" is not such a bad achievement. What do you want the executive branch to do? Give people bad, uncomfortable lives? And if "most" of the American people have it so good, what are you complaining about?

I bring this to your attention, because no one ever won an election protesting that too many people were too comfortable and too well off. Lots of Americans were comfortable and well off in the 1960s, and it was the comfortable and well-off people who rose up against the Vietnam War.
posted by Faze at 12:54 PM on June 17, 2006


I think that sometimes. Red and blue? Let's divide the place. But two things would happen:

1. Economically, lue states would far outstrip red states almost immediately, and the gap would rapidly widen - leading to number 2:

2. Red states would ultimately make war on blue states.
posted by kgasmart


From a random email:

Dear Red States
We're ticked off at the way you've treated California, and we've decided
we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the
other Blue States with us.

In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon,
Washington,Minnesota,Wisconsin,Michigan, Illinois and the entire Northeast.
We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation,and especially to the
people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get
stem cell research and the best beaches. We get Elliot Spitzer.
You get Ken Lay.
We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand. We get Intel and Microsoft.
You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.
We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs.
You get Alabama.
We get two-thirds of the tax revenue; you get to make the red states pay
their fair share.
Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian
Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single
moms.
Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and
we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need
people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently
willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you
don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home. We do wish you
success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we're not willing to
spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.
With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of
the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and
lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's
quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90 percent of
all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S.
low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and
Seven Sister schools, plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88
percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92
percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90
percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually
100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University,
Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was
actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless
we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that
evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11, and
61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals
then we lefties.
Sincerely,
Author Unknown in New California.
posted by leftcoastbob at 12:55 PM on June 17, 2006 [4 favorites]


I'd say, giving "most of the American people" the "good life" is not such a bad achievement. What do you want the executive branch to do? Give people bad, uncomfortable lives? And if "most" of the American people have it so good, what are you complaining about?

Faze, what the hell planet are you on? Your comments here are not even remotely cogent.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:57 PM on June 17, 2006


Faze : "I'd say, giving 'most of the American people' the 'good life' is not such a bad achievement. What do you want the executive branch to do? Give people bad, uncomfortable lives? And if 'most' of the American people have it so good, what are you complaining about?"

The thing is, they've already got the good life. The argument here isn't that the Republicans improved living standards while scrapping other things, and that therefore, depending which side you put your weight on, they may be described as a good or bad influence. The argument is that people already have good living standards, and that the folks in power are dismantling the controls over the government.
posted by Bugbread at 1:06 PM on June 17, 2006


Or, rephrased, more succinctly:

Faze : "I'd say, giving 'most of the American people' the 'good life' is not such a bad achievement."

You're right, it's not a bad achievement. Nor is it the current administration's achievement.
posted by Bugbread at 1:07 PM on June 17, 2006


leftcoastbob,

as a student of Clemson university i have to say please let me immigrate.
posted by sourbrew at 1:08 PM on June 17, 2006


Interesting read(s). That pic of Bush is bizarre though.

Thanks y2karl
posted by Smedleyman at 1:19 PM on June 17, 2006


I know this has been discussed to "infinity and beyond," but so has most everything under the sun to some degree on metafilter, but, as for the voting system in the US, how tough would it really be to have electronic voting with a paper ticket that gave you a voting number which every person in the US could then go online and check against the national record of votes. No names, just numbers. The votes go online instantly which you could then verify on the voting machine or nearby computers before you leave. This last step would ensure that no one could later claim, with counterfeited voting ticket in hand, that their vote was changed electronically. Further, have a box to click online to show that you’ve verified your vote so that some “flaw” in the computer system doesn’t double up on voting ID numbers to shrink the voting numbers. While nothing is completely foolproof, this seems pretty transparent and most of the checks and balances are in place.

I’m sure there might be some way of still undermining the system, but if some actual thought went into it and, relative to other government expenditures, a small amount of money, I don’t see why it couldn’t work and work well. You vote, grab your paper ticket, check it online, click a box to verify. If you are the paranoid type, you go online later and check it again, then sit there and count every vote of every other voter ID number to make sure the numbers add up correctly as the computer says.

I don't see why this couldn't be accomplished with 1/1000th of the military budget. Bring the troops home a few weeks earlier than planned and that extra money could probably foot the bill too.
posted by Sir BoBoMonkey Pooflinger Esquire III at 2:04 PM on June 17, 2006


And when we’re done with that, we move onto getting corporations out of government. Easy fix here. We simply, um, err, uhh...better yet, lets just secede, or perhaps dump all our oil into Boston harbor. No, make that the coast of Houston. Florida? No, fill the red states with raw crude. Rain it down upon the Evangelicals. Not all of them, just the ones that allowed themselves to be conned into voting for this shithead. And while we're at it, how about having mass bonfires in stadiums countrywide (at least in blue regions). Piles upon piles of TV sets ablaze and wafting toxic fumes toward tall corporate headquarters, the megatons of smoke fanning the global warming event to the point of flooding the coastal-property-owning millionaires until they begin moving their complacent asses/assets. Okay, I guess I have to wake up now, this feels more like a sequel to V for Vendetta made by twelve year old suburban skater punks. Nothing against skater punks either.
posted by Sir BoBoMonkey Pooflinger Esquire III at 2:31 PM on June 17, 2006


I'd say, giving "most of the American people" the "good life" is not such a bad achievement.

if it's sustainable ... if the people who recieve it are truly happy with it ... (hint - mental illness, divorce, drug and alcohol abuse, and other social ills have been at historic highs since we attained this achievement ... hint 2 - many americans are putting themselves in deep debt to maintain this achievement) ... and if the people left out of it aren't being oppressed and neglected

What do you want the executive branch to do? Give people bad, uncomfortable lives?

give them a little more time and i'm sure they'll manage

And if "most" of the American people have it so good, what are you complaining about?

it's a hallucination ... 50 years ago most americans knew and trusted their neighbors ... now? ... we had community and a sense of national purpose beyond being as well-off as possible ... now? ... there was a time when people didn't lock their doors and felt safe walking down their street at night ... now? ... there was also a knowledge that we had what we needed to sustain our lifestyle ... that the gas wasn't going to run out in our lifetime ... that our jobs were fairly secure ... now?

and don't deny for a second that i have a point or that many americans feel that way ... why else would the republicans spend so much time and energy addressing this feeling and promising "solutions" to it? ... it's bush who most effectively uses the feeling that we should have community, purpose, safer streets and continue on with our way of life ... not that he's actually DONE anything to accomplish it

I bring this to your attention, because no one ever won an election protesting that too many people were too comfortable and too well off.

no, you protest that not enough people are comfortable and well off ... ask hugo chavez ... ask some of the people who represent poor and minority districts in our country

Lots of Americans were comfortable and well off in the 1960s, and it was the comfortable and well-off people who rose up against the Vietnam War.

only because the war threatened their comfort and affluence ... or more precisely, that of their children
posted by pyramid termite at 2:45 PM on June 17, 2006


only because the war threatened their comfort and affluence ... or more precisely, that of their children.

So therefore ending the war in Vietnam was wrong, because those who ended it didn't have high-minded reasons? Because they were just looking out for themselves? This is another problem why the left can't get elected. They not only campaign against affluence and comfort, they campaign against self-interest. It's not enough that "most" Americans are well off. They want all Americans to be well off, or nothing. Or they want to believe that all the Americans who are well off are miserable, in debt, divorcing and abusing alcohol.
Republicans keeps getting re-elected because "most" Americans instinctively understand that they're pretty well off, and that most of their neighbors are pretty well off -- while Democrats keep trying to convince them, against all the evidence, that they're miserable.
I think it's good for Democrats to harp on these executive power issues, to harp on the war, to harp official corruption, to harp on theocracy. These are legitimate points against the Bush administration. Campaigning against wealth, comfort and self-interest (which makes the world go around) is the wrong tactic.
posted by Faze at 3:23 PM on June 17, 2006


The problem with the affluence, though, is that people ultimately become willing to countenance anything - and really, anything at all - to preserve it.

Full-blown dictatorship? Whatever - just don't take my big-screen TV.

...and so you begin to think that maybe the only reason the American Revolution succeeded in the first place is because people had so much less to lose then, relative to now.
posted by kgasmart at 3:30 PM on June 17, 2006


"posted by Sir BoBoMonkey Pooflinger Esquire III"

You win for having the best name on MetaFilter ever.
posted by Bugbread at 3:55 PM on June 17, 2006


kgasmart -- Au contraire, the American revolutionaries all stood to lose their heads. But it's not affluence you have to worry about. It's insecurity. When people feel insecure -- as they do know -- is when they vote conservatively. They are afraid of terrorists, and they are afraid of Al Gore coming back.
posted by Faze at 4:01 PM on June 17, 2006


So therefore ending the war in Vietnam was wrong, because those who ended it didn't have high-minded reasons? Because they were just looking out for themselves?

we're all looking out for ourselves, aren't we? ... even altruistic people are altruistic because it makes them feel good ... (and sometimes superior to those they help)

This is another problem why the left can't get elected. They not only campaign against affluence and comfort, they campaign against self-interest.

hardly ... they campaign against the self-interest of a chosen few who control our economy

It's not enough that "most" Americans are well off. They want all Americans to be well off, or nothing.

find me a quote of a major political candidate who's said that

just call the left communists while you're at it ... come on, you know you want to

Or they want to believe that all the Americans who are well off are miserable, in debt, divorcing and abusing alcohol.

i never said *all* ... the statistics speak for themselves ... we're not as happy as we pretend to be

Republicans keeps getting re-elected because "most" Americans instinctively understand that they're pretty well off, and that most of their neighbors are pretty well off -- while Democrats keep trying to convince them, against all the evidence, that they're miserable.

wrong ... republicans keep getting elected because people think they can become like those whose interests they represent ... the movers and shakers ... the winners ...

this may come as a shock to you, but there's tens of millions of people in this country who don't need convincing that they're miserable ... no health care, shitty jobs, closing plants and rising cost of living

and a lot of the evidence you're talking about is, quite frankly, cooked

Campaigning against wealth, comfort and self-interest (which makes the world go around) is the wrong tactic.

except they're not really doing that ... they're arguing for better health care, a more balanced economy, a more balanced budget and a better life for the other half

but it's your straw man ... stomp on it all you want

(and i still insist that much of this "good life" you're on about is based on illusion ... the best way to tell that is to watch how individuals react when something happens to puncture that illusion for them ... the denial, the anger ... the looking for scapegoats ... the ever present comment that "things like that don't happen here" ... or the statement that many echoed right after 9/11 that they "didn't feel safe anymore" ...

ninnies ... you never were "safe" ... this is life on planet earth ... no one gets out alive)
posted by pyramid termite at 4:08 PM on June 17, 2006


Au contraire, the American revolutionaries all stood to lose their heads.

You don't call that insecurity?

It's one thing to vote conservatively, another to sit on the sidelines and watch as the president basically declares himself above the law, or that he is the law, shrug and say, "whatever."

Again, this country could go full-blown dictatorship so long as the people were made to feel afraid of the dreaded terrorists, or whomever, and could be sure that they wouldn't have to, you know, sacrifice anything either to fight them, or for any other reason.
posted by kgasmart at 4:23 PM on June 17, 2006


All Americans are valued members of USA, Inc. You are valued not because you are human beings or unique snowflakes or the crown of creation, but for what you can contribute to USA, Inc.'s March Of Progress:

* You can consume goods produced by USA, Inc.'s manufacturing subsidiaries (most of which are located conveniently in other countries).

* You can consume services provided by USA, Inc.'s many retail and service-sector subsidiaries, including its beloved Telecom industry.

* You can return large portions of your income to USA, Inc., for use in subsidizing large corporations so they won't have to actually compete in the marketplace, or add any value to the things they produce. Other portions of this returned income can be used to impose USA, Inc.'s high standards of business practice on other, less enlightened nations.

* You can continue to produce and deliver young men for use in imposing the high standards mentioned above.

* You can keep on pretending that your participation in a fictitious "representative democracy" has some relevance.

* You can shut up and like it. (This last is not really required by USA, Inc.'s business plan, but it makes all our top executives happy, and that's important.)
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:16 PM on June 17, 2006


Metafilter: You can shut up and like it
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:41 PM on June 17, 2006


Just wait for Peak Oil and the Housing Bubble to do their work. Discontent will abound.

As for me... 11 years til I can emigrate, and counting...
posted by beth at 2:08 AM on June 18, 2006


Under guise of war, privacy rights vanishing
posted by homunculus at 12:49 PM on June 18, 2006


.
posted by taumeson at 11:39 AM on June 19, 2006


Arlen Specter and a CIA torture victim know: Only the Oval Office decides what the law is
posted by homunculus at 11:43 AM on June 19, 2006


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