Dennis Loo

Sometimes asking for the impossible is the only realistic path

Dennis Loo

Dennis Loo
Location
Los Angeles, California,
Birthday
December 31
Title
Professor of Sociology
Company
Cal Poly Pomona
Bio
Author of Globalization and the Demolition of Society; Co-Editor/Author of Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney, World Can't Wait Steering Committee Member, co-author of "Crimes Are Crimes, No Matter Who Does Them" statement, dog and fruit tree lover. Published poet. Winner of the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award, Project Censored Award and the Nation Magazine's Most Valuable Campaign Award. Punahou and Harvard Honor Graduate. Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Santa Cruz. An archive of close to 500 postings of mine can be found at my blogspot blog, Dennis Loo, link below. I publish regularly at dennisloo.com, worldcantwait.net (link below) and also at OpEd News and sometimes at Counterpunch.

DECEMBER 15, 2011 7:49PM

A Presidency That Will Go Down in Infamy

Rate: 14 Flag

The White House announced today that it would not veto the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. The NDAA mandates the military to arrest and indefinitely detain any person, including American citizens, anywhere in the world, including on US soil, who is accused by authorities as a terrorist or alleged to be providing support to terrorists and organizations designated as terrorist. It is now enough - de facto and de jure - to be merely accused, for the sentence to be pronounced upon you by virtue of the accusation, as if Lewis Carroll's Red Queen was now in charge: "First the sentence, then the trial!"

Except now, they won't even bother with a trial, before or after sentence. In doing this, this president and this Congress deserve to go down now and in history as the most infamous and craven in US history.

Barack Hussein Obama, the man who campaigned on a platform of undoing the illegalities and gross injustices of the Bush Regime, has thus affirmed in no uncertain terms which side of history he is on – the side that Franz Kafka famously and graphically derided, the forces that posture, preen and say louder than anyone, while wrapped in the flag and the Bible, that they are the great defenders of Freedom, Liberty, and the Rule of Law, and no sooner as these words leave their lips and their poisoned pens, they cynically carry out the most lawless and most abhorrent practices. These practices deny the People the most minimal protections of due process and the rule of law, the very protections that distinguish tyrannies from just societies.

This so-called “war on terror” has thus revealed to the world its true character and logic: a malignant tumor on the body of society that will kill the patient. “In order to save freedom, we had to annihilate freedom.” Anyone who recognizes the magnitude of this moment dares not remain silent. Scoundrels will bray in triumph, the uninformed, apathetic and cowardly will cower, and the clear-seeing will take up the mantle of responsibility for the sake of humanity and stand up and be counted. 

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Combine this with the fact that the government has been passing out free military equipment - such as tanks and drones - to police departments all across the country and all that remains to be done now is to write the eulogy for one of mankind's greatest and most noble experiments in social development and hand the keys of the kingdom to the oligarchy.
.
craven indeed. the whitehouse made some empty noises about vetoing it, what is his excuse now? maybe he had nothing to say. just another vile warwhore for the warmachine.... how long before this statute is 1st employed? & a real american is spirited away to guantanamo? actually, one seriously wonders if we will even find out when it 1st happens.....I havent heard of anything that requires the military to REPORT such cases.... in fact it seems they would reserve that right for, what else? NATL SECURITY
I guess NATL SECURITY==NATL IMPRISONMENT
Tragically true for all of us. This is the year when the fascists (yes, the word is apt and accurate) finally took off their masks, when any thinking biped should have finally realized that there is no longer any alternative to be found in establishment politics. The answer is in the streets, or nowhere.
What's even worse is that the FBI, DOD, and Joint Chiefs of Staff all opposed the legislation, which was mostly ramrodded by Dick Cheney. Even stranger was Democratic leadership that was a spear carrier on this against objections from the rank and file. Also, many Republicans reacted the same way to their leadership. There is hope that one senator who voted in favor can ask for reconsideration, and there's a supposition that the Supreme Court will actually err on the side of the angels instead of devils if this case is ever heard. But the damage has been done, and the mystery of why this horrible bill was ever passed still remains a mystery for now.
ONL: The passage of this bill is not a mystery. It is a direct outcome of the logic of the "War on Terror." If the biggest threat to the nation is terrorism (which is the claim of the WOT and of those who lead this nation), then there is nothing that would or could stand in the way of acting to "protect" the nation. No laws, no principle, no standards can or should prevent them from their campaign! This is why the WOT is, as I state in the post, a virulent tumor. It is also a specific expression of the nature of neoliberalism and the dominance of capitalism worldwide when the socialist camp collapsed. It's an issue that I delve into depth about in Chapter 3 of my book. As I put it there:

"This undermining of the rule of law is being carried out across the full spectrum of bureaucratic and corporate purview and policy making from top to bottom. As [Magnus] Hornqvist puts it: 'It may seem absurd that a single area of policy should cover everything from truancy and drug sales to acts of terror. But it is absurd only because so many of us have not yet learned to proceed from a concept of security that has broken away from the logic of the law.' From this perspective, Bush and Cheney’s express violations of the rule of law are then not unique to them. They were merely on the cutting edge of that trajectory. And Obama’s perpetuation of their actions represents the further advance of that neoliberal project. This means that attempts to restore the rule of law will not succeed as a strategy separate from a fundamental challenge to the entire logic of the system itself."

Thank you Jane, skypixie, vzn and American.
What makes so much "sense" to us now will one day be deemed as madness. And yes, it is how we treat the most vulnerable among us that defines us.
Many people believe the George W. Bush administration was one of the most disastrous and anti-democratic in U.S. history. Even Barack Obama has indicated he believes that, which makes it puzzling that not only has he not repudiated the worst aspects of the Bush legacy, he has doubled-down on them. Goodbye, Bill of Rights...
And so many faux progressives on this site continue to profess undying loyalty to the liar-in-chief.


-R-
It seems strange to me that the Congress would want to codify this authority, and thus open itself to attacks like this one, rather than leave it all to the President, who has repeatedly proclaimed that he already enjoys such privileges in his status as "Commander in Chief." It's terrible public relations, especially when it comes to preaching to other countries about human rights. That's why I'm surprised they would call attention to this trashing of the Bill of Rights in such a public way - unless, of course, their intention is to intimidate their own population in the most effective way possible.

Rated - for all your work on OS.
Yeah, Dennis, like you, I am angry that the legislation is going to be signed. And I think history will assign “blame” for what is happening. But I suspect history will judge this period to be the time of the electorate that will go down in infamy, rather than bestow that appellation on an administration, congress, or president.

We Americans…and more specifically, today’s liberals, are at fault more than the people who want to be elected.

The bill would not be signed if the nation’s professional liberals had not made the liberal brand the sludge that it has become. And make no mistake about it; the most outspoken liberals are at fault for what has happened to the liberal brand, not the conservatives.

I listen to the Republican presidential candidates…and each claims to be further to the right than all the others. Each proudly announces, “I am the TRUE conservative…I am the one with the TRUE conservative values…and I am the one who will TRULY lead our country further and further in the direction conservatism preaches.”

Can you even picture multiple presidential candidates on stage bragging about their liberal credentials…and claiming to be the one furthest to the left; claiming to be the one who will lead our nation furthest to the left?

It is a scenario too laughable to really imagine.

The American mind-set requires candidates to move further and further to the right in order to have any chance to be elected to national office…and that, Dennis, is occasioned by what over-zealous liberals have done to tarnish their own image.

Yup, this era will probably be viewed by historians as the lurch to the right that fatally crippled the noble experiment…but my guess is blame will be assigned more widely than “A presidency that will go down in infamy.”

But keep up the good work, liberals; teach Obama a lesson; get the Republican nominee in there as a replacement. You will really help this country if you do. (I hope the sarcasm is apparent!)
The way I see it the coming election features tow of the same monsters wearing different costumes but still evil twins.
There is truly no choice at all.
for no matter who gets in, this erosion of any remaining freedoms will continue.
Speaking out is the only thing left.
For soon the three a.m. knock will come at the door.
great piece Dennis....
Frank,

Your support of Barack Obama is bordering on delusional. HE is going to sign this legislation. No Republican will have a gun to his head, or grab his wrist and force his hand.

But go ahead and support and vote for a president that would sign this legislation. you will really help this country if you do. (I hope the sarcasm is apparent!)
Leeds, I appreciate the comment you directed toward me, but I think you are off the mark.

Capitalism, with its free enterprise, is far from perfect--has lots of failings…but I continue to support it. That is far from being close to delusional.

The functioning of a democratic republic is far from perfect--has many failings…but I continue to support it. That is far from being close to delusional.

There are many things in life that are far from perfect…in fact, which have many glaring failings, but I continue to support them. That is far from a delusional way to deal with life.

You leave me with the impression that you do not intend to support Barack Obama in any way. There’s a lot of that going around; certainly plenty here in this thread and in this forum.

I see a danger in that…and I address it.

But I always add that anyone who feels the proper, ethical, reasonable thing to do is to withhold support from Obama—ought to do that.

Frankly, I think enough people WILL withhold support from Obama to insure a Republican victory in the presidential race next year. Many people here think there is no appreciable difference between having Obama elected and having a Republican in the Oval Office.

I think they are VERY MUCH mistaken. I think there will come a time where they regret their decision.

But, if as I expect a Republican is elected, we will see.
The prescience of Theodore Roosevelt was amazing, as he imagined the board lackey in 1918 when he said:

"Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

Is there anyone more base, servile, or morally treasonable than apisa as he brays and bleats his latest slogan polluting the boards of OS with his fetid seed:

blah, blah, blah professional liberal, blah, blah, blah professional liberal, blah, blah, blah, professional liberal . . . .
This is one of the most horribly depressing things I've read in a long time. How is it that Cheney and/or his ghost have any influence at all in this country? How have they escaped the "justice" that Pvt. Manning is staring at when they have damaged this country for generations to come?
And yet, I will wear the shame Rahm Emanuel heaped on me - I will work to see this president reelected because I think Sonia Sotomayor makes a better SC justice than another Alito would. And that is about the ONLY reason.
[R]
I heard about this from my husband, and hoped it was not true. Thank you for posting this important piece. so much for democracy. Rated.
Thanks for speaking out, Dennis. It's not just Obama. He's taking the Democratic Party over the cliff with him. By the time he's finished there will be no opposition to the Republican mania. When Carl Levin fights for passage of this bill, and Ron Wyden joins with Paul Ryan in paving the way to the end of Medicare, you know Democrats have lost their way.
Thanks for your visits and comments and ratings folks!

Frank: You say that democratic republics have failings but what you're not seeing is that this democratic republic that you so honor and defend is not a democratic republic anymore. You have steadfastly refused to see the writing on the wall throughout Obama's presidency and in fact, as you know, pilloried me about it (e.g., calling me an "intellectual coward" in a screaming headline on your blog) until we reached a modus vivendi over it. You were upset that I would not refrain from criticizing Obama for what he's doing, what he is, and what he represents, which I had begun to do during his campaign for the presidency because it was clear to me from his words and the context of the times and our institutions what the game was that he was up to.

Now that the writing is no longer on the wall but is in front of our collective noses - that fascist laws are now the law of the land for anyone who dares to dissent and organize that dissent - you still continue to believe in the fiction that Obama is something better than Bush or the current crop of Republican fascists running for office (save Ron Paul who is a libertarian). He is no better for all intents and purposes. There is already a reactionary majority on the Supreme Court so it doesn't matter who Obama appoints to the high court during his term(s) because they already run the Supremes. In fact, I'd argue that Obama is actually worse than the Republicans because of people such as yourself who won't respond appropriately to what Obama's doing and legitimating because he isn't a Republican. If it was a Republican doing it then there'd be more protests in the streets, which is really what will make a difference.

What you miss is what is actually happening and what these moves mean because you're seduced by labels. If he's labelled a Democrat ergo he/she must be better than the Republicans.

Dude, wake up!
Thanks for the response, Dennis.

(e.g., calling me an "intellectual coward" in a screaming headline on your blog)

I hope we have gotten past all that nonsense that went before. I apologize for my part in it—and I acknowledge that “my part” was by far the more egregious part. I apologize once again.

Allow me to comment on the rest of your response.

You say that democratic republics have failings but what you're not seeing is that this democratic republic that you so honor and defend is not a democratic republic anymore.

It is a democratic republic, Dennis…and the hyperbole liberals like you use in this regard hurts the liberal cause more than the crap conservatives throw your way. The United States of America IS A DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC. To suggest otherwise IS hyperbole on a grand scale.

You have steadfastly refused to see the writing on the wall throughout Obama's presidency and in fact, as you know, pilloried me about it (e.g., calling me an "intellectual coward" in a screaming headline on your blog) until we reached a modus vivendi over it. You were upset that I would not refrain from criticizing Obama for what he's doing, what he is, and what he represents, which I had begun to do during his campaign for the presidency because it was clear to me from his words and the context of the times and our institutions what the game was that he was up to.

Well, Dennis, respectfully as possible, I don’t think you do know what he is up to. I think you are making a tainted assessment of his actions, but that is your right. I’ve apologized for the insults I hurled at you when you banned me from your blog…and the only reason I’ve left the “screaming headlines” up is to take responsibility for my actions. If you ask me to remove them, I will do so in a second. I think Obama is getting what he can from lousy cards…and I do not think you, or anyone else, could have gotten more. You are certainly free to suppose you, or someone else, would have, but we simply have differing opinions on that.

Now that the writing is no longer on the wall but is in front of our collective noses - that fascist laws are now the law of the land for anyone who dares to dissent and organize that dissent - you still continue to believe in the fiction that Obama is something better than Bush or the current crop of Republican fascists running for office (save Ron Paul who is a libertarian).

I certainly think progressive initiatives have a better chance of survival and enactment under Obama than under any of the Republican candidates. If you don’t, I think you are being naïve. Over using that word “fascist” is harming the liberal brand more and more each day.

He is no better for all intents and purposes.

You have a right to that opinion, although I strongly disagree with you on it.

There is already a reactionary majority on the Supreme Court so it doesn't matter who Obama appoints to the high court during his term(s) because they already run the Supremes.

If Ruth Bader Ginsberg retires, the nomination of her successor WILL matter. To suppose otherwise is unfathomable to me. To suppose the court and the rest of the federal judiciary could not get worse under someone like Newt Gingrich than under Obama is beyond comprehension to me. I suggest you re-think your stance on that issue.



The balance of your comments, Dennis, seems to indicate you think I am a Democrat. I am not…I am a registered Independent (although that designation has become questionable in New Jersey). I am not defending Obama because he is a Democrat…and honestly, I am not defending him all that much at all. I think he has done a reasonable job considering the circumstances of his administration—working in an unbelievably toxic political environment filled with petty obstructionism.

I am in favor of a progressive agenda…and I do see MUCH less damage being done to it under Obama and the Democrats than under the Republicans. I think the damage would be even less if the professional left were to get out of their fantasy world and started supporting rather than knocking people like Obama. It’s bad enough liberals have made the very word “liberal” an insult to most citizens.

I am not seduced by labels…and I am awake, Professor. Suggesting that I am “seduced by labels” is demeaning and dismissive of the considerable thought and work I put into my comments.

Asking me to “wake up” does not bother me, because I want very much to ask you and others like you to wake up.

Calling me, Dude brought a smile to my face.
Frank, Dude:

Yes, I would appreciate your removing that inflamed headline calling me an "intellectual coward."

The thing about assertions and beliefs is that just because you believe firmly in something doesn't necessarily make it true. The litmus test of a belief is whether or not the evidence supports that belief or not. To say that the US is a democratic republic and to ignore the overwhelming evidence that it is not a democratic republic any more, if it ever really was one, is to undermine one's argument. You can't argue convincingly if all you're doing is asserting the fact that you believe something to be true and you haven't provided evidence to refute someone whose position you disagree with nor have you provided evidence supporting your contentions.

(I'm not a liberal, by the way, and I do take your statement that you're an independent as a helpful clarification of your position.)
"The litmus test of a belief is whether or not the evidence supports that belief or not."

Be reasonable, Dennis, evidence and facts are not in any way part of frank's game - he never uses them.

Slogans and delusion is the apisa way.
Dennis,

Yes, I would appreciate your removing that inflamed headline calling me an "intellectual coward."

Actually, there were five posts of mine with your name in the title. You had banned me from your blog and I wrote responses in separate threads. Two of them had the “intellectual coward” phrase in them.

I deleted all five. I have copies of all of the threads…complete with all comments made by everyone. If you want a copy of that document, just ask and I will send it to you.

The thing about assertions and beliefs is that just because you believe firmly in something doesn't necessarily make it true. The litmus test of a belief is whether or not the evidence supports that belief or not. To say that the US is a democratic republic and to ignore the overwhelming evidence that it is not a democratic republic any more, if it ever really was one, is to undermine one's argument. You can't argue convincingly if all you're doing is asserting the fact that you believe something to be true and you haven't provided evidence to refute someone whose position you disagree with nor have you provided evidence supporting your contentions.

Okay, you correct here…and of course, the same thing applies to you.

A democratic republic is a form of government embodying democratic principles and where a monarch is not the head of state.

The United States has a form of government embodying democratic principles and there is no monarch as the head of state. The United States is a democratic republic. For the record, it is also a federal democratic republic.

Here are some comments pulled from Wikipedia. If you really want me to go to the actual sources rather than use this shortcut, I may oblige you, however, I think your disagreement stems from anger at some things that are happening now (and have been happening during the last several years)...so at the end of these few comments, I will ask you for your definition of what we are...and why you suppose that to be so.


Article IV Section 4

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Thomas Jefferson said, "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."
Thomas Jefferson, March 11, 1790: "The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind."

Alexander Hamilton, in debate, said: "Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate government."

Alexander Hamilton, in Senate: "It has been observed that a pure democracy, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies, in which the people themselves deliberated, never possessed one feature of good government. Their very character was tyranny: their figure deformity."

John Adams, in a letter to John Taylor, wrote: "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."

James Madison said: "...democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."


Reduced to its essence the United States is a federal republic, a federation of states with a republican form of government, i.e., a representative democracy, where the citizens elect their representatives for fixed terms of office.

The Constitution of the United States, Article IV, § 4 provides: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government...." The requirement that the Constitution contain a provision guaranteeing a republican form of government seems to have been driven by Madison. Thus, it is appropriate to turn to his definition of a republican form of government in The Federalist Papers, no. 39, 250--53 (January 16, 1788). There, he writes that "we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people; and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behaviour."

A familiar contrast is often made between a republican and a democratic form of government based on the latter's being a direct wielding of power by the people with unrestricted majority rule, and the former's being a government by representatives elected by the people with restrictions on the power of the majority. It should be noted that the requirement of restrictions on the power of the majority are not contained in Madison's definition. The restrictions on the power of the majority are, instead, contained in the Bill of Rights. Thus, whichever definition one adopts, the United Stated has a republican form of government.

QUESTION: What do you suppose we are if not a federal democratic republic...and what do you base that on?
A typical apisa flatulent answer -- not a word addressing the essence of the post, which is obama.

frank STILL thinks morals are a genus of mushrooms and principles are people who administer schools.

What a waste!
Thank you Frank for removing those posts.

As to the question of whether the US is a federal democratic republic:

The material you've drawn from Wikipedia is an illustration of one of the shortcomings of Wikipedia: many of its entries put forth some useful information but don't do so in conformity to the actually existing situation. In other words, it begins with the assumption/assertion about the nature of the thing it's defining and discussing (in this case the US form of government) and so the conclusion that one should reach is asserted as a premise, rather than proceeding from the question that it should start with: what is the actually existing form of the US government?

It's true that in name and broad structures the US is a federal democratic republic. But that is not what it actually is and how it actually operates. I can take a platypus and put a sign around its neck and say that it is a duck, but would that make it a duck?

To be more specific, when you examine the forms of the US government you must look as well and even more importantly at how those elements actually operate and what the actual outcomes are of those elements. You cannot rely on their stated purposes or the stated intent of those who created it, or the words on paper that are supposed to describe what they do.

What the US has today would be better described as a bourgeois democracy within the official form of a federal democratic republic. It is bourgeois in that the class that runs the government and society, the group that actually makes the decisions about public policy and distribution of resources, etc., is the capitalist class, the 1% in common parlance. And, in fact, the actual executive group within the bourgeoisie that runs the state and the economy is a small fraction of the 1%.

It is a bourgeois democracy in the sense that the bourgeoisie shares power amongst themselves and debate and dispute and struggle amongst themselves about what policies to implement and how to present those policies to the public.

The other side of this is that it is also a bourgeois dictatorship over the rest of the people outside of the 1% (or more accurately, the executive group within the 1% who really run things). A dictatorship is one in which one group or an individual tells other people what they can and cannot do. In that sense, any state has a dictatorial aspect to it: if you don't do what the state wants, the state can and will use coercion to make you do it. That's the nature of a dictatorship. I am, in this context then, using the term dictatorship is a more functional and generic sense then the common use of the term which is that "so and so is a 'dictator.'"

How is the US government a bourgeois dictatorship? An example is the fact that the Occupy movement encampments were forcibly evicted using the armed might of the police in conjunction with the federal elements of the government coordinating and leading it (out of the White House and DHS, FBI, etc.) These encampments in a democratic republic with a Bill of Rights would have been allowed to continue as expressing their legal rights to freedom of assembly and speech. But they were not because we aren't in fact a democratic republic but a bourgeois democracy/dictatorship. Moreover, if the Occupy encampments had been put to a vote (as they were in numerous polls) the majority's opinion was that the encampments should remain and reflected the most popular sentiment.

Another example of the fact that we are a BD/D: the multiple wars going on initiated by the US government. The decision to wage these wars were not made by representatives in fact, nor was this the wish of the majority of the electorate. The decision was made in the White House and the Congress abided by that executive decision. The right to declare war is supposed to rest with the Congress but the reality is that the executive branch has for many decades in fact made the decision. The votes to authorize the use of force that was obtained under Bush was done so in spite of what the majority of the people wanted. The White House has ever since then done what it wanted and twisted the authorization to use force to fit its desires. As you know, that authorization to use force was carried out as a result of a cynical Big Lie that Iraq had WMD and by the fact that no one in mainstream media pointed out the fact that according to the UN Charter and International Law, even if Iraq had had WMD the US attack was an example of aggressive war, the ultimate war crime, since it had not been attacked and wasn't in any danger of being attacked by Iraq.

The NDAA and the preceding executive decisions by Obama to exercise dictatorial powers in carrying out what the bourgeoisie calls the "war on terror" but which is really a war of terror are not ones that were subject to actual democratic decisions or checks and balances but by executive fiat.

The direction of this BD/D over the last few decades has been to progressively jettison elements of the Bill of Rights and the rule of law (even while rhetorically doing the opposite of this) and adopt more openly fascist norms. One of the pivotal events was the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that in effect legalized torture by US personnel. My first book Impeach the President and my latest book go into depth on these preceding questions in great detail and with voluminous examples of these points.
Thank you for your response, Dennis.

I understand the consternation and anger that brings you to where you are; in fact, I share more of it than may seem apparent from some of the comments I’ve made in your threads.

But I am a person who always has his eye on the prize; I keep the “prize” realistic; and my idea of a “prize” right now is a great deal more pragmatic than it has been in the past and takes into consideration factors I never even considered in earlier in my life.

I never, for instance, ever even considered the possibility that “democracy” may not work. The quotes from Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and Hamilton on democracy in my last post had particular impact on me, because as I stated in a thread I posted back in October (I WANT TO BE WRONG ON THIS) I have become persuaded that democracy in any of its forms inevitably leads to chaos and anarchy. It may well not be the end-all panacea many Americans think it to be. It simply may not work.

I also never thought I would ever utter these words, but here goes: We may not be able to win this war with terrorism.

Either the terrorists will defeat us and many of our rights and privileges will be lost…or we will have to defeat them, and in order to do so, give up many of our rights and privileges. We cannot continue to fight them using “our rules” against “their rules” …any more than I could succeed in a golf Nassau using USGA rules against someone using whatever rules he/she wants to use.

This reminds me of our war of independence. The British were a far superior fighting force to the continentals, but they insisted on sticking to their rules, while the colonials made their own rules. The colonials fought from cover…as guerillas, something no proper British soldier would do. The colonials shot at and killed officers…something considered undignified and unacceptable to the British. We all know how that war turned out.

Yeah, some of our freedoms are being eroded. I’d be damned surprised if that never happened. It is an inevitable part of society getting more complex. Fact is, my guess is that we will go further and further in that direction…to the betterment of our collective situation—not to its detriment. The good of the many will have to take precedence over the desire for great individual personal freedom.

I recognize that it is possible to see the inevitable change the way you do, but I suggest some adjustment in the direction we are going is not only needed, it is desirable.

In any case, no matter that there are some ruts in the road…the road is still a road. No matter that adjustments are being made, and will (in my opinion) accelerate, our country is still a federal representative democracy. And Dennis, no matter how much you object to this characterization, I suggest respectfully that you and I and the rest of us enjoy more personal freedom than almost anyone else ever has on this planet. Giving up some of that personal freedom in furtherance of more pressing general societal needs is every bit as reasonable as asking the very wealthy to give up some of their wealth to the betterment of the rest of society.

Or at least, that is what I think.
Frank:

I am glad that the conversation and debate you and I have now is so civil. I tire of the flaming that goes on at times on the web. Having said that, I must tell you that discussing politics is with you is difficult because you tend to articulate your thoughts on a high level of generality and you don't generally go into specifics so that your ideas can really be tested against data.

When you say that you're convinced that we're a federal democratic republic and that the "good of the many will have to take precedence over the desire for great individual personal freedom" what are you really saying? In what respects other than in the most formal sense are we a fdr and what good of the many do you mean? Do you mean the abrogation of civil liberties and an unfettered executive branch and a military that patrols the domestic population? What you're not addressing yourself to are the specific contours and meanings of these measures. I would really urge you to read Chapter Three of my new book about this. It's about the "War on Terror" and how the representations of what it's about by the government are patently false and how momentous these changes are.
Thank you, Dennis, for this post and your work[s] and my personal thanks/appreciation to/for all the previous comment-ers. I have many thoughts, opinions (the two words are not synonymous) and feelings about all the stated issues along with a number of issues not yet stated on this post. I'm not going to take up any reader's or readers' time right now to enunciate any of that. So why am I commenting? Because -- although all commenters have expressed some of their points of view elsewhere at other times, this is the post I just now found this morning and where I will be checking in continuously in hopes the discussions continue. Good Morning all (or whatever time it may be "wherever you are").

R+++
Dennis, the vitriol I direct at apisa is due to one thing, and one thing only. For three years, this guy has refused to engage in ANYTHING substantive.

Instead he has used a smarmy bunch of slogans; give him more time, eating our young, irrational expectations, good and decent man, professional liberals, etc.

At the same time when confronted with substantive lists of malevolence by the administration, he has maintained a stony silence.

That would be bad enough, but along with his hollow arguments, he has gone out of his way to hector any who might offer ANY substantive criticism pf the administration.

In my years on OS, I have never seen a single member, bar none, asked by so many to cease commenting on their blogs, nor have I seen a single member drive as many posters to stop posting due to his constant badgering of them.

It is an egotistical demonstration of hubris never before seen here, as if only apisa can grasp the complexities, and all others, may they be university professors, legal experts, degreed historians, are but poseurs compared to apisa's malevolent OPINIONS.

He says out of one corner of his mouth that he is the happiest guy in the world, yet from the other corner of his mouth, he brags that he loves to argue and is proud to have been banned from three previous forums.

He claims that he thinks his "views" through thoroughly, and then confides that he used to smoke five joints of marijuana daily, BUT he always took A DAY OR TWO OFF A YEAR!!!

Might that erode ones clarity?

He comes on others blogs and demands that they answer in substance his questions, but feels no obligation to respond in kind.

Watching his comment stream, not only is he often contradictory of his own words, but exhibits all the characteristics of a sociopathic passive-aggressive personality disorder.

Three years of lies, dissembling, revisionism, omissions, and any other mechanism available to defend indefensible actions.

This is the true essence of frank apisa.
Dennis, I will get back to you with some specificity later. Nancy and I are about to go out to a presentation of the Nutcracker...so tonight is probably out. Tomorrow is football most of the day, but I will find a way to reply then.

I also enjoy the civil conversation...and the interesting perspective you always bring to your threads. Back to ya later.
Is Markinjapan describing Frank Apisa or Newt Gingrich?
Great post Dennis, rated. As for Frank, well he long ago drank the Obama-lade and he still continues to do so. What will his reaction be, if there is an attack on Iran and all of the attendant horrors that will follow?(Such an action would be a massive war crime no matter under what cover it occurs), and here in this country, we have the responsibility to oppose it, stop it, and rebel against it!
The Nutcracker (American Repertory Company & Princeton Ballet School) was terrific. I will resist the temptation to start my response to your last request by saying one of the “rights” that ought be abridged in some way is the “right” to bring any cell phone capable of texting into any theater. Why people consider it okay to text and read texts during performances or movies is beyond me. But I resist.

Having said that, I must tell you that discussing politics is with you is difficult because you tend to articulate your thoughts on a high level of generality and you don't generally go into specifics so that your ideas can really be tested against data.

I’ll try to work on that.

In what respects other than in the most formal sense are we a fdr…

My initial reaction to this is to ask in response: In what respect other than the most formal sense are human intelligent creatures> In what respect other than in the most formal sense is the Earth a planet? In what respect other than the most formal sense is the universe a universe?

Dennis, the “formal sense” is what almost everyone except people with an agenda to denigrate the United States use to call it a federal democratic republic. It is a federation; it is (for the most part) democratic; and it is a republic. It has flaws, just as many human beings have major flaws—but that does not make them not human. I repeat my question of earlier, if we are not a federal democratic republic, what are we?

When you say…that the "good of the many will have to take precedence over the desire for great individual personal freedom" what are you really saying?

Tough assignment to be more specific, Dennis, because the thoughts that bring me to these points are the result of development over many years…and require more space and work to explain and justify than I have (and want to put forth) right now. But let me give it a shot. Here is a Readers Digest version of a few items that pop to mind:

The right to absolute privacy ought to be reconsidered. Cameras to monitor traffic and traffic lights and radars to monitor speeds are not, in my opinion, invasions of reasonable privacy. Cameras in public places that capture activity of people going about their day-to-day lives, despite the Orwellian sound, are not, in my opinion, unreasonable invasions of privacy. Using tape from those machines by law enforcement to solve crimes or to give tickets are not, in my opinion, unreasonable invasions of privacy. Yes, it is my opinion that adjustments in these areas are “giving up some individual personal freedoms and rights”, but doing so is to the betterment of the many.

(I’ll leave out the “in my opinion” from the rest of this posting, but it is implicit in each comment.)

The right to assemble peacefully, while I treasure it, needs to have some restrictions. Assembly that has as its purpose primarily to disrupt cannot be condoned…or at least cannot be condoned to continue without limitation. At some point, the authorities can say, “You have made your point—now disperse.” The OWS thing was a great happening; a visionary movement …I had high hopes for it. But at some point it became meaningless assembly primarily intent on disruption. (It had many other defects that turned me against it!) Other people besides protesters have rights also…and the “just to disrupt” notion interferes with their rights. Accommodation has to be made. Making adjustments in this area means “giving up some individual personal freedoms and rights”, but doing so is to the betterment of the many.


The right to procreate as often as one wants probably needs some attending. China is probably closer to reasonable than the United States in that regard. The number of people on the planet is increasing at what some consider a dangerous rate…and steps have to be taken to prevent people from indiscriminately producing as many humans as they want. Making adjustments in this area means “giving up some individual personal freedoms and rights”, but doing so is to the betterment of the many.

These are but a few…there are more…but this gives you a taste of what I mean. I did not get into the “we are fighting a war against terrorism” that may require adjustments. I alluded to all that in my last post. Obviously, developing these thoughts takes more time than I can give it here.

I understand your reservations about these things, Dennis…I have serious reservations myself. And I am not satisfied that I have resolved many of them to my personal satisfaction. But better minds than mine can be brought to bear on the notions. Perhaps yours.
Final thought, Dennis.

Some adjustments in safety net programs ARE going to have to be made. I part of the very poor…but I see a need (to placate the savages on the right who will obstruct anything not containing some safety net adjustments) to give up a small percentage of my pitiful Social Security benefit. I’ll get by…and so will most of the others.

At some point, the “giving up parts of these freedoms and rights” is going to have to include…seeing to it that EVERYONE has sufficient for a decent life. I define a “decent life” as the kind of life a family in New Jersey might have with a gross income of $60,000 per year. Not a luxury life by any means…life is mean and expensive in New Jersey, but adequate food; adequate shelter; adequate medical attention; adequate communication and transportation; and a modicum of luxury items like a television; a movie once a month; and a trip down the shore for a weekend each year.

Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are all going to take a hit. That will happen whether a Democrat, Republican, or Independent takes the Oval Office…and control of the congress. That is a given.

The system has to change before that kind of thing can be corrected.
Frank:

You said in an earlier comment that Americans enjoy a higher standard of living than others. I think that comment points to the gulf between us in our value systems. I think it may also be why you referred a couple of times to my being "angry" to try to account for why I was saying what I was saying. In other words, you think that being an American means that we should be happy because we have things that others don't and therefore anyone who excoriates the US for its policies must be only temporarily a malcontent or driven to distraction by his emotions rather than someone who genuinely sees this as an unacceptable state of affairs for himself or herself and the rest of the planet and who doesn't regard American lives are most precious than any other people's.

You say with respect to Occupy and other protests: "At some point, the authorities can say, 'You have made your point—now disperse.'”

This comment concentrates too the differences that we have over what's going on, why it's going on, and what can and should (or should not in your case) be done about it. Your stance with respect to Occupy and your seeing it in the terms of authorities - "you have made your point - now disperse" - shows why we cannot agree on the critical issues. In the first instance, if authorities can simply tell protesters "you have made your point" what does this mean? It means, children, you've had your little say, now go back and play with your blocks and watch TV while we adults do what adults do. What gives the authorities the right to tell the people who are exercising their rights to speak out and peaceably assemble to go home, to get beaten, arrested, and maced? If you thought that Occupy was visionary, then what was/is that vision? The Occupy movement is a fundamental challenge to the values of those in charge and the system that is in place. If authorities can violently end protests, then in what respect do we have an actual democracy?

You don't seem to grasp on a fundamental level that your certainty that we are a federal democratic republic is belied by the fact that it is now permissible for authorities to preempt any protests that it doesn't like and charge people as terrorists, that it is now permissible for the White House to assassinate people who the WH calls (without anyone gainsaying this or monitoring this) a terrorist, that habeas corpus is now dead, one of the explicit demands of the American Revolution that the "Great Writ" was being violated by King George. You don't understand on a fundamental level that the precious American Revolution that you love so much has now been undone on its most basic levels with respect to civil liberties. To repeat that we are a fdr in the face of the facts boggles my mind.

To return to my initial point: your perspective is that of national chauvinism and that of the infamous Good German who went along with fascism in the name of a higher standard of living and comfort for the German citizen - as long as that German citizen wasn't a communist, a trade unionist, a Jew, a disabled person, a Roma, a non-German in any other country, or any one else who didn't fit in as an Aryan.

I don't understand why you would ask again if we don't have a fdr what we do have because I already answered that question.

We are talking apples and oranges and in some respects we aren't even doing that. I'm talking fruits and you're talking about rocks. Not only are we not on the same page, we're not even in the same hemisphere.
Thank you for your reply, Dennis. Not sure what hemisphere you are in, but I hope you are as peaceful and content as you will allow yourself to be.

I guess we will end this with agreeing to disagree.
What a waste of time it is talking to apisa - passive-agressive sociopath to the extreme, and m.a.h., as you are his sister, if you can't recognize his deranged disabilities from newt's then I guess it's a genetic thing.