Recurring haunting thought

August 16, 2013 | By | 5 Replies More

Recurring haunting thought: A formal democracy is not at all inconsistent with a country trending toward dictatorship. Given our bizarre national priorities (I’m referring to the various planet-destroying and hyper-xenophobic policies where the aims of the two major parties INTERSECT), one could meaningfully advocate today for a revolution by which the control of the United States government should be handed to the People. I can imagine people scoffing at this idea: “Isn’t that what we already HAVE?” Sure. On the books, that’s what we have.

How much things have changed in the U.S. that so many high-placed prominent government officials publicly construe common folks who want to be well-informed about government misconduct to be dangerous enemies. How far we’ve come, that a former President declares that “America has no functioning democracy at this moment.” How far we’ve come that it’s so difficult to get so many people to wrest themselves from their TV and sports obsessions in order that they can regain focus enough to see the danger of our policies divesting regular folks of any meaningful political power. If this seems like hyperbole, check out “Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America” by John Nichols and Robert McChesney.

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Category: American Culture, Orwellian, Politics, Propaganda, Social justice

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Erich-

    I’ve had much the same thought watching the direction of the country, especially post-9/11. The powerful effects of internal propaganda are difficult to overcome, but we must try. Our internal propaganda comes not just from the media, but from the education we received growing up.

    All I want from the government is what I was promised in school: a government which values truth and justice, fair play, a society in which by the fruits of one’s own hard work one can move upwards in economic class, free elections, the importance of the rule of law, the unique value of the constitution to place strict limits on the power of the federal government in favor of the people, etc… All these things, and more, I was taught makes America unique in the world and a bastion of freedom and justice.

    The more research I’ve done, the more I realize that those traditional open values have persisted in American’s minds as the way things are, when in fact, they have changed dramatically. Many of these issues have been covered here at DI: our elections are gamed and controlled, the absence of the rule of law as it applies to political and economic elites, the assertion that the constitution is an outmoded and inapplicable document, the corruption of the economic system to tilt the playing field in favor of those who already have economic power, etc…

    Naomi Wolf wrote an article in 2007 in which she laid out 10 steps by which open societies are turned into draconian police states:
    1. Create an internal and external enemy and insist that extreme measures must be taken to defeat such an enemy (al-Qaeda, terrorists)
    2. Create a gulag or prison system outside the normal criminal justice apparatus (military tribunals, Guantanamo, indefinite detention, extreme rendition)
    3. Develop a thug caste (private military contractors, militarized police)
    4. Set up an internal surveillance system (NSA, Patriot Act, TSA)
    5.Harass citizen’s groups (infiltration/arrest of Occupy, Tea Party, environmental, anti-war groups)
    6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release (see above)
    7. Target key individuals (intellectuals, internal dissenters)
    8. Control the press
    9. Dissent/whistleblowing cast as treason and espionage (Manning, Snowden, etc..)
    10. Suspend the rule of law

    It’s really quite terrifying to see how far along that spectrum the US has traveled, and most people don’t even realize it.

    A good friend of mine, rather conservative, recently had a daughter and cut out the television as a cost-saving measure. Since then, he’s been reading more news, and especially foreign news. It’s really quite striking how much news is kept from Americans about the abuses and corruption of their government, but which is widely reported in reputable foreign media. I have been warning of this fascist shift to him for several years, but he didn’t see it until he has taken the time to consider the news in a new context. Television decontextualizes the “news” which is fed to the American audience in an insidious way. He considered himself well-informed before, but now he speaks of “waking up” and being “out of the matrix”, which is an apt way to put my feelings on the matter as well.

    Other friends I have warned about the matter of telephone surveillance by the NSA and others beginning in about 2009 or so. I told them about the government storing all one’s calls, searchable at any time. At the time, they were clearly uncomfortable with the conversation and accused me of fomenting conspiracies. They insisted that such things could not happen in America, land of the free. I’m pleased to be vindicated, but still wish the circumstances were different.

    I’m surprised to see you mention the word “revolution” in this context. I can’t imagine you making such a leap even a few short years ago. However, I don’t believe you are alone in thinking about such (formerly unthinkable) things.

    Guns and ammunition have been selling as fast as they can be manufactured, and the both the government and the people are buying them as fast as possible. I’ve seen the discussion on forums such as reddit shift from a knee-jerk defense of the status quo to a debate on the merits and risks of violent resistance. The military has been penning white-papers and otherwise seem to be making preparations for operations in the Homeland. Congress is now less popular than King George was at the time of the (first?) American Revolution.

    Americans are increasingly coming to a similar realization: the government does not have your best interests in mind, does not serve you, and in fact, more and more treats the average citizen as a suspect and criminal. This is not sustainable. Where it goes from here is anybody’s guess.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Brynn: Noami Wolf’s list is haunting. Corresponds to the slow strangulation of our democracy. As well-documented in Dollarocracy, the plan, and it is really a well-coordinated PLAN, is to take most political power from regular folks and to hand it to a paranoid and arrogant segment of the the monied class. The plan is working quite well, extraordinarily well, given that most folks don’t give a shit that their participation in government has become ceremonial. I agree with your characterization of most of being stuck in the “matrix.”

      Beautiful second paragraph. Yes, a dozen times! Your final paragraph sums it up the outlook succinctly. The government has become a tool for a segment of the monied class that seeks ever more money. They will never be satisfied.

      Check out the observations of this Democrat legislator who was accidentally invited to a recent ALEC conference:

      Representative Chris Taylor is a Democrat elected to the Wisconsin legislature in 2011. Last week, she attended the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) annual conference in Chicago. Writing about her experience at The Progressive magazine’s website, she describes her experience inside the “ALEC universe” and writes: “ALEC members have been quietly working out of the public eye to develop their agenda so that when given the opportunity, they are ready to start creating an ALEC nation. That time has come. And they are ready.” . . .

      That sentiment was underscored so many times to me, that they don’t want people involved in the political process, or in the policy process. And that seems to be the intent in a lot of ways: You have a think tank in every state and all they do is come up with these very, very regressive policies, you have corporations who are going to benefit so they fund it all, and then you have the legislators as your foot soldiers to carry out the tasks.

      Here’s a short video that also sums it up for me. George Carlin could, at times, be hilarious. He was also prescient.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    On Facebook, I posted this article about a Democrat legislator who was accidentally invited to an ALEC conference. That led to a flaming war involving ALEC supporters, who think that government is the only problem with the economy and that the less government the better. Here was my response:

    Good things don’t just happen all by themselves. We can have a garden (where we intervene in the market) or a jungle (where people blatantly mistreat each other, and where there is no antitrust or consumer law enforcement, leading to lots of people getting hurt). Option Two never works, in a civilized society. Option One can sometimes be abused by over-zealous government regulation, but can often work if the People have a voice in the process and if the People take the time to understand how business can be a positive force if carefully regulated and not over-regulated. The bottom line is that someone will, in every situation, wield power. It can be a distributed model that tries to accommodate all of the players, or it can be an abusive model where business buys and owns government, meaning that consumers and workers constantly get screwed due to deception and antitrust violations. There is nothing wrong with regulation. That’s why we have referees in sporting events, every one of which has a big book of rules for how to play the game fairly. Also, every big successful corporation, e.g., Apple, is regulated by its own internal rules and regulations. They couldn’t exist without them. It is possible for government to regulate business in a meaningful way. In my opinion, that no longer exists for many of our biggest industries, such as insurance, telecoms, big Pharma, our so-called media, and the military-industrial complex. ALEC seeks to largely strip power from the citizens and to turn the U.S. into a dystopia where big money tells legislators what to do in ways that invade every aspect of human life. The activities of ALEC, including it’s bribery and coercion tactics need to be brought to light. In my opinion, one can be pro-business in a healthy way while also being fervently opposed to many of the aims of ALEC.

    If anyone is interested in joining me at Facebook (where I post some DI articles plus many other items) send me a Friend Request: https://www.facebook.com/evieth

  3. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Good points Erich. Your analogy of market as jungle vs. garden seems especially apt.

    I ran across this TSA solicitation today, and thought I’d post it here as an example of ammunition purchases (or technically, solicitation of bids to purchase) that are raising questions. The vast majority of TSA agents are unarmed, with the exception of armed Air Marshals. But a solicitation posted on the General Services Administration website last Friday seeks bids for nearly 3.5 million rounds of .357 “training” ammunition. The TSA website says they employ roughly 50,000 screeners, so that amount of ammunition would be enough for each employee to shoot off about 70 rounds per day, each day of the year. Keep in mind that most of those 50,000 employees are unarmed.

    In March, 15 members of Congress asked the Department of Homeland Security why they were buying so much ammunition (reportedly 1.6 BILLION rounds).

    “The extraordinary level of ammunition purchases made by Homeland Security seems to have, in states such as my own, created an extreme shortage of ammunition to the point where many gun owners are unable to purchase any.”

    Indeed, between the massive purchases from DHS, (and now the TSA), and those being purchased by civilians, there is no ammo left to be had, even by police forces:

    A nationwide ammunition shortage has police departments across the country counting their bullets. It’s no different in Proctor, where the Chief says he was told he’d have to wait months, even a year to get more ammo.

    “I was really surprised, let’s just put it that way,” said Chief Walt Wobig of the difficulty getting ammunition.

    A citizen and a Proctor police officer loaned their personal ammunition to the Department, a total of 1,500 rounds. The Chief says others were willing to help too.

    “I had several other calls from other citizens that said, ‘Hey, if you need more ammunition we have plenty,'” said Woberg, “I know that if I need ammunition I have citizens out there that will gladly come forward.”

    The Chief says he still has ammunition on order and will be repaying the citizens for their contributions when the department is able to.

    He also sent in a request to Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar for help regarding their ammunition shortage.

  4. Brynn Jacobs says:

    On the subject of militarized police, the police chief in Concord, NH recently drew attention when he applied to the DHS for $250,000 for puchase of an armored tank-like vehicle. His application specified Occupy and libertarian groups as “present[ing] daily challenges”, apparently such challenges that they must be met with an armored vehicle.

    A viral video surfaced which purported to show a former Colonel speaking at the town council meeting in opposition to the purchase of the tank.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Y4zsgymRxE

    The chief has now been forced to walk back his claims that Occupy and Free State libertarian groups present a terrorist threat, but he still wants the tank.

    “I wish I would have worded things different in retrospect,” he said, according to the magazine. “I understand why their eyebrows are raised about that.”

    Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/aug/7/nh-still-wants-tank-regrets-claim-its-needed-again/#ixzz2cWMTgy23

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