Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dodging the Apocalypse

A friend forwarded this LA Times story about presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, alleging that Bachmann is opposed to the Renaissance and an advocate of the Dark Ages. Well, the Times' story doesn't really support that contention, but that's because their story is such apoor summary (an attempt at a hatchet job, actually) of a much longer story in The New Yorker, which rambles a lot over irrelevancies in Bachmann's past, but it does provide more useful background information for assessing Bachmann, most of it in the latter half of the long article.

To sum up: Bachmann is a certifiable evangelical nut-case (no surprise), an advocate of creationism, former abortion clinic protester, potential theocrat, and former IRS litigator -- but a slacker who stayed home most of the 4 years she worked there because she was on maternity leave. She worked on only six cases and tried exactly one case in court: 1992 Bachmann sought six thousand dollars in taxes from a Chippewa Indian who failed to report three years of income from Youth Project, Inc., a community-organizing nonprofit dedicated to "social justice and peace."
If only she had done the same to a community organizer just getting started in Chicago at that time.

If you read the New Yorker story, you'll see there is evidence for the contention that Bachmann's evangelism extends not only to disdain for the Renaissance, but also leans toward a form of religious theocracy.  The evidence revolves around her admitted respect for an evangelist/filmmaker named Francis Schaeffer, who has been called a key figure in the rise of the Religious Right in politics. According to New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza,
This spring, during one of her trips to Iowa, Bachmann asked the audience if anyone had heard of or seen How Should We Then Live? Many people applauded. She continued:
That also was another profound influence on Marcus’s life and my life, because we understood that the God of the Bible isn’t just about Bible stories and about Bible knowledge, or about just church on Sunday. He is the Lord of all of life. Every bit of life, including sociology, theology, biology, politics. You name the area and walk of life. He is the Lord of life. And so, as we went back to our studies, we looked at studying in a completely different light. Not for the purpose of a career but for a purpose of wondering, How does this fit into creation? How does this fit into the code and all of life that is about to come in front of us? And so we had new eyes that were opened up as we understood life now from a Biblical world view.
Schaeffer “was a tremendous philosopher,” Bachmann told me. “He wrote marvellous books and was very inspirational.” She said that Schaeffer “took Christianity beyond the Bible,” and that he showed “how the application of living according to Christian principles has helped the culture for the better.” She added, “He really tried to call Christians to do more than just go to church...
So what was Schaeffer's film? It consists of
...ten episodes tracing the influence of Christianity on Western art and culture, from ancient Rome to Roe v. Wade. In the films, Schaeffer... condemns the influence of the Italian Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Darwin, secular humanism, and postmodernism. 
Well, I can't criticize any criticism of post-modernism, but it doesn't get more obscurantist than that. (Note: a proper definition of "obscurantist" is "opposition to human enlightenment and knowledge", but many on-line definitions are badly corrupted.)
The first five installments of the series are something of an art-history and philosophy course. The iconic image from the early episodes is Schaeffer standing on a raised platform next to Michelangelo’s “David” and explaining why, for all its beauty, Renaissance art represented a dangerous turn away from a God-centered world and toward a blasphemous, human-centered world. 
Well, yes, that was the point, after all.  This is actually old stuff for the creationist/evangelist crowd...   500 or 1000 years old.
...the film shifts in the second half. In the sixth episode, a mysterious man in a fake mustache drives around in a white van and furtively pours chemicals into a city’s water supply, while Schaeffer speculates about the possibility that the U.S. government is controlling its citizens by means of psychotropic drugs. The final two episodes of the series deal with abortion and the perils of genetic engineering.
So you can see, it starts getting a little weird.  Conspirializingly weird.  Schaeffer died in 1984, but his son said,
“Those first episodes are what Francis Schaeffer is doing while he was sitting in Switzerland having nice discussions with people who came through to find Jesus and talk about culture and art,” he said. But then the Roe decision came, and “it wasn’t a theory anymore. Now ‘they’ are killing babies... 
And weirder yet:
"We had been warning that humanism followed to its logical conclusion without Biblical absolutes is going to go into terrible places, and, look, it’s happening right before our very eyes. Once that happens, everything becomes a kind of holy war.."
And even weirder:
Francis Schaeffer ...was a major contributor to the school of thought now known as Dominionism, which relies on Genesis 1:26 [sic]...
According to the Wiki,
And God blessed [Adam and Eve] and God said unto them, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." Genesis 1:28 (KJV)
Christians typically interpret this verse as meaning that God gave humankind responsibility over the Earth, although theologians do not all agree on the nature and extent of that "dominion".
And the same Wiki defines "Dominionism":
...(also called subjectionism) is the tendency among some conservative politically-active Christians, especially in the United States, to seek influence or control over secular civil government through political action. 
Lizza quotes a woman named Sara Diamond,
...who has written several books about evangelical movements in America, has succinctly defined the philosophy that resulted from Schaeffer’s interpretation: "Christians, and Christians alone, are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns."
Lizza continues,
In 1981, three years before he died, Schaeffer published “A Christian Manifesto,” a guide for Christian activism, in which he argues for the violent overthrow of the government if Roe v. Wade isn’t reversed.
Then we get to Nancy Pearcy, another author that Bachmann likes so much: 2005, the Minneapolis Star Tribune asked Bachmann what books she had read recently, she mentioned ...Pearcey’s [book, “Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity”] which Bachmann told me was a "wonderful" book.

Today, one of the leading proponents of Schaeffer’s version of Dominionism is Nancy Pearcey, a former student of his and a prominent creationist. Her 2004 book... teaches readers how to implement Schaeffer’s idea that a Biblical world view should suffuse every aspect of one’s life. 
In the Wiki link for Pearcy, she disputes being a Dominionist:
Ryan Lizza described Pearcey as a leading proponent of Dominionism and a prominent creationist; Pearcey disputes the label "Dominionist", noting that she had never heard the term before reading Lizza's New Yorker article...
I note that this comment had to appear today -- the New Yorker story is dated tomorrow (August 15). So, clearly Pearcy is keeping tabs on things.  Maybe a little more research into Schaeffer's alleged association with Dominionism is needed.  I note that a search of "Francis Schaeffer Dominionism" turns up many links that dispute the Dominionist label, and blame Sara Diamond for inventing it.  For instance this one picked at random:
Others might bring up Schaeffer’s book, A Christian Manifesto (Crossway, 1981). For the Dominionist watcher Sarah Diamond, this book, and this book alone, seems to be the reason she labels Schaeffer a Dominionist. But did she read the book with an open mind, or did she just read it as source material for a term that she invented (Dominionism). From reading her writings it seems as though she needed to divide all the people involved with the Christian Right, a political movement, into different categories. I would probably have done the same thing if I had been in her shoes. We need to categorize different political groups so that we have an educated and well informed electorate. But with Schaeffer, it can be proven that she has put him in the wrong category. There has been too much read into what people think Schaeffer was writing about in A Christian Manifesto. For what this book is mostly about is how to construct a Christian legal foundation for fighting abortion. If you want to call Schaeffer a "godfather," don’t call him the "godfather of Dominionism." Call him "the godfather of the anti-abortion movement/Pro Life Movement." If you read A Christian Manifesto from that point of view, things will start to fit together in your understanding of Schaeffer’s Christian Worldview.
True or not, there is certainly a great deal to dislike about Schaeffer, Pearcy and their admirer, Michele Bachmann.  But is there anything to offset these negatives if our choice in the 2012 election becomes Bachmann vs. Obama?

Bachmann believes in charity, being a foster mother:
...the Bachmanns took in twenty-three girls; I spoke with one of them (she did not want her name used), who stayed with the Bachmanns for three and a half years and now lives in Colorado. She said, "I owe the Bachmanns everything. They offered me the structure I needed and taught me how to figure out goals. They really encouraged me to figure out who I was rather than who I was becoming. I turned my life around one hundred and eighty degrees."
That's a lot of girls.  But the weird part (yet again) is that almost all these girls had eating disorders.  Eating disorders?  Go figure.  I wouldn't condemn anyone for charitable acts, and foster-parenting could be a legitimate value to someone for various reasons.

Maybe Michele had an eating disorder and simply wants to help these girls, but suspect the greater motivation is that she takes her evangelizing seriously enough to indoctrinate 23 girls into Christianity.  It doesn't sound like they had to endure too many exorcisms, but personally, I'd take bulemia over Christianity any day, month or year.

What else can we say about Michele?  According to The New Yorker, she and her husband helped start a school with some others. Ostensibly non-denominational, but both Bachmann's left the administration of the place after objections that their religious agenda was violating the school charter. 
I'm running short on good things to find, but here's something, depending on your interpretation of it:  Bachmann's a typical Religious Right in being mixed up about the relation between religion and freedom:
“If there was one word on a motivation or world view, that one word would be ‘liberty,’ ” Bachmann told me in early August, when I asked about her world view. “That’s what inspires me and motivates me more than anything—just the concept of freedom, liberty, what it means. Whether it’s economic liberty, religious liberty, liberty in our finances, liberty in being able to choose the profession we have. That’s what inspired my relatives to come here back in the eighteen-fifties. It was the concept of liberty. That’s what motivates me today as well."
Maybe it's pandering to get the Tea Party vote, maybe not. She appears deeply opposed to slavery,
...the latest Bachmann controversy: an interview with George Stephanopoulos, in which she defended an earlier statement that the Founders worked tirelessly to end slavery. ...In “Christianity and the Constitution,” the book she worked on with Eidsmoe, her law-school mentor, he argues that John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams “expressed their abhorrence for the institution” and explains that “many Christians opposed slavery even though they owned slaves.” They didn’t free their slaves, he writes, because of their benevolence. “It might be very difficult for a freed slave to make a living in that economy; under such circumstances setting slaves free was both inhumane and irresponsible.”
Though The New Yorker tries to suggest that Bachmann is actually rationalizing for slavery, I don't buy it.

She seems opposed to Socialism:
In one pamphlet, she wrote that federal education law “embraces a socialist, globalist worldview; loyalty to all government and not America.” In another, she warned of a “new restructuring of American society,” beginning with “workforce boards” that would tell every student the specific career options he or she could pursue, turning children into “human resources for a centrally planned economy.”
But Bachmann in 1976 supported the election of evangelical Democrat/Socialist Jimmy Carter. Go figure.

Etc. I think I've got the picture. It ain't pretty, but is she Count Dracula?  Despite the potential "Dominionism" aspect (I'm just not knowledgable enough about contemporary Christianity to pass judgment on it), I suspect she's more like an evangelical Elmer Fudd. Lot's of passion for killing bunny rabbits, but largely clueless about which end of the gun to use.
We turn to the underlying point to all this. 

I know we can't survive another term of Obama.

It's certainly best to do everything possible to keep her from being nominated and get a secular candidate (though a Mitt Romney strikes me in some ways as a worse candidate), but what if we don't?  You're in the voting booth, the two choices are before you:  Obama or Bachmann? 

You think:  Obama is destroying the economy, eviscerating the military, denuding our freedom, leading us into global war--and he'll complete the job in a second term.  What will Bachmann do?

I'm going out on a limb here and say I'm pretty sure we could survive a President Bachmann -- because anything overtly religious that she tried to impose would be stopped (including any attempt to repeal abortion). The danger of a Christian theocracy is decades from now, not the next election. And in that time, if Objectivism takes hold, the Religious Right will find a much more capable opposition.

Many people I know are arguing that we must vote for Obama instead of any Christian because the Christians will impose a theocracy--but it does no service to the country to exaggerate their danger in the next election. If Obama wins, it is not an exaggeration to say: you can kiss this country goodbye.

I've said it till I'm blue in the face, but since I was the only one to correctly predict how destructive Obama would be, I'll say again just how destructive his second term could be: it may well lead to the complete end of all businesses in America, mass starvation, rampant riots (the riots in Britain are barely a taste), world war and death on a scale you can hardly imagine.

That's the short answer, but it's a reasonably high probability scenario. Maybe not 50%, but high enough.  Do you want to roll those dice?

You say: Robb's going off on his rant again. Someone get him a Xanax.

For those of you who think that, ask yourself: what would you have thought would happen to the world in 1938? I'd bet you would have considered World War 2 and the death of 100 million people in the next 7 years... inconceivable.

To borrow a line from Inigo Montoya, that word may not mean what you think it does.

Re-read Atlas Shrugged. Was Ayn Rand any less pessimistic than I am?

So gauge your decision in that light:  Obama is certain destruction, but Bachmann is potential destruction-- someone who sounds like she might like to impose a theocracy, and doubtless a lot of Christian supporters would be pushing her toward that end.  But can she get away with it? 

In a recent podcast, even Leonard Peikoff has admitted he underestimated Obama's danger to the survival of the country, and advocated voting for Republican's across the board in the mid-term election we just had. His point was essentially the one I've been making for a longer time: it does no good to claim a moral righteousness for opposing religion if you're dead.

You can listen to his comments here if you need proof ("Is religion more dangerous in America than socialism or collectivism", July 20, 2009).

Contrast to his comments on May 17, 2010, only 10 months later ("Given the Obama Administration and your stand on Republicans, will you support a vote for a Republican in November?").

So before anyone gets too wrapped up in demonizing every candidate who ever went to church, spoke in tongues and shouted "hallelujah!", consider the alternative: one candidate is a man who is working by conscious, deliberate intent to destroy the United States as rapidly as he can--Obama.

Then concretize the worst consequences of the worst Christian candidate out there right now -- Michele Bachmann (no, it's not Palin).

One candidate will destroy by malice aforethought, using nuclear weapons (possibly literally). One will stumble forward in a religious ecstasy, erecting random crucifixes, ranting about God, creating a few random programs to advocate for religion, but in the end doing very little that will materially affect your life.

The other will destroy your life.

ON the upside (if there is one), should the prospect of a President Bachmann materialize, I think she will at least buy us a few years time to spread the right ideas, especially among the Tea Party.

I can't say the same about Obama.  Where Bachmann will try to impose some early steps toward theocracy, Obama is already imposing many steps toward a communist totalitarianism.

For another upside, in a certain very important sense, where Obama's election provided the chance to permanently discredit the Marxist Left (when the NY Times turns on you, as they have, you're done) and galvanize the secular Right, there is likewise an argument to be made (I offer it guardedly) that a President Bachmann will discredit the Religious Right and galvanize the secular Left--and that would leave the field open in 2016 (maybe) for someone more rational.  

I'm not saying it is certain Bachmann will be nominated. I very much hope she won't be, and she should be opposed at all costs.  But if she is nominated, how would you decide to vote? That's the issue. Some people I know are campaigning on a platform of "everyone has to vote for Obama instead of any religious candidate from the Right!"

But that's almost a vote of suicide.

In my view, a second Obama term is so dangerous to the existential survival of the country that there's very few candidates I won't vote for. Huckabee would be one, but he's dropped out (for now--I'm betting he fishes for a vice-presidential slot). Maybe I'm underestimating the danger of Bachmann--possibly;  I might change my mind in the coming months.  But if it gets so bad that I have no choice in the coming election for anyone who offers me any advantage over suicide under Obama--it will be time to get out of Dodge.

Friday, August 5, 2011

From Russia, With Thumbscrews

We here at Robbservations have been remiss in diverting our readership with penetrating, and yet scintillating analysis of world events, so we return with a few peeks into the darkened corners of the intelligence world, as recounted in this story ("Russia uses dirty tricks despite U.S. ‘reset’") that appeared today:
In the past four years, Russia’s intelligence services have stepped up a campaign of intimidation and dirty tricks against U.S. officials and diplomats in Russia and the countries that used to form the Soviet Union. U.S. diplomats and officials have found their homes broken into and vandalized, or altered in ways as trivial as bathroom use; faced anonymous or veiled threats; and in some cases found themselves set up in compromising photos or videos that are later leaked to the local press and presented as a sex scandal...
Some would say that Russia is our "friend".
Despite a stated policy from President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev of warm U.S.-Russian ties, the campaign of intelligence intimidation -- or what the CIA calls “direct action” -- has persisted throughout what both sides have called a “reset” in the relations.
Well, Obama does have warm relations with Russia. He's working for Putin as a deep cover mole. Explains a lot of his actions toward the country he pretends to lead, doesn't it? Especially his desire to ruin the U.S. economy with unfettered TARP spending ($1.5T), Obamacare ($1T/year), QE1, QE2, (QE3, QE4... $T and $T more), trillions  to European banks (concealed but recently revealed), and his insistence on tax increases in a time of catastrophic national unemployment ($5T over the next 10 years with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, but Obama wanted much more).

To be sure, his 50% cuts in defense spending offset that spending a terabuck or so (ie, $1T, for those of you uninitiated in the new world of high stakes finance), but he's increased spending so much, what's a trillion here or there in savings going to hurt?

Well, that's what the recent debt deal in Congress purports to save, that's what. But if you're trying to help out Russia, it's well worth the price, not that the Russians didn't make out like bandits with a START treaty that requires us to decrease our missile forces by 2/3, and allows them to increase their missile forces 30%. Yes, that's right.  We're pursuing nuclear parity with a dictatorship run by a killer with delusions of world domination.  It will be such a boon to world peace. Three cheers to Obama and Hillary's State Department!

Back to our story.
The most brazen example of this kind of intimidation was the Sept. 22 bombing attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia. [The CIA and] A National Intelligence Council assessment sent to Congress last week confirmed that the bombing was ordered by Maj. Yevgeny Borisov of Russian military intelligence, said four U.S. officials who have read the report.
But over at Foggy Bottom, they decided "warm relations" were more important than the truth:
The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research assessed that Mr. Borisov was acting as a rogue agent, these officials said.
Among the sex scandals,
According to a Jan. 30, 2009, cable from U.S. Ambassador John Beyrle disclosed by WikiLeaks, USAID employees received an email with a doctored photo of the NDI official reclining with an underage girl. The email [was] from someone purporting to be a Russian citizen [and] accused the official of raping her 9-year-old daughter.
Most reporters today need a moral compass, but this guy needs a grammar checker.
Since 2007, according to two U.S. intelligence officials, American posts in Belarus, Russia, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan have complained about instances in which junior Foreign Service officers have come home to find jewelry rearranged, cigarette butts stubbed out on the kitchen table, defecations in the bathroom, and break-ins with nothing of value stolen.
“It’s meant to limit a diplomat’s ability to meet with individuals by aggressively demonstrating that they are being watched."
Sort of like Facebook, actually.
In August 2009, two Russian newspapers printed stories based on spliced video footage of Mr. Hatcher [a U.S. diplomat] at a hotel room, claiming he was employing the services of a prostitute... “They intercepted some phone calls he made and spliced them in a way that made them look strange. Then they took footage of him in a hotel room or something. They made it all look like they had footage of him in sex acts with prostitutes in a hotel,” one of those officials said.
And so it goes. Right out of a James Bond movie. But then, Ian Fleming used to be a spy... he knew. As he wrote in 1956, in his introduction to From Russia, With Love,
Not that it matters, but a great deal of the background to this story is accurate. SMERSH, a contraction of Smiert Spionam--Death to Spies--exists and remains today the most secret department of the Soviet government.
At the beginning of 1956, when this book was written, the strength of SMERSH at home and abroad was about 40,000 and General Grubozaboyschikov was its chief. My description of his appearance is correct. Today, the headquarters of SMERSH are where, in Chapter 4, I have placed them, at No. 13 Sretenka Ulitsa, Moscow. The Conference Room is faithfully described and the intelligence chiefs who meet round the table are real officials who are frequently summoned to that room for purposes similar to those I have recounted.
That is, murder.
Two U.S. officials familiar with the incident, who asked not to be named, said the U.S. intelligence community saw this as the work of the FSB.
No surprises there. But that's just for domestic operations -- the FSB is the equivalent of our own FBI. With the fall of the Soviet Union (sort of), the Russian SVR replaced the KGB in handling foreign operations for things like moles, such as Obama. (Intriguing side note: Given George Soros' role in getting Obama elected, he's likely worked closely with the SVR/KGB for decades.)
Moscow’s intelligence services long have played dirty tricks on U.S. diplomats. In the “Spy vs. Spy” world of the Cold War, operations known as “honey traps” -- a young, attractive woman woos a U.S. Foreign Service officer into state of semi-undress where he can be photographed and blackmailed later -- were commonplace.
That was exactly the plot of "From Russia, With Love", by the way. SMERSH launched an operation to embarrass the Western intelligence services by trapping Bond with a beautiful Russian spy, and then intended to kill him and the spy and publish the lurid details in the press. Fortunately, Bond prevailed.

If only we had our own Bond to prevail in Washington.  But all we have are counterfeit T-bills flushed from the Fed.
The KGB-trained services also on occasion would deliberately break into the hotel room or residence of visiting dignitaries. In some cases, these incidents escalated and U.S. diplomats found their pets killed.
As you can see, they can be pretty ugly.  This is the Russia we are dealing with today -- one run by
Mr. Putin, a former FSB director, is widely regarded as the real man in charge of Russia’s elite establishment of current FSB and former KGB officers.  In 2006, sociologist Olga Kryshtanovskaya produced a study that found 78 percent of Russia’s current elite had ties to the KGB or FSB.
As I said, the demise of the Soviet Union was only "sort of". But let that not diminish your Hope for Change:
Mr. Obama was far more optimistic last week in an interview with Russia’s official ITAR-Tass news agency.
“Well, first of all, I think it’s important for us to look back over the last two years and see the enormous progress we’ve made.
Yes, indeed he has.  Made "progress", the root of "progressive", the euphemism and code word for "communist".
"I started talking about reset when I was still a candidate for president, and immediately reached out to President Medvedev as soon as I was elected. And we have been, I think, extraordinarily successful partners in moving towards reset,” he said.
But what is he "resetting"?   In this world, phrasing is everything.
An administration official who defended Mr. Obama’s 'reset' policy stressed that the political leadership of Russia was sincere in wanting to improve ties with the United States.
Yep.  I'm sure they'd like real close ties, though I'm not sure Obama will get that job as Commissar of the North American Satellite of the Russian Federation.  Professionals tend not to trust starry-eyed idealists, and I think Obama would be among the first admissions to Putin's gulag on the archipelag of the North American continent.  If he survived that long.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Totalitarianism, Redux

Some topics are so important they have to be revisited.

Very few people realize how close we are to complete totalitarianism. Some people think they know, but it’s not until you read the Executive Orders (EOs) issued by a long succession of Presidents that you will grasp just how much power they claim without Congressional approval or Constitutional authority.

Let me say that again:  these EOs claim the president can invoke them at his whim, for any emergency he cares to define.

I discussed this in some detail in an older post (The Unbridled Authority of Presidential "Executive Orders") but that's just too verbose for most people, so I want to briefly summarize them here again so you get the full impact.

Most of the EOs I summarize here have been superceded by later EO’s, but none of the claims to authority have been rescinded, only expanded. It would be interesting to read what EOs Obama is issuing. (Many EOs are classified, FYI.)

Most EOs started under John Kennedy. None have ever been challenged in court. Federal actions for the current economic crisis were probably justified under these EOs. Early EO’s were justified for nuclear attack. Later EO’s broadened the definition of an “emergency” almost without bound, though Reagan was the first President to provide some definition of an emergency, but today it could include a flu epidemic. All the EOs have blanket expropriation clauses similar to:
(f) Claimancy. Prepare plans to claim materials, manpower, equipment, supplies, and services needed to carry out assigned responsibilities and other essential functions of the agency from the appropriate agencies and work with such agencies in developing programs to insure availability of such resources in an emergency.
Go here to see the original EOs in the online federal archives.

EO 10990 allows the government to seize all highways, seaports.
EO 10995 allows the government to seize and control the communication media.
EO 10997 allows the government to seize all electrical power, gas, petroleum, fuels and minerals.
EO 10998 allows the government to seize all food resources and farms.
EO 11000 allows the government to force all civilians into work brigades.
EO 11001 allows the government to take over all health, education and welfare functions.
EO 11002 establishes a national registration of all persons.
EO 11003 allows the government to seize all airports and aircraft, including commercial aircraft.

EO 11004 allows the Housing and Finance Authority to relocate communities, build new housing, designate areas to be abandoned, and establish new locations for populations.

EO 11005 allows the government to seize railroads, inland waterways and public storage facilities.

EO 11051 gives authorization to put all Executive Orders into effect in times of increased international tensions and economic or financial crisis.

EO 11310 granted authority to the Department of Justice to enforce “industrial support”.

EO 11490 consolidates 21 Executive Orders issued over a fifteen year period.

EO 11921 established control over the mechanisms of production and distribution, of energy sources, wages, salaries, credit and the flow of money in U.S. financial institution in any undefined national emergency. It also provides that when a state of emergency is declared by the President, Congress cannot review actions under this EO for six months. This EO is a massive expansion of previous EOs, under a Republican Administration.

EO 12148 created FEMA. An “emergency czar” was appointed. Very long, and amends many prior EOs.

EO 12656 allows the government to increase domestic intelligence and surveillance. It grants the government the right to isolate large groups of civilians. The National Guard could be federalized to seal all borders and take control of U.S. air space and all ports of entry. An EXTREMELY long EO.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Fusion of Left and Right

Maybe I should have titled this "cat on a hot tin roof", but that one was taken.

The subconscious sometimes works in strange and mysterious ways, and while watching this very funny clip from the old Northern Exposure series, a flash of light from above hit me in the head with a little artistic perspective of metaphor and crass symbolism. The lesson today from the Twilight Zone is: the meaning of the budget deal that really is nothing of the sort, raising the debt ceiling a couple trillion dollars (the biggest in history), letting Bush tax cuts expire (we'll pay $5T more over the next ten years), and which abdicates Congressional authority for future tax increases to a committee.

But even if you're sick to death of what goes on in the cesspool of D.C., you gotta laugh sometime.  Watch this clip, but let me set it up first.

Maggie O'Connell (Janine Turner) is an independent businesswoman, an Alaskan bushpilot operating from the town of Cicely, Alaska, somewhere near the Arctic Circle.  She's also what is known as a "black widow" -- a girl for whom every boyfriend she's ever had has died in a bizarre accident.

Her latest boyfriend is Rick, a smiling, good-looking guy now going through a mid-life crisis because Maggie won't give him his pilot's license (she's his instructor) because she's learned he's color-blind. So Rick is angry with her and now run off into the Alaskan woods to drink and sulk and think in front of a campfire as owls hoot around him. Staring into the embers he hears a whistling sound from high above and looks up...

Think of Rick as John Boehner and the traditional Republican Party, his color-blindness an inability to think in principles, his campfire as the debt ceiling negotiations, and those owls as all the pundits and pressure groups exhorting him to make a compromise.

Think of Maggie as the Tea Party, or the better part of the American public at least, angry with Rick for refusing to do what's right.

Think of a de-orbitting satellite as Obama and the Democrats making a deal with Rick.

Now on to our story: we pick up as Joel Fleischman, the resident doctor of Cicely,  is brought to the scene of Rick's untimely demise:

Joel: How did it happen?

Ed:  Satellite fell on him.

Joel: A satellite?  It hit Rick? That satellite hit Rick?

Maurice: Well not the whole satellite.  Some of it disintegrated coming in.  But a good part of it, yeah.

Joel: Oh, man.

Ed: Yeah, there's a problem.

Joel: A problem?  You mean more than him being dead?

Maurice: Come on, you'd better take a look.

Joel: Oh, god!

Maurice:  I've been in combat. I've seen men die a hundred different ways. I've never, ever seen anything like this.

Joel: Look at him!

Ed: Yeah.

Joel: It's like Rick and the satellite... it's like they--

Maurice:  Merged.  Fused.  Combined into one.

(Ed turns away)

Joel (staring in horror):  How does something like this happen?

Maurice: It's your basic physics. Let me describe re-entry for you. When this thing hit the Earth's atmosphere it was going 15,000 miles an hour.  The friction was terrific.  This baby came in hot!

Ed: Boy, Rick sure was lucky!

Joel: Lucky? He's dead!

Ed: Yeah, but how many people get to get hit by a satellite! I bet he makes the Guinness Book of World Records!

Maurice:  So Joel.  How do you plan on getting them apart?

Joel: Why ask me?  You think they teach this in medical school?  You don't need a doctor, you need a blacksmith! A metallurgist!

Ed: Yeah, it's kinda hard to tell where Rick stops and the satellite begins!

Maurice:  I guess we'd better face the fact, these two are inseparable.

As the town doctor, Joel gets stuck with the job of telling Maggie her boyfriend is dead. The parallel here is how the American public is now learning the real details of the debt deal,  which are much worse than anything we were told.  Joel finds Maggie in the local pub:

Joel (uncomfortable): Hi Maggie, how are things?

Maggie:  Rick didn't come home last night, okay?  If he wants to behave like a child, then let him!  I mean, if I have to be the bad guy, okay!  But I am not going to have another death on my hands! I mean, alright, I admit, I do -- I'm sensitive. I've lost four boyfriends.  Four!  Do you know how that feels?  And of course I ask myself, is that me?  Is that something I do?  What is it Fleischman?  You want to tell me something, I can tell by your face.

Joel (more uneasy): Yes. Yes... I do. I want to tell you something. (speechless) ...A joke!

Maggie: A joke?

Joel: Yeah!  You see, this guy goes on a trip and he leaves his cat with his friend.  He calls his friend to ask how his cat is. His friend says, "The cat is dead."  The guy says, "Geez!  Can't you think of a way to break it to me a little more gently?  You know, lead into it, your cat crawled up on the roof, there was a loose tile and it took a little fall... like that?"  Next month, the guy goes on another trip, calls his friend, and asks how his mom is. The guy says, "well, she crawled up on the roof and there was a loose tile."

Maggie (laughs) Not bad!

Joel (leans forward earnestly):  Rick crawled up on the roof.