It’s Not What I’m Thinking

It’s something like 70% of us now, who want us out of Iraq. Congress talks and talks about getting us out, but does nothing.

Then, on July 17, the President issues an Executive Order (which has the full force of law) saying that anyone the Executive Branch determines is “undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq” will have all their assets seized without notice to them. The Order is written very broadly, and is open-ended, with no rules for determining anything, and no time frames. It reminds me of those environmental protesters in Oregon being tried as terrorists. Maybe I’m just freaky.

Actually, in name, it’s the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, who makes the determination whether someone’s assets should be seized. Although he was the Chairman and CEO of the International Monetary Fund (and a few other things, like CEO of Goldman Sachs Investment Bankers and the Nixon Administration), he seems like an ok guy.

The Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, who takes over if Henry dies or becomes ill, is Robert M. Kimmitt, a West Point Military Academy graduate who has worked deep in the National Security Council and CIA, and as an arbitrator for the World Bank. He also handled global public policy for Time Warner, Inc. Recently, in addressing The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Robert began describing this new Treasury Department, noting it’s relevance in power while we are under emergency conditions, as we have been for many years now, according to Presidential decree. In the Soref Symposium (here are the proceedings), in which Robert spoke, he describes these Executive Branch powers as being “more offensive in nature” than the ones given in the Patriot Act. And with the new Executive Order given by the President, these offensive powers can be turned upon US Citizens.

So, yeah – those guys can now seize anyone’s assets just on a whim, and maybe have to prove something later. Fortunately, though, the new Executive Order requires that the Treasury work “in consultation with” the Secretary of State, our lovely and talented and oh, so trustable Condoleezza Rice (won’t even go into writing anything about her), and the Secretary of Defense, who, under George Bush’s father was, was Dick Cheney, and now is Robert Gates.

Robert Gates, who, of course, finally got pushed into place to lead the CIA by George Bush’s dad when he was President. It was hard to get him in place as the CIA director, though, because people didn’t like his involvement in the secret Iran arms sales scandal that happened with George’s daddy was running the CIA. But sense prevailed, and he became the CIA director, anyway.

OK, so those are the people who decide if your assets get seized or not. For “undermining” policy. Does that mean protests, or writing? Well, you can’t say for sure. It doesn’t not mean that. If Congresspeople start talking about forcing a pullout, are they undermining the policy? Strange how it works. If you get your assets seized, you have no money to take it to court. And if people help you, they can be hit with it too. It reminds me of the Patriot Act, where you commit a crime even if you mention to anyone, that someone you know got arrested by the government.

And crazy how George’s grandfather supported Hitler. Just read through even the Wikipedia entry on Prescott Bush for that. You’ll find some things in there too, which surprise me are there, linking him to the depression era “Business Plot“, where group of very rich people and organizations were actually plotting coup against Roosevelt to instill a fascist government. The reasoned that it would take a strong leader, which fascism could deliver, to save America from the threat of the Depression. It was stopped because a US Marine soldier, a war hero, was recruited by them and played along, until he finally turned on them. Most, but not all, Congressional records of this have vanished.

But it seems that Prescott Bush’s interests did benefit from Hitler’s prison camps, and the free labor they provided. And just to help send you all the way over into this whole Ruler, Aristocracy, pre-Democracy, people-oppression paranoia thang, I ran across recently a couple interesting videos detailing the suspected construction of prison camps within the US, overseen by FEMA. The conversion of closed military bases and government property (like Amtrak repair stations) into fenced and barbed-wired compounds (barbed wire aligned to contain people, not to keep them out). Also, Bush’s daddy’s Iran arms selling scandal’s fall guy, Ollie North, testifying before Congress, but suddenly can’t talk about some secret FEMA thing going on.

Just so we can say, we shoulda seen it coming. Or, more hopefully (and ironically), how whackily the mind can wander when secrecy is the norm.

Then again, there actually is a US Army Civilian Inmate Labor Program which establishes prison camps for US Citizens to perform labor for the Military, at no cost to the military. If I’m remembering right, Alberto Gonzales, as Attorney General, decides the “who, what and why” that gets channeled into them. Here’s a copy of US Army Regulations pertaining to the program.

Cheney’s Halliburton gets lots of money for building the prison camps / detention centers around here. And just one more — the FEMA bit, that Ollie couldn’t talk about, were the readiness exercises that the US Federal Government has, periodically, practicing what they will do in the event of civil unrest — practicing how they will identify US citizens, round them up, and lock them away. In this case, strangely yet again on Wikipedia, Rex 84, as an example.

Which brings us back to the Intelligence community again, and the monitoring of people and organizations, for our own safety. And how Bush just kept Congress in session to pass legislation that further expanded his ability to implement covert action, and removed a large chunk of court oversight — which Congress just today, agreed to.

Did I mention that over 60% of US intelligence work is outsourced to corporations, and is not handled by our government any more? I’m pretty sure I mentioned the private corporate armies for hire, in a previous post. And I’m sure I mentioned that there are really no mass media sources left that perform actual investigative journalism.

Oh well. Time for dinner. I’m thinking either tofu with peanut sauce, or maybe some chili.

PS. I just learned that the “Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act” just passed unanimously out of the Homeland Security committee in the House. This act establishes the identification and study of radical ideologies in people in the United States. Congressman Reichert says: “The better we understand radicalization, the better we can prevent radical ideologies from spreading”.

I’m all for protecting people from harm, but I’m not quite ready yet for the thought police.

Shadow Philosophy

The last three pieces I wrote came, pretty much, from the same cotton candy machine, only swirled around three different sticks. I warned Mike B. I was going to write a fourth, but have decided against it. The fourth was to be the ethical one, but it seems a little pointless. It would mean hammering on something already so dead, that it’s even stopped stinking.

Logistics seems to be where it’s at. Following procedures and plans, using laws like cookie cutters, and bending laws like aluminum foil that lets a trickle of the cooking bird run out, but can be quickly patched back up. Whatever gets the job done.

People often talk about how much they hate lawyers. I usually like talking with them. It’s orderly and efficient, and complexities are just par for the course. They do irritate me in one sense, though: when they fancy themselves philosophers.

You see, in Philosophy you rarely get to have your cake, and eat it too. You either bake a cake, or you regurgitate someone else’s. Sure, the shoulders of giants and whatnot, but the cake is your own, and it moves beyond — it changes to something new, bringing with it a new understanding, and this understanding, expands. Law is not like this. Law constrains, applying definitions that are immutable, yet still left open sometimes to interpretation. It is far more narrow, and can be utilized, or exploited. And this is where trouble comes in.

People will say, “the spirit of the law”, but law has no spirit. Only the people do. We pay thousands of people to write laws, as their sole vocation. We pay thousands more people to interpret them. And even many thousands more we pay, to enforce them upon us. So it seems a little strange to me, lawyers fancying themselves philosophers. Their heads do not poke out far enough, or if they do, their willingness to, at the drop of a hat (or money clip), compromise Ethics, voids any claim to credibility within Philosophy. This is not some unwritten behavioral standard required of philosophers. It is simply recognizing that for anyone to be taken seriously about something they say, they must, themselves, believe it. And if you say something that you do not believe, then you are a liar. And if you are a liar, should not your pursuit of truth be greeted with skepticism by those you seek to convince?

There is only one way a lawyer could possibly be considered a philosopher: if instead of themselves, they became Actors from time to time. To suit any need, they don the appropriate Actor’s guise, working to become the part, and convince their audience, to the furthest extremes, even when they may not believe it themselves. Taking the entirety of their knowledge and adeptness at rhetoric, they strut the part out onto the Stage to further their own ends, or, the ends of their employers.

So, I watch with some interest the Congress half-heartedly struggling with lobbying reform. I watch, with some interest, Congresspeople tauting their ideals and philosophies and Vision. I watch, with some interest, the creators, the executors and the caretakers of law, strategize the greater interests of their party, or their employers, or their morality, or their friends.

It’s an irony any more, Philosophers and Statesmen, being in the same sentence. In fact, the words Statesman seems to have an almost arcane quality, like a genetic memory from a dead language.

Here is what I see: squirming and maneuvering. Slinking in shadows. Holding up lollipops in one hand, and skewering dogs with the other. Avarice, objectives, and diversions, just like a game play. I do not see burned bowels spilling onto family members, nor do I get to marvel at just how much stuff is really packed into our torsos. I don’t get to pull my friend’s flesh, splattered, from my cheek. I don’t get to just “loose” 10 billion dollars.

Honestly, I’m a little surprised and disappointed that we can’t see more real death and blood on television. We have programs where millions of people watch others eating pig entrails and cow eyeballs, giant spiders and eels. We watch people get shot on TV series and movies, or blown up. But maybe it’s a little like seeing an epileptic seizure on TV — then seeing one for real, and realizing, you had never known what it really was until it played out right in front of you. Maybe we’re not supposed to see what we’re actually doing. Maybe we all are really that good at fooling ourselves.

So, a beer, and toast then! To the American Psychological Association who has more people working for the Pentagon than any other place, and who’s people dutifully watch over interrogations. To Rupert Murdoch, who owns our eyes and ears, and pays us nothing — and all you MySpace people who need spoon feeding. To the upholders of the Constitution, who put other priorities higher. To the military and industry who destroy our world, along with the creatures in it. To the banks and their partners, who put people and nations in debt! To the healers, who heal only for money! To the businesspeople who take all they can and give as little as possible! And let’s not forget God, Allah, etc who give the biggest excuses of all. But most of all, to you, dear reader, caught up in it all, and knowing, with nothing you can do. Hail to the Shadow! Hail to the Endless Circle! Hail to Power, Glory, and Death! Abandonment! Absolution! And the wild charge to Ruin!

The people who say, the past is the past, and we just need to move ahead, are fools. Ah, Dave Smith, if I knew where you were right now, I would give you such an apology. We are in the past, in history, and we are creating the future. All that we are doing, and have done, is etched in stone. But that stone need not restrain us from examining, acknowledging, admitting, learning, and taking specific action to better ourselves and the world around us. If it is not our duty to hold ourselves accountable, how can we expect differently from others?

There is a part of me, when I see something wrong, that must address it. In something as large as these things we talk about here, the process could easily be an unending endeavor. People are resistant to change, and even more resistant to examining themselves, and even more resistant again to bothering themselves with anything that isn’t beating them with a stick. Not counting the people who just happen across my blog (where these mailings get posted)… some of you are acquaintances. Most of you are friends. Some of you, I love very much. Most all of you know I can become easily fixated on things that seem important. This is one of them. I offer you that, as a tactic to gain your indulgence for a while. Honestly, I can’t wait until I can go back to my regularly unscheduled programming. So many other things seem so trivial just now, though. And I wonder if I’m the only one who feels that way. I haven’t actually asked anyone yet.