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An Empty Chair

by geezer in Paris Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 06:50:28 AM EST

Anyone interested in the byzantine workings of the U.S.Supreme Court will probably already have asked these questions :
Why now?
Why bother?
The recent split decision essentially erasing limits on the use of corporate funds to influence the democratic process is already deeply controversial, it's legal reasoning suspect and it's logic fragile. It enshrines into law a reality already firmly bolted to the deck- that corporate money pulls the strings.  So why bring down on your head all the heat?
A diversion? Makes no sense. All the right needs to do is to keep feeding Obama rope.
An added layer of legal fig leaves over the pubes of the corporate person? Perhaps, but that seems a secondary issue to me. The preposterous notion of the "corporate person" is as solid a fantasy as any plutocrat could want.
 It's a message, I think. And a revealing one.


 Years ago I wrote a diary that cronicled the Cheney-Rumsfeldt-Neocon orchestrated growth of parallel governmental structures in the US Government to diffuse and then relocate the centers of power away from the  old institutions that were turning out to be resistant to capture or dismemberment.
That tactic- parallel structures- was a brilliant move in the game of power, and, in concert with a deeply infiltrated media that no longer chooses to see them, is more relevant than ever before.
So is, I not so modestly claim, the diary:
"The Quiet Coup".
Since the beginning of his presidency, Obama has been embarrassingly unable to get a grip on the wheel. Public discussion centers  on ineptness, personality, the size and number of the potholes in the road--
Nah. All those old "Parallel Structures" are still there, still working just fine, and have simply shoved Obama and congress out of the game "Begone, putzers! Into your theater in a bubble. Stay away from the instrument panel!"  

Let's look at the obvious things.

--McChrystal and Petraeus, along with a segment of the pentagon, won the obvious battle inside the white House to rethink the Afghan debacle- hell, the definitive book on the subject of the failure of counterinsurgency as a policy was reputed to be required reading inside the White House, and still the decision was to bow to the Ops division of McDonnel Douglas.

-- Literally dozens of warships now cruise the coast of Venezuela, and Colombia has sold itself to  the same guys (above) for peanuts, with eight new facilities and a brand new one literally on the border of Venzuela being built. What was once the Spanish Main now hosts the USS Colombia, as well as the USS Honduras.

-- Gitmo. The new (once the parallel) CIA is untouched. Gone are the analysts, booted to the basement, and here to stay are the ops guys, with their Navy seal- Phoenix project- death squad resumes.

-- The Torture Show, with John Yew smirking in a box seat, gets rewritten- cleaned up for today's rather tolerant K-12 audience. (same spooky guys)

-- K-street social engineering flourishes, hours after the SOTU speech.

-- The bankster-wall street smash-and-grab continues unabated, with the same gang driving the getaway car.

-- (Add yours here)

Each of these issues has worked out in a way that is, in the aggregate, political death for both the Democrats and for Obama.

All the old structures are revealing themselves as useless, sidelined, impossibly compromised or corrupt, sold lock, stock and barrell to the highest bidder. Irrelevant. We can't even keep our food pure, our water clean.
I suspect that it's not so much that Obama is inept, but that he is finding that the world seen from pennylvania avenue --- has bars on the windows.

"I'd rather be a really good one-term President than a two-term president." What a bizarre thing for a young, handsome, bright president to say after only one year in office. It sounds a lot like a declaration of surrender.
Bush also apparently did not fight. Perhaps he did not disagree enough to engage in a dangerous  battle with the Rumsfeld-Cheney boys. We will likely never know whether, allowed to do some real "deciding", he might not have been less of a disaster, any more than we will ever know whether the New Orleans prosecutor Garrison was right in his suspicions of CIA involvement in the Kennedy asassination. In spite of inexorably mounting evidence.
Obama will now fiddle with the things that he is still allowed to touch. Picking lint out of the cigar lighter.
Cleaning the windows.

I admit to being surprised by the completeness of his defeat. He has my sincere sympathy.

Will there be a battle for supremacy among the new centers of power? Is there really any leader at all?  If so, who and where?

So what's the message the court is trying to send?

I think it's one of two things:
It's perhaps simply "Hello out there! We are not irrelevant!" in which case, they're fools.
Or perhaps it's "Look, Sir or Madam (whoever), -remember us?  We're on your side!".
Likely both. In any case, there will be no help for main street there.  

   

Display:
I'm pretty sure what he said was, "I'd rather be a really good one-term President than a mediocre two-term president." (Emphasis mine.)  

Not quite as bizarre, but certainly very telling of the predicament he finds himself in.  

We all bleed the same color.

by budr on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 08:01:35 AM EST
You're right, but I didn't think the difference changed the point. And-- what do you guess the chances are for even the first wish?
Still, why would the court take the heat, to kill an already dead rat, do you think?

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 10:20:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And-- what do you guess the chances are for even the first wish?

Not good.  More likely his fate is to become a mediocre (at best) one term president. That prospect doesn't provide me any personal joy, but many have been saying for decades that both political parties are essentially corrupt and unsalvageable.


I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 10:48:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a bizarre thing to say either way.

ABC: Exclusive: Obama Would 'Rather Be Really Good One-Term President' (with video) (25 January)

Obama Tells Diane Sawyer That Health Care Bill Had Political Cost
I think he meant that he's willing to be a one-term president if that's the price he has to pay for getting things like health care reform through. But with half his side disowning him even before HCR is passed...
President Obama, buffeted by criticism of his massive health care reform bill and election setbacks, said today he remained determined to tackle health care and other big problems despite the political dangers to his presidency.

...

The State of the Union will be Obama's chance to jump-start his agenda, but he ducked when Sawyer asked if he could guarantee there would not be a tax increase for anyone making less than $250,000.

When did the living wage rise to $250k? Did I miss the memo?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 07:44:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When did the living wage rise to $250k? Did I miss the memo?

Patience, my friend. One or two more bubbles and QE cures and we will probably be there. How long can that take?


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 01:25:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Having just heard about Howard Zinn's death I asked Da GOOG whether the event had been covered on ET and I found ARGeezer quoting
I think people are dazzled by Obama's rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president -- which means, in our time, a dangerous president -- unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction. --- Howard Zinn


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jan 31st, 2010 at 09:39:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That Quote was in response to Drew's comment but also in relation to ongoing discussion of Obama and the Progressives, such as we are.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jan 31st, 2010 at 05:34:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So why bring down on your head all the heat?

For the same reason that Joseph Alioto was smirking and allowing his lips to be read during the SOTU. It is a message: "You only thought you had won! You don't control shit!" And what heat has Alioto had to bear?

I fear that Obama is unwilling to be seen as out of the mainstream. He won't try to move the window because the attempt would make him look outside the consensus, until and unless he succeeded, and success is unlikely if he really doesn't believe in what he is doing. He obviously has never seen his role as one of righting past wrongs. Whatever evils have been done have become part of the new consensus.

To me, that approach is madness. It is as if you are the engineer on a train and realize that a switch has been thrown that will send your train off the end of an uncompleted bridge, yet you say: "Well, what is done is done, lets be forward looking." But maybe that is just me and maybe we are all on our way to a bright tomorrow. Where is my joint? Oh, that is right. It is where I left it 20 years ago.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 03:35:24 PM EST
I don't think it's a message - that conjures up images of old white guys in a smoky room saying "ok, here's what we're going to do."

I think your "Hello out there! We are not irrelevant!" guess is correct. The court leans to the right, and guys like Alito and Thomas do not put judicial objectivity as their primary value as SCOTUS judges. They're interested in their little slice of power.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 03:56:22 PM EST
I'm not so sure about the U.S. Supreme Court being the problem. They're lopsided in the wrong direction, but the bigger problem is the extended failure of any party to properly represent the interests of the working class. And this is not limited to the U.S.

I think people are generally happy with the feudal system, and that only when things go really, really wrong--18th C. France, 19th C. Russia, 20th C. America--do the lower classes temporarily react. But then after a brief budding of social justice, those same lower classes go back to their beer and gossip, allowing the system to revert to conservatism.

Why are so many people in denial about their social position? "I vote against taxes for rich people because I might win the lottery and become one of them. If I don't starve first."

by asdf on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 10:38:49 PM EST
BTW, GIP, did you get my response to your question about sources in the OT?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 10:48:46 PM EST
No. I'm pushing hard to get a manuscript done for copy editing. Can you e-mail it to me? I do care.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 02:22:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and I still don't get why they did it.  

Or why you think they did it.  Is the Supreme Court trying to convince the Cabal that it can still be of assistance--a useful appendage of the Government?  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Wed Feb 3rd, 2010 at 01:48:57 AM EST


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