Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Supporting the troops by sending them to their death for a lie...

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Well, it only took five years...who says Americans are slow on the uptake? Oh, right, I do...

Friday, February 17, 2006

So what's it gonna' be?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

President says the Resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Broke the Law

Thursday, February 02, 2006


"Go to himmm..."

Anyway, here's some quotations. One crisp, American $5 bill to the lucky guesser of the name of each quotation's quotidian cause...

"Death and birth share only the distinction of representing distinctly separate tokens of a category exclusive of both one another and all others, thus remaining distinctly differently similar events. What?"

"The experience of an hour to a forty-year-old is respectively relative to the experience of a half an hour to a twenty-year-old, which is in turn respectively relative to the experience of fifteen minutes to a ten-year-old. Therefore a forty-year-old is justified in being four times as pissed as a ten-year-old when a twenty-year-old is half an hour late to the shoot for 'Portrait of a Men at Seventy.'"

"Some people are frightened by the recognition that they are indifferent from the world; if they weren’t, the suffix -ophobe would be drastically less useful..."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

"How Come Johnny Don't Read So Good" Answered!

Just another attempt to notify others of the now often impossible pieces of evidence that if it doesn't look like a chicken, doesn't sound like a chicken, and doesn't function like a chicken, then it was probably created to be a duck and you are told, again and again and again (damn your lying eyes, ears, mind!), "It is a chicken! you recalcitrant/trouble-makin/discipline problem/underachiever! Now go to detention where you can spend some time thinking about why you are wrong and I am right!"

Granted, I have asserted many times that not only would I not send my kids to the schools I attended, I would do my utmost to prevent them from attending any public school. Why? Well, frankly, I eventually concluded that it was largely a waste of time.

They (Denkmann Elementary School, where I was locked in a storage closet that joined the principal's, Herb Nieman [sic?], office to the main entrance to the school for hours with nothing to do, no mention of my side of the story (my side being that of a divorcee with three children to raise on public assistance at a time and place that was arguably the whitest, marriedest, wealthiest in the district) any time that --- after enduring almost daily abuse for a number of years and for no other reason than I was an easy target for a sizable group of students --- I had the nerve(!) to stand up to them (but then, my parents weren't boosters, or friends with alumni of the district, and so forth);
Washington Junior High School, where I must admit most of us were at best difficult to deal with at that age, yet we were well-conditioned for further segregation along racial, economic, and to a lesser degree social lines once we arrived at...
Rock Island High School, in my experience a sound place to begin learning about racism, nepotism, arbitrary and almost unlimited authority for the sake of authority, though there were a number of teachers there who, I think, chose the belly of the beast in the educational equivalent of the Statesman's Dilemma, i.e., whether to fight the good fight and swallow some pride by working from the inside versus the relative freedom coupled with less actual power to change things from the outside). It seemed to me, in many instances, to be a place of profound institutional bigotry, regimentalism, cronyism, nepotism, ignorance, segregation along a number of paths, and emphasis on athletics and maintenance of the status quo at the expense of academics and educating everyone and not just the 10 to 15 percent of students white, wealthy, or smart enough to make it into the Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum (who, in the four years I was there, grew to represent about 20% of our class via dropouts, failed students, students choosing to leave that environment, etc.).

And why this path to my (eventual) functionally dropping out of high school after seeing it for what it (mostly) was? It had a little something to do with the sentiment behind my so-called Guidance Counselor, Nancy Strohl, telling me I wasn't cut out for the University of Illinois, although she was not quite so diplomatic, and my AP Federal Government "teacher" Mr. Janecke getting his old school chum Principal Bonsall to go along with failing me for a made-up failable infraction.

Well, I've graduated from two colleges (noting that college is the place where many students feel the first real freedom to conduct their own edification outside the strictures and judgments of top-heavy school bureaucracy and dispirited teachers who haven't fled to less depressing, more lucrative pastures; gee, I wonder why so many current leaders in power work to prevent so many people for whom higher education is anything but a foregone conclusion from attending college?) magna cum laude, was chosen Phi Beta Kappa, and spent 17-plus years in educational institutions, 14 of them public; in the case of the government class, a compromise was struck (only after my father had to force Bonsall via a shouting match to give me my day in court --- a sentiment Sam Alito would surely have sided with Bonsall on) whereby I would take the final from the Moline High School government class to test whether Janecke was full of it and just hated the fact that I called an spade a spade or that I knew the material quite well and therefore did not deserve to fail (and thereby not graduate from RIHS) on his trumped-up ad hominem charge.

Result? I got a 97% and escaped that place with my diploma and a bit of a sense that justice is something that must eternally be wrested from the hands of (far too often in my experience and research) old white men (and the many younger ones who emulate them, as well as women and minorities who mimic them and apparently choose to ignore the uncomfortable fact that the one thing they seek is just what they have been a victim of all along, which is to say cowards and small minds in bullies' clothing) who lie and abuse the authority our culture has for centuries ceded to them in the face of patent unjustness that they often believe they have earned, missing the irony that, in my experience, if you can fool them into being honest about it they really believe it is their birthright and never realize that they have advantages (both incidental and intentional) at seemingly every turn over their so-called competition.

So which was/is it? Am I a ne'er-do-well problem child or a pro antidisestablishmentarian quasi-auto-didact? In other, more general terms: Are open-minded, curious, interested individuals who have to cut class to really learn something the problem in an otherwise sound organism whereby the vast, vast majority of Americans are eductated to be strong citizens of a rubustly democratic republic in which our leaders take seriously the trust vested in them to do what is best for all of us, or was my own experience real and the American public so many dupes buying into the asserted intent of our educational establishment when in fact it is a machine built to fail those who don't love Big Brother and look forward to their dull wage-slavery with gratitude to the haves?

Having gone down the rabbit hole of American public educational institutionalization and been force-fed the mantra of "That won't get you a job in the [so-called] Real World," I happened across the first evidence I have seen providing evidence of what I have long suspected about the whole farcical mess of public education in this country...

And up out of the rabbit hole we go!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Human Experience of War

Many insights into the nature of the human experience of war may be gained by the institution of cinema’s attempts to portray it. The film Gallipoli stands as a prime example of a quite accurate portrayal of a war, World War I, that exemplifies the phrase (I refuse to refer to it as a cliche for it should never lose its impact) “War is Hell.” The film shows the events leading up to the battle for Gallipoli in the (then) Ottoman Turkish Empire. The protagonists are two young men from Western Australia named Frank and Archibald. It is as much their experience of war as civilians rather than as soldiers that is important for the purposes of this paper. Indeed, the experience of war is often no less hellish for non-combatants as it is for the soldiers. But as it is so terrible, why is it that it is arguably the defining aspect of humanity (excepting language)? By way of analysis, I propose that war is the manifestation of the failures and failings, both active and passive, of language. Themes from J. Glenn Gray’s book The Warriors serve as an excellent vehicle for exposing the love/hate (two of the most important, and not coincidentally misused, words in human language) relationship that mankind has with warfare. Exhibit A is the link posted with this entry. Kudos to those who are able to delude themselves that the real "human" experience of war depicted at have anything at all to do with honor, glory, or humanity. You have truly learned to pronounce an excrement sandwich delicious at Big Brother's encouragemnt. I digress, or do I?

This linguistic aspect is abundantly evident in the causes of many wars, and WWI is no exception. I am talking about the breakdown of diplomacy, which is tantamount to the discussion between representatives of nation states. While soldiers are, as is pointed out in Gallipoli, representatives of their nation the vast majority of them are not involved in the outbreak of war. But if this is the case, then why, and how, is it that millions of individuals become involved in a conflict that they had nothing to do with starting, much less an active interest in getting involved with? In Gallipoli, one of the characters has just this attitude towards the war halfway around the world in Europe. The theme of “what has it got to do with me” echoes through many war movies. Furthermore, it can be analyzed in two distinct directions.

First, it can be seen as a question of geography. As the war has no implicit effect on the day-to-day happenings of remote Western Australia, why should an Australian lad bother to go half way around the world? The answer is as multifaceted as it is potentially meaningless. On the one hand, as with Archibald in Gallipoli who is just brimming with the naivete of an 18-year-old boy, is the assertion that if the enemy is not stopped in (Europe/Asia/or whatever), “the next thing you know they’ll be knocking at our door.” While this may be a justification within the context of some conflicts as a practical matter, it is shallow if not utter nonsense in terms of WWI. The likelihood of the Triple Entente invading Australia was laughable. On the other hand, the portrayal of the Roman conquest of Germania in the film Gladiator is an instance in which a group was forced to fight in self-defense. However, this state of affairs as it affected Archie gives insight into how easily motivated some people are to go to war. Archie’s plans had included a bright future as a runner until his peers, as a result of the ‘cowardly’ nature of his pursuit, ridicule him.

The realization of the immaturity, stupidity, gullibility, and utter lack of reason inherent in many human beings is a stark one that is no less reprehensible for all that those reprehensible qualities are spent from us more by failure than success. Archie’s wizened uncle knows all too well the reality of that which his nephew hurls himself blindly into. On a personal note, to the best of my knowledge I am one in a line going back generations stretching at least to the American Civil War in my family to have performed military service. The interesting part is that I have been told that it has of late seldom been with the blessing of the father that the son has entered the military. In hindsight, I can frankly admit that I was almost tragically ignorant of the reality of military service even in peacetime, let alone wartime. The fact that boys and men often volunteer for an endeavor that they most times should avoid like a pro with an itch is no more mysterious than a child who burns itself repeatedly on the same hot stove. While not all children need be told twice not to touch, many more boys and men listen not at all when told not to go off to war, especially when it has nothing to do with their immediate interests.

The second way in which the question of pertinence to the soldier is less evident in Gallipoli as it is in other films of the genre such as All Quiet on the Western Front and Platoon. In a nutshell, the question comes to “What did these Germans/Turks/North Vietnamese/Iraqis ever do to me?” In many instances the answer amounts to “Not a damn thing,” which elicits the further question of “What in the Sam Hill am I doing risking my neck out here for!?” There are two likely responses and one less likely response that I think just as accurate as—and more legitimate than—the other two.

The less common of the first two is that the soldier who asks is that he is indeed nuts, crazy, bonkers, or otherwise mad for trying to kill his fellow man and vice versa over issues that are of little or no import to either of them. The harsh reality is that this state of affairs can often be inconsequential for a few stock reasons. Among these are that they were drafted (e.g., in Viet Nam) or they will be shot by their own side if they don’t fight (e.g., WWII Russians, Desert Storm Iraqis). Or perhaps they got more than they bargained for when they signed up to get money for college/three somewhat square meals and something other than the ground (most of the time) to sleep on/the means to support their family. It would be interesting to discover (if at all possible) how much, as my intuition tells me that it could not be unrelated, the domestic unemployment rate is correlated to filling the ranks of the military in a given country.

The more common response to a query about their current state of affairs involves many intangible words and a few tangible traits of human behavior. In the former case, words such as honor, duty, valor, discipline, and courage are bandied about like the fine china when Mom is out of the house. At the near certainty of offending some tough customers and some ignorant wretches, using these words in the past tense is often a salve for the emotional and physical wounds that war inflicts on people. They serve to preserve the fragile fantasy that as with men like Archie in World Ware I or Americans in Viet Nam, somehow their lives and efforts were not wasted. Used in the future tense, these types of words are despicable carrots/sticks that perpetuate what Gray would refer to as some of the secret attractions to war. For one cannot go buy these things. They are 'earned,' most significantly on the field of battle. Actually they are just words. Whether one calls it collateral damage or killing women and children, it is still an atrocity. Likewise, one man’s heroic deed to save his comrades can be tantamount to killing a son/father/brother/husband who was deeply loved, now dearly missed, and on whom many depended. Is that worth it? No. No. No.

To be sure, sometimes wars happen out of real necessity. But surely this is the exception and not the rule. The attractions to fight are many and the costs of fighting are sugarcoated or ignored or, most perversely, glorified. It is impossible not to use the language of war and not conjure up mental images that are part and parcel of human history. This attachment to history is another aspect that Gray discusses. In Gallipoli Archie, just before (in a show of great ‘discipline and courage’) runs into a hail of hot lead, writes a quick letter home. In it he is detailing to his mother how he and his ‘comrades in arms’ feel they are part of something larger than life, some sort of great human endeavor. I can only see the disgusting waste. To be sure, the post hoc justifications of war greatly outnumber the prejudiced attitudes of one non-combat veteran. In spite of this, the thin veil of linguistic rhetoric is to me as immaterial as a beautiful corona around the searing maelstrom of the Sun that would surely vaporize me were I able to embrace it. Just this way countless millions of people have been churned up in the shredder of war.

Doubtless, countless more millions will be swallowed up and digested in the gullet of the Dogs of War. I cannot help but quote from a song (“The Dogs of War,” from A Momentary Lapse of Reason by Pink Floyd) that succinctly describes in a somewhat more poetic fashion the causes of war.

Dogs of war and men of hate
With no cause, we don't discriminate
Discovery is to be disowned
Our currency is flesh and bone
Hell opened up and put on sale
Gather 'round and haggle
For hard cash, we will lie and deceive
Even our masters don't know the web we weave

One world, it's a battleground
One world, and we will smash it down
One world ... One world

Invisible transfers, long distance calls,
Hollow laughter in marble halls
Steps have been taken, a silent uproar
Has unleashed the dogs of war
You can't stop what has begun
Signed, sealed, they deliver oblivion
We all have a dark side, to say the least
And dealing in death is the nature of the beast

One world, it's a battleground
One world, and we will smash it down
One world ... One world

The dogs of war don't negotiate
The dogs of war won't capitulate,
They will take and you will give,
And you must die so that they may live
You can knock at any door,
But wherever you go, you know they've been there before
Well winners can lose and things can get strained
But whatever you change, you know the dogs remain.

One world, it's a battleground
One world, and we will smash it down
One world ... One world

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Are You As Shocked As Me That This Stuff Is News, Mr. Rich?

This is how things have been working since before Day 1 of the George W. Bush presidency.

Few things are more frustrating than iterating and reiterating to an otherwise apparently rational, responsible person that something is the case and then, on the umpteenth time he or she is given a new syntactical version of the same story, the light bulbs finally begin to sputter to life. Oh well, I'm no more perfect than anyone else, and it is better to learn a lesson late than it is to never learn it. Of course people make mistakes, that's why we evolved enough to think to put erasers on pencils...

On the other hand, or perhaps I should say furthermore, many times incompetence is ignored, overlooked, or even embraced by people until it becomes the source of a problem for those previously blissful enough to let it slide. Therefore, millions of people are suddenly painfully aware that the deer-in-the-floodlights stance of Bush and others in his executive branc fraternity was not the steely determination and steadfastness they wished it were courtesy of yet another train jumping the tracks. On the bright side, some of the damage of the Bush administration's failure seems to be sticking this time.

But steadfastness? Resolve? To a fault, such that the steadfast Luntzian focus groups and resolutely Rovian smearology have suddenly started hitting the faberge eggs of American lives with the same hammer of message-control and dog-wagging they use on most everyone impertinent enough to call a spade a spade. These Americans affected by Katrina have suddenly discovered what it is like to be on the receiving end of choosing one's leaders from politically in-bred stock who choose subordinates for their personality, business relations, and/or past friendship rather than the way one would choose other people to put in other positions of responsibility. If the management at the DMV handed out driver's licenses to people out of sheer friendship or NASA awarded engineering contracts based on the fact that a person was their best pal on the rowing team it would be no less criminal than the clinic of political hackery perpetrated on us and the rest of the world by a spoiled Ivy League legacy of a chump who's all name and no game.

But this is hardly anything different than what the Bush administration has done all along. When has any acting member stood up and shown integrity rather than mealy-mouthed newspeak (e.g., Rice, Powell, Rumsfeld, Rove), tired cliches and emotionally manipulative sophistry (Bush's speechwriters, Cheney, the entire cabinet, neocons foremost), or outright sanctimonious arrogance (e.g., Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush himself). Moreover, to reference parenthetically, when was the last time a president's words were so tortuously gamy? Perhaps Reagan or George H. W. Bush, and Clinton on occasion, but George W. Bush is off the charts for standing up before millions of people, time and time again, and almost uniformly reading someone else's words as if, well, they were someone else's baroque dime-store bunting rather than the actual thoughts of a person deserving of the immense responsibility inherent in the presidency.

George W. Bush never has been a leader. He was a screw-up, alcoholic, and all-purpose failure who fit neatly into an all-is-forgiven niche within the community of most zealous support among the new pushers of the line between a democratic republic and a quasi-fascist plutocracy. If you don't know what a Christian Dominionist is or what the deal is with the National Prayer Breakfast and the so-called Family, well...that's not news any more than that George Bush is the darling of the redneck who always wanted to play gold with the rich kids at the country club, the coward who always wanted to be associated with courage without having to risk earning it, and the wild-eyed televangelists' milkin' cows.

It's historical fact that George W. Bush was not and is not competent to lead the United States of America and that, on his watch, a college roommate or resume filled with PR and marketing coups (i.e., convincing people to believe in something that in the final analysis they do only at their own peril) has proven a ticket to the big time; for the past five years professionalism, integrity, and genuine concern for one's fellow man has been practically nonexistent when the chips were down in this country's highest executive office. Unfortunately, the majority of American citizens are only just now squeegeeing the tickertape and confetti from their damned eyes. Welcome to, at the very least, the next three years, if not longer...try to pay attention this time, thanks.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Fascism is dead? Think again, my fellow Americans...

Well, it seems to me that most Americans think that fascism is akin to baseball players shilling for tobacco cabals, the overwhelming majority of the populace being sexually repressed, and leaded gasoline.

But wait! You too can enjoy the unbridled shrieking and automatonic me-tooism of the fascist societies of yesteryear! Just run right down to your nearest evangelical dominionist church, military defense contractor, or neoconservative think tank and sign up! Don't be alarmed if they recoil in horror when you say you want fascism too; just tell them you like to follow, don't believe your own eyes and ears, and are so intellectually lazy that you have next to no real idea for whom you have voted, why you voted for them, or what they actually stood for when the votes came down, despite rhetorical sleight-of-hand. It's okay; many of them have no idea that they are enabling fascism either. Some of you may still have doubts. Never voted? Even better! Rather watch sports, listen to fake news and spew it out as if you had a thought in your own head, badmouth labor unions while making eight bucks an hour at WalMart, or make racist comments to your fellows while sharing neighboring and ever-more equivalent bits of squalor with those to whom you falsely believe you are superior based on an arbitrary and essentially accidental evolutionary roll of the dice? You're just the mindless tool they're looking for...and you can even continue not believing in evolutionary biology just because you don't understand it!

Okay, now that I got my giggles out...

The following list is originally from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2, and is attributable to the political scientist Lawrence Britt. It and the "Perfect Storm" bit that follows it are excerpted from "Living Under Fascism," a sermon by Davidson Loehr originally delivered November 7, 2004. Shame on me for not finding a way to share it sooner, but I think the powers that be will understand and forgive me in the long run.

In any event, it is a distillation of the agendas that fascist regimes have shared. Don't read it before you go to bed or it will give you nightmares and don't read it before, during, or after watching Fox "News," doing anything regarding Sean Hannity, or even thinking about Rush Limbaugh, as it makes clear that they are hardly idiosyncratic nobs; rather, they are the template for the future as some very wealthy, very powerful, very vocally Christian, very vocally patriotic people hope it is...

Remember what Orwell told us and the Roves, Limbaughs, and Luntzes of the world are trying to make new all over again:


Common Facets of Fascist Regimes

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, and so on.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic, or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, and so forth.
4. Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
5. Rampant Sexism
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
6. Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes the media are directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media are indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
9. Corporate Power is Protected
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
Fascist regimes are almost always governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

The Perfect Storm
Our current descent into fascism came about through a kind of "Perfect Storm," a confluence of three unrelated but mutually supportive schools of thought.
1. The first stream of thought was the imperialistic dream of the Project for the New American Century. I don't believe anyone can understand the past four years without reading the Project for the New American Century, published in September 2000 and authored by many who have been prominent players in the Bush administrations, including Cheney, Rumsfleid, Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Donald Kagan to name only a few. This report saw the fall of Communism as a call for America to become the military rulers of the world, to establish a new worldwide empire. They spelled out the military enhancements we would need, then noted, sadly, that these wonderful plans would take a long time, unless there could be a catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor that would let the leaders turn America into a military and militarist country. There was no clear interest in religion in this report, and no clear concern with local economic policies.

2. A second powerful stream must be credited to Pat Robertson and his Christian Reconstructionists, or Dominionists. Long dismissed by most of us as a screwball, the Dominionist style of Christianity which he has been preaching since the early 1980s is now the most powerful religious voice in the Bush administration. Katherine Yurica, who transcribed over 1300 pages of interviews from Pat Robertson's "700 Club" shows in the 1980s, has shown how Robertson and his chosen guests consistently, openly and passionately argued that America must become a theocracy under the control of Christian Dominionists. Robertson is on record saying democracy is a terrible form of government unless it is run by his kind of Christians. He also rails constantly against taxing the rich, against public education, social programs and welfare - and prefers Deuteronomy 28 over the teachings of Jesus. He is clear that women must remain homebound as obedient servants of men, and that abortions, like homosexuals, should not be allowed. Robertson has also been clear that other kinds of Christians, including Episcopalians and Presbyterians, are enemies of Christ. (The Yurica Report. Search under this name, or for "Despoiling America" by Katherine Yurica on the Internet.)

3. The third major component of this Perfect Storm has been the desire of very wealthy Americans and corporate CEOs for a plutocracy that will favor profits by the very rich and disempowerment of the vast majority of American workers, the destruction of workers' unions, and the alliance of government to help achieve these greedy goals. It is a condition some have called socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor, and which others recognize as a reincarnation of Social Darwinism. This strain of thought has been present throughout American history. Seventy years ago, they tried to finance a military coup to replace Franlkin Delano Roosevelt and establish General Smedley Butler as a fascist dictator in 1934. Fortunately, the picked a general who really was a patriot; he refused, reported the scheme, and spoke and wrote about it. As Canadian law professor Joel Bakan wrote in the book and movie "The Corporation," they have now achieved their coup without firing a shot. Our plutocrats have had no particular interest in religion. Their global interests are with an imperialist empire, and their domestic goals are in undoing all the New Deal reforms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt that enabled the rise of America's middle class after WWII. Another ill wind in this Perfect Storm is more important than its crudity might suggest: it was President Clinton's sleazy sex with a young but eager intern in the White House. This incident, and Clinton's equally sleazy lying about it, focused the certainties of conservatives on the fact that "liberals" had neither moral compass nor moral concern, and therefore represented a dangerous threat to the moral fiber of America. While the effects of this may be hard to quantify, I think they were profound. These "storm" components have no necessary connection, and come from different groups of thinkers, many of whom wouldn't even like one another. But together, they form a nearly complete web of command and control, which has finally gained control of America and, they hope, of the world.