Thursday, November 28, 2019

Vietnam Quagmire: Not So Much

Vietnam Quagmire? Not So Much
Peter Schultz

Here are some interesting facts. Most people think it would’ve been very difficult for the US not to get involved in what became the Vietnam War. Hence, the idea that Nam was a quagmire that sucked the US into a war it really didn’t want to fight. Actually, though it was much more difficult to get involved in that war than not. To not have that war, all the US had to do was let the elections agreed to in the Geneva accords take place in the 1950s. Ho Chi Minh would have won, the place called “South Vietnam” wouldn’t have existed, and ergo no fucking war! The US had to in essence create “South Vietnam” so it could then have a war there! To create “South Vietnam” the US helped thousands, maybe millions, of northerners to move south where they created conflict because resources were sparse and they were unlike southerners of Vietnam. Then the US had to find a puppet to govern the south, who they found in a monastery in New Jersey but then had to “sell” him as a legitimate ruler, even though he was a Catholic in an essentially Buddhist society, and a Catholic who preferred to speak French, not Vietnamese! In other words, the US put a lot of effort into making sure there would be a war in Vietnam it could fight while blaming it on Ho Chi Minh and the communists. That’s why it’s not incorrect to label US policy in Vietnam as war mongering. The US created war in Vietnam as did France before the Americans did. And the US is still creating wars, viz., in Iraq, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia. A peace policy would be so much easier for the US, not to mention more humane and just. But apparently our elites like war so they create them. Sad, very sad.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Impeachment: What's It All About?

Impeachments: What’s It All About?
Peter Schultz

            Originally, the motivation for creating the impeachment process in the Constitution was to control the powerful, viz., those who become so powerful that they can abuse their powers and subvert the established constitutional order. But as used in the Clinton and Trump cases, impeachments have been used as a tool the serves the powerful. That is, these impeachments were not about presidential accountability in the face of an “imperial president,” but rather about empowering the president’s political enemies.

            Thus, in Clinton’s and Trump’s impeachments, the impeachers base their actions on crimes – like obstruction of justice – a president has allegedly committed. But that a crime has been committed doesn’t threaten the established constitutional order. In fact, “crime” is how the powerful control the less powerful, which is why crime does not threaten the established order. On the other hand, some non-criminal activities do threaten the established order, which is why Malcolm X, the Muslim, was much more dangerous than Malcolm Little, the criminal. And this is why some who are not criminals, like MLK Jr., are much more dangerous than the likes of Tony Soprano. Most criminals are notoriously patriotic and are willing to serve the nation as some “crime figures” did when the Kennedys ran what LBJ called “a Murder Inc.” out of the White House in attempts to kill Castro. 

            Trump’s “crimes” – such as they are – and Clinton’s “crimes” – such as they were – do not threaten the established political order. And those using these crimes as justification for an impeachment are merely engaged in a thinly disguised power play. So disguised as those gallantly dealing with an “imperial president,” Trump’s impeachers, like Clinton’s impeachers, are merely playing power politics, using impeachment to enhance their own power while subverting Trump’s. Not exactly the morality play the impeachers trumpet as their cause.

            The success of such shenanigans is far from guaranteed, as Bill Clinton’s presidency was not undermined by his impeachment and trial. And even as a campaign tactic, the Republican impeachers were not successful or were successful only with the help of the Supremes, that is, of the five Republican Supremes. Trump, because he is even more shameless than Clinton, might emerge from this situation stronger because as “the acquitted one” he will broadcast his “innocence” loudly and continually, making his Democratic impeachers look like mere partisans playing politics based on “Trumped up” charges. Which is of course what they are. In the process, moreover, the Democrats, like the Republicans before them, will leave the impeachment process in tatters and impotent to deal with the real danger, an imperial president.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Politics of Despair

The Politics of Despair
Peter Schultz

            There is currently a great deal of dissatisfaction, even despair, evident among the people of the United States with our government, our political parties, and our politicians. There are several good reasons for this despair but too often one that is overlooked is that this despair has been created by our governing classes as a way of fortifying their power and control. By not responding to the wishes or the needs of the people, our governing elites create despair among the people, which, in turn, leads the people away from politics and especially away from political activism. Despairing of any significant changes, the people relapse into their customary condition of passivity, as this seems the only “realistic” option, while our elites continue their “activism,” that is, serving their own and their supporters’ interests.

            This is why the Democrats are pushing for Trump’s impeachment even though the chances of Trump being convicted by the Senate in an impeachment trial are between zero and none. By pretending to be doing something significant politically, viz., removing a sitting president, the Democrats, when they fail – as they undoubtedly will in the Senate – will have fortified popular despair with the existing political situation. By failing to remove Trump, the Democrats will thus succeed in fortifying the people’s intense dissatisfaction with politics. What looks like failure is actually success, from the vantage point of our ruling elites. Most people will turn away from politics, thinking “What’s the point of being politically active?”

            And it’s important, even crucial, to keep someone like Bernie Sanders out of the presidency because, otherwise, people would get the idea that political activism isn’t futile. And then where will our ruling political class be? Political activism is, willy nilly, a threat to the current crop of politically powerful persons and, so, it must be stanched, repressed, or rendered hopelessly “idealistic.” Thus, we see Obama warning against going “too far left,” because if that happens and succeeds people will get the idea that political activism is not futile, is not spitting into the wind, is in fact realistic. I mean, heck, it worked in the former Soviet Union, didn’t it? And they were Communists!

            Endless wars also help fortify our elites’ agenda of creating a politics of despair. These wars don’t end, aren’t won or lost, and need not be. They feed popular dissatisfaction with the government, with politics, and with human beings’ capacities to control their environments. And if body counts are kept under control and the use of WMDs is also controlled, then these allegedly “useless” wars are very useful for maintaining the status quo and the predominant political classes.

            Overall, a politics of failure serves a politics of despair very well, Machiavelli taught that fear and government go together very well, to which we may add that failure and government also go together very well. The failure of 9/11, for example, led to a fortification of the government that was inconceivable had the government not failed to prevent these attacks. Failure in US wars in Southeast Asia led eventually to more wars, a greater militarization of American society, and ever-larger “defense” budgets. Repeatedly, political failure leads to the fortification of government and, simultaneously, to the fortification of a politics of despair.  Failure leads to more government and more government, when it fails, leads to more despair.

            So don’t be surprised when our government fails. Those who hold and exercise our governmental powers want it to fail; they do and don’t do things so it fails [cf. the the occupation of Iraq or the war of 19 years in Afghanistan], because in that way they undermine political activism, create a politics of despair, and preserve their own power. And don’t be surprised when Trump survives impeachment, because that is the plan. For the Democrats, as Bob Dylan once sang: “There is no success like failure….” And they will emerge from their “failure” arguing that they need more power so…..well, so they can “fail” once again.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Impeachment and the Presidency

Impeachment and the Presidency
Peter Schultz

            Like the presidency itself, the men who wrote the Constitution saw an impeachment process as necessary but dangerous. They knew that such a process could and would be used merely for partisan purposes and that such a process could and would cause intense divisions in the nation. On the other hand, they saw the necessity for providing for a constitutionally established process to remove culpable presidents or otherwise, as Ben Franklin noted, assassination would become a means of “removal.” If we look at the results of the impeachments of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, it is safe to say that those men did their work well as both impeachments were intensely partisan attacks on presidents some thought of as illegitimate.

            Johnson, charged with a lot of things, most importantly chose to violate a law that was clearly unconstitutional, the Tenure of Office Act, passed by Republicans to keep Johnson from firing Stanton, his Secretary of War, as the Secretary of Defense was called when our politics was more honest. As John F. Kennedy wrote in his book Profiles in Courage, Johnson’s presidency was saved by the votes of seven Republicans who broke ranks with their colleagues, the most important vote – because it was most dramatic – coming from Senator Ross from Kansas. For his troubles, Ross had his reputation sullied and was not returned to the Senate. He even had to move from his home state to the New Mexico territory, where he was eventually made its governor. Eventually, people came to see that Ross’s vote was the right one and he regained his well-deserved reputation for integrity. The Tenure of Office Act was repealed twenty years later and it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in dicta when William Howard Taft was chief justice.

            Bill Clinton’s impeachment was even worse in that not only was he impeached and tried on trumped up – sorry for the unintentional pun – charges but the Republicans never actually intended to remove Clinton from office. That would have made Al Gore president and Gore would have run as an incumbent in 2000 and would have been entitled to serve two full terms as he would have become president more than halfway through Clinton’s second term. This impeachment was all smoke and mirrors and political theater aimed at allowing the Republicans to win the presidency in 2000. They weren’t even successful in that except that they had the Supreme Court and certain Florida officials on their side. The people, who chose Gore, weren’t fooled by the Republicans’ dog and pony show of an impeachment.

            And now we have the Trump impeachment, another attempt to remove a sitting president for merely partisan reasons. It will fail and it will in large part thanks to the process that was created in 1787 making the Senate the body to try impeached presidents. Senators have six-year terms, only 1/3 are up for reelection in any election year, and conviction requires a 2/3s majority. All of these provisions serve to protect Trump and rightly so insofar as his impeachment is as clearly partisan as were those of Johnson and Clinton.
            Two things are remarkable here. First, that the men who wrote the Constitution saw clearly the possibility that any impeachment process could and would be used for merely partisan purposes, arousing passions of such intensity that Franklin said would have led to assassinations were they not redirected into constitutionally approved processes. And, second, having seen these possibilities but still seeing the need for a removal process regarding the presidency, they were able to create a process that has, in at least two cases so far, worked as intended in short circuiting merely partisan attempts to remove sitting presidents. The Constitution is hardly a flawless document, especially when it comes to the presidency, but in this way it has proved to be more than adequate.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Democratic Oligarchs, Their "Deep State," and the Constitution

The Democratic Oligarchs, Their “Deep State,” and the Constitution
Peter Schultz

            There is a link below to an article on the Greanville Post relating to the Democrats current endorsement of what is being called “the Deep State” as populated by patriots, defenders of the Constitution, and defenders of democracy. Some response seems called for.

Actually, this alleged “change” by progressives endorsing bureaucratic government isn’t really a change. The progressives were always in favor of a pervasively powerful bureaucracy rather than a government that rests on the active, day to day consent of the governed. They thought this would offset the power of the wealthy they knew would arise from the creation of an economy devoted to the creation of ever more wealth. They were wrong about that as the wealthy just occupied the bureaucracy, thereby helping to create an oligarchy. 

And that is all that’s going on here: oligarchs defending their power, their status, as the many begin to realize that they, the many, are being screwed by “their” government. The lies told by the likes of the Clintons, the Obamas, and the Bushes, only play for so long and then the many realize they’re being screwed over and the progressives lose legitimacy and authority. So then they pronounce their faith in the bureaucracy, rechristening it “patriotic,” “defenders of the Constitution,” “defenders of democracy,” allegedly. The progressives were never “republican,” small “r”, in any real sense, but elitists looking to take control from the people, the many. And of course those who oppose them are, as Hillary put it, “deplorables” and undeserving of power. From their perspective, it’s not that Trump deserves impeachment for his acts; he deserves impeachment because he can’t be a legitimate president given his rejection of the ruling elites. So, one need not be concerned with Trump at all to be concerned with how the Democrats are behaving as they are, not surprisingly for an oligarchs, trying to kill the republic the Constitution aspires to.