Friday, February 12, 2010

executive toothpaste

The merger of emergency executive and war machine within the US state is evidently bigger than Obama.

Tone shifts aside, he and his cabinet have drawn back from draw down.

With only minor, token exceptions and despite the complaints of Republicans, the Obama executive has maintained, reinforced and even continued to expand the apparatus, positions and prerogatives put in place by Bush.

Substantially, the war on terror continues. The politics of fear are played in a pleasingly different key, but one year on the logic of homeland security persists where it matters.

Emergency expansions of executive power, once established, are incredibly difficult to roll back. We would need to imagine the conditions for a transition to democracy in the US analogous to post-dictatorship periods in Spain, Chile or Greece. Leonard Cohen, but where is the struggle?

Carte blanche executive violation of standing treaties, secret presidential programs and expenditures, covert acts of war, normalized assassination and “extraordinary renditions,” suspension of habeas corpus and torture by proxy (all evidently in practice under Obama): whether granted by special authorization of Congress or simply unopposed and unprosecuted, such abuses of law clearly liquidate the Constitution.

They effectively reconstitute a new relation between the branches of government – something only Constitutional amendment could do legally. Checks and balances to constrain arbitrary power have been drastically enfeebled.

Q: So why do Congress and Supreme Court endorse the new regime by a mix of approval, silence and inaction? Why do they not “jealously guard” their own designated powers? Where, the trumpeted instinct for "liberty"?

Why, for example, is Kucinich all alone in crying foul (if that mild aside be a cry).

Is it safer in the dark? Is the new militaristic regime too “popular”? Is the populace asleep, apathetic, distracted, too confused and depressed?

Is it the sum of all these, converging with and reinforcing concentrated economic power - the "nexus of profit and secrecy"?

Given the conditions of winning Congressional elections and reelections, is it preferable to feign blindness and hand over powers at the slightest invocation of security shibboleths?
If so, in what ways? Who gains what, by what process?

And the Court, what is the Court after Bush v. Gore? A degraded reflector of the corporate-partisan force field at any given moment - a belated, arbitrary dialectic between presidential power of nomination and nine mortal lifelines.

A very partial, very unsatisfying hint at the weight and momentum of processes, once the changed facts in the state have taken hold:

“It is often too late for the toothpaste to be put back into the tube.”
Garry Wills, Bomb Power, 2010

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