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Immovable Object, Irresistible Force

By Ernest Partridge
The Crisis Papers

July 4, 2006

“What happens when an irresistible force encounters an immovable object?”

This question, which I seem to recall hearing way back in grade school, is fundamentally silly. In nature, there are no absolutes. So the simply answer is: we discover that the force was not irresistible, or that the object was not immovable, or both.

Likewise in politics, there are no absolutes. A regime (object) can be formidable, as can an opposition (force) to that regime. The greater the forces when they clash, the more likely that the political landscape will be drastically and permanently transformed by the encounter.

The “Immovable” Object:

Surely, one of the most remarkable and enviable traditions of American politics has been that of the peaceful transfer of power. Never in our history has a President and his administration been removed from office by force of arms. Instead, it has been our tradition that when, following an orderly election, a new President is inaugurated, he is usually greeted by his predecessor at the White House, whereupon they ride together to the inauguration ceremony. Then the former President begins an honorable retirement, writes his memoirs, and accepts six-figure speaking engagements.

No longer. For perhaps the first time in our history, a significant number of administration officials and supporters, including perhaps the President himself, must keep themselves and their party in power to avoid criminal indictment, conviction, and imprisonment. For it can scarcely be doubted that these individuals have committed numerous crimes, as they have, in fact, proclaimed themselves above the law. Among these crimes: disclosure of a covert intelligence agent, waging an illegal war, lying to Congress, violation of the Geneva accords on treatment of prisoners, unlawful incarceration of both citizens and aliens, illegal surveillance of private citizens, bribery, and much more. These crimes are well known. Surely there are many additional crimes that have been successfully hidden by this secretive regime, but would likely be discovered and prosecuted should an opposition party take control of the government.

In addition, there are ill-gotten fortunes, and political and economic advantages at stake. Billions of dollars of public money have been “transferred” into the private hands of Bush and GOP supporters – much of that cash unaccounted for. Deregulation and tax policies have lavishly benefited the most wealthy among us, while the incomes and personal wealth of the poor and middle class have stagnated or even declined. Were the GOP to be driven from office and economic justice restored, all these gains and advantages might come to an end.

Thus the Busheviks simply can not afford to relinquish power. Not the White House in 2008, and not either house of Congress in November, for that would allow the opposition party to conduct Congressional investigations of the behavior of the Bush regime.

This the GOP will not allow, and they are in a position to prevent it, whatever the cost and whatever the methods required, including election fraud, regardless of the wishes and the actual votes of the American people. There is abundant and compelling evidence that they have committed election fraud in the previous three national elections, notwithstanding the dogged refusal of the mainstream media to report this evidence or of the Democratic party to recognize the fraud and to initiate criminal and civil action against these crimes.

Absent any dramatic breakthroughs in the investigation of election fraud, and absent the widespread adoption of reliable methods of voting certification, it is virtually certain that the Republicans will once again steal the Congressional elections in November, and the Presidential election of 2008. And Lincoln's government of, by and for the people will be no more.

Yet the Democrats and the media pretend that these pending elections will be fair and accurate, just like all the others, and that the Democrats have an excellent chance of regaining the Congress in November, and the White House in 2008. Talk of stolen elections, past and future, is just not acceptable in polite political conversation.

Accordingly, a perpetual GOP control of government appears to be an immovable political object.

The “Irresistible” Force:

Against this “object,” the “forces” of dissent and opposition appear to be hopelessly weak and futile. To be sure, if the aforementioned conditions remain in place – “black box” unverifiable voting machines, a compliant media, and a naive and passive Democratic party – then GOP victories in November and 2008 are assured.

The good news, is that these conditions are not likely to remain in place. For even now, some significant events are afoot. Among them:

Bush and Cheney have taken on the New York Times, which has heretofore been a Bush enabler. And this time, several “conservative” newspapers have come to the defense of the Times, and more generally, the First Amendment freedom of the press. Will more of the print media follow in support? To the Busheviks, it is not enough that the media be supporters; the media obedience must be total. Now the high-voltage Bushevik charges of "treason" over the New York Times' disclosure of the latest Bushevik outrage may pull the it back into line, or it might be the final straw that chases the Times off the reservation. If so, where the Times leads others may follow.

The solid front of Bush support in the mainstream broadcast media is beginning to break, as heretofore Bush supporters are beginning to stray, most notably Joe Scarborough and Lou Dobbs, the latter who is raising holy hell about election security. Perhaps outcast victims of Bushevik media control and retaliation such as Dan Rather and Phil Donahue, unencumbered by editorial and management constraints, may speak out, or even join forces with the emerging dissenting media, such as Air America Radio.

Where the Busheviks lead, astute investors and financiers should not want to follow. And it appears that at last some significant Wall Street movers-and-shakers are finally beginning to see the light. They appreciate this, not out of any loyalty to the Constitution or our political institutions, nor for any pangs of conscience over economic injustice. Their concern is rooted in those most significant of Wall Street motives: greed and self-interest. They understand that in the economic Armageddon toward which Bush is leading the economy, there will be no winners.

The quiet voice of concern about election integrity is growing louder. Evidence of the vulnerability of electronic voting devices to fraud and error continues to accumulate. Most recently, the non-partisan Brennan Center has released a report stating that there are “hundreds of ways to rig US voting systems” and that virtually no states offer safeguards against them. This follows upon a report by the Congressional General Accountability Office, along with books, articles, and incident reports too numerous to mention. At last some legal action is in the works as the law firm of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Air America Radio Partner, Mike Papantonio, is filing lawsuits against Diebold, and ES&S, manufacturers of “black box” voting machines.

The public may be waking up at last. A sizeable minority has always suspected that the elections were fraudulent. But that minority appears to be growing, and equally important, the salience of the election fraud issue is also increasing, from "yeah, so what?" toward "omigawd, we've been screwed!"  If the economy continues to sour, as interest rates, the cost of living and gas prices continue to rise, that increase in public outrage will accelerate. We learned from the era of Joe McCarthy, and also from the fall of the Soviet Union, that a regime based on fear and intimidation, however formidable it may appear (hence its effectiveness), can be very fragile. No one wants to face the beast alone, but when a few step forward, say an Ed Murrow or an Andrei Sakharov, hordes of the reluctant and the intimidated join in, and the regime collapses like a breached levee.

At last, the judiciary is pushing back on the “unitary President.” The Supreme Court decision, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, finally proclaims the obvious: even the President is subject to the rule of law. “The law” in this case is Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions which prohibits extra-judicial confinement, sentencing and executions. My guess is that the Busheviks will give Hamdan his trial, and no one else, thus defying the ruling of the Supreme Court. If so, the consequent response of the Courts, the Congress, the media and the public to this further move toward despotism is uncertain.

How much more abuse will the military and the CIA endure before they turn on this runaway, outlaw regime?  A military coup in the United States?  Unprecedented and Unthinkable!  But so too are the outrages and crimes of this administration.  I am not suggesting tanks, trucks and armed soldiers surrounding the White House, at least not at first.  Simply a refusal to obey a Presidential order, for instance, to invade Iran or to fire on protesting American citizens, might set events in motion that could bring down the Bushevik junta.  As for the CIA, these are experts in engineering coups abroad.  How difficult would it be to apply these skills domestically?

The Bushevik crimes and usurpations are contrary to our history and political traditions. The extent of the creeping fascism, and the accumulating weight of certifiable lies from this administration is without precedent. Is the public and institutional tolerance of these outrages without limit, or is there a point at which a once-free and once-prosperous people finally say “no more!,” a point at which the opposition to the tyranny coalesces and enlightened and disciplined leadership emerges? Tyrants have a way of overstepping their limits and thus igniting the fires of rebellion. And this regime – arrogant, ruthless, dismissive of “reality-based” advice – has had its way so far, and displays no indication that it has sated its appetite for still more power. All this in a country that has heretofore been a world-wide exemplar of enlightened democracy and the rule of law.

I am not saying that all these factors, together, will succeed in overthrowing the proto-fascist Bush regime. At the moment, the Busheviks most certainly have the upper hand. And their determination to hold on to their power might bring about repressions that we Americans have never seen or even imagined to be possible. For the political conditions now in place, 230 years to the day after the founding of our republic, are unstable and in flux,  moving toward an undetermined and unknowable destination. And history is not reassuring. For there we find that the engine of despotism is fueled by a despot’s constant craving for more power and more security from rebellion. Dissent prompts more repression by the regime, which in turn provokes more dissent, then more repression and still more dissent, until at last either the despotism is total, or else it is overthrown.

But of this much we can be confident: the Busheviks and their GOP lackeys in Congress will not relinquish power gracefully. It must be taken from them, by an aroused people.

And by what authority and with what justification dare one make such a radical pronouncement?  On this day, 230 years go, the founders of our republic signed a document that provides the answer:

To secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That, whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness... When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security...

A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free People.

Copyright 2006 by Ernest Partridge


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Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers".   His e-mail is: gadfly@igc.org .

Crisis Papers editors, Partridge & Weiner, are available for public speaking appearances