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Monday, February 15, 2010

Days of Future Past -- Part III

In Parts I & II we looked back on days past, via Steinbeck and the Great Depression, and wondered if that is a vision of our economic future? Economic issues aren’t the only thing we should be concerned about in the future…, and those issues seem particularly relevant on Independence Day. Thomas Pynchon took a look back at the 60’s and 70’s and gave us his vision of what the Ronald Reagan Road of the 1980’s looked like, behind the media veil, in his book, “Vineland“. I wonder what Pynchon is saying today…, with a new cabinet level government law enforcement agency called Homeland Security…, and Border Patrol agents manning checkpoints, stopping all law abiding citizens and boarding buses? Are they really looking for “terrorists” and illegal aliens? Or are they just testing us…, again…, to see what magnitude of fascist oppression we will stand still for?

Mucho blinked sympathetically, a little sadly. “I guess it’s over. We’re on into a new world now, it’s the Nixon Years, then it’ll be the Reagan Years--”
“Ol, Raygun? No way he’ll ever make president.”
“Just please go careful, Zoyd. ‘Cause soon ther’re gonna be coming after everything, not just drugs, but beer, cigarettes, sugar, salt, fat, you name it, anything that could remotely please any of your senses, because they need to control all that. And they will.”
“Fat Police?”
“Perfume Police. Tube Police. Music Police. Good Healthy Shit Police. Best to renounce everything now, get a head start.”
“Well I still wish it was back then, when you were the Count. Remember how the acid was? Remember that windowpane, down in Laguna that time? God, I knew then, I knew….”
They had a look. “Uh-huh, me too. That you were never going to die. Ha! No wonder the State panicked. How are they supposed to control a population that knows it’ll never die? When that was always their last big chip, when they thought they had the power of life and death. But acid gave us the X-ray vision to see through that one, so of course they had to take it away from us.”
“Yeah, but they can’t take what happened, what we found out.”
“Easy. They just let us forget. Give us too much to process, fill up every minute, keep us distracted, it’s what the Tube is for, and though it kills me to say it, it’s what rock and roll is becoming--just another way to claim our attention, so that beautiful certainty we had starts to fade, and after a while they have us convinced all over again that we really are going to die. And they’ve got us all over again that we really are going to die. And they’ve got us again.” It was the way people used to talk.

We had a chance to turn that Nixonian fascist world in the making around when Jimmy Carter was elected. If he would have received the support from the people and the Congress that he deserved I believe he would have. But he faced an unprecedented economic crisis and no one was willing to make the sacrifices it required to confront and cure it. The man had a set of cajones…, and they weren’t in anyone else’s pocket. He said things like, “We can be sure that all the special interest groups in the country will attack the part of this plan that affects them directly. They will say that sacrifice is fine, as long as other people do it, but that their sacrifice is unreasonable, or unfair, or harmful to the country. If they succeed, then the burden on the ordinary citizen, who is not organized into an interest group, would be crushing.” But the “ordinary citizens” Jimmy Carter was trying to protect weren’t willing to make those sacrifices…, and the “special interest groups” who own the Congress wouldn’t stand for it. America chose the Reagan Road instead. Reagan tripled the national debt and saturated the courts with law and order control freak judges who legislated from the bench to the point where we are now subject to search and seizure for a routine traffic stop. Then George E. Bush convinced us that we were all going to die if the Patriot Act wasn’t passed and we didn’t invade Iraq…, and now Bill Clinton’s emails are getting legally screened. Bush sold us his War on Terror just like Reagan sold us his War on Drugs…, and used it for the same purposes.

When Barack Obama was elected to clean up the mess we were in I asked in, “The Election That Changed the World…,” if he would be a Carter or a Reagan type president? I think that answer is clear enough now. He won’t even reveal who he is meeting with at the White House. He hasn’t done a thing about the Patriot Act. If he continues on the economic path he has chosen, he will make Ronnie look like a penny pinching money miser. If Obama even has a set of cajones…, they are in the pockets of Wall Street and the Banksters.

It’s beginning to look to me like this passage from “Vineland” describes our current President…, as well as the Pynchon character, Brock Vond.

Well, what a life, you’d ordinarily say. But Brock coveted more. He’d caught a fatal glimpse of that level where everybody knew everybody else, where however political fortunes below might bloom and die, the same people, the Real Ones, remained year in and year out, keeping what was desirable flowing their way. Prosecutor Vond wanted a life there, only slowly coming to understand that for someone of his background there would be no route to this but self-abasement, fawning, gofering, scrambling for tips and offering other such hints of his eagerness to be brevetted on life’s battlefield to a rank higher than he would ever, by means of his enlistment, have deserved. Though his defects of character were many, none was quite as annoying as this naked itch to be a gentleman, kept inflamed by a stubborn denial of what everyone else knew--that no matter how much money he made, how many political offices or course credits from charm school might come his way, no one of those among whom he wished to belong would ever regard him as other than a thug whose services had been hired.

Yeah…, Obama is a wannabe…, a wannabe Real One. He isn’t the least bit interested in restoring the individual freedoms that this country was founded on…, freedoms that have been slowly taken away by Nixon-Reagan-Bush. He will continue to funnel money directly to the Real Ones…, and keep us ordinary citizens in check and in debt. But…, not to worry. If it all blows up and goes to hell…, Ronnie left Obama with REX 84 to fall back on. Even Ronnie wasn’t so sure that all that taxpayer money that he gave away to the Real Ones wouldn’t blow up in his face and end in disaster.

Scott R. July 4, 2009 - 12:43pm


  1. REX 84...,

    ..., from Wikipedia:

    Rex 84, short for Readiness Exercise 1984, is a plan by the United States federal government to test their ability to detain large numbers of American citizens in case of civil unrest or national emergency.


    According to scholar Diana Reynolds:

    The Rex-84 Alpha Explan (Readiness Exercise 1984, Exercise Plan; otherwise known as a continuity of government plan), indicates that FEMA in association with 34 other federal civil departments and agencies, along with other NATO nations, conducted a civil readiness exercise during April 5-13, 1984. It was conducted in coordination and simultaneously with a Joint Chiefs exercise, Night Train 84, a worldwide military command post exercise (including Continental U.S. Forces or CONUS) based on multi-emergency scenarios operating both abroad and at home. In the combined exercise, Rex-84 Bravo, FEMA and DOD led the other federal agencies and departments, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Secret Service, the Treasury, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Veterans Administration through a gaming exercise to test military assistance in civil defense.

    The exercise anticipated civil disturbances, major demonstrations and strikes that would affect continuity of government and/or resource mobilization. To fight subversive activities, there was authorization for the military to implement government ordered movements of civilian populations at state and regional levels, the arrest of certain unidentified segments of the population, and the imposition of martial law. [1]

    Existence of a master military contingency plan, "Garden Plot" and a similar earlier exercise, "Lantern Spike" were originally revealed by journalist Ron Ridenhour, who summarized his findings in "Garden Plot and the New Action Army."[2]

    Rex 84 was mentioned during the Iran-Contra Hearings in 1987.[3] The Miami Herald wrote subsequently on July 5, 1987:

    Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and the Federal Emergency Management Agency ... had drafted a contingency plan providing for the suspension of the Constitution, the imposition of martial law, and the appointment of military commanders to head state and local governments and to detain dissidents and Central American refugees in the event of a national crisis.[4]

    The basic facts about Rex 84 and other contingency planning readiness exercises—and the potential threat they pose to civil liberties if fully implemented in a real operation—are taken seriously by scholars and civil libertarians.[5]

    Exercises similar to Rex 84 happen regularly.[6] Plans for roundups of large numbers of persons in the United States in times of crisis are constructed during periods of increased political repression such as the Palmer Raids and the McCarthy Era.

    For example, from 1967 to 1971 the FBI kept a list of over 100,000 persons to be rounded up as subversive, dubbed the "ADEX" list.[7] This list contained many labor leaders, scholars, and public figures of the time.

    In 2008, for the first time an active military unit has been given a dedicated assignment stateside for civil unrest containment. It is assigned to Northcom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.[8]

    Scott R. July 5, 2009 - 11:45am

  2. I posted this "comment" and link to this Agonist submission. It probably would have fit in well with the "Election That Changed the World" piece.

    Kunstler Says it Better Than I Can...,

    ..., at least in regard to the economic legacy that Reagan left us.

    "When the time comes when we do look back to understand what went wrong, I think we'll see that the Woodstock generation went off the rails in 1980, with the election of the actor, Ronald Reagan, who really established the idea that a society could benefit hugely just by lying to itself, or simply pretending. It wasn't "morning in America," of course. It was more like eleven-thirty at night, and the rest of the world had eaten our breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and we decided that inflating our national self-esteem was more important than paying attention to reality. That was when we became a something-for-nothing society -- and, incidentally, it was also the take-off point for legalized gambling all over America (an "industry" based on the worship of unearned riches). And that was, coincidentally, the moment when we became a nation of dupes, grifters, marks, and suckers."


    "President Obama had better turn his efforts from pretending to re-start the revolving credit rackets to overseeing the comprehensive re-simplifying of American life. I think he has a few weeks to turn his rhetoric around before the political mischief begins for real, and the aggrieved classes start shooting things up and burning things down. These classes really do need something to hope for, and something to work at, and something to occupy their attention besides their grief over the massive losses in their lives. But none of that energy will be focused beneficially unless they hear the truth... that there really is no going back to what was before."

    Scott R. July 10, 2009 - 10:57pm