Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Naomi Wolf's Coup.

A friend of mine sent along a video for me to watch yesterday. It featured Naomi Wolf, a "Third Wave Feminist", who famously accused Howard Bloom of sexual harrassment (decades after the fact) and called Al Gore a "beta male" when she was supposedly working on his campaign. Her latest book is called The End of America, and it concerns her formulation of ten steps that a nation can take to assume control of its citizens' lives. Apparently she studied Hitler and Mussolini, and their rise to power, and came up with a step-by-step "how to" guide on fascism. Obviously she makes the point that the United States is well on its way to replicating the conditions that she describes.

There is no doubt that the Bush Administration has taken a number of extraordinary steps to consolidate the power of its executive office. Using Wolf's words, they have indeed "invoked a terrifying internal and external enemy", "created secret prisons where torture takes place", "set up an internal surveillance system", and "engaged in arbitrary detention and release". Her argument that the cabal behind the president is ramping up its efforts to clamp down on our essential freedoms is therefore somewhat persuasive. Her concerns are certainly not unjustified given the prologue of the last eight years. Where she begins to lose me, however, is when she claims that a coup has already taken place in the United States, and calls upon her listeners to find a local district attorney who will arrest President Bush.

Her argument involves the suspension of the long held principle of posse comitatus. For those not familiar with the concept, it was firmly entrenched as the citizenry's protection after Reconstruction. In basic terms, the statute generally "prohibits federal military personnel and units of the United States National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress" (link). The problem is that Bush/Cheney and Co. eroded this crucial check on their power by attaching a rider in the Defense Reauthorization Bill of 2007. While Congress tried to redress that overstep in 2008, Bush issued a signing statement which basically demonstrated that he wasn't that concerned with prudent governmental limits.

There have been two events in recent weeks that have set off Naomi Wolf's internal alarms. The first was actually what seemed to be a minor indiscretion committed on the floor of the US House of Representatives. Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) cited unspecified sources who reportedly told him that there would be an imposition of martial law if the bailout bill was not passed (he ended up voting "no"). The second omen was the announcement of the deployment of the 3rd Infantry's 1st Brigade Combat Team within the borders of the United States "as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks." The mission is expected to be a permanent one.

While the presence of a 3000-troop strength active military unit in the homeland is indeed disturbing, it's difficult for me to make the logical leap that this deployment means that a military coup is officially underway. It doesn't seem like enough men to subdue any potential insurrection should the election be cancelled. Still the potential uses of the force are a bit worrisome- "they may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack." On one hand it does seem understandably proactive for the federal government to prepare for a bit of back-up during this particularly tumultuous election cycle. But alternatively, it reinforces a vague paranoia that seems to be spreading amongst the populace.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Serendipity, always the consummate skeptic. Here's some not-so-vague-paranoia I'd like to share with your readers:

May the far$e be with you!

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's another election season, so that means it's time for Democrats to start uttering wild malapropisms about the Bible to pretend they believe in God!

In 2000, we had Al Gore inverting a Christian parable into something nearly satanic. Defending his nutty ideas about the Earth during one of the debates, Gore said: "In my faith tradition, it's written in the book of Matthew, where your heart is, there is your treasure also." And that, he said, is why we should treasure the environment.

First of all, people who say "faith tradition" instead of "religion" are always phony-baloney, "Christmas and Easter"-type believers.

Second, Jesus was making almost the exact opposite point, saying: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on Earth," where there are moths, rust and thieves, but in heaven, because, Jesus said, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

I guess that's the kind of mix-up that can happen when your theological adviser is Naomi Wolf.

2:34 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...


Your comment is confusing. Where in this post did you find evidence of an urge "for Democrats to start uttering wild malapropisms about the Bible to pretend they believe in God!"

There are several problems with your assumption. The most obvious being that I am not a Democrat. I'll give you a pass though, because so many seem attracted to the dichotomous thinking of a two-party system. So it's not altogether your fault that your thinking is overly simplistic.

More egregious though is your presumption that you understand my spiritual beliefs. That's not only offensive, but dangerously arrogant.

Why do you insist on reading theology into a post that has nothing to do with it? Are you really that myopic?

8:16 AM  
Blogger Rick Byerly said...

thanks for posting about the posse comitatus suspension in 2007- crazy. and they knew what they were voting for based on their comments.

10:32 AM  

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