The US has long inhabited a world of make-believe – of a war that demands no sacrifice, of a consumer boom that demands no payment, of a power and prosperity that seemed America's birthright, whatever events in the real world. Now those fantasies are yielding to the truism coined by Herb Stein, a top White House economic adviser in the 1970s. If something can't go on for ever, it won't.
But focusing on the privacy of the average Joe in this way obscures the deeper threat that warrantless wiretaps poses to a democratic society. Without meaningful oversight, presidents and intelligence agencies can -- and repeatedly have -- abused their surveillance authority to spy on political enemies and dissenters.
Indeed, the feds actually filed a lawsuit to block Spitzer’s investigation of ugly racial mortgage steering. Bush’s banking buddies were especially steamed that Spitzer hammered bank practices across the nation using New York State laws.
Spitzer not only took on Countrywide, he took on their predatory enablers in the investment banking community. Behind Countrywide was the Mother Shark, its funder and now owner, Bank of America. Others joined the sharkfest: Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup’s Citibank made mortgage usury their major profit centers. They did this through a bit of financial legerdemain called “securitization.”
The charge sheet is horrifying, inexorable and convincing. The multinational firm Monsanto, which sells 90 percent of genetically modified organisms (GMO), massively lies to many people and even the whole planet with great success - the power that money and the - apparently unlimited - support of the United States government bestows.
The shrinking public attention span fostered by video is closely tied to the second important anti-intellectual force in American culture: the erosion of general knowledge.
People accustomed to hearing their president explain complicated policy choices by snapping "I'm the decider" may find it almost impossible to imagine the pains that Franklin D. Roosevelt took, in the grim months after Pearl Harbor, to explain why U.S. armed forces were suffering one defeat after another in the Pacific. In February 1942, Roosevelt urged Americans to spread out a map during his radio "fireside chat" so that they might better understand the geography of battle. In stores throughout the country, maps sold out; about 80 percent of American adults tuned in to hear the president.
That leads us to the third and final factor behind the new American dumbness: not lack of knowledge per se but arrogance about that lack of knowledge. The problem is not just the things we do not know (consider the one in five American adults who, according to the National Science Foundation, thinks the sun revolves around the Earth); it's the alarming number of Americans who have smugly concluded that they do not need to know such things in the first place. Call this anti-rationalism -- a syndrome that is particularly dangerous to our public institutions and discourse.
I submit to you that a state of lawlessness has been on-going since the day George Bush took office on January 20, 2001. If Congress can't get the Federal Department of Justice to respond to questions and cooperate with investigations that are clearly the job of Congress and the sitting president is part of these cover ups, then who is going to stop this lawless administration?
There things stood until September 11, 2001, when Cheney and Rumsfeld suddenly began to act out parts of a script they had rehearsed years before.
Their participation in the extra-constitutional continuity-of-government exercises, remarkable in its own right, also demonstrates a broad, underlying truth about these two men. For three decades, from the Ford Administration onward, even when they were out of the executive branch of government, they were never far away. They stayed in touch with defense, military, and intelligence officials, who regularly called upon them. They were, in a sense, a part of the permanent hidden national-security apparatus of the United States—inhabitants of a world in which Presidents come and go, but America keeps on fighting.
Page 127 of 129