Saturday, August 18, 2007

Waiting for the man on a white horse

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
George W. Bush
December 18, 2000

Before the 2004 election, some of the more paranoid on the left speculated that Bush might declare martial law if it looked like he was losing the election. As it turned out, the GOP had much more subtle ways of ensuring the results they wanted. And, as 2006 showed, for all of their undemocratic talk of a permanent one party majority, they weren't ready to end the republic just yet, especially not for George Bush. The GOP as a whole isn't as nuts as some of us feared.

That doesn't mean that the sentiment for a coup didn't exist in some corners and that it doesn't linger on. For your reading pleasure, I give you "Conquering the Drawbacks of Democracy" by Philip Atkinson which was published August 3 and promoted to "must read" status at the Family Security Matters website.
The inadequacy of Democracy, rule by the majority, is undeniable – for it demands adopting ideas because they are popular, rather than because they are wise. This means that any man chosen to act as an agent of the people is placed in an invidious position: if he commits folly because it is popular, then he will be held responsible for the inevitable result. If he refuses to commit folly, then he will be detested by most citizens because he is frustrating their demands.

When faced with the possible threat that the Iraqis might be amassing terrible weapons that could be used to slay millions of citizens of Western Civilization, President Bush took the only action prudence demanded and the electorate allowed: he conquered Iraq with an army.


The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands, or until they were all dead. Then there would be little risk or expense and no American army would be left exposed. But if he did this, his cowardly electorate would have instantly ended his term of office...

By elevating popular fancy over truth, Democracy is clearly an enemy of not just truth, but duty and justice, which makes it the worst form of government. President Bush must overcome not just the situation in Iraq, but democratic government.

However, President Bush has a valuable historical example that he could choose to follow.


If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestiege [sic] while terrifying American enemies.

He could then follow Caesar's example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court.

President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming "ex-president" Bush or he can become "President-for-Life" Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.

When I read excerpts from this essay on Cliff Schecter's blog, I thought it must be a joke, a parody like Blogs4Brownback. It's not. Who is this Atkinson guy and what is this group that has promoted him? I'll get to that, but first, let's pick a few specific ideas out of this horrifying screed.

The two points that leap out first are his main ones. Atkinson hates democracy and doesn't even bother with the usual happy talk of praising the word while gutting its meaning. He wants someone to end the American experiment and then use our military might to end democracy everywhere else. Civilization can only be saved if we give up our individual ways and obey the single unifying will of our al-wise ruler. That opinion would be jaw dropping by itself, but he then marches off into unintentional humor by suggesting George Walker Bush for the role of enlightened autocrat.

The next point that stands out is Atkinson's desire for global scale genocide. Plenty of right wing bloggers express a desire to "nuke 'em till they glow" but few go on to suggest filling the void with American colonists. Would this be voluntary or would the autocrat have the power to pluck up communities and order them into the newly conquered provinces like a Caesar relocating frontier tribes? He's particularly creepy in his suggestion that ordering troops to massacre millions would make him a popular commander and that the troops would gladly overthrow their own government for such a leader.

You're still wondering if Atkinson is for real. He is. He has had at least a half dozen essays published at Family Security Matters and has his own site. According to his autobiographical essay, he was born in England where he one day realized he was superior to all of the lower class kids who were mean to him. Later he moved to Australia and married a nice woman who works and lets him stay home thinking superior thoughts while self-publishing his manifesto. He is a high school drop out and self-taught expert on the decline of civilization. He makes the obligatory comparison between himself and Galileo. On the site, he goes into great detail about both of his appalling ideas, unlimited monarchy is the only good government and merciless violence is essential for civilization.

Okay, he's a nut, but what about Family Security Matters, the group who gave him their "must read" blessing? A scary nut alone on the Internet isn't that interesting, but a scary nut being promoted by a group is. The SourceWatch wiki explains that:
Family Security Matters is a conservative front group that claims to represent "security moms" and supports President George W. Bush.

Following an appearance on Fox News, Media Matters for America noted that "Family Security Matters (FSM) is a front group for the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a conservative Washington think tank "committed to the time-tested philosophy of promoting international peace through American strength." (The phone number listed on the FSM website is answered by the CSP.)

Family Security Matters has a very elaborate, and probably expensive, website with sections for kids, stories about the danger of illegal immigrants, and the usual slaps at political correctness. Among its dozens of contributing editors are some well known names like Barbara Comstock, Frank J. Gaffney, Laura Ingraham, and Ben Shapiro along with unknowns like Atkinson.

It has all the markings of a fairly typical astroturf operation. For over twenty years, think tanks and industries with image problems have employed fake grassroots groups run by concerned citizens (preferably women playing the role of the mom next door) to attack their critics, cast doubt on science, and generally give the appearance that they have more support from normal people than they really do. Guns, energy, big agriculture, and construction--all industries that favor the Republican Party have--have used these groups for decades and perfected the technique. Ask any environmental activist. A great deal of their time and energy must be spent rebutting these subsidized front groups rather than getting real work done.

Following the food chain Family Security Matters to the Center for Security Policy is where the story gets interesting. Back to SourceWatch:
Center for Security Policy was founded in 1988 and states that it operates as a non-profit, non-partisan organization committed to the time-tested philosophy of promoting international peace through American strength....

A very influential organization with the Center for Security Policy is the Center's National Security Advisory Council, whose members hold senior positions with the Bush administration.

Center for Security Policy has strong ties with the Republican Party with many members serving senior posts in the Reagan administration and George W. Bush administration. Donald Rumsfeld, current Secretary of Defense under Bush, is a receipient of the Center's Keeper of the Flame Award.

The organization's president is Frank Gaffney and members of their advisory council have included many neo-con superstars such as Elliott Abrams, Douglas J. Feith, Richard Perle, Deputy National Security Advisor Jack D. Crouch II, Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula J. Dobriansky, and Dick Cheney. The list goes on and on also including representatives from major defense contractors and conservative cash cows like the Scaife, Olin, and Bradley foundations.

This confluence of influence has led many bloggers to treat this story as "group with ties to the White House and Republican Party advocates overthrow of the government." Whoever is in charge at Family Security Matters didn't see that coming when they promoted the Atkinson article as a "must read" for the day. But why not? Do they actually agree that democracy is dead and the only hope for western civilization is a global Bush dictatorship, accompanied by massive international genocide and forced resettlement of Americans abroad? Did they think that that opinion was one that would appeal to their target readership? Did anyone actually read the article?

At least they know now that they made a mistake. The article has been pulled from their site (my quotes are from a Google cached copy). All of Atkinson's past articles have been pulled and his name has been removed from their list of contributing editors. He has suffered the fate of Trotsky and been airbrushed from all photos of the presidium.

The existence of the article isn't proof that Cheney and the others approve of abolishing the republic and paving the Middle East. Though hiding the article isn't proof that they disapprove of the idea. I suspect some of them might have a wee warm spot in their hearts for a dictatorship, but most of them know better than to say that in public. Mr. Atkinson's article needs to better publicized and our leaders need to answer a few questions about it. Of course, they will be shocked--shocked I tell you--that any of their followers have such feelings. But we will know them by their friends.

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