Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Summit of the Autocrat 

4 "Cheney’s political behavior betrays the Straussian verdict on democracy: the masses are ignorant, short sighted, selfish, and volatile. Politicians must recognize and beware of this, but can also take advantage of the nature of the masses because, after all, they can easily be duped. In fact, their noxious mixture of traits makes the masses distinctly dangerous, which means that any respectable politician must defy the Jeffersonian model and rescind power from the masses. Cheney’s power politics- his perennial appeal to military aggression- attests to his cynicism regarding human nature and the ability of people to peacefully and willfully cohabitate. Such cynicism is the very bedrock of the Straussian political view." ~ Firmin DeBrabander, Cheny’s Real Opinion of Democracy (Common Dreams.org).

4 "A year and a half before the Bush era comes to its merciful end, cataloging its failures and pathologies has become not merely a cottage industry but a kind of mass mobilization, a task so vast that it requires the combined efforts of thousands of writers, talkers, thinkers, activists, and ordinary citizens. Every new look at the last six and a half years yields new insight into how government should not operate, another object lesson for future administrations. And one of those lessons of the Bush years is surely that potential disaster lurks behind what we had previously assumed to be a grand virtue: loyalty." ~ Paul Waldman,Bush’s Loyal Mess: How the Bush Years Have Showed Us The Dark Side of a Grand Virtue (The American Prospect).

4 "These are Cheney's final days; this is his endgame. He will never run again for public office. He is freed from the constraints of political consequences. He now has no horizon. He lives only in the present. He is nearly done. There are only months left to achieve his goals. Mortality impinges." ~ Sidney Blumenthal, The imperial vice presidency; New details about his secret mission to expand the power of the president show that Cheney, at the end of his career, refuses to loosen his grip. (Salon.com).

The Decidership's last stand

[ ~ Excerpted from The Autumn of the Patriarch, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez ]:
Every day, ever since he had taken possession of the house, he had supervised the milking in the cow barns, to measure with his own hand the quantity of milk that the three presidential wagons would carry to the barracks in the city, in the kitchen he would have a mug of black coffee and some cassava without knowing any too well the direction in which the whimsical winds of the new day would blow him, always attentive to the gabbling of the servants, who were the people in the house who spoke the same language as he, whose serious blandishments he respected most, and whose hearts he best deciphered, and a short time before nine o’clock he would take a slow bath in water with boiled leaves in the granite cistern built in the shadow of the almond trees of his private courtyard, and only after eleven o’clock would he manage to overcome the drowsiness of dawn and confront the hazards of reality. Previously, during the occupation by the Marines, he would shut himself up in his office with the commandant of the landing force to decide the destiny of the nation and sign all manner of laws and decrees with his thumbprint, for in those days he did not know how to read or write, but when they left him alone with his nation and his power again he did not poison his blood with the sluggishness of written law but governed orally and physically, present at every moment and everywhere with a flinty parsimony but also with a diligence inconceivable at his age, besieged by mobs of lepers, blind people, and cripples who begged for the salt of health from his hands, and lettered politicians and dauntless adulators who proclaimed him the corrector of earthquakes, eclipses, leap years, and other errors of God, dragging his great feet of an elephant walking in the snow all through the house as he resolved problems of state and household matters with the same simplicity with which he gave the order take that door away from here and put it over there for me—they took it away—put it back again for me—they put it back—the clock in the tower should not strike twelve at twelve o’clock but twice during the daytime so that life would seem longer—the order was carried out, without an instant of hesitation, without a pause—except for the mortal hour of siesta time, when he would take refuge in the shade of the concubines.


When the cataclysm had passed he still heard the distant music of the windless afternoon, he went on killing mosquitoes and with the same slaps trying to kill the katydids in his ears which hindered him in his thinking, he still saw the light of the fires on the horizon, the lighthouse that tinted him with green every thirty seconds through the slits in the blinds, the natural breathing of daily life which was getting to be the same again while his death was changing into a different death, more like so many others in the past, the incessant torrent of reality which was carrying him off toward the no man’s land of compassion and oblivion. God damn it, screw death, he exclaimed, and then he left his hiding place exalted by the certainty that his grandest hour had struck, he went through the sacked salons dragging his thick phantom feet in the midst of the ruins of his former life, in the shadows that smelled of dying flowers and burial candlewicks, he pushed open the door of the Cabinet room, heard through the smoky air the thin voices around the long walnut table, and saw through the smoke that all the ones he wanted to be there were there, the liberals who had sold the Federalist War, the conservatives who had bought it, the generals of the high command, three of his Cabinet ministers...

... all together in one single plot calling for the unity of all against the despotism of centuries so that they could divide up among themselves the booty of his death, so absorbed in the depths of greed that no one noticed the appearance of the unburied president, who gave a single blow with the palm of his hand on the table and shouted aha! and that was all he had to do, for when he lifted his hand from the table the stampede of panic was over and all that was left in the room were the overflowing ashtrays, the coffee mugs, the chairs flung on the floor, and his comrade of a lifetime...

...in battle dress, minute, impassive, wafting away the smoke with his one hand and indicating to him to drop to the floor...

...because now the fun is going to begin, and they both dropped to the floor at the instant the machine guns’ death jubilation started up by the front of the building, the butcher feast of the presidential guard, who with great pleasure and great honor...

...carried out his fierce orders that no one should escape alive from the meeting where treason was being hatched, any who tried to escape through the main door were mowed down with machine-gun bursts, the ones who were hanging out the windows were shot down like birds from a blind, the ones who were able to escape the encirclement and took refuge in nearby houses were gutted out with phosphorus grenades, and they finished off the wounded in accordance with the presidential criterion that any survivor is a dangerous enemy as long as he lives, while he remained lying face down on the floor two feet away...

...tolerating the hail of glass and plaster that came through the windows with every explosion, murmuring without pause as if he were praying, that’s it, old friend, that’s it, the trouble’s over, from now on I’m going to rule alone with no dogs to bark at me, tomorrow we’ll have to see what good has come out of this God-damned mess and what hasn’t, and if we don’t have anything to sit on in the meantime we’ll get six leather stools of the cheapest sort, some straw mats, and put them here and there to cover up the holes, we’ll buy a few more odds and ends, and that’s it, no plates, no spoons, no nothing, I’ll bring it all from the barracks, because I’m not going to have any military men or officers around, God damn it, all they’re good for is to waste more milk and when there’s trouble, as we’ve seen, they spit on the hand that feeds them, I’ll only keep the presidential guard, who are straight shooters and brave fellows, and I’m not going to name any Cabinet, God damn it, just a good Minister of Health, for health is the only thing anyone really needs in life, and maybe another one with a good hand for what has to be put in writing, and that way we can rent out the ministries and barracks and save money on help, because what’s needed here isn’t people but money, we’ll get two good maids, one for cleaning and cooking and the other to wash and iron, and I’ll take care of the cows and the birds myself when we get some, and no more of jumping whores in the toilets or lepers in the rosebushes or doctors of philosophy who know everything or wise politicians who see everything, because after all this is a presidential palace and not a nigger whorehouse...

...and I’m more than enough to keep on ruling all alone until the comet comes by again, and not just once but ten times, because the way I am I don’t intend to die again, God damn it, let other people die, he said, talking without any pauses to think, as if he were reciting by heart, because he had known ever since the war that thinking aloud was driving off the fear of the dynamite charges that were shaking the building, making plans for tomorrow in the morning and for the coming century at dusk, until the last coup de grâce rang out in the street and...

...crawled over to the window and gave the order to get the garbage wagons and take away the dead bodies and he left the room saying, have a good night...


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