Monday, December 18, 2006
Is This How It Will Begin?
Because of the unreasonable demands of unwise foreign deployments – chiefly the demented war of occupation in Iraq, but also the deepening morass in Afghanistan, as well as ongoing missions in the Balkans and elsewhere -- the high-performance US military is becoming a 1989 minivan with a rolled-over odometer and four bald tires.
I offer that metaphor as the owner of a vehicle meeting that description.
In one respect, this assessment of the military is not entirely metaphorical: Military officials are concerned about the prospect of a shortage of special Humvee tires that at present are manufactured at only one facility – a Goodyear Tire & Rubber plant in Kansas.
As it happens, that plant is one of sixteen that have been crippled by a strike for several months. Rep. Duncan Hunter, outgoing chairman of the House armed services committee, claims that the strike has reduced output of the tires by 35 percent. Priority has been given to routing the tires to Central Command, which presides over operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Incidentally, the fact that a region literally half-way around the globe falls under the jurisdiction of “central” command offers compelling testimony of our regime's irrational imperialist priorities.)
Although Goodyear officials insist that no shortfall has developed, and that production at the critical Kansas plant will be back to full capacity in the near future.
Nonetheless, Rep. Hunter says that the military may seek an injunction under the Taft-Hartley act to compel the striking workers back to the production lines. The Financial Times ominously reports that the military is examining unspecified “measures” to end the strike, which suggests something more drastic than an injunction.
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has put pressure on management and labor to end the strike, pointedly reminding Goodyear CEO Robert Keegan that “the state [of Kansas] has been very supportive of the Goodyear operations here, and has made significant investments in the plant,” in the form of millions of dollars in state and local incentives to keep the plant in the area.
Gov. Sebelius's comments are a timely and unambiguous reminder of the principle that what the State (or any of its appendages and appurtenances) subsidizes, it controls. They also underscore the fact that our much-vaunted “free market” economy is more honestly described as corporatist – the fusion of big, centralized government with large, politically favored corporate entities.
Corporatism is the economic component of the fascist system developed (but not invented) by Benito Mussolini, and emulated by FDR's New Deal regime. The Goodyear strike could conceivably result in executive action – the domestic use of the military as strike-breakers – of an overtly and unmistakable fascist nature.
As left-populist commentator John Nichols reports, “The Bush Administration's Department of Defense is examining whether it has the power to break a strike at tire plants that supply the military.”
That the Regime has the power is beyond dispute. The question is whether it has the authority to do so. As Nichols correctly observes, “The Constitution affords the executive branch no such authority. But, as should be obvious by now, the current Administration has little regard for the founding document.”
Of course, the Regime – borrowing another theme from its National Socialist and Fascist antecedents – insists that the President is our Living Constitution, and his decrees are self-ratifying. To date, Bush and his ruling clique have managed to beat back every challenge to the open-ended powers claimed on behalf of the War President. If they decide to make the Goodyear strike a test case for military seizure of economic assets deemed critical to the war effort, they may succeed where Harry Truman failed.
In April 1952, with the US mired in what has amounted to a UN-led “police action” that has lasted more than a half-century, Truman ordered the seizure of American steel mills in order to preempt a strike that he claims would have undermined the war effort. The steel industry sued the Truman administration, and the case – Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer – resulted in a critical rebuff of the then-embryonic doctrine of plenary executive power in wartime.
Truman insisted that while the presidency had no specific power to seize the plants, that he was “acting within the aggregate of his constitutional powers as the Nation's Chief Executive and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States” -- a claim similar in substance, albeit more elegant in presentation, that those that dribble down the chin of the Grand and Glorious Decider.
Writing on behalf of a six-Justice majority, Hugo Black laughed that claim out of court, writing that “We cannot with faithfulness to our constitutional system hold that the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces has the ultimate power as such to take possession of private property in order to keep labor disputes from stopping production. This is a job for the Nation's lawmakers, not for its military authorities.”
I pause here to italicize Black's ironic disclosure here that seizing private property on behalf of the State is “a job for the Nation's lawmakers.”
As Black continued, “In the framework of our Constitution, the President's power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a lawmaker.... The President's order does not direct that a congressional policy be executed in a manner prescribed by the President.”
If Congress had “authorized” the seizure, in other words, Truman's executive order most likely would have been upheld by the Supreme Court in 1952. More than a half-century later, with exponents of the doctrine of executive primacy controlling the Supreme Court, the omission noted in Black's decision most likely wouldn't be considered significant.
Furthermore, there is the possibility that this entire affair could be exploited as a test of the new powers conferred on Bush to deal with “major public emergencies” under the Defense Authorization Act signed into law last October 17 – the same day that the Bush-whelp scrawled his signature on the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (more properly described as the “Repeal of Liberties Act”).
The Military appropriations measure contains a provision dealing with “Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies.” As a Congressional Quarterly analysis points out, the language of the measure “alters the two-centuries-old Insurrection Act, which Congress passed in 1807 to limit the president's power to deploy troops within the United States. That law has long allowed the president to mobilize troops only `to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.'”
But the amended law takes the cuffs off” by adding a new list of circumstances under which the military can “go domestic," and permitting the President to federalize state national guard units without a request from state governments.
Granted, the measure doesn't specifically enumerate strike-breaking among the appropriate uses of the new powers. However, if the strike continues, it's possible that the Bush Regime may label it an “insurrection” or “combination” against the national interest, and authorize military action to break it up. This possibility becomes more acute with leaders of both branches of the Establishment Party endorsing the idea of a “temporary” surge in troop levels in Iraq.
Poland's Soviet stooge Jaruzelski reads the December 13, 1981 declaration of Martial Law to put down the Solidarity labor movement.
If the Goodyear strike is put down forcibly, the radiating consequences could conceivably include protests and even riots elsewhere in the country, and were this to happen it's not difficult to anticipate further State violence by paramilitary police or even additional military deployments.
For the past decade or so, as our nation's law enforcement agencies have been fused with the military and intelligence organs into a centrally directed internal security apparatus, many of us have wondered when, why, and how the balloon would go up and outright martial law would begin. (Note the conspicuous absence of “if” from that list.)
May God grant that such a development never occurs. But the Goodyear strike may prove to be the triggering incident many of us have long dreaded.
A quick note --
I've received some more very generous gifts from Pro Libertate readers. While "thank you" seems a pallid and inadequate expression, I wish to offer my deepest thanks for these amazing acts of kindness.
I likewise want to thank those of you who have been posting comments on this blog, paticularly those who expressed concern and offered prayers on my behalf as I've dealt with my annual bout of Venusian Flu, or whatever bizarre Xeno-pathogen is responsible for leaving my head feeling like a jello mold. For the past week and a half, coughing has been practically the only vigorous exercise I've been able to do, which explains why my posting here has been a little erratic. Thanks again for the prayers and kind words.
My book project is coming along very nicely, and as soon as publication details are available I'll share them with you. I'll also have some more details later this week about the other previously mentioned media project.
at 10:39 AM