Thursday, November 08, 2007
During the long over-due and surprisingly chummy French-U.S. reconciliation that’s been going on, there’s been some stern criticism from Bush concerning the suspension of the Pakistani constitution. He lectured Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf about reinstating his country’s laws and demanded he take off his uniform; one cannot, Bush pompously declared, be president and run the military at the same time.
Well, last time I checked, the President of the United States is also Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, a duality of power I haven’t noticed Bush renouncing at any time recently.
A few days before, Condoleezza Rice had stated that the U.S. would be reviewing its heavy aid package to Pakistan, and she publicly lectured Musharraf that when a country faces problems, suspending its population’s constitutional rights is not the way to go--this in the face of the Bush administration’s violations of due process and prisoners’ rights, etc. along with its engaging in several kinds of illegal surveillance directed at perfectly loyal, innocent, tax-paying U.S. citizens.
But there’s more. On Slate.com, Ron Rosenbaum reports that National Security Presidential Directive 51, issued earlier this year, guarantees “continuity of government” in the face of “catastrophic emergency.” This undefined term can be interpreted to embrace everything from earthquake to another major terrorist attack, and gives the president the power to do anything from canceling elections to launching a nuclear attack, including suspending the U.S. Constitution. Neither the Supreme court nor the Congress was ever consulted or informed about this according to Rosenbaum.
Apparently fertile imaginations among political bloggers ran to speculation that Bush and Cheney could easily stage a coup d'etat next year before the elections, based on authority conferred by NSPD 51.
NSPD 51 also contains two secret clauses the content of which the administration refuses to reveal, claiming the usual “national security” concerns. Rosenbaum concludes that this sort of thing is not how it’s done in a democracy and that the Congress ought to hold investigative hearings immediately.
With the seemingly uncontrollable rise in energy prices (gasoline, heating oil, jet fuel, diesel oil, all of which drive up the cost of the goods they help to transport);
the credit crisis linked to the horrendous housing market upheaval;
the major slide in the value of the U.S. Dollar against other currencies (it was announced on ABC News tonight that the Canadian Dollar is now worth more than the U.S. by eight cents and that it now takes one and a half dollars to buy one Euro);
and the steadily deteriorating conditions in the Near and Middle East caused by our disastrous war, not against Terror but against Iraq that had not done us harm, the coming five or six months look very much like The Winter of our Discontent.
Tomorrow night I check out the Granite State Opera via their production of Donizetti’s melodious old standard, “Lucia di Lammermoor.” Based on a novel by Sir Walter Scott (the rage of Europe during the Romantic Period for his moody, dark stories of lovers torn apart by dynastic politics, violent upheavals and terrible weather), Lucia was for a time one of the most popular and influential of all operas. Tolstoy and Flaubert both placed heroines involved in turbulent, adulterous affairs (Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary) at performances of Lucia to highlight the hyper-emotional nature of their situations.
Lucia is driven mad by her brother’s cruel scheme to use her for political advantage by marrying her off to a wealthy young nobleman when she secretly desperately loves an outcast who is her brother’s enemy. On the wedding night she hacks her husband to death and runs insane among the wedding guests, covered in blood, singing intricate and fantastic vocal ornaments as a symbol of her uncontrollable mind.
I’m looking forward to checking out the standards and style of the local opera company that performs in both Portsmouth (tomorrow) and Manchester (Sunday). Barbara Kilduff, formerly of the Metropolitan Opera, now a frequent performer in Boston where she also teaches voice, stars in the title role.
Enjoy Lucia, I have to say the old Callas recording is one of my favorites.
i am told i can no longer flit around the house lip synching the 'mad scene' but it is sooo good!