Democracy vs. Empire

11/03/2005 11:16 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

My goodness. Here's a word you just don't see on page A3 of the Washington Post too often: "empire".

Naturally it was gutsy, principled John Conyers who spoke the word, at Rosa Parks' funeral.

Here's the money quote: "You can't maintain a democracy and an empire simultaneously. Rosa, you taught me that."

Rep. Conyers is right, of course. Read Chalmers Johnson's great book, Blowback, if you want straightforward verification. And history provides a clear verdict on the odds of maintaining a democracy plus an empire. Not that the concept ever gets seriously discussed in the news except maybe somewhere like Amy Goodman's show.

Poet Robinson Jeffers had his own opinion more than six decades ago, and it was not optimistic:

That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new. That America must accept
Like the historical republics corruption and empire
Has been known for years.
Be angry at the sun for setting
If these things anger you.

Well, daylight savings time is over, and the sun's been going down too damn early lately, if you ask me...