BUSH ATROCITIES ARTICLE 1A
Mark Drolette: 'The U.S. government, 2005: Part 1: If it walks like a goose...'
Date: Tuesday, March 01 @ 09:40:44 EST
By Mark Drolette, Online Journal
Previous readers know I can be a little, well, uh . . . rough on the Bushies, for lack of a better term (like, say, "unapologetically brutal"). That's okay; I've never had a problem calling a spade a spade, or, for that matter, a scoundrel a scoundrel. Typically, though, as a matter of personal preference, I've pretty much tried to stay away from using vulgar or shocking language. Since November 2, however, some may have noticed I've not shied away from rolling out the f-word.
It is a strong declaration, indeed, an in-your-face kind of utterance that affords no wiggle room and should never be bandied lightly about. Which begs the question: Have I been dropping the f-bomb too casually, verbiage that has been guaranteed to stop practically any conversation in America dead in its tracks for just about forever? Or have circumstances changed such in this country that it can now be spoken without shame (though regretfully), and that, instead of causing jaws to drop, heads to shake, and people to leave, the moment is upon us in which this once-spurned term may now be considered appropriate (an unfortunate necessity) for everyday conversation?
I assert the latter: it is time to acknowledge our democratic system of government has been replaced by fascism.
Strong? You bet. But true, saith I. Laurence W. Britt, in an article entitled "Fascism Anyone?" published in the Spring 2003 issue of Free Inquiry magazine, identifies what he says are 14 "basic characteristics" of fascism. Britt writes that he "consider[ed] the following regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco's Spain, Salazar's Portugal, Papadopoulos's Greece, Pinochet's Chile, and Suharto's Indonesia," and says further, "To be sure, they constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power."
(Note: Predating Britt, author Umberto Eco, in a piece for the June 22, 1995, New York Review of Books [pp. 12-15] and as excerpted in the November-December 1995 Utne Reader [pp. 57-59], also names and explores 14 "features that are typical of what [Eco] would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism"; though there is some overlap, the lists, to me, appear to be decidedly different, and I personally find Britt's more accessible. Please click here to view the excerpt, as presented by "Porta Ludovica," a website "dedicated to the works of Umberto Eco." It's also worth noting that Britt is often identified on the Internet where his article is reprinted as "Dr. Britt" and a "political scientist," though the original article carried neither assignation for Britt, nor could I locate corroboration for either on the 'Net. [Thanks to an e-mail in EchoWeekly for the lead.] Having said all this, I still think Britt's article is well worth examining.)
Okay, on with the show: I understand there may be some who feel I have finally gone too far in my appraisal of the George W. Bush administration's approach to, uh, democracy. Am I being too hard on them by claiming they deserve a spot amongst the dark bunch comprising Britt's roll of dishonor? Well, let's see. I've taken his list and compared actions that have occurred under the Bushies to each criterion he claims is typically indicative of a fascist regime:
"1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia."
I'd say American nationalism is running a little higher than usual these days; I believe I have seen an uncommonly high number of those patriotic-but-puzzling " America : Love It or Say Your Final Prayers, Atheist Scum" bumper stickers the last three years or so. And were I to turn on Fox News for some unknown reason (like, for example, if I had a loaded AK-47 pointed at my head and told to do it or else; hopefully, I wouldn't hesitate but it would be a tough choice), I'll bet I'd still see an electronic Old Glory waving in the background while the Bush administration cheerleaders—sorry, the Fox News teleprompter readers—invariably referred to U.S. troops as "we."
Regarding unity: Disdaining national group hugs, large packs of particularly vicious attack dogs, Republican jingoes, have repeatedly set upon those Americans who've not fallen in (goose) step behind Bush's bloody footprints, but the cheerless leader himself couldn't have done a better job of dividing the country than if he'd, say, had someone in his employ who'd deliberately set out to fabricate wedge issues for, oh, I don't know, political reasons, maybe.
Actually, one of the most venomous attacks on wayward Americans and their petulant insistence on rocking the national unity boat by, of all things, voting for the candidate of their choice, came not from a Republican, but a pseudo-Republican (who nonetheless displayed impressive veteran GOP form): Zell Miller, the former (alleged) Democratic senator from Georgia, who, during his speech at the Republican National Convention (rabid even by Old Yeller standards), ripped off this beauty:
"Today, at the same time young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats' manic obsession to bring down our commander in chief."
Many Americans, obviously rapt in their America-hating self-centered ways, had come to refer to this "manic obsession" every four years as a presidential election.
And xenophobia? How about agoraphobia? After all, remaining housebound seemed like the attractive alternative to showing one's face in semi-intelligent society after far too many of our fellow citizens (including Republican "leaders") thought it a sophisticated laugh riot, or something, to "rename" french fries. (Ironically, I'd bet these are the very same Americans who think Jerry Lewis is funny.)
"2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation."
Might torture, even when administered by well-meaning America in the name of democracy and ever-larger corporate profits, qualify as disdain for human rights? Just wonderin.'
Hey, we got yer red-hot (poker) demonizing right here, folks: Those Americans most likely to ditto Rush Lamebrain's characterization of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse as "people having a good time" are also typically fond of insisting that every Iraqi in that wretched hellhole deserved to be there, although the Red Cross reports that "Certain [Coalition Forces] military intelligence officers [said] that in their estimate between 70 percent and 90 percent of the persons deprived of their liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake" and even the military itself (per Major General Antonio M. Taguba's executive summary of his investigation into the scandal in "Findings and Recommendations" [Part Two], paragraph 24) estimates that "more than 60 percent of the total detainee population . . [was] no longer deemed a threat and clearly met the requirements for release." (I think I'm going with the Red Cross on this one.)
Lastly, the AMA (American Mendacity Association), after verifying that the Bushies present clearly debilitating symptoms of a previously undiagnosed malady, has reportedly christened the often-terminal affliction SDDD (Secrecy, Denial, and Disinformation Disorder). It's a tragically weird illness, though, in that it typically kills tens of thousands of others while leaving the carriers stronger and wealthier.
That word "secrecy," especially, seems a favorite of the Bushonian ones. From the real reasons for attacking Iraq, to the list of participants in Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force, to Environmental Protection Agency concerns about New York City's air quality after 9/11, to possible dangers posed by home insulation containing tremolite (a form of asbestos), to providing information about 9/11, to . . . well, you get the idea, or, well, you would, if the White House didn't insist it has a right to keep all of these things, and so many more, from the very people who (in our dreams) are their employers: you and me. (For a site that isn't secret but certainly identifies muchas cosas the administration wants to keep that way, go to BushSecrecy.org.)
"3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people's attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite 'spontaneous' acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and 'terrorists.' Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly."
Thank goodness no one's been scapegoated in America . Well, except, that is, for socialists, liberals, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies (don't forget the French), members of other religions (read: non-Christians), secularists, homosexuals, and "terrorists." (This last category apparently includes members of the country's largest teacher's union, the National Education Association, which, according to former Education Secretary Rod Paige, is a "terrorist organization.")
There are hardly any communists anymore (well, except for the ones in China , whom we like, and the ones in Cuba , whom we don't), so it's hard to scapegoat folks who don't exist, although if anyone is expert at dealing with phantom scapegoating, it's Bushco. (For phantom ballot experts, see Diebold.)
Jews, for once, have escaped state scapegoating, but certainly could find themselves mystified by misanthropes' misdeeds mistakenly justified by frustration with America's genuinely warped Palestinian/Israeli policy and the continued deadly fall-out of the unhealthy, underhanded co-mingling of American and Israeli policies. (For a prime example of the latter, see the 1996 report "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm" prepared for Israel by, among others, current Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith and former Defense Policy Board chair and still-active "Prince of Darkness" Richard N. Perle, that Tom Barry, writing in antiwar.com, says was "organized by the Israel-based Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies," "urged scrapping the then-ongoing peace process" and "advised Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu 'to work closely with Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilize, and roll back' regional threats, help overthrow [Saddam] Hussein, and strike 'Syrian military targets in Lebanon' and possibly in Syria proper.")
Feith and Perle, both rock-solid neoconservatives, are main players in the Iraq debacle and can often be found hanging out with similar vampire-like creatures at the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) bat(ty) cave. (For those unfamiliar with PNAC, do yourself an unsettling favor and check out its website, for the tragically hubristic dysfunction of the Bush administration all stems from this group of self-satisfied sickos.)
"4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite."
(One four-letter word would cover this: Iraq . But there's so much more, of course . . . )
After displaying only occasional interest in wearing military garb while ostensibly a member of the Texas Air National Guard some three decades back, Dubya is so eager to don soldier duds these days . . . well, would you be shocked to learn he sleeps in a specially designed Dr. Dentons flight suit? Neither would I.
Under Bush, the yearly increase in the Department of Defense budget, plus supplementary "defense and other war on terror" outlays (excluding those in 2005 for which a figure is not yet available), has averaged an unfathomable $80 billion; this contrasts just a teeny-tiny bit with future massive "starve-the-beast" cuts to government social programs in an American society that is afflicted with problems that are so far beyond acute, they're downright ugly.
And I wonder if the following words from Bush's 2nd coronation—uh, inauguration—address might have sounded a little intimidating to citizens of countries left off America's not-to-invade list, 'cause Dubya does have that, you know, tendency, to "lash out" with invasions and stuff at countries he (or more accurately, Cheney) doesn't like:
"America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time. So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary."
Nah . . . probably not.
"5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses."
Any progress during Bush II Term I on closing the U.S. gender pay gap? In September 2004, Robert Longley of About.com writes: "Women make only 75.5 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to a new release by the U.S. Census Bureau . . The 1.4 percent decrease in the gender wage ratio [from 2002 to 2003] is the largest backslide in 12 years (since 1991). The 2003 Census data also show the first decline in women's real earnings since 1995."
Second-class citizens news: The National Women?s Law Center released a report in March 2004 entitled "Slip-Sliding Away: The Erosion of Hard-Won Gains for Women Under the Bush Administration and an Agenda for Moving Forward." In addition to capturing the prize for "Longest Report Name of the Year" (also known as the "Longie") at last year's American Report Title Awards, it also, as you may have surmised if you made it to the titular end, is not very complimentary of the Bushies' demonstrated disregard of women's concerns. Here are but three tidbits from SSATEOHWGFWUTBAAAAFMF's 14-page Introduction and Executive Summary (which itself copped a special achievement award for "Most Lengthy Report Introduction, Including Executive Summary"):
"Within weeks of taking office, the Administration closed the White House Office for Women's Initiatives and Outreach, which had monitored policy initiatives within [federal] departments and agencies for their impact on women and served as a liaison to outside organizations concerned about policies affecting women" (page 11).
"The Administration ended the Equal Pay [Matters] Initiative and removed all materials on narrowing the wage gap [from] the Department of Labor's website" (page 2). (Personally, after searching for a corroborating link for at least an hour, I think the Bushies may have removed all information regarding the initiative's actual elimination, too. The closest "official" mention I could find is in a January 3, 2002, press release from U.S. Representative Rosa L. DeLauro [D-CT]. I once would've classified such a suspicion as paranoid; now I consider it "experienced.")
"Scientific information is being distorted to serve an anti-abortion and anti-family planning agenda; for example, the National Cancer Institute posted information on its website that falsely suggested there may be a link between abortion and breast cancer" (page 3).
Speaking of the a-word: Calling today's Republicans "adamantly anti-abortion" would actually be downgrading their fervor a couple of notches. Abortion is a tough issue, no doubt, but why do the folks who clamor for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, insisting on the unborn child's right to life, irreconcilably seem to have little regard for the right of the pregnant woman's? The Alan Guttmacher Institute's January 2003 report "Trends in Abortion in the United States, 1973-2000" (page 3) shows abortion-related deaths declined from a ghastly (approximately) 200,000 in 1965 to about 6,000 in 1997 (still far too many but a decided decrease, nonetheless, since the Supreme Court ruled abortion legal in 1973).
Concerning Britt's mention of homophobia: I'd respectfully submit proposing to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage could somehow manage to be shoehorned into the "homophobic" category. (By the way, that floated amendment thingie? Dropped, like so much yesterday's (s)election news.) Queers have indisputably and cynically been designated by the administration as acceptable targets for drawing diversionary and sometimes deadly fire from Bush's hateful extremist base; in America 2005, today's gays are the new Jews.
"6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes' excesses."
The Fourth Estate would these days be more aptly named For The State since American corporate media, little better than government house shills, almost make the old Soviet Pravda look like a model of honest reporting. But because most Americans mistakenly believe the First Amendment somehow guarantees the press will keep the government honest, the constant propaganda shoveled their way is subtle and, thus, much more insidious; at least in the USSR , most people knew they were being lied to.
In a July 2004 article for The American Prospect, Robert W. McChesney writes that U.S. media companies "receive (for free) one or more of: scarce monopoly licenses to radio and television channels, monopoly franchises to cable- and satellite-TV systems, or copyright protection for their content. When the government sets up a firm with one of these monopoly licenses, it is virtually impossible to fail."
"Scarce" is right: Media Reform Information Center reports that "[Ben] Bagdikian's revised and expanded book, The New Media Monopoly, shows that only 5 huge corporations—Time Warner, Disney, [Rupert] Murdoch's News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS)—now control most of the media industry in the U.S. General Electric's NBC is a close sixth."
It's still not enough, of course. Ron Orol, in a January 2005 piece for The Deal.com, says: "The U.S. Supreme Court is expected later this year to consider [currently frozen] rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission [FCC] that would ease mergers among newspaper, radio and TV companies . . . Media companies already have asked the justices to hear the case, and the U.S. solicitor general is expected to make a similar request this month." Orol writes that if the Supreme Court reinstates the regulations, any subsequent congressional "proposals to roll back FCC ownership rules would have a tough time gaining passage because of opposition from the White House, House GOP leaders and some conservative Republican senators." Fancy that.
Of course, being capitalists to the core, the 'merican mega-media moguls won't be satisfied 'til they have the fruit, the whole fruit, and nothing but the fruit, and thus aren't about to do anything to upset the Bushco applecart whence it comes. This explains why, from their uncritical parroting of bogus Iraq war rationalizations to refusing to investigate any of the Bushies' unending scandalous activities to unquestioningly accepting outright bribes for dishing disinformation (see: Armstrong Williams), the corporate media are all-too eager accomplices in keeping the masses distracted and dumb enough to continue ignoring (and thus financing) the administration's insane, death-dealing, America-as-empire agenda.
"7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting 'national security,' and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous."
A recent piece by Barton Gellman of the Washington Post reports: "The Pentagon . . . has created a new espionage arm and is reinterpreting U.S. law to give Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld broad authority over clandestine operations abroad . . . The previously undisclosed organization, called the Strategic Support Branch, arose from Rumsfeld's written order . . . ," is "designed to operate without detection . . under the defense secretary's direct control . . ." and "has been operating in secret for two years . . ."
True, the SSB (good thing they threw that "B" in there), as reported, is not a domestic agency, but don't worry: stealth "homeland" oppression is already in fine working order. About 30 minutes after 9/11, Congress was handed, and slavishly approved, the 342-page USA PATRIOT Act (someone should check Orwell's grave for a whirring sound) that holds lots of freedom-squelching goodies of its own, including green-lighting the feds to engage in secret "sneak-and-peek" searches and procure personal records without any notification whatsoever. Even worse is Bush's so-far unchecked assertion that he can deem any American citizen an "enemy combatant" (as he has done with Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi) and deprive them of any and all rights.
There's that "secrecy" thing again, which, really, should be the administration's middle name. (Although, technically, an administration actually can't have a middle name, because it's not a person but rather more like a thing, and a thing, of course, can't have a middle name, unless maybe you're talking about Thing on the old The Addams Family TV show, and then I'm not even sure he had a middle or even a last name, for that matter, because I don't recall anyone ever referring to him as "Thing Addams," but, then again, even though I watched most of the shows, I didn't see them all, so I guess it is possible . . . umm, hold on . . . I think this might be what some people would call a "digression," or, "not funny.")
Anyway, what I meant to say before I got distracted by myself is that "Within the heavily guarded perimeters of the Defense Department's much-discussed Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, the CIA has maintained a detention facility for valuable al Qaeda captives that has never been mentioned in public, according to military officials and several current and former intelligence officers . . . The facility has housed detainees from Pakistan, West Africa, Yemen and other countries under the strictest secrecy . . ." (per Dana Priest and Scott Higham in the December 17, 2004, Washington Post).
And: "The United States government, in conjunction with key allies, is running an 'invisible' network of prisons and detention centres into which thousands of suspects have disappeared without trace since the 'war on terror' began . . . The ghost prison network stretches around the globe. The biggest American-run facilities are at the Bagram airbase, north of Kabul in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, where around 400 men are held, and in Iraq, where tens of thousands of detainees are held" (as reported by Jason Burke on June 13, 2004, Guardian Unlimited).
If I had a nickel for every time I've heard the administration justify something in the name of "national security" or the "war on terror," I might even have enough dough, if I were so inclined, to properly fund security for the Warren County, Ohio, administration building so it wouldn't have to be locked down during future "elections."
And, of course, as anyone who has ever dared criticize the Bushies for any of their myriad insanity knows, someone can always be counted on to shout "Traitor!" in reply. In December 2001, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft offered this opinion of those possessing the temerity to question the constitutionality of the administration's post-9/11 actions:
"To those who pit Americans against immigrants, citizens against non-citizens, to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America 's enemies and pause to America 's friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil."
Wonder if old Long Gone John would consider the American who uttered the following to be conjuring terrorist-aiding "phantoms":
"What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?"
Those inflammatory words are from a troublemaker in 1787 who went by the name of Thomas Jefferson.
Copyright © 2004 Mark Drolette.
Mark Drolette is a political satirist/commentator who lives in Sacramento , California . He can be reached at email@example.com
Copyright © 2005 Online Journal™.
Reprinted from Online Journal:
Mark Drolette: 'The U.S. government, 2005 - Part 2: If it walks like a goose...'
Date: Wednesday, March 02 @ 10:18:22 EST
By Mark Drolette, Online Journal
Part I compared Bush administration actions to the first seven of 14 "basic characteristics" Laurence W. Britt claims (in his article "Fascism Anyone?") typify fascistic regimes. Here's a similar look at the list's back end:
"8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite's behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the 'godless.' A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion."
One would have to be a recent arrival from the planet Grornak (which is pretty far away—at least a couple million miles or so), to not know George W. Bush has anointed himself—or, rather, considered himself anointed by the Great Anointer—the protector of some weird form of Christianity. When asked once to name his favorite philosopher, Bush said, "Christ." I've often wished there'd immediately been a follow-up to determine if Dubya meant the purported Son of God, or Charles Manson during his messianic phase.
'Cause if we're talkin' mass murder, George's body count puts ol' Charlie's to shame. I'm going to take a flier here and wager I'm not the first to notice that lying a nation into war that, so far, is responsible for the deaths of around 100,000 humans (even if they are, ya know, only Muslims), doesn't exactly keep with Christian principles, unless there's some secret "Christians for Killing" cult of which I'm not aware. The more cynical amongst us might even wonder if Bush's use of the exceedingly incendiary term "crusade" shortly after 9/11 was a mistake, after all.
Regardless, Bush's religious rhetoric hasn't subsided. This is from his in-gag-uration speech: "From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth." Funny, I don't remember the Declaration of Independence saying we're endowed with certain unalienable rights because we (allegedly) look like God; Bush's "in His image" shtick sounds like it might possibly be from somewhere else.
Then came Karl: Rove has out-eviled himself by using his Burning Bush to fan the flames of the religious right (and thus, reap their support) who keep maddeningly insisting Christianity is "under attack." For instance, the scary Chalcedon FoundationChalcedon Foundation, which claims "it is . . . the duty of the state, the school, the arts and sciences, law, economics, and every other sphere to be under Christ the King," says (in an essay entitled, strangely enough, "Christianity Under Attack"): "An all-out assault has been launched to uproot the foundations of Christian civilization in America." I didn't get the notice, did you? The primary thing under assault in this hysterical, trumped-up campaign against supposedly godless Bush-haters (well, that's at least half right) is an actual working knowledge of the Constitution, which, honest to God, truly is Godless.
"9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of 'have-not' citizens."
I'm wondering how strict the feds would be if I didn't, say, pay my income taxes. Pretty, probably. Yet, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, "Eighty-two of America's largest and most profitable corporations paid no federal income tax in at least one year during the first three years of the George W. Bush administration—a period when federal corporate tax collections fell to their lowest sustained level in six decades." Boy, howdy, that's some "relative freedom," all right, the closest to which I could get, if I were to try the same approach, would be a relative visiting me at the big house reminding me of the freedom I no longer had.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower's concern about the "unwarranted influence" of the "military-industrial complex" that he expressed during his farewell address in January 1961 has manifested itself big-time, for the Big Business of war is going great guns. It's really not so shockin' odd, since the very ones best positioned to benefit from ongoing global slaughter are the very ones designing the conflicts and designating the battlefields, or those closely connected to same. For example, we have Dick Cheney shilling for Halliburton, George H.W. Bush glad-handing for the Carlyle Group, and Richard Perle offering even Al Franken a portfolio for Trireme Partners L.P., a "venture-capital company" chiefly "invest[ing] in companies dealing in technology, goods, and services that are of value to homeland security and defense" of which Perle is a "managing partner," according to Seymour M. Hersh in the March 17, 2003, issue of The New Yorker.*
Those are but three examples, of course, of administration insiders (in addition to several Bushes other than Poppy) who gorge themselves at the trough overflowing with, at last count, about $154 billion of taxpayer money that our gutless Congress has dutifully approved for the Iraq war; never mind that only about six bucks and change have been spent on actual reconstruction. (Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post reports in July 2004 that, through June 22, "only $366 million of the $18.4 billion U.S. aid package [approved in October 2003] had been spent . . .") But any good ol' boys back at the country club who may have been passed out when the war spoils were too needn't worry: Bush has got their finely-tailored collective back with his treasury-looting, uber-insane, never-ending tax cuts for these needy American aristocrats.
It's the Bushmaster version of the ultimate lethal scam as social control: perpetual war and ongoing giveaways filling the death mongers' coffers, while record deficits caused by such gross fraud are used to rationalize massive cuts across the board in services for the common folk, thereby guaranteeing a less-educated, poorer, unhealthier populace struggling so hard to pursue the ever-increasingly mythological American Dream that there's little time left for challenging the more equal animals luxuriously ensconced in the farmhouse
"10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice."
A handful of unceasing lowlights of Bush's incredibly hostile assault on organized labor:
On January 7, 2002, in response to union-organizing activities in the Miami U.S. attorney general's office, Bush quietly issued Executive Order 13252, quashing that effort and also stripping union representation from the hundreds of employees working in all 93 U.S. attorney offices and also from some U.S. Justice Department workers. Naturally, alleged concern over "national security" was given as rationale for the action.
In January 2003 "almost 60,000 airport screeners, employees of the newly created Transportation Security Administration . . . were stripped of their rights to form a union when the Bush administration issued an order that said workers' collective bargaining rights are 'not compatible' with national security" (courtesy of AFL-CIO).
On January 28, 2005, the AFL-CIO reports the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unveil[ed] plans this week to unilaterally change personnel rules for some 180,000 DHS employees, including 75,000 union members. The new rules would slash employees' bargaining and other workplace rights and eliminate civil service pay scales . . . Proposed new personnel rules for some 300,000 Defense Department civilian workers also are expected to be issued soon . . . [and are] expected to weaken or eliminate collective bargaining rights, worker rights to appeal management decisions, the current pay system and other changes."
Perhaps Bush is stupid (note to editor: strike "perhaps"), but there's no doubting his efforts' results: Also on January 28, Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times writes: "
The percentage of Americans belonging to labor unions fell last year to the lowest level in more than six decades . . . The segment of all workers in unions dropped to 12.5 percent last year from 12.9 percent in 2003 . . . while the percentage of private-sector workers in unions fell to 7.9 percent from 8.2 percent, making it the lowest level since the early 1900's."
Maybe, though, unions are good for nothing other than sucking dry corporations' hard-earned profits, and if Big Business were allowed to operate completely unfettered, laborers would be well-compensated and need not fret about working conditions.
Greenhouse again, three days earlier: "Human Rights Watch [HRW] has issued a report . . . concluding that the nation's meat packing industry has such bad working conditions that it violates basic human and worker rights . . . Noting that the industry's injury rate was three times that of private industry over all, the report describes plants where exhausted employees slice into carcasses at a frenzied pace hour after hour, often suffering injuries from a slip of the knife or from repeating the same motion more than 10,000 times a day. The report describes workers being asphyxiated by fumes and having their legs cut off and hands crushed . . [and] concluded that packing companies violated human and labor rights by suppressing their employees' efforts to organize by, for example, often firing employees who support a union."
Anyone who's read Eric Schlosser's seminal book Fast Food Nation would be surprised by none of HRW's findings, unfortunately. Schlosser reports meatpacking has always been dangerous work, but thanks to decades of organizing efforts, by the late 1940s it paid well, was coveted employment, and "provided a stable, middle-class income" (page 153). Now, a century after Upton Sinclair first blew the whistle on the meatpacking business in 1906 in The Jungle, the industry, with the administration's full blessing, has disgustingly come full circle.
It would be impossible to misoverestimate Bush's animosity toward organized labor, as well as the astonishment of many of us regarding the millions of beleaguered working Americans who nonetheless voted for this silver-spooned loon. (Not that anyone's vote really mattered on November 2, but more about that in #14.) Indeed, the Bushies have succeeded in brainwashing a huge segment of the population into contemptuously dismissing poor Americans who supposedly disdain "personal responsibility" and could get ahead by "working harder," when in truth, Americans rack up more hours on the job than laborers in any other industrialized nation. With wages, benefits, and pensions under constant downward pressure (U.S. Airways wanted employees to work without pay during last New Year's weekend), oftentimes the very people being chided are, bizarrely, the chiders themselves.
"11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist."
Doesn't having a president who revels in his dunderheadedness just make you proud to be an Amurkan? Dubya's the man who can't speak straight, doesn't read newspapers, and touts his "C" average he carried back at university. (His daddy couldn't have bought him a higher grade? Wait a sec . . maybe he did.)
Bush's simple-mindedness is more sinister than simple, though. His handlers form an intellectually incestuous group of (sub)humans that deliberately shun new information and therefore can't help but breed deformed ideas, a Goldilocks administration that doesn't want anything too hot or too bold; it wants it just right (as in far, far).
In February 2004 the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) issued a report on the Bushies' weird science ("Scientific Integrity in Policymaking"). It was accompanied by a statement signed by "over 60 leading scientists—Nobel laureates, leading medical experts, former federal agency directors, and university chairs and presidents . . ." that said, in part: "When scientific knowledge has been found to be in conflict with its political goals, the administration has often manipulated the process through which science enters into its decisions . . . Across a broad range of policy areas, the administration has undermined the quality and independence of the scientific advisory system and the morale of the government's outstanding scientific personnel . . ." (Currently, the statement has over 6,000 scientists' signatures.)
Five months later, UCS released an update of its earlier report, saying "the Bush administration has continued to undermine the integrity of science in policy making seemingly unchecked."
I'm still trying to verify the group has also updated its name to the URCS ( Union of Really Concerned Scientists).
The House of Representatives, in October 2003, passed the "International Studies in Higher Education Act" (H.R. 3077); it now pends in a Senate committee. In a March 2004 Seattle Times op-ed, Floyd J. McKay writes that "Professors at the University of Washington's respected Jackson School of International Studies" consider H.R. 3077 "an extension of inroads on academic freedom and research on the part of the Bush administration and its Republican allies in Congress." Per McKay, the bill "would create an advisory board" that "would make recommendations to the secretary of education and to Congress," allegedly to "'balance' academic discussion of American foreign policy" (according to its "sponsors"). "Seven [board] members would be appointed by the secretary and leaders of the House and Senate, all Republicans at present."
This "balance": would it be "fair," too?
The Institute for Public Affairs (IPA), which "works to bring the unique perspective of Jewish law and tradition to bear upon the widest range of public policy issues confronting American society at-large . . . ," favors the bill. IPA says, "At this time, many university Middle East studies centers have adopted anti-Israel and anti-American perspectives. The bill does not interfere with academic freedom . . ."
Regarding art and literature: In the spirit of fairness, I wish to report there appears to be no truth to the rumor the Bushies wanted to hire Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl to help promote their agenda . . . probably because by the time they thought about it, she was dead. We certainly know, however, the esteem with which today's so-called conservatives hold Hollywood in general (just who, then, spends all those millions to see its movies?). Why buy a ticket at all, though, when priceless entertainment is provided for free by the religious right's latest guru, Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson, with his somber concerns about SpongeBob SquarePants' alleged promotion of homosexuality? (Psst . . . Jim. It's a cartoon.)
"12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. ' Normal ' and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred of criminals or 'traitors' was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power."
The federal government's "war on drugs" is an abject failure, unless filling U.S. prisons is its goal (bingo!). Conservative columnist Debra J. Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle, who most days has me spitting nails, has nonetheless (and quite to her credit) penned several pieces about Clarence Aaron over the last few years that detail his royal reaming by our criminal "justice" system and calls for his pardon. His case is not unique.
Aaron is a first-time offender serving a life sentence without parole for a drug transaction in which, at age 22, he was paid $1,500 by two dealers. Aaron, a small fry paying a big-time price, was charged with dealing crack and has been incarcerated now for more than a decade.
Saunders, highlighting the well-known disparity between sentences for powder cocaine (preferred by whites) vs. crack cocaine (preferred by blacks), points outs Aaron is African-American and how, "if the court had sentenced Aaron for [powder] cocaine instead of crack, his sentence would be under 16 years . . ."
Amy Goodman, in her book (with her brother, David) The Exception to the Rulers, gives us the dreary numbers (put on your Grimness Deflector):
"In 2002, the number of prisoners in the United States exceeded 2 million for the first time in history—up from 200,000 in 1970. The rate of incarceration in the United States . . . is the highest reported rate in the world . . . Forty-five percent of prisoners in 2002 were black; 18 percent were Hispanic. According to the Department of Justice, black males have about a one in three chance of landing in prison at some point in their lives" (page 129).
Is that a terrorist in your closet or are you just scared to see me? The ubiquitous "terrorists" of whom we should all be afraid, very afraid, have been used incessantly since 9/11 to justify giving cops carte blanche to do what they will. Here in Sacramento, just days before a June 2003 U.S. Department of Agriculture-sponsored conference hyping the marvels of genetically-modified foods, the city council lost its mind and, with little notice, passed "parade ordinances" banning, among other things, bandannas and thick signs (dangerous in the wrong hands, obviously). When about 2,000 protesters and 1,000 law enforcement personnel showed up, the inevitable outlandish arrests and outright intimidation of peaceful protesters occurred. As I, stunned, later viewed videotape of police-state actions in my hometown of four decades, it was obvious the cops had been provided with some super-duper anti-human training and were gonna use it whether it was warranted or not. (Uh, not.) Gee, I wonder who paid for it?
There's no doubting where $8.5 million came from to fund "security" at the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) talks in Miami the following November, for that's how much Congress earmarked for it in the $87 billion Iraq appropriations bill passed shortly before the Florida festivities. Sacramento was a perp walk in the park compared to the brutality visited upon FTAA demonstrators, where, strangely enough, just prior to the talks, the Miami City Commission passed restrictions strikingly similar to Sacramento 's.
It doesn't take a Bush administration "scientist" to figure out community officials are not coming up with this stuff on their own; these oppressive and unconstitutional measures have the feds' fingerprints all over them.
Question: What has 10 legs, spent a total of two and a half years in jail, was accused with great fanfare by the Justice Department of a whole boatload of nefarious national security-threatening misdeeds, including nuclear espionage, faced a possible death penalty, and was eventually freed after pleading guilty to a lone felony and a handful of minor charges?
Answer: Wen Ho Lee, Katrina Leung, James Yee, Ahmad Al Halabi, and Brandon Mayfield, three Chinese-Americans and three Muslims (Yee's a double-dipper); nary a WASP in the bunch. It's curious, though, how then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft went all mum's-the-word-like when some (very) white folks were caught red-handed with a huge cache of truly nasty weapons and other icky stuff in Bush's home state of Texas in November 2003. I guess they're not real terrorists unless they fit the profile, eh?
There's also the mystery of how Bushco can pursue Lee and others full throttle with completely trumped-up charges, yet when it comes to finding the "two senior administration officials" who did compromise national security by outing CIA operative Valerie Plame (to columnist Robert Novak in July 2003), the trail starts out glacially cold and never warms up even after two-plus years of, ahem, "investigation." (Another curiosity: Despite the threatened jailing of journalists—one of whom didn't even write about Plame—if they don't divulge sources; administration toady Novak remains oddly unmolested.)
"13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population."
Ah, the biscuit's crux. We've hit upon what the Bush administration is all about: power and profits. The melding of American corporate interests with the U.S. government has been occurring for years, but the Bushies have turned it into a science (the only one in which they're interested, it seems), and under them, the morphing is complete: Corporate and administration goals are now indistinguishable.
That war on drugs thing? 'Tain't about morality, 'tis about money. Big money. Goodman writes that "Corrections is now a $50-billion-a-year-business" (page 129) and says the growing private prison industry now accounts for 6 percent of the pie (page 130). She also notes that "57 percent of federal prisoners are incarcerated for drug-related offenses; a fifth of state prisoners are there for drug-related charges" (page 129). In an August 2001 piece for the San Francisco Chronicle, Marianne Costantinou reported the drug testing industry then was raking in $5.9 billion annually; I doubt fewer people are peeing into bottles today. Super-harsh drug laws are guaranteed to keep the prisons, bottles, and stakeholders' pockets overflowing.
Speaking of drug money: How about that great Medicare prescription drug bill Bush signed into law in December 2003, huh? Great for his pharmaceutical company buddies, that is, who stand to make gazillions; not so great for the "seniors" it's allegedly supposed to help, since they'll be lucky to live long enough to actually figure out how to apply for the new "benefits" (a challenge no matter one's age). Initial calculations show some will now even be able to save, over time, enough money to afford the stamp for the letter they'll be sending to AARP to complain about how it whored itself to help get this hideously expensive, unconscionable slab of corporate welfare passed.
And we thought this land was our land: For Bushco cronies, it's unnatural if natural resources can't be plundered free of pesky regulations impeding drilling, gouging, scraping, blasting, injecting, denuding, stripping, slashing, hacking, chopping, poisoning, and polluting. The CEOs needn't worry, though; their superhero, Bush Boy, a.k.a. Stuporman, has come to the rescue! And, unlike the nation's air and water, the results are clear:
In January 2005, the National Resources Defense Council released an all-damning report called "Rewriting the Rules (2005 Special Edition)." The Executive Overview said, in part:
"[During] the first term, this administration led the most thorough and destructive campaign against America 's environmental safeguards in the past 40 years . . . [Administration policy] changes do not merely call for updating regulations. They represent radical alterations to our core environmental laws . . . Since the Bush administration began, health warnings to avoid eating locally caught fish have doubled and completed cleanup of toxic wastes at Superfund sites have fallen by 52 percent; yet civil citations issued to polluters have dropped by 57 percent and criminal prosecutions of polluters have fallen 17 percent. Meanwhile, the administration is making every effort to keep the public in the dark about the policies that contribute to these degraded environmental conditions. It has taken unprecedented steps to cut citizens out of the decision-making process for a number of critical public health and land management policies."
Fixin' what ain't broken: Reportedly, the first draft of Bush's pitch to privatize Social Security during his recent State of the Union fleece—er, speech—went something like this: "We're gonna rip you off for every penny we possibly can—and then we're gonna charge you, your kids, their kids, and hell, even their kids, trillions of dollars for the priv'lege! Heh, heh." Someone obviously talked him out of it, which is actually too bad, 'cause it would've been the most honest thing he'd ever said. The whole scam is such a ludicrously obvious looting of the citizenry, I really have no further comment on it, other than to say (with resignation): if Americans are stupid enough to swallow this, I will really regret dropping my Spanish class this semester. (If this remark is too cryptic, please e-mail me and we will try to figure out together just what it is I mean.)
Here's the general rule of thumb when the Bush-run Corporate States of America floats any proposition: If it sounds good, it's bad; hang onto your wallet. If it sounds bad, it's awful; hang onto your clothes. If it sounds awful, it's catastrophic; hang onto your ass. Be assured, though, that no matter what, Big Business wins—and you lose. Always.
"14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite."
Had I reread Britt's list right before November 2, I'd have said number 14 was the one item I was hoping hadn't actually, really, truly happened yet, and, with fingers, toes, and eyes crossed, wouldn't occur.
Boy, what a naïf.
In my last-chance hope that some day, some way, an America that represents the Founding Fathers' beautiful ideals could still emerge from our benighted land, I temporarily allowed denial to mentally shush my fail-safe "Bush Standard": Anyone capable of killing 100,000 people solely to secure more power and profits, is capable of anything.
Fixing an election? Small potatoes.
Volumes have been written by those of us in the alternative media about the shaft driven right up our electoral bums by bums like Rove, Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, and Wally O?Dell, just to name a filthy few. Staunch Republican O'Dell is the chief executive and board chairman of Diebold, which, along with conservative-owned Election Systems & Software (ES&S), "now control 80 percent of the vote count in the United States" (according to Schuyler Ebbets in Scoop, September 2003).
The corporate media on the treasonous takeover of our country? Virtually peepless.
Yep, it's pretty weird how the U.S. can cite exit polls in Ukraine to question election results there, but such a notion is rendered daft here. Or how it's just too damned expensive or undoable to provide verifiable paper trails for electronic voting machines. Or how such machines automatically assigned or switched votes to the Bush/Cheney ticket. Or how electronic voting machines should even be used in the first place. Or how, on January 6, during the debate concerning the (il)legitimacy of Ohio's electoral votes (forced by the courageous objection signed by Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones [D-OH] and Senator Barbara Boxer [D-CA]), Republicans can derisively label as "frivolous" complaints about multiple-hour waits in line to vote (in heavily minority and thus heavily Democratic precincts, naturally). Or how Blackwell, the co-chair of the Ohio Bush/Cheney re-appointment campaign, can blatantly get away with a fraudulent statewide recount. Or how just about every single reported anomaly benefited Bush. Or how . . . well, I think you get the idea. (Many fine articles exist detailing how this final stake was pounded into American democracy's heart; I'm partial to Alan Waldman's November 20, 2004, piece in Online Journal.)
I admit a fraudulent presidential election is a hard concept to accept. That's probably why I've heard folks say they're certain the election was fixed and then, in the same breath, wonder aloud who the Dems will run in 2008. People! Do you see the disconnect? If elections are rigged, it doesn't matter who runs—ever—unless out of the kindness of their tiny little spaces where their diseased hearts would be if they had them, the "Republicans," for whatever reason, unrig them.
I think we all know how likely that possibility is.
So there you have it; on the Britt scale of fascism, the Bush regime is a cool 14 for 14. Hardly bush league, but definitely Bush League. Yet, even though I've now written 9,200 words on the topic, I still feel like I've barely just scratched the surface, for anyone who has been paying attention can add countless examples damningly demonstrating that fascists now control America . The deed is done: Bush and his fellow thugs have rendered our democratic republic deader'n roadkill on a West Texas highway, and left it with as much chance of being revived.
So what do we do now?
Straight from the Yeah, That'll Really Show 'Em Department: I personally see no reason to vote or participate in an electoral system that only serves to lend (false) legitimacy to the solidly-entrenched ruling power. Will my dropping out change anything? Of course not; only if there were a huge, sustained, well-publicized boycott of politics and voting could one hope for an effect, and even then, what would the Bushies or their supporters care? Even if a mass abstention did materialize, word of its existence would surely not be broadcast by the complicit whoreporate media.
So, again, what to do?
When looking for guidance, I often find it helpful to check in with our nation's founders. Part I closed with words from Thomas Jefferson; it's only fitting to end Part II in similar fashion:
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
* Perle's telling offer is recounted on page 211 of Franken's book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.
Copyright © 2005 Mark Drolette.
Mark Drolette is a political satirist/commentator who lives in Sacramento , California . He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2005 Online Journal™.
Reprinted from Online Journal: