Chimp Gone Wild Edition
Well … it’s a new year and the question on everyone’s mind seems to be: will this be the year that another ‘terrorist’ attack comes our way, perhaps just in time to disrupt the presidential election?
A lot of people seem to think so. Even William Safire thinks so. Of course, when people like me began making such predictions a couple of years ago, it was just the lunatic fringe talking. Safire, on the other hand, is what you call a responsible, respected journalist. Which is why, I suppose, he can be so blasé about his prediction, as though such an occurrence would be just another minor inconvenience that we must all suffer so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms that others hate us for.
Tommy Franks thinks that when the attack comes, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights will fly right out the window, with the consent of the American people. And he is probably right. The media is already gearing up to sell the Bush ‘response’ to the American people, who haven’t had much trouble buying any of the other lies that Team Bush has been selling (http://www.nypost.com/gossip/44885.htm). Martial law will be, apparently, just another minor bump in the road that leads us to victory over the ‘terrists.’
The nation’s capital appears to already be under martial law (http://www.onlinejournal.com/Special_Reports/123003Madsen/123003madsen.html). And it is not entirely clear just how much of the Constitution and Bill of Rights remains in force, in an era that has already brought us secret arrests without charges; indefinite, incommunicado detentions; secret military tribunals; wholesale domestic spying and surveillance; ‘no-fly’ lists; no expectation of privacy for communications sent via telephone, letter, or e-mail, a wanton disregard for international law; the increasingly violent suppression of dissent (http://www.onlinejournal.com/Commentary/112203Conover/112203conover.html and http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/dec2003/miam-d16.shtml); electronic election rigging; and heavily militarized domestic police forces. And in case it has escaped anyone’s attention, we also seem to have done away with that pesky Posse Comitatus thing (http://www.wsws.org/articles/2004/jan2004/2004-j03.shtml), along with the Central Intelligence Agency’s charter, which specifically bars the agency from domestic operations (that provision has, of course, always been disregarded, but never before openly).
It is a rather remarkable fact that a regime that allegedly reveres both the ‘founding fathers’ and ‘the rule of law’ has not only openly and repeatedly violated international law, the UN charter, the Geneva Conventions, and the Nuremberg principals, but also the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and various other allegedly sacrosanct documents. It is equally remarkable that politicians of all stripes, as well as media pundits, ‘think tank’ analysts, spokesmen for academia and the legal community, and numerous other shapers of public opinion, all pretend not to notice that there is a very bad moon on the rise.
And now we hear open talk of potentially doing away with the pending, and allegedly democratic, presidential election in favor of installing a military government — and yet still, of course, maintaining the threadbare fiction that we all live in the greatest democracy that the world has ever seen. In any other country in the world, that would be a pretty difficult trick to pull off. But I have given up trying to guess what the straw is that will break the American camel’s back, if indeed there is one.
A reader recently pointed out that I have waffled on the issue of whether there will be a pre-election ‘terrorist’ attack. I initially mused that there would be such an event, but then I later backed away from that claim, agreeing with a letter-writer that through media control, smear campaigns against opponents, and, most importantly, control of paperless voting machines, Bush could easily be kept in office without resort to what Safire referred to as an “October Surprise.” But still later, in a recent rant about the California recall election, I seemed to return to my original prediction.
“So which is it?,” my correspondent wanted to know.
At this point, I would have to say that the smart money seems to be on the pre-election attack becoming a reality. And it’s not because an “October Surprise” is the only way that Bush can ‘win.’ It’s a fairly safe bet that the final outcome of the election, if it is to be held, has already been determined. The problem will be with selling that outcome.
The conventional wisdom holds that Bush is a formidable opponent — all but unbeatable. That is what we are constantly told and what we are all supposed to believe. And he is unbeatable, but not because of his personal popularity, or because of the popularity of his openly fascist policies. He is unbeatable because those who control the vote-counting software now control the outcome of elections. But the illusion of democracy hinges upon maintaining the fiction that George Bush is a popular president, and therein lies the problem.
An L.A. Times op/ed piece by Kevin Phillips, from November 2003, mentioned, rather casually, that a virtual state of martial law will likely have to be declared in New York City so that the Republican Party can present its presidential nominee to the nation. That, the article noted, could prove to be an “embarrassment” for Team Bush.
It is always a bit ’embarrassing,’ I suppose, when the wildly popular leader of the freest nation on earth needs to turn a city into a military garrison in order to make a public appearance. And it is equally ’embarrassing’ to have to explain how a president and a political party that are so despised by such a wide swath of people that they need military protection to keep their own loyal subjects at bay can nevertheless go on to sweep the election. And make no mistake about it: if the election does proceed, there will be another Republican sweep. The stage has already been set. More than a few ‘Democrats’ have already stepped aside. Expect gains all around — in the House, in the Senate, in state races.
But can another Republican sweep and a second Bush term be sold to the American people? Or would King George’s inauguration require another ’embarrassing’ resort to martial law? How long can the illusion of popularity, and the illusion of democracy, be maintained while the suppression of dissent necessarily becomes increasingly violent?
There will certainly be radically rising levels of dissent to greet the second Bush term. As the conquest of Iraq grows bloodier and bloodier, millions of Americans – many of them returning servicemen, and many of them family members of those who are shipped home in a box – will demand answers. Millions of senior citizens will awaken to the fact that – under the guise of Medicare reform, set to go into effect one year after the re-coronation – they have been thoroughly ripped off. Millions of young people will suddenly awaken to find that Uncle Sam has big plans for them (does anyone else feel a draft?).
And then there is the ticking time bomb of the supposedly recovering ‘economy,’ characterized by massive levels of consumer debt, millions of radically overvalued American homes leveraged to the hilt, a steadily declining job market as more and more jobs are ‘outsourced,’ increased attacks upon the wages and benefits for the jobs that remain, and state and national treasuries deliberately looted so as to justify further massive cuts in expenditures on trivial things like education and healthcare.
Millions of Americans could well awake one day soon to find that their piece of the American Dream was largely an illusion. Some may even come to realize that the forces that drive Team Bush are insatiable. The beast will not be satisfied with just plundering the rest of the planet; it wants everything. It wants your Medicare benefits. It wants your Social Security benefits. It wants your pension and your retirement plan. It wants your healthcare benefits. It wants your home. It wants your job, if it can find someone to perform it for less pay (someone like, for instance, a ‘guest worker’). And it wants your children, as cannon fodder for its wars of conquest.
In other words, you ain’t seen nothing yet from Team Bush. And the surprises in store for after the election will be decidedly unpopular with the vast majority of the American people. In order to deal with that eventuality, therefore, Washington will need vastly expanded police-state powers — and that is precisely why there could very well be another ‘terrorist’ attack some time this year. My guess, after factoring in the Bratton/Miller/Schwarzenegger nexus – along with a few other, even more wildly speculative, factors – is that the attack most likely will occur in the Los Angeles area, very possibly at LAX.
And I’m sticking with that … unless I change my mind again.
Speaking of LAX (was that a smooth segue, or what?), it wasn’t a pleasant place to pass through over the holidays, from what I’ve heard. What with the ‘Orange Alert’ and all, the delays were intolerable and the searches intrusive and humiliating. And it was all, of course, complete bullshit, as with all of Team Bush’s fear-inducing ‘terror alerts.’ That was quite obvious from the policies in place at LAX.
One rule, for instance, prohibited curbside drop-offs or pick-ups — except for taxis and limousines. That policy was repeated endlessly on the television news so as to avoid confusion at the airport. What that demonstrated, of course, was that either: (a) the government, relying on its usual crack intelligence sources, concluded that ‘the terrorists’ are incapable of purchasing, commandeering, or even hiring a taxi or limo; or (b) the response to the ‘Terror Alert’ had nothing to do with security.
It is not likely that the policies at LAX, and elsewhere, made holiday travel any safer, but they certainly greatly inconvenienced millions of travelers. And why? As near as I can tell, to generate support for the government’s Orwellian plan to pre-screen all travelers and assign each of them a color-coded security risk assessment. Most of us will, I’m sure, at least initially, receive the coveted Green ranking, after which we can look forward to traveling with the ease with which we did prior to ‘the day that everything changed.’ With the new plan in place, it will only be ‘terrorists’ and ‘criminals’ who will be inconvenienced, you see. And we can certainly trust the Washington gang to establish reasonable criteria for determining who is a ‘terrorist’ and who is not … can’t we?
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Speaking of travel (another brilliant segue; I’m on a roll), the Travel section of the January 25 Sunday L.A. Times brought word of an exciting new destination that few have yet discovered. It “remains isolated and serene, brimming with lush greenery, clean beaches and underwater surprises.” It may be, in fact, “the Caribbean’s last great tourist frontier: a low-key oasis of calm azure waters, lush green hills, wild horses that graze by single-lane roads and vast coral sea beds inhabited by iridescent fish.”
And how has this paradise remained largely undiscovered until now? Well … primarily because the United States has spent the last 62 years bombing the shit out of it. And that is the kind of thing that can really put a damper on the tourist industry. But it’s a good thing, as it turns out, that we spent 62 years bombing the shit out of a place of extraordinary natural beauty. By doing so, and keeping people away, “paradoxically, the Navy preserved the beauty of [the island] for posterity.”
Talk about putting a positive spin on things …
So what exactly is this hidden treasure? It is a 21-mile-long island off the coast of Puerto Rico known as Vieques. And like the Times said, Vieques is “brimming with … surprises.” One of the biggest surprises, however, may come months or years after your visit to Vieques, when the Depleted Uranium poisoning begins to take its toll and you discover that the fish aren’t the only things around Vieques that are iridescent.
Yes, it’s true, people: no longer do you have to enlist for military service and be shipped off to faraway places like Iraq or Afghanistan to experience the blowback effects of the wholesale use of radioactive weaponry. Now you can get the very same experience in a lush, tropical setting. Book now, why demand is still low![Reed Johnson “Forays on Vieques,” Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2004]
As we stand on the threshold of an exciting new year, it is, by tradition, a time for list-making. And so I thought that I would put together a list that will, with any luck at all, provoke as many people as possible. Here then, for your consideration, is a list of myths that seem to have taken root in the ‘progressive’ community — myths that, from where I sit, need to be put to rest. That, of course, is just my opinion.
Myth #1: A “neocon” cabal has hijacked the Bush administration’s foreign policy, setting America on a new and dangerous course.
I should first mention here that, although it may have escaped many readers’ attention, the word “neocon” has never before appeared in one of these newsletters. That is because I like to, as much as possible, focus on things that actually exist. And that is also because I haven’t felt the need to find some elaborate way of explaining the alleged change in U.S. foreign policy, primarily because I haven’t been able to detect a noticeable change in U.S. foreign policy. The change that others perceive is based on several more myths, beginning with:
Myth #2: Team Bush set a dangerous new precedent by introducing the notion of ‘preemptive’ wars.
And that is, I guess, in stark contrast to our past military ventures, which have been, I suppose, purely defensive actions (self-defense being the only legally defensible reason for undertaking military actions against another sovereign state) — like when we defended ourselves against Serbia. And Bosnia. And Somalia. And Panama. And Granada. And Vietnam. And Laos. And Cambodia. And all the other countries that apparently attacked us first, or at least seriously threatened to, although I can’t, off the top of my head, recall the specific attacks that we were responding to in any of those cases.
To be sure, under Team Bush we were fed lies to garner our support for two (yes, two) unprovoked, illegal, unjustified wars. But what exactly is new about that?
Myth #3: Team Bush’s disdain for international treaties and agreements is unprecedented.
Not by any objective standard, although it may seem that way to those who until very recently viewed America as some great and benevolent force in the world. Wake up and smell the coffee, folks: the U.S. did not suddenly abandon its previous role as international do-gooder and become an international menace overnight. The record is very clear: America has been, for a very long time, the single greatest impediment to the establishment of international human rights standards, international arms control agreements, and an International Criminal Court. Consider the following excerpts from Amnesty International’s landmark 1998 report, “United States of America – Rights for All”:
- “There are only two countries in the world that have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. One is the collapsed state of Somalia which has no recognized government — the other is the USA.”
- “(T)he USA is also one of only a handful of countries that have not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.”
- “The first UN human rights treaty ratified by the USA was the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It ratified the Convention in 1988, 40 years after signing it and after 97 other states had already ratified it.”
- “The USA took 28 years to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, after 133 other states had already ratified it…”
- “At least 71 other states ratified the Convention against Torture before the USA.”
- “It was only in 1992, after 109 other states, that the USA ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 26 years after its adoption by the UN General Assembly.”
- “The ICCPR is one of two principal treaties protecting human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The other — the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights — has still not been ratified by the USA.”
- “(T)he USA has refused to recognize any regional human rights treaties: it has not ratified the American Convention on Human Rights, adopted by the OAS (Organization of American States) in 1969, and has not even signed the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons and the Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence against Women.”
And that is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg. George Bush’s ‘liberal’ predecessor did nothing to rectify any of those, uhmm, ‘oversights.’ He also presided over the rejection of a major international arms agreement and openly flaunted an international ban on the use of landmines by introducing a new $50,000,000 landmine program not long before said ban was to go into effect.
Myth #4: The “neocons” have taken a new, hardline stance in support of Israeli aggression. By some accounts, Israel now dictates U.S. foreign policy, through Jewish “neocons” like Wolfowitz and Perle.
The truth is that the United States has always taken a hardline, pro-Israel stance, and has always looked the other way while Israel commits egregious human rights violations in the occupied territories. In fact, the U.S. has made a habit of being the only nation to consistently side with Israel and defend its actions in the face of worldwide opposition. In 1981 alone, many years before the ‘neocons’ took the reins, the U.S. was Israel’s sole defender during UN voting on 11 different resolutions. As many as 141 countries voted against the U.S./Israeli positions.
And so, once again, we see that what has been portrayed as a radical change in course is, in truth, the perpetuation of an historical pattern. America has always armed, protected and quietly supported Israel — which is essentially an enormous, nuclear-armed, Western military outpost in the Middle East. Israel, to put it bluntly, is a tool of the West, not the other way around.
“But wait,” you say, “isn’t America fighting Israel’s war in the Middle East?” No. America is fighting for the same thing America always fights for: the advancement of American corporate interests. Those interests happen to be shared by the corporate/political elite of Israel.
Myth #5: The policies of Team Bush have antagonized and alienated many of our closest allies, straining relationships with many previously friendly nations.
It would be far more accurate to say that the brazen criminality of the Bush team, as opposed to the more covert criminality of preceding administrations, has forced other world leaders to occasionally distance themselves from the U.S., lest they incur the wrath of the people. But said leaders will always be quick to kiss and make-up if provided with the slightest hint of political cover (such as the capture of Saddam Hussein).
As I have said before, I do not believe that the heads-of-state of other ‘Western’ nations have many significant differences with their American counterparts with regards to motive or agenda. The difference is one of strategy, due to the fact that a population with knowledge of history and a reasonably accurate view of current events forces a certain amount of restraint upon the actions of national leaders. U.S. leaders, on the other hand, can operate virtually without restraint.
In other words, while Bush has certainly done a fine job of provoking legitimate outrage among the world’s people, he has only provoked staged outrage among the leaders of the ‘Western world.’ Indeed, behind the scenes there could well be much admiration for an administration so transparent in its motives, and so brazen in its lies, and yet so successful at maintaining legitimacy.
Myth #6: The European Union is going to rise up as some kind of counter-force to the U.S. military machine.
Sorry, but I just don’t see that happening. The EU is fully complicit in the drive for global fascism, and all of Europe will ultimately adopt the police-state blueprint being drafted in America, albeit on a somewhat different timetable. There will be no meaningful foreign opposition, and there will be no place to run and hide.
Myth #7: The current war in Iraq was drafted in 1998 by the “neocon” cabal operating as the “Project for a New American Century.”
By 1998, the war against Iraq had already been underway for many years, following a script that was obviously written before the first George Bush began military operations by pummeling Iraq from the air. That was, for the memory impaired, followed by years of crippling sanctions and the enforcement of illegal ‘no-fly zones’ that were created specifically to provide a pretext for intermittent bombings that continued for well over a decade.
None of that was intended to ‘contain’ Saddam Hussein, or to force his compliance with cynical UN resolutions; the goal was always to weaken the nation’s defenses and demoralize the civilian population as preparation for a military occupation that was in the cards long before “Little George and the Neocons” came to town.
Myth #8: The real reason for the war in Iraq is concern over “Peak Oil.”
The notion of “Peak Oil” seems to have been carefully seeded throughout the ‘progressive’ community, most prominently by Michael Ruppert, but by many others as well. Personally, I ain’t buying it. It positively reeks of bullshit. What the “Peak Oil” promoters are essentially saying is: “I am outraged by the fact that Team Bush has waged a war of aggression motivated solely by the pursuit of oil … but (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) it’s a damn good thing that they did, because the world is quickly running out of oil and if we don’t grab it now, we’re going to be in big trouble, and soon.”
Now don’t get me wrong — I really want the “Peak Oil” thing to be true. I can’t really think of a better scenario, at this point, than the world running out of oil. The entire global fascist system (or GFS for short, which is kind of like the NWO, only different, since the NWO is usually pitched as some sort of global communist/socialist system), you see, runs on oil. The military machine can’t operate without it. The global corporate infrastructure can’t run without it. It is the life-blood of global capitalism. So there would be a certain poetic justice if those who had toiled so long to achieve their dream of world domination were to suddenly find themselves – on the eve of declaring game, set and match – unable to operate the empire they had created. We would then be forced, alas, to start over — to rebuild and restructure.
It would be nice if that were true. It would save the American people, and the world’s people, a lot of work. But I don’t see it happening. And, yes, I am aware that ‘experts,’ with far more knowledge in the field than I, have warned of “Peak Oil.” But I am also aware that if the right people consult with the right ‘experts,’ those ‘experts’ will say pretty much anything they are asked to say.
Myth #9: The (fill in the blank) scandal is going to bring down the House of Bush, or key members within it.
Some writers seem to have an obsession with predicting the imminent demise of Team Bush (I’m thinking here again, for some reason, of Michael Ruppert), as one scandal or another supposedly threatens to overtake the, uhmm, “neocons” — as though the dissemination of deliberately leaked ‘limited hangouts,’ and other damage control measures, somehow indicates that the media has suddenly decided to do its job.
The Plame scandal was, according to many, the one that was going to bring Team Bush down. It gave a lot of lefties a chance to express outrage over the outing of a CIA asset, and to absurdly claim that such an outing threatens our national security, when all that is really threatened is both the success of various covert operations aimed at expanding the Western empire, and the well-being of the assets involved in those operations.
Personally, I would like to see Team Bush expand on this new policy. In fact, I think the names of all CIA assets around the world should be published. Let the chips fall where they may. I’m guessing that more than a few outed assets would be shipped home in roughly the same condition as Charles Dean. I’m not suggesting here, mind you, that Charles was, you know, a CIA asset or anything like that, even though his ultra-conservative family has long been deeply connected. Charles just happened to be backpacking around Laos at the time that a genocidal war was being covertly waged there. I’m sure that a lot of pleasure-seekers were backpacking around Laos at the time. And I’m also sure that little brother Howard, being the ‘liberal,’ ‘anti-war’ candidate that he is, never had any affiliation with the CIA. No, he has turned his back on his family’s money and politics — not unlike, I suppose, that Osama bin Laden guy. But here I digress …
Myth #10: Team Bush’s militarism and domestic repression is driven by a ‘crisis’ of global capitalism.
This school of thought holds that Team Bush’s resort to more overtly fascist rule is a desperate attempt to keep a failed system propped up. In essence, this is yet another attempt to explain what is portrayed as a significant break in the continuum of U.S. foreign and domestic policy. But here again I must ask: what has really changed?
With a ‘liberal,’ pre-9/11 administration in place, we launched unprovoked cruise missile strikes on two sovereign nations (Sudan and Afghanistan). We intermittently bombed, throughout the entire 8-year administration, the nation of Iraq, while simultaneously ‘sanctioning’ hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians to early graves. We launched an unprovoked war of aggression against Serbia, justified with stories of genocide and ethnic cleansing that turned out to be – surprise! – lies. We openly flaunted international law and then charged our victims with war crimes, even while openly celebrating our own war crimes. We meddled covertly in the affairs of countless nations. We enthusiastically embraced ‘globalization,’ ‘free markets’ and ‘free trade.’ We cheered welfare ‘reform,’ just as many of us now cheer Medicare ‘reform.’ We doubled the nation’s prison population. We expanded the use of the death penalty and expanded the reach of the FBI and the CIA. We experienced ‘terrorist’ attacks at both the World Trade Center and the Oklahoma City federal building, and those attacks were followed by legislation that vastly expanded the repressive powers of the state, setting the stage for the even more repressive Patriot Act.
So what has changed? Very little, except that the volume has been turned up. And it will continue to be turned up. Because the bitch of it is, you see, that within a few years, the way things are today won’t seem all that bad. But for the ‘powers that be,’ that hardly represents a crisis. To the contrary, it represents progress.
So much more to rant about, and so many potential readers with short attention spans … no choice then, I suppose, but to break this rant up into smaller pieces. The next installment is nearing completion and should be posted soon. Until then …