Sunday, December 18, 2005

What's gone wrong?

I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to it’s knees
Oh, it’s alright, it’s alright
For we lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the
Road we’re traveling on
I wonder what’s gone wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong

 -Paul Simon “American Dream”

The Commander in Chief addresses the troops

If you ask a man in the street why we went into Iraq, he might answer, “We went in there because they had weapons of mass destruction and they were involved with al-Queda in the Twin Towers terrorist attack of 9/11.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Of course, we now know that neither answer is true. Iraq had disposed of all its nerve agents, shut down its chemical-warfare manufacturing facilities and had never requested yellowcake uranium from Niger. Also, al-Queda and Osama bin Laden were persona non grata with Saddam Hussein, and the Bush administration and everyone of importance in it knew it.

For the last few months, as evidence of the deception perpetrated by this administration mounts, the obfuscation, misdirection and the outright lies told by Cheney and Rumsfeld roll on, and the President has shifted his rhetoric to high-sounding goals like “protecting our freedoms [sic],” “liberating” the Iraqi people, and “bringing democracy” to the Middle East, in direct contradiction to his earlier promise that he would “never engage in nation-building.” I think it’s only appropriate to ask just what the hell is going on? What’s gone wrong with our democracy?

It all seemed to start out normally enough, as even the rampant voter disenfranchisement and ballot-box stuffing are not without precedent in our relatively short electoral history. In fact, his first term of office looked to be business as usual; Bush was devoted to budget slashing, tax relief for the rich, and the reduction of government services, in line with his conservative base’s philosophy of least government. Tax and budget cuts were chugging along merrily and then came September 11, 2001 and we experienced an abrupt shift, a radical sea change, if you will, of the administration’s whole raison d’etre.

America was attacked, and naturally the country as a whole wanted to lash out. But Bin Laden is a Saudi, al-Queda is in Afghanistan, so why the hell are we in Iraq?

It has been theorized that Bush was hell-bent on getting Sadaam Hussein for Hussein’s alleged assassination attempt on Bush Senior, but as Bush W.’s relationship with his father is so shaky that he almost never speaks to him, that’s a pretty weak argument.

Then there’s the oil/Halliburton angle; Bush, an oil man from an oil business family, so the argument goes, went after the crude. But Bush was never really an oil man; he’s a layabout playboy, ex-frontman for a Texas baseball team and a failed businessman. In any case, his New England family is in banking and capital investments, having acted as the Nazis’ banker prior to and during WWII, with Bush Senior presently involved in running the Carlyle group - heavily invested in by the House of Saud - and a major supplier of capital to the corporations that make all the war toys that the Pentagon buys.

There is a certain amount of pro-quid-pro on behalf of Texas energy, or more accurately, the manipulation of its price, as represented by Bush’s involvement with Enron’s Ken Lay. Lay was a major supporter of Bush’s Texas governorship and subsequent run for the presidency. Bush is a man of strong loyalties, but note how he never raised a finger on behalf of Lay when he went down for his criminal management of Enron. So that explanation is shaky.

Now, in criminal cases, when the detective is trying to sort out the bad guys from the good guys, a standard question to ask is, “Who benefits?”

The truth, as has often been pointed out by the wise men, is often hard to swallow. Most Americans have been brain-washed into rejecting conspiracy theories and will flat-out not believe the answer, even though the mountain of evidence is staring them in the face. The truth seems to contradict everything we as a people have been taught since we were grasshoppers, and it goes against our very grain.

Indeed, the very mention of the possibility that the last two presidential elections were stolen outright leaves most Americans stunned and utterly disbelieving. But the perpetrators have waited a long time to achieve their goals, even while they pulled every trick in the book in implementing them, counting on the whistle-blowers of the Fourth Estate to be misdirected or muzzled by their giant media corporate employers. Even the vaunted newspaper of record sat on evidence of presidential illegality for over a year.

In brief, this administration is the incarnation of the efforts of men who wish nothing less than the return of an absolute executive in America. In another time, they would be supporting the return of the monarchy. America got rid of its monarch 229 years ago and some people have not gotten over it. In colonial America, they were called Tories – which party still exists in Britain today - and actually fought on the side of the British against the colonial revolutionaries.

The American Tories of today are composed of ultra-conservative Republicans, radical Christian fundamentalists, international corporate CEOs, and a handful of ideologues - the so-called neo-conservatives.

While these groups – with the exception of the religious fundamentalists - have no vested interest in royalty per se, they are all fanatics and elitists, and certain of their historical or God-given imperative. Each of these groups has its own partisan goal to achieve – profits, personal power, the elimination of their political opposition, the Rapture - but the achievement of these goals is thwarted by our republican form of government. So they have banded together, some deliberately, some accidentally, to institute an all-powerful autonomous executive, unchained from the fetters of the Constitutional protections of habeas corpus, equal protection, equal representation, etc., and not answerable to the Supreme Court or Congress, or, ultimately, the majority of the American people to achieve their agenda of an elitist minority rule.

Donald Rumsfeld and Richard “Dick” Cheney are the principal leaders in this fight in the administration today, just as they were principal architects of the Project for the New American Century’s white paper on the new American imperium. Note their distain for all opposition to their stated goals, their dismissal of all criticism. But Americans are not stupid, just deliberately misinformed about the true motives of the politicians they voted for to guard their precious liberties.

September 11 was a beautiful opportunity for the “cabal,” as Colonel Larry Wilkerson has so aptly named them, because it put the country on a war footing, even if the Congress could not quite be persuaded to actually declare war, as required by the Constitution. Practically speaking, it didn’t matter, as much of the legal groundwork had been laid during the Nixon and Reagan administrations, and all the personnel were in place – the whole crew from the Project for the New American Century were sitting fat and happy in key political offices. The deliberately misnamed USA Patriot Act had been prepared months – perhaps years - before, ready to be foisted on a panicked Congress. Congress dutifully passed it three days after its introduction, without reading its 300 pages, and without a House, Senate or conference vote and zero debate.

Not co-incidentally, hair-splitting legal technicians in John Ashcroft’s Justice Department were arguing that the president has extraordinary and extra-constitutional powers in time of war, including imperiously declaring American citizens “enemy combatants,” subject to indefinite detention with no access to legal counsel. (Also not co-incidentally, all of these legal weasels were amply rewarded for their legal opinions: Jay Bybee now sits on the 9th Circuit, John Yoo is a professor of law at Berkeley, and Alberto Gonzales is Attorney General, while Addington is Cheney’s chief of staff.) Executive orders were declared to have the force of legislated law, an assertion that flies in the face of the actual wording of the Constitution, which states in the very first Section , “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.” The President is – deliberately – excluded.

Not satisfied with the unconstitutional Bill of Rights-busting provisions of the Patriot Act given to domestic law enforcement, the Department of Defense, at Donald Rumsfeld’s direction, has begun the process of forming domestic military intelligence units in order to better keep tabs on civilian discontent. Meanwhile, President Bush, citing a hypothetical avian flu epidemic, has recently called for the military to plan for “mass quarantine” of a suspected infected populace.

All the evidence points to only one conclusion: this country is headed right straight towards a dictatorship; to deny that is to deny the evidence at hand and the lessons of history.

This administration uses the vocabulary of a classical tyranny. Administration officials, including the President, continuously talk about being “at war,” although no act of war has been legally declared. Cheney calls for torture as a normal interrogation technique, against every civilized code and the law of nations. Threat levels and fear are the theme of this government, with constant pronouncements that President Bush will lead us to “victory over terrorism.” They call for the surrender of our rights as necessary in the “war on terror,” knowing full well that the normal police investigation and arrest powers in place are more than adequate to pursue terrorists in this country. The FBI is responsible for counter-terrorism within our borders and has been tracking down and arresting spies in this country since they were established in 1908. In their long history they have earned a well-deserved reputation for professionalism, integrity and the respect for due process of law.

The cabal deliberately bypassed them in its call for a Department of Homeland Security because of the distain they hold for constitutional procedures such as court-issued warrants, Miranda rights, speedy arraignment, right to counsel and the like, and no doubt the fear that the Supreme Court would - as it has in the past - decline to give them a pass when push came to shove on their illegal tactics.

In a nutshell, the Iraq war is an elaborate smokescreen, a political sleight-of-hand, enabling the cabal to accrue presidential executive power by eliminating our civil liberties in the name of “national security.” Highly trained lawyers argue prerogatives for the president that are not in the Constitution; Congress has been taken over by opportunistic political hacks and con men, too busy giving away the store to their corporate or religious supporters to defend our basic liberties, while individual Americans are baffled or disbelieving of politicians’ true agendas or mind-fucked by government propaganda, and feel powerless.

This last is not the case, of course, but as a nation we despair of another impeachment – indeed, it would of necessity be a whole series of impeachments - with the attendant acrimony and political noise and chaos, not to mention our national embarrassment, and that’s what the cabal is counting on.

As I write this, Congress is considering re-authorizing the Patriot Act for another ten years. I have no doubt that individual congressmen believe that the suspension of our guarantees of civil rights is required by our present state of undeclared “war,” and grieve for the Bill of Rights, but if you ask me, I know they really think it would sure be handy to have the power to sneak a peak into their enemy’s bedroom tucked in their hip pockets, just in case. Hell, he might just be a “terrerist.” President Bush has twice now admitted ordering warrentless wiretaps on American citizens in violation of federal law, declaring that his breaking the law would make all Americans safer and “protect our civil liberties.”

It has been argued to the point of exhaustion that these are extraordinary times, and require extraordinary measures, but this is just a demonstration of the monumental ignorance of American history that these would-be monarchists posses, as well as their assumption that American citizens are ignorant, too.

The fact is that our Constitution was forged in the very crucible of most extraordinary times. We had successfully concluded the French and Indian War, a war involving terrorism and organized domestic insurrection on this continent and then went on to conduct an armed revolution against the then most powerful nation on Earth, overthrowing that monarch’s rule. The Constitution was designed for extraordinary times, and we don’t need self-serving legal whiz-kids denigrating its intent in its separation of powers.

For the record, it is a fact that no people in history has ever recovered their civil liberties after relinquishing them, except through outside intervention or bloody revolution. Not one. Historically, no republic has ever survived as long as this one, and every single one of them ended up a tyranny, or worse.

In the meantime, we have a petulant drunkard as a wanna-be king, surrounded by all the king’s men, confident that the revolutionaries won’t wise up and take back their Republic.