Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
MARX: A HERO FOR OUR TIME? — Suddenly, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone seems to be talking about Karl Marx. Louis Proyect delves into this mysterious resurgence, giving a vivid assessment of Marx’s relevance in the era of globalized capitalism. THE MEANING OF MANDELA: Longtime civil rights organizer Kevin Alexander Gray gives in intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and the global struggle of racial justice. FALLOUT OVER FUKUSHIMA: Peter Lee investigates the scandalous exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: Kim Nicolini charts the rise of Matthew McConaughey. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the coming crash of the housing market. JoAnn Wypijewski on slavery, torture and revolt. Chris Floyd on the stupidity of US policy in Ukraine. Kristin Kolb on musicians and health care. And Jeffrey St. Clair on life and death on the mean streets of an America in decline
American Idle "Dubyatizing" Americans into the GOP Posse

American Idle

by WAYNE MADSEN

The evening of May 21 witnessed the lowest point for the American people since they stood idly by when a rich over-privileged frat boy from Texas stole their White House from under their very noses. This past Wednesday night, millions of people were glued to their television sets to watch "American Idol," a glitzy talent show the likes of which were once reserved for one-hour Saturday afternoon broadcasts on local television stations.

Never mind that the U.S. economy is in a shambles; the Bush regime is gearing up for possible war with North Korea, Cuba, Iran, and Syria; that U.S.-European> relations have never been so bad since the GOP walked away from the League of Nations after World War I; that relations with Canada and Mexico, our closest neighbors, are in a state of chill; and that Americans are fretting over possible attacks from Al Qaeda on their own soil. No, millions of Americans wanted to know if Ruben Studdard or Clay Aiken were going to become the new American Idol.

Imagine if, during the 1960 televised presidential debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, it was revealed that more people watched Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour than the debates. Political commentators would be jumping and screaming over the pathetic attitude of the American people. However, in 1960, we had a citizenry that kept a close eye on their elected politicians. After having been pulled into World War II and Korea, Americans maintained an attitude of healthy skepticism. This was best evidenced by the President who they elected twice. In his farewell address, Dwight Eisenhower cogently warned America about the dangers from the military-industrial complex.

The military-industrial complex has now morphed into the military-infotainment complex. In an age of embedded journalists, faked rescues of POWs, fawning news anchors, saber-rattling Cabinet secretaries, and hate mongering talk show hosts, a growing minority of Americans yearn to be unplugged from the American Matrix of phony images and disinformation. The recent "Matrix" sequel, "The Matrix Reloaded," featured a millisecond appearance of Adolf Hitler and George W. Bush. The Matrix’s architect was explaining to Neo why the Matrix had to undergo multiple reloads due to unfortunate problems it encountered. Two of the problems – Hitler and Bush – quickly appeared on a panoply of television screens. Fortunately, not everyone in Hollywood is being suckered into the New American Century Matrix that Bush and his neo-con advisers are trying to construct.

In the CBS miniseries, "Hitler: The Rise of Evil," executive director Ed Gernon, who was sacked for verbally making a comparison between Hitler and Bush, managed to sneak his own subliminal message into the film. A Jewish cabaret owner in Munich expresses interest in attending one of Hitler’s beer hall rants. When he attends with his German friend and witnesses Hitler’s animated arm and hand gestures and constant blaming of the Jews for Germany’s every ill, he remarks, "this Hitler is a cartoon character." Yes, just like another leader who, squinting his eyes, hangs his arm over daises and pulpits and blames everything on the "terrerristsssss" and "eeevil dooersss." Indeed, another cartoon character.

America’s Matrix-like numbness to reality was best demonstrated in the utter lack of interest of the major news media in the sudden retirement of US Central Command head, General Tommy Franks. A native of Bush’s hometown of Midland, Texas, Franks was being offered the dream job for any career Army man: Army Chief of Staff with a fast track to the Chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But on May 22, Franks’ retirement was reported as the fifth story by NBC’s Tom Brokaw, one of the sycophants the White House can always depend on to downplay news not in Bush’s interest. Furthermore, Brokaw’s report on Franks was what the networks refer to as a "tell," no live coverage from the Pentagon, no interviews with Franks’ colleagues or Pentagon specialists as to the real reason behind the sudden departure.

But the networks all gave wide coverage to Ruben’s selection as the American Idol. What the hell is happening to the American people? Two weeks earlier, Franks was being lauded as the masterful liberator of Iraq. When he announces his retirement, hardly a peep from the media and no demands by the public for the actual reason behind the general’s departure (not the public relations pabulum that he wants to write a book and spend more time with his wife). It is a well-known fact that Donald Rumsfeld and his band of neo-cons do not accept any criticism from any level. It is why relations are so frosty between the neo-cons and all the uniformed flag officers in the Defense Department. Did Franks realize he was stepping into the same minefield that Generals Hugh Shelton and Richard Myers had fallen into? Neither have gotten along with Rumsfeld and his band of trolls during their tenure as Joint Chiefs Chair.

So, while millions of people watched American Idol and thousands others gathered at pep rallies to cheer on their favorite contender, other Americans are reeling from the improper use of the Department of Homeland Security to track down Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives who fled into temporary exile in Oklahoma to stop at GOP plan to carve Texas’ federal congressional districts into Bantustans permitting a gain of at least five Republican House seats. And in a Watergate-class conspiracy, Texas law enforcement officials destroyed all public records related to the incident.

The Bush administration would rather its "Dubyatized" posse of supporters to continue watching the fakery known as Reality TV. And with football season fast approaching, it knows that its ardent supporters will be fixated upon the college and professional gridiron antics. Meanwhile, the Bush regime will continue to loot the Treasury, snatch away federal assistance programs from the most needy, remove the financial umbilical cord from state and local governments so they can fend for themselves, and continue to miss the boat on fighting terrorism.

When it comes to the fascist term "homeland security," everyone has heard of Tom Ridge and his deputy, Asa Hutchinson. But everyone should know Police Chief Gene Green. Recently, the chief stopped a U-Haul van in Cloudcroft, New Mexico, near the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Alamogordo. According to the Alamogordo Daily News, the two truck drivers had Israeli driver’s licenses and claimed they were hauling furniture from Austin to Chicago. Yet the rental agreement had expired two days earlier and New Mexico was way off track from the Austin to Chicago route. The Israelis then changed their story – they claimed they were dropping off furniture in Deming, New Mexico. But they could not provide a delivery address in the town. Also, their rental agreement was only for intrastate use in Illinois. Inside the truck, Chief Green found junk furniture not worth moving anywhere and 50 boxes that the Israelis claimed were a "private delivery." The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) took the Israelis into custody and if history proves consistent, we will never hear anymore about the Israelis, why the truck was near a major U.S. nuclear laboratory, and what was in the boxes.

Since well over a year before September 11 and ever since, there have been repeated stories about Israelis being picked up driving trucks near critical infrastructure sites, taking pictures of sensitive and classified facilities, and even videotaping and celebrating the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. The FBI, US Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, US Coast Guard, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, US Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and numerous local police have investigated the Israelis, many who claimed to be "art students," probing the security of the offices and homes of U.S. law enforcement and military personnel. Israelis sticking to dubious explanations have been caught sneaking around Texaco oil terminals in Corpus Christi, Texas; the AWACS base at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma; Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington; the Interstate 40 Hernando de Soto Bridge in Memphis; the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Philadelphia; and Federal buildings in Miami, San Diego, and New Orleans. Every investigation was soon taken out of law enforcement hands and shut down. Some brave media reporters have tried to expose what appears to a number of seasoned law enforcement and intelligence a major intelligence gathering operation. Carl Cameron of Fox News reported the Israeli espionage activity in December 2001, only to see his story suddenly pulled from the Fox News web site. Washington DC’s ABC Channel 7 news anchor Dale Solly also reported on the Israeli activity in March 2002. After expressing an interest in pursuing the story further, Solly suddenly died of a heart attack at the age of 53 shortly before driving to the station to anchor the evening news. His story was similarly removed from the Channel 7 web site.

Senator Bob Graham, the former Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and presidential candidate, claims the Bush administration is covering up what it knew about 9-11 beforehand. What else is new? Bush and company lied about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The State Department used faked and plagiarized documents to push its flimsy case at the United Nations. The anthrax perpetrators have not been caught and probably never will given the lethargy of the FBI on the case. These and other outrages barely result in a whimper from the American people. The Dubyatizing process continues.

WAYNE MADSEN is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and columnist. He wrote the introduction to Forbidden Truth. He is the co-author, with John Stanton, of the forthcoming book, "America’s Nightmare: The Presidency of George Bush II."

Madsen can be reached at: WMadsen777@aol.com