Ayatollah Pat Robertson is praying for the departure of at least three Justices of the United States Supreme Court. And the Bush Junta continues its relentless attack on the foundations of American democracy. The "shock and awe" of this ever-escalating blitzkreig has been the root of Bush’s strength, keeping the opposition off balance and on the defensive.
But cracks are showing in a totalitarian assault that needs total victory. The regime has grossly overreached its minority non-mandate. Its procession of Big Lies, such as Saddam’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, are generating just the kind of blowback that can shatter a tyranny, even one in control of the mass media.
Have we turned a corner?
Robertson’s "prayer" for the "removal" of three Supreme Court Justices reeks of a "fatwah"—a call to murder. Islamic Ayatollahs issued a similar death threat against Salmon Rushdie, whose "Satanic Verses" they deemed blasphemous. In fact, he merely lampooned the Ayatollahs. Against all odds, Rushdie still lives.
Robertson has condemned the Court for supporting a woman’s right to choose and for guaranteeing the right of citizens to make love in ways Robertson doesn’t like. Appointed for life, the Supremes can retire or die. So if one of his followers kills them, who will Robertson thank first? God?
Robertson and his fellow Ayatollahs, Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, hate more than just gays: they hate America, specifically the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, diversity of opinion and ethnicity, freedom of worship, the idea that all people are created equal.
Their messiah, George W. Bush, is under fire for running the most secretive, dishonest and repressive administration in US history.
With his signature lack of integrity, Bush blames anyone and everyone for his recent whopper about Saddam Hussein’s nukes. He stuck a knife in Tony Blair’s back. He trashed the CIA. He fingered an obscure White House functionary. Along the way he illegally outed a covert agent, the wife of Joseph Wilson, the highly respected researcher who long ago told Bush Saddam-had no nukes. When investigative reporter Sy Hersh originally broke this story, the Administration used the word "terrorist" to describe him.
Meanwhile, Bush has skulked away from the 9/11 inquest. Cheney’s energy policy and Bush’s stock frauds remain shrouded in state secrecy. This is a supremely cynical gang of thieves, addicted to secrecy, happy to stab anyone, any time.
Along with a crashing economy, Bush’s polls are in a tail spin. But his strategy remains the same: attack attack attack. Every phrase of the Constitution, every guarantee in the Bill of Rights, every icon of social welfare, every shred of environmental protection, no matter how eminently sane or universally accepted, is under relentless assault. For example:
· In Head Start, the junta assaulted a much-loved program that has helped millions of American children for decades.
· In attacking the global treaty on the ozone layer, Bush is pushing methyl bromide, a marginal pesticide, one of the last chemicals in use that does serious ozone damage. Global consensus for this treaty is even more solid than on global warming; experts everywhere are stunned.
· In indicting Greenpeace USA for a peaceful action against rainforest mahogany in Miami harbor last year, the junta has served notice it will aggressively prosecute non-violent civil protests.
· The junta used Homeland Security forces to hunt down Texas Democrats resisting an outrageous redistricting ordered by GOP radical Tom DeLay. Congressional districts are traditionally redesigned every ten years. But with a new majority in the state legislature, the GOP is demanding a coup.
· Congressional Republicans called out the Capitol police against Democrats who dared try to caucus outside a committee hearing.
· Bush’s horrific ultra-right judicial appointments have outraged even moderate Democrats, prompting the GOP leadership to contemplate trashing traditional Senatorial safeguards they used against Bill Clinton.
· California’s first-ever gubernatorial recall will cost taxpayers $30 million. Bought by a Republican extremist millionaire with virtually no grassroots support, the recall is aimed at the Democratic party in its strongest state—and at the state itself.
· ESPN and Rush Limbaugh will now turn professional football into a Republican bullhorn. Limbaugh’s infamous racism will apply to many of the players whose performances he’ll describe.
· Major media continue to present no-talent hate mongers like Ann Coulter and Charles Krauthammer as if they were serious reporters or scholars, when their sole claim to air time is one-note contempt for anything green or humanist.
But despite its total grip on the government and media, the junta’s popularity sags. It plunged into a desert quagmire with no exit strategy for one obvious reason: Iraqi oil is the Bush Energy Plan. With the economy in free fall, Bush must drive down gas prices for the 2004 election. So US troops will spill every last drop of their blood to secure every last drop of that oil.
The Bush strategy is to hog tie its critics over every inch of turf, no matter how safe it once seemed. Given the horrors of the US concentration camp at Guantanamo, it seems all too clear the junta is capable of using the Patriot Act and Homeland Security apparatus for Soviet-style arrests and Latin-style disappearances even of moderate critics and internal opponents.
Yet America’s pro-democracy movement has exploded at the grassroots, through the internet and over the few talk radio outlets remaining open to diversity. .
Tom Paine described an earlier crisis in American democracy as a time to try our souls. Today yet another aggressive and intolerant tyranny has decided to up the ante.
Will we have the strength and wisdom to win again?