Bush’s body posture betrays him. As he steps away from the podium after scrimmaging with reporters at a late June White House press conference, his shoulders slump precariously as if he were carrying a great burden and doesn’t know where to park it. The correspondents’ questions had been timid darts but the President is thin-skinned these days and they stung and turned off his brain so that he had appeared inarticulate yet again. How had this happened to him, the commander in chief of the worldwide crusade against terror?
Bush can’t help but feel a bit like Joe Btfsplk, "the world’s worst jinx" – remember the little guy who was always shadowed by a black cloud in Al Capp’s ornery strip "Little Abner"? His main man Kenny Boy Lay, the moneybags of his 2000 campaign, has just been handed an 11 count criminal indictment that could salt him away for the next 145 years. The news from Iraq is bleak (see "Burying Iraq, Burying Bush I") and the June dip in job creation guarantees that Bush will be the first president since Herbert Hoover to preside over a net job loss.
While Kerry the War Hero flashes his Vietnam credentials in TV commercial, no one believes the President when he alibis that the military accidentally destroyed the last shred of evidence that might have vindicated him on charges of desertion from the Alabama National Guard at the nadir of that evil war.
Even declaring victory in the Terror War has blown up in Bush’s face after the State Department "inadvertently" issued numbers that sought to prove incidents of terrorism had decreased to their lowest level since the 1970s when, in fact, such attacks were at a record high. We got the numbers wrong apologized Colin Powell whose capacity for public humiliation is pathological, underscoring once again that the brightest and biggest liars amongst the Bushites have no regard for human lives.
The scrawls on the wall are writ large. When the Democrats took two special House seat elections deep in rock-solid Republican turf and the margin of victory in both ballotings was attributed to the winning candidates’ opposition to the Bush war, Karl Rove woke up, caught a whiff of the coffee, and circled the wagons.
At the war council, one question led to another. The President was coming apart in public. He was like a man in a hole trying to dig his way out and with each shovelful only digging himself in deeper. Bush was digging his own grave, burying himself alive. The White House gang desperately needed to change the subject.
In the month I slept on North American mattresses during a recent West Coast promo tour for my latest literary opus "Murdered By Capitalism", Bush’s ratings plummeted into the low 40s. 60% of those polled said the war in Iraq wasn’t worth it and a shade over 50% gave the President poor marks as commander in chief in the War on Terror. Overall, Bush had lost 13 points since April, one of the cruelest months for U.S. losses in Iraq. At this pace, simply by standing still, two white guys named John are moving into the White House next November.
How to staunch this hemorrhage? The Bush brain trust studies its options: trot out Osama on election eve? (Unpredictable.) Steal the election again, maybe this time in California where Arnold runs the circus and the voters cast their ballots electronically? (Two Bush election heists in a row strains credibility.) A fresh terrorist strike? (Could work – after all, Al Qaeda supports the U.S. president because "his stupidity and religious fundamentalism will benefit Islamic causes.") Moreover, such an attack would allow the White House to call off the November elections until such time as the Fear Factor swells Bush’s majority, a brilliant strophe! Can we pin down the how to on this one, Dick "Fuck you!" Cheney urges?
While the legal beagles scope out the constitutional mechanisms to put the November election on hold, the war council decides on a short-term ploy to drive the wolves from the White House door: switching off Ronald Reagan.
"My father’s funeral provided some relief for the American people who were growing tired of seeing naked men on leashes on television" Ron Reagan Jr. optimized. The younger Reagan, a Buddhist, then asked the Sunday Times Magazine writer who she thought Jesus would have tortured?
Reagan’s death presented Bush with a platinum opportunity to recover his leaking credibility. Looking appropriately presidential for once, Bush hovered over the coffin laid out on the Capitol rotunda like a bereaved grandson as the flag dipped to half mast in national mourning for the amiable, Teflon-plated butcher of Central America (ask my friend Carlos Mauricio just how amiable Reagan’s hired killers were.)
But despite the hoopla, the Bushites have a hard time convincing a conspiracy-minded nation of much these days. Electronic rumors were soon swirling on the lunatic fringe that Rove and his boys had kept the ex-prez, reported brain dead in 2003, on ice for a year awaiting just such a crisis to spring his cadaver loose on an unsuspecting public.
We will never know the truth. Immediately after the Washington protocols, Reagan (if it was really Reagan inside that box) was flown back to southern California and sealed up in a hilltop crypt on the grounds of the presidential library. The only witnesses were several Secret Service agents and Duke Blackwood, the director of the Reagan Presidential Library which is located in Simi Valley, a suburban community populated entirely by Caucasians in whose superior courtrooms 12 years ago the cops who pulped Rodney King were declared innocent, thereby igniting the L.A. riots.
Whenever he died, Ronald Reagan was now dead again and burying his corporeal remains had provided only transient relief for a besieged administration. The war hangs like Coleridge’s albatross around the President’s neck, weighting him down, hunching him over. "We did the right thing," he repeats at every campaign stop but he keeps having this sinking feeling. "We did the right thing" Now the parents of dead G.I.s are beginning to attend his rallies to ask what it was their kids died for?
John Kerry concurs wholeheartedly that "we did the right thing" in Iraq–both he and his running mate voted to allow Bush to invade that evil empire. Although the Johns now claim they were duped by CIA fakery, they both once again voted to prolong the war this June when the Senate unanimously approved a supplemental $25 billion USD Pentagon appropriation to sustain the slaughter in Iraq.
We just can’t turn tail and run, Kerry blurts up on the stump -"it would be unthinkable now for us to retire in disarray" exclaims the Vietnam war hero (translation: he mowed down a lot of Vietnamese) turned anti-war vet turned Senate political boss who has married his own considerable fortune to that of billionaire ketchup heiress Teresa Heinz to construct the most well-heeled candidacy ever foisted upon the Democratic party.
John Kerry has no intention of tamping down the bloodshed in Iraq. What he wants instead is a better, cleaner, wider (a real multilateral coalition) war, a "victory" to be followed by "peace with honor." Oops, sorry! Another Vietnam flashback.
Now the Kerry-Edwards war mongering will be set in concrete in Boston when the "Democratic" Party platform will back the Bush war, call for 40,000 more troops for Iraq and 16 more months of bloody occupation. Where have we heard this before? (Try 1968 in Chicago.)
As Bill Clinton successfully argued with Amy Goodman in a telling 2000 election morning interview, there are significant distinctions on domestic policy between the two heads of the American Cyclops–but when it comes to Iraq, both heads agree that the murder must go on. Am I having yet another Vietnam flashback?
Under the Democratic war plan and extrapolating Vietnam as a model, we can anticipate ten years more of G.I. body parts littering the Baghdad streets. If the coalition dead total a thousand now, they will total ten thousand then. If either Kerry or Bush is selected to govern these United States in November, the war will go on and on and on.
The U.S. Left has two fundamental tasks: (1) to effectively oppose Washington’s aggressions against the rest of the planet and its peoples, and (2) to build an alternative to the bi-cephalic monster that passes itself off as the party system in our country. In 2004, we have failed abjectly on both counts.
In our frenzy to beat Bush, we have frittered away what political capital we had accrued from 2000 when the Dems falsely perceived that the Greens had stolen the election for Bush. In truth, Nader may have damaged Gore in New Hampshire but Gore crushed him in Florida and would have won the state if his party had not allowed the Supreme Court to shut down the vote count.
Whether or not the Greens actually stole the election from the Democratic Party is moot–what’s pertinent is that the Democratic Party believes this fantasy, and such a perception, under threat of further damage this November, could have been used to club delegates in Boston like so many baby harp seals into accepting an anti-war plank in exchange for the retirement of a Nader candidacy. Indeed, securing such a plank was the only justification for yet another Nader candidacy.
Under such a scenario, Green votes could then have been honorably blended into the much-hoped for Democratic landslide which, even if it sustains capitalist exploitation, at least will allow the planet and its people a little breathing room for the near future.
But it was not to be. In mid-June, the Left, or at least the green part of it, convened in a Milwaukee convention center and denied the Great Nader and his just-announced running mate Peter Camejo, a California Green bigwig, ex-Trot, and "responsible" investment broker (comrades at table recently startled me by complaining about all the money they had lost to his responsible investments) who had pledged to carry the anti-war spear across the nation.
The eventual selection of David Cobb, not a Texas lawyer at all as he was touted to be but rather, one more refugee from Ecotopia (Eureka California) as Green Party presidential candidate, nullified any leverage the party might have had over the Democratic platform. Cobb’s "safe states" strategy, Svengalied by Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin under the baton of facilitator Matt ("four letters that will turn back the darkness") Gonzalez, San Francisco’s one-time almost Green mayor, is sort of like safe sex. Under Cobb’s scheme, Green voters in swing states where Kerry is endangered would be free to don full-body condoms soas not to be infected by the virus of expediency and cast their suffrage for the war party of their choice. This is how the U.S. Left lost the presidential election of 2004.
Meanwhile, his petition drives obstructed by Democrat and Republican militias trying to keep him on and off the ballots in Arizona and Oregon, Nader, the only Arab candidate for U.S. president, has been reduced to appearing on just six state ballots as the standard bearer of the Reform Party. Created in 1992 by H. Ross Perot to battle NAFTA, the Reform Party stole the election from the first Bush for Clinton when the pipsqueak Texas billionaire pulled 19% of the popular vote, a third party effort you never hear the Democrats grousing about. Nader, who took a measly 3% in 2000, inherited the shell of the Reform machine from the Buchananites, racist rats who sacked the party and then abandoned ship after 2000. No wonder Michael Moore has decided to put clothespins on his schnoz and vote for warmonger Kerry.
Although Moore is often so full of himself (and that is a lot to fill) that he never seems to notice the U.S. is not the center of the universe, "Fahrenheit 9/11" (Ray Bradbury charges the cineaste stole his title "and couldn’t even get the numbers right") performs an important service–if only for the final line of the screen credits urging the viewer to "do something." The movie truly incites one to go out and kick some ass–I saw the flick at the venerable Minor Theater in Arcata California and my first impulse was to kick out every window in that north coast town’s boutique-ridden plaza.
Some of the most valuable footage recovered by Moore, along with the Bushites’ blunders and Saudi Arabian peccadilloes, was that of members of the congressional black caucus pleading fruitlessly for a single senator to sign their petition protesting disenfranchisement of black voters in the Florida election that gave the state and the presidency to Bush as Al Gore gaveled them down one by one.
The wannabe Wahabis’ protests that "9/11" is racist because it speaks ill of the Saudi royal family is so patently absurd that it merits mention here. The Bush Saudis put on a full court press to keep the film in the can until after the November elections, pushing their pals at Disney to put a hammerlock on Miramax which wanted this potential election summer blockbuster so bad it formed a separate company and gave up 60% of the profits to white bread charities, in its lust to distribute it.
Thirsting for revenge, the Bush Saudis had Jack Valenti slap an R rating on "Fahrenheit" to keep 17 year-olds about to be sucked up by both the military and/or the voting booth from seeing the awful truth. Sneak into the theaters, Moore advised the kids, steal the DVD! (an update of St. Abbie’s Steal This Book!)
Despite the giveaway, 21 million Americans stormed more than 500 screens the first weekend "9/11" was out, whipping "White Chicks" handily for the top gross ("Spiderman II" buried Moore the next week.)
"Fahrenheit 9/11" won the Palme de Oro at Cannes as a gesture of worldwide aberrance for Bush and his mafia but weathers critical appraisal on its own merits. The San Francisco Chronicle even extolled it as "Red Dawn" in reverse, comparing Moore’s docudrama with that Reagan-era neo-con classic in which Soviet ogres invade the U.S. across the Mexican border and are ultimately repelled by Colorado high school jocks turned guerrilla freedom fighters–only this time around, we are the Soviet ogres.
Sadly, Moore’s flag-waving dulls his blade and "9/11" becomes a maudlin lament for our boys and girls in uniform who have volunteered to kill and be killed in the name of Yanqui imperialism. In the end, "Fahrenheit 9/11" is all about converting those 21 million admissions into votes for the war candidate John Kerry. The Left loses again.
Now the convention madness is upon us and Tom Ridge is warning that the terrorists could strike in Boston and, more pertinently, at Madison Square Garden where the Bushwas will convene on the eve of the third anniversary of 9/11 in the shadow of the World Trade Center to commodity a national tragedy for which their president shares maximum responsibility. The color-coded terror alerts will be a green light for mass police suppression a la Chicago ’68 that will turn Manhattan at the end of August into a remake of another neo-con classic, "Escape From New York." I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Whether Al Qaeda strikes during the conventions or before or after the November election or never, the Islamic militants have already hijacked the first Tuesday in November. They are now calling the shots, defining the agenda, dominating the content, and deciding the winner.
What does Osama want? U.S. troops out of the Muslim world? I’m for that. A free Palestinian state? I’m really for that. In fact, I think we ought to cut our losses, sue for peace, and turn tail and run although saying so will get my face bashed in in any red-blooded redneck bar from California up to Maine these days.
Eerily, at the Arcata showing, Moore’s docudrama was accompanied by a trailer for another classic of the genre–"The Battle of Algiers", a movie that changed my life the first time around.
Last year, as the occupation began to encounter resistance, the Pentagon launched weekly lunch hour showings of this monumental work. The idea I think was to teach officers a lesson about winning and losing the hearts and minds of an occupied Muslim population but the showings did little good. Bush has lost the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people hands down just as he has lost the hearts and minds of my fellow Americans. John Kerry, unfortunately, does not fill the vacuum.
On or about twilight this past July 4th, a handful of spectators milled about the flag-bedecked parking lot of the Patriot mini-mall between the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet and the Greyhound depot in Eureka California. The fog was opaque. The fireworks down on the docks lifted into the gloom, disappeared with a dull thud in the thick soup, and were lost forever in the fog of war blanketing America in the summer of 2004.
Like Bush, I too have this sinking feeling. We will bury him in November but his war will go on and on and on.
JOHN ROSS will be on the spot in Mexico City for much of July and August before sallying forth to do maximum mischief at the Republican National Convention in Manhattan from where he will launch the intergalactic tour of his latest instant cult classic "Murdered By Capitalism–A Memoir of 150 Years of Life & Death on the U.S. Left".