“There is nothing so irresistible as a tyrannical power that commands in the name of the people.”
— Alexis de Toqueville, Democracy in America, Mansfield and Winthrop tr.
The neo-conservative Bush Administration “plan” to remake our American nation intends to alter forever the relationship between government, business and the people. Until those tragic but fortuitous events of September 11, 2001, this long-simmering scheme was more wished-for than real. Then terrorists stuck and stunned the world with mass murder. The smoke in Lower Manhattan, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon had not even cleared before administration zealots realized it would be possible to capitalize on the threat of “terrorism” and push through an agenda to make the long-held Bushvolk dream a reality. In observing America, Toqueville apparently didn’t envision some future government concocting a formulation so absurd that gullible citizens would abandon critical reasoning and, prodded by selfishness and “fear,” swallow the mixture without gagging on its excesses, deceptions and lies.
Was Karl Rove the genius who understood how easy it would be to manipulate citizens through “be afraid” anxiety (“Terrorists may strike anywhere, anytime!”) alternating with soothing comfort (“Go about your lives as usual.”)? This teeter-totter nightmare to brain-wash the public was implemented within days, perhaps hours, of 9/11. Major media executives, anchors, pundits and reporters based primarily in New York City and Washington had experienced the carnage up close. They have opted to follow the administration’s lead without asking questions or challenging a psychology that whipsawed the public from panic to “Don’t worry, be happy” and back again.
We were at war. The unsuspecting populace felt safe in the arms of the Bush Administration’s assertive protection. Citizens rushed to “Support the Troops,” not noticing how lawmakers were planning to slash medical care for veterans and cut pay of those who had volunteered for hazardous duty. Within days, the Bushvolk bullies captured the flag of “patriotism,” and compliant Democrats lined up to ram through outrageous programs, or the beginnings of such programs, while both Congress and voters were in a vengeful mood.
Immediately following the first major address given by President Bush after 9/11, this writer heard an administration spokesman respond to a reporters question, “How long will the war on terror last?” with the words “Five years,” suggesting the plan was already hatched to keep this “war” alive through the next election cycle. Lately the five-year figure has been largely replaced with predictions this terrorism “war” will continue into the unforeseeable future at tremendous (but unknown) cost. In his recent speech to the American Legion, President Bush called for “total victory.” What did he mean?
From the beginning, this administration has fostered the notion that a “war” against “terrorism” can literally be “won.” How will we know? President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld offer no specifics. Pushing Patriot Act excess as if it were vitamin-enriched candy, Attorney General Ashcroft and his crew seem to believe nearly anyone alive is a potential terrorist. Who knows if my five-year-old neighbor will grow up to follow in the footsteps of Timothy McVeigh? Can the Ashcroft Justice Department devise a test to identify future suicide bombers?
If not, should everyone be locked up, just to be on the “safe” side?
Speaking of lock-ups, what will become of the growing number of suspects already being “detained” in Afghanistan, Guantanamo, Iraq and this country? And at what cost? (Don’t ask, don’t tell?) In this sardonic scenario where war is a never-ending story, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden must not be captured too soon. For drama to triumph over common sense, Bushvolk psychological strategy requires “terrorism” to have a literal face, and the face must always lurk like the Bogey Man or Hitler, creating fear in the minds and dreams of Americans, generating Beckett-like suspense on the nightly news:
“Have we caught him yet?”
“Not yet, but soon. We’re making progress.”
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Even if Saddam and bin Laden have already been captured or known to be dead, the elimination must be properly timed for maximum political advantage. Whether “cynicism” or “realpolitik”Machiavelli’s prince never had it so good.
Having invaded Iraq through manufactured pretexts, the Bush Administration proclaims we will be there only as long as necessary, a concept so vague as to be meaningless. Scant attention was paid to the leaked-but-now-forgotten Pentagon aim to build permanent military bases on Iraqi soil. In plain language: we won’t be leaving, period, since the neo-con cabal hankers for a major Middle East presence: price in lives and cash is immaterial.
Cost is no object. (Winning at all costs isn’t restricted to Republican warmongers. Democrat Joe “Bomber” Biden calls for sending in more troopsmeaning even more Americans will be targets who may come home wounded or in flag-draped coffins. Grinning presidential hopeful Joe Lieberman continues to deny the administration lied when taking the nation to its preventive war.)
For years neo-conservatives have longed to demolish “big government.” Where responsible conservatives once railed against a federal budget deficit, neo-cons are inspired by the demented vision that huge deficits mean less money for vile federal programs they despise. What better way to drive up the deficit than by fighting an “endless” war on terrorism? (Are the manipulators and their corporate cronies thankful for that which “9/11” hath wrought? Bank on it.)
Bleeding hearts who plead for do-good public funds will be mocked. “Don’t you know there’s a war on?” Those who challenge the Bushvolk agenda will continue to have their patriotism challenged, led by talk-show smearleaders such as Hannity, Coulter, Limbaugh and the fairly unbalanced Fox network.
Liberals, moderates, environmentalists: as with “terrorists” they’re an enemy to be obliterated.
Hard right Republicans have locked Democrats and moderates in a genuine “Catch-22,” since the only way to fund many programs will be to raise taxes, and asking to raise taxes will bring angry cries of “Tax and Spend, Tax and Spend!” An unenlightened public convinced it is over-taxed is unlikely to support cries for “Please, may we have some more?” It’s a no-win situation if voters continue to be taken in by Bushvolk anti-compassion rhetoric disguised as Necessity to protect the national interest.
To make certain the deficit is deep and endless, the weapon of choice: further depletion of the federal treasury through tax refunds so insane that even a majority of those who’d benefit from this phony largesse should turn the rebates down. (They’ll accept them. As every politician knows: money talks.)
The beauty part of this strategy lies in its domino effect as states and local governments are also bled dry of the cash needed to support programs. Call it “insurance” so those ugly, unwanted government-funded programs won’t be possible at any level. (Phasing out federal funding for Head Start, passing on the costs to states too financially strapped to fund Head Start adequately is a plot already in the works. Overtime and unemployment payments for a growing number of jobless may soon be history.)
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According to Rush Limbaugh, high on the neo-con’s chopping-block list is the elimination of the Democratic Party! Is this the ultimate delusion of unbridled ambition? Will the “democracy” so beloved of Bushvolk mean an eventual “one party” totalitarian government? Perhaps this is what President Bush means when he calls for “total victory.”
In our single-party utopia, dissenting voices won’t be branded “Osama lovers,” “traitors” or “fellow travelers.” Those departing from the Grand Only Party line will be reviled as “Democrats!”
This “plan” transcends mere politics. Right wing Minister of Virtue William Bennett openly advocates elimination of public education, replacing it with Internet-based schooling. (Bennett already heads a corporation for this purpose and is actively gambling with children’s lives.)
A significant step toward dismantling supposedly-crumbling public education lies in mandatory testing, which will force teachers to “teach the test” and tempt schools that want funding to eliminate those students who “bring down test scores.” Manipulating test scores and juggling drop-out figures already take place, including in President Bush’s beloved state of Texas. In this emerging post-Orwellian universe, Leave No Child Behind means leaving many children both behind and out of luck.
What will happen to marginalized students and drop-outs? Does perpetual war mean reinstatement of the draft? (Administration spokespeople are evasive when asked.) We can get those kids “off the street” and glow the unemployment rate by drafting their sorry behinds. If they die or need life-long medical care, worry about it later. This cannon fodder has plenty of experience living in unsafe neighborhoods.
Promise ’em a college education (if they live long enough) and “Bring ’em on!” Line forms on the right for your one-way ticket to see the world: Iraq, Iran, Korea . . .
In this neo-con fantasy, privatization and deregulation are God’s gifts to mankind. Mixing metaphors: the biggest, greediest sharks get the lion’s share, and the bogus notion of a “level playing field” is abandoned altogether. (As with Halliburton and WorldCom contracts in Iraq, the process is rigged. We now know much of the money being spent to “rebuild” Iraq is going into the pockets of corporate execs and shareholders. The stock market rises courtesy of increased military-industrial spending.)
Not content with Business As Usual, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld recommends privatizing many military “non-combat” duties. For this reason, no additional troops are being requested for the quagmire in Iraq: our military forces there will be deemed incapable of performing both combat and “rebuilding” tasks. Ergo, private corporations must take over and permanently assume many once-military duties. And who will benefit from this public blackmail?
Politics itself is becoming privatized, with only those who can raise the most cash from the deepest pockets able to run for office. To a greater extent than ever before, senators and representatives will function as private-sector lobbyists inside federal government. Assisting the Democratic Party’s demise, election ballots will be counted by corporate-made machines, not by plodding honest individuals sworn to accuracy.
By pocketing the White House and both houses of Congress, neo-cons can handily pry apart the judicial system, melding three traditional branches into one while packing courts with jurists who will tow the party line, support abandonment of civil rights, erase church-state separation and bar curious citizens from “investigating” Bushvolk lies, manipulations, corruption, wrongdoing.
Through non-declaration of endless war, hard questions asked of administration officials will continue be deflected with claims of “national security, or the spectral mantra “Remember 9/11,” meant to provoke guilt and dodge specific answers. Hype and revisionism have already replaced integrity, as when the administration declares terrorism to be the greatest threat to the nation since World War Two or even before.
How long until curious families of 9/11’s victims are branded “unpatriotic” or “traitors” for persisting in their quest to learn the truth about events leading up to that horrific day? Angry Americans once outraged over those who died seem nonplussed by blatant Bushvolk stonewalling to block a complete, open 9/11 investigation. Apparently the public has, in the words of Robert Frost, “turned to their affairs.”
More and more this Bush-led, Ashcroft-ized government has also turned to the “affairs” of citizens with constitutionally-suspect intrusion into lives at every level. The more egregious snooping is said to have been abandoned, but one expects it to appear in new disguise under deceptive names reminiscent of “Patriot Act” and “Victory Act.” Secrecy and cover-up are rampant. “The disappeared” and Stalinist-style incarcerations happen with alarming regularity. We may be only one election away from implementation of all those anti-constitutional wet-dreams our zealous right wing control freaks have ever had.
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Now President Bush is asking for $87 billion to continue the never-ending story in Afghanistan and Iraq. Anyone who expects $87 billion to be sufficient is surely delusional. How much will it take to fill this ethically bottomless hole? In his September 7 address to the nation, President Bush unequivocally stated, “[W}e will do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary, to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror. . .” Does he mean “we” will spend the nation into bankruptcy if that is “what is necessary”?
Americans are being played for suckers by a carnival of macho scam artists, the likes of which this nation has never before experienced. Will fear and craven self-interest induce citizens to fall for a malevolent revolution aimed at overturning America As We Know It? Led by Pied Pipers who piously play Government of the peoplewhile they dismantle the peoples government, will voters march to the polls in lockstep, fearful, angry, selfish, vengeful, only to elect more neo-con advocates and sympathizers hell-bent on destruction?
How many citizens really give a damn whether President Bush and his smoke-and-mirrors wild bunch continue misleading the nation to sell a costly takeover of both Iraq and the country formerly known as The United States of America? A timid national press cowed and kowtowing to Bushvolk bullying has not helped educate the public. The rest of the storywhich should lead the morning headlines and nightly national news remains silenced by intent.
Will creeping “war-weariness” jar a majority of voters to reject this neo-con New World Order? What more will it take for citizens to wake up and realize It Can Happen Here?
Recently an American aid worker in Afghanistan wrote home this prophetic comment: Quietly, we express the fear that things may be unraveling.
The time has come when anxiety over retaliation must be pushed aside, when giving this administration benefit of the doubt must end. Dissenters must express their fears, not quietly, but with voices that burn through the night.
DOUG GIEBEL lives in Big Sandy, Montana. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.