"The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around."
– Martin Luther King Jr., April 3, 1968.
I.We are told that in the weeks before 9/11, then CIA chief George Tenet and his colleagues across the intelligence community were so alarmed by the flood of reports about an impending major terrorist attack that they felt their "hair was on fire." God only knows what the truth of this self-serving, after-the-fact assertion might be, but it is indeed an apt term for a sense of imminent doom in the public sphere. And given the headlong rush to a new war against Iran, and the G-force acceleration into the tyranny of a lawless, all-encompassing surveillance state that is unfolding before our eyes — not to mention the Democratic Party's complete abandonment of even the pretense of carrying out the people's mandate and opposing the Administration's maniacal, murderous, criminal policies — anyone whose hair isn't on fire today is either brain-dead, bought-off, or an active, eager, conniving traitor to the American people, and the human race.
That latter designation covers all those who now willingly serve the interests of the Bush Administration: not only the scuttling worker ants of the Bush-controlled Republican Party, but also every so-called "conservative" commentator toting water for the Bushist agenda; every so-called "libertarian" lining up for war, tyranny, torture and corruption; every star-spangled general whoring himself with propaganda exercises on Fox News and deceitful testimony before Congress; every so-called "centrist" wringing their hands over the need for "bipartisan compromise" with the blood-soaked thugs and rapers of liberty who have seized the Republic. Call them out by name: Bill Kristol, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Leeden, David Petraeus, Fred Kagan, Glenn ("More Rubble, Less Trouble") Reynolds, Joe Leiberman, Jon Kyl, Gasbag Limbaugh, and on and on, straight down the line. Call them by name, and call them what they are: traitors, and yes, betrayers, leading the nation — knowingly, gleefully — into ignominy and ruin.
This is not the time for polite debate and "political positioning." This is not the time for "politics as usual" at all. The Bush Regime long ago took anything resembling "politics as usual" off the table. Get that through your head already. The current presidential campaign — an utter farce, a multi-billion-dollar carnival of despair and deception — is meaningless. Anyone who pays attention to it for more than two minutes a day is wasting their time. Do you think that any of the candidates — yes, any of them — are putting all their cards on the table? Do you think that anything that any of them is saying right now can be taken on trust, or will be translated into actual policy once they are in office?
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If so, let me sell you some shares in all that "high-speed rail" Bill Clinton talked about building in 1992, when he was going to take the "peace dividend" from the end of the Cold War and beat a few of our redundant swords into gleaming ploughshares for American workers ravaged by globalization. Where did that dividend go? It went to the NAFTA boondoggle. It went to Halliburton (yes, the massive privatization of the American military — the results of which we saw on the streets of Baghdad last week — began under Clinton, who threw billions of dollars in fat contracts at Dick Cheney and other "military servicers."). It went right back to the Pentagon, with its "missile shield" scams, its "Space Command" plans, its new missiles, tanks, and planes, its ever-expanding global empire of bases. It went to the continuing strangulation of the Iraqi people (and the continuing enrichment of Saddam Hussein with the express approval of the US and the UK). It went into the bombing of civilians in Serbia and Kosovo in an illegal, undeclared, unsanctioned war that ended with the same settlement that was on offer before the US and NATO attack began. In short, it went — as usual — to the same murky conglomeration of arms merchants, corporate cronies, revolving-door contractors, energy interests, investment firms and elite institutions that hold the true reins of power, and will do so whoever gets elected in 2008, no matter what they say now, or even try to do afterwards.
"Oh, but that Dennis Kucinich," you say, "that Ron Paul, that Mike Gravel — they're sincere about wanting real change." Well, maybe that's so; I have no way of knowing if it's true or not, and neither do you, but let's assume that it is. The brutal fact of the matter is that the more likely they are to actually change things in a fundamental way, the less likely it is that they will ever be allowed to take office, or come anywhere near it.
Already they are mocked, scorned and marginalized by the powers-that-be and their sycophants on both sides of the political aisle. And if by some miracle they managed to punch through this cordon sanitaire, and gather the makings of a mass movement behind them, we know exactly what would happen to them. The last person who broke in from the outside and spearheaded a mass movement that seriously questioned the social, economic and military underpinnings of the American Empire was gunned down in Memphis on April 4, 1968. Although he was long a controversial figure, long a target of government surveillance and dirty tricks, Martin Luther King Jr. was killed only after he began expanding his movement beyond the issue of civil rights (which many Establishment figures supported) to include opposition to the Vietnam War and economic justice for American workers. Remember: he wasn't in Memphis that day for a civil rights rally; he was supporting a strike by garbage workers.
No, this is not the time for fretting over who is or isn't allowed into some sham debate, or how much time they are or are not given to answer some witless question from a corporate hack. (And why would a genuine agent for genuine change want to be associated with such farces – and with such corrupted and compromised parties – in the first place?) This is not the time for endless noodling over the political horse race, for wondering if Barack can catch Hillary as they mud-wrestle in a sty of dirty money poured in by the same conglomeration that devoured the "peace dividend." Neither one of these powerful senators have called for the impeachment of the White House criminals, nor refused, as a matter of honor and principle, to treat with them, but instead continually "seek compromise" with the Bushists on the mass murder in Iraq, while echoing – even magnifying – the Administration's bellicosity toward Iran.
The only important issue concerning these two candidates, and indeed all the "serious" contestants, is not whether they are fit to govern the Republic – clearly, they are not – but whether they should be ranked directly with the traitors who beset us today, or simply be dismissed as fools or tools. In other words, are they among "Bush's willing executioners," like the bootlickers named above and all of the "serious" Republican candidates, or are they just moral cowards and craven climbers, willing to go along to get along, to compromise with evil, to acknowledge the legitimacy of a tyrannous usurper, in hopes of grabbing some of that same tainted power for themselves?
In a time of traitors, when the rough beast of another war is spreading its hot breath across the land, the political travails of a few moneyed moral cowards is not worth the proverbial bucket of warm spit. Let one of them step out on stage with their hair on fire, let one of them denounce the traitors for what they really are, let one of them denounce the White House criminality for what it really is – no word-mincing, no fancy-stepping, no weaseling, no insinuation – then, perhaps, they can be taken "seriously." Until then, let their campaigns be classed with the stories of Brittney and Lindsay and all the other celebrity sewage that floods the media today.
There are of course hundreds of other actions that national leaders could and should be taking to begin cleaning out the filth of the Bush Regime – and the mountains of filth left over from the Regime's predecessors – but first let them end all recognition of these criminals as legitimate partners in government, and condemn them for what they are: traitors, tyrants, torturers and thieves. Take that first step, then we can move on to other measures.
But again, as we said before, we all know that nothing like this is going to happen. Because it would call into question the whole greasy system upon which all of our national leaders have slithered to the top. It would undermine the conglomeration in which our elites live and move and have their being.
Some cling to the idea that in the face of this moral abdication by national leaders, a mass movement can spring up from below, from the ordinary people, and bring change and renewal to the troubled land. But there is little cause for hope in this regard, little sign that the many flashpoints of dissent that flare up from time to time will catch fire and coalesce into something more sustained. I once entertained wan but not entirely fanciful hopes that the bold stand of Cindy Sheehan in the Texas scrub-brush would light such a gathering flame. But as we have seen, she too has been mocked, scorned, slandered and marginalized, often by those supposedly on her side. And there was a moment or two when it looked as though the outrage of a few TV talking heads at the atrocity of abandonment in New Orleans after Katrina would outlast a couple of news cycles and drive that brutal reality deeper in the American psyche; but we know that didn't happen.
Likewise, last week's peaceful rally against Jim Crow justice in Jena, Louisiana, was indeed heartening; but as we have seen, not even years of the civil rights movement at its strongest, widest and deepest impact was able to break the power of the conglomeration: the empire of bases kept growing, the militarization of the economy and society accelerated, millions of people were massacred in Indochina. (Who can forget Nixon's chilling orders on the bombing of Cambodia: "Anything that flies on anything that moves"?). The half-century of hope that dawned on a Montgomery bus ended with the illegal installation of George W. Bush and his bloodthirsty clique in the White House.
In any case, the history of the past six years has shown that the American people, as a whole, cannot be stirred even by the most brazen outrages. Not by the wholesale assault on their liberties; not by the rot of their roads, bridges, towns and cities; not by the massive perversion of their electoral system; not by the deaths of their sons and daughters, their friends and neighbors, in a war of aggression they were tricked into by deliberate lies; not by their government's embrace of torture, concentration camps, secret prisons, and death squads; not even by the murder – in their own name – of more than one million Iraqis. Not even this genocidal fury – powerfully evoked here by Arthur Silber and here by Lew Rockwell – has shaken them from the half-sleep of what Silber calls "our impenetrable national narcissism."
But there's nothing else for it. We must keep sounding the alarm, even in the face of almost certain defeat. What else is our humanity worth if we don't do that? And if, in the end, all that we've accomplished is to keep the smallest spark of light alive, to help smuggle it through an age of darkness to some better, brighter time ahead, is that not worth the full measure of struggle?
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