is the Only Thing that Matters Anymore
by Warren Pease
In the former Soviet Union, it was axiomatic that in any
group comprising three or more strangers, at least one was
almost guaranteed to be a KGB or GRU snitch. So people spoke
glowingly about the latest five-year plan, or extolled the
brilliance of the Politburo, or reveled in the latest Ukrainian
crop yield. Never was heard a discouraging word because people
understood completely that any deviation from the party line
could mean the Lubyanka that night, then the Gulag for the
next 20 years.
Fast forward to Stalingrad West. There are no official policies
posted in corporate cafeterias or in public gathering places,
no formalized codes of behavior, no overt forms of coercion.
But everyone knows implicitly that criticizing Bush Inc. can
carry career-threatening consequences. In many places, it
may also get you a broken nose or a brick through the front
Bush's America is unrecognizable as the same country in which
he usurped power just over one year ago. And despite the mechanisms
for social control now rigidly in place, there's no denying
Instead of peace, the United States is embroiled in a war
that can never end against an enemy that can never be eradicated.
Instead of prosperity, the country is mired in a deepening
recession, with deflation and a 1929-style crash a distinct
Nearly three million jobs have evaporated since the attacks
of Sept. 11, although that was just the icing on the cake.
The recession actually began back in March 2001, according
to the enclaves of economists who make these kinds of official
determinations, when American consumers began to believe the
White House warnings of economic gloom and stopped buying
The surplus has been squandered and huge deficits are back.
What's left of the safety net, along with the squalid remains
of the social contract, is being shredded to pay for military
expansionism. Air Force jets routinely patrol the skies over
our cities looking, I suppose, for mad bombers piloting stolen
crop dusters. The intrusive goon squads that pretend to provide
airport security have made commercial air travel, never the
best of experiences, intolerable.
Nearly every day brings another "credible but unspecified
terrorist threat," usually about the time some Enron revelation
seems ready to penetrate the national stupor. Every night
the newsreaders tell us of jobs lost or bankruptcies filed
or companies going under. Violent crime is increasing and
gun sales are way up. Body counts are back, although this
time they're Afghan civilian bodies and the numbers are generally
recognized as understated lies.
Meanwhile, Bush Inc. assaults on civil liberties, the environment,
women, gays, the non-white majority, organized labor, the
poor, the middle-class, Social Security and Medicare, consumer
protections, international treaties, and all things progressive
roll on unimpeded by red ink or questionable wars on terrorism.
All this and the entire country seems determined to see,
hear and speak no evil about the way Bush is doing his job.
He gets an unprecedented 80+ percent approval rating in poll
Just Blame Clinton...
Unfortunately, I think it's true that the majority of the
American people can't get enough of Bush the Younger, and
I just don't buy all the talk about fixed polls and inflated
numbers. Maybe his approval rating isn't 82 percent - maybe
it's only 62 percent. So what? That's still at least 50 points
higher than it would be in a society with a functional public
educational system and open access to unbiased reporting.
Nope. I'm afraid it's true. Americans everywhere are in a
constant state of Bush-lust. They love his demeanor, they
love his homespun syntax, they love his demure wife, they
love his charming daughters, they love his goofy old dad and
matronly though distinguished mom. They just plain love the
guy and they know he's doing everything he can to rescue America
from the horrible indignities and excesses of the Clinton
I know all this because Chatty Cathy, the totally cool CNN
news babe, tells me so every 15 minutes of every hour of every
day. She also tells me that, according to the latest CNN poll,
there are still 3,852 Americans who remain unconvinced that
George W. Bush is channeling Churchill, FDR, Lincoln and Walt
Disney - all at once.
Among these 3,852 pariahs, Studly Ken, the totally cool CNN
news hunk, tells me that 53 percent of them have used marijuana,
33 percent have used hard drugs, 21 percent would kill members
of their own family for drugs, 14 percent have killed members
of their own family for drugs, and 3 percent have killed their
entire families and their pets for drugs. The remaining 47
percent who don't admit to using marijuana or hard drugs are
all hopeless alcoholics who pick their noses in public and
use mass transit.
So much for the credibility of the opposition.
Playing For Keeps
I'm not much of an alarmist by nature but sometimes, if
you're not really worried, it's because you're not paying
close enough attention. After watching my country go completely
to hell over the past year, I now think a complete repudiation
of all things Republican is the only thing that matters -
starting by winning both houses of Congress in 2002 and then
taking back the White House in 2004.
So I think it's time the Democrats started playing for keeps
and used any means available to achieve the objective. I don't
care about gentility. I don't want to hear about fair play.
I don't think an "A" in deportment matters very much when
you're being held for six months with no charges and no bail.
I want clever, devious people coming at Republicans from
all sides. I want no aspect of their public or private lives
unexamined, and every hint of scandal exposed. And if there's
no scandal to be found, take another page from the GOP playbook
and invent something.
So I want pictures of George and a coed in the back seat
of a car, preferably with his hands around her throat. I want
pictures of Cotton Mather Ashcroft fellating a senate page.
I want pictures of Vice President D'Fibrillator selling nuclear
secrets to the Pakistanis. I don't care if they're real or
not. Put them together in Larry Flynt's photo labs, put them
out on the Web, and let the damn GOP play defense for a change.
Despite interlocking corporate loyalties, many in the press
corpse will pick this stuff up. As someone on DU noted wisely,
they're whores first and conservatives second. They'll always
roll for a buck.
I also think it's about time Democrats invited an international
body of observers to this country to oversee the November
elections. Aside from the sheer maliciousness and great PR
value of such an announcement, a UN delegation may be the
only way to prevent another Florida. It's not like we're dealing
with honorable people here.
Nor, it seems, are we dealing with the best and the brightest.
Just this past week, George Bush has all but declared war
on Iran, Iraq and North Korea, further isolating the US from
the world community and drawing nearly universal condemnation
for his recklessness.
He has taken a promotional trip to the dreaded "heartland"
to suck up to the culture warriors and declare that a fetus
is now to be known as an "unborn child," setting the tone
for the next assault on Roe v. Wade.
He has proposed some amorphous but vaguely disturbing federally
funded cadre called the "America Corps," which is either a
revitalized Vista/Job Corps/CETA conglomeration or a new chapter
of the Hitler Youth.
He has made noises about tightening security along the Canadian
border while his cohorts in Congress are angling to reintroduce
the draft. Given the northern exodus during the Vietnam era,
it's hard to see these two events as unrelated. It's likely
that tightened border security is more about keeping Americans
in than it is about keeping "terrorists" out.
He has declared that the era of good feeling - and feeling
good - is officially over and that it's now time to return
the nation to the stern grind of "personal responsibility"
- a time-worn GOP code phrase that actually means, "Don't
even think about federal money paying for that abortion, darlin'.
If you had kept your knees closed and accepted Jesus as your
personal savior, this never would have happened."
All this and Enron, too, with a malodorous whiff of Talibangate
hanging in the air. And still the vast majority of Americans
can't seem to get enough of him. But if he's not completely
discredited, his policies repudiated and his administration
removed very quickly, I doubt the country can survive much
longer as a democratic republic. Bush Inc. seems to view the
Constitution as a disposable impediment to the GOP's twin
corporatist and fundamentalist agendas.
And if this version of America prevails, there's really no
use staying around to watch the results. That's why November
5, 2002 is D-Day and that's why, this time, the ends do in
fact justify the means. Anything less than a Democratic sweep
and it's Torquemada and the Jesuits. If that seems like an
overstatement, just ask the guys in the dog kennels at Guantanamo.
Comments? Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
and we'll have a grand old time demolishing your crackpot
theories and nonsensical polemics - unless of course we agree,
in which case just send lots and lots of money to the DNC.