Something's Gotta Give
January 12, 2005
By Ernest Partridge, The
Bush administration has set the United States upon a course which,
if it continues, is almost certain to lead to a radical transformation
of American society. And it will continue, for George Bush
is renowned for his determination to "stay the course,"
and for his disinclination to contemplate and consider alternative
policies and courses of action in the face of unforeseen developments.
It is impossible to predict the outcome of Bush's radical experiments
with the American economy, his disregard of our political traditions,
and his freedom from constraints from the Congress, the media, and
soon the federal judiciary. Most scenarios are, quite frankly, dreadful.
If we are to avoid the precipice toward which we are accelerating,
this deliverance must come from a shock of recognition of our perilous
condition followed by decisive and concerted action by the financial
establishment, the media, and the general public.
It has happened before in our history - the end of isolation and
the mobilization for war, following the Pearl Harbor attack, the
discrediting of Joseph McCarthy, and the fall of Richard Nixon,
our disengagement from the Viet Nam war.
Unfortunately, the prospects for such a rescue from the Bushevik
folly are not promising.
Of this much we can be confident: current trends set in motion
by the Bush Administration can not continue indefinitely. Herbert
Stein's law rules: "That which can not go on forever won't."
Yet this is a regime that recognizes no limits, and has forgotten
the meaning of "enough."
And so, as with a bending branch, or an ever-tightening violin
string, the process must eventually come to an abrupt end. As the
national debt soars out of control, as income disparity between
the very wealthy few and the remainder of the population grows even
as the median standard of living falls, as the casualty lists from
endless foreign wars lengthen, as dissenting opinions are ruthlessly
suppressed and civil liberties curtailed eventually, something's
The developing crisis has many dimensions, any of which, or a
combination of which, might well bring about sudden catastrophic
consequences as they reach a breaking point.
Let's examine a few of these dimensions:
The Federal Deficit and the National Debt
A leading economist forecasts that America faces "economic
armageddon." The odds: about 90%. And who is this economist?
Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, or some other liberal? No, it is Stephen
Roach, the chief economist at the Wall Street investment firm, Morgan
As Brett Arends of the Boston Herald reports,
the "four horsemen" of this "economic apocalypse"
are the federal deficit, the trade deficit, the falling value of
the dollar, and record level of consumer debt - all of which continue
to grow, with no end in sight.
And so, the branch bends and the string tightens. As the dollar
falls, interest rates rise, imported consumer goods become unaffordable,
retail stores close, workers are laid off, bankruptcies and home
foreclosures follow more dominos fall, and the economy collapses.
If, however improbably, we are to escape another depression, the
remedy is no picnic. The remedy? Allow inflation to rise, thus reducing
the value of consumer debts. Bad news for long-term lenders. But
if inflation rises, it's a sure bet that real wages will not keep
When at last the bubble bursts, Bush, Inc. and the corporate media
will, no doubt, blame this catastrophe on "the terrists,"
Bill and Hillary Clinton, God's punishment of America for tolerating
gays, abortions and the ACLU. Anything but their greed and their
But surely there is a limit to the gullibility of the American
public and to its capacity to absorb economic deprivation. And when
that limit is reached, watch out, Dubya!
Income disparity economic injustice
Twenty-five years ago, the average Fortune 500 CEO earned forty
times as much as his median employee. Today, he earns five
hundred times as much. To put this in perspective, this means
that twenty-five years ago it took that CEO about a week to earn
as much as his worker earned in a year. Now he earns his worker's
annual salary in half a day from the time he enters his office
in the morning to the time he leaves for his three-hour three-martini
Is this disparity enough? Apparently not. Bush intends to make
his wealth-favoring tax "reforms" permanent, as he continues
to phase-out taxation on investments and estates while continuing
taxation on earned income. All this will accelerate the "reverse-Robin
Hood" flow of wealth from the middle class and the poor (those
who produce the wealth) to the super-rich (those who own the wealth).
Will the time for that CEO to earn his worker's annual income
now shrink from four hours to one? To ten minutes? How much more
of this robbery will the impoverished public tolerate, before it
storms the Bastille?
In the meantime, unemployment will increase as well-paying jobs
continue to flow out of the country, and median family incomes continue
to drop. For how long? Surely not forever.
Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
Few Americans appreciate that five of the ten articles of the Bill
of Rights specify the individual's protections from abuses of
law enforcement and prosecution: the Fourth (restricting searches
and seizures), the Fifth (no self-incrimination, no confinement
without indictment, no double jeopardy, right to due process), the
Sixth (right of accused to be given statement of charges, to confront
accusing witnesses, and to have benefit of counsel), the Seventh
(right to trial by jury), and the Eighth (no excessive bail or fines,
no cruel or unusual punishment).
Nowhere in the Bill of Rights are we instructed that these rights
apply only to citizens of the United States.
All of these guarantees have been violated, by executive order
of the President, in the case of detainees seized in the "war
on terror" and held in various prisons abroad, in Guantαnamo
Bay, and within the United States. In addition, these incarcerations
are in violation of the Geneva Conventions, which have the status
of United States law. These violations continue, despite a ruling
of the Supreme Court that they be discontinued.
And now we have just learned that the Administration is claiming
the right to hold these wretches for
life, without charge. We've heard the excuses for these outrages:
"But these people aren't citizens, they are terrorists Arab
soldiers in the Al Qaeda army."
Non-citizens? Consider the American citizen, Yasir Hamdi. Arab
non-citizens? Consider the Hispanic (Puerto Rican) citizen, Jose
Padilla. And who is a terrorist? Apparently, anyone whom the President
or the Attorney General designates a terrorist.
Remember, the Bill of Rights applies to all persons, whether or
not they are citizens.
Still feel safe? True, they haven't come after ordinary dissenting
citizens not yet. But keep in mind the warning of Martin Niemφller:
In Germany they came first for the Communists and I didn't speak
up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews and
I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the
trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade
unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak
up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me - and by
that time, there was no one left to speak up.
The Human Cost of the Iraq War
At the close of 2004, more than 1200 American military and more
than 100,000 Iraqis were dead as a result of the war. And for what?
The original justifications for this war, Saddam's WMDs and his
al Qaeda connection, as proclaimed by Colin Powell to the Security
Council in February, 2002, and by George Bush shortly before, in
his State of the Union address, are now universally recognized as
bogus. So now there is a new justification: "bringing democracy
to the people of Iraq."
Day after day, the Iraqis are making abundantly clear what they
think of our gift. There is still no exit strategy from the Iraq
war, and while we remain, our presence stimulates the recruitment
of al Qaeda terrorists, and our international prestige, now at an
all-time low, continues to free-fall.
In another year, in another ten years, how many more dead and
wounded will be sacrificed to this folly? How many more parents
will grieve, how many more young wives will be widowed, how many
children will be orphaned needlessly, meaninglessly?
The Vietnam war taught us that there are limits to the numbers
of lies that the American people will believe, and the numbers of
losses that they will endure. There still are limits. Sooner or
later, the American people will say "enough!" and they
will throw out the scoundrels that brought this misery upon us and
upon the people of Iraq, and who stained our good name and reputation
with the world community.
The Stolen Elections Past and Future
If in fact the will of the American voters in the 2004 was overturned
by computer fraud and voter suppression, then it would appear that
the Republicans have executed a perfect crime. Last week Congress
certified the election, and George Bush has been officially elected
to his second term. No Senate or House elections have been contested.
Immediately after the election and forward to this day, cogent criticisms
of the validity of the election have been almost entirely excluded
from the mainstream media.
In last week's debates, Republican Senators and Members of Congress
said, time and again, that "there is not a shred of evidence"
that the Ohio election was unfair and invalid, as if repeatedly
saying so would make it so. The Democrats, for their part, while
complaining bitterly of successful GOP tactics aimed at suppressing
votes in Democratic districts, repeated a litany of their own: "it
is not our intention to overturn the results of this election."
By so saying, they were following the lead of their candidate, Senator
Notwithstanding all that, compelling reasons remain to doubt the
validity of the announced tally of votes, and the results of this
election. It remains a fact that 30% of the votes in this national
election were cast, and 80% of the votes were compiled, by three
private companies, owned and controlled by conservative Republicans.
The voting machines produce no independent auditable record and
utilize a secret software source code. And as several software experts
have demonstrated, these machines can be readily hacked and the
vote tallies altered, without leaving a trace of the mischief.
These are the simple, undisputed and indisputable facts about
the "black box" voting machines. The response of the Republican
party and the Republicans who manufacture and machines and write
the secret software: "Trust us!" There is not, and cannot
be, any other response. That is what they intended, for there are
many affordable means by which the accuracy of the votes might have
been independently audited and validated. These were all deliberately
rejected. The public has been offered no plausible explanation of
why this is so.
While direct validation of the votes has been denied the public
by the Republican Congress and Republican state legislatures, there
are compelling indirect indications that this election was stolen
a serious charge, which I will defend in my next essay. Suffice
to say that the most significant evidence of fraud comes from the
early exit polls.
Exit polling uncovered fraud in the elections in the Georgian Republic
and in Ukraine, and to lead to new elections which overthrew the
corrupt governments. Exit polls were also very accurate in uncontested
and auditable states in the November election. Virtually
all the errors favored Bush, and the widest deviations occurred
in the battleground states, such as Florida, Pennsylvania and
The response of RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie to the American exit
polls? Abolish them!
Absent widespread and persistent public protest, in the forthcoming
elections of 2006 and 2008, the percentage of votes issuing from
paperless "black box" voting machines will increase significantly.
Despite the determined attempt by the mainstream media to keep
the issue of election fraud from the public's attention, a small
but significant minority of 16%
believed, in early November, that this election was stolen,
and that number has since increased
It is now widely believed that had the Supreme Court not intervened
in 2000 and had the Florida vote continued, Al Gore would have won
the state and the presidential election. In addition, there is good
reason to believe that had the 2002 elections been honest, the Democrats
would have won back the Senate. In the past election, the early
exit polls indicated a Kerry victory by about the same margin eventually
claimed by Bush. But the public has apparently accepted the official
word that the exit polls were wrong, and the final tally was correct.
But if the economic conditions, the unconstitutional repressions,
and the casualty figures from abroad follow the trends projected
above, in the forthcoming elections there will be surge of voter
reaction against the Republican administration and Congress. This
sentiment will be reported in the pre-election polls, (unless these
too are suppressed or fixed in favor of the Republicans).
Now imagine, in 2006, a landslide of public sentiment demanding
a change of government in Washington say, 60/40. Suppose then
that instead, the final "official" tallies show further
GOP gains in Congress, including a filibuster-proof sixty-vote majority
in the Senate. Imagine further, the same overwhelming public sentiment
in 2008 and the announced "close" election of Bush's successor
his brother Jeb. In both cases, almost all votes will be then
cast with and compiled by unauditable machines build and secretly
coded by private Republican corporations.
Do you believe the public would put up with this? Perhaps they
would after all, the American public has tolerated today far more
official abuse and mendacity than many of us would have imagined
to be possible, just a decade ago. But is there no limit to what
our fellow citizens will endure? In Ukraine and in the Republic
of Georgia, there were limits; they were exceeded, and the corrupt
regimes were overthrown.
If the last three elections were in fact stolen by the GOP, the
evidence of that theft remains even though the media refuses to
report it. No doubt, there is still more evidence to be uncovered.
The Republican regime in Washington will of course do nothing to
expose the crime, but there are numerous states and municipalities
still in Democratic control that can carry on investigations.
If public discontent grows significantly, as economic, civil, and
international conditions worsen, the public may become much more
open to the idea that the Bush regime is not, and never has been,
the people's choice that it is, in fact, the people's oppressor.
Numerous additional unsustainable trends have been set in motion
by the Bush Administration. This late in the essay, I can only list
them with brief comments:
Media concentration and bias
There is a limit to how much the "official" press can
deviate from the experience, memory, and common sense of the public
before that public simply ignores that official line and looks elsewhere
for accurate news and for opinion that reflects public sentiment.
The Royal governors in the American colonies discovered this, as
patriots set up committees of correspondence, and the "underground
publications" by Thomas Paine became best sellers. The Soviet
government also discovered the limits of propaganda, as the citizens
ignored Pravda, Isvestia and Gostelradio, and turned to The Voice
of America, the BBC and unauthorized publications "Samizdat."
Even now, an American
samizdat is emerging in the progressive Internet.
Official lies and eroding credibility
The Bush propaganda machine depends upon a widespread public amnesia
a failure of the public to remember during one week, what Bush,
Inc. and its servile media said the week before.
Even so, the facts persist, as do the records thereof. Bush did,
in fact, announce "mission accomplished" and the end of
Iraqi resistance, from the deck of the Abraham Lincoln. And Colin
Powell did in fact tell his lies before the Security Council in
February, 2002. Those words can not be unsaid.
Bush lies are being recorded and chronicled by the progressive
opposition, and as the public comes to suffer more from the abuses
of this regime, it will become ever more receptive to the idea that
the Busheviks simply can not be believed. And a leader who can no
longer be trusted or believed is a leader who ceases to lead - unless
(ominously) he does so through brutal repression.
The Bush-Cheney insistence upon staying with the petroleum-based
economy will have devastating consequences for world climate and
the global environment. But it will also have serious impacts upon
our economy, and perhaps much sooner than most of us might expect.
It is likely that sometime during this decade, world oil production
will peak and then decline the world is running
out of oil. Add to that, the increasing demand for oil from
China and Japan which, coincidentally, are our primary international
creditors. This can only mean that gas prices must rise sharply
There is much more at stake than the price at the pump, for petroleum
is the foundation of our economy. It drives farm machinery, and
brings food to us from the farms, ranches and fisheries. Goods are
shipped to us by gasoline powered vehicles and plastics are produced
Other countries that wisely foresee the ending of the petroleum
age are developing and investing in alternative energy technologies,
while we are falling far behind. Nature decrees and science confirms
that we cannot go on like this.
But we know what George Bush thinks about science, and thus it
is no surprise that he has cut funding to the National Science Foundation
and from support for alternative energy research and development.
The emerging theocracy
Listen to the religious right Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson,
James Dobson, Bob Jones III and they will tell you that because
they delivered the election to George Bush, they now "own"
him and the Republican Party.
Expect to hear demands that "intelligent design" be
taught alongside, or even instead of, evolution, and that the Ten
Commandments posted in every courtroom. Also expect legislation
to be introduced to restore anti-sodomy laws, repression of gays
and lesbians, and the end of most legal abortions.
Be assured that the non-Christian twenty percent of our population
will not tolerate this. And these citizens including Jews and
agnostics, prominent in the arts, sciences, the law, finance and
education are influential far out of proportion to their numbers.
Moreover, a large portion, perhaps a majority, of the remaining
80% are "Christians" who are moderate, fundamentally secular,
or even "Christian" in name only. They also endorse our
civic compact of tolerance, inclusiveness, and the separation of
church and state.
I suspect that the "success" of the Christian right is
about to ignite a counter-revolution far more powerful than they,
or even we, might expect.
Scattered among our population, and at the moment politically dormant,
are the victims of corporate corruption. These include the thousands
of ex-employees of Enron, Global Crossing, and the like, who lost
their pensions as well as their jobs.
Add to that the millions whose investments and retirement accounts
were decimated by the collapse of these corporate Ponzi schemes.
Then there are the residents of such states as California (including
"Aunt Millie") who were gouged by Enron's criminal inflation
of the utility rates.
Finally, there is every single American taxpayer, whose tax bill
is inflated to compensate for the revenue lost as corporations set
up tax shelters in the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands. If and when
a bandwagon of resistance to the Bush regime starts rolling, expect
these victims of "crime in the suites" to climb aboard.
Finally, the United States, once "the beacon of freedom"
and "the city on the hill," is becoming an international
pariah abrogating treaties, violating international laws such
as the Geneva Conventions, refusing to submit to an International
Court of Justice or to cooperate with the Kyoto Accords, and invading
sovereign nations at will. Bush and his neo-conservative acolytes
believe we can do all this because we are America we are powerful,
wealthy, and of course, godly and moral. Besides, who is there to
We may be about to find out. Far from being free to do as we please
with the rest of the world, we are, in fact, woefully dependent
upon other nations. We owe most of our national debt to foreign
countries, and they, in turn, supply most of our essential raw materials
must crucially, oil. They could, at any time, form "coalitions
of the fed-up" which could reduce our national economy to a
ruined heap, and they could do all this without firing a shot. (See
Our one-time friends and allies devoutly hope that this will never
happen, and so, along with our progressive compatriots, they look
forward to the day when the United States will awake from its dogmatic
slumbers, emerge from its temporary madness, and regain its place
as an honored member of the community of nations. But if not, there
are limits to the patience of the leading nations of the international
Clearly, we can not long continue on the course upon which the
Bush regime has plotted for us. The American people know what it
is like to be prosperous, free and respected. Somewhere along this
road there must be breaking point. Something's gotta give.
And now the good news: Bush is vulnerable. Despite the awesome
wealth of his supporters and the might of his propaganda machine,
Bush and his regime can be toppled by an opposition that is intelligent,
creative, courageous and united qualities which, sadly, have not
been conspicuous of late in the Democratic party.
These are a few of the factors that are working against the Bush
regime, and which are likely to hasten its downfall:
First of all, the Busheviks apparently believe that the public's
capacity to absorb abuse is infinite, and that the public can be
fooled time and time again and yet remain docile and trusting. Thus
they treat us, the American people, the same way that Lucy treats
Charlie Brown: no matter how many times Lucy yanks away the football,
Charlie Brown comes right back for another go at the damned thing.
Likewise, they believe that they can continue to cheat and lie
to the public, and the public will simply come back and ask for
more. Admittedly, up to now the public has given the Busheviks little
cause to believe otherwise. But as further hardships and abuses
are heaped upon the public, that forbearance is likely to erode
and eventually disappear.
In addition, Bush's supporters in the corporations and the media
seem unaware that they have no stake in the future toward which
Bush is leading them along with the American people. It is all well
and good to approach "the establishment" with appeals to "truth,
justice, and the American Way," but let's not kid ourselves;
the most effective approach to corporate America is an appeal to
their rational self-interest.
To be sure, this is not an easy case to make at the moment, for
the Great GOP/Corporate/Media Dream Machine is on a roll. They've
grabbed the keys to the candy store. What the fat cats want, the
fat cats get tax breaks for the wealthy, the dismantling of social
services, the crippling of government regulation ("interference")
- while Big Media distracts the attention of the public from this
looting with myths and trivial entertainments.
Nonetheless, this bacchanalia is leading us all straight to the
economic precipice. Intelligent capitalists such as George Soros
and Warren Buffet, and now Steven Roach of Morgan Stanley, can appreciate
that if we do not radically change course and soon, there's a shipwreck
ahead, whereupon all hands will go down.
No prudent person would want to book passage on the Titanic knowing,
or even suspecting, its fate, no matter how luxurious the First
Class cabin arrangements en route. As the clouds of economic
decline and civil unrest gather, the corporate and media establishment
may begin to take notice and act appropriately. Whether they will
do so in time, remains to be seen.
Finally, while none of the above political, economic and social
trends are sustainable, Bush and his minions appear to be unaware
of this, as they carry on with their wicked business as usual as
if it could go on forever or at least through the next few presidential
terms of office. These are dogmatists, not pragmatists, and thus
they are no more prepared to deal with unexpected future contingencies
than they were able to develop and execute a plan of action after
the fall of Baghdad.
In short: events that the Bush administration has set in motion
will soon overtake and overwhelm them, and they clearly lack the
"smarts" to deal with these events.
It is almost impossible to overstate the arrogance of George Bush,
and those immediate around him. Those who disagree with Bush's "gut,"
such as Colin Powell, Paul O'Neill, Joseph Wilson and the senior
officers of the CIA, are banished from the Presidential Presence.
Empirical research and rational assessment of policy alternative
have no place in the Bush White House. Instead, George Bush and
his circle presume themselves to have a God-like ability to create
reality out of wishful thought.
An exaggeration? Consider Ron
Suskind's report of his conversation with "a senior advisor
to President Bush:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the
reality-based community," which he defined as people who
"believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study
of discernible reality" ... "That's not the way the
world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an
empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality."
And Seymour Hersh:
There are many who believe George Bush is a liar - a president
who knowingly and deliberately twists facts for political gain.
But lying would indicate an understanding of what is desired,
what is possible and how best to get there. A more plausible explanation
is that words have no meaning for this president beyond the immediate
moment. And so he believes that his mere utterance of the phrases
makes them real. It is a terrifying possibility. (Chain of
Command: The Road from 9/11 and Abu Ghraib p.416).
This is beyond arrogance. It is insanity. And I measure that word
carefully and employ it in a clinical sense: as "a detachment from
And it is an American tragedy. This derangement at the head of
our government is a ominous burden upon all of us who dwell in this
once-blessed land, and a threat to the humanity that lives beyond
This derangement also presents an opportunity for the progressive
opposition. For such a "leader," and such an administration
can, if carefully studied and skillfully provoked, be led to their
own destruction, for they are blind to their own shortcomings and
incapable of responding rationally and effectively to unexpected
obstacles that are placed before them.
The Bush regime will eventually collapse of its own ignorance,
arrogance and folly. The task of a responsible opposition is to
hasten this collapse, while seeing to it that as few innocent bystanders
as possible are struck by the falling debris.
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in
the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He publishes
the website The
Online Gadfly and co-edits the progressive website The