The Illusion of Normality
October 18, 2005
By Ernest Partridge, The
Never in the 229 years of United States history has this government
"of, by and for the people" been in greater peril. Not
during the Civil War, not during the great depression, and not during
the Second World War or the Cold War which followed.
Until today, gross incompetence, abuse of power, corruption, corporatocracy,
and federal insolvency could be checked and reversed by balanced
and separated governmental powers, and at the ballot box by a citizenry
informed and provoked by an alert and independent media. Now all
branches of government and the mainstream media are dominated by
the wealthy elites in control of a single political party.
Can you believe this? If not, you are in the company of a majority
of Americans who might respond to the above jeremiad with "Oh
c'mon now, it can't be as bad as all that! We've always had incompetence,
corruption, waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government, and
stolen elections are as old as the republic. It's no different now."
So long as that majority of Americans believes this, the rule
of the Busheviks and its successor oligarch regimes will be secure.
Thus Bush, Inc. and its obedient mainstream media are desperately
endeavoring to nourish and sustain this "illusion of normality."
The illusion has many facets.
Elections? Get over it!
The refusal of the public to believe that national elections can
be stolen validates the claim of the Bush Administration and the
Republican Congress to political legitimacy – that they "derive
their just powers from the consent of the governed" (Declaration
of Independence). The evidence clearly indicates otherwise. (For
an excellent summation of this evidence, see Dennis Loo's "No
Paper Trail Left Behind." See also The Crisis Papers pages
Fraud, 2004" and "Electoral
On the other hand, the evidence for the legitimacy of the elections
is virtually non-existent, due to the secrecy of the software and
the absence of paper validation. So all that the defenders of the
legitimacy illusion have is ad hominem insults of the challengers
– "conspiracy theorists," "paranoid," "get
The mainstream media's response is no response, with the apparent
hope and expectation, so far successful, that if it is ignored the
ballot fraud issue will go away. The primary aggrieved institutional
victim of the fraud, the Democratic Party, simply won't touch the
issue, which can only serve to strengthen "the illusion of
normality." Thus allegations that the elections were stolen
and thus that the government in power is illegitimate are confined
to the alternative media and the Internet.
And so the Democrats carry on as if the upcoming elections of
2006 and 2008 are "normal," as they diligently solicit
more votes and cheerfully look forward to taking back the Congress
in 2006 and the White House in 2008 – as if the same "normal"
rules and conditions apply as they have before. Those poor, naive
saps! Don't they realize that once again, Republican operatives
will count the votes? And that the results will be just what the
GOP wants them to be, regardless of the wishes of the electorate?
soon, the people demand reform and restore the integrity of
the ballot box.
The media are biased in favor of liberals.
The right-wing talk-merchants who, until Air American Radio came
along had the AM dial pretty much to themselves, complain constantly
that the mainstream media has a left-wing, anti-Bush bias. So too
the cable news chatterers. Much of the public believes this myth
because it is repeated so often – not, to be sure, on the strength
of the evidence which clearly proves otherwise.
Two brief examples: in October, 2004, immediately before the presidential
election, the University of Maryland's Program on International
Policy Attitudes (PIPA) released
a report that among Bush supporters, 75% believed that Saddam
Hussein's Iraq government supported al Qaeda, and 72% believed that
Iraq either had weapons of mass destruction, or active WMD programs.
In addition, the Bush supporters said that the US should not go
to war if it were known that Iraq had no WMDs.
Which means, to put it bluntly, that Bush owes his election to
this WMD lie (among other lies, but those require separate arguments).
Now where did the Bush voters get this misinformation if not from
the mainstream media, which obviously passed it on uncritically
from the Bush administration?
Example two: On CNN's "Crossfire, Paul Begala reported the
following results of a Nexis-Lexis Search:
"There were exactly 704 stories in the  campaign
about this flap of Gore inventing the Internet. There were only
13 stories about Bush failing to show up for his National Guard
duty for a year. There were well over 1,000 stories - Nexus
stopped at 1,000 - about Gore and the Buddhist temple. Only
12 about Bush being accused of insider trading at Harken Energy.
There were 347 about Al Gore wearing earth tones, but only 10
about the fact that Dick Cheney did business with Iran and Iraq
The advantage of the myth of the liberal media to Bush and the
Republicans is enormous. To those who believe it, if a story favorable
to Bush and the GOP appears, the response is "it must be true,
since even the liberal media reports it." And critical stories?
"Don't believe it, it's just the liberal media dissing our
President again." Conversely for stories about the Democrats
and progressives. (For more about right-wing and pro-Bush media
bias, visit the website
Torture? It was just a few bad apples.
Few Americans appreciate the depths of moral depravity that are
are plumbed by this administration's justification of the use of
torture of prisoners captured in this "war on terror,"
and by its official violation of the Geneva accords – ratified treaties
that have the status of US laws. Nor are many of our fellow citizens
aware of the disgust and hatred of our country's government engendered
throughout the world as a result of these policies.
And why not? The mainstream media do not accurately report the
tortures, assess the treaty violations, or inform the public of
international opinion. Attorney General Gonzales has effectively
"abolished" torture by defining it out of existence, yet
the tortures still go on. The Geneva conventions are evaded by the
invention of a category of prisoners, "enemy combatants,"
that is unrecognized by international law. In effect, the government
of the United States of America, our country, is an international
The Busheviks do not care. And sadly, the American people, by and
large, do not know. They believe that our treatment of prisoners
is justified, and that the opinions of us abroad are "normal."
It is an illusion.
The president, his cabinet, and the Congress will not, as they
have all sworn, "protect and defend the Constitution."
In fact, American citizens are now being held indefinitely, without
charge, without counsel, without trial, in violation of four of
the Ten Amendments to the Constitution (The Bill of Rights). The
the right to designate any American citizen as a "terrorist
suspect" and to arrest and confine that citizen in similar
violation of law and the Constitution.
The same Constitution stipulates that Congress declares war, yet
this "war on terrorism" is undeclared. This is but one
of many clear violations of law by the Bush Administration (enumerated
in my "The
Bombs in the Basement"). The conventional attitude that "they
all do it" just doesn't begin to excuse the unprecedented lawlessness
of this regime.
The policies of this administration are based on "sound
The term "sound science" and its antithesis, "junk
science," are inventions of that semantic genius of the GOP,
Frank Luntz. So too those Orwellian names, "Healthy Forests,"
"Clear Skies Initiative," and "The Death Tax."
The conclusion of more than 2,000 world scientists concerning global
warming? "Junk science." So too the warnings of geologists
that the world is approaching peak
oil production. Industry sponsored reassurances that mercury
emissions from coal-fired plants are not harmful? "Sound Science."
The fact that virtually all peer-reviewed scientific studies disagree
seems not to matter.
For every Ph.D there is an equal and opposite Ph.D – if the price
is right. The public believes the "news" it is given,
and does not pay attention to the American Association for the Advancement
of Science, the National Science Foundation, the National Academy
of Sciences, or other professional scientific journals and associations.
Nor is the public much concerned with the fact that this administration's
"war against science" is costing us our long-established
lead in scientific research and development – a foundation of our
And the list continues: record federal deficits, a widening income
gap between the very rich and the rest of us, corruption – personal
enrichment at public expense, corporate purchasing of legislation
and regulatory relief through campaign contributions.
Massive. Unconstrained. Unprecedented. Unbelievable. And so most
of the public is unwilling and unable to believe it.
Add to this the enormous stake that the Administration, the Republican
Party, and their corporate patrons have in perpetuating this "illusion
of normality." Billions of dollars of public funds have been
snatched from the federal treasury and billions more from the investments,
retirement funds, health benefits and social services of private
individuals. Add to that the deterioration of educational facilities
and public infrastructure.
Some of this has been done through the cover of "legitimate"
congressional legislation, and some of it through outright criminal
activity. Remnants of our criminal justice system are pushing back.
Today, David Safavian, Jack Abramoff and even Tom DeLay are under
indictment. Soon Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury will hand down
their indictments which, it is likely, will reach into the White
House. Hopefully, that will be just the beginning.
In short, the malefactors are facing not only the loss of their
ill-gained wealth but perhaps federal prison cells. And don't suppose
that they don't know it, and that they are not prepared to take
extreme measures to avoid it. The injured and cornered beast is
the most dangerous, and these critters have some fearful resources
at their disposal.
But they are up against the most formidable and unyielding of
adversaries: the truth – an adversary that they have abused and
repressed throughout their reign of error. And as they must eventually
discover, reality bites. "Truth crushed on earth," wrote
William Cullen Bryant, "will rise again," and it will
rise, no matter how many millions are poured into the budgets of
think tanks or into the pockets of whore-"scientists."
"Truth will rise again," if not here, then abroad, and
if not now, then eventually.
If we are to restore our democracy, truth must rise again soon
Foremost among the objectives of the progressive resistance must
be to disabuse the public at large of its "illusion of normality."
We must attack the widespread but understandable unwillingness of
that public to face up to the enormity of the crimes that have been
perpetrated upon the body politic.
Fortunately, events are at last coming to the aid of the resistance.
A perfect storm is descending upon the White House and Congress:
the innocent lives sacrificed to the Iraq disaster, the Katrina
catastrophe and the evident inability and unwillingness of the Bush
Administration to attend to the business of protecting the public,
the aforementioned criminal indictments – present and forthcoming.
Looming ahead is a collapse of the economy as the housing bubble
bursts, consumer spending crashes because the American consumer
maxes out his credit and faces unemployment, and our international
creditors decide they've had enough, and decide to invest in other
Public opinion polls (if we can still trust them) are reporting
plummeting approval ratings for the president and the GOP, along
with a loss of confidence in the direction that the country is taking,
and a loss of credibility of the mainstream media. The "fear
factor" is losing its potency. It's beginning to dawn on more
and more of our fellows citizens that they have been suckered and
lied to, and they don't like it.
Trouble is, they don't at the moment have any place to turn. The
opposition party, the Democrats, don't fare much better in the opinion
polls than the Republicans, and for good reason. The are dumb-struck,
incoherent, and impotent.
The time is right for forceful, inspired and articulated leaders
of the opposition to emerge. Where are they? Who are they? Who dares
step forward, speak out, and take the lead? What individuals, what
organizations, what factions will put aside their differences and
unite in common cause?
On these questions, the issue of the restoration of our liberties,
our welfare, our republic, will turn.
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
Crisis Papers. He is at work on a book, Conscience of a
Progressive, which can be seen in-progress here.
Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crisis Papers Archive