August 2, 2004
(Swans - August 2, 2004) Politicians today are marketed to the public like nationally advertised
brands. To gain coveted offices an advertising blitz of billions employs
television, radio, newspapers, magazines, billboards, marching bands,
parades, and recruits the services of every damn fool sucker willing to
The present incumbent can proudly proclaim that his fabulous giant economy-size product labeled "compassionate conservatism" has delivered to its beneficiaries -- the elite in-crowd -- the greatest package of goodies in US history. Those who bought that product with generous contributions to the cause of "compassionate conservatism" discovered that "compassionate conservatism" reciprocated with extremely generous rewards. For the overwhelming majority of outs who will pay for that largess it's tough times ahead.
The Bush administration has been blasted by many who find that its policies are unprecedented, unconscionable and destructive of the vision of America.
Unconscionable and destructive? Yes. Unprecedented? No.
What it was doing in every instance was what every prior administration had been doing, often clandestinely, and getting away with it.
Just analyze some of its worst offenses and discover how democratic and republican, liberal and conservative administrations did the same.
The war against Iraq raised cries throughout the world. But numerous earlier pre-emptive actions were undertaken with minimal or no discussion. Examples: Kennedy -- Bay of Pigs; Reagan -- Granada; Bush -- Panama.
Weren't the clandestine CIA activities carried out by surrogates for the U.S. also pre-emptive? Death, destruction and misery resulted from them as well. Examples: Eisenhower -- Indonesia, Iraq and Guatemala; Nixon -- Chile and Cambodia; Ford -- East Timor; Carter -- Afghanistan; Reagan -- Nicaragua; Clinton -- Somalia.
And of course there were unprovoked and unjustifiable bombings. Examples: Reagan -- Libya; Clinton -- Afghanistan, Sudan.
Well before the disclosure of torture at Abu Ghraib the White House sought and got legal justification for just this sort of treatment. Does anyone really believe that the practice was committed by a few low level troops without authorization?
Since Harry Truman's day in 1946 torture was one of the counterinsurgency techniques taught at the notorious School of Americas, referred to by those in the know as the School of Assassins. Since then, through all administrations, in Panama and now at Fort Benning, Georgia, it continuously trained tens of thousands of Latin American soldiers. Its graduates are responsible for the torture, rape, assassination and disappearance of hundreds and thousands of their countrymen who were activists for the poor.
Bush's complete and unequivocal approval and support for the genocidal policies of war-criminal Sharon is a continuation of an excessive pro-Israel bias.
It commenced with Truman's active involvement in securing a favorable UN vote for Israel's statehood.
Over the years EVERY administration has granted it greater and greater sums in foreign aid and military hardware. Estimates of the total squandered vary, based on the source, from a conservative one-hundred billion to, what one economist who includes all related costs claims is, three trillion! (see "The Costs to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: $3 Trillion," by Thomas R. Stauffer, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 2003, p. 20-23.)
During the six-day war Israel attacked the USS Liberty. Thirty-four sailors were killed. Lyndon Johnson ORDERED a military inquiry to "conclude that the attack was a case of "mistaken identity" despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary." No administration or congress has undertaken an investigation for this dastardly crime.
The notorious Patriot Act was preceded by a history replete with violations of the legitimate rights of ordinary citizens.
The Alien and Sedition Acts (1798) prohibited criticism of the government. Abraham Lincoln without authorization of Congress suspended the writ of habeas corpus in direct violation of the Constitution. During World War I and the Palmer Raids (1917-1920) dissent resulted in the imprisonment and the deportation of hundreds. World War II enabled Franklin Roosevelt to intern 110,000 Japanese -- citizens and long time residents (Asians not born in the U.S. were barred from citizenship) -- in concentration camps.
Surveillance of such notorious subversives as Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin and John Lennon by the FBI was common during J. Edgar Hoover's tenure.
COINTELPRO targeted such dissident groups as Black Liberation Groups, American Indian Movement, Ramparts, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Center for the Study of Public Policy, and the American Friends Service Committee.
Mere suspicion has subjected many to confinement without recourse to Constitutional protections. However, civil rights have always been denied to those deemed unworthy.
It wasn't long after the Civil War that southern states adopted Jim Crow laws to suppress the civil rights of blacks. For almost one-hundred years US governments recognized and enforced those and other discriminatory laws that encouraged lynching and waves of terror in black communities. Thousands were lynched including Indians, Latinos, immigrants, labor organizers, and radicals. Just a few of the better known riots occurred in Tulsa 1921; Detroit 1942; Los Angeles (Watts) 1965.
What was listed in the above categories could be continued for others -- labor, veterans, welfare, taxes, Medicare, health care, housing, homelessness, education, public transportation, etc. All have fared poorly for the general public under "compassionate conservatism." But each was clobbered by prior administrations as well.
September 11 and the fear it engendered gave the Bush gang, which has been playing up fear for all its worth, carte blanche to do what it desires. If the next White House crowd promotes fear as well, its product might get similar results.
That fabulous product known as "compassionate conservatism" has created millions of potential recruits for a new citizens' revolt. Increasing numbers are disgusted and face a bleak future.
Who are they -- those who are hurting or who feel the system has treated them unfairly? The millions without health insurance and those with inadequate coverage. The millions of homeless. The millions of prisoners and ex-prisoners, so many of whom were unjustly incarcerated for victimless offenses. The millions of unemployed and underemployed many making far less and working harder than they did formerly. The millions in poverty -- the welfare families and those thrown off welfare who struggle to survive. Although the media is suppressing the story, many in the military and their families are very unhappy with the current pro-war policies.
The wealthy elite have always been in control of the US government irrespective of who or what party was in power. Those politicians who are not themselves a part of that exclusive group, most of them are, willingly promote the elite interests to maintain their own positions in government.
It is only when an aroused public makes demands and protests the injustices that the system may recognize their needs.
The New Deal responding to the rebellions of the '30s enacted a barrel of progressive legislation to pacify the situation. WWII ended the depression and with the new policies in place the waters were stilled. But with the war's end, momentum returned to the elite who started cutting the rights and benefits on the New Deal.
The protests of the '60s from the anti-war, black, environmentalist, women's lib, gay, and other groups again shook up the powers that be. Some needed changes ensued. But as the protests subsided the establishment regained the initiative. From then on citizens' rights and benefits have been eroded.
Prelude to Turmoil
When the passion behind protests reaches a crescendo the momentum for change may switch from the elite to the people. A catalyst may be necessary to ignite the fervor of the protestors. In the '30s, the depression and in the '60s, the Vietnam fiasco were the catalysts.
A '30s and '60s insurgency is past due. All that's needed is a spark to set it off. That fabulous product known as "compassionate conservatism" may be that spark. If it is, it might shake up and wake up the slumbering public.
With so many increasingly hostile to the established order, is it unreasonable to anticipate a major confrontation? The forces of repression are expecting it and are well prepared.
What happens when an irresistible force strikes an immoveable object? Hold on to your hats! Fasten your seat belt! The weather ahead is going to be rough!
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US Elections & Democracy on Swans
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