February 2, 2003
'Conspiracy Theory' Edition Part III/GWB Midterm Report
As I started to say at the end of the last newsletter, we have finally arrived, at long last, at what initially was the primary purpose of this newsletter series: shamelessly patting myself on the back as we review how the Bush administration has measured up to the predictions that I made for it back in December of 2000, just after the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the American people and installed George II in the White House.
As readers will recall, after the election fiasco there was much fretting by the press over what the Bush team would bring to the table -- which I respectfully, as always, commented on in the opening passage of the posting:Will Bush be weakened by the perceived illegitimacy of his presidency? Will he be stymied by an evenly divided Congress? Will he be able to reach across the aisle to forge a bipartisan consensus? Will he be able to heal the wounds of a fractured nation? Yadda, yadda, yadda.Nobody knew what the future held for Bush's administration or for the country -- or so went the media's collective refrain. But some of us weren't so coy about assessing the situation:Despite all the hand wringing by the press and pundits over the obstacles facing the incoming administration, it seems pretty clear that the Bush team has been emboldened by its broad-daylight theft of the election, and by the relative passivity of the American people, and will very likely move quickly and decisively to promote an exceedingly reactionary agenda.That sounds to me like a pretty accurate description, in general, of what we have seen in the last two years. Further predictions dealt with more specific aspects of that reactionary agenda (and I will include everything from the December 2000 posting that could be considered a prediction, no matter how mundane, lest I be accused of picking and choosing only those predictions that proved to be compelling. There are very minor changes in wording, grammar, and syntax from the original December 2000 posting. This is due to the fact that I am a severely anal person and am incapable of rereading any of my stuff without 'improving' it. The substantive content of the original posting has not been changed):One of the first things we should look for is that the shortened transition period will be crassly exploited to ram through a number of questionable cabinet appointments, who will of course be perfunctorily confirmed, in the spirit of bipartisanship, by the hideously corrupt United States Congress. These appointments will receive, of course, considerably less press coverage than the early 'diverse' appointments.And that is, more or less, what happened -- though it wasn't a real difficult call to make. Bush's earliest nominees and appointees were intended to create the illusion of an administration that would represent all Americans; hence we saw such names as Colin Powell, Condi Rice and Karen Hughes trotted out. These were, not surprisingly, followed by such names as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and Otto Reich.
This next prediction proved to be inaccurate, though not entirely so:Expect also to see Little George reach out to Congressional Democrats, particularly Senators, when passing out Cabinet posts. Besides the all-important illusion of seeking conciliation by 'reaching across the aisle,' which the press just loves to talk about, a much more important purpose is served by doing so: all Democrats siphoned off of Congress can be replaced with Republicans.What I failed to anticipate, obviously, was that that tragic event known simply as "9-11" would enable congressional Democrats en masse to stop pretending that they are a legitimate opposition party, giving them a free hand to endorse "every reactionary proposal to emerge from the Bush White House."
By doing so, the Republicans can regain their slim majority hold on both houses, which was largely stripped away by the election ... The obvious advantage for the Bush team is that a Republican-controlled Congress will facilitate the advancement of the Bush agenda -- though this is not to naively suggest that Congressional Democrats would likely have stood in the way.
It will, however, be easier for the press to justify in the court of public opinion the craven complicity of Congress in green-lighting every reactionary proposal to emerge from the Bush White House.
And there is certainly no question that Congress has indeed given a huge thumbs-up to every far-right proposal that has come from Pennsylvania Avenue.
However, as September 11 inevitably begins to fade from memory, Democrats will have to put some limited effort into pretending to offer a different vision than their Republican cronies. Perhaps that is why the GOP has now quite likely resorted to more dubious political means to capture/retain control of both houses of Congress: electronic election rigging.
The next prediction from December 2000 pondered whether "Ollie North and Co" would once again take up residence in the White House's "basement." No sign yet of Ollie North, but we have the next best thing -- his good buddies and co-conspirators John Poindexter, Elliot Abrams, John Negroponte and the aforementioned Otto Reich. They no longer, of course, have to operate out of the basement. The dirty work can now be done right out in broad daylight, which leaves more room in the basement for Dick Cheney to tend to his duties.
This next prediction was obviously made in jest, due primarily to the fact that I appear to have seriously underestimated the brazenness of the incoming Bush team:Shortly into the new administration, expect a fire to be staged in the Reichstag, providing the pretext to dissolve Congress and usurp legislative powers .... Oh, wait a minute ... I was thinking of another head of state that 'legally' assumed power. Never mind.Though clearly meant as a joke, this proved to be not too far off the mark, so I think I'm going to take credit for it, if you don't mind.Instead, expect Bush's much ballyhooed tax 'reform' to be prominent on the agenda. Don't worry though; it won't have any effect on you. Capital gains and inheritance taxes will undoubtedly be slashed dramatically, perhaps even eliminated entirely. Income taxes may be lowered as well, though primarily for corporations and those with stratospheric incomes. Some savings might even trickle down to you, but don't count on it.This has, to no one's surprise, proven to be accurate. Even as I write this, it has been revealed that the White House is planning a propaganda campaign to justify substantially raising taxes on lower- and middle-income Americans (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A59577-2002Dec15.html and http://www.ctj.org/pdf/flat1202.pdf ), even while advancing a new 'economic stimulus' package that primarily entails handing out additional massive tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans.Expect also a stepped-up 'war on terrorism.'This proved to be, I think it's safe to say, a bit of an understatement. So too did the passage that immediately followed those words:What this really means, of course, is an increased attack on the human and civil rights of Americans. We will naturally be told that our lawmakers are striking a balance between the rights of American citizens, and the need to guard against the nonexistent threat of international and domestic terrorism. In the name of protecting us, a wholesale attack on our few remaining democratic rights will be launched.Well ... let's see now ... so far Team Bush has given us the USA PATRIOT Act, the Department of Homeland Security, the TIPS program, the Information Awareness Office, 'Total Information Awareness,' indefinite detentions without charges or trials or access to legal counsel, and secret military tribunals. Not bad for two years.[W]e are [also] likely to see ... a new omnibus crime bill. More police, better equipped police, more prisons, more liberal use of the death penalty, restrictions on appeals, more behaviors criminalized, greater cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies: all of this and more is necessary if we're to get serious about being 'tough on crime.'And much of that is what we have gotten, and will continue to get -- particularly so in regards to the merging of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, which is one of the stated goals of the Homeland Security Act. As it turns out though, we didn't need to bother with the passing of a crime bill, per se, since the "war on crime" and the "war on terrorism" appear to have been pretty much rolled into one.Two buzz words to be on the lookout for from Team Bush are 'privatization' and 'deregulation.' For the Bushwhackers, the more of both, the better. Schools, healthcare facilities and prisons are prime candidates for privatization, along with, of course, Social Security and Medicare.Team Bush hasn't destroyed Social Security and Medicare just yet through privatization, but they are certainly working diligently towards that goal. Give them time. They've just gotten started, after all. They still have six years to go ... ooops, I meant to say two years.
Six years would imply that Bush is guaranteed a second term, which is something we all know will not be decided for another two years, through a completely democratic election process that is envied around the world.
But can there really be any doubt that 'the powers that be' will do whatever is necessary to keep their boy in the White House? Didn't Al Gore's preemptive withdrawal from the 2004 race already send a very clear signal that only the weakest imaginable opponents will be allowed to challenge Herr Bush?
Sorry ... I seem to have segued there into making predictions, when I am supposed to be reviewing old predictions. Anyway, as for privatization, the Bushies have been busily working to privatize nearly 1,000,000 federal jobs. And that's just for starters.Deregulation could strike anywhere, at any time, touted as a way to lower consumer costs by increasing competition. Expect sudden and drastic price increases to follow any act of deregulation.Being a Southern Californian, the first thing that comes to mind for me is the deregulation of the California energy market, which led directly to looting and pillaging by some felonious energy companies, one of which was named, if I remember correctly, something like "Enron." This looting and pillaging led to skyrocketing prices for consumers.
Those in other parts of the country can insert their own favorite deregulation story. Next up is this prediction:In the field of foreign policy, look for an increasingly belligerent attitude towards Poppy Bush's old buddy, Saddam Hussein.Any questions?We may be witness to the world's first deployment of a 'tactical' nuclear weapon. This would most likely occur under the pretense of destroying alleged Iraqi underground nuclear/biowarfare facilities.This remains a very real possibility. There has been increasingly open talk of utilizing nuclear weapons against Iraq, and there is a very good chance that this will come to pass before Bush finishes his first term. Washington is eager to show the world, or parts of it anyway, that resisting Western hegemony can be a very unhealthy course of action.
Bear in mind, by the way, that this prediction was made well before there was any indication that the U.S. was going Back to Iraq for another round of Bomb Saddam. In fact, it was first made in April of 1999 (in the epilogue to my first book), and was then repeated in the December 2000 posting.
That epilogue also stated that "we will very likely also see the restoration of the draft in the foreseeable future." And sure enough, I see that two such proposals are now on the table -- laid there, bizarrely enough, with claims that a reinstatement of the draft will make Washington less likely to rush off to war.Elsewhere on the foreign relations front, expect a new mission for our men and women in uniform.I guess I should have said "expect multiple new missions." Or maybe it's just one big mission -- "The War on Terror." The first leg of that mission, Afghanistan, wasn't long in coming. How many more there will be remains to be seen.It's ... necessary to repeatedly remind all those 'rogue' nations out there that we are serious about imposing U.S.-approved markets on every corner of the globe. Opposition to manipulation and exploitation by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization has been known to bring on a case of Sudden Aerial Bombardment Syndrome.It has also been known to bring on a recurring case of Transparently Orchestrated Coup Masquerading as a Popular Uprising Syndrome, as the good people of Venezuela have recently discovered.Another thing we can expect from the Bush team ... is a couple of reactionary Supreme Court appointments.These obviously haven't come yet, but undoubtedly will before Bush leaves the White House. It probably wouldn't do to rush into it though. The president appointing Supreme Court justices too soon after the Supreme Court justices appointed the president might raise troubling questions in many people's minds about exactly what type of 'democracy' it is we are running here.On the brighter side, one thing we shouldn't expect from the Bush team is a repeal of abortion rights. Contrary to their carefully crafted images, the Bush family, and any number of other 'conservatives' in Washington, aren't really opposed to the practice of abortion. They just pretend that they are to insure the support of the Abortion Clinic Bombers lobby.So far, there have been no serious efforts to restrict abortion rights. One of Bush's earliest actions as president was to approve legislation restricting funding for overseas family-planning clinics. This was an obvious bone thrown to Bush's supposed 'conservative base,' and the new policy was quietly reversed not long after it was implemented.
There is recent talk of the Roe v. Wade decision being in jeopardy of being overturned. And Bush has clearly signaled his intent to carry on the family tradition of pretending to be 'pro-life,' and pretending, more generally, to have respect for the sanctity of human life.
But Bush clearly has no respect at all for the sanctity of human life. We are talking here about a man who does not hesitate to cast about for fabricated justifications for launching an unprovoked attack that will leave hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians dead.
This man has absolutely no respect for human life, and also has no intention of criminalizing the practice of abortion. The Bush family has long had a keen interest in population control. The more means that can be utilized to thin the herd, the better. That is why, despite the posturing, it is very unlikely that any significant changes in abortion laws will come to pass.
Let's now review some of the more significant predictions: a White House full of reactionary appointees, including a smattering of Iran/Contra conspirators, rushing to implement a decidedly far-right agenda; a greatly stepped-up 'war on terrorism'; renewed hostilities with Iraq; a new military mission for our men and women in uniform; a sweeping and unrelenting attack on democratic rights; and hopelessly regressive tax policies.
Sounds about right to me.
And all it took was about $1,600 in toll charges for calls to the Psychic Friends Network. Oh shit ... I just remembered that I already slipped a Miss Cleo joke into this newsletter series. I guess a Psychic Friends Network joke at this point would be a little redundant. So I should probably think up something else to use here. But nothing really comes to mind. Sorry.
All that was really required was a willingness to look beyond the conventional explanations given for why things happen as they do, coupled with the ability to connect enough of the dots that a picture begins to emerge of the hidden forces and patterns at work in this cancerous impersonation of a democratic state.
So what is the point of all this? I suppose that - in addition to filling column space with old writings, which comes in very handy since I've been too busy to write much new stuff - it is to illustrate that far from being counter-productive diversions, far from being loony, silly, paranoid delusions, carefully and comprehensively constructed 'conspiracy theories' can in fact aid immeasurably in understanding the world that we live in.
In fact, it is impossible to make sense of the world if you play by the rules, utilizing only those theories and those pieces of the puzzle that are provided by Washington and its media cohorts. There are too many pieces missing to ever catch even a faint glimpse of the big picture.
You have to be adventurous. You have to travel far off the beaten path, first through the world of the progressive/alternative media, oftentimes wallowing nearly neck-deep in putrid disinformation, picking through the muck to find pieces of the puzzle as you go, being ever vigilant not to pick up any red herrings, which look deceptively like the real pieces of the puzzle, and will seem to fit, until you discover that there is another piece that fits a little better.
Such a journey will give you a better view of the big picture, but most of what you will read is controlled dissent -- which is to say that you will come away with a somewhat dimmer view of the country you call home, but still firmly committed to the erroneous belief that this is the greatest goddamn country that ever graced the earth, and that overall we have been a great force for good in the world, though we may have taken a few missteps.
As you continue to venture further and further away from the mainstream, you will continue to find pieces of the puzzle, and the picture will become more troubling. At some indefinable point, you will cross the line into the mysterious Conspiracy Zone. You must go in. Some key pieces of the puzzle are hidden in there.
But you must use extreme caution. You never know what you will encounter.
Various oddities have been known to inhabit this area. You could encounter UFOs, crop circles or chemtrails. Various forms of alien life are lurking around every corner. Disinformation runs thick, coating everything in sight, and giving the entire Zone a noxious odor. Still, you must persevere. Buried deep in that odorous ooze are some essential pieces of the puzzle.
The truth is out there. Most of it, anyway. But it is scattered around in bits and pieces, and you have to find enough of them, and assemble enough of them in the correct sequence, to create a picture that begins to approximate an accurate reflection of an objective reality -- which looks a whole lot different than the manufactured reality.
Of course, if you're not equipped with a good 'bullshit detector,' you could easily come back from your journey with a new reality that is no more accurate than your old reality, though it will certainly contain some interesting new elements.
It's a very large puzzle, with a lot of pieces and any number of variations of each piece. Everyone puts the puzzle together a little differently, which is why, as I said at the beginning of this now-lengthy diatribe, there are as many theories out there as there are people to formulate them.
I happen to like the way that I have assembled the puzzle, though it is certainly not yet complete -- and never will be.
I guess I shouldn't say that I like the way that I have assembled the puzzle. I actually fear and despise it. The picture that I have created is an ugly one indeed -- far uglier than I ever imagined when beginning the journey. But what I like about it is that it provides answers. It allows me to make sense of events as they unfold -- events that never made any sense when viewed through a manufactured reality.
This, for example, was how 9-11 looked to me on the day of the attacks (written on September 11, posted on September 12):Our elected leaders - who are elected only in the sense that every couple of years we are given a choice between two interchangeable candidates - will revel in the free reign they will be given to ram through legislation so appallingly reactionary that it would have been unthinkable just days ago. Military spending and the militarization of the country will escalate to a fever pitch. Welcome to the new and improved police state -- the largest, most powerful, and most technologically advanced the world has ever seen.And with that, I suppose, I will conclude this extended rant. ... after, that is, I offer a few comments on The Smirk's State of the Union address.
What can I say about George the Younger's speech? Watching George, Jr. deliver a speech is always a singularly unsettling experience, and this time was certainly no different. All of the standard elements were there: the crude hypocrisy; the outlandish lies; the piss-poor attempts to feign sincerity; the transparency of his real motives; the facial expressions that belie the emotions that he is attempting to express; and, as always, that trademark smirk.
I can't even begin to catalogue all the lies that rolled off King George's lips. Virtually everything that he said was a lie. It's quite possible that Bush set some kind of record for telling more lies in a single one-hour speech than any politician in American history.
And he knows that. Not only does he know that, but he can't seem to restrain himself from gloating over it even as he is telling the lies. That is why he always sports that smirk. What that smirk says is: "Yeah, I'm lying my ass off, and we both know it, but there's not a damn thing that you can do about it, and nobody in this room with me here today and nobody in the media is going to call me on my lies, no matter how transparent and outrageous they are."
What that smirk means, in other words, is "fuck you."
While Bush's performance was truly appalling, his was certainly not the only appalling performance on display. No ... pretty much everyone in attendance turned in a repulsive performance as well -- repeatedly giving Caligula standing ovations for uttering the most outrageous of lies and the crudest of threats.
Seventy-three applause breaks in an hour-long speech. That works out to one every 49 seconds -- which is pretty amazing given that Bush can normally go for months without saying anything worth applauding.
The Republican side of the chamber, which is normally impossible to differentiate from the Democratic side, stood out this time due to the party's decision to punctuate their standing O's with asinine whoops and cheers, undoubtedly leaving some viewers wondering if perhaps the State of the Union address had been preempted by a particularly obnoxious episode of the Jerry Springer Show.
If I had to pick out a defining moment from the speech, I'd have to give consideration to the moment when the gallery erupted in thunderous applause in response to Caesar's proclamation that the United States would not hesitate to act in defiance of world opinion -- shortly after he had harshly denounced Iraq for, of all things, allegedly acting in defiance of world opinion.
I would also have to give consideration to the moment when the gallery burst into deafening applause in response to Bush openly gloating, in his inimitable frat-boy style, over the assassination of foreign nationals who are claimed to be 'terrorists.'
And I would have to give consideration to the moment when Bush discussed his frustration at not finding Osama bin Laden ... except that, come to think of it, George never actually mentioned bin Laden at all. But that shouldn't have come as much of a surprise. Osama is so 'last year.'
But I would have to give consideration to the moment when 'Dumbya' managed to mispronounce the names of all three of the nations that make up the comic book creation known as the 'Axis of Evil' -- which, if I remember correctly, was spawned by Captain America's former foe, and the world's previous arch-villain: the 'Evil Empire.'
By the way, does anyone know exactly where the "Krean peninshula" is? It must be important, because King George mentioned it twice, but I haven't been able to locate it on a map.
In the end, there was one moment that stood out above all others as the defining moment of the speech -- a moment when the Orwellian lies reached such a surreal level that Bush could be seen struggling, and failing, to keep a straight face, as if even he could not believe that he could get away with such a complete, and completely transparent, inversion of reality.
That moment came when Bush actually said, and I'm quoting here, that "all free nations have a stake in preventing sudden and catastrophic attacks." He said this not long before reaffirming that his administration will not be deterred from, of all things, launching a sudden and catastrophic attack on a defenseless nation that has done absolutely nothing to justify such an attack.
No one, of course, challenged the comment. No one challenged any of the lies. And no one will. No one, that is, who is given a platform to speak to an audience of any appreciable size. That, you see, is how a 'free press' operates.
I'm sorry to report that, due to continuing problems with my Internet service, I have little in the way of new links to pass along -- though I do have a couple here that are particularly compelling. Both are fairly lengthy exposés that come from sources that are far off the beaten path that most researchers follow.
The first is entitled "The Lords of Bakersfield," and comes courtesy of the tiny Bakersfield Californian (http://ww2.bakersfield.com/2003/lords/). The second, from The Crime Library, concerns "The Mysterious Dr. Ford" (http://www.crimelibrary.com/terrorists_spies/terrorists/larry_ford/1.html).
Both are highly recommended. With a little bit of reading between the lines, and a little connecting of the dots, these stories reveal many truths about the world we live in.
Check back next week when we will open the mailbag and revisit the Pentagon attack, among other things. Until then ...