Well ... it's a new year and the question on everyone's mind seems
to be: will this be the year that another 'terrorist' attack comes our
way, perhaps just in time to disrupt the presidential election?
A lot of people seem to think so. Even William Safire thinks so.
Of course, when people like me began making such predictions a couple
of years ago, it was just the lunatic fringe talking. Safire, on the other
hand, is what you call a responsible, respected journalist. Which is
why, I suppose, he can be so blasé about his prediction, as though
such an occurrence would be just another minor inconvenience that we must
all suffer so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms that others hate
Tommy Franks thinks that when the attack comes, the Constitution
and the Bill of Rights will fly right out the window, with the consent
of the American people. And he is probably right. The media is already
gearing up to sell the Bush 'response' to the American people, who haven't
had much trouble buying any of the other lies that Team Bush has been selling
Martial law will be, apparently, just another minor bump in the road that
leads us to victory over the 'terrists.'
The nation's capital appears to already be under martial law (http://www.onlinejournal.com/Special_Reports/123003Madsen/123003madsen.html
And it is not entirely clear just how much of the Constitution and Bill
of Rights remains in force, in an era that has already brought us secret
arrests without charges; indefinite, incommunicado detentions; secret military
tribunals; wholesale domestic spying and surveillance; 'no-fly' lists;
no expectation of privacy for communications sent via telephone, letter,
or e-mail, a wanton disregard for international law; the increasingly violent
suppression of dissent (http://www.onlinejournal.com/Commentary/112203Conover/112203conover.html
electronic election rigging; and heavily militarized domestic police forces.
And in case it has escaped anyone's attention, we also seem to have done
away with that pesky Posse Comitatus
along with the Central Intelligence Agency's charter, which specifically
bars the agency from domestic operations (that provision has, of course,
always been disregarded, but never before openly).
It is a rather remarkable fact that a regime that allegedly reveres
both the 'founding fathers' and 'the rule of law' has not only openly and
repeatedly violated international law, the UN charter, the Geneva Conventions,
and the Nuremberg principals, but also the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of
Rights, and various other allegedly sacrosanct documents. It is equally remarkable
that politicians of all stripes, as well as media pundits, 'think tank'
analysts, spokesmen for academia and the legal community, and numerous other
shapers of public opinion, all pretend not to notice that there is a very
bad moon on the rise.
And now we hear open talk of potentially doing away with the pending,
and allegedly democratic, presidential election in favor of installing
a military government -- and yet still, of course, maintaining the threadbare
fiction that we all live in the greatest democracy that the world has ever
seen. In any other country in the world, that would be a pretty difficult
trick to pull off. But I have given up trying to guess what the straw is
that will break the American camel's back, if indeed there is one.
A reader recently pointed out that I have waffled on the issue of
whether there will be a pre-election 'terrorist' attack. I initially mused
that there would be such an event, but then I later backed away from that
claim, agreeing with a letter-writer that through media control, smear
campaigns against opponents, and, most importantly, control of paperless
voting machines, Bush could easily be kept in office without resort to
what Safire referred to as an "October Surprise." But still later, in a
recent rant about the California recall election, I seemed to return to
my original prediction.
"So which is it?," my correspondent wanted to know.
At this point, I would have to say that the smart money seems to be
on the pre-election attack becoming a reality. And it's not because an
"October Surprise" is the only way that Bush can 'win.' It's a fairly safe
bet that the final outcome of the election, if it is to be held, has already
been determined. The problem will be with selling that outcome.
The conventional wisdom holds that Bush is a formidable opponent --
all but unbeatable. That is what we are constantly told and what we are
all supposed to believe. And he is
unbeatable, but not because of
his personal popularity, or because of the popularity of his openly fascist
policies. He is unbeatable because those who control the vote-counting software
now control the outcome of elections. But the illusion of democracy hinges
upon maintaining the fiction that George Bush is a popular president, and
therein lies the problem.
An L.A. Times
op/ed piece by Kevin Phillips, from November
2003, mentioned, rather casually, that a virtual state of martial law will
likely have to be declared in New York City so that the Republican Party
can present its presidential nominee to the nation. That, the article
noted, could prove to be an "embarrassment" for Team Bush.
It is always a bit 'embarrassing,' I suppose, when the wildly popular
leader of the freest nation on earth needs to turn a city into a military
garrison in order to make a public appearance. And it is equally 'embarrassing'
to have to explain how a president and a political party that are so despised
by such a wide swath of people that they need military protection to keep
their own loyal subjects at bay can nevertheless go on to sweep the election.
And make no mistake about it: if the election does proceed, there will
another Republican sweep. The stage has already been set. More than
a few 'Democrats' have already stepped aside. Expect gains all around --
in the House, in the Senate, in state races.
But can another Republican sweep and a second Bush term be sold to
the American people? Or would King George's inauguration require another
'embarrassing' resort to martial law? How long can the illusion of popularity,
and the illusion of democracy, be maintained while the suppression of dissent
necessarily becomes increasingly violent?
There will certainly be radically rising levels of dissent to greet
the second Bush term. As the conquest of Iraq grows bloodier and bloodier,
millions of Americans - many of them returning servicemen, and many of them
family members of those who are shipped home in a box - will demand answers.
Millions of senior citizens will awaken to the fact that - under the guise
of Medicare reform, set to go into effect one year after the re-coronation
- they have been thoroughly ripped off. Millions of young people will suddenly
awaken to find that Uncle Sam has big plans for them (does anyone else feel
And then there is the ticking time bomb of the supposedly recovering
'economy,' characterized by massive levels of consumer debt, millions of
radically overvalued American homes leveraged to the hilt, a steadily declining
job market as more and more jobs are 'outsourced,' increased attacks upon
the wages and benefits for the jobs that remain, and state and national treasuries
deliberately looted so as to justify further massive cuts in expenditures
on trivial things like education and healthcare.
Millions of Americans could well awake one day soon to find that their
piece of the American Dream was largely an illusion. Some may even come to
realize that the forces that drive Team Bush are insatiable. The beast will
not be satisfied with just plundering the rest of the planet; it wants everything.
It wants your Medicare benefits. It wants your Social Security benefits.
It wants your pension and your retirement plan. It wants your healthcare
benefits. It wants your home. It wants your job, if it can find someone to
perform it for less pay (someone like, for instance, a 'guest worker'). And
it wants your children, as cannon fodder for its wars of conquest.
In other words, you ain't seen nothing yet from Team Bush. And the
surprises in store for after the election will be decidedly unpopular with
the vast majority of the American people. In order to deal with that eventuality,
therefore, Washington will need vastly expanded police-state powers --
and that is precisely why there could very well be another 'terrorist' attack
some time this year. My guess, after factoring in the Bratton/Miller/Schwarzenegger
nexus - along with a few other, even more wildly speculative, factors -
is that the attack most likely will occur in the Los Angeles area, very
possibly at LAX.
And I'm sticking with that ... unless I change my mind again.
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* * * * * *
Speaking of LAX (was that a smooth segue, or what?), it wasn't
a pleasant place to pass through over the holidays, from what I've heard.
What with the 'Orange Alert' and all, the delays were intolerable and
the searches intrusive and humiliating. And it was all, of course, complete
bullshit, as with all of Team Bush's fear-inducing 'terror alerts.' That
was quite obvious from the policies in place at LAX.
One rule, for instance, prohibited curbside drop-offs or pick-ups -- except
for taxis and limousines. That policy was repeated endlessly on the television
news so as to avoid confusion at the airport. What that demonstrated, of
course, was that either: (a) the government, relying on its usual crack intelligence
sources, concluded that 'the terrorists' are incapable of purchasing, commandeering,
or even hiring a taxi or limo; or (b) the response to the 'Terror Alert'
had nothing to do with security.
It is not likely that the policies at LAX, and elsewhere, made holiday
travel any safer, but they certainly greatly inconvenienced millions of
travelers. And why? As near as I can tell, to generate support for the
government's Orwellian plan to pre-screen all travelers and assign each
of them a color-coded security risk assessment. Most of us will, I'm sure,
at least initially
, receive the coveted Green ranking, after which
we can look forward to traveling with the ease with which we did prior to
'the day that everything changed.' With the new plan in place, it will only
be 'terrorists' and 'criminals' who will be inconvenienced, you see. And
we can certainly trust the Washington gang to establish reasonable criteria
for determining who is a 'terrorist' and who is not ... can't we?
* * * * * * *
* * * * * *
Speaking of travel (another brilliant segue; I'm
on a roll), the Travel section of the January 25 Sunday L.A.
Times brought word of an exciting new destination that few have yet
discovered. It "remains isolated and serene, brimming with lush greenery,
clean beaches and underwater surprises." It may be, in fact, "the Caribbean's
last great tourist frontier: a low-key oasis of calm azure waters, lush green
hills, wild horses that graze by single-lane roads and vast coral sea beds
inhabited by iridescent fish."
And how has this paradise remained largely undiscovered until now? Well
... primarily because the United States has spent the last 62 years bombing
the shit out of it. And that is the kind of thing that can really put a damper
on the tourist industry. But it's a good thing, as it turns out, that we
spent 62 years bombing the shit out of a place of extraordinary natural beauty.
By doing so, and keeping people away, "paradoxically, the Navy preserved
the beauty of [the island] for posterity."
Talk about putting a positive spin on things ...
So what exactly is this hidden treasure? It is a 21-mile-long island
off the coast of Puerto Rico known as Vieques. And like the Times
said, Vieques is "brimming with ... surprises." One of the biggest
surprises, however, may come months or years after your visit to Vieques,
when the Depleted Uranium poisoning begins to take its toll and you discover
that the fish aren't the only things around Vieques that are iridescent.
Yes, it's true, people: no longer do you have to enlist for military
service and be shipped off to faraway places like Iraq or Afghanistan to
experience the blowback effects of the wholesale use of radioactive weaponry.
Now you can get the very same experience in a lush, tropical setting. Book
now, why demand is still low!
[Reed Johnson "Forays on Vieques," Los Angeles Times, January
* * * * * * *
* * * * * *
As we stand on the threshold of an exciting new year, it is, by tradition,
a time for list-making. And so I thought that I would put together a list
that will, with any luck at all, provoke as many people as possible.
Here then, for your consideration, is a list of myths that seem to have
taken root in the 'progressive' community -- myths that, from where I
sit, need to be put to rest. That, of course, is just my opinion.
Myth #1: A "neocon" cabal has hijacked the Bush administration's
foreign policy, setting America on a new and dangerous course.
I should first mention here that, although it may have escaped
many readers' attention, the word "neocon" has never before appeared
in one of these newsletters. That is because I like to, as much as possible,
focus on things that actually exist. And that is also because I haven't
felt the need to find some elaborate way of explaining the alleged change
in U.S. foreign policy, primarily because I haven't been able to detect
a noticeable change in U.S. foreign policy. The change that others perceive
is based on several more myths, beginning with:
Myth #2: Team Bush set a dangerous new precedent by introducing
the notion of 'preemptive' wars.
And that is, I guess, in stark contrast to our past military ventures,
which have been, I suppose, purely defensive actions (self-defense being
the only legally defensible reason for undertaking military actions against
another sovereign state) -- like when we defended ourselves against Serbia.
And Bosnia. And Somalia. And Panama. And Granada. And Vietnam. And Laos.
And Cambodia. And all the other countries that apparently attacked us
first, or at least seriously threatened to, although I can't, off the top
of my head, recall the specific attacks that we were responding to in any
of those cases.
To be sure, under Team Bush we were fed lies to garner our support for
two (yes, two) unprovoked, illegal, unjustified wars. But what exactly
is new about that?
Myth #3: Team Bush's disdain for international treaties and agreements
Not by any objective standard, although it may seem that way to
those who until very recently viewed America as some great and benevolent
force in the world. Wake up and smell the coffee, folks: the U.S. did not
suddenly abandon its previous role as international do-gooder and become
an international menace overnight. The record is very clear: America has
been, for a very long time, the single greatest impediment to the establishment
of international human rights standards, international arms control agreements,
and an International Criminal Court. Consider the following excerpts from
landmark 1998 report, "United States
of America - Rights for All":
- "There are only two countries in the world that have not
ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. One is the collapsed
state of Somalia which has no recognized government — the other is the
- "(T)he USA is also one of only a handful of countries
that have not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination against Women."
- "The first UN human rights treaty ratified by the USA
was the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
It ratified the Convention in 1988, 40 years after signing it and after
97 other states had already ratified it."
- “The USA took 28 years to ratify the International Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, after 133 other
states had already ratified it…"
- "At least 71 other states ratified the Convention against
Torture before the USA."
- "It was only in 1992, after 109 other states, that the
USA ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
(ICCPR), 26 years after its adoption by the UN General Assembly."
- "The ICCPR is one of two principal treaties protecting
human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The other — the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights — has still not been ratified by the USA."
- "(T)he USA has refused to recognize any regional human
rights treaties: it has not ratified the American Convention on Human Rights,
adopted by the OAS (Organization of American States) in 1969, and has not
even signed the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture,
the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons and the
Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence against
And that is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg. George Bush's 'liberal'
predecessor did nothing to rectify any of those, uhmm, 'oversights.' He also
presided over the rejection of a major international arms agreement and
openly flaunted an international ban on the use of landmines by introducing
a new $50,000,000 landmine program not long before said ban was to go into
Myth #4: The "neocons" have taken a new, hardline stance in support
of Israeli aggression. By some accounts, Israel now dictates U.S. foreign
policy, through Jewish "neocons" like Wolfowitz and Perle.
The truth is that the United States has always taken a hardline,
pro-Israel stance, and has always looked the other way while Israel commits
egregious human rights violations in the occupied territories. In fact,
the U.S. has made a habit of being the only nation to consistently side
with Israel and defend its actions in the face of worldwide opposition.
In 1981 alone, many years before the 'neocons' took the reins, the U.S.
was Israel's sole defender during UN voting on 11 different resolutions.
As many as 141 countries voted against the U.S./Israeli positions.
And so, once again, we see that what has been portrayed as a radical
change in course is, in truth, the perpetuation of an historical pattern.
America has always armed, protected and quietly supported Israel -- which
is essentially an enormous, nuclear-armed, Western military outpost in
the Middle East. Israel, to put it bluntly, is a tool of the West, not the
other way around.
"But wait," you say, "isn't America fighting Israel's war in the Middle East?"
No. America is fighting for the same thing America always fights for: the
advancement of American corporate interests. Those interests happen to be
shared by the corporate/political elite of Israel.
Myth #5: The policies of Team Bush have antagonized and alienated
many of our closest allies, straining relationships with many previously
It would be far more accurate to say that the brazen criminality
of the Bush team, as opposed to the more covert criminality of preceding
administrations, has forced other world leaders to occasionally distance
themselves from the U.S., lest they incur the wrath of the people. But
said leaders will always be quick to kiss and make-up if provided with the
slightest hint of political cover (such as the capture of Saddam Hussein).
As I have said before, I do not believe that the heads-of-state
of other 'Western' nations have many significant differences with
their American counterparts with regards to motive or agenda. The difference
is one of strategy, due to the fact that a population with knowledge of
history and a reasonably accurate view of current events forces a certain
amount of restraint upon the actions of national leaders. U.S. leaders, on
the other hand, can operate virtually without restraint.
In other words, while Bush has certainly done a fine job of provoking
legitimate outrage among the world's people, he has only provoked staged
outrage among the leaders of the 'Western world.' Indeed, behind the scenes
there could well be much admiration for an administration so transparent
in its motives, and so brazen in its lies, and yet so successful at maintaining
Myth #6: The European Union is going to rise up as some kind of
counter-force to the U.S. military machine.
Sorry, but I just don't see that happening. The EU is fully complicit
in the drive for global fascism, and all of Europe will ultimately adopt
the police-state blueprint being drafted in America, albeit on a somewhat
different timetable. There will be no meaningful foreign opposition,
and there will be no place to run and hide.
Myth #7: The current war in Iraq was drafted in 1998 by the "neocon"
cabal operating as the "Project for a New American Century."
By 1998, the war against Iraq had already been underway for many
years, following a script that was obviously written before the first George
Bush began military operations by pummeling Iraq from the air. That was,
for the memory impaired, followed by years of crippling sanctions and the
enforcement of illegal 'no-fly zones' that were created specifically to
provide a pretext for intermittent bombings that continued for well over
None of that was intended to 'contain' Saddam Hussein, or to force his
compliance with cynical UN resolutions; the goal was always to weaken the
nation's defenses and demoralize the civilian population as preparation
for a military occupation that was in the cards long before "Little George
and the Neocons" came to town.
Myth #8: The real reason for the war in Iraq is concern over "Peak
The notion of "Peak Oil" seems to have been carefully seeded throughout
the 'progressive' community, most prominently by Michael Ruppert, but
by many others as well. Personally, I ain't buying it. It positively reeks
of bullshit. What the "Peak Oil" promoters are essentially saying is: "I
am outraged by the fact that Team Bush has waged a war of aggression motivated
solely by the pursuit of oil ... but (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) it's a
damn good thing that they did, because the world is quickly running out
of oil and if we don't grab it now, we're going to be in big trouble, and
Now don't get me wrong -- I really want the "Peak Oil" thing to
be true. I can't really think of a better scenario, at this point, than
the world running out of oil. The entire global fascist system (or GFS
for short, which is kind of like the NWO, only different, since the NWO is
usually pitched as some sort of global communist/socialist system), you see,
runs on oil. The military machine can't operate without it. The global corporate
infrastructure can't run without it. It is the life-blood of global capitalism.
So there would be a certain poetic justice if those who had toiled so long
to achieve their dream of world domination were to suddenly find themselves
- on the eve of declaring game, set and match - unable to operate the empire
they had created. We would then be forced, alas, to start over -- to rebuild
It would be nice if that were true. It would save the American people,
and the world's people, a lot of work. But I don't see it happening. And,
yes, I am aware that 'experts,' with far more knowledge in the field than
I, have warned of "Peak Oil." But I am also aware that if the right people
consult with the right 'experts,' those 'experts' will say pretty much
anything they are asked to say.
Myth #9: The (fill in the blank) scandal is going to bring down
the House of Bush, or key members within it.
Some writers seem to have an obsession with predicting the imminent
demise of Team Bush (I'm thinking here again, for some reason, of Michael
Ruppert), as one scandal or another supposedly threatens to overtake the,
uhmm, "neocons" -- as though the dissemination of deliberately leaked
'limited hangouts,' and other damage control measures, somehow indicates
that the media has suddenly decided to do its job.
The Plame scandal was, according to many, the one that was going to
bring Team Bush down. It gave a lot of lefties a chance to express outrage
over the outing of a CIA asset, and to absurdly claim that such an outing
threatens our national security, when all that is really threatened is
both the success of various covert operations aimed at expanding the Western
empire, and the well-being of the assets involved in those operations.
Personally, I would like to see Team Bush expand on this new policy.
In fact, I think the names of all CIA assets around the world should be
published. Let the chips fall where they may. I'm guessing that more than
a few outed assets would be shipped home in roughly the same condition as
Charles Dean. I'm not suggesting here, mind you, that Charles was, you know,
a CIA asset or anything like that, even though his ultra-conservative family
has long been deeply connected. Charles just happened to be backpacking
around Laos at the time that a genocidal war was being covertly waged there.
I'm sure that a lot of pleasure-seekers were backpacking around Laos at
the time. And I'm also sure that little brother Howard, being the 'liberal,'
'anti-war' candidate that he is, never had any affiliation with the CIA.
No, he has turned his back on his family's money and politics -- not unlike,
I suppose, that Osama bin Laden guy. But here I digress ...
Myth #10: Team Bush's militarism and domestic repression is driven by
a 'crisis' of global capitalism.
This school of thought holds that Team Bush's resort to more overtly fascist
rule is a desperate attempt to keep a failed system propped up. In essence,
this is yet another attempt to explain what is portrayed as a significant
break in the continuum of U.S. foreign and domestic policy. But here again
I must ask: what has really changed?
With a 'liberal,' pre-9/11 administration in place, we launched unprovoked
cruise missile strikes on two sovereign nations (Sudan and Afghanistan).
We intermittently bombed, throughout the entire 8-year administration, the
nation of Iraq, while simultaneously 'sanctioning' hundreds of thousands
of Iraqi civilians to early graves. We launched an unprovoked war of aggression
against Serbia, justified with stories of genocide and ethnic cleansing
that turned out to be - surprise! - lies. We openly flaunted international
law and then charged our victims with war crimes, even while openly celebrating
our own war crimes. We meddled covertly in the affairs of countless nations.
We enthusiastically embraced 'globalization,' 'free markets' and 'free trade.'
We cheered welfare 'reform,' just as many of us now cheer Medicare 'reform.'
We doubled the nation's prison population. We expanded the use of the death
penalty and expanded the reach of the FBI and the CIA. We experienced 'terrorist'
attacks at both the World Trade Center and the Oklahoma City federal building,
and those attacks were followed by legislation that vastly expanded the
repressive powers of the state, setting the stage for the even more repressive
So what has changed? Very little, except that the volume has been turned
up. And it will continue to be turned up. Because the bitch of it is, you
see, that within a few years, the way things are today won't seem all that
bad. But for the 'powers that be,' that hardly represents a crisis. To the
contrary, it represents progress.
* * * * * * *
* * * * * *
So much more to rant about, and so many potential
readers with short attention spans ... no choice then, I suppose, but to
break this rant up into smaller pieces. The next installment is nearing completion
and should be posted soon. Until then ...