Friday, June 02, 2006

You know you're living in a dictatorship when public opinion becomes irrelevant

The liberal celebration of the collapse of Bush's popularity seems misplaced amid Bush's continued offensive against the American people, the Constitution, and the Rule of Law. If poll numbers meant anything —or if the United States could still maintain even a pretense of accountability —Bush would have already been impeached, resigned, or investigated. Instead, Bush has consolidated his power on several fronts and he has done so in the face of vehement, widespread opposition and revulsion. He has done so despite the fact that most people think he's a liar if not an outright fraud.

Much of the opposition to Bush still seems naive, locked into the GOP/Democrat paradigm. In fact, this is not Democrats vs GOP; it's freedom vs slavery, democracy vs totalitarianism. We will be no better off, nothing will have been gained if Democrats should win but fail to rescind Bush's power gains.

Bush holds several trump cards, not the least of which is how he dictates the agenda through the mainstream media. Big media means big corporations. They will pay lip service to equal time even when equal times means balancing truth with more lies. Big corporations spend billions to outshout the independent voice. The assault on "net neutrality" is just one example, but, perhaps, the most pernicious and catastrophic in the longer term. A successful attack on "net neutrality" will most probably bring to an end the existence of blogs like "The Existentialist Cowboy" or, at the very least, it will marginalize them.

Though FOX pretends to be "fair and balanced", it will never tell you the truth. Though FOX jingoism would have embarrassed even Randolph Hearst, it is not only Fox but CBS, ABC, NBC, and CNN that will be forever silent on the following propositions:
  • The Bush administration has installed a fascist regime and has deliberately sought to consolidate for Bush dictatorial powers that violate the separation of powers, the rule of law, the Bill of Rights, and equal protection under the law.
  • The Bush administration had planned to invade Iraq even before the election of 2000 and began planning a campaign of deliberate lies and frauds that might be cited as pretexts for the illegal attack and invasion of Iraq.
  • The Bush administration deliberately quashed and obstructed in various ways all investigations into the events of 911 even to the extent of destroying physical evidence and sealing records in other instances.
  • The recent revelations of murder at Haditha et al are but a part of an emerging pattern of war crimes, atrocities and abuse from Afghanistan to Iraq —in fact, wherever there are U.S. troops under the command of Donald Rumsfeld and his commander-in-chief.
Media silence on these issues is not merely that the media will never utter those propositions as "truth". They will never even be debated! The debate about the investigations of 911, for example, take place on the embattled and endangered internet —not the evening network news programs, PBS, or NPR.

Bush holds still other cards. The Bush administration, for example, eats its own. Bushies are expected to fall on the sword for the naked emperor. Bush has claimed total control over government secrets and, in doing so, fended off Congress and media. As Nat Parry points out, Bush stymied even the investigators in his own administration. It was with Bush's blessing that the NSA killed the investigation into widespread NSA surveillance; it simply refused to grant security clearances to lawyers from the independent Office of Professional Responsibility.

So —yet gain, the Bush administration manages not only to hide the truth about itself but quash the very investigation that might have ferreted it out. Under Bush, no one speaks for the people; no one represents their interests; no one represents them to those who make the plans that violate their rights, their sovereignty, their freedoms. For Bush, the state is absolute and the people exist for the state.

Of the more worrisome trends is an idea sponsored, encouraged and actively promoted by the Bush administration and its supporters in Congress: that the United States is somehow exempt from principles of international law —even those insisted upon by the United States itself. I refer specifically to the Geneva Conventions and the Principles of Nuremberg. I had this debate with an aid to my congressman who tried to tell me that Geneva and Nuremberg infringe upon U.S. sovereignty. That's utter nonsense, of course.
A May 3 Amnesty International report says torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees by U.S. forces is widespread. The AI report states there is clear evidence that much of the physical and psychological abuse stems directly from officially sanctioned procedures and policies including interrogation techniques approved by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for use in Guantanamo and later exported to Iraq. A now declassified document with Rumsfeld’s signature calls for various forms of harsh interrogation including sleep deprivation, extreme environments (hot or cold), holding prisoners naked and keeping them in painful positions such as squatting with feet and hands shackled to the floor.

The evidence shows that these are not the “aberrant acts of irresponsible or immature individuals but a consistent pattern of abuse that reflects government policy,” said Joshua Rubenstein, Amnesty International USA northeast regional director.

UN panel condemns U.S. torture

The U.N. panel that recently called for the closure of GITMO is aware of the Bush administration attempt to rewrite law and history, expressing skepticism about U.S. pledges that it would, in effect, stop torturing people illegally. The panel, therefore, called on the U.S. to "cease" the process of "rendition" i.e., the transfer of "suspects" to countries where "...they face the real risk of torture."

I am quite sure that the members of the panel phrased their remarks diplomatically. They are most certainly aware that increasing "...the real risk of torture" is the very purpose of "rendition". But, again, you will not find this issue debated in the MSM.

But the panel is to be commended for bluntly challenging the U.S. position that "...some elements of the anti-torture convention are not applicable in times of war." Challenging the very premises of the Bush regime, the panel wrote that United States should ensure that the principles of the Geneva Convention "...appl[y] at all times, whether in peace, war or armed conflict." This is nothing less than a sweeping, stinging rebuke. It asserts the authority of Geneva not only abroad but over the questionable administration of prisons inside this country. Such an investigation should begin in Texas, Bush's shameful legacy.

In the meantime, however, we have little choice but to slug it out in the trenches, behind the barricades. There is little hope of reward or even eventual victory. I am always buoyed by stories of courage. True courage is often overlooked, unsung, little chronicled. The most profound instances of courage often fail to make the pages of a scholarly history. Fortunately, however, some of them survive to be told again to later generations.

One such story is about Voltaire, who was roused by Catholic atrocities in Toulouse. He literally papered Europe with his pre-internet polemics. Voltaire always spoke truth to power and often paid dearly for having done so. He was the first existentialist. He was once accosted by a gang of young aristocrats envious of the attentions Voltaire received at a fashionable soiree. "Who do you think you are?" they demanded of him. He answered calmly: "I have no name but the name that I have made for myself!" For his wit and for the courage to stand up for what he believed, Voltaire was beaten, condemned and thrown into the Bastille.

No one said this would be easy.



The Existentialist Cowboy
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