Happy new year! I've meant to write posts for weeks, but I'm too busy enjoying life. Actually, that isn't quite it. Throughout the month of December, the temperature has been well below average. The cats love it, and have been quite active and therefore quite hungry, so my time has been dedicated almost exclusively to filling and washing their bowls and working the door. It's hard to believe, but day and night, if I've let a cat outside, the usual wait for another to show for food service has been about three minutes. During the most extreme, bitter cold nights, the cats have wanted to stay outdoors, which worries Daddy, and I haven't slept well. I've had them inside and napped with them as much as they will allow, as it gives us bonding time that I see as essential for their survival in an environment that is hostile and challenges their sense of attachment. It's time well spent, but hardly constructive when it comes to home or blog maintenance. Suddenly the weather turned to spring, with thunderstorms and the year's first tornado warnings, before going back to subfreezing.
With the caucuses and primaries consuming every news outlet, it's easy to forget many important things unrelated to the election are happening. One is impeachment. Before new years, David Swanson had this stunning article detailing impeachable offenses of 2007 and a few before. The list is impressive for its length and severity. I was going to summarize his list, but after a few hours' study decided it was too onerous. You may wish to review it yourself. To give you an idea of what's there, here are Swanson's categories: standing offenses; secrecy and coverups, 9 references; signing statements and assertions of dictatorial power, 7 references; turning government agencies into republican party machine, 16 references; election fraud, 3 references; spying, 15 references; global warming, 6 references; California energy crisis: new evidence, 1 reference; ongoing intentional destruction of New Orleans, 1 reference; lying to Congress and public in state of the union—an annual ritual, 7 references; threatening a war of aggression in Iran, 3 references; Iran lies, 2 references; Iraq lies: new evidence, 14 references; Plame, 5 references; Libby commutation, the misuse of commutation to avoid implication is itself an impeachable offense; ongoing and worsening occupation of Iraq, 7 references; war crimes, 20 references; mercenaries, 6 references; torture and illegal prisons, 24 references; plus he mentions Bush got a new attorney general who refuses to recognize torture.
Consider that if there were only one republican in Congress, a democratic president would be summarily impeached for committing even one offense equal to anything on this very long list. It's no wonder the word "change" came up, first from Obama and then, almost immediately, from almost everyone else. It's astonishing and mesmerizing for Jonathan Schell:
To state the obvious, this word, taken by itself, is an almost perfect vacuum. Its ubiquity marks a surprisingly metaphysical turn in American politics, as if Hegelians or the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers had taken charge of our political discussion. In actuality, of course, it is not philosophers but political consultants, market researchers, TV ad writers and pollsters who have created the new abstract vocabulary, distilling all the particulars of American aspirations into a few blurry, glowing phrases—or in this case, just one word.Please! The word change has been used in campaigns since the beginning of time, as if voters can't distinguish different policies from different politicians. They're great at saying let's leave behind the clumsy, greedy people and ideas of the past to something new: someone else's clumsiness and greed. i wanted to make this post Jan. 1 because I'm weary of this mundane rationale. Personality colors Washington politicians' behavior but falls far short of explaining why we get the caliber of rubbish policy. No party has a franchise. Who are these people? What motivates them, and for whom do they work? They don't work for us, the people who elected them, and who, in all matters of discourse, are seen by Washington as an element to marginalize.
• Robert Parry from Dec. 31, 2007:
Hillary Clinton’s campaign is signaling that a second Clinton presidency will follow the look-to-the-future, don’t-worry-about-accountability approach toward Republican wrongdoing that marked Bill Clinton’s years in office.I'd like to think voters are ahead of Robert Parry on this most damning point about Sen. Clinton, or up to his level of thinking at least. I don't have any real reason to think that's the case. The Clintons are Bush subjects, and for the life of me I don't know why. Something else would seem to explain Hillary's consistent support for war than currying Bush's or the GOP's favor when she knows it alienates most democrats.
That was the significance of former President Clinton’s remarkable Dec. 17 comment that his wife’s first act in the White House would be to send Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush on an around-the-world mission to repair America’s damaged image. [...]
In responding to Bill Clinton’s remark, George H.W. Bush issued a statement making clear he would not join in any slap at his son’s foreign policy. That also means Hillary Clinton’s “first thing” is unthinkable if her new administration were trying to exact any accountability from George W. Bush for his wrongdoing. [...]
In the mid-1990s, even as the Republican attack machine pounded the Clintons with allegations about alleged ethical lapses and marital infidelities, the Clinton administration acted like it was determined to prove that it could be trusted with the nation’s dark secrets, that it could cover up wrongdoing with the best of them.
The consequence for America, however, was different. With George H.W. Bush’s dubious public record whitewashed, the door was opened to the restoration of the Bush Dynasty. If the full truth had been known about former President Bush, it’s hard to conceive how George W. Bush ever could have become President.
Are voters, the vote count and democracy itself so irrelevant that politicians can crash the world economy conducting wars the majority oppose because they are beholden to war industry campaign donations? The answer is yes. Parry's point isn't wasted on me, and he's stated many times impeachment was Bill Clinton's reward for his forebearance of prosecuting Bush Sr.'s Iran-Contra fiasco. We the people were rewarded with George W. Bush. Why does it suck for everyone but the Bushes, who deserve a swift kick in the britches? In recent days Hillary has been criticized for showing emotion, and some pundits speculate her campaign is looking for direction. It's annoying that the guns on Hillary's hips are giant cannons she of course won't draw. She's the only candidate with the potential to win with a big landslide—not that I've been a supporter. It's irritating to see someone getting a rare chance, having the tools to achieve it and blowing it by not using the tools. Hillary should declare a miraculous moment of spiritual realization wherein she's seen she works for the people and will stop the middle east wars. From her, it would mean something. She could say she's sad and angry with what has happened, and will hold the criminal perpetrators of the Bush administration accountable; furthermore, she could promise to avenge her husband's impeachment—then go forward and actually do all of it.
What other candidate has a weapon that large in their repertoire? None of them. If you ask me, a fully engaged, emotionally aroused Hillary Clinton is just what the doctor ordered for this country.Her supporters in New York should be all right with that and her place in the senate secure, assuming she'd remain and the seat is chosen by voters and not another process. Even if she lost the presidential race, she would have to her credit the most distinguished campaign of all time, with a message that would resound for generations.
I don't think Robert Parry and I are the only ones who understand that, even though it seems most of Hillary's supporters are people who think things were better under President Clinton, and they'd like to go to something better, while the idea of wrestling control of the country away from the small group of self-appointed rulers in which she belongs or aspires is likely prevalent among Hillary's opponents. As Rep. Waxman has the opportunity to give a public hearing for Sibel Edmonds, Sen. Clinton could do the right thing and sea change the world. But they won't. In Sen. Clinton's case, there's a great chance it will cost her the election and soon you can be certain the executive and legislative branches (at least) will be populated by only the world's biggest criminals. I can understand Hillary doesn't want to go the way of John F. Kennedy, his brother and son—as I understand when JFK was killed, so was democracy.
This is all rather pure truth. It's also boring, tedious, mundane and a repetition of what you read everywhere. Bush and Cheney break the law nonstop because they're congenital criminals, but that doesn't explain the whole of what they're doing. Previous generations would have tossed them in short order. Today it can't happen. Why is that? Hillary Clinton has the best story ever told in a campaign and a once-in-a-lifetime, golden opportunity to run the world's most powerful nation. Instead of telling the story, she enables the opposing, minority party and is the polar opposite of her own. When you add all that up, it doesn't make sense; that is, it doesn't make sense if you assume voters select the president, vice president and members of Congress.
One of these days the world will figure out something else is happening. Our executive and legislative branches and the laws they make aren't what citizens want. Instead, they are what the war industry wants. In his article, Is Religion a Threat to Democracy?, Ira Chernus says:
In itself, faith in politics poses no great danger to democracy as long as the debates are really about policies—and religious values are translated into political values, articulated in ways that can be rationally debated by people who don't share them. The challenge is not to get religion out of politics. It's to get the quest for certitude out of politics.Sorry, Ira, I disagree. The repressive and authoritative, warmongering ass America has become isn't voters' or citizens' fault; indeed, voters and the vote count are irrelevant, as they've been for decades. Increased citizen activism, courage or some other miraculous, transformative hocus pocus won't change that. So long as the majority of the budget goes to defense, defense owns Washington, politics and us. I appreciate Ira's scholarship and that of everyone else in this discussion. He's correct to say the solution lies with the population, but our all-war-all-the-time society isn't caused or wanted by the population, and isn't their fault.
The first step is to ask why that quest seems increasingly central to our politics today. It's not simply because a right-wing cabal wants to impose its religion on us. The cabal exists, but it's not powerful enough to shape the political scene on its own. That power lies with millions of voters across the political spectrum. Candidates talk about faith because they want to win votes.
Voters reward faith talk because they want candidates to offer them symbols of immutable moral order. The root of the problem lies in the underlying insecurities of voters, in a sense of powerlessness that makes change seem so frightening, and control - especially of others - so necessary.
The only way to alter that condition is to transform our society so that voters will feel empowered enough to take the risks, and tolerate the freedom that democracy requires. That would be genuine change. It's a political problem with a political solution. Until that solution begins to emerge, there is no way to take the conservative symbolic message of faith talk out of American politics.
Dennis Kucinich's omission by NBC (which is owned by major defense supplier General Electric) from the Nevada democratic debate, upheld by a conservative court, resulting in his being forced out of the presidential race, demonstrates why America stays in the war cycle. War profiteers will move heaven and earth to make sure there is no choice in the presidential election except between the most strident war hawks on earth. This point has never been more elegantly presented than in this 48-page report on electromagnetic weapons from a year ago:
A long thread of sociological research documents the existence of a dominant ruling class in the US that sets policy and determines national political priorities. The American ruling class is complex and inter-competitive, maintaining itself through interacting families of high social standing with similar life styles, corporate affiliations, and memberships in elite social clubs and private schools.The assertion is that 118 privileged corporatists run the world and therefore dictate political and public policy for everyone everywhere. I agree. I'd like to see their complete list, and hear all these individuals explain themselves. Political discourse is directed too much to minor details at present. We don't look at this bigger picture. Because we don't, humanity is permanently relegated to subjugation.
This American ruling class is self-perpetuating, maintaining its influence through policy-making institutions such as the National Manufacturing Association, National Chamber of Commerce, Business Council, Business Roundtable, Conference Board, American Enterprise Institute, Council on Foreign Relations and other business-centered policy groups. Wright Mills, in his 1956 book The Power Elite, documents how World War II solidified a trinity of power in the US, comprised of corporate, military and government elites in a centralized power structure motivated by class interests and working in unison through "higher circles" of contact and agreement. Mills described how the power elite were those “who decide whatever is decided” of major consequence. [...]
We now understand that Eisenhower was referring to the conjunction of redirected tax monies to research secret new technology aimed at nothing less than increasing the controlling power of the military industrial elite to a global scale.
One particular faction of ambitious men, the former cold warriors and emerging neo-conservatives, were close followers of philosopher Leo Strauss. This elite group included not just generals and industrialists but philosophers, scientists, academics, and politicians have now become the most powerful public-private war organization ever known.
Strauss espoused an elitist philosophy that fawned over the characteristics of those who inherited wealth and lived lives of leisure to pursue whatever their interests may be. His ideas have been transformed into a cogent ideology in which the media, religion, and government are used to subdue the masses while the real “nobles” follow their own will without regard to the laws designed to control lesser men. Strauss was likewise fond of secrecy, as a necessity for control, because if the lesser men found out what was being done to them they would no doubt be upset.
“The people will not be happy to learn that there is only one natural right–the right of the superior to rule over the inferior, the master over the slave, the husband over the wife, and the wise few over the vulgar many.” In On Tyranny, Strauss refers to this natural right as the “tyrannical teaching” of his beloved ancients.
Leo Strauss, Albert Wohlstetter, and others at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought receive wide credit for promoting the neo-conservative agenda through their students, Paul Wolfowitz, Allan Bloom, and Bloom's student Richard Perle. [...]
There is ample evidence available to show that some individuals within government and industry have little problem with violating the public trust and using their positions to kill, maim, torture and destroy. It is of the utmost importance to our traditional American values of human rights and cognitive liberty that we recognize this threat from within. We must move to identify those who
show these proclivities and ensure that their activities have adequate oversight. [...]
Psychological Warfare, Information War, and mind control may seem to be exotic topics, but the impact of these technologies and techniques is profound. Our minds are being impacted through a longstanding series of programs aimed at manipulating public opinion through intelligence agencies, think tanks, corporate media and a host of non-governmental organizations designed to engender fear, division and uncertainty in the public. Media manipulation involving the artificial framing of our collective reality is often a hit or miss proposition, but psychological operations have been carried out in the past, and are being carried out even today, through the practices of “Information Warfare,” directed at enemies abroad and at the American people. [...]
The US is a system of many institutions including those whose sole function is to provide government oversight. When problems arise that threaten the stability of the country or the safety of the people, the US government is designed to have checks and balances that allow the people to challenge misconduct either directly or through congressional representatives. Increasingly, oversight is disintegrating. According to a 2006 report in the Boston Globe, the intelligence committee does not read most intelligence reports in their entirety.
The media is complicit in omitting information necessary to make democratic decisions. A global dominance agenda includes penetration into the boardrooms of the corporate media in the US. A research team at Sonoma State University recently finished conducting a network analysis of the boards of directors of the ten big media organizations in the US. The team determined that only 118 people comprise the membership on the boards of director of the ten big media giants. These 118 individuals in turn sit on the corporate boards of 288 national and international corporations. Four of the top 10 media corporations in the US have DOD contractors on their boards of directors including:
William Kennard: New York Times, Carlyle Group
Douglas Warner III, GE (NBC), Bechtel
John Bryson: Disney (ABC), Boeing
Alwyn Lewis: Disney (ABC), Halliburton
Douglas McCorkindale: Gannett, Lockheed-Martin
Given an interlocked media network, big media in the US effectively represent corporate America’s interests. The media elite, a key component of policy elites in the US, are the watchdogs of acceptable ideological messages, the controllers of news and information content, and the decision makers regarding media resources.
These concepts are marvelously simple to wrap your mind around. I've enjoyed taking my sweet time reading this report, simultaneously nurturing the growing knot in my stomach assembling this post. I'll finish it shortly with a discussion of where we're going that even the most ardent left denies.
Update: You can read part two here.