Four More Fears

Four More Fears

Went to sleep in the land of the free,
woke up, the world’s enemy;
the undying nature of history
is to repeat itself until we finally see

Television is not a pastime in which I choose to indulge. For the most part, it’s a brain-suck. A time-waster. Something to do when you don’t know what to do with yourself. Sure, there are benefits to be reaped by selectively clicking the universal remote and surfing through the fiber-optic and broadcast universe, but in general it’s a passive activity that demands inaction on the part of the viewer.

Inaction is exactly what the powers-that-be desire of you, John and Joan Q. Public. To sit there and do nothing with what little spare time is left after a long work-day, soaking up the carefully prepared programming that’s created to engage your senses and excite them at the same time, all the while lulling you into a passive, pre-occupied state. Like a grand illusionist, magically materializing rabbits and decks of cards, levitating fighter jets and making civil liberties disappear. Like the unreal sight of towers falling into rubble, it all plays out like a work of fiction; a welcome relief from the grueling realities of the day-to-day. Like any great magician, smoke and mirrors and the use of cunning misdirection are employed to create the desired effect, especially when it comes to non-fiction as interpreted by the mainstream media. What may appear to be a bombshell expose’ is actually a carefully-crafted sleight of hand trick that attracts attention away from the reality that you’re not supposed to know about.

But even the most skilled practitioners of magic have a delicate balancing act to maintain in order to preserve their illusions. Once a decision is made to become a master manipulator, an apprentice must first join a fellowship of magicians, taking a pledge not to reveal the secrets of their trade. The international fraternity of magicians is not unlike that secret society Skull and Bones, in that loyalty is rewarded and betrayal is an act that attracts no mercy. As anyone who has ever purchased a parlor trick knows, there are some secrets that are simply hard to keep — either through wide availability of information or badly performed magic. Upon witnessing a neophyte magician bumbling a well-known illusion, it becomes obvious how the trick is achieved. Magic, like movies, television or books, often relies upon the willingness of a subject to be led into a fantasy that can be totally believed. For those that aggressively seek the truth behind all those silk scarves and disappearing coins, it can be a long and frustrating path if everyone within the secret circle does their job right.

America’s press corps is filled with prestidigitators, willing participants in an elaborate and carefully conceived ruse designed to manipulate the facts in favor of those that could benefit from the deception. This misdirection, commonly known as “propaganda”, is so commonplace that it usually escapes detection. My generation, your generation, our parents’ generation, their parents’ generation, have all been subject to it for all of our lives. We grew up believing it, testifying daily to it, incorporating it into the formation of our ideologies and understandings about Life and the world that we live in. This covert plan of disinformation, usually benefiting the rich and powerful of America, our government and its well-heeled supporters, has been chugging along smoothly now for a century and has helped to shape this country into the world power that it has become. But let any performer tell you this: get too comfortable performing a trick or fall into a routine and you run the risk of slipping up, revealing the carefully conceived fallacies that are the foundation of your act. The powerful secret circle of George W. Bush has let their skills go to their top-hatted heads and it’s become very easy to spot the gimmicks behind the illusions. And those die-hard truth-seekers who desire to know how the tricks really work are aided by that supremely streamlined entity The Internet; a conduit for information through which the true seeds of revolution are now being sown.

2004 was the year of the blogger, some would say. After all, it was blogs, those archives of newsworthy text and links, that lifted the curtain on the CBS News scandal involving Dan Rather and those questionable documents involving Bush’s National Guard service (or lack thereof.) In ever-increasing numbers, these itinerant communicators, many of whom are credentialed journalists, are popping up in links listings all over the ‘net, dissecting the disinfo spread by Those Who Would Have You Not Know. It’s getting harder and harder to pull the wool over America’s eyes, but it’s not being shouted from the rooftops just yet. Mainstream media, the corporate-owned newspapers and television outlets, tend to cluck their tongues at the bloggers, dismissing them as “leftist rebels” and “discontented liberals” with their own brand of spin. Not to be left out of the madding crowd, there is a spirited share of right-wing, conservative bloggers who make their cases in daily archives designed to support their cause and discredit the voices from the left. Even so, the content of their blogs often contain more meat than the easily digestible tidbits that are offered up to those content to get their news from Fox or CNN.

Like the tagline for The X-Files, the truth is out there and ready for consumption, it just takes effort and a strong desire to do research. Anyone who simply reads one blog entry or one news story, and takes it as gospel, is blindly accepting someone else’s point of view. Like any great reward, pure and unspoiled information sometimes requires work and diligence. On the web, this usually means doing a lot of cross-referencing and comparisons of various sources to come up with a resounding fact. For your average American couch potato, this is way too much work for something that will ultimately result in feelings of anger, resentment or insecurity. The urge might then follow to actually do something about it, and so many are content to simply sit back and believe what Rupert Murdoch is shilling. But once you cross the line and discover the truth behind the mass media lies, it’s difficult, if not impossible to ever return to a state of unabashed ignorance. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russian author of The Gulag Archipelago wrote that the easy life of the west is conducive to sleep, thus making the possibility of another Gulag inevitable. John Scolaro, a professor of humanities at Valencia Community College in Orlando, Florida, summed it up like this: “what is really killing us is apathy, not terrorism.” Knowing requires action. Most people are too tired from their daily grind to exert any more effort than they are already making. The government depends on this and cranks up the propaganda machines at appropriate times to ensure the appropriate response, which is, in effect, nothing. But the Bush Cabal has gotten so bold in their approach to world conquest that the seams in the fabric of lies is beginning to show, even through the major media outlets. This became incredibly apparent during the recent inaugural festivities, during which the first of “four more fears” raised its ugly head.

Fear #1: Democracy Is Kaput

Despite my aversion to mainstream broadcast television, I decided to watch the swearing-in ceremony and subsequent procession because there’s nothing like live t.v. to show you the sometimes unvarnished and unguarded truth. Watching the proceedings, an unnerving chill ice-skated up and down my spine, and apparently, from the comments made by pundits across the land, I wasn’t the only one with Ice Capades Follies performed upon my back. A huge stink had already been raised regarding the lavish nature of the inaugural festivities, with many calling for a less-ostentatious ceremony in a time of war. Bush and Co. deflected such criticisms, referring to the inauguration as a “celebration” that was to “honor” our men and women overseas in Iraq. Some likened the event to a coronation, a crowning of America’s new King George, the ruthless despot in democratic clothing, high off the fumes of a stolen election with his eyes on the ultimate prize. How about honoring our men and women in the armed forces by giving them adequate protection from the mortars and RPG’s that let fly a reported 70 times a day? Flipping back and forth between broadcast channels (my wife and I don’t normally watch t.v., so no cable), I finally settled on ABC for the fact that they seem to usually have the best picture and also had the most revealing camera angles of the event, sometimes zooming in so tightly on faces that you could see a person’s pores. With the game-faced Peter Jennings presiding, I watched the procession of government luminaries as they emerged from the bowels of the Capitol. Some apparently didn’t know that they were on camera, which afforded some of those aforementioned unguarded moments.

As I watched, imagining how others around the world must be seeing the presentation, it became clear that Bush’s so-called “mandate” had greased the tracks of his administration, giving them the go-ahead to push on with ever-increasing speed towards their goal of world conquest. As The Orlando Sentinel headline screamed the next morning, “U.S. Must Spread Freedom, Bush Says”, the inaugural address was an astonishing display of hubris, with the president dishing out an ambiguous and ambitious message for the world: Behave Or Else. The word “freedom” was tossed out 27 times; “liberty” came in second with 15 mentions. “Iraq”, however, was only indirectly mentioned as he read “Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom.” Which is a nice way, I suppose, of glossing over the butchery that continues in Fallujah, where our armed forces are reportedly removing evidence that points to their use of Weapons of Mass Destruction on the people there.

Another curious line that was dissected and discussed by many was “the best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in our world.” As Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder wondered on Air America‘s “Majority Report” , what the heck does that mean? “Expansion” has a highly imperial ring to it, which doesn’t seem to be far from the truth set forth by the Bush administration. To “spread” freedom likens the concept to either butter or a contagious virus, though Bush contradicts himself with the lines “freedom, by its nature, must be chosen” and “America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling.” One could surmise from this last statement that the Iraqi people are completely cool with having democratic elections forced upon them in the name of so-called “freedom.” The speech was filled with a number of these groaners, none of which disguised the thinly veiled fact that the Bush Doctrine is dead-set on a colonial mission endorsed by the Christian right, in which heathen third-world countries are liberated, educated, transubstantiated and illuminated. That Bush extolled the virtues of “freedom” while protesters, caught on camera interrupting his speech, were accosted by police, is an irony lost on the clueless only.

Even more eye opening than this clearly stated intent was the manner in which Bush and first lady Laura proceeded to the White House before settling in to review the inaugural parade. Safely ensconced within the black, hearse-like armored limousine that some pundits balefully dubbed “the Popemobile”, the president and first lady cruised down the avenue, waving from behind thick tinted-windows at supporters and protestors alike. C-Span, in a refreshing act of true fair and balanced media, kept cameras trained on the 10,000 or so dissenters gathered at John Marshall Park, not far from the parade route. There, The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition — www.answercoalition.org — stoked the fires of rebellion with vigor, featuring a number of prominent speakers including Democratic Representative Cynthia McKinney and Michael Berg, father of Nicholas Berg who was kidnapped and then killed on video in a gruesome beheading last year in Iraq. As Peter Jennings kept up running commentary, ABC cameras caught remarkable scenes of conflict: security fences being torn down, fires being started, police spraying the crowd of protestors with what looked like a water hose but later turned out to be huge volumes of pepper spray. There were also fruits and other objects being thrown at the presidential limousine which quickly picked up the pace and dashed forward. A sinister-looking procession of black vehicles and dour-looking Secret Service agents in like-colored overcoats grimly inched past the throngs, looking more like a funeral than an inauguration. Even Jennings had a tough time maintaining objectivity, as evidenced in this exchange with ABC correspondent George Will and David Brooks, columnist for The New York Times:

Peter Jennings: This is meat for other people in the rest of the world, when they see these demonstrations on the streets of Washington, isn’t it?

George Will: Oh, not compared to what they’re used to in other countries, where they have much larger demonstrations and being much more ferocious police responses. My reaction to this is somewhat different, this looks to me like a military operation coming up the street.

Jennings: Exactly.

Will: And it’s unworthy. We look like… somewhat like a capital of a banana republic that’s worried about a restive tank regiment on the edge of town. Washington is not this insecure and we’ve been having demonstrations before and having presidential parades for a very long time and I don’t think that the September 11th experience means we have to have, I mean look at that — it does look like civilian tanks rolling up the street. If this is necessary, let’s use the next four years, someone should be deputed to rethink the idea of the presidential parade because this is not attractive.

Jennings: Well George, I agree with you and didn’t say as eloquently but thought it just awhile ago, and I think other colleagues as well, but in a sense, the answer, I think from some members of the public go, well what are you to do? We are in a post-9/11 world and who the devil are these people on the side of the street and how do we know that we don’t have a lethal weapon? I know that it looks to many other people in other parts of the world as a horrible example of a free and open democracy, but what are you to do?

Will: Get in the car, drive from the Capitol at 30 miles an hour and have a parade. [laughter is heard in the background as people in the news bureau react.]

Jennings: Well, that’s a very good point.

Jennings: David Brooks, do you feel you share George Will’s point of view, that maybe we’re just making this look too much like, as he put it, like a banana republic?

David Brooks: Absolutely, they should get rid of this thing. You got the tanks which George mentioned, you’ve also got the voice of the World Wrestling Federation cheering on the crowds like you’ve walked into a George Orwell novel. [Peter laughs]

Later in the broadcast, after repeated promises that the parade, with marching bands and floats, would start eventually, Jennings mentioned that highlights of the show would be “re-packaged” and aired later on in the evening, no doubt with much of the dissent scrubbed out. In fact, despite the overwhelming evidence of anti-Bush sentiment, most major media outlets downplayed the presence of protestors, reducing their numbers with words like “scant”, “few” and “a handful.” More objective voices across the board agree that the number of Bush protestors handily outnumbered the fur and cowboy hat wearing Bush-supporters.

The uncensored insight that I was seeking unfurled itself in full living color, especially when it came to His Bushiness Himself. During the ramp-up to the swearing-in ceremony and immediately after, Bush alternately scowled and smirked, spoke out of the side of his mouth, exchanged knowing winks with cronies and even admonished daughter Jenna for applying lip-gloss while the cameras were rolling. Seems that just about every picture of Dubya lately is a revealing portrait of a man who truly believes that he was born for the job. While watching the shameful spectacle, I again tried to view it all as a Russian or a Brit or an Asian citizen might, removing the learned familiarity of my country’s lavish love of pomp and circumstantial politics. The result was more than a little horrifying. From the bristling presence of helmeted officers to the lordly manner in which those involved conducted themselves, it looked for all the world like a modern-day Nazi newsreel. Bush the Dictator’s true colors were flying for the whole planet to see, while unimaginable horrors continued in Iraq, while Tsunami victims struggled to repair their lives, while the Earth shuddered and coughed as a result of backwards-thinking approaches to Corporatism. He hadn’t minced words, had he? “We are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.”

God Bless us all, indeed.

Fear #2: The Last Days Of Free Speech

With a newly emerging platform of family values, moral character and religious conviction, the Bush administration also has plans for life here in the states while it’s trooping around the world on its neo-conservative mission. And that plan has much to do with combating what it, and supporters, views as serious threats to the fabric of our existence. With newly launched attacks on gay marriage, abortion rights and indecency in the media (that’s a hoot, considering those leveling the charges), the next four years promise to be tumultuous ones and we’re already off and running. The Christian right, already claiming Bush’s perceived victory as their own, have begun lobbying the president and his cabinet, in search of payback for his election. The Rev. Lou Sheldon, founder and chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition (www.traditionalvalues.org), threw a party on the night before the inauguration for 800 people including Gary Bauer, former presidential candidate and head of the Campaign For Working Families, political strategist Ralph Reed and the Rev. Jerry Falwell. All seemed to be in great spirits as “their” president was confirmed for another four years in office. “This is the beginning of a good four years,” said Sheldon. “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” In recent years, the religious right has become more and more involved in the political process, gaining ground with the powers-that-be and alarming those who worry about the ever-narrowing gap in the separation of church and state. At a soiree’ Thursday night while most of Washington was tripping merrily from ball to ball (“inaugural teabagging” Garafalo called it), several noteworthy administration officials made appearances and took part in the festivities including outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft, who delivered a speech during dinner, and Bush campaign wizards Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove who dropped in for cocktails (presumably all virgin.)

How this cozy relationship between right-wing Christian leaders and the Bush administration could effect and/or limit free speech became evident during the same week as the inauguration when James Dobson, founder of Focus On The Family, singled out cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants as being pro-homosexual. He urged others to fight against a new video featuring the yellow pop-culture icon that he said promotes differences of “sexual identity.” Voicing intent to stop the video from being seen, Dobson asked others to stand together in a “spiritual battle” for the country. The video’s creator, Nile Rodgers, said that nothing involving sexual preferences is included in the video, intended to promote tolerance of multiculturalism. The whole affair smacks of the Rev. Falwell’s attempt to boycott Tinky-Winky, one of the stars of the “Teletubbies” t.v. show, for being representative of homosexuality. One wonders why they haven’t gone after Bert and Ernie of “Sesame Street” yet.

Last year saw a record $7.7 million in fines imposed by the FCC for indecent programming, ranging from Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” to the removal of shock jock Howard Stern from several Clear Channel radio stations. FCC chairman Michael Powell, son of outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell, announced during this busy week of comings and goings that he would be stepping down (earning cheers from Stern), stating that he had pretty much accomplished all that he set out to do. “I’m a big believer in the First Amendment,” he said. “But often, I’m increasingly uneasy about lines we have to draw. No one takes pleasure in trying to decide whether this potty-mouth word or that potty-mouth word is a violation of the law.” No one, except for maybe well-heeled Christians in power.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there won’t be any jumping on the anti-Christian bandwagon that gains new riders with each encroaching day. As a believer in Jesus, I’m aware of the fact that there are always bad apples that ruin the experience for everybody else. Jerry Falwell doesn’t speak for me and many other Christians that I know, especially when he displays a very un-Christ like position on national television. His infamous comment to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer regarding the middle east, “if it takes 10 years, let’s blow them all away in the name of the Lord”, shows a severe lack of tolerance for people of other religions. What’s truly scary is how folks like Falwell, Pat Robertson and others have legions of followers who simply believe every bit of racist, elitist claptrap that they spew. As Bush continues to stock his cabinet with the hair-raising likes of Christian conservatives, there’s a murmur traveling the Internet and beyond that we may be seeing a crackdown on television shows, movies, art exhibits and (gasp!) even the Internet itself.

With blogging becoming the hot mode of information gathering, there are ethics issues arising like smoke from this influential campfire. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 27% of adults who go online in the U.S. read blogs. Jonathan Dube, publisher of CyberJournalist.net and a managing producer at MSNBC.com is urging other bloggers to adopt a code of ethics that encourages honesty, fairness, accountability and a minimum of harm inflicted upon subjects. Meanwhile, depending on the situation and circumstances, bloggers are either eager to be accepted as journalists or shun the label altogether, citing subjectivity as their reason for blogging. Given that some blogs are making their way into mainstream news, the White House has recognized this new threat and is already taking action against it. In a recent summit meeting on Internet censorship, industry honchos brainstormed on a number of ways to regulate and block online speech that creates controversy. Needless to say, the American Civil Liberties Union (www.aclu.org) was shocked and non-plussed. In light of the recent inauguration, the ACLU on their web page is encouraging citizens to stand up for their rights as granted by the Constitution:

“Every member of Congress has taken a pledge to defend the Constitution and now must vote to ensure our laws are in line with our founding principles. They need to fix the PATRIOT Act and remove those unnecessary police powers that trample on our fundamental freedoms.”

It’s all just a little bit scary, the direction in which we’re headed, but it’s not a hopeless cause. Giving up and admitting defeat is exactly what the neo-conservatives want us to do. Inaction is the desired reaction. We’ll only have ourselves to blame somewhere down the road when the walls come down and we wonder where in the hell our country went.

Fear #3: How Can We Sleep While Our Beds Are Burning?

Locusts in Egypt, traveling in a sort of rock-star tour through several countries, popped up in the news like a Sign Of The Times last year. The Sumatra earthquake that set off a tsunami flattening parts of Indonesia, racking up a body count approaching a quarter of a million people. Torrential rainstorms in high desert California, flooding low-lying coastal areas, snow in Las Vegas, beached whales in North Carolina, thousands of squid run aground in Newport Beach, dormant volcanoes suddenly awakening with a fury, glacial ice collisions in the arctic, the fury of a triple-whammy hurricane assault in Florida — the list goes on. Sure, the planet’s been creaking for a long time now, but all of a sudden, the creaks have increased both in velocity and regularity. Ever since Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol after taking office in 2001, the world has watched as the United States has basically given the middle finger to everyone with concerns about the changing climate of our planet. Bush went so far as to unveil an “alternative strategy” for halting global warming the following year, making no promises to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, but setting a target of reducing by 18% the amount of greenhouse gases that America produces for every unit of Gross Domestic Product. Bush suggested that this would “put America on a path towards stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere in the long run, while sustaining the economic growth needed to finance our investment in a new, cleaner energy structure.”

One little problem with this plan is that as the United States increases economic growth, so shall it also increase emissions of greenhouse gases. According to Chris Flavin, energy analyst and president of the Worldwatch Institute, “this will leave the U.S. producing at least 35% more greenhouse gases in 2010 than would be permitted under the Kyoto Protocol.” He then went on to say, “it is particularly disturbing to see the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gases propose to continue increasing those levels.” Bush, ever the deceiver, said that “additional measures” would be taken “if in 2012 we find that we are not on track.” (www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn1932) From the sound of it, Bush has been planning from the get-go to be around for quite some time, in one form or another.

Just what are greenhouse gases anyway? A description by the American Geophysical Union describes them as such:

“Infrared (IR) active gases, principally water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and ozone (O3), naturally present in the Earth’s atmosphere, absorb thermal IR radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface and atmosphere. The atmosphere is warmed by this mechanism and, in turn, emits IR radiation, with a significant portion of this energy acting to warm the surface and the lower atmosphere. As a consequence the average surface air temperature of the Earth is about 30 degrees C higher than it would be without atmospheric absorption and reradiation of IR energy.”

Some of the effects of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming include severe floods and droughts, increasing prevalence of insects, sea levels rising and redistribution of the Earth’s precipitation. Continued deforestation and emissions of carbon monoxide from vehicles contribute to the effects of global warming — both of these factors tie directly into the economy of the United States, which is why Bush is so reluctant to put a clamp on the situation. As the warmer temperatures around the globe melt the glaciers and polar ice caps, sea levels rise and cause all manner of problems. From an increase in salinity of freshwater around the world to increasing humidity that encourages tropical cyclones, changing wave patterns, tidal waves and strong beach erosion.

This should be sounding eerily familiar to you.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Slowly rising temperatures have their own direct drawbacks, such as effecting food production. Higher temperatures have also contributed to deaths around the world, such as the heat waves last summer that claimed lives in Paris, France and here in the U.S. So what’s the solution? There are many, many options that have been laid before the Bush administration, but a lust for commerce of all types, from manufacturing to fuel resources, has blinded the White House and bound not only the country, but also possibly the entire planet to a dim destiny. We’ve only seen the beginning of our wanton disregard for the Earth. Of course, if the results of an upwardly mobile society don’t kill us all, then the proliferation of nuclear antics certainly will — and that’s my final, and probably most horrifying, fear.

Fear #4: It’s The End Of The World, As We Know It

For a good belly laugh in the face of disaster, surf here.

Though I find this little Flash animation hysterical, I’m laughing through the tears, as they say, because it’s such a possibility. Ever since Seymour Hersh, award-winning columnist for The New Yorker, dropped the proverbial bomb in early January 2005, many are looking beyond the present and into the future regarding “The Coming Wars.” In this controversial article, Hersh reveals that George W. Bush and his neocon buddies, including Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and other architects of the Project For A New American Century are looking at Iraq as just the beginning of a much-larger war on terrorism. Hersh writes, “This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone.” Which means that once Iraq has stabilized to a certain degree (or maybe they won’t wait for any kind of stability), and then it’s on to Iran, Syria and other areas of the Middle East. This comes as no surprise to those who have been following any kind of news reports lately, as the U.S. is increasing pressure upon Iran to abandon its nuclear program, with Iran basically giving a big F.U. right back and echoing Bush’s oft-quoted taunts of “bring ’em on.”

Hersh asserts that the U.S. already has secret reconnaissance people on the ground in Iran, looking for the goods that will justify a pre-emptive strike. Just prior to inaugural festivities, Bush said Washington would not rule out military action against Iran, part of what he has termed the “Axis Of Evil” along with now-occupied Iraq and North Korea. “No one is going to benefit from attacking our country, including the U.S. and others,” said Iranian president Mohammad Khatami during a recent visit to Uganda. “Our friends will certainly condemn any such acts on behalf of the United States.” Those “friends” include three countries that are slowly making movements away from the U.S.: Britain, France and Germany. The so-called “Big Three” of the European Union have reportedly been making concerted efforts to open the doors of diplomacy between themselves and Iran, which no doubt has got the Bushies well and pissed-off.

As if this wasn’t enough fuel for the potentially explosive fire, Israel has piped up and begun making large noises that threaten to escalate tensions between all involved. According to Haaretz International, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said recently that Iran, Libya and Syria should be stripped of weapons of mass destruction after Iraq. “These are irresponsible states, which must be disarmed of weapons mass destruction (sic), and a successful American move in Iraq as a model will make that easier to achieve,” Sharon said. In a radio interview with Don Imus that was broadcast on MSNBC, vice-president Dick Cheney kicked things up a notch by suggesting that Israel “might decide to act first” and take care of Iran themselves, according to an article in The Los Angeles Times. Cheney’s spin on the EU is that the “Big Three” are attempting to negotiate with Iran regarding its nuclear program. It’s all beginning to sound a lot like the Flash cartoon; only it’s not China that the U.S. is gunning for. What this all spells is a whole lot of threatening and posturing that may eventually lead up to one hell of a nuclear conflict. With the Cold War behind us and a New World Order being touted by the White House as the future of engagement — the missiles could soon be flying faster than barbs on CNN’s “Crossfire.”

The Search For Monsters To Destroy

As the chatter over an expensive inauguration turns to questions of “what’s next?”, Americans see themselves slapped with red and blue paint-brushes on different sides of the political fence. Most, before the recent election snafu, cared little for the blather of talking heads and textual dust of political analysts, but all that’s changed now that it’s become almost stupidly clear just how much doo-doo we’re really in. Bush and his group of thugs have become emboldened by the craftiness of their game, the stealth of their accomplishments and have been encouraged to do more, go deeper, shoot for the three-pointer, no matter what the cost to average Americans. A vast majority of the planet (at least those with some form of media) now looks upon us as a well-armed bully, force-feeding our ideas and “vital interests” to the un-enlightened and unwashed natives that live in the “darkest corners of the world.” With appalling faux-diplomacy we say “here! Here! Don’t you want democracy? Here! TAKE IT! HAVE SOME FREEDOM!” When I say “we”, I mean that as Americans, we are guilty by association, thanks to the ruthless acts of our Imperialistic government. A regime so stilted and backwards that they preach to us freedom and democracy while simultaneously relieving us of the very liberties they proclaim to be ours. It’s insidious in its psychology. The conquering Fascist force, citing God as inspiration and reason, intent on improving the world while plundering it at the same time. Never mind that along with everything else, we have a looming trade deficit, a sinking dollar, a threatened Social Security program and are steadily losing manufacturing jobs to China and India — all thanks to irresponsible and short-sighted government idiocy.

It’s become painfully obvious to many that this is no longer the “land of the free.” Our freedom is an illusion, a fraud perpetrated by the very government that we’re supposed to trust. The system is broken; the Great Democratic Experiment has failed miserably. From its ashes arises not a stately Phoenix, but a flame-throwing Eagle of malicious intent who holds tightly to the arrows, drops the olive branch and picks up a canister of nerve gas, flying around the globe, calling out “be free or die!” The horrible and shameful spectacle that unfolded on billions of television screens around the world and unfurled within the pages of newspapers and magazines is now our row to hoe. When Hitler and Co. began implementing his atrocities in Germany, many of the common folk were completely unaware and sat, blissfully sipping wine, drinking beer and sharing day to day conversations. When the many who disagreed with the Fascist policies of the Nazi party discovered what their leader was up to, it was too late. But that could never happen here in “the land of the free”, could it? Will history show that America rose slowly to become a superpower that then abused its status within the world? Are we really the new Nazis?

Now, the choice is ours. All hope isn’t completely lost. The thousands of protestors who lined the streets of Washington, braving the bitter cold and unfriendly conflicts, are among the true patriots. The sign-wielding discontents from coast to coast who know that somehow, some way, their anger will be observed, heard and effective; these are our best bets for a brighter future. The youth who will rise up and take their places on Capitol Hill, becoming legislators, senators and perhaps presidents, though it sounds clichŽ’, never more than now is it our last bastion for correcting all that’s wrong with our society. We must resist the hypnotic beckoning of mainstream media, denying the powers-that-be an opportunity to zap our minds and sap our wills to fight back. Every day is another chance to educate each other about the horrors that unfold in the name of our country and our citizenry. Yes indeed, we should support our troops because they’re fighting a needless war and are probably going to be tapped for the next two or three needless wars. They need to come home — it’s not their fault that our corrupt government is using them. We need to engage one another in dialogue each and every day about the things that matter, sharing information and taking action because every voice can be effectively heard if we stand together and shout “enough!” Is it too much to hope that with a concentrated effort, we may fix what is broken and once again live in a democracy? Some say that the escalation of events has gone on too long, and by making a habit of meddling in the affairs of other countries; the U.S. has set itself up for the greatest fall of all.

During the presidency of James Monroe (1817-25), the Colin Powell of his time, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, was invited to speak on Independence Day, 1821, at the House of Representatives. The United States had not yet begun its aggressive foreign policy maneuvering and Adams was wary of the desire to become entangled in the messy business of Spain, who was starting to lose control over its colonies in South America after the Napoleonic Wars. Adams’ speech that day cautioned against getting involved, urging the Congress to keep attentions focused on America’s own issues:

“Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will [America’s] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.”

These are prophetic words for prophetic times. Knowing requires action, and the time for action is not only now, but every single day. As 2005 rolls onward, pointing us towards whatever the next four years may hold, may you find peace within the din, a harbor in the tempest and a purpose for your passion. Americans are going to need all the encouragement we can get.

www.darkstudios.com

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