All my life, I have watched politicians stand on the national stage & proclaim, “It’s your duty as an American to fight for democracy and freedom when your government calls you. As I gradually became more politically aware after decades of study, I saw that appeals to our patriotism are a con job by politicians. These politicians don’t represent us, they serve their masters, the megalithic corporate giants whom I refer to as Corporate Cockroaches. This is what I mean by the politics of patriotism i.e. the politicians are appealing to our sense of patriotism to manipulate us into serving in yet another war/police action that is really about raping, pillaging, & plundering other country’s natural resources to enrich America’s corporate cockroaches.
“Judge Learned Hand of the U.S. Supreme Court once said that he would like to see these words ‘I beseech ye in the bowels of Christ, think that ye may be mistaken,’ inscribed ‘over the portals of every church, every courthouse and at every crossroads in the nation.’ This is not only a plea for those who disagree with us. It is, profoundly, a plea for us to recognize that our righteousness can lead us into places that are most deeply wrong. At this time, perhaps more than any other time in the history of our wonderful human race, do we need to be in touch with our hearts. We need to be in touch with our humanity. The lesson of Nazi Germany is clear: it is those who dehumanize others who lose their own humanity. We are all artists, poets and intuitives. It is our birthright. As humans, we each have the ability to seek and connect with our most human qualities. Among these are love and compassion. In these lie our divinity, our humanity and our survival.” (Taken from: www.sarvananda.com Newsletter March-May 2003)
“If Fascism came to America it would be on a program of 100 percent Americanism.” —Huey P. Long, U.S. Army Talk, March 24, 1945
I was trying to find the quote from Chief Justice Learned Hand and stumbled upon the quote above and felt it was appropriate to include the entire quote for the purposes of this essay. In fact, I sent this quote to President Clinton when he was in office when I wrote him a letter asking him to pardon Leonard Peltier. I wrote this essay in the hope that it may be of some help if even one person who is contemplating joining the military doesn’t join after reading what I’ve written. To risk being maimed physically and psychologically or being killed because the president & the corporate media tell us it’s our patriotic duty and without knowing the hidden history of America’s wars, is a fool’s errand. I was in the lottery for the Vietnam War in 1971 and my number was something like 69. I wasn’t politically aware back then but when it got close to me being possibly sent to Vietnam, I trusted my gut instinct and kept going AWOL until I got out of the army with an Undesirable Discharge. Receiving this “bad” discharge was morbidly humorous. So I wasn’t worthy of killing and possibly dying for my country? Oh the recruiters are masters of deceit. They’ll promise you the moon to get you to sign that contract. They told me that if I wanted to be a clerk-typist I’d have to sign up for another year. Lie! I didn’t even have to go to the normal advanced training that just about everyone goes through after their basic training in the army. I was a clerk typist as soon as I got to Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. Almost everyone I’ve ever known or met that was in the military didn’t have hardly any use for the skills they acquired in the military in the work world when they looked for work after getting out of the military. In other words, their time in the military was dead time just as if they’d been in prison and out of the work force. Hence, wherever they found work, most started at the bottom. “Be All You Can Be,” is a sinister lie the recruiters, the Pentagon, & the presidents perpetuate and perhaps one of their key selling points, and is just another example of how appeals to patriotism are a con job by politicians. Most of the gullible young fall for this tactic and believe when they get out they’ll walk into a challenging job and a good paying career. Sadly, most of us find ourselves pumping gas or flipping burgers.
Just to show you how desperate the army was and probably still is for well-educated or somewhat intelligent recruits or enlistees, when I was in basic training and we’d taken a battery of written tests for the first 3 or 4 days we’d been there, they took me and 4 or 5 other guys out of our company to several meetings with high-ranking officers whose ranks I had trouble figuring out. Anyway, talk about high-pressure salesmanship; this was mind-blowing and ego inflating to the max. They basically told us that we could be stationed wherever we wanted to be in the world and that they would train us in whatever M.O.S. (Military Occupational Specialty) we wanted if we’d re-up (extend our contracted tour of duty’s amount of time) to six years I believe? I couldn’t see myself as being capable of sending men to certain death, which as an officer you might sometime have to do. They wanted to send us to O.C.S. (Officer Candidate School) and I didn’t even want to be a squad leader. As in the military, it’s the same it seems in the corporate business world that dictates everything about who we are, how we’re suppose to behave, talk, think, dress, etc., the less you rock-the-boat and the more incompetent you are and the better you are at ass-kissing, the higher up that so-called ‘ladder of success,’ you’ll go. I saw the army’s wise use of their manpower when I saw guys who had master’s degrees picking up cigarette butts, and not for disciplinary purposes.
Well when orders came down that half of us were going to be sent to Vietnam and the other half would be sent to Germany, I decided it was time to start going AWOL. I had met an older guy who was also trying to get out of the army and he told me that the army didn’t give a damn about how miserable you were or how much you hated it. He counseled me that you have to prove that you’re more trouble than you are worth before they will let you out. And if you keep going AWOL, you will be tied up with going to court martial hearings and they can’t ship you out while you’re going through this process. I went AWOL three or four times but they weren’t taking me seriously because I’d just receive a fine and have to do some extra duties like mop floors so the last time I went AWOL, I stayed gone and after about two months, the F.B.I. busted me at my mom’s house. Yet when Bush Jr. was AWOL for eight months or so, he was never arrested by the F.B.I. and his records disappeared. This is “justice” and “equality” in America.
Next on my list of reasons why you should think long and hard before joining the military is the obvious but maybe not as obvious as most of us are led to believe, risk of serious physical harm. And don’t get me wrong. I’m not a pacifist and I do believe there are times and circumstances when we should put our butts on the line and physically take up arms. I have said for many years that if any nation launched an attack against us on our own shores, I’d be the first son-of-a-bitch down there fighting them but for us to put ourselves in harm’s way just because we are told it is the right thing to do, is dangerously naïve on our part because patriotism is a con job by politicians. Look at the millions of mostly poor white boys, Latinos, and Black young men who went to Vietnam and were exposed to the defoliant, Agent Orange, and when they came down with a variety of exotic medical problems and diseases, this ‘honorable’ government of ours at first denied that Agent Orange had even been used. And when the lie could no longer be hidden, the government denied its connection to all the health issues our returning soldiers and their families had to deal with. The Pentagon and the federal government will deny responsibility for Agent Orange, the chemical weapons of the Gulf War, and the present use of depleted uranium until Hell freezes over! Why? Because if they admitted their responsibility it would open them up for a tidal wave of lawsuits and morally cut their legs off in terms of credibility with the general public. It would also seriously demoralize those now in the military service.
Another, ‘insignificant’ little factor that the military recruiters and television ads fail to mention in their sales pitches is the fact that once you sign that Faustian contract for your soul, you are in effect giving the military the right to use you like a lab rat or a guinea pig in whatever experimental programs they dream up. For example, the army thought it’d be interesting to see how soldiers fought when under the influence of powerful hallucinogens. Research for yourself what Timothy Leary had to say on this subject. And for a Hollywood version of it that was pretty horrific, see the movie, Jacob’s Ladder, with Tim Robbins.
Furthermore, our government and military’s total lack of care or concern for our health and welfare is illustrated with the series of atomic blasts they forced our military personnel to expose themselves to so the Pentagon and its Dr. Mengele imitators could study the effects of atomic radiation on humans, yet again, proof that appeals to patriotism are a con job by politicians who use us as guinea pigs. Or how about the fact that the Pentagon sent our soldiers into Vietnam with the new M-16 which we dubbed the ‘Mighty Mattel’ because the stock was made by the toy manufacturer and these ‘toy weapons’ jammed up repeatedly and cost many boys their lives. I understand that they eventually worked out the ‘kinks.’
How about the fact that many of our soldiers currently in Iraq complain that they don’t even have flak jackets or have half of one & when their parents started sending them flak jackets, this “compassionate conservative” administration forbid it? And only one in eight of the vehicles our soldiers in Iraq drive around it are armor plated. This is Bush’s idea of “supporting our troops.” How many stories has “60 Minutes” shown regarding the multitude of various weapons systems, aircraft, tanks, etc., that were defective and cost our people their lives? Many soldiers who returned from Iraq after the Gulf War reported that they either didn’t have a gas mask issued to them or else they were defective! And one of the things that really makes me want to go ballistic is when I heard that AWOL chicken-hawk, spoiled, rich brat, George ‘Dubya’ Bush, say how proud he is of our young soldiers in Iraq and how he supports their efforts and their sacrifices but behind the scene he has cut their medical benefits and pay! Are you beginning to see how appeals to our sense of patriotism is a con job by politicians because they clearly don’t give a fuck about your health once they’ve used you up. Moreover, it’s absolutely stunning how shamelessly Bush can stand in front of the television cameras and lie his ass off. I heard recently that soldiers are given a bonus for each additional tour of duty they serve in Iraq but if they get wounded and can’t finish out their tour, Bush wants them to return their bonuses. When this got out in the news, Bush & the Pentagon did some fast backpedaling and they’re now trying some other surreptitious way to screw the soldiers they proclaim to honor. This just highlights the betrayal of our soldiers and of America once again by the greedy elite. And all the defective and grossly over-inflated weapons systems that we, the taxpayers, are forced to pay for but not the rich, is part of what former President Eisenhower warned us of as he was leaving office when he said beware of the military/industrial complex (he was going to include Congress in this complex was talked out of it—a little too revealing would be my guess). And once again we see the ugly truth that appeals to our patriotism is a con job by politicians who serve the “defense contractors” who contribute to the politicians’ political campaigns. In addition to betraying everything America supposedly stands for and what our soldiers are suppose to be fighting for, is the fact that this insane, bottomless pit of manufacturing and buying with our tax dollars ever more weapons, bombs, aircraft, ships, etc., is bankrupting America. And you can be sure these corporate capitalist cockroaches in and out of government know full well what they’re doing because why else would Cheney be investing in the Euro dollar and not the American dollar? Mark my words my friend, they are going to drive America into a total financial collapse and then abandon ship and live overseas on their stolen billions.
Equally important and to further illustrate not only the physical neglect of our soldiers but also the psychological impact of this government’s disregard for our soldiers, I strongly recommend all those contemplating joining the military watch the movies ‘Coming Home,’ and ‘Born on the Fourth of July.’ These movies will show you how well cared for you might be if you are unfortunate enough to be wounded in battle. Many V.A. hospitals are barbaric throwbacks to the Dark Ages and patients are forced to lay in their own feces and urine for hours. I’m drawing a blank on the name of that V.A. hospital that was recently in the news for its disgusting conditions and neglect of our soldiers? But as those movies I mentioned showed, rats and cockroaches often ran the hellholes and the V.A. nursing staff often treated the patients as annoying, sub-humans. Yeah, the government really appreciates your sacrifices! Let’s just hope and pray that the conditions in our V.A. hospitals are no longer as shameful as they were in these movies?
Next in my list of factors you should consider before signing your name on that enlistment contract are the economic or financial aspects that most young guys aren’t aware of when joining the military. The financial lies, distortions, & manipulations are especially egregious because most of those who join the military do so because they can’t find any work except minimum wage jobs with little or no future.And sadly, far too many, if not most of our military personnel discover that once they get out, they are right back to being forced to work at those Mickey Mouse jobs again showing how the appeals to our patriotism are a con job by politicians. Closely linked to young people’s inability to find a decent paying job is the pathetic state of our public education system. I heartily recommend that you read The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto if you want to really know just how extensively the government and the corporate robber barons have screwed us all with the public educational system they designed and made mandatory for us to attend or face the legal consequences. I have dissected this book and I’m using it in a book I am writing because it is a gold mine of utterly unbelievable machinations done by the powerful and the influential (Ford, Carnegie, Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan) to deliberately give the vast majority of Americans a “dumbed-down” education so we’d be obedient little workers and consumers. Are you willing to risk and possibly sacrifice your life and limb for an “Establishment” that sees itself as God-like and predetermines your future and condemns you to the life of an automaton on their assembly lines in their factories? A life that causes many of us to turn to alcohol or drugs for temporary escape from this ugly reality!
In the meantime, to give you another example of Bush and his cronies’ “values,” have you noticed how he and Rudi Giuliani take advantage of every opportunity to show the flag-draped coffins of the police and firemen who died on September 11th, in their political ads for their campaigns? Yet Bush won’t allow the flag-draped coffins of our soldiers who die in Iraq to be shown on television? If this isn’t a clear-cut example of how appeals to our patriotism are a con job by politicians, I don’t know what is? And this is the same commander-in-chief who cut the salaries of New York’s policemen and firemen. Read what they have to say about Georgie & Rudi. This is also the fearless leader of our nation who told the Environmental Protection Agency to falsify their reports on the air quality around Ground Zero so people would return to the area and Wall Street would resume business as usual. And as Michael Moore showed us in his recent film Sicko!, many of the volunteer firemen, emergency workers, etc. who are now coming down with serious pulmonary and other diseases, are being denied medical coverage. It always boils down to money with the power elite yet they appeal to our patriotism to stir us to sacrificing in their wars to enrich themselves and then turn a callous back on our suffering and deny responsibility.
Perhaps I sound a bit too harsh in my criticisms of “our” government and their corporate masters? Reflect on this if you will, besides the immorality of our invasion and occupation of Iraq is the pragmatic matter of what our presence there and our open-ended ‘War on Terrorism’ is doing to our economy. Many conservatives were elated with the collapse of Russia and credited Reagan with bringing it about. Well, I disagree and believe that Russia’s economy imploded due to their forty-year competition with us in the insane arms race. Russia’s economy simply fell apart before ours i.e. they couldn’t maintain their infrastructure of housing, health care, education, roads, bridges, etc. because they spent so much in trying to keep up with us in military weaponry. (and here’s an update for you, the U.S. national debt has now topped $21 trillion under Trump, perhaps he is a Russian agent helping us to go the way of Russia? Tell me, just what did we accomplish by invading Iraq besides stirring up the entire Middle East & creating an endless supply of terrorists who want to kill Americans? Yep, just another example of how appeals to our patriotism is a con job by politicians)
A lot of Americans aren’t aware that we used to be the world’s largest creditor nation but now we are the biggest debtor nation i.e. we owe more money than any other country. In other words, we are in hock up to our eyeballs. I recently found out that it is mostly Asian nations we have borrowed from and China is the nation we are most indebted to.
When I heard this, things suddenly added up that I couldn’t understand previously. For instance, I couldn’t comprehend why we didn’t do something when the Chinese government killed and jailed thousands of Chinese students who protested in Tinnamin Square for democratic reforms and even had a Statue of Liberty as a rallying point? Another betrayal on our part towards the promise of democracy was when we stood by and again did nothing when China invaded Tibet, murdered hundreds of Buddhist monks, destroyed ancient cultural artifacts, and forced the Dalai Llama to go into permanent exile. But then I shouldn’t have been surprised because we’re a “Christian” nation and we don’t give a shit about the world’s other major religions such as Buddhism and Islam. Yet time and time again, our president stands in front of T.V. cameras and proclaims for all the world to hear, “America stands for freedom, democracy, and basic human values.” The rest of the world has seen example after example of Bush’s hypocrisy and they don’t buy his empty rhetoric for one minute. It seems the only people who have fallen for Bush’s B.S., are the American people, well I should say, those who don’t care to read & don’t remember history.
I have been to Europe several times and listening to their perspectives on America has been quite an eye-opener for me. When you peel away all the layers of lies and deception that our politicians and corporate spokesmen have wrapped themselves in, at the core is one concern and one concern only i.e. the protection of their wealth and whatever it takes to ensure their pursuit of more wealth.
Let’s return to the issue of our “Defense budget,” and this is a misnomer and a cruel joke because the word ‘budget’ implies a practical balancing of one’s finances i.e. paying for the necessities of food, shelter, medical, insurance, etc. and staying within the limits of how much money you have to spend. I forget the guy’s name but I saw a PBS program with him and he worked in the Pentagon’s accounting department I believe for like 30 years? Well, he’s been telling Congress for decades about the deliberate fraud of ‘Defense’ contractors in purposely underbidding the costs of various weapons programs and once they were awarded the contract, then gouging the taxpayers and charging millions and sometimes billions over what they had originally stated. And don’t forget that many of these multi-million dollar projects turned out to have serious defects or never even worked at all and cost the lives of U.S. servicemen and women! Yep! You guessed it, another prima facie example of how appeals to our patriotism is a con job by politicians who empty the national treasury that we fill with our tax dollars into the pockets of the corporate cockroaches.
This truth-teller also pointed out a very significant deception used by all the corrupt politicians, which is the fact that to really conduct an effective war on terror, all these expensive weapons systems are useless. What is needed to wage this war—which itself is an incorrect term because you can’t wage a war against an invisible enemy. What we need to wage should more accurately be referred to as a criminal investigation and we need agents well trained in the languages, customs, geography, religion, etc. of the terrorists we are hunting. But of course this doesn’t require the billions of dollars that our military/industrial/congressional complex wants to continue pouring into their pockets so they keep spreading the fear and the lies with their million dollar public relations firms, advertising agencies, ‘Spin-doctors,’ and hired guns i.e. ex-military officers, journalists, economists, professors, and etc.! (Just watch the FOX network)
Why should you go fight in a war that Bush started with no provocation on the part of the Iraqis and based on false accusations and blatant lies that started with “we have to strip Saddam of his weapons of mass destruction,” which then evolved into “there are definite links between Saddam and Al Qaeda,” to the current line of crap “we’re bringing democracy to Iraq because we’re compassionate and caring defenders and promoters of democracy.” Yeah, Bush and his brother Jeb are real believers in democracy and proof of this was evidenced last year in Miami at the demonstrations against the I.M.F., the World Bank, and the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas). Do you remember that $80 billion or so that Bush requested for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Well the Bush-baby gave $7 million of it to his brother, the governor of Florida—who helped rig his election voting scam to ‘win’ the oval office—to hire cops from dozens of Florida counties and they illegally and brutally shot, beat, gassed, jailed, and ripped off the cameras and etc. of thousands of Americans who went to Miami to exercise their democratic right to protest the policies of their government! And on top of this travesty of justice, there was some scandal regarding their not spending the money granted by Congress for the reasons given in their request? I forget the details but this just shows to me that this wimp in the White House must see himself as back in the wild West where the only law was the gun and they could do as they pleased i.e. run rough-shod over our Bill of Rights and every law including international law and the Geneva Convention i.e. Rumsfeld said the Geneva Convention rules are outdated and the U.S. doesn’t have to observe them. Gee, I wonder where those soldiers who tortured and humiliated and killed so many Iraqi prisoners, got the notion they could do what they pleased with their captives? Or, what about that ‘democratic’ value or assumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law? Our soldiers fight for the honor and principles America stands for but our ‘leaders’ betray and undermine that honor and our principles. And this hypocrisy of claiming to respect law and order and defying international standards like the Geneva Convention which we signed at the end of WWII and which was established to hopefully prevent a repeat of the crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis and now violating, won’t leave us a leg to stand on morally speaking when our soldiers are captured and tortured by their captors.
Furthermore on the subject of economic reasons why you should think twice before considering the military as the solution to your problems, you might not be aware of is the fact that part of the reason you can’t find any decent paying or livable wage jobs is because Bush and the other “compassionate conservatives,” give fantastic tax breaks to corporations who shut down their companies here and move them overseas for much cheaper labor costs. Where is the patriotism of the corporate cockroach elite when it comes to ensuring decent paying jobs for all the patriotic Americans who went to war?
Again, why should we risk our lives for “this country” when those who set the economic, social, political, etc. policies of “our country,” show us time after time that they could care less at the humiliation we suffer and the hardships we experience because they have no loyalty to us? I saw an expose on Bill Moyers’ PBS T.V. program on 4/16/04, a pitiful and disrespectful example of yet another way our military and political elite treat our young men and women who risk their lives fighting for this country. The story dealt with the fact that many families whose husbands are over in Iraq and in harm’s way but because the military pays them so little, their wives and children have to go to Food Banks and rely on the charity of their community! We really honor our men and women serving their country don’t we? Our loving and brilliant military and political elite instead spend our billions of tax dollars—of which almost none of the super-rich pay a dollar—to hire mercenaries (Blackwater for example) who were trained in the U.S. military and upon completion of their tours of duty are hired by ‘sub-contractors’ and make something like $100,000 per year. I also read recently in the Oregonian newspaper that many National Guardsmen were either not receiving their full pay or none at all. Yeah, join the army and “Be All That You Can Be!”
Additionally, why should you risk all for a government that deregulated dozens of industries such as the Savings and Loan industry which during Reagan’s reign went bankrupt or defaulted on tens of thousands of senior citizens and wiped out their life savings? Then just a few years ago, Ken Lay of Enron, Bush’s buddy, did the same thing but this time to his employees’ pension plans and stocks. Enron was only one of tens of dozens of corporations who screwed us once again on a grand scale. These kinds of business practices can only flourish in an atmosphere of corruption and with the politicians and regulatory agencies looking the other way. There’s another great book just out called Perfectly Legal and the author points out that something like 60% of our corporations have paid absolutely no taxes for several years by claiming their headquarters are in places like the Bahamas and yet they still enjoy all the rights of our legal system, the protection of our police and military, etc. Does this strike you as fair or egalitarian? Here is the dictionary definition of ‘egalitarian,’ you decide; ‘a belief in human equality especially with respect to social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among men.’
Sorry but I can’t believe in leaders who are trying to eliminate the right to overtime pay for 40 million American workers and at the same time make exceptions for those C.E.O.s who make over $10 million per year to shelter as much as they want in their 401K pension plans while the rest of us are limited to something like $13,000 per year. I guess my idea of patriotism is far broader than that of the powers that be?
In fact, believe it or not, I also recently learned that Bush cut the funding for the IRS program delegated to going after corporate tax evaders and at the same time increased the funding for the IRS program delegated to go after individuals evading paying their taxes. No, I can’t believe in such ‘leaders,’ and if I can’t believe in them, I’m sure as hell not going to risk my life because they say it’s my patriotic or moral duty! To these bastards, loyalty is a one-way street i.e. we owe it to them but they have no such obligation to us. They think they are our feudal lords and we are at their mercy, and we’re here to serve them as peasants serve their masters! You see my friend, fealty to the king has been replaced by fealty to the corporate cockroach masters of mankind!
Some of the reasons I have already brought up for why you should seriously question the morality of ‘our leaders’ who preach to us about the necessity of noble sacrifice for the United States, have already touched on the subject of betrayal and I want to now go into this subject at length. The power elite, status quo, or however you wish to refer to them, label those of us who dissent from their ideologies, policies, & practices as disloyal, anti-American, betrayers of American principles, or traitors and some of them even have the audacity to call for our incarceration or even our death. But I submit that they are the de facto betrayers of America’s principles and values and our founding fathers must be rolling over in their graves at such arrogance and betrayal of America’s citizens.
Deception is another of the forms of lying that the government and the Pentagon—which is a branch of the government, have become very proficient at. Take the Vietnam War and how the Pentagon (General Westmoreland) inflated the body counts for the North Vietnamese soldiers we killed and deliberately issued false lower numbers of our men who had been killed so as to keep the public in the dark. This clearly was an attempt by the powers that be to manipulate public opinion and keep us on the side of the pro-war hawks. Clearly, these deceptions show yet again how appeals to our patriotism is a con job by politicians.
And what strikes me as unbelievably callous and another clear example of the Pentagon and this administration’s attempts to deceive the American people is the fact that they won’t allow the coffins of our returning dead to be shown in the media, Bush hasn’t been to a single funeral of our fallen soldiers, and the military actively discourages the families of the dead servicemen and women from being there at Dover Air Field when their loved ones arrive—usually in the middle of the night under the cover of darkness. And this slime-ball of a person who claims to be “our president,” has the balls to declare ad nauseam that he “supports our troops?” No, Bush is the number one betrayer of America and more and more Americans are beginning to wake up to the truth of this.
You know, sometimes it takes the ‘village idiot’ or a child to state the obvious which seems to escape the rest of us as in that classic fairy tale The Emperor Has No Clothes and in this vein of thought it occurred to me that if our leaders were honorable men and women and this war in Iraq were such a noble cause then why is it necessary for them to lie, distort, & manipulate us into supporting it? These corrupt politicians and military elites can only get away with all their deceptive practices with the assistance or collusion of the mainstream media. The powers that be learned a crucial lesson regarding the power of the media during the Vietnam War debacle. Even though the Pentagon attempted to control what the war correspondents saw and photographed by flying them in to combat zones after the fighting was done and only allowed them access to battle areas where the military had nothing to hide. But, there were a handful of journalists who had integrity and refused to be spoon-fed the public relations propaganda dished out by the Pentagon. These brave souls found their own transportation and went to some of the restricted areas and reported back to us the truth of what they witnessed. This was very damaging to the politicians’ and the Pentagon brass’ images. But what was perhaps most damaging of all was the nightly news broadcasts which showed the steady stream of body bags and flag-draped coffins of our dead.
And this is why they keep such a tight lid on the images of war ever since Vietnam because eventually the sleeping giant of the American public will waken from its long slumber and ask, ‘if we’re doing so well in this war then why are so many of our soldiers coming home dead or severely wounded?’ Unfortunately because we have become so hooked on television in the past half century, images are now much more powerful in shaping people’s opinions than the printed word. And because our public educational system is in such disarray, most Americans lack the critical or analytical skills necessary to defend themselves against the corporate indoctrination assault. The power brokers know that once the majority of American citizens turn against a war, their days of war profiteering are numbered. Personally, I feel it was so outlandish that for our invasion of Iraq, reporters had to be approved of by Pentagon officials and ‘embedded’ in specific military units. The muzzling and shackling of journalists during our times of war and in peace time as well has caused America to much more resemble those totalitarian nations we were always told we were so morally superior to. We have allowed these lying and morally repugnant people we call our ‘leaders,’ to almost totally erode our precious freedoms and the bedrock of those freedoms in contained in the First Amendment to our Constitution, which contains the ‘Freedom of the Press.’ It’s extremely important to recall these words from Thomas Jefferson, ‘Our liberty depends on freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.’ By the way, I just learned from watching Naomi Wolf on the most patriotic and real news program in America i.e. Democracy Now!, that Hitler embedded war correspondents in his divisions, for instance, he had a famous film director go along in the invasion of Poland who later on helped produce some of the Nazis’ most effective war propaganda documentaries. And what better way to appeal to our sense of patriotism than by using the movie industry to stir citizens up, & Frank Capra was one of America’s most zealous directors in this regard.
Now I don’t know about you but I’m a little confused because we are in Iraq and the latest PR rhetoric is that we are there to establish democracy yet while doing so, here in the U.S. the government is subverting our ‘democracy,’ by intimidating, restricting, and deliberately misleading our media? This again highlights the fact that patriotism is a con job by politicians who employ huge PR firms to manipulate the public into supporting the latest war or police action. A glaring example of this was when they had the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the U.S. testify before Congress about supposed babies being ripped out of their incubators & thrown on the floor by Iraqi soldiers. (revealed to be a total lie) and they only gave her first name to hide the fact that she was the ambassador’s daughter & his collusion with the American government for the invasion.
Also related to the silencing of our media whether they are cooperating partners in the subterfuge or whether they have little choice but to go along is the issue of censoring the images and the numbers of Iraqis killed and wounded including the large percentage of innocent women, children, and the elderly! Or, how about our soldiers who signed up for a specific amount of time and are about to return to the U.S. only to learn that the Pentagon has extended their tours of duty and they have no choice in the matter? Wouldn’t this be the same as false advertising by the recruiters or be condemned by community standards as deceptive business practices? After all, it is a contract that you sign to enter the military. Yep! Yet another ad nauseam example of how their appeal to your sense of patriotism is a con job by the politicians to lure you into enlisting & then they won’t let you go when your “contract” is up because they are such great patriots.
Similarly, the Pentagon has deceived us on another critical issue and I’m in no way excusing the sick and barbaric treatment of the Iraqi prisoners but I am arguing that these young military personnel didn’t invent these methods themselves! Just as in Vietnam in the most notorious case that we were told about i.e. the My Lai Massacre when the Pentagon tried to lay complete responsibility on Lt. William Calley, the Pentagon again is saying it was just a few bad apples. They really think we’re all stupid and have absolutely no memory. By the way, I just learned something amazing the other day i.e. Colin Powell was delegated to investigate the My Lai Massacre by his superiors in the Pentagon and he summed up his ‘investigation’ with “Nothing happened.” Is it patriotic to follow orders to murder innocent civilians & then cover the whole matter up?
Another example of how the corporate crocodiles in the boardrooms and in Congress have betrayed us, struck me one day while I was reflecting on “All that you can be.” I must admit this is a very clever bit of propaganda. It immediately appeals to that ‘egalitarian’ principle we supposedly all believe in. You know, we all have an equal opportunity to be whatever we choose to if we just knuckle-down and persevere? How can we have an equal opportunity or there be a level playing field if public schooling is so vastly inferior to most of those elite, private academies? I contend that you wouldn’t be so severely limited in your options after graduating high school if you had a truly good quality or top-notch education from your years in the public school system. How many of the rich kids going into those Ivy League colleges, join the military or if they do, how many see real action on the battlefront? How many more times do we have to witness how patriotism only applies to the 99% of us not born with a silver spoon in our mouths like the Donald Trumps of America who struts around like he’s such a patriot when his daddy paid a doctor to keep him out of going to Vietnam because of fictitious “bone-spurs.”
And the masters’ children don’t have to know the horrors of war. Our current bushwhacking president scored one point above the minimum score required to get into the Texas Air National Guard and yet his name was moved to the top of the list of those eligible and there were hundreds of other candidates who scored far higher than ‘Dubya’ and there was only one slot left. Just coincidentally, George Sr. had a friend at the time who placed a call and got junior in the Air Guard and even more amazing, when junior became governor of Texas, he appointed this old friend of dad’s to run the Texas lottery—and he was convicted of corruption and fired from the lottery commission a short time later.
Meanwhile, the betrayal goes on. I have to ask whether we are really still citizens of a democracy? It seems to me that with the passage of the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security bill, we have forfeited just about all those rights in the Bill of Rights? And the so-called “Patriot Act,” is truly mind-boggling in that it is yet another dog whistle tactic proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that patriotism is a con job by politicians because it is actually their playbook as to how to take away our rights & freedoms.
The Thought Police can demand that librarians and bookstore owners give them the lists of the books we check out or buy. The secret police can break in and arrest you or I wherever or whenever they want to and we no longer have a right to have a lawyer to represent us, to be told of the charges against us, etc. There is absolutely no such thing as privacy anymore. They can enter your home without a warrant and go through all your things including your computer and you may never even know they were there. They can spy on your e-mail, regular mail, and phone calls, whatever they want. (update; see Edward Snowden, I wrote this essay before Snowden revealed just how totalitarian our government has become)
I borrowed the term, ‘the thought police,’ from George Orwell and his masterpiece 1984. Why do you think the authorities are so interested in what we read? You may recall that in Nazi Germany, the brown shirts had massive public displays of book burnings. In other words, books, which represent knowledge, can be very dangerous to those in power. In fact, I have a paperback titled Books That Changed The World written by Robert B. Downs and I thought it appropriate to bring it up here because we don’t normally think of books or the ideas contained in them as having so much influence. As I like to say, the liberal arts liberate and the humanities humanize. And this isn’t merely clever word play. I believe this sincerely and if you too read deep and wide enough, you may also come to believe this. Are terrorists so stupid that they’d walk up to a librarian or a bookstore clerk and ask, ‘could you please direct me to the section on bomb-building?’ Common sense will tell you that any terrorist wouldn’t give their real name or leave any paper trail that would lead back to them. They’d copy whatever information they found useful or they’d purchase it by mail with a phony address or something. I know I’m going to probably sound like a conspiracy nut or something but as Michael Parenti said, “Conspiracy theories aren’t always theories.” I theorize that the secret police want to know what we read because they believe it will lead them to those of us who could possibly pose a threat to the status quo by spreading dangerous ideas like social justice, democracy, freedom, no special breaks for the rich, etc. etc. etc.
The power elite hide the facts from us because they know that most of what they’re doing is immoral and would outrage us if it were to be revealed. And speaking of ‘revealing,’ I was dumb-founded awhile back when I heard that Bush was joking around and looked under his desk and said, “no, no weapons of mass destruction under there,” and then he looked behind the curtains in the oval office and said, “nope, no weapons of mass destruction there either,” and then he laughed. My God! What kind of heartless bastard is he? How insensitive and disrespectful can he be to all of our soldiers whom he sent to Iraq under this shroud of lies and by manipulating our emotions by appealing to our sense of patriotism and our fears that terrorists are laying in wait. In my day it was the commies are coming, the commies are coming!
Another topic which I believe shows our leaders for the immoral, belly-crawling reptiles they are is the claim that Nixon and Killer Kissinger promised the communist Vietnamese government after we left Vietnam that they’d pay a ransom for our P.O.W.s and M.I.A.s that were being held and then chose to renege on the deal and left our men there to rot. I can’t substantiate the charge but after so many examples of our government’s treachery, I have no trouble believing it possible of them. And let me be crystal clear, both democrats and republicans are guilty of allowing these immoral and anti-democratic practices to continue to be done in our names. I believe deep down inside that most Americans are good people but as most humans when involved in immoral activities or military actions and etc. are without strong, ethical leadership and are encouraged to commit unethical, perverted, depraved, or savage acts by that same weak leadership can do, they can slip into a being with a Heart of Darkness. This is a book written by Joseph Conrad and was the basis of the movie Apocalypse Now. I purposely chose this book because I know that many of you have probably seen the movie but not read the book and I wanted to give an example of human barbaric acts in the extreme to get your attention. Too far or exaggerated? What about the atrocities at Abu Gharib to name just one glaring example that leaked out? Or what about the stories I have heard of American G.I.s in Vietnam collecting “gook” ears and wearing them as necklaces? Furthermore, I remember a picture a friend of mine showed me years ago of his dad and several of his buddies in WWII with one of the G.I.s holding the severed head of a Japanese soldier proudly displaying it as a trophy?
Again I want to remind you that America has a long and bloody history that we are never told about in our public schools. No doubt I will be written off by some of you as just another paranoid, conspiracy buff and I understand the reflexive thinking that causes most people to dismiss critics like myself with this cop-out of “conspiracy nut.” Okay, then why is it that the textbooks, which are used in our public education system, are so chock full of lies, perversions of the truth, distortions, revisionist versions of our history? Could this be yet another example of how “patriotism” is a con job by politicians or is the umbrella they, the corporate cockroaches hide all their anti-democratic practices under?
It’s no wonder that most kids are so turned-off to history because it has been so watered-down, sanitized, and twisted that it bears little resemblance to reality and students sense its untruthfulness or lifelessness. For instance, check out Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States in which he informs us that Christopher Columbus had his men kidnap native women & children and told their husbands if they didn’t come back with gold, they would kill their women and children. What really frightens me is the fact that because of our “educational system and mass media,” as much as a third of the American population doesn’t believe that the holocaust in Nazi Germany even happened! I am scared because if so many people can be in such an extreme state of denial about such a horrific episode in human history, it can indeed happen again and in fact, it is happening in Darfour in the Sudan like it happened in Rwanda and we, America, the champions of freedom and democracy sit by apathetic and more interested in Brittany Spears & Paris Hilton’s lack of underwear, public drunkenness, & other such shattering “news.” Check out Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory by Deborah Lipstadt if you’d like to know more about this phenomenon. You might also care to look up Hidden History: Exploring Our Secret Past by Daniel J. Boorstin, a former Librarian of Congress. It seems unlikely that they’d allow a conspiracy nut to hold such a prestigious position as librarian of Congress? Lastly, you might want to check out Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen.
Now I wish to share with you some examples of our hidden history that anyone thinking about joining the military should know about before making that possibly fatal choice. George W. (WRONG!) Bush is the miscreant (one who behaves criminally or viciously) who calls himself a ‘compassionate conservative’ and declares he is on a holy mission from God to destroy evil. This is the man whose father as president before him, and during the Gulf War urged the Iraqis to rise up against Saddam—after we had withdrawn from Iraq—and when they did, he abandoned them and let them be slaughtered by Saddam. Our government supplied Saddam with the weapons of mass destruction, which he used to murder tens of thousands of his Kurdish & other citizens, and we didn’t raise a voice of protest because Saddam was our man (trained and put in power by the C.I.A.). And now these same hypocritical cowards repeat over and over how heinous a crime that was back then but conveniently don’t tell the public by omission i.e. it’s not allowed to be broadcast in the mainstream media, but is common knowledge in the alternative media.
Something else occurred to me while reflecting on U.S. support for freedom & democracy and that is, why, if we are so morally righteous and just, did we wait so long before we entered both WWI & WWII? As far as I’m concerned, the final nail in the coffin of those who shout that the U.S. has always been the defender of freedom and democracy is the simple list of most of the world’s most brutal and sadistic dictators whom our military, C.I.A., and etc. have given millions of dollars to and have trained their secret police in exotic and unbelievably inhumane techniques of torture. And by the way, our military has been used repeatedly to invade these countries and put down the poor who were revolting against their dictators. These dictators jail, torture, and kill students, teachers, professors, artists, peasants, journalists, musicians, writers, etc. who dare to speak out against the oppression of their fellow citizens.
I know this is not common knowledge because you won’t find this information in textbooks, mainstream T.V., radio, newspapers, or magazines. You will have to put forth significant effort to discover the hidden history and the current activities of “our” government and its agents of repression. Don’t just accept anything I say because you trust me or believe I’m an honest person. Find out for yourself and do your own homework because that’s the only truly worthwhile knowledge there is! I will point you in the direction of some very valuable resources that I have uncovered in my search though. I believe you will find them very enlightening and you will become more and more outraged as your knowledge expands. On the radio or Internet, look up the Pacifica Radio Network especially KPFK in Los Angeles and its Sunday program called Background Briefing with host, Ian Masters. And Robert McChesney does a weekly radio broadcast from Urbana University, which is very worth listening to. On the radio, the Internet, & some public cable access channels is Democracy Now! with host Amy Goodman who is a true heroine and has had her head caved in because she dared to try to report the truth of the slaughter in East Timor. Finally, there is Noam Chomsky who is a one-man revolution and who will rock your world. And Michael Parenti & Gore Vidal are mind-blowing in their analysis of history and politics and definitely worth your time. I almost forgot, here are some excellent magazines who speak for the progressive or liberal political point of view: The Nation, The Progressive, Z magazine, Harper’s magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The Utne Reader, & Mother Jones.
The true patriot is one who informs himself or herself and is not afraid to criticize & hold their government accountable for its actions. But “our” government does everything in its power to keep the facts & the truth about our history & our present from us because patriotism is a con job by politicians to keep us in the dark. And I’m sure that the overwhelming majority of American citizens have never heard of all these butchers “our” government has financed, trained their secret police, & many times sent our troops to support them against their citizens who were rebelling against them.
Here is just a partial list of those dictators “we” have supported because they allow “our” corporations to rape, pillage, & plunder their people and their natural resources—these are the ones I’m at least somewhat familiar with: Idi Amin of Uganda; Batista of Cuba; Botha of South Africa; Chiang Kai-Shek of Taiwan; Christiani of El Salvador; Duvallier of Haiti; Kind Faud bin’ Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia; Franco of Spain; Hitler of Germany; Marcos of the Philippines; Mobutu of Zaire; Noriega of Panama; Shah of Iran; Papadopoulos of Greece; Chung Hee Park of South Korea; Pinochet of Chile; Pol Pot of Cambodia; Halie Salassie of Ethiopia; Somoza of Nicaragua; Ian Smith of Rhodesia; Stroessner of Paraguay; Suharto of Indonesia; and Trujillo of the Dominican Republic. Note also that we invaded Nicaragua and Haiti several times in the 20th century to make it safe for corporations like United Fruit which the Bush family had significant investments in. And Bush says we’re bringing democracy to Iraq? Can you see why the people of Iraq may not believe him?
The true agenda of the robber barons is rarely clearly stated but if we pay attention to their actions, not their words, we can make fairly educated guesses as to what their real agenda is and here are some of my guesses. The powerful are some of the most paranoid people you’d never want to meet. I don’t know why they overreact to such an extent? Their gutting of the traditional public school curriculum has been nearly 100% effective in producing a nation of illiterates and functionally literate. They have censored, distorted, and left out so much of the true history of America that we truly have become a Nation of Sheep. Orwell wrote prophetically in 1948 when he published 1984, “those who control the past, control the present and those who control the present, control the future.” Think about it. When they rearrange the facts in our history textbooks aren’t they controlling the present? Therefore it’s a no-brainer i.e. they control our future. Remember how the Pentagon controls the reporters writing about and covering of our military actions around the planet!
I feel this administration is a bunch of bush leaguers and that they are as cowardly as bushwhackers who shoot men in the back because they don’t have the courage to fight out in the open! Some critics have posited what I believe to be a plausible theory that we sent the weapons inspectors into Iraq to make sure as possible that there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction before we invaded to try to keep our casualties at a minimum and give the public a quick, clean victory? And this is another reason why the term ‘military intelligence’ is an oxymoron. Our ‘intelligence’ agencies and Condoleeza Rice was supposedly an expert on Russia, didn’t have a clue that Russia was collapsing and Ms. Rice & our “intelligence” agencies were caught completely off guard until after the fact when Russia self-imploded. Believe it or not, I am approaching the end of this rather lengthy essay of mine and if you’re still with me, I want to applaud you for your diligence. I tuned into Democracy Now! last week and was very glad that I did because there was a very lovely guest by the name of Naomi Wolf on and she was discussing her recent book The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. During the course of the interview, Ms. Wolf calmly & eloquently laid out what she calls the blueprint for fascism in 10 steps that she has observed from her study of despots and dictators and which is common in every despot’s attempts to destroy democratic movements or to close down a democratic society. I request that you keep these ten steps to fascism in mind and reflect back on what I have written and then decide for yourself how much ‘truth’ there is to my essay.
[Update; in today’s America under Trump, it’s clear to me that he’s fulfilled every criteria for trying to turn the U.S. into a fascist tyranny, under him of course!]
- Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy. As Ms. Wolf points out this can be totally fictitious or true to some extent but grossly overstated or hyped to scare the public into compliance with the fascist agenda. Note our internment of thousands of Japanese Americans during WWII & the confiscation of their land. And also notice that Bush’s “War on Terror,” has no physical location or time limit so he & his cronies can carry on their war against internal & external “enemies” indefinitely. Also interesting is the parallel to the Reichstag fire in Germany to the attacks of Sept. 11th in that they galvanized the people against an invisible enemy.
- Create a gulag. Remember Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, which detailed the horrific conditions all those unfortunate souls whom Stalin dispatched to Siberia were forced to endure. Of course our most infamous gulag is Guantanamo and next to it is Abu Gharib. But there are perhaps hundreds of other “black sites” at secret locations around the globe. We have over 170 military bases around the globe and we also farm-out some of our torture to friendly dictatorships like Egypt & Syria. Naomi also reminds us of a famous pastor who lived in Nazi Germany, Pastor Martin Niemoler who realized that he, like so many other good Germans never spoke out because they first came for the communists, then the Jews, then the labor union leaders, then the Catholics, etc. but he never said anything because these were people on the fringes of German society and he didn’t identify with them but when the brown shirts came for him, there was no one left to speak out. “Most Americans don’t understand yet that the destruction of the rule of law at Guantanamo set a dangerous precedent for them, too.”
- Develop a thug caste. Mussolini had his Blackshirts & Hitler had his Brownshirts and Bush has Blackwater. Not a very original title for a private, paramilitary force on the part of the powers that be when you think about it. If you recall or in case you aren’t aware of it, Blackwater doesn’t just operate as cowboy mercenaries in Iraq and other ‘hot spots’ around the world but have been deployed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to intimidate, beat up, & terrify the black residents of New Orleans so they’d clear out and the rich cats could ‘gentrify’ New Orleans. And in the recent fires in Southern California, Blackwater was dispatched again to ‘help out’ and partnered with McDonalds. Ah, good old capitalism never ceases in its pursuit of profit while the poor are once again kicked in the teeth. Note that the State Dept. has been shielding Blackwater from prosecution for its murder of innocent civilians in Iraq. Equally important, another American ‘hero,’ Oliver North, who was awarded for his betrayal of America with his very own T.V. show, told us of Reagan’s preparations in case there was domestic ‘unrest’ whereby they would round up all dissidents, declare martial law, and lock up all the troublemakers. Can’t happen here?
- Set up an internal surveillance system. “In closed societies, this surveillance is cast as being about ‘national security’; the true function is to keep citizens docile and inhibit their activism and dissent.” The “Patriot Act” which should more rightly be called The War on Freedom Act has effectively taken away our right to privacy. And the masters have been hiding behind the term “National Security” for decades in order to cover all their crimes against American citizens and their covert activities around the world such as assassinating foreign leaders not ‘friendly’ towards American corporations who are exploiting sovereign nations’ resources and people. If you’d like to learn more about this subject, I invite you to check out another PBS Frontline program called Spying on the Home Front that first aired in May of 2007. In fact, I just went to the website and tried to access a side story on what the N.S.A. may be up to and got a message saying “Access Forbidden.” Home of the Free? Under the cloak of “protecting us from possible terrorist attacks,” the wicked wizards of wanton greed are actually tightening a noose around our necks and especially the necks of all of us who dare to dissent. Note that you can’t attend a public speech by Bush without signing a loyalty oath and if you’re wearing a t-shirt with anything remotely critical on it, you will get the bum’s rush escort and possibly a tazer tune-up? Mussolini, Hitler, Communist China, Communist East Germany, etc. have all employed internal spy networks in order to intimidate their citizens into silence. And it works remarkably well because people become more and more fearful that their neighbors or strangers might report them if they say the wrong thing. Keep on watching Jerry Springer, ‘reality T.V., and all the other mindless crap & don’t trouble yourself with these minor inconveniences or infringements and one day you’ll wake up and wonder where you are because America will have become one giant gulag. “Don’t Worry Be Happy!” (Stupid song from about 15 years ago)
- Harass citizens’ groups. As Senator Frank Church from Idaho, warned us around 1975 when he held the Church Committee Hearings to investigate the government’s COINTELPRO activities, our secret police infiltrated dozens of peace groups, anti-nuclear groups, the Black Panthers, etc. and sometimes marked charismatic leaders of these groups for death by other agencies, and used agent provocateurs to foment violence which then gave the fascists the pretext to cave-in people’s heads and haul them off to prison. I was at a demonstration once in L.A. outside a fancy hotel which was holding a $500 a plate dinner for Ronald Reagan and I got scared because a black man struck up a conversation with me and I felt that he was trying to suck me into suggesting we take some sort of violent action so he could arrest me. They are very subtle and clever in their tactics and you’d better be very careful about what you say and to whom if you don’t want to end up in prison. Anyway, our secret police had to cool it for a while but not for long because when Reagan took office, the gloves came off again in terms of spying on us. The bastards even go after pastors & preachers who dare to criticize their brutal and callous methods. But if you’re a fellow hatemonger like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who even called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, you have nothing to fear. They use the IRS to intimidate church leaders into silence by threatening to revoke their tax-exempt status. Michael Moore also highlighted this harassment of citizens’ groups in his film Fahrenheit 9/11
- Engage in arbitrary detention and release. People, like myself, who have marched in peaceful demonstrations, signed petitions, written letters of dissent to editors, blogs, etc. have been put on a Terrorist Watch list. I don’t know yet if I’m on the list or not but will find out the next time I try to fly. The point is that if you dare to dissent in America under the Bush regime, you are likened to a terrorist. Of course this completely turns on its head what our founding fathers and framers of our Constitution established with our freedom of speech, right to assemble, right to privacy, etc.
- Target key individuals. You may recall that during the turbulent 1960s, virtually every leader of the organizations critical of the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panthers, etc. Leaders were either jailed or killed. Consider the fate of Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Abbie Hoffman, Timothy Leary, Tom Hayden, Stokely Carmichael, etc. Also reflect on the fact that in almost every coup d’etat, one of the first things the new dictator does is shut down the newspapers, T.V. stations, universities, etc. Why? Because they know that if they can keep the public in the dark and only allow the people to hear their propaganda, it’s much easier to control & shape their opinions and hence manipulate the people to go along with their hidden agendas. To illustrate, I remember my shock when I was attending California State University in the early 1980s and learned of an organization by right-wing “Christian” fundamentalists called “Accuracy in Academia.” Yeah, ‘accuracy!’ Not! It was clearly an attempt to silence ‘liberal’ professors and intimidate them into perpetuation of the right-wing ideological perspective.
- Control the press. Unfortunately, the death knell for the ‘free press’ in America has long ago been sounded. For an excellent, detailed analysis of this woeful state of affairs, I warmly recommend that you check out Noam Chomsky & Edward S. Herman’s classic Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. “The Committee to Protect Journalists says arrests of U.S. journalists are at an all-time high: Josh Wolf (no relation), a blogger in San Francisco, has been put in jail for a year for refusing to turn over video of an anti-war demonstration; Homeland Security brought a criminal complaint against reporter Greg Palast, claiming he threatened ‘critical infrastructure’ when he and a TV producer were filming victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Palast had written a bestseller critical of the Bush administration. Other reporters and writers have been punished in other ways. Joseph C. Wilson accused Bush, in a New York Times op-ed, of leading the country to war on the basis of a false charge that Saddam Hussein had acquired yellowcake uranium in Niger. His wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA spy—a form of retaliation that ended her career.” Yeah, here’s an example of true betrayal or treason but of course when the White House hoodlums do it, they get away with it. Scooter Libby was finally convicted of this crime and even though the blow-heart Bush who swore that when he discovered who outed Valerie Plame, they’d be punished to the full letter of the law. It was just another lie in a tidal wave of deceptions perpetrated by this junta of jackals. Bush pardoned Libby before he saw a single day in jail. And let’s not forget the once venerable New York Times the ‘paper of record,’ that sets the standard for the rest of the newspapers in America. They beat the war drums for the rush to war along with the FOX “News” channel. “You won’t have a shutdown of news in modern America—it is not possible. But you can have, as Frank Rich and Sidney Blumenthal have pointed out, a steady stream of lies polluting the news well. What you already have is a White House directing a stream of false information that is so relentless that it is increasingly hard to sort out truth from untruth. In a fascist system, it’s not the lies that count but the muddying. When citizens can’t tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit.
- Dissent equals treason. “Cast dissent as ‘treason’ and criticism as ‘espionage.’ Every closing society does this, just as it elaborates laws that increasingly criminalize certain kinds of speech and expand the definition of ‘spy’ and ‘traitor.’” I’m sure that a lot of what I have said in this essay could be construed as ‘treason’ by these perverters of the truth and I’ve heard that they are either thinking of or have already started confiscating people who dissent’s property. Yep, land of the free and home of the brave. “And here is where the circle closes: most Americans do not realize that since September of last year—when Congress wrongly, foolishly, passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006—the president has the power to call any U.S. citizen an ‘enemy combatant.’ He has the power to define what ‘enemy combatant’ means. …he has the power to have us seized as we are changing planes at Newark tomorrow, or have us taken with a knock on the door; ship you or me to a navy brig; and keep you or me in isolation, possibly for months, while awaiting trial. (Prolonged isolation, as psychiatrists know, triggers psychosis in otherwise mentally healthy prisoners. That is why Stalin’s gulag had an isolation cell, like Guantanamo’s, in every satellite prison. Camp 6, the newest, most brutal facility at Guantanamo, is all isolation cells. We U.S. citizens will get a trial eventually—for now. But legal rights activists at the Center for Constitutional Rights say that the Bush administration is trying increasingly aggressively to find ways to get around giving even U.S. citizens fair trials. ‘Enemy combatant’ is a status offence—it is not even something you have to have done. ‘We have absolutely moved over into a preventive detention model—you look like you could so something bad, you might do something bad, so we’re going to hold you,’ says a spokeswoman of the CCR. Most Americans surely do not get this yet. No wonder: it is hard to believe, even though it is true. In every closing society, at a certain point there are some high-profile arrests—usually of opposition leaders, clergy, TV and radio, and the facades of a civil society. There just isn’t real dissent. There just isn’t freedom. If you look at history, just before those arrests is where we are now.” Reminds me of that futuristic movie Minority Report with Tom Cruise as a law enforcement officer who would arrest people before they committed a crime because the government had the ability to know which citizens were going to commit a crime in the future. Talk about life imitating art!
- Suspend the rule of law. “The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the National Guard. This means that in a national emergency—which the president now has enhanced powers to declare—he can send Michigan’s militia to enforce a state of emergency that he has declared in Oregon, over the objections of the state’s governor and its citizens. Even as Americans were focused on Britney Spear’s meltdown and the question of who fathered Anna Nicole’s baby, the New York Times editorialized about this shift: ‘A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night…Beyond actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or any ‘other condition.’ Critics see this as a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act…. the founders were terrified of exactly this kind of concentration of militias’ power over American people in the hands of an oppressive executive or faction. Of course, the United States is not vulnerable to the violent, total closing-down of the system that followed Mussolini’s march on Rome or Hitler’s roundup of political prisoners. Our democratic habits are too resilient, and our military and judiciary too independent, for any kind of scenario like that. Rather, as other critics are noting, our experiment in democracy could be closed down by a process of erosion…. As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to Internet shopping and American idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are ‘at war’ in a ‘long war’—a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president—without U.S. citizens realizing it yet—the power over U.S. citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone…. What if, in a year and a half, there is another attack—say, God forbid, a dirty bomb? The executive can declare a state of emergency. History shows that any leader, of any party, will be tempted to maintain emergency powers after the crisis has passed. With the gutting of traditional checks and balances, we are no less endangered by a President Hillary than by a President Giuliani—because any executive will be tempted to enforce his or her will through edict rather than the arduous, uncertain process of democratic negotiation and compromise…. Right now, only a handful of patriots are trying to hold back the tide of tyranny for the rest of us—staff at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who faced death threats for representing the detainees yet persisted all the way to the Supreme Court…. We need to look at history and face the ‘what ifs.’ For if we keep going down this road, the ‘end of America’ could come for each of us in a different way, at a different moment….’The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands…is the definition of tyranny,’ wrote James Madison. We still have the choice to stop going down this road; we can stand our ground and fight for our nation, and take up the banner the founders asked us to carry.” (excerpted from The Guardian, a British newspaper at www.guardian.co.uk)
It’s appropriate that step ten of Ms. Wolf’s ten steps to fascism is to suspend the rule of law because again it is truly frightening how far this criminal corporation in Washington D.C. has gone in their ignoring, violating, and suspension of the law. The power elite regularly proclaims the sanctity of American jurisprudence and remind us that we’re a nation based on law and order yet the acts of this administration has been perhaps the most lawless administration we have ever known? It also dawned on me awhile back that while we have a glut of TV programs about law & order—in fact, a series by the name with several spin-offs—yet our reality is the political & corporate crooks consistently get away with high crimes and misdemeanors while more and more of us on the lower end of the social ladder are being locked up for ever greater lengths of prison sentences?
Let’s take a brief stroll down memory lane. Anyone remember the Iran/Contra scandal? Dear old Ronnie Reagan who’s name brings a tear to the eye of a good number of Americans to this very day, swore we would never bargain with terrorists but behind closed doors and against the express law passed by Congress, sold weapons to the Iranians who kidnapped Americans and held them captive for over a year—and what a coincidence that the moment Reagan was being sworn into office, the Iranians released the hostages? And on top of this, the weapons that ‘we’ sold the Iranians were bought with drug money our CIA made from bringing cocaine into America. And ‘we’ supported the death squads in Nicaragua with this money as well. Yet when the Iran/Contra hearings were held, everyone involved, most notably Oliver North, hid behind yep, you guessed it, Patriotism. You may be getting tired of my citing example after example of how patriotism is a con job by politicians but I know only too well how long the propaganda campaign by the corporate cockroaches has been waged against us & therefore I realize how great a mountain I must climb to combat it.
I used to travel to students’ homes in L.A. & teach Spanish-speaking adults English. A woman from Nicaragua whom I worked with told me something that shocked me & made me sick to my heart that ‘our’ government & Reagan could compare the death squad butchers to our founding fathers. Maria told me that her sister was 9 months pregnant and the Contras came into their village and sliced her sister’s stomach open, pulled the baby out, & slit the baby’s throat in front of her sister as she bled to death! I also used to substitute for L.A. Unified Schools and had the privilege of teaching many young high school students from Nicaragua and El Salvador and I hope that I never have to witness what these poor souls had to go through. I taught these students for six weeks and when I had to move on, several of the girls started crying because they knew that I truly cared about them and they brought tears to my eyes as well!
And speaking of ‘law & order,’ something else occurred to me while I was thinking about all the domestic spying that Big Brother is doing on us. I think it was something like a year or two back that the TV program Sixty Minutes did a story on a government program called “Echelon.” This story really caught my attention because my ex-wife’s cousin told me over twenty years ago that the government was listening to our phone conversations and if certain words like ‘bomb,’ ‘Allah,’ etc. were used, they flagged you and you would soon receive a visit from one of the intelligence agencies’ agents. This ‘Echelon’ story verified this and revealed that they now can pull the data from our e-mails, phone calls, faxes, websites we visit, in short—every form of communication we use, right out of the air. They no longer need to physically tap into our phone lines. I remember just before Bush launched our invasion of Iraq and he was pretending to go along with the requirement of getting the approval of the U.N.’s Security Council and it was revealed that ‘we’ were spying on the Security Council members to find out which way they were going to vote on the resolution. I bet Echelon was how they were able to spy on the members? Furthermore, I know I’m going to sound like a nut-case but I was also amazed when the movie Enemy of the State came out because even though it is a Hollywood movie i.e. work of fiction, I believe it has a lot of factual information in it and it surprised me that the ‘friendly fascists,’ would allow this knowledge to be revealed even if in a fictional Hollywood movie. If you’ve seen the movie, think about the technological capabilities that were shown in the movie and then consider what we now know about Echelon & Bush’s spying on us and in violation of the F.I.S.A. laws. The key question that this movie brought up was spoken by the woman who played Will Smith’s wife in the movie when she said, “yeah, but who’s going to watch the watchers?” Chew that one over for a while if you will. You see, in the corporate cockroaches’ perverted idea of patriotism, turning America into precisely what we’ve been fighting against throughout the Cold War i.e. communist dictatorships where there is no freedom of speech, privacy, right to a trial, etc. is their idea of freedom.
Anyway, I was going to quote at length from another PBS Frontline special called Cheney’s Law but I’ll leave that to those of you who might be intrigued enough to do a little digging on your own. But this Frontline program will show you just how great the contempt this administration has for Congress’s authority, for law, and for us. I fear that I’m going to lose more readers than retain so I’m going to start winding down this ‘essay.’
When I originally wrote this essay back in May of 2004, I titled it “Reasons Why A Young Person Should Not Join the Military or Enter At Your Own Risk & Buyer Beware!” Several people who read it suggested that it could be more effective if I arranged it a little more logically so, I finally have done so and I’ve updated it a bit as well. I hope that it makes a difference in at least one person’s life because then it will have been worth the effort I’ve put into it. Far too many times our government has lied to us about the reasons for going to war and therefore you should be damn sure you have all the facts necessary to make an informed decision before you put your butt on the line. I wrote this not because I’m unpatriotic or anti-American but because I am a true patriot and not afraid to speak my mind (yet). I criticize our government because just as a good parent criticizes and disciplines their children so they’ll mature into honorable men and women, I criticize our government in the hope that it too can learn from its mistakes. And as Thomas Jefferson said, “it’s not only our right to hold our government accountable; it’s our duty as citizens of a democracy.” I must confess though that the primary reason I wrote this essay was because I have a son and I hope and pray that he won’t become just another sad statistic of yet another young person ground up and spit out of the military machine. And what really cuts me to the bone is the fact that my son won’t even take the time to read this essay that I wrote for him in an attempt to save his life and hopefully squash any thought he might ever have of joining the military.
As I mentioned earlier, the military today regularly violates the contract they make with enlistees so when you sign on that line, you are theirs for an indefinite length of service like this indefinite ‘war on terror.’ And this ‘war on terror’ gave the right-wing extremists and reactionaries in the White House just what they were looking for i.e. an excuse to wage war on all the social welfare agencies and legislation passed and established over the last one hundred years. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Reactionary Right were desperately searching for a new national enemy to justify the continuation of the transfer of the money from the pockets of the poor to the pockets of the rich via what is called the ‘defense industry’ but should be referred to as the death industry. Can you recall that the ‘defense department’ used to be called what it actually is, the War Department?
Before the terrorists came along and assisted their buddies in the White House by providing them with a rationale for invading and attacking any nation they so choose to, we had an interim and still on-going ‘War on Drugs.’ I recently watched a documentary on Free Speech TV (a very valuable learning tool) regarding this ‘War on Drugs,’ and it was deeply disturbing because I had what I believe to be a profound insight. Our government is funneling billions of dollars into Columbia’s war against coca and marijuana growers & smugglers but upon close examination you will discover that most of the drug traffickers in Columbia are involved in the trade because the money enables them to buy the weaponry necessary to fight the corrupt Columbian government backed by the U.S. A lot of the drug dealers are Leftists fighting for social justice, fair wages, the right to form unions, and etc. Coca-Cola for a case in point has hired assassins to threaten, torture, & kill union organizers. Once again our military forces and our tax dollars are being used to repress democratic aspirations of the poor and the disenfranchised under the guise of championing democracy. I believe the main Leftist group is called FARC and they too have committed crimes against humanity as in their kidnapping of foreigners for ransom. If the foreigners work for the U.S. military, government of the U.S., or the corporations exploiting the Columbian people & their resources, I can understand though I don’t approve of kidnapping. But if the people being kidnapped are innocent tourists or are there as teachers or health workers, it is morally reprehensible for them to suffer the trauma of being kidnapped!
Our forty year ‘Cold War’ against the Communists, all our incursions into places like Haiti, Grenada, Panama, Nicaragua, Iraq, etc., the War on Drugs, and our current open-ended carte blanche ‘War on Terrorism,’ are in effect really a war on all the poor and working classes in every nation on earth. I know this sounds rather extreme but I bet that if you study the story behind the official ‘Newspeak’ handed to us, you’ll see a common pattern in country after country of the U.S. assisting the corrupt and helping to undermine the poor in their dreams of a more equitable social arrangement just as Naomi Wolf did when she discovered the blueprint common to all despots and dictators as they brought and are currently bringing fascism to their countries.
Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m in no way saying the Communists were the good guys! What I am saying is that we’ve all been so grievously wronged and ripped-off and betrayed—Russians and Americans—that we should all be raising holy hell and demanding the return of our sovereign rights! Neither side gives a damn about democracy, communism, freedom, or anything except power and all the material prosperity that the elite can hoard. I was recently reflecting on the reasons we were given for getting involved in that long quagmire called the Vietnam War—though never officially declared by the cowards in Congress—and as I recall, we were on a noble mission to save the world from communism? Remember the Domino Theory? It was claimed that if we didn’t intervene in Vietnam and it became communist, it would act as a domino (role model) and a ripple effect of all the surrounding countries becoming communist and falling like dominoes would be the result. If the communists were our mortal enemies and wickedness personified, then answer me this, why almost directly after our defeat in Vietnam did we reach out to Communist China and become trading partners? What did all our boys die for or come home with a leg or arm missing?
I say that ‘our’ government and military are really the servants of the global corporations who are shoving globalization down our throats not to make this a more democratic or equitable world—unless you consider all workers around the world making $2 or less per day, equitable—but rather to consolidate their power to such an extent that they need never worry again about the pesky peons demanding food and shelter! The illegal & immoral person who stole the U.S. presidency and whom I affectionately refer to as the Bushwhacker, paints his ‘War on Terror’ in very simplistic black and white terms i.e. “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists,” because this distracts people from the deeper issues and the gray areas by keeping us emotionally off balance and lusting for blood. The Bush & Cheney cabal have several reasons for why they embroiled us in yet another quagmire but this time in Iraq; 1) to establish a permanent military presence and large enough force to ensure a strategic post in the Middle East, 2) to control access and therefore power over our rivals for oil around the world, 3) to seek revenge for the attempt on George Sr.’s life, etc., etc., etc.
As I was watching another PBS Frontline documentary last night called Spying on the Homefront, something else occurred to me i.e. the strutting little dictator from Crawford keeps telling us that it’s necessary for them to spy on all of us in order to prevent further terrorist attacks against us. Yet, if this were true, then why did the F.B.I. fire Sibel Edmonds who was hired a few weeks after Sept. 11th as a translator because she speaks Farsi, Arabic, & Turkish? They fired her because she blew the whistle on her supervisors who were telling her to slow down in her translations of documents that intelligence agencies had gathered in their attempt to discover what terrorists were up to. She stated publicly that Condoleeza Rice’s claim that the administration had no idea of an impending attack by Al Qaeda before the tragic attack was an “outrageous lie.” Ms. Edmonds held the highest security clearance but like everyone else who dares to speak truth to power in this den of thieves and liars, they are gotten rid of and their character is assassinated by the Karl Rove smear team. But this courageous patriot hasn’t given up and she’s been fighting the swine in the courts. And something else occurred to me, a simplistic theory perhaps but nonetheless, I am old enough to remember that the former director of the F.B.I., J. Edgar Hoover, who enjoyed cross-dressing while conducting his fascist war against America, had secret files on just about every politician in Washington D.C. and whenever any politician, pundit, businessman, etc., dared to not go along with Hoover’s program, he’d threaten to publicly expose them and ruin their careers. I wonder if perhaps those men with the real power, through the use of Echelon and other NSA dirty tricks, have dossiers on everyone in Congress and the handful of corporate media moguls and other powerful interests and keep them in line by threatening them also?
One thing I am sure of though is the fact that politics is all about gaining power and then hanging onto it once you’ve gained it. A book written several hundred years ago by Nicolo Machiavelli called The Prince, laid out the blueprint for gaining power and holding onto it. It’s a very cold-blooded, calculating, & no holds barred inside picture of what goes on in the real halls of power and most of the world’s “leaders,” use it though very few will admit that they do. Just as in that movie by Oliver Stone called Wall Street with Michael Douglas revealed with the book by Sun Tzu titled The Art of War revealed the art of doing dirty business that the corporate, criminal class follow in their never enough pursuit of profit. And as the moral of the movie revealed, yes, you can gain great power by being ruthless but in the end you lose your soul. I can see this ruthlessness being used against the world’s poor & struggling billions now in the form of globalization but unlike in the movies where the good guys win in the end, I don’t see any force that is powerful enough to stop these modern day Attila the Huns. Our hope lies in whether enough of us care enough to empower ourselves with the knowledge necessary to stop them and unite in this ultimate battle for the life of the planet and the future of humanity. Again you may think I’m going off the deep end but consider if you will what the gluttonous, power-mad, warmongers are up to with their plans for space-based satellites with lasers for the domination of space and the entire planet. Look up Bruce Gagnon for a frightening glimpse into the next phase of Star Wars. It may seem that I have wandered way off the subject of this essay but it’s all connected. The question is, do you want to be part of those who are the oppressors and who are destroying life and turning this world into a living nightmare or do you want to join the battle for dignity, fairness, & peace?
The powers that be use fear and propaganda to push our emotional buttons and appeal to our ‘sense of patriotism,’ to remain in power and clearly have no loyalty to us as citizens of what used to be a sovereign power. Most Americans define patriotism as “my country, right or wrong.” And this is indeed a very narrow & childish understanding of the term. If you are interested in understanding what it means to be a true patriot on a much deeper level, the best source I can point you towards is an issue of The Nation that was devoted to this single subject and had brief pieces by a wide variety of artists, intellectuals, professors, journalists, teachers, etc. I think it was around the 4th of July in 1992 or perhaps around the time of the first Gulf War? The old saying by Samuel Johnson that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” isn’t just a witty little quip but is a very profound insight into those who use the concept to manipulate the gullible for their own personal gain. And Thomas Jefferson who wrote our Declaration of Independence was very serious indeed when he warned us to beware of “sunshine patriots.”
The government representatives, the military elite, the mass media corporate giants, the public school system & the university system, & the global corporations have betrayed us time & time again and care nothing about our physical well being, our psychological well being, whether we’re forced into homelessness, etc. So, we owe them no loyalty but we do owe it to ourselves to pull them down from their golden thrones because no one is superior to anyone else and we have a God-given or natural born right to live in a world of justice for all! The U.S. & Israel have defied international law and United Nations resolutions hundreds if not thousands of times, and have stood alone, united in their crimes against humanity. We are the rogue nations and our ‘leaders’ have the audacity to stand on the world’s stage in front of the media from around the globe and denounce Iran and any other nation who dares to tell us no, as threats to democracy and freedom? Their egos and arrogance is truly breathtaking. How they can stand there in front of all those cameras and say the preposterous shit that comes out of their mouths with a straight face is beyond my comprehension? Israel and we have about zero credibility in the eyes of the world and it’ll take a long time if it’s even possible for the U.S. to regain a semblance of respectability.
This in conjunction with Bush’s flagrant & consistent violations of U.S. law completely negates any claim to authority, respect, or trust of this oil cabal occupying the oval office and blackening America’s reputation the world over! We would do well to remember F.D.R.’s famous words “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Don’t let them scare you into submission. In conclusion, I say that on moral grounds ultimately I rest my case and that the ‘true’ (my truth) causes of terrorism as is generally understood i.e. individuals who have no respect for human life and commit suicide bomb attacks because they are religious fanatics and have no valid reason for their heinous crimes. This is brazen propaganda and indoctrination. By the way, don’t forget that the U.S. is the only country that has ever been labeled a terrorist nation by the International Court of Law, and we are the only nation to have ever used a nuclear bomb on another country. So how righteous are we and what moral high ground do we occupy? They won’t ever allow the deeper issues to be discussed in the national media because it would open a Pandora’s box of misery and humiliation and disgrace for them if we ever start a public dialogue on war issues or domestic politics. I believe the ‘true’ causes for most terrorist attacks against Americans is in brief all the bloody and butcherous dictators we have helped or installed in power and taught them also how to maintain their power by a perpetual reign of terror conducted against the poor, the workers, students, etc. And the emotional, physical, psychological tolls the oppressive and totalitarian vice-grip tactics take on the people because they are forced to work like dogs for pennies and under draconian conditions. They often slave away in factories owned by Americans and they can’t feed their children or find medical care. School is a luxury and only a rare few ever receive even a modicum of education. And be assured, I in no way condone acts of terrorism committed by other nations or individuals or by our own government or citizens. Two wrongs don’t make a right. I’m simply trying to inform you of some of the reasons behind terrorism.
Therefore, why should you risk your life when those who really hold the reigns of power in this country don’t give a damn about you or your loved ones? Most importantly, the psychological damage done to those who go to war, often goes unnoticed but as time passes, the results of that damage become evident in the large numbers of homeless vets, the high rates of divorce, alcoholism, drug abuse, estrangement from their loved ones & friends, & the screams in the middle of the night due to the horrific nightmares that so many soldiers suffer from. In a recent poll, 72% of our soldiers in Iraq said they believe we should withdraw from Iraq within a year. And 29% of those polled said we should withdraw immediately. The Pentagon says that since the year 2000, more than 40,000 military personnel have deserted. And the suicide rate of military personnel since the beginning of the Iraq invasion has alarmed many outside experts. What does this all tell you? It struck me recently that history has once again shown us a very cruel irony in that we supposedly entered into World War II to stop the fascist Germans, Italians, & Japanese and today it is we, the U.S. who are becoming the fascists. Strong or harsh accusation? You’re goddamned right!
The powerful have in common with the devoutly religious, mastered the art of denial and have raised it to a level of perfection hard to imagine. If you doubt the human capacity for barbarism that lurks within our souls, I suggest you read or watch The Lord of the Flies. And if after everything I have said, you still believe it right or worthwhile to join the military then, all I have to say is good luck and best wishes because it’s your life after all! But I can’t blame the Iraqis for rejecting our brand of democracy. And if you want to be a true patriot, you will arm yourself with knowledge of our history & speak out against the corporate cockroaches who are enslaving all of humanity!
—Rob DeLoss (first draft May 17, 2004, revised & updated December 6, 2007)