Thursday, May 18, 2006

[political-researchp] Bloglines - Requiem for American Democracy

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Requiem for American Democracy

By Jason Miller

by Jack Random
May 15, 2006

Looking for a leader
To bring our country home
Reunite the red, white and blue
Before it turns to stone

-- Neil Young, “Living with War”

What could be more absurd than the Bush administration pushing the United Nations for a resolution of condemnation against Iran? Three years ago the same White House gave solemn assurances that a similar resolution against Iraq would not be used as justification for war. While lying to the Security Council may not constitute an impeachable offense, it eliminates the need for character witnesses the next time you try the same trick.

Fool me once… well, we’re not going to get fooled again.

As if competing for the mendacity of the week award, Senator Rick Santorum (What is wrong with Pennsylvania?) lectured his colleagues on ethical conduct, advising them not to accept private jet rides from corporate sponsors two days after accepting the same from his own corporate sponsor.

Not to be outdone, Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss retired shortly before his name was dragged through the muck in connection with disgraced former congressman Duke Cunningham, defense contractors, poker games and prostitutes at the Watergate Hotel.

With two and a half years to go, after the latest shake down, the White House is a ghost ship inhabited by misfits and failures. Michael Chertoff and John Negroponte in charge of the nation’s security? Who is kidding whom? Karl Rove spends all his time preparing his defense in the Valerie Plame-Wilson case, Dick Cheney is drafting position papers on presidential pardons, Josh Bolton supervises the shredding operation and songbird Jack Abramoff is the hottest ticket in town.

Meantime, the biggest bogey of them all, the NSA Spying Scandal (What part of illegal do you not understand?) hides its ugly head awaiting a fair hearing before an impartial congress. As the latest Orwellian revelation settles in (an apparent attempt to accumulate a data base of every American phone call and email ever recorded), memories of Dick Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover float to the fore. (Was Martin Luther King a terrorist associate?) When you accumulate vast amounts of information, someone is bound to use it. What if it falls into the wrong hands? For instance, what if it gets into the hands of people who would out a CIA agent for a political vendetta?

The president’s claim that we only spy on terrorists and terrorist affiliates takes its place in a long line of executive deceptions.

No one could have imagined planes used as missiles.

We know exactly where the weapons of mass destruction are.

The next attack may be a mushroom cloud.

Saddam is the second cousin of Osama bin Laden.

We do not torture.

We do not wiretap without a warrant.

Iran is the greatest threat to peace in the world.

It has nothing to do with oil.

The tax cuts benefit the working people.

The economy is strong.

The Katrina catastrophe was the result of state and local malfeasance.

We have to fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.

Afghanistan is a beacon of democracy.

No president wants to go to war.

The bogeyman himself, NSA chief, administration stooge and Air Force General Michael Hayden, faces senatorial confirmation hearings to succeed DCI Goss, at which we will surely be treated to the cardboard fa├žade of Democratic opposition. Watch Senator Feinstein agonize: He may have committed a blatant felony, he may have overseen the gathering of phone records on over 100 million “Al Qaeda affiliates”, but he’s such a nice man, a good technocrat and he does not play poker with prostitutes.

Assuming he passes the test, if Hayden succeeds in his new assignment, the once venerated spy agency will go gently into that goodnight -- until the next terrorist attack.

Nearly five and a half years into the worst presidency in recorded history, the stock market approaches an all-time high while working class Americans stare into the abyss of poverty and ruin, the runaway debt climbs to an insurmountable peak, the price of gas is a dagger in the working man’s back, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are the latest forgotten war zones, a reactionary congress searches for fresh scapegoats, America has lost its moral grounding, falling headlong into a spiral descent, and the president believes he can restore his leadership by christening another war with tactical nuclear weapons.

Looking backward in agony, the question must be asked: How could so many Americans have been fooled?

Looking forward in trepidation, is there any assurance we will not be fooled again?

Democracy is far more than the periodic ritual of voting. Saddam’s Iraq dutifully practiced the ritual like a moon dance at harvest time. True democracy is founded on real freedom and genuine freedom is wholly dependent on the right of privacy. More than anything else, what distinguishes citizens from slaves is that our lives are our own behind closed doors.

There is no freedom of expression if the government is listening. There is no freedom of choice if the government is keeping tabs. Even freedom of thought is irreparably harmed if our thoughts are shadowed by the fear of a government monitor.

Having sacrificed our rights and freedoms with hardly a whimper, we can only take our government’s word that we are more secure. Even now, as we reflect on the years since 11 September 2001, there have been horrific wildfires and massive explosions at chemical and industrial plants. If we cannot rely on our government to tell us the truth (as we clearly cannot under George W. Bush), how would we know if there was a terrorist attack?

The government has already cowed the media and the opposition party is a cruel joke. Now we are told that a majority of Americans is willing to sacrifice the right of privacy for the illusive promise of security. If that is truly the case, we have already lost the battle to retain our democracy.

The problems of this nation go well beyond the deficiencies of a little man from Crawford, Texas. The central problem of this nation is a political system that offers a choice between two corporate proxies every four years: Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum. The problem is a system that relies on the corrupt to police the corrupted. The problem is a system that disallows innovative thought and reduces acceptable policies to those that are corporate sanctioned. he problem is a system that is dominated and controlled by international corporations without a vested interest in either the nation or its inhabitants.

The only realistic solution to the rapidly unfolding decline of the nation is a third American revolution. The first secured independence from the British Empire at the cost of American blood. The second was a critical affirmation of the principles of democracy with the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800. The third must be a reaffirmation of the same.

Recently, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman took the most unusual tact of advocating a third party movement. The theme of his imaginary party was green power and its lynchpin was a significant federal gas tax.

With due respect, Mr. Friedman is right and wrong. Green power is the correct theme but a gas tax is its death knell. Presumably, Mr. Friedman resides in the only metropolis in America where an automobile is not prerequisite to employment. Presumably, Mr. Friedman need not worry that another rise in the cost of living will push him over the edge. He will not lose his home, his health coverage and the means of supporting his family. He does not live where the working class lives.

There is in fact a host of measures (see “Paradigm Shift: Embracing the Power of Green”) that can be taken without a tax that singles out the most vulnerable among us for punishment. It includes fuel efficiency standards, mass transit, industrial hemp, re-regulation of the energy industry, expansion of alternative energy sources, mandatory solar panels and energy efficient design. It requires assembling the brightest minds in the land to draft a comprehensive energy policy that will wean us from destructive fuels and lead us to the forefront of green technology.

Beyond taxing the elite who have all but received a free pass over the last five and a half years, we need only stop the war, putting an end to a monumental waste of human and financial resources, and invest in the future of the nation and the planet.

Beyond preventing or at least alleviating certain environmental catastrophes and defusing the need for war to secure oil, a successful third party drive to significant power just might rekindle the flame of democracy in America.

Is it an impossible dream? No more so than winning independence from the world’s most powerful army in 1776. No more so than fighting back the wealthy aristocrats in 1800. It is in plain fact the American dream and if we do not fight to secure it, we will surely inherit a nightmare in its place.

Jack Random is the author of Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press) the Jazzman Chronicles, Volumes I and II ( City Lights Books ). The Chronicles have been published by CounterPunch, the Albion Monitor, Buzzle, Dissident Voice and others. Visit his website: Random Jack .


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