|March 30, 2006||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Vote for America, Not More Killing
This guest essay is printed here with the permission of the author.
by Dom Stasi
When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty. ~ George Bernard Shaw
As we observe this somber anniversary, the third of senseless slaughter in our name and in the name of our once and future glorious nation, yet another atrocity a new one – must be endured by thinking, reasoning Americans. We must, it seems, now also endure the nauseatingly predictable platitudes of the very same hypocrites by that I mean the talking heads of TV and the equally useful idiots of the press – whove spent the years since 9/11 growing rich or famous or just saving their jobs as propagandists by exploiting the gullible and bloodthirsty among us with their sensational if irrelevant reportage and bankrupt philosophies of fear and loathing.
We must watch as those who still purport to be journalists and experts, yet are nothing more than accessories to grand theft and murder, climb from the mire of their absolute professional failings and personal cowardice to once again regale us with their dueling quotes disguised as news, their neuroses disguised as toughness, their White House press releases disguised as analysis, their incorrect opinions disguised incredibly as wisdom. Lately however, the fantasy of balanced perception they so proudly hail, can be seen slowly shifting its underlying bias toward a grudging acknowledgement that they might have missed something lo these past three dismally retrogressive years in America. That the something theyve failed to notice has been roughly as apparent as would be an enormous, stinking, bellowing, rampaging, rabid bull elephant in a phone booth you happened to be using, is of little consequence. Theyve failed to notice precisely what they are paid to notice. Thats news.
Im speaking of course of the medias long overdue recognition that this federal administration, this gaggle of knaves upon whom the ladies and gentlemen of the information mass media have spent the last five years doting, is a bunch of crooks, traitors, and just plain knuckleheads. As the circulation and ratings of news media dwindle, its practitioners seem suddenly less willing to blindly kiss up and ask softball questions at White House press briefings in an effort to get albeit incorrect information from a vindictive and stonewalling White House communications office. They seem no longer completely blinded not completely blinded – by the Bush administrations staged, if non-existent heroics. In fact, we are starting to actually hear and read about this administrations serial incompetence, and were getting it from the press and the pundits of all people! Could it be that the mainstream media have actually noticed in our leaders an absence of both ethics and abilities that the alternative press and so called fake news had somehow recognized and have been reporting on contiguously since the 1999 campaign?
Heres a question. When, may I ask, will we start to hear and read of the corporate medias own mistakes and incompetence? After all, much of the blood is on their hands. Failing to notice the precise thing one is paid to notice is in itself news, isnt it?
Instead of fessing up, the talking heads of electronic and the stenographers of print journalism are visibly struggling to cover those deadly mistakes now, not reporting them.
In the manner of every exposed hypocrite before them since time began, they are squirming in the light and heat of accountability. The disciples of stay the course are suddenly squirming like so many maggots to hide their post 9/11, unbroken record of wrongness, and wrongness, and more wrongness yet, and doing it the only way they know how, behind a facade of righteous indignation and feigned outrage. They do so in the fervent hope that their public, their readers and viewers and listeners, those whove hung on their every word and gesture while themselves cowering too deeply in fear to find the truth on their own, will be willingly fooled again. They are hoping, perhaps correctly, that when it comes to punditry, angry commentary is enough. Sprinkle it with a smattering of arcane words their fans dont recognize and itll sound downright brilliant. If fact, if the commentary is delivered by a bulimic Barbie doll, or a guy wearing googley eyeglasses and a bowtie some might think it worthy of a Pulitzer!
To validate this, one need only stop for a moment and consider the childlike, credulous, and hopelessly biased fan base the conservative pundits have built. Compare that to the declining circulation of newspapers among informed and critical readers and the ever-more tabloid editorial formats that will drive many of us farther away still but hopefully gain a foothold among the uncritical, the true believers. Consider that and youll understand why the pundits think that they can fool their faithful base yet again and get away with it. Do that, and youll see why perhaps this time, after all this time, the pundits might actually be right about something. Simply put, those who remain faithful to these so called journalists whove gotten it wrong from the start, will believe anything. It need only come from a pulpit of authority. That pulpit might be a genuine pulpit such as that behind which the president stands when he lies to us. Or it might be a newspaper masthead, a radio tower, or a TV satellite in space, or a damned soapbox. It matters but little. Its an authority icon, and they the faithful – are childlike. Theyll believe what their told on faith, wholly unaware that when examined in context, faith and knowledge can coexist only in inverse proportion. Sooner or later, when claim after claim goes unproven and unfounded, all but the most completely credulous humans lose their faith in authority. Critical thinkers eventually demand evidence. Since 9/11 the authority peddlers have shown us much of the former and none of the latter.
So, as we the people reflect upon a sad anniversary, a week spent in mass demonstrations, or in quiet and somber contemplation of that which our countrymen have wrought with their fear and ignorance, we must neither forget nor forgive the travesty of truth spewn forth by the vulgar, manipulative swine of the right-wing and mainstream media, the killers of the innocents whose words are their weapons – these creatures whose putrid mouths and poison pens now feign a righteous outrage as if this debacle of blood and death and heartbreak and robbery, this avoidable human tragedy, unfolded sans their complicity. They will endeavor to persuade themselves and their followers, if not us, that it would have happened with or without their encouragement.
Lest we do forget, and as we watch them slowly squirm and change their childish stories, hoping their murderous lies of the recent past will fall into the great American memory hole, as they probably will if the rest of us remain silent, please allow me to remind us all how very obvious was the criminal manipulation of our innocent, frightened, gullible, or just simple-minded American brethren who believed the lies of the corporate press and right wing media and the White House communications office.
To that end I offer the following: I began the article that appears below back in January of the strange – though apparently predictable – year, 2003. Completed and published in its print version weeks before the invasion of Iraq began, I was moved to write it while witnessing what seemed a growing and irrational level of support for an unjustified, but ever-more-probable war against a people who – despite their despicable leader – had done us no appreciable harm. Since that time, not a speck of evidence has been found that might indicate that they had they ever intended to. The war against Iraq is an action that was – and remains a crime against humanity, all of humanity not just the innocents whose lives, families, and bodies its ruined so far. It is a crime of maiming and murder, of robbery and deception on the grandest of scales. As Americans of self-proclaimed free will we have borne witness or been party to a horrific atrocity accomplished by an easily manipulated president for his personal ends and the personal ideologies of those who control him. His actions were supported and enabled by an as-easily manipulated populace for their own personal ends. And all of it was instigated upon our countrymens now world-famous ignorance, bigotry, and fear. Three years ago, they the people – (I refer to Americans of popular mind) – frustrated by our government’s inability to bring the perpetrators of September Eleventh to justice, seemed intent upon killing somebody. In fact, the somebody need not be demonstrably complicit in our violation, merely different, Arab-seeming, Muslim-like, virtually defenseless.
At that time the majority of Americans by far the majority – were motivated to mass murder, if for no other reason, than to show the world the perils of attacking the United States while satisfying their childlike strike urges. Our self-appointed “leaders” and those who control them knew that many Americans were ready to lash out in their frustration at something tangible, however irrelevant to the acquisition of cold vengeance and real justice that something might be. It allowed our graceless unelected president to unleash both his and our countrymen’s scared-rat fury on a convenient, obvious, tangential-at-best – and potentially very profitable – villain: Saddam Hussein.
Hussein is a murderous despotic scumbag to be sure, but a scumbag who has never – not ever! – been a terrorist. Yet in the end, all that factual stuff paled to insignificance. It paled because the former Iraqi president is a character whose self-fabricated image was every bit as palpable, but not one bit more tangible, than the one our own president has fashioned for himself. Hussein is a thug who’s fashioned himself a dictator. Bush is a privileged Ivy League, frat-boy boozer, and rear-echelon shirker who’s fashioned himself a populist bumpkin and warrior prince. In short, they were both easy targets for exploitation.
The ultimate capture (by PUK clansmen, not by American or coalition troops) of Hussein was something our peevish president long relished for personal reasons. Because then, as now, Bush was intent on the settlement of some weird version of what is essentially a hillbilly family feud gone terribly, terribly wrong. Every failed man wants his victory. Bush is no exception. To settle his personal score, Bush committed what history will declare a war crime, but it was (and is) a war crime that appealed to his irrational, fantasy cowpoke self, and was thus justifiable. Yet each passing day, month, year further verifies that Hussein’s capture and the destruction of the worlds first nation-state was an end instigated by our president’s own white collared, red-necked White House thugs, and a victory they could virtually guarantee their credulous simpleton of a boss. They are, after all, cut from similar cloth as was their prey. So, in Ox Bow Incident fashion, we allowed our own scumbags, safe in their Washington easy chairs, to invest our expendable military youth, squander our hard-earned monetary treasure, and go out and catch the absolutely wrong villain.
Three years on and Hussein is neutered. No matter. We still kill the other Iraqis upon whose oil and homeland our armies tread uninvited, unwelcome, unreasoned, unwavering.
Three years on and nothings changed but the story of why were there. Stay the course there, change the story here.
Three years on, and at home we face more danger from terrorists than ever. Abroad, Osama is now a folk hero on the order of a turbaned Davy Crockett. And when the monetary cost of our leaders treasonous folly is tallied, our childrens future has been traded for blood and nothing more. Nothing.
Weve squandered our national security. Economic stability is security. Money is security. Not guns, not armies, money! Its the reason the paranoids at the top of this dung heap are gathering as much of it as they can. This, while those in the middle have seen theirs thrown away along with their childrens prospects for a better life. Anyone doubting that need only realize that America and Americans are today more indebted to foreigners than at any point in our personal or our nations history. Ever.
Everyone whos rational knows these things. Yet even today, there seems little time amid the bloodlust and neurotic chest-beating that characterizes this idiotic atrocity to remember that the actual – if still alleged – perpetrator of the crimes of 9-11 runs free dragging a dialysis machine behind him! So, to, do the countless bin Laden imitators our moronic actions have spawned. A no-longer tiny alQaida and its newfound legions plot our demise while laughing at our national fear and stupidity. Home of the brave? What a sick and a sickening joke that is.
But at last there are stirrings beneath the popular surface. At long last.
As this congressional election year unfolds, and we continue to suffer the perpetual spectacle of our rudderless republic amok in the world; as we further endure the waffle and babble of most of our elected representatives in their collective careerist attempts to distance themselves from their savage decision to slaughter over 100,000 civilians; as we watch them defend their willingness to do so; as we watch the newspapers close their foreign bureaus; and worst of all as we endure the pundits ratings-preserving bullshit, I ask you once more to consider the following short essay. It was first published at the start of 2003 and before the start of what was at that time still quietly called Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL) by its plotters. In the interim, the acronyms have changed, but nothing has changed as relates to Iraq’s complicity. This war was never justified. Thinking, objective Americans knew that then. Today, a growing number of formerly trusting, nationalistic, credulous, or perhaps just slow to comprehend Americans are coming to know it too.
For today, only slaves to their personal biases cling to the myth of might is right, Go W, These Colors Dont Run, Power Of Pride, and God Bless America.
Which god might that be? Which America would he deign to bless? So, come back with me now to the dawn of 2003. Read once more or perhaps for the first time – what was written before the headlong plunge into a war for oil and personal revenge against a nation wed spent the previous 12 years disarming. Read what we knew and our government pretended they did not.
Under its original title Dear Fellow Americans, the old article below called upon my experience in military reconnaissance coupled with plain common sense, to draw conclusions that are more relevant today than they were even then, three long and horrific and costly years ago.
The flood of letters at the time of its print publication revealed that many Americans shared these conclusions then. Yourself perhaps among them. Many, many, many others did not. Yourself perhaps among them. For accepting such conclusions at that time would have required that one also accept that the president was at the very least, the very least, a liar. A healthy personal bias might have prevented that three years ago, perhaps even two years ago.
But evidence and conscience demand that it be accepted now. Yet accepting truth now means accepting that the president is a premeditative mass murderer as well the felony has been compounded in the intervening years. These things cannot be. Yet it seems unequivocally that they are. So, add guilt to the fear and the bias and the egotism that still prevents 34% of our countrymen from coming to their collective senses and mustering the courage to face reality.
As Americans we’ve lost much in this still-new century – not least our place at the table of humanity. In the year ahead our founders’ have bequeathed us a way to take our country back. We need only overcome our fears and biases and return to an ever more distasteful rationality. There is only one truth. To not accept it is understandable for a time. To reject the truth forever is psychotic.
We were lied to by those whove pledged us their honesty and trust!
Theres no shame in that for those who believed the lies. There is only shame much shame in continuing to reject what is now the all too obvious truth. To willingly acquiesce to that and yet to fondly consider oneself sane, is to reward the murdering liars out of ego and self interest and fear and greed and, yes, stupidity.
So I ask you to read this old piece immediately below. It will remind many of you of just how you felt back then, how your countrymen felt as well. Get mad as hell, again. Get mad with the talking heads, get mad with the politicians, get mad with the yellow journalists whose lies youve rejected, and stay that way until November. Then throw your radio through the television screen, put the newspaper under your cat where it belongs, and march to the polls with the single-minded will to toss these bums out of our OUR! government and start the process that will impeach and/or indict the rest.
March to the polls in such overwhelming numbers that even the crooked voting machines cannot deny your will. It can be done!
In the name of our childrens and our countrys future, it must be done.
* * * * * * * * * *
The following was first published in February, 2003. It is offered here for your recollection and reference.
DEAR FELLOW AMERICANS
by Dom Stasi
February 2003: George W. Bush does not appear to be a complicated man. In fact, with the exception of his apparently instant grasp of the complex legal abstractions attendant to Antonin Scalia’s appointing him president of the United States, Mr. Bush seems the very paragon of intellectual simplicity itself. “I see things in black and white,” he so readily declares. “I’m not about nuancing,” he adds, daily swelling America’s lexicon if not its coffers. How comforting a worldview his must be.
Well, however comforting it might be to Mr. Bush and his ilk, the rest of us should be troubled as hell by such statements emanating from a president of the United States. In fact, I would submit that his “good versus evil/you’re either with us or against us” homilies have a profoundly discomforting, even juvenile, quality to them. Yet we’ve watched silently these past two years of civil retrogression as he’s drawn conclusions supremely unworthy of any world leader, much less one who must reconcile diplomacy to awesome power, less yet again America’s president.
We the people seem not the least bit troubled by this apparently simple man’s simple words. Neither are we much concerned that the simple man seems so readily accepting of complex advice, advice fomented in minds perhaps not as simple as his own, minds whose motivations most Americans – to their credit – neither know nor understand.
Mr. Bush is also a man of obvious faith. Witness the zeal with which he promotes his constitutionally dubious “faith-based initiative” even as we prepare for mortal war.
Of course, faith can be a wonderful and healing force. It can also be blind, if not tempered with reason. For faith is a state of mind that cannot coexist with knowledge in context. To quote the American genius, Carl Sagan, “I’d rather know than believe.” When confronted with this particular black and white simplicity, Mr. Bush will too quickly opt for the latter. It’s easier to believe than it is to know – more convenient, less critically complex. Witness his indifference toward that critical basis of knowledge called evidence. Witness how readily he eschews it when it interferes with his decision-making.
Such credulity is both troubling and, in the complex global framework of today, patently un-American. Rarely in the practice of American governance has that credulity been more blatantly manifest than it has been these past weeks in Bush’s approach to the matter of Iraq. The promotion of his agenda, through the compelling yet wholly circumstantial evidence provided the United Nations by the charismatic Colin Powell, was pure theater. For however compelling the secretary of state’s presentation might have been on the visceral level, it was wholly inconclusive on a critically objective basis. Its examples of “evidence” were wholly refutable in their ambiguity, its dramatics better suited to inspiring Hollywood actors to action than lethal armies. Such evidence as that, which Secretary Powell presented, would be dismissed as circumstantial by any honest judge in any American court of law. Neither would such ambiguities hold up against a reasonable jury in whose hands lay the fate of but a single, however suspect, human being in an American trial. But alas, this is international power ball, not an American trial, and however inconclusive the out-of-context sound bytes and meaningless snapshots presented by Colin Powell might appear to a trained and objective analyst (such as myself), they are apparently definitive enough for Mr. Bush and a majority of Americans to willingly, if not eagerly, sacrifice the lives of an as-yet incalculable number of innocents to arbitrary and merciless execution. I submit that had the same standard of evidence been applied to Mr. Bush’s insider trading allegations, or to his alleged dereliction of military duty during the Vietnam War, his government service might by now find itself limited to the manufacture of license plates.
But more to the point: Does Saddam have nuclear weapons?
He almost certainly does not.
Does he have chemical and biological weapons? Probably. But these are hardly weapons of mass destruction by modern standards.
I pose this latter assertion not as conjecture, but as a matter of history supported by physical evidence. But the audit trail to that evidence – based upon American government records – might surprise you.
Quoting the president’s father, who, near the end of his term, said, “As you may remember from history, there was a lot of support for Iraq at that time [1980s] as a balance against a much more aggressive Iran, under Khomeini.”
A lot of support? How about $5 billion in intelligence, weapons and training?
Recorded history, not conjecture.
Quoting again, this time the man considered America’s foremost war historian, Gabriel Kolko: “The United States was Iraq’s functional ally and encouraged it to build and utilize a huge army with modern armor, aviation, artillery and chemical and biological weapons.” Saddam’s first recorded use of mustard gas, cyanide and nerve agents against humans began at that time. This begs the question: Was our $5 billion gift of weapons and training a coincidence or the proximate cause of Iraq’s use and subsequent knowledge of germs and gas?
Why was this historically recorded transaction never mentioned or referenced among the “evidence” the Bush administration seemed so desperate to produce? Let’s be simpler still. Whose spent nerve gas canisters did the weapons inspectors find in the sands of Iraq following the Gulf War and again so recently? Are they ours? Russia’s? Or the product of “evil” Iraqi science? These too represent direct evidence, physical evidence. We are told only of their presence, never of their provenance. Well, it takes no leap of imagination to conclude that the act of giving Saddam the wherewithal to use germs and poison gas is less inflammatory than when we gave him these capabilities. If not the material itself, we certainly offered Saddam access or, at the very least, tacit approval and huge sums of money to gain access to these products of World War I era technology that have now – in the nuclear age – become known as “weapons of mass destruction.” But that we did so during the Iran-Contra years, the conservative movement’s Camelot years the Ronald Reagan years, well, that makes public consideration of this stuff a Bush administration taboo. Now, I ask you, what sort of an American president, however reluctantly, chooses to suppress direct evidence while allowing his cabinet to compromise national security by revealing confidential sources in a misguided dog and pony show whose probative value will be argued by historians forever. Could the answer be a president who would compromise his citizens’ safety before risking the wrath of his faithful right-wing base, a wrath he’d surely incur by blaspheming its beatified former president, Ronald Reagan? Conjecture? My apologies.
President Bush (the current one), while expecting the United Nations to rationally consider its course, recently offered a characteristically simple mandate: “Show some backbone,” he admonished the ostensibly spineless world body. Act upon Iraq or be considered irrelevant was the Hobson’s choice he offered up, adding that the United States will “act” with or without the UN’s assent. By this simple dictate, the president himself rendered the world body irrelevant, nullifying in advance the implications of whatever consensus might derive from disciplined, civilized discourse – discourse born of empirical inspection. Instead, we and the world at large are subjected to Mr. Bush’s peevish ultimatums. We witness scene upon scene akin to an American prosecutor advising a global jury, “I’m gonna hang the suspect, no matter what you people decide.”
Last week he turned that same reductio-ad-absurdum logic upon the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. When European NATO member states did the very thing treaty organizations are formed to do – enforce the treaty and keep the peace – Mr. Bush declared them irrelevant.
Yesterday, he completed the circle. This president who ascended his high office one-half million votes short of a popular mandate, referred to the millions of anti-war demonstrators whose voices were raised in global unity this weekend, and by inference another 100 million less active but like-minded Americans, as – you guessed it – irrelevant.
But perhaps the most troubling insight into our president’s simplicity is simplicity itself. Despite that George W. Bush somehow commands the most terrible and destructive power ever poised upon our fragile planet by mortal man, he has not yet so much as learned its name (the power, that is – I must presume he knows the planet’s name). I, for one, cannot persuade myself that George Bush’s ignorance of the atom, which begins with the assumption of a “nuke-u-lus” at its center, does not extend to the implications of its misuse. Perhaps that, too, is irrelevant.
Make no mistake, this writer considers Saddam Hussein a festering pustule on the anus of humanity. I care not one wit for his well being or how horribly he might meet his end.
However, I neither earned nor did I contribute a lifetime of tax dollars expecting that, in the end, so much as a penny of my taxes would be used along with yours to incinerate children. But acquiescing to George W. Bush’s horrific demands in the absence of genuine, direct, supporting evidence of our enemy du jour’s capabilities or intent will mean just that. As one Iraqi diplomat said, upon considering the likely indiscriminate slaughter of his people, “America has smart bombs, but not smart leaders.”
Lest we as a nation become as simple as our American president’s diatribes, we the people must understand that through such inhumane and undisciplined use of its irresistible power, the United States – not simply the United Nations or the treaties we sign in good faith, but the United States itself, its people and the grand human experiment to which we ascribe and to whose principles our forbears committed their lives — will be rendered truly, not allegedly, irrelevant.
That would be the truest manifestation of spinelessness imaginable.
Dom Stasi is a technology executive in the television and motion picture industry in Hollywood. Mr. Stasi also flew aerial reconnaissance during the Cold War and, after an honorable discharge, worked as a flight test engineer whose specialty was the flight test and certification of advanced military aerial reconnaissance systems.
2. Counterpunch, January 19, 2004: Alexander Cockburn
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Why Pro-War Advocates Have Got It Wrong
Ruining America’s Competitiveness
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