A Shel Silverstein cartoon of a few decades past depicts two prisoners,
shackled to the wall of an ancient dungeon. One says to the other, “Now
here is my plan.”
One must admire the prisoner’s indomitable will, however unrealistic.
Fortunately, the present political situation in the United States is not
hopeless, though one might think so to read some of the e-mail responses
to our essays:
"The fact of the matter is, the new Republican Party
is in power, and it will take more than a majority of voters to
dislodge them in 2006. If you own the system, you can rig it to give
you the results you want."
"I don't think the House of Bush will fall anytime
soon. Corporate America has things just the way they want them and
there's too many regular people drunk on Jaysus and fear. The Bush
Administration has tapped into this perfectly."
"I'm sorry to say so, but I believe resistance is
futile. The communists kept the Soviet Union in an iron grip for
almost a hundred years. No rebellion even came close to oust the
commies and they were bumbling amateurs compared to the Bush
Please understand, I am not an irrepressible Pollyanna – I am fully
aware that we may be in the dusk before a long night of despotism. Like
most visitors to the progressive internet websites, I too am tormented
by anguish over what we have lost and by dread of still worse to follow.
But nothing would be more beneficial to Bush, Rove, Cheney and the
Busheviks than the surrender of their adversaries to despair and thence
I am reminded of a slogan from World War II (revived by Paul Rogat Loeb):
“The difficult can be done right away, the impossible will take a little
Several recent developments suggest that our cause, far from being
impossible, has in fact gained strength as opportunities now arise.
We’ve suffered the burden of discouragement in the face of the
formidable financial, political and propaganda advantages of Bush, Inc.
All the more reason to take inventory of our assets and of hopeful
The Mainstream Media are not in total command of public opinion
and are losing credibility.
The mainstream media (MSM) have been the despair of the
progressives. Despite the absurd right-wing accusation of “liberal
bias,” the MSM have been obedient stenographers to the Bush regime.
Among the corporate media, election fraud has been a forbidden topic,
and for two weeks after the Times of London broke the story on the
Downing Street Memos (DSM), this explosive revelation of the Bush/Blair
conspiracy to make war was hidden in the back pages of a few newspapers
and was virtually missing from the broadcast media – until, at long
last, it simply could no longer be ignored (see below).
And yet the MSM problem is not altogether bleak. The MSM subservience to
Bush and the GOP is exacting a corporate cost in media credibility,
trust, and public respect – a cost that the industry may not be able to
In September 23, 2004,
Gallup Poll reported that:
The news media’s credibility has declined
significantly, with just 44% of Americans expressing confidence in
the media’s ability to report news stories accurately and fairly.
This is a significant drop from last year at this time and reflects
the lowest level of confidence in the media since Gallup first asked
the question in 1972.
And Timothy Maier, in
World Net Daily, notes that:
A recent Gallup Poll says Americans rate the
trustworthiness of journalists at about the level of politicians and
as only slightly more credible than used-car salesmen. The poll
suggests that only 21 percent of Americans believe journalists have
high ethical standards, ranking them below auto mechanics but tied
with members of Congress. More precisely, the poll notes that only
one in four people believe what they read in the newspapers.
Dana Milbank’s disgraceful attack on John Conyers and his DSM
hearing, and you might appreciate why the public is abandoning the MSM.
(See also Conyers' reply). To be sure, many Bushophiles
will be heartened by this outrageous opinion piece, and perhaps a few may be
persuaded that the hearing was, as Milbank put it, “a trip to the land
of make-believe.” But every time such an abomination is passed off as
“journalism” – and by The Washington Post, no less! – the MSM
credibility is deflated just a little bit more. It is most unlikely that
Dana Milbank will every recover the reputation that he relinquished with
this attack on John Conyer’s hearing. I can testify that I will never
again take seriously anything he writes.
Sadly, Milbank’s mischief is not an aberration amongst the MSM.
Similarly, the credibility of The New York Times, that “flagship
of American journalism,” was seriously eroded by the WMD fantasies of
Judith Miller – still employed by the Times, by the way. Moreover, the
New York Times “uncovered” and then harangued about the Whitewater
non-scandal that harassed the Clintons, throughout Bill Clinton’s term
of office. And don’t get me started on the MSM’s accusations that Al
Gore had claimed to have “invented the internet” (false) and
“discovered” Love Canal (false), or the MSM’s failure to expose the
vicious “Swift Boat” slander of John Kerry.
One must also wonder how long the MSM can persist with this behavior.
While they are willing purveyors of Bushistic propaganda and
non-reporters of information damaging to the Bush regime, they are also
businesses. The delinquency of the MSM has financial consequences that
were of no concern to Josef Goebbels or Stalin’s Pravda. As
the MSM loses credibility with the public, it loses readers and viewers,
hence there is a loss of advertising revenues, hence a loss of stock
value. Will the stockholders willingly continue to sacrifice their
investments on the alter of political pandering? Doubtful.
In the meantime, authentic and courageous journalism persists.
This week, the WoodStein/Watergate Award goes to Michael Smith of
Times of London, who obtained and published the Downing Street Memos.
And the Dan Ellsberg/Deep Throat Award goes to the unknown Brit official
who passed these documents to Smith and to The London Times.
Heroes, both. But British, both.
Where are the American journalistic heroes, now that we so desperately
The Alternative Media works!
A week ago Sunday, Tim Russert referred to “the famous
Downing Street Memo.” (DSM)
“Famous?!” No thanks to Russert and his cohorts in the MSM.
Like the election fraud issue and the Gannon/Guckert affair, news of the
DSM disclosure was kept alive by the small independent progressive
publications and by the progressive internet websites – not to mention
the irate readers of same who then besieged the MSM with letters of
outrage at the media’s silence and negligence.
When the MSM could no longer ignore the Downing Street Memo, they
immediately set about to disarm the issue. At the Conyers hearing,
Congressman Barney Frank summed up the MSM response perfectly: “What the
memo says is false, and besides, we knew all along what it was telling
us.” (Paraphrased from memory).
Contradiction aside, consider the implications of that latter dismissal.
“We knew all along that before the war, Bush was lying to us and the
Congress when he said that he was doing all that he could to avoid war -
a lie that he repeated just this week.”
True, lying to Congress is a felony and an impeachable offense, but
never mind all that. Whaddaya think about the Jackson acquittal, and
how about them Pistons!
Slowly, ever so slowly, the public is beginning to wake up to the fact
that the MSM are George W. Bush’s obedient puppy-dogs. And those
Americans who still want to know what’s really going on in their
government, their economy, and the world beyond, are now looking
elsewhere: to the international press and to the internet.
For example, just today (Sunday) I read about still more Downing Street
Memos which provide further evidence of Bush’s conspiracy to wage an
illegal war. I learned this from the Times of London, via the internet.
I also read about Bush’s absurd claim, once again and just last week,
that the Iraq war is a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I read
this in an article from Agence France Presse (Paris) – via the internet.
We have a long way to go in the United States, before our citizens
attain the sophistication and skepticism of the Soviet citizens who
finally gave zero credibility to Pravda, Izvestia, and Gostelradio, and then turned to international news sources and to
the unauthorized and illegal “private journalism,” the Samizdat. And
when the Soviet public no longer believed its government, the Soviet
Union was finished.
And now, at last,
an American Samizdat is emerging.
Bush’s approval rate is falling, with no foreseeable reversal.
The poll numbers, as usual, vary. But Bush’s approval
numbers are between 41% and 46%. The latest
New York Times/CBS poll reports 42% reports 42%. These are the
lowest scores of the Bush Administration, and the trend line continues
to fall. If the numbers go below 40% this will likely indicate that Bush
will be losing his “base.”
Likewise the GOP Congress.
The same poll reports 33% approval of the Congress, with
only 19% of those polled stating that the Congress shares their
Republicans are deserting Bush.
At last, Bush appears to be losing complete control of
the Republican Congress. With only a quarter of the population
approving, Bush’s Social Security plan appears dead on arrival. Congress
also rebuked Bush with its approval of stem cell research and with its
scaling back of the Patriot Act. John Bolton’s confirmation is in
jeopardy again. None of this would be possible but for the defection of
a few Republican members of Congress.
Consider next, this sharp criticism of the Bush Administration’s
reassurances concerning Iraq:
Things aren’t getting better; they’re getting worse.
The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It’s like
they’re just making it up as they go along. The reality is that
we’re losing in Iraq.
One could scarcely imagine an “establishment Democrat,”
apart from Howard Dean, uttering these words in public. The source?
Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska.
The marriage of convenience between moderate (traditional) Republicans
and the radical right, may be heading toward divorce.
Jerry Landay, a former CBS News Correspondent summarizes the
points of contention between the moderates (“Conservative Originalists”)
and the radicals (“Bush Ideologues”):
Conservative Originalists believe in conserving
useful institutions and traditions, changing them in the light of
changing times and circumstances, and opposing fiscal
irresponsibility. An Originalist abhors budgetary deficits, the
erosion of the powers of the states, extremism in the politicization
of judges, weakening the separation of church and state, and
reckless expansionist international policies.
The Bush ideologues have violated all of these tenets.
It was an odd coupling at the outset, and it is a wonder
that it has lasted this long. It is equally astonishing that the
Democrats have not aggressively exploited this tension within the GOP.
Truth is a formidable asset: – and conversely a deadly adversary
The Busheviks are not only adversaries of the Democrats
and liberals; they are also at odds with the real world. And that is a
contest they cannot win. The war in Iraq is a disaster and is getting
worse, despite Dick Cheney’s proclamation that the insurgents are in
their “death throes.” No amount of re-iteration of the Iraqi WMD myth
will make it so. And Bush, along with his friends in the industry-front
“Global Climate Coalition” can not abolish atmospheric physics and
The lies of the Bushites are on video tape and cannot be erased – and
they are accumulating. And as they do so, the credibility of this
corrupt administration continues to erode. Today, more and more of our
fellow citizens are finally coming to realize that they’ve been duped.
Eventually the lies will be the downfall of the Bush regime. But if they
can maintain the curtain of lies for just two more elections, they win,
and that “downfall” may only be manifested at length in the enduring
reputation of Bush, Inc. when future histories are written. On the other
hand, the downfall may come very soon, before the Bushites can do much
How soon? On that question rests the fate of the Bush Administration and
the Republican Party that has spawned it. And the fate of the United
States and the world community of nations.
A Sense of Justice is also a formidable asset:
Since the Bush regime took office in 2001, we've seen:
“Reverse Robin-Hoodism” – taking from the poor and
middle class and giving to the rich.
Borrowing from our children and grandchildren to pay
for our profligacy.
Condoning the torture of prisoners, and holding
others in prison indefinitely, without charge, without benefit of
counsel or trial.
Starving social and civic services – the schools,
fire and police protection, infrastructure.
Ravaging the environment.
Impoverishing children, widows, the elderly, future
The loss of 1,700 of our soldiers and the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi
All this and more is an affront to common decency and an
innate sense of justice. Much of this injustice is a direct violation of
our Constitution. It persists due to the apathy, the ignorance, the
denial, or the confusion of the public. Many of these outrages are
sustained by a bodyguard of excuses and myths: “trickle-down economics”
(the rising tide raising all boats), the prosperity for allthat must
result from the tax cuts fir the wealthy – “just you wait,” “collateral
damage” of “the war on terror,” the “few bad apples.”
But despite all the diversions and propaganda of Bush’s spin merchants,
these injustices remain and they fester. Is there a limit to how much of
this moral outrage the American public will tolerate before that public
cries out, “enough!” and demands remedy?
We may soon find out.
When Wounded, the Beast is Most Vulnerable – and Most Dangerous.
George W. Bush has not, throughout his lifetime,
exhibited “grace under pressure.” Whenever he has found himself in
difficulty, his Dad or his Dad’s associates have come to Dubya’s rescue.
Now there is no one to bail him out.
Remember, during the first debate, when he complained, several times,
that “it’s hard work!”? No wonder: the four years since his
“selection” may well be the first time in his life that he has ever been
forced to work. And now, in the Oval Office he is way, way, over his head in responsibility
and in the demands of intellect and competence.
Thus it is more than likely that in the near future we may witness the
disintegration – the “disassembling” – of the President of the United
States. It won’t be a pretty sight.
Bush and his gang have huge stakes in keeping their sorry regime
together, for if it falls and is followed by a restoration of the
rule of law – with a Congress willing and able to investigate with the
powers of subpoena and discovery, and with a functioning Department of
Justice – the Busheviks face far more dire consequences than a loss of
office, or even of fortune. Given the known lawlessness of this regime,
and no doubt much more that we don’t know about, many individuals now in
office may be facing real time-served in the Federal slammer. Add to
that, once out of office, they would be well-advised to avoid foreign
travel – in particular, near The Hague.
What they might do to avoid all this – i.e., to remain in office – is
fearful to contemplate. Ben Tripp
offers fair warning:
The people aren't afraid of [Bush] any more, they're
sick of hearing about terrorism and they are, despite their general
lack of interest in matters beyond our borders, tired of being hated
around the world, killed in Iraq, and unemployed back home.
Opposition calls for investigation and even, god love 'em,
impeachment, are being met with increasingly desperate Stalinist
tactics such as Republican leaders locking the Senate doors, turning
off all the lights, and pretending not to be in when the two or
three Democrats with any gumption show up to do business. It sounds
fun, but it isn't.
Not desperate, the Bush Gang started a war, disassembled the
government (that means lying), and sank the economy. Desperate, what
will they do? I tremble to think.
I am reminded of Constantin Costa-Gravas’s great
political film, “Z” (1969). Based upon events in post-war Greece, the
movie portrays a country where the people, led by a courageous liberal
politician, rise up against a corrupt government. On the brink of
victory, the politician is assassinated. When the criminal
investigation of the murder leads to the ruling elites, the military
takes over and establishes a dictatorship.
When wounded the beast is most dangerous.
But also, most vulnerable.
There is strength and courage in numbers – in the perception of the
oppressed that they are not alone. If the Bush regime fails to recover
total control of the GOP and the Congress and soon, its current
vulnerability is quite likely to increase and accelerate. As with
Watergate, that which is believed to be impossible
may be reconceived by the public to possible, then probable, and finally
inevitable, provided the people are willing to take risks and exert
energy in their struggle to regain
control of their government. It is a sequence, a story, repeated
throughout history, and most vividly for our compatriots, in the
American revolution and in the decline and fall of Richard Nixon.
Perhaps the most formidable obstacle to the overthrow of the
Bush/GOP/Theocrat regime is the GOP ownership and control of the
machines that determine our elections. If the power of, and allegiance
to, the Bush regime continues to erode, this obstacle too might be
overcome, as it must.
If, as I am convinced, Bush and the GOP owe their control of the White
House and the Congress to voting fraud, then there are at least dozens
and perhaps hundreds, who know the truth of this conspiracy. But as the
threat of retaliation subsides, some may at last come forward with the
decisive evidence. Consider also that elections are administered, not
nationally, but by state and municipal authority (think Kathryn Harris
and Kenneth Blackwell). Accordingly, state Attorneys General and
municipal District Attorneys are empowered to investigate and indict
those suspected of voting fraud. Empowered, but to date, intimidated and
paralyzed. As the political threat subsides, it becomes ever more
possible that these officers of the law might at last, do their jobs and
remove this dagger aimed at the heart of our democracy.
In the midst of this crisis, it may be helpful to remember that in the
Chinese language, the concept of “crisis” is written with the conjoined
symbols of “danger” and “opportunity.”
Despair is self-fulfilling. So too is hope.
The strongest argument against despair, is that it acts
to bring about the anticipated disaster. A population that says, in
concert, “what’s the use?” is a population that is, in effect, is
telling the despot, “please rule us – we won’t resist.” Conversely, hope
is the parent of opportunity and the cement that binds and sustains
alliances and drives rebellion to its successful conclusion.
The trends are hopeful and the opportunities are before us. We can win
back our country.