Even President Abraham Lincoln, who suspended habeas corpus and took other extra legal measures during the Civil War, refused to tamper with the 1864 presidential election—yet during a press conference last Thursday, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan traced the writing on the wall. “I don’t think anyone can make guarantees [that the elections will be held in November],” he said, adding, "But the full intention is to move forward and hold those elections.”
Though a cynic might deduce that this administration’s game plan is to either scare the public into voting for Bush or, barring that, to simply cancel or manipulate the election, it’s important to remember that eternal vigilance is, in fact, the price of liberty. So, once again: Will the 2004 election be called off?
As surreal as this sounds, for the first time in the country’s history, it looks as if it could be…while the administration and media sell us God knows what.
-- Maureen Farrell, Liberty, Vigilance and the Writing on the Wall
So, if the corporate regime locks up its coup d’etat by calling off this November’s big election show, will the diverse American volken, or boobois class, deprived of our quadrennial spectacle, rise up against those who would rule us?
And if we did, what would “we” be rebelling against? Being deprived of the illusion of “democracy,” or the Constitution’s mortal wound?
In other words, if the Bushistas (1) succeed in calling off the election, will it be enough to awaken middle and lower working class Wal-Mart shopping Americans to the fact we’ve been brainwashed and enslaved? Wouldn’t it also signal a shift in the public image of American corporate hegemony? How will it affect the value of our logo—or flag?
Just imagine how your neighbors might respond. Are you nervous? You should be. It’s entirely possible they could be bought off by “legislation” that would re-install their overtime pay, somewhat. Or perhaps the charade of universal health care could dis-agitate them. They need to keep up, if not with us, then themselves—free speech and press be damned. A nation whose poor people are fat, historically speaking, is not on the brink of revolution.
If this, however, is not the case, and the Bushista’s current intelligence is as “flawed” (i.e. manufactured) as it was before it occupied Iraq in violation of international law, and it faces an unexpected uprising rather than flower-bearing sycophants, the next civil war could well be ignited by its declaring no mas re: the democratic experiment. One should not underestimate how polarized Americans really are right now. Politicians and those with power do so at their own peril. Believe me, there are latent killers on each side of the fence waiting to see which way the wind blows. The United States of America is a giant powder keg waiting for its fuse to be lit. The current national mood is akin to the latent anger among the unpolled masses of struggling people, especially those of color, in Los Angeles before the 1992 Rodney King riot. A lot of people on both sides of the “law,” as they were then (during the previous Bushista administration), are just waiting for an excuse to explode. (2)
The purpose of trial balloons, of course, is to answer these questions and avoid a drag on short-term profits in the finance industry—or the elite of the elite. By suggesting the elections might be cancelled, the Bushistas can gauge the public’s potential reaction and consider whether that response will considerably disturb the wrong people (those who are succeeding by thinking long-term and acting short-term, see Note 4 on peak oil).
So far it’s safe to say that at least the corporate news media will go along with a postponement of democracy, just like it did the war. After all, the mainstream media is, by law and in fact, the government’s official public relations firm. (3)
On March 16, Sean Hannity of Fox News said: “If we are attacked before our election like Spain was, I am not so sure that we should go ahead with the election…We had better make plans now because it’s going to happen [my emphasis].”
Newsweek broke the story July 10 of how high-level Bushistas were discussing ways to legally postpone the election in the event of a terrorist attack, and the UK Reuters News Agency ran with it the next day. The Associated Press posted a wire story that ignored Newsweek’s reporting that Bush regime cabinet members were considering the possibility of postponement. The New York Times ran the AP story on its web site, but it evidently wasn’t fit for print. In its editorial last Saturday, the nation’s self-proclaimed “paper of record” declared the issue dead, neglecting to mention that meetings on the subject were to be held “early this week” in Washington among Homeland Security officials. National Petroleum Radio [sic], once a bastion of progressive political thought, missed the story altogether, as did my hometown corporate newspaper.
Simply put, the corporate news media is treating the possible postponement of the election like it’s treating mad cow disease—the story exists, but it ain’t fit for print. Meanwhile, de-Nile is running red.
July 10’s largely unnoticed trial balloon, of course, was floated eight months after Gen. Tommy Franks’ interview with Cigar Aficionado, in which he ruffled some feathers by saying another massive terrorist attack in the West would cause “our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty producing event.”
So the questions are: What constitutes a “mass, casualty producing event,” and where does it have to occur to affect our “free,” but very expensive, show biz elections (curious there’s been no talk of canceling the conventions first, which would be of great relief to the poor people of Boston and New York; but then again, with the threat of a terrorist attack, the corporate Republicrats are liable to garner more publicity than they otherwise would, creating quite a spectacle for the nation to consume)?
By stating that the terrorist attack could occur in the “West,” rather than the U.S. alone, Franks was quite frank—the attack could merely threaten the United States. That already happened in Spain last March, and resulted in the ruling party becoming a mass casualty by being voted from power by a free electorate that was given a clear choice, and senior, bipartisan U.S. government officials have already said this wouldn’t be allowed to happen here. Perhaps an attack at the Olympics in Athens, Greece will be the fateful blow.
Is the threat of terrorism in the U.S. enough to cause the corporate regime to take pre-emptive action and end its charade of embracing democracy? It has allowed the war on terrorism, after all, to become the focus of its currently favored candidate’s “re-selection” campaign. Every time bad news strikes at the regime’s façade, Bushistas scurry to remind us we’re at “war,” that Bush is a “war time President,” and that “we’re” winning the war but victory won’t come without a price (that neither they nor their backers—the corporate regime—have any intention of paying themselves, thus their “bipartisan” opposition to being subject to the International Criminal Court, fair trade or honest elections anywhere in the world).
Time after time when news about the regime’s fascist behavior approaches center stage, Attorney General John Ashcroft and/or Homeland Security Czar Tom Ridge trot out before the cameras to try and scare the be-Jesus out of God-fearing consumers with Old Testament prophecy, or confuse us with disinformation about new intelligence vagaries. Each time something happens to distract the corporate news media, on the other hand, like late-breaking developments in the Scott Peterson, Martha Stewart or Michael Jackson trials, Bushistas release disturbing information about themselves so they can later point to their “openness” and how the “liberal” press is distorting their image, which all Bushistas view as unpatriotic behavior, considering we’re at war, and the show must go on. The current floated proposal went public less than a week before Martha’s scheduled sentencing, by the way (and don’t dare try telling me that’s a mere coincidence!).
The Bushistas’ main activities for the last three years have been the politicization of 9/11 and the illegal invasion of Iraq for personal gain. Human blood, suffering, and political and environmental collapse have been but a few of the many steep prices we and others around the world are paying to fuel the corporate regime’s profit margin, which is derived by shifting the burden of its true operational costs onto our sagging shoulders. We can take it, their intelligence tells them, because we’ve been observed consuming everything, and we know nothing of their real agenda. (4)
Of course, the Bushistas can only enhance their influence within the corporate regime by playing the war card to win their re-selection as caretakers of the vault. By issuing lots of terror warnings, perhaps even raising the threat level, they believe they may be able to suppress voter turnout—the fewer people who show up at the polls, the better their odds of winning the favor of their true base. After all, apathetic slaves make productive workers and increase their masters’ wealth by “growing the economy.” The “Democrats,” of course, are caught in a Catch-22. If they allow the GOP to scare people into staying home, they’ll lose the election and once again earn the disdain of their corporate gods. If they fight against Republican scare tactics, and terrorists kill hundreds if not thousands of people in a big attack, it will drive a stake through the heart of their already wilting bloc within the corporate regime. In light of this fact, Bush can’t lose by terrifying the public, and his opponent, John Kerry, has so far refused to comment on the postponement issue. No wonder.
Another possibility exists, however, that the “establishment” might view Kerry as a more competent caretaker of its interests and engineer a shuffling of the board directors, executives and secretaries in such a way as to secure the nation’s corporate way of doing business—which is what most Americans would prefer, they think. Have they done any good research that would suggest this is so? Perhaps Kerry’s silence belies the fact that he’s one of the good old boys, and in the loop, so to speak, thanks to skullduggery.
On July 7, speaking before the American Civil Liberties Union, America’s top investigative reporter, The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh, called the Bushistas a “cult.” He said neoconservative “cultists” have taken over every branch of the [incorporated] federal government, and are motivated not by riches, but a “utopian” vision.
Hersh called under-Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who masterminded the invasion of Iraq, “the greatest Trostkyite of our times. He believes in permanent revolution.”
Yes, Trotsky was a communist, but he was more interested in power than ideology (e.g.: Marxism or democracy) and took a Machiavellian view of its use. (5) The power cult migrates between left and right on the “political spectrum,” which filters the desire emanating from it, depending upon whichever color (i.e.: cover ideology) is perceived as the most beautiful (i.e.: expedient) means of achieving its secret desire for world dominion. Concentrated power that seeks to manipulate the way people live their lives has always been a threat to peace and freedom. Like any cult, Hersh asserts that the neocons have a public face that speaks of democratic ideals, and a private one that occasionally peers out from behind its mask, as it has with the Abu Ghraib torture photos, the PATRIOT Act, postponing the election, outing a secret agent to get revenge on her honest husband, et al.
The most disturbing thing to Hersh, however, is the current failing of American democracy:
“Look what happened to us…They [the neocons] took the edge off the press, they also muzzled the bureaucracy, they muzzled the military, they muzzled the Congress. And it’s an amazing feat. We’re supposed to be a democratic society. And all those areas of our democracy bowed and scraped to this group of neocons.”
A momentary digression: Haven’t you ever wondered why it was that only the Postal Service, media outlets and Democratic lawmakers were subject to anthrax attack shortly after 9/11? Does anyone even remember anthrax? Why weren’t the anthrax attacks part of the 9/11 Commission’s focus? Shouldn’t their relationships to the hijackings have been thoroughly looked into? Why hasn’t the corporate news media kept this story alive? Was the full story actually an intimidating message to the messengers and “opposition?” Keep your mouths shut, or we’ll kill more of you?
The corporate regime has mastered the art of manufacturing consent. According to Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, who borrowed the term coined by Walter Lippman for the title of their 1989 book. Lippman said a society in which wealth and media ownership are highly concentrated requires a propaganda machine to maintain its power. The corporate-owned news media, required by law to generate ever-increasing profits for its investors, function as the public relations arm for American “business,” and are thus highly concerned with their ability to project the right images, trademarks, logos and behaviors. They also inspire the consumers of their messages how to act, willing them to believe in certain things, and to profess and respond to explicit values at the ringing of a bell. Those who don’t “buy” the message, however, exist outside the “American dream” and are forced to confront their hearts of darkness, and since few can withstand the isolating horror of such a sensibility, most conform with whatever dogma they’re being fed, just to get along. Those who ask the wrong questions are banished from the realm, or worse.
Quoting Herman and Chomsky, at length:
A propaganda model focuses on this inequality of wealth and power and its multilevel effects on mass-media interests and choices. It traces the routes by which money and power are able to filter out the news fit to print, marginalize dissent, and allow the government and dominant private interests to get their messages across to the public. The essential ingredients of our propaganda model, or set of news "filters," fall under the following headings: the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms; advertising as the primary income source of the mass media; the reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and "experts" funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power; "flak" as a means of disciplining the media; and "anticommunism" [now anti-terrorism] as a national religion and control mechanism. These elements interact with and reinforce one another. The raw material of news must pass through successive filters, leaving only the cleansed residue fit to print. They fix the premises of discourse and interpretation, and the definition of what is newsworthy in the first place, and they explain the basis and operations of what amount to propaganda campaigns.
The elite domination of the media and marginalization of dissidents that results from the operation of these filters occurs so naturally that media news people, frequently operating with complete integrity and goodwill, are able to convince themselves that they choose and interpret the news "objectively" and on the basis of professional news values. Within the limits of the filter constraints they often are objective; the constraints are so powerful, and are built into the system in such a fundamental way, that alternative bases of news choices are hardly imaginable. In assessing the newsworthiness of the U.S. government's urgent claims…the media do not stop to ponder the bias that is inherent in the priority assigned to government-supplied raw material, or the possibility that the government might be manipulating the news, imposing its own agenda, and deliberately diverting attention from other material. It requires a macro, alongside a micro- (story-by-story), view of media operations, to see the pattern of manipulation and systematic bias.
In “Literature and Totalitarianism,” Orwell writes that a lack of political-economic liberty snuffs out intellectual freedom, and that totalitarianism orders what people will think by giving them something to believe in so they can function for the benefit of a brutally rarefied elite. By keeping the people entertained, the totalitarian regime can seductively inject its governing ethics into the behavior of their experimental subjects and regulate their emotional lives in the process. Totalitarian systems also try to isolate their subjects from the outside world, he writes, depriving them of real comparisons to their own modes of existence and perception, which would give them a sense of proportion within a broader context of reality and allow them to behave in their own enlightened self-interest.
The peculiarity of such a political-economic system, however, is that “though it controls thought, it does not fix it,” according to Orwell. A totalitarian regime provides unquestionable dogmas like papal infallibility, corporate personhood, the free market, the war on terrorism and drugs, etc., that it changes every day along with the latest political necessity.
“It needs the dogmas, because it needs absolute obedience from its subjects, but cannot avoid the changes, which are dictated by the needs of power politics. It declared itself infallible, and at the same time it attacks the very concept of objective truth,” writes Orwell.
Dr. Frankenstein, waging war against an immutable force of nature—death—created a monster. His intentions, though deranged, were good. Though wildly successful, his creature escaped from his laboratory and nearly killed the good doctor in the process. With an abnormal, or psychopathic brain, it is innocently killing everything it touches. The townsfolk, outraged by the loss of elders and children, have taken to the streets and fields, hunting the murderous monster. The closer the torch-bearing mob gets, the more panicked the re-animated beast becomes.
The story, as we all know, ends sadly and in flames, at least in the movie. The monster, of course, is the corporation. The good doctor is our political economic leadership (whom no one elected). We, of course, are what we are and will do what we do. That is unless we can find a way to tame the beast and forgive the nutty professor.
Otherwise, what lies ahead for us all is carnage and malpractice, peace and justice, or more likely some traumatic mixture of the two. We’ll know which road we’re on for sure by January 20, 2005. How we respond to whatever happens will be up to us. One thing is certain, if we surrender the stage to Dr. Frankenstein yet again, he’ll secure the election for himself and his beast will remain at large.
is editor of
www.niagarabuzz.com. An experienced poet, journalist, newspaper
columnist, produced playwright and award-winning literary critic, he has
just published his first book,
Memos from Apartment 5,
available now from Page Free Press. His writing has appeared on ZNet, The
Smirking Chimp, Buffalo Report, Buffalo Alt Press, Graphic Truth,
corporations-suck.com and JuryFury.com, among others. He can be reached at
1.The “Bushistas” are the neoconservative “cult” within the larger corporate regime that was selected as keepers of “the secret” during the 2000 election. Republicans and Democrats are the wings of the corporate regime. The secret, of course, is that America is not a democratic republic, but a corporate entity whose business is business. The Bushista faction within the regime’s Republican wing represents the interests of energy and the military-industrial complex. They’re considered to be the regime’s security establishment.
2. Bush Criticizes NAACP's Leadership: Relationship With Rights Group 'Basically Nonexistent,' President Says, by Mike Allen, Washington Post, 7/10/04: “But he castigated the group's officers, who include President Kweisi Mfume and Chairman Julian Bond. "I would describe my relationship with the current leadership as basically nonexistent," Bush said, as reported by Knight Ridder Newspapers. "You've heard the rhetoric and the names they've called me"…Earlier this week, the White House said the invitation had been declined because of scheduling commitments, and officials said that was the reason cited in the letter to the group. But when asked about the matter by reporters on Air Force One on Friday, White House press secretary Scott McClellan made it clear that a lot more was involved. "The current leadership of the NAACP has certainly made some rather hostile political comments about the president over the past few years," he said. The NAACP said Bush is the first president since Warren G. Harding not to meet with the group while in office. Bond has accused Republicans of "playing the race card in election after election." He said they have "appealed to that dark underside of American culture, to that minority of Americans who reject democracy and equality," and "preach racial neutrality and they practice racial division." The snub could affect voter turnout in November. In Florida in 2000, Bush was hurt by heavy black turnout, organized in part by the NAACP because of the group's opposition to Republican Gov. Jeb Bush's rollback of the state's affirmative action program.” This, of course, won’t play well with urban dwellers across America.
3. Despite Apology for Journalistic Errors, the "Newspaper of Record" Continues to Disappoint, letter to the editor appearing in the May 27, 2004 Baltimore Chronicle by New York attorney William Betz: “Conspicuously absent from the Times' report on the Ashcroft-Mueller "news" conference was Ashcroft's assertion that the dramatic effect of the March 11 Madrid bombings on the election in Spain "could embolden al-Qaida to try to influence U.S. elections through attacks here," according to the Associated Press…Based on the Attorney General's well-documented disdain for the law in general and democracy in particular, one may reasonably conclude that Ashcroft is setting the stage for the invocation of martial law and the cancellation of this year's presidential election. Of course, fear of al-Qaida will be the justification for any such move. And based on recent history, it is likely to be a move the Times will support…In view of the Times' feeble apology on Wednesday for its abdication of responsibility in uncritically parroting the administration's misrepresentations leading up to the Iraq fiasco, and its promise to try to do better, a little skepticism might be in order here. Rather than remaining the handmaiden of a blatantly fascist administration, the "newspaper of record" might have appropriately noted that the "news" conference had no news content and that the principal message is the same as it has been since September 11, 2001: Be afraid, be very afraid.”—Also, it must be noted that many local governments across the nation are, by law, required to designate a “newspaper of record” in which to post its public notices. So a relationship is legally required to exist between local governments and hometown newspapers. The Freedom of Information Act guarantees the same relationship at the state and federal levels of government. The press, however, is also the only privately owned industry specifically protected from government regulation by the Constitution. But law and reality are two different things.
4. To consider the corporate regime’s real agenda, familiarize yourself with the issue of “peak oil” and what it really involves. Put simply, the super rich who own the vast majority of the world’s wealth are hording everything and cutting themselves off from us while they still have the chance. They’re also forming private armies, like warlords, that serve to protect their private interests. Meanwhile, the rest of us suffer and will have to beg them for the privilege to exist. Basically, a neo-feudal society reacting to a major die off of the planet’s human population is emerging from the crisis.
5. NEOCONSERVATIVISM & MACCHIAVELLIANISM: “Confronted by the appalling alternative that man, or human thought, must be collectivized either by one stroke and without mercy or else by slow and gentle processes, we are forced to wonder how we could escape from this dilemma. We reconsider therefore the elementary and unobtrusive conditions of human freedom.”--Leo Strauss, (OT, 23, 27). The philosopher Leo Strauss’ name is often bandied about, along with Irving Kristol’s, as one of the progenitors of neoconservatism. His status hinges mostly upon his belief that philosophers must speak only to a chosen few who are equipped to handle the secret knowledge that, if widely known, would result in their persecution and loss of power. It was necessary that the people be kept in the dark, like the denizens of Plato’s cave, for the Republic to exist. This, perhaps, explains the Bush administration’s obsession with confidentiality. The role of neoconservatives in President Bush’s administration is well-documented, and is unnecessary to analyze here. What most people don’t know, however, is the ethical code by which neoconservatives operate.
To All Concerned Americans: Will it be r/evolution or civil war? By Chuck Richardson
The Guardian, June 19, 2004
New York Times, May 2, 2004
BuzzFlash, July 12, 2004
Politus Interruptis: With Friends Like These, Who Needs Electorates? By BEN TRIPP, July 13, 2004
Postponement of the November Election - by Michael C. Ruppert
"Only cowards cancel elections" by William Rivers Pitt
Bush camp could gain from a postponement by Joe Conason - The New York Observer
CounterPunch Special Report: 9/11 One Year After—Levelling and 9/11 by Peter Linebaugh
The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult
Murray N. Rothbard
Other Articles by Chuck Richardson