“So, that’s that for the Republic,” if I may quote Dorothy Thompson one more time, before someone in Washington decides that quoting Dorothy Thompson or anyone like her, historical or contemporary, is subversive, “insurgent,” a crime in the war against terror.
This will surely happen, sooner or later. No time to lose! Here’s H. L. Mencken, in a remark that found wide circulation last week on the Internet:
“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
Neat, huh? Here’s Hal Crowther, columnist for the Independent in Durham, N.C., and one-time winner of the H.L. Mencken Award for column writing:
“I don't pretend to be the one who can tell you whether George W. Bush is a dim tool of sinister forces, as I always suspected, or a genuine gear-loose megalomaniac with god-worms crawling through his tortured brain. … [But] if a spotted hyena stepped out of Air Force One wearing a baby-blue necktie, most Americans would salute and sing 'Hail to the Chief.'”
Here’s Adolf Hitler, speaking of the best way to win hearts and minds for the Fatherland (Democrats, take note!):
“The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on them in slogans, until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand. ... As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away, for the crowd can neither digest nor retain the material.”
And here’s Thompson again, writing in 1937, when Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to “pack” the U.S. Supreme Court by increasing the number of judges from nine to 15 and thus ensuring judicial sanction for his policies and programs:
“The repeated assertion of this administration that it 'has a mandate' is typical. ... By hook or by crook, through the democratic instrument or by coercion, one gets a majority. One then uses the power that this majority gives to destroy the minority and make it impossible for the minority ever again to become the majority. ... This is, of course, not democracy. It is the modern technique of usurpation.”
But let’s stop there. No one wanted to hear Dorothy Thompson in her own time, and no wants to hear her now. Neither will I bore you with my strangled screams about what was plainly a rigged election. I’ll let someone else do it – say, the folks at Democratic Underground.com, who note that “in EVERY STATE [with] paper audit trails … the exit poll results match[ed] the actual results reported within the margin of error,” while in “EVERY STATE with EVoting but no paper trails … an unexplained advantage for Bush [appeared] of around +5 percent when exit polls were compared to actual results." Media critic Mark Crispin Miller adds:
“It's a statistical impossibility that Bush got 8 million more votes [in 2004] than he got last time. In 2000, he got 15 million votes from right-wing Christians, and there are approximately 19 million of them in the country. … But given Bush's low popularity ratings and the enormous number of new voters -- who skewed Democratic -- there is no way in the world that Bush got 8 million more votes this time. I think it had a lot to do with the electronic voting machines. Those machines are completely untrustworthy, and that's why the Republicans use them.”
Oh, dear! Imagine calling the ruling party “untrustworthy” – Mark, you’d better watch your back. “Hardline” purges are underway in Washington right now – at the CIA, the Justice Department, the State Department, etc. -- and it won’t be long before they come after the journalists. Look especially for a crackdown on the Internet, the only place where free speech in America still seems to flourish. As Little Hitler himself told reporters last week, after his stunning, one-percent victory, “Now that I’ve got the will of the people at my back, I’m going to start enforcing a one-question rule” at press conferences.
Actually, Bush will be enforcing his “one-question rule” on everything, that question being, as it was during his first term, “Are you with us or against us?” Only this time, even more obviously, it won’t be you who gives the answer.
Already, with “the will of the people” at its back, the Bush regime has ordered all American airlines “to turn over computerized data for passengers who traveled on domestic flights” in the month of June – this as a “security measure” in the war on terror. According to the Associated Press, “The data can include credit card numbers, travel itineraries, addresses, telephone numbers and meal requests.”
Meal requests? Yes, because “the latter can indicate a passenger’s religion or ethnicity.”
And you thought you were living in a democracy! Well, none of it needs to make sense. “The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved,” outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft told Dubya in his letter of resignation, before turning right around and lambasting “activist judges for encroaching on powers that belong solely to the president [and] putting at risk the very security of our nation in a time of war.”
War? What war? With the will of the people at their backs, these guys have a lock on the whole apparatus. Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy four years.
On second thought, take the bus.
Peter Kurth is the author of international bestselling books including Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson, Isadora: A Sensational Life, and a biography of the anti-fascist journalist Dorothy Thompson, American Cassandra: The Life of Dorothy Thompson. His essays have appeared in Salon, Vanity Fair, New York Times Book Review, and many others. Peter lives in Burlington, Vermont. He can be reached at: email@example.com. Visit his website at: http://www.peterkurth.com/
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