Halloween is a backwards holiday. Once a year, we dress up as monsters and ghouls in parody of what America actually is all the rest of the year.
Halloween is a kiddy protection racket, an extortion threat reduced to the level of a child's game. The original plea for a “treat” carries an implicit threat of retaliation if no sweets are put in the bag. “Trick or treat!” cry the kids who want candy in return for not toilet-papering your car or egging your house. “Trick or Treat!” shout the President, the Congress, the Pentagon and Wall Street as they hold out their bags to extort the world's wealth, its resources, its labor, its children, their futures and our lives. “Trick or Treat!” say the plutocrats, the neocons and neoliberals; “Trick or Treat, or our soldiers will blow up your houses, bomb you back to the Stone Ages; we'll throw you in prison, we'll beat you, torture you, rape you, shove 'democracy' down your throats.” “Trick or Treat!” scream ambassadors, generals, businessmen and god-mongers; “Trick or Treat! Trick or Treat! Trick or Treat!”
And most of us, scared witless, cowed, terrified, pay the extortion, the price of the protection racket, to keep our jobs, to preserve our shrinking health care, to preserve the illusion of retirement benefits, to fill our cars with gas.
Masks and fear mongering have been part of civilization since humankind learned how to talk and throw a stone. Perhaps the ability to mask one's true intentions and to threaten another person is precisely what permits civilization to arise. We are told that we now live in the most civilized of times; and, therefore, these are also the most deceptive, the most masked, the most threatening of times. It’s all a kabuki theater of threats and counter-threats, of tricks and treats and extortion and retaliation.
Close on the heels of Halloween comes Election Day: the true day of harlequins and masquerades. For whom can I vote? I think to myself as I look at the voter pamphlets: the Vampires who urged us on to War or the Werewolves of the “opposition” who also voted for it? Is it a “choice” to have to choose between a Monster whose lies killed more than 650,000 and a Ghoul who criticizes the Monster's “incompetence” in carrying out the killing? Why are there only two Costumed Parties I can go to in America when in other countries they have three and four and five and six?
In Washington State, the television media excluded the peace candidate for U.S. Senate, Aaron Dixon, from publicly debating the Republican and Democratic candidates because Mr. Dixon, representing the Green Party, has not raised the million dollar campaign pot deemed necessary by the media to appear on the same platform with the “mainstream” candidates. When Mr. Dixon showed up at the televised “debate” asking to be allowed to participate, he was arrested. Bruce Guthrie, the Libertarian anti-war candidate for the Senate, had to pony-up a million dollar loan to his own campaign just to “buy” a seat at the debating table. And this masquerade passes for “free elections,” American style.
In Pennsylvania, Republican Representative Curt Weldon's daughter has been “treated” to a pre-election FBI raid and seizure of her business records. Why would a Republican administered FBI publicly humiliate the daughter of a Republican congressman running for reelection? It could be because Curt Weldon is the congressman who has criticized the Zelikow Commission for failing to report on the undercover American spy program, Able Danger, which apparently had lots of advance knowledge about the 9-11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon. Was Curt Weldon's family politically attacked like Ambassador Joseph Wilson's CIA wife, Valerie Plame, because Weldon, too, had gotten “out of line.” “Trick or treat” Mr. Weldon! Belonging to the priesthood of the Dominant Party will still not protect you for violating the Government's mafia code of Omerta, the absolute Secrecy and Loyalty among gangsters that trumps everything, including party affiliation.
Mark Foley has become the Capitol's outcast du jour due to the outing of his virtual sexual advances toward young men, thereby stripping the mask from the Republican morality play. However, as soon as the elections are over, both parties will stop kicking at Foley's dead political body. The pages who came to Washington came to learn what power is all about. Now they know. Where there is power, there is abuse of power, and many are the politicians on both sides of the aisle who indulge their unbridled passions. It is the reward for being good legislative lackeys, and it creates welcome file material by which today's J. Edgar Hoovers can blackmail and control those who might think to place public interests ahead of private ones.
On the surface of America, there is the mask of obedience to the law. Beneath the mask is the flagrant and repeated violation of law. The Congress, both halves of the dominant political party participating, passed legislation that permits torture and perpetual imprisonment without charge, that vitiates the civil and constitutional rights of foreigners and citizens alike; and the Zombie-in-Chief, masquerading as a champion of Freedom and Life and Peace, applauds the Republic's suicide.
The press is fascinated by Hewlett-Packard's misdeeds in snooping on private communications by the company's Board of Directors. But while the press expresses outrage at the use of “pretexting” to spy on America's boardroom elite, where is the outrage at the telecom giants, the NSA and the Internet backbone companies for eavesdropping on your communications and mine? The masked message is that there are two standards of privacy in America: the lives and communications of the feudal class are private; the lives and communications of everyone else are subject to surveillance.
Meanwhile, the owners of the media have enthusiastically joined the Administration's costume campaign to portray the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea as a rogue nuclear threat to world peace. The State Department and its conjoined state television do their Friday the 13th buzz jobs, pulling every racist, xenophobic trick out of the bag. Never mind that the DPRK has never invaded any foreign country, as the United States has repeatedly done. Never mind that North Korea has had a more stable government over time than many of the dictatorships that the United States props up. Never mind that Korea, the historical victim of American and Japanese aggression, has only wanted to be left alone. Never mind that, as proved by the case of Iraq, the only way that a small nation can ensure that it will be left alone is if it is armed with weapons of mass destruction, and prepared to retaliate in kind. Never mind that other countries that have not subscribed to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty have also developed nuclear weapons -- but Israel, Pakistan and India are not international pariahs, but sweet little angels, because they are our nuclear states that do our bidding.
Wearing the Halloween mask of concern, the American government expresses its solicitude for an Iraq descending into sectarian civil war. Beneath the mask, however, America secretly foments the violence. It is James Baker's Plan B: if we cannot own Iraq's oil reserves outright by installing our puppet regime, then we will Balkanize it, tear it to pieces, render it like we rendered Yugoslavia, into a patchwork of tiny, dependent states whose resources can be sucked out by western corporate vampires while their people, doing the will of the West, immolate themselves in an Islamic auto-da-fé.
But while America makes war on Iraq, and soon on Iran, on Syria, on Cuba and on Venezuela, at home, just in time for Halloween and the Elections, the Economy is suddenly looking downright perky! Right on schedule, the oil oligarchs -- the friends and facilitators of the current administration -- suddenly lowered gasoline prices. Meanwhile, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve that released fuel to dampen the gasoline price run-ups after Hurricane Katrina quietly stated that it will refrain from buying any replacement stocks of oil -- low prices notwithstanding -- until well after the November elections. This lowers the cost (just temporarily, of course) of filling up Joe Voter's SUV and is supposed to stimulate inventory-clearing sales of Detroit's gas hogs. Everyone is happy and, in theory, they vote for the status quo, for their economic self-interest and for their pocket books.
For its part, the Federal Reserve Bank has unleashed a torrent of easy money into the banking system, thereby creating a massive build-up in the now totally invisible M3 (the total amount of money in circulation in the economy). This influx of cheap money, in turn, compensates for the reality check in the plummeting housing market, and has been used to inflate yet one more gigantic stock market bubble. The Dow Industrial Index, a measure of only about twenty of the biggest companies (swapped in and out over time to ensure the index's artificial exuberance), shows all the signs of Botoxed youth and good health. However, the hourly Dow Industrial charts show many mysterious mid-afternoon infusions of money whenever the graph line begins to plummet downward, thus creating the illusion of a stock market that defies gravity.
Students of Halloween and American elections call this anti-gravity phenomena by a simpler name: a masquerade party.
By the calendar, it is Halloween. By the measure of history, however, it is a permanent costume ball of war, politics and economic manipulation.
Happy Halloween, America. Trick or treat!
Zbignew Zingh can be reached at: Zbig@ersarts.com. This article is CopyLeft, and free to distribute, reprint, repost, sing at a recital, spray paint, scribble in a toilet stall, etc. to your heart’s content, with proper author citation. Find out more about Copyleft and read other great articles at: www.ersarts.com. copyleft 2006.
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