June 21, 2005
By Ernest Partridge, The Crisis Papers
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 camarilla."
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 paralysis.
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 longer."
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 trends.
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 sustain.
In September 23, 2004, the 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.
Read Dana Milbank's disgraceful attack on John Conyers and his DSM hearing, and you might appreciate why the public is abandoning the mainstream media. (See also Conyers' reply). To be sure, many Bushophiles will be heartened by this outrageous "news item," 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 the 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 need them?
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%. 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."
The same poll reports 33% approval of the Republican-controlled Congress, with only 19% of those polled stating that the Congress shares their priorities.
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 Of Bushism
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 reiteration 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 chemistry.
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 more damage.
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 generations.
The loss of 1,700 of our soldiers and the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens.
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 all that 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 Dangerous – And Most Vulnerable
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 (s)election 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 in Counterpunch 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 Katherine 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.
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He publishes the website The Online Gadfly and co-edits the progressive website The Crisis Papers. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org .