In the opening paragraph of my most recent Pravda.Ru article Workers of the world, unite (03/03/11, hereinafter Workers), I warned that there was "a battle going on in the United States, and it is not hyperbole to suggest that it is a battle for the very soul of the nation."
That battle is over;
And America is dead:
As a land of the free;
As a nation of justice for all;
As a democracy;
As a haven for free thought and expression;
As a bastion of human rights;
As a government of the people;
For the people;
And by the people.
Sadly, unlike most deaths, America's demise was not inevitable. All the symptoms were visible to indicate that treatment was necessary. But, just like millions of its citizens, America lacked health insurance and thus was unable to stave off the myriad of infections that ultimately killed it.
Looking back, it's amazing how rapidly this decline occurred. Just a little over a decade ago, America was healthy, vibrant and optimistic as it entered the new millennium. Ironically, the beginning of that millennium was also the beginning of the end.
It started with a corrupt presidential election, sanctioned by an equally corrupt United States Supreme Court, which ushered in the inept, mendacious, venal, warmongering dictatorship of George W. Bush. This was soon followed by the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, which were subsequently used as the pretext to start two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq and as the excuse to decimate the United States Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights.
And other infections soon followed, including:
(1) The increasing racism and corruption of the United States Supreme Court;
(2) The "tea party" movement;
(3) The propaganda and vituperations vomited by pseudo-journalists on the Fox "News" Channel;
(4) The establishment of puppet governments in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio;
(5) The destruction of academic tenure spawned by the University of Colorado;
(6) The embrace of torturers by the University of California at Berkeley;
(7) The escalating focus on sensationalism and superficiality by the corporate-controlled media;
(8) And the myopia of the masses, which failed to detect these infections until it was too late.
In several previous Pravda.Ru articles, I discussed how this myopia could eventually result in America's demise, because the incessant lust for short-term, "knee-jerk" solutions makes a nation susceptible to the machinations of opportunistic and demagogic politicians, and renders it incapable of comprehending the long-term devastation these "solutions" might produce.
But, after Scott Walker's puppet government destroyed workers' rights in Wisconsin, I've come to realize that this myopia is incurable, that evil will do what evil will do, and that drawing attention to it will not derail it.
People protested against the coup of 2000. Bush took office anyway; People protested the illegal invasion of Iraq. Bush invaded anyway; People expressed outrage over America's use of torture and kidnapping. Bush tortured and kidnapped anyway. And his sordid legacy and criminality is now being defended and carried on by the Obama administration.
So was it really any surprise when the outrage and protests against the Republican reprobates of Wisconsin did nothing to dissuade them from stripping public workers of their rights, or when they accomplished this goal by using a procedural contrivance of questionable legality?
Naturally you may ask, if America is dead, and if evil is undefeatable, why bother writing about it at all? The only answer I have is that someone must make a record to inform future generations that there were people on the right side of history, and that the myopia that killed America did not blind everyone. So if, throughout this article, I make reference to some of my previous Pravda.Ru essays, please be assured it is not because of vanity.
So how did the infections listed above kill America?
Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller recently said that it took only thirty minutes for eighteen state senators to undo fifty years of civil rights in Wisconsin. What he did not say was that those eighteen were undoubtedly emboldened by the hypocrisy and corruption of the so-called "conservative" bloc of the United States Supreme Court: Roberts, Alito, Kennedy, Thomas and Scalia.
According to several legal analysts, ever since Roberts became Chief Justice of this court, an increasing number of its decisions were (and are) made in favor of corporate interests.
This inevitably led to the ruling that destroyed democracy itself: the case of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission-a decision I described as The greatest threat to America (Pravda.Ru, 01/27/10).
Ignoring decades of precedent, the court's "conservative" bloc decreed that corporations enjoyed the same "free speech" rights as individuals. The snake-oil used to defend the "fairness" of this decision was that labor unions also enjoyed the same "rights."
But, as I argued in Workers, this defense was a sham. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 7 percent of America's private labor sector is unionized; consequently its ability to counter the vast financial resources of corporations when it comes to purchasing political ads, making campaign contributions or buying access to politicians is severely limited.
By contrast, about 36 percent of the public labor sector is unionized, which gives this sector greater economic ability to exercise its "rights" under Citizens United. So it should come as no surprise that corporations, "tea-party" activists and corrupt right-wing politicians and pundits are now targeting the financial resources of these unions.
Those who doubt this need only look to Wisconsin. Many commentators have alleged that the real political power in that state belongs not to Walker's Republicans, but to the Koch brothers.
And their influence extends far beyond Wisconsin. In a recent article for Politico.com, Kenneth P. Vogel revealed that two of the Supreme Court justices responsible for the Citizens United decision-Scalia and Thomas-"attended events connected to conservative donor conferences organized by the billionaire industrialist brothers David and Charles Koch, who have donated or raised millions of dollars for groups that aired hard-hitting ads attacking Democrats, including at least one that took advantage of the spending flexibility afforded them by Citizens United."
But no story about billionaires destroying democracy would be complete without mentioning the union-busting media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Shortly after Murdoch's bastardization of journalism, the Fox News Channel, began to air in America, journalistic ethics and integrity, particularly in the corporate-controlled media, became non-existent.
Murdoch's forte, as I stated in The inspiring story of Spinn Dreck (Pravda.Ru, 07/15/10), has been to appeal to the worst traits of humanity-greed, racism, hatred, intolerance, arrogance, selfishness and divisiveness. Perhaps this is why an opening segment of the popular cartoon, The Simpsons, displayed an animated Fox "News" helicopter flashing the message, "Not Racist, But Number #1 With Racists."
Recently Fox "News" led the charge in condemning National Public Radio's (NPR) firing of Juan Williams (a frequent Fox "News" contributor) for making statements that NPR believed were offensive to Muslims.
But questions should arise as to how much of this "outrage" was genuine and how much was contrived, especially since Williams signed a lucrative contract with Fox "News" shortly after his firing.
For decades, and even in the current Congress, many so-called "conservative" politicians have been trying to eliminate government funding for NPR and its television counterpart PBS. The Williams firing reignited these efforts.
Recently, members of a "conservative" group even posed as Muslims so they could secretly videotape NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller. In this tape, Schiller is heard denouncing "tea party" activists as "seriously racist, racist people"-remarks which caused a right-wing backlash that compelled not only his resignation from NPR, but also the resignation of NPR's president and CEO Vivian Schiller (no relation to Ron).
The "conservative" argument against funding NPR and PBS is that taxpayer dollars should not be used to support biased media. But the true motivations fueling this argument are apparent: when nothing exists but right-wing media conglomerates like Fox, Clear Channel and Sinclair Broadcasting, and with Citizens United magnifying the voices of business as labor unions are destroyed, America will be awash with media biased in favor of corporate interests.
Already, as I explained in America's Corporate controlled media: Garbage disguised as news (Pravda.Ru, 08/22/06), America is witnessing how corporate advertising dollars incessantly reduces media to their lowest common denominators, resulting in "junk food" journalism that spends more time covering the idiocy of people like Charlie Sheen, Sarah Palin and Lindsey Lohan than seriously examining and analyzing the critical issues of the day.
And, despite all the deceitful hyperbole from right-wing blowhards about the pervasiveness of "liberal" media, the ratings and profit potential from covering wars transformed most of America's corporate-controlled media into ardent supporters, and even instigators, of the invasion against Iraq.
Ron Schiller may have become the latest victim of a disturbing trend in America-that people considered to be "liberals," are increasingly being penalized and censored for expressing their opinions.
As noted by Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts, the "tea party's" concern over government "tyranny" and spending seemed to conveniently coincide with the election of Barack Obama. But its voice was conspicuously silent when George W. Bush proclaimed, "he need not be bound by laws with which he disagreed," and when Bush transformed "a hundred and twenty-eight billion dollar surplus into a four hundred and seven billion dollar deficit."
Also, as I observed in my article, Libertarian-socialism: An idea whose time has come (Pravda.Ru, 05/05/10), the "tea party" expressed no outrage when Bush lied about the necessity to invade Iraq nor when he awarded lucrative no-bid rebuilding contracts to his political and corporate cronies.
In fact, it speaks volumes about the so-called "principles" of the "tea-party" that it praised the supposed "courage" of a cabal of Republican reprobates in Wisconsin who decimated workers' rights to appease their billionaire puppet masters, yet vilified Democrats in the United States Congress for supporting health care reforms intended to benefit millions of Americans who lack, or were denied, health care insurance.
But the "conservative" (i.e. corporate fascist) infection that killed America could not have been accomplished without attacking the last bastions of free thought and expression-colleges and universities.
In my article Ward Churchill: The lie lives on (Pravda.Ru, 11/29/10), I discussed how tenure in higher education was created so academics could engage in studies, research and/or public discourse without fear of economic retaliation. Yet Ward Churchill was fired from his tenured professorship at the University of Colorado simply for writing a controversial essay.
When Churchill sued for wrongful termination, the university attempted to justify his firing by claiming he had engaged in "intentional academic misconduct." A jury disagreed, however, and returned a verdict in Churchill's favor, finding that the misconduct allegations were simply a pretext used to conceal the fact that he had been terminated for exercising his First Amendment rights.
But the ethically corrupt trial judge Larry Naves, and an equally corrupt Colorado appeals court, nullified the verdict, proclaiming that the procedures used to fire Churchill were "quasi-judicial" in nature, and thus the university was immune from lawsuits.
Yet the protections of academic tenure that were denied to Churchill have been repeatedly cited to justify the University of California at Berkeley's refusal to fire John Yoo, a law professor who authored the now infamous "torture memos" during the Bush dictatorship.
Why the disparity? Because Churchill was a liberal professor and thus the target of right-wing witch-hunters and corporate fascists determined to purge colleges and universities of alleged "leftist" influences, while Yoo, thanks to his advocacy of torture and relationship with Bush, is endearing to these very same fascists and witch-hunters. This, of course, means that in today's America "conservative" professors can freely express their political opinions, while liberal professors, thanks to the threat of economic retaliation, cannot.
So America is dead, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually, and it succumbed to the very malady that learned individuals, like Justice Louis Brandeis, warned the nation about: "We can have a democratic society or we can have great concentrated wealth in the hands of a few. We cannot have both."
Edmund Burke once said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing." But good people tried, and are still trying, to prevent the triumph of evil in Wisconsin, in Ohio, in Indiana and throughout the United States.
Yet evil continues to triumph.
So farewell America. I want to believe you went to heaven, but I know you went to hell, because so many of your best people, and so many people who deserved better, are now in hells all their own-hells of poverty, sickness, powerlessness and ignorance-created through the "courtesy" of corrupt judges, venal politicians, greedy billionaires and corporate fascists.
As I've stated in several previous Pravda.Ru articles, perhaps the only solace one can take from America's demise is the fact that, thanks to the limitations of mortality, the days will come when the merchants of evil, despite all their wealth and power, will be unable to purchase even one more second of life. Then perhaps the hells they've unjustly visited upon others will justly be visited upon them.
Still, I am saddened that all the hopes for true justice have to reside in worlds unseen. And I would like to believe that a Messianic figure will make America His/Her newest Lazarus.
But I doubt that is going to happen. The vultures of evil now feasting on America's carcass are just too strong.
So citizens of the late America, resign yourselves to these realities: you are no longer free to think; no longer able to express or hear anything except what right-wing billionaires and corporate fascists permit you to express or hear; no longer able to prevent these billionaires and fascists from corrupting your politicians, censoring your media, compromising your educations and destroying your livelihoods, and perhaps even your lives, for their own profit.
If you doubt these words, look at the puppet governments of Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana, and you will doubt no more.
David R. Hoffman
Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
Turkey has found itself in a circle of countries subject to US and European sanctions. Are they dangerous for Ankara? What is Turkey going to do in response?