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America: what else is there to "market"?

Although Nostradamus is perhaps the most famous prophet from France, the words of French philosopher Voltaire—“It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong”—more accurately prophesized the horrific state of modern-day America under the tyranny of the lying, inept, corrupt and venal Bush dictatorship.

In the lexicon of behavioral psychology there are two popular terms:  psychopath and sociopath.  Although these terms are often used interchangeably, there is a distinction between them.  Psychopaths are usually individuals with physical or mental illnesses or impairments that prevent them from distinguishing right from wrong.  Sociopaths, on the other hand, are normally individuals who know right from wrong, but lack any semblance of conscience.  They are the penultimate example of the “ends justify the means” ideology, and the ends always inure to the benefit of the sociopath, regardless of how many people are harmed in the process.  In a sociopath's world, other humans are not looked upon as reasoning and emotional beings, but as products that exist for the sociopath's gratification or self-aggrandizement.

Not surprisingly in a capitalist society sociopathic personalities dominate the business world.  Many wealthy corporate executives bask in the material excesses available in the United States while exploiting the natural resources, polluting the lands, violating the human rights, and profiting from the inexpensive labor in poorer countries.  Meanwhile these executives often throw hundreds, sometimes thousands, of Americans out of work in an alleged quest to stay competitive, a euphuism that normally means, “One can never be too greedy or too rich”.  Displaced workers, meanwhile, frequently find themselves and their families without health insurance, and often watch the savings of a lifetime erode in a matter of weeks or months.

Yet the plight of workers both here and abroad is largely ignored by America’s profit-driven, corporate-controlled media.  Cable propaganda networks and conglomerates controlling radio stations have abandoned all pretensions about journalistic ethics and objectivity, and avoid any topics that intellectually exceed the parameters of sensationalism and superficiality.  In these media artists, scholars and those with “unpopular” views are routinely censored, as the Dixie Chicks quickly discovered after making a perceived anti-war statement in England prior to the Iraqi war.  Cumulus Media, which owns forty-one country music stations--refused to play Dixie Chicks' songs, a boycott that was extended to many of the twelve hundred radio stations owned by Clear Channel in the United States.  Programs with anti-war viewpoints, like Phil Donahue’s talk show on MSNBC, were canceled for “lack of ratings”, and a prospective television comedy scheduled to star outspoken anti-war actress Janeane Garofalo vanished as well.

Meanwhile pro-war “celebrities” like country singer Toby Keith got rich(er) hawking the Iraqi war, despite never having served in the military himself. Dennis Miller was given his own talk show on (surprise!) a Cable Propaganda Network, and celebrities like Kelsey Grammer, Robert Duvall, and Jason Priestly were quoting as saying or implying that anti-war celebrities should “keep their mouths shut.”  Apparently in their “American” freedom of thought and speech only apply when one speaks and thinks like everyone else.  Added into this mix were others like Rob Lowe and Kid Rock, who were willing to “support the war”, yet conspicuously unwilling to go fight in it.

But this cowardice was not limited to movie and television stars and singers.  The profit-driven media, lusting for “embedded reporters” and “twenty-four-hour” war coverage, became little more than a propaganda mechanism for the Bush dictatorship, producing warmongering hypocrites like Sean Hannity, who passed up the opportunity to volunteer during the first Gulf War, yet vociferously hawked the second; Rush Limbaugh, who avoided serving in Vietnam because of an “ingrown hair follicle” on his buttocks (brought about, no doubt, from having his head buried up there for extended periods of time); Brit Hume, who received a deferment to avoid serving in Vietnam; and George Will, who also avoided Vietnam by attending “divinity school”.  (Apparently war is only divine when Will doesn't have to participate in it).

It seems that a nation currently enamored with the movie THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST would look at these celebrity and media hypocrites with revulsion and contempt.  After all, Jesus led not simply by words, but by deeds as well.  He did not sit in an opulent mansion, in a recording studio or in front of a camera getting rich while others went off to die.

Unfortunately the same hypocrisy and cowardice displayed by “pro-war” celebrities and media “pundits” are also the hallmark of the Bush dictatorship, perhaps the first government in the history of the United States controlled almost exclusively by sociopaths.

As I explained in previous PRAVDA articles, this sociopathy was evident in George W. Bush long before he stole the presidency in the coup of 2000.  Proclaiming himself to be “pro-life,” Bush is the paradigm of “pro-lifers” who allegedly have an inordinate concern for the unborn, but demonstrate nothing but contempt for people already here.  The “pro-life” Bush signed over one-hundred and fifty death warrants while governor of Texas, and routinely denied DNA tests to inmates facing execution, even though such testing had the potential to exonerate them.  And he did this while boasting about the “infallibility” of the Texas judicial system, one of the most corrupt in the United States, where innocent men like Randall Adams, and Clarence Brandley spent years on death row, and where members of the prosecutor’s office in Dallas were often heard to remark that “any prosecutor can convict a guilty man, but it takes a great prosecutor to convict an innocent one.”

Also, after the election of 2000 and the appearance of impropriety that followed, honorable, just and moral people would not in good conscience have assumed office, particularly when a majority of people did not vote for them.  But Bush’s megalomania was so consuming that he had no compunction about assuming power even after his brother Jeb, governor of Florida, in concert with a politically ambitious Secretary of State named Katherine Harris, rigged the vote by purging minorities, who traditionally vote Democratic, from Florida registration rolls.  And when it looked like Bush’s coup would be exposed, a politically motivated United States Supreme Court, led by the bigoted, ethically challenged Antonin Scalia, “duck hunting” buddy of Vice Dictator Dick Cheney, intervened to ensure that the Bush coup was not aborted.

Like many of his celebrity and media supporters, Bush also avoided combat duty in Vietnam by using his father’s wealth and influence to obtain a position in the Texas National Guard, where he must have been cloaked in a uniform of invisibility, since he apparently disappeared for months at a time without performing any National Guard duties.

Bush also learned from his father the “strategy” of waging war whenever the domestic situation turns unfavorable or evidence of one's corruption begins to surface.  It was no coincidence that the invasion of Panama in 1989 came on the heels of a “Savings and Loan” scandal that implicated Neil Bush, brother of the current dictator.

Bush puppeteer Karl Rove also avoided serving in Vietnam, as did the venal Dick “I have other priorities” Cheney, who received four student deferments and one paternity deferment.  Yet today his latest priority is avariciously exploiting the war against Iraq to enrich companies where he has financial interests, like Halliburton.  This enrichment has, according to recent news reports, compelled the Pentagon to withhold three million dollars in payments amid allegations that Halliburton overcharged for meals served to troops in Iraq and Kuwait.

In addition to the previously mentioned hypocrites, there is the cabal of “neo-conservatives,” who are more than willing to start wars, but not as willing to fight in them.  Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz also obtained a student deferment to avoid military service. Yet, according to recent revelations by counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke, this gutless warmonger was so desperate to invade Iraq that he wanted to divert responsibility for the 9/11 attacks from Al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein.  Richard Perle, another gutless warmonger who, like Cheney, is allegedly profiting from the situation in Iraq, also avoided serving in Vietnam.  And, in an act that perhaps most starkly exposes the sociopathy inherent in the Bush dictatorship, Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who also successfully avoided military service during the Vietnam era, callously viewed the Iraqi war as a “product” to be “marketed” to the American people.

But perhaps the most dangerous sociopath is Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.  Besides coldheartedly taking remnants of the 9/11 attacks as  “souvenirs,” Rumsfeld also, according to Clarke, wanted to bomb Iraq simply because there were “no decent targets for bombing in Afghanistan.”

When one looks at this sociopathic legacy of avarice, deceit, cowardice and hypocrisy, it is not hard to understand why America was destined for war under the Bush dictatorship.  And it is also a tragic reminder of the verity that “Those who advocate war the loudest usually have never been in one.”

But another reality the Bush dictatorship and its supporters are now experiencing are that old lies frequently have to be camouflaged by new ones.  Three such lies are currently being disseminated.

The first is the standard, “If you’re” not for us, you’re against us” lie. This was crafted shortly after the horrific terrorist attack in Spain and the subsequent expulsion of the war criminal Jose Maria Aznar by Spanish voters.  But the idea that opposing the ongoing war in Iraq gives succor to terrorists ignores the fact that during the pre-war build-up countless scholars and commentators warned that destabilizing an entire region, and imbuing a new stratum of people with the feeling they have nothing to lose, would only increase the potential for terrorism.  Furthermore, lying about “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq only reinforced the belief in the Arab world that the real motives behind the war were oil and occupation.  Clearly if anybody is to be blamed for recent terrorism, it is those who disseminated these lies, who preyed uponfear for their own selfish ends, and who ignored the warnings of those who were not motivated by avarice, ambition or ego.

The second lie is the recycling of the “If you don't support the war, you’re unpatriotic” lie.  But who are the true patriots?  Are they those people, like Dick Cheney and Richard Perle, who send young men and women off to die so they can line their pockets, while supporting a lying, draft-dodging George W. Bush as he struts around in military attire and ordains himself a “wartime” president? Or are they the people who view the resources of the United States military and, more importantly, the lives of young men and women, as too important to be sacrificed for the sake of lies, profits or political bravado?  And why doesn't this demand for patriotism extend to multi-national corporations, like those described near the beginning of this essay, who destroy the economies of entire communities by exporting or “outsourcing” jobs?  Apparently patriotism is secondary where profit is concerned.

The third lie is the pontificating about “the defense of freedom.” But exactly what freedoms were at risk from an Iraqi regime that possessed no weapons of mass destruction, had no links to Al-Qaeda, and had no role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks?  In fact, as evidenced by the repressive policies of the Bush dictatorship, the war has actually made Americans less free. From the draconian provisions of the neo-fascist “Patriot Act,” to the censorship campaigns of the corporate-controlled media, to the spying on and harassment of anti-war activists, freedom has indeed become what those “pro-war” celebrities have advocated.  The freedom to think, speak and act has been displaced by the “freedom” to consume, which isn’t freedom at all, but economic slavery, since the debts incurred by this consumption ultimately make people less inclined to think, speak or act as free persons would, because of fears of losing what they have.

But the lies are wearing thin.  Even former President Jimmy Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, dispensed with the tradition of former presidents not criticizing current administrations by asserting that Bush waged an unjust war simply to appease his father.  This means that the United States military was not used to protect national interests or security, but was exploited in a medieval-style feud where real or perceived insults to dictators’ egos would often result in war.

Furthermore, syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts recently reported what those of us who opposed the war from its inception knew all along:  that the “weapons of mass destruction” argument was a charade. Bush even told an audience in South Carolina that he would have invaded Iraq regardless of whether or not it possessed such weapons.  In other words, Bush invaded a sovereign nation, albeit one controlled by a brutal dictator, for no reason other than to satiate his own ego, to enrich himself and his cronies, to boast about being a “wartime” president, to aggrandize his political career, and, as Carter said, to appease his father.  Yet when Adolph Hitler invaded Poland or Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait for many of the same reasons, they were correctly branded “aggressors” and “war criminals.”  So why aren’t Bush and his equally sociopathic partner-in-crime, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, labeled in a similar manner?  Or are war crimes, military aggression and violations of international law only to be condemned if the aggressors lose the war?  If so, then there is no international law, no war crimes and no military aggression.  There is simply one set of rules for the powerful and another for everyone else.  And if wasting billions of tax dollars, and, more tragically, destroying thousands of lives, for dishonest, corrupt and self-serving motives are not impeachable offenses under American law, then what is?

There currently is talk of reinstating compulsory military service, also known as the draft.  If this occurs the first to go should be all those pro-war celebrities, pundits, neo-conservatives, and politicians.  Forget physical exams, and ignore any and all excuses.  If they want to talk the talk, then they should be compelled to walk the walk.  The poor have been doing the fighting and dying long enough.

In previous PRAVDA articles I suggested that given the sociopathic nature of the Bush dictatorship, warning signs about the 9/11 terrorist attacks might have been ignored. But even I was reluctant to subscribe to the idea propounded by many conspiracy theorists that Bush, or some members of his dictatorship, actually orchestrated or had some complicity in these attacks.  But the depth of evil and corruption that is being revealed by the courageous few willing to risk ridicule and scorn to expose Bush’s lies, in conjunction with the unwillingness of those in his dictatorship to cooperate with a commission exploring the events surrounding 9/11, now gives me pause. Given how rabidly Bush wanted to wage war, there was a need to make Americans feel vulnerable. Such feelings of vulnerability would dispel any and all apprehensions about committing troops to a foreign land for extended periods of time, and all wars could be rationalized under the rubric of “fighting terrorism.”  Bush's incessant mantra about this “war,” and his willingness to exploit the victims of the 9/11 tragedy for political aggrandizement, perhaps demonstrate that these allegations of complicity are not so far fetched after all.

In my article LESSONS LEARNED BUT FORGOTTEN (PRAVDA, 7/7/03), I argued that
most conflicts in the world are not between “good and evil,” but between “greater and lesser evils.”  And while I believe that people should continue to speak out against lies, hypocrisy and injustice, the evils of the Bush dictatorship have made me grateful that human power is constrained by the limits of mortality.  Although sociopathic people can inflict much suffering on the environment, on freedom, and on their fellow human beings, they will one day have to go the way of all flesh.  And if there is such a thing as justice, then the war criminals and profiteers, and those who support them, will receive a fate deserving of their crimes.

David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of PRAVDA.Ru