by Jeffrey M. Freeman
We, the people, are responsible for this mess we are in because we trusted Washington to do the right thing The so-called War on Terror and the financial debacle at home are two parts of the same calamity. We have bought into, or ignored, the philosophy touted by Ronald Reagan and others as part of trickle down economics. Trickle down economics is a euphemism for feudalism, for economic slavery, where the rich get richer and the rest of us eat their table scraps. There is a world-wide conspiracy of philosophies which have at their common core the mantra: greed is good, debt is good. One reason, real or imagined, that many nations don’t like us is that they view the US as an imperialist nation, gobbling up the meat and potatoes of their resources while leaving their average citizens scrounging in garbage heaps.
Our money is not backed by anything of value—it is backed only by faith in our good will. When we went off the gold standard, we went to a credit standard. If the credit system fails, as we are being told that it is, then access to credit is tightened and the wheels of commerce, upon which the “free enterprise” system runs, will come to a grinding halt. It is imperative, therefore, that our credit system—credit cards, mortgages, the stock market, and the like—be constantly and consistently monitored, just as the gold at Fort Knox was when our security depended on it. Unfortunately, on this point, our government has failed us, possibly bringing us to the brink of financial collapse. We have not yet seen the entire scope of this international political-economic mess.
But it is our fault because we have not insisted that those who represent us in Washington act in the people’s best interest. For example, government approved unprecedented mega-mergers in energy companies and media outlets have resulted in higher gas prices and controlled news. The abilities to dominate segments of industry and to spin news are two essentials for a successful fascist state. As the United States potentially stands on the precipice of an economic meltdown, it is the time to send a shot across the political bow that will be remembered for decades, maybe centuries, to come. Indeed, Barack Obama and John McCain agree on this point—it is past time to demand real change in Washington.
Obama and McCain are also right in that we need to hold government officials, appointed and elected, accountable. Government workers who knowingly failed to do their duty to protect Americans must be investigated, tried, and, if found guilty, sent to prison, along with those in the finance sector who perpetrated the actual acts.
Maybe we should start with former Republican Senator Phil Gramm, a long-time friend of John McCain and formerly one of his closest economic advisors. It was Gramm who, in 1999, pushed through legislation tearing down the wall between regulated commercial banks and unregulated investments banks. That wall was put in place as a safety net against the corrupt Wall Street practices that led to the Great Depression, and McCain heartedly endorsed its destruction. After all, he was, until September 15, 2008, a life-long champion of deregulation. Gramm is now a vice president of UBS, a bank that benefited from Gramm’s legislation and is heavily invested in the sub-prime mortgage debacle. Then again, the legislation was warmly welcomed and signed into law by Democrat Bill Clinton.
Even so, a tiger does not change his stripes. McCain subscribes to the mantra of greed is good, even while publicly denouncing it. McCain is still a deregulator and a “free trader” at heart. He is now talking about bringing jobs back to America but that is a fair trade policy, not free trade. McCain wants to resurrect George W. Bush’s plan to partially privatize Social Security. I have a college degree. I’m fairly prudent about my investments. I’ve lost thousands of dollars in my retirement funds under Republican leadership. The Republican’s true agenda is to destroy Social Security, which privatization, partial or whole, will do. Social Security is another safety net that McCain is all too willing to cut holes in. After all, what does he care? He’s a multi-millionaire. He wouldn’t know a common person if one punched him in the nose. McCain is desperate and is willing to tell the American public anything, including endorsing traditional Democratic positions, in order to win the election—even the bard of deceit, Karl Rove, says as much.
For nearly two years I collected, catalogued, and analyzed nearly two hundred thousand classified documents in preparation for the next person to write the official history of the Iraq war for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I sat in on about a dozen videoconferences at the Secretary of Defense/Chairman of the Joint Chiefs level, participated in interviewing key personnel, and took notes in dozens of other meetings. What I came to understand is now common knowledge but it shocked me at the time. There was no reason to invade Iraq. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. It is likely that George W. Bush came into office seeking a way to remove Saddam Hussein—it is absolutely true of at least some of his advisors. Bush and his advisors seized on 9/11 as an excuse to invade Iraq.
For several years, I thought that perhaps President George W. Bush was somehow getting bad advice. I realize now that it was he who was prescribing what advice he would listen to, just like Donald Rumsfeld.
McCain follows the same principle as GWB—kill all the bad Muslims until there are no more. That’s the equivalent to an oft-quoted axiom in the Army—floggings will continue until morale improves. Sarah Palin is willing to go to war with Russia, something we avoided with the Soviet Union for more than fifty years. Has she forgotten, or maybe never knew, that we and Russia each posses enough nuclear weapons to destroy the entire planet, to kill every living thing, good, bad or indifferent? The principle didn’t work in Vietnam. We did not lose the military battle in Vietnam. We lost the war because it could not have been won except by destroying the entire nation of North Vietnam. Just as North Vietnam was never a threat to the United States, neither was Iraq. We cannot win against al Queda by military means alone—they need to be defeated in the hearts and minds of Muslims around the world; bombs and bullets won’t do it.
The “War on Terror” dragged the Christian church, although some of its right wing advocates came only too willingly, into the fray. Christians who declare that it is all right to kill people who have never done anything to us—and, according to CNN, between 50,000 and 600,000 Iraqis have died--have no right to call themselves followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Can you image what would happen if some country invaded us and killed half a million Americans under the ruse of ridding us of George W. Bush? The Crusades were not something Jesus would have commended. Yet, George W. Bush and many Christians believe, or formerly believed, that God appointed Bush to be president. Adding religion to the military-industrial-political triad has given fascism a surprising yet strong and growing impetus in our government.
Whether our fragile democracy survives or succumbs in total to fascism is at stake. Those in Congress who have allowed this president to pursue a false war, hand out fat contracts to friends, demonize America in the eyes of most of the world for abandoning our principles, and usurp certain Constitutional rights of the American people should be ashamed. One of Bush’s stalwart supporters is John McCain.
The United States of America once stood as a symbol of democracy and human decency. The overwhelming majority of Americans are good, honest, decent, caring people. We need to reclaim our good name.
This is the new shot that needs to be heard around the world—America is a democracy and we will hold our government officials accountable to the people. The president and the congress work for us, and don’t forget it. For elected or appointed officials, career civil servants, or military leaders to lie to the people to achieve any agenda, or to ignore their appointed duties, are crimes and such persons must be held accountable. George W. Bush, many of his closest supporters, and others need to be impartially investigated for possible acts against the American people and if found guilty, punished accordingly. (Guantanamo is my personal preference as the place of incarceration.) We cannot expect one of the wolf pack to turn on his own kind. Neither John McCain, Sarah Palin, nor the Republican Party is capable of restoring America to its moral course. Nancy Pelosi take note.
There are many people more intelligent, with greater resources and insight than myself who have written about what tragedies have been committed in the guise of spreading democracy and the expansion of American imperialism. I highly recommend their books: Bob Woodward’s, Bush at War, Plan of Attack, State of Denial, and The War Within; James Bamford’s A Pretext for War; Scott McClellan’s What Happened; John Perkin’s Confessions of an Economic Hit Man; and Naomi Wolf’s The End of America.
Part of that shot across the bow is to remove Republicans from power in order to truly shake up the good-old-boy system in Washington. I am not enamored with either Democrats or Republicans. But those are the only two viable choices in this presidential contest. Barack Obama is not my preferred choice but those in charge of the political process have made it almost impossible for an Independent presidential candidate to have an equal chance, so far. However, there is a growing network of Independents and it is spearheaded by the Committee for a Unified Independent Party. In order to truly represent the people, we need a multi-party political system, not just Elephants and Donkeys. We need more Independents like Bernie Sanders in the House and Senate. The message to the Democratic Party in this election is: render Washington back for the people or you are next.
Too many good white people will look at Barack Obama and not vote for him because he is black. Too many decent black people will think twice about not voting for him just because he is black. I cannot understand how any Latino would vote for McCain. At this moment in history, Obama is the only person in America in a position to reshape Washington and reverse this road to fascism—that’s one heavy responsibility, and Joe Biden and every American who loves democracy shares it. A vote for Obama is not so much a vote for his policies as it is a vote against the economic tyranny imposed on us by greedy, ruthless, self-serving leaders.
Our Constitution is a radical document. “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations … evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government.” We have been lied to, deceived, and played for fools. Young Americans understand this, perhaps better than their parents and grandparents. In the words of that classic film, V For Vendetta, “People should not be afraid their government. Governments should be afraid of their people. … Remember the fifth of November.” It is time for another revolution—this one at the ballot box. If another is necessary, will it be in the streets?
Jeffrey M. Freeman
Duty and Character
Wrong Enemy, Wrong War