[sixties-l] Bush and the shrinking of America

From: StewA@aol.com
Date: Sat Jan 12 2002 - 23:27:58 EST

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    George Bush and The Shrinking of America
    by Stew Albert

        Conventional wisdom once had it that there was positive magic in the Oval
    Office and that sitting Presidents automatically grew in spirit and wisdom
    giving them the capacity to serve well, and beyond whatever expectations we
    might have had from from them when they were merely candidates.
        Harry Truman^^s reign was responsible for this myth. Before ascending to
    the Office he had been viewed as little more than a hack machine politician.
    But after dropping two atom bombs on Japan and starting the Cold War, Truman
    graduated to the status of folk hero, and the belief grew that there really
    was something special in the White House drinking water.
        The myth^^s power was greatly weakened when it was obvious that Lyndon
    Johnson was a far better Senator than a President and it collapsed completely
    when Richard Nixon imploded all over Watergate.
        Now in the era of Bush, our first unelected President, a new myth may be
    taking hold. That America shrinks to the level of its Chief Executive.
        Previous to his seizure of the White House Bush proved one thing as
    Governor of Texas. He demonstrated a positive joy in killing people. Texas
    easily lead the nation in executions. Other than death Bush gave off the
    vibes of an undereducated petty rich brat, with some ugly secret in his past,
    who always had to get his way and although he was inarticulate and seemed
    stupid, he mostly did get what he wanted. His vision of utopia was a country
    in which rich white people like himself felt and had no restraints placed on
    their capacity to grow even wealthier and less restrained.
        The Supreme Court of the United States may have given the Presidency
    to Bush when it refused to order an honest recount of Florida^^s voters but it
    was Osama bin Laden^^s bloody hands that delivered the American people to his
        Since Sept. 11 Bush has decided that it^^s fun to be President. The mass
    murder carried out by the terrorists and the fear and rage that this
    reasonably produced gave cart blanche to his ugliest moods and needs. The
    main source of Bush^^s joy was that once again he could kill people. And by
    the thousands, as many as he wanted, if could somehow be framed as protecting
    American lives. The freaked out U.S. population wanted revenge and not grand
    moral visions and who better to serve their need than the grand executioner
    from Texas?
        Bush^^s very crude way of speaking became a bonus. When he told soldiers
    to bring back bin Laden ^^dead or alive,^^ that he didn^^t care which, his
    remarks were initially criticized by the pundits, but when polls showed that
    were playing well in the living rooms, Bush was hailed as having developed an
    unexpected eloquence. If a Bush comment was considered just too impolitic,
    like calling for a new ^^Crusade,^^ than it could simply be dropped from his
    repertoire and the obedient media would pretend it never happened.
        As 15 thousand pound bombs exploded on one of the weakest, poorest and
    most destroyed nation^^s in the world, Bush started to ride tall in the saddle
    of pollster popularity. The media began claiming that we were somehow
    liberating Afghan woman by killing thousands of civilians and destroying
    whatever was left of their country^^s pathetic infrastructure. Bush the
    Avenger was pulling down 90 per cent support ratings and even his former
    political enemies Blacks and Jews were now lining up by the fistful to
    enlist in his Crusade.
        Americans seemed to lose interest in anything but kicking butt. Concerns
    about ecology, education, the death penalty, social justice, gun control,
    campaign finance reform, and racial profiling evaporated, along with any
    serious support for civil liberties.
        As the American people grew as small and nasty as their President,
    thousands of Middle Easterners and Moslems were rounded up, including and
    inexplicably, 60 Israeli Jews, and held in a secretive and cruel manner, that
    reminded some of General Pinochet in his heyday. While embassies complained
    about any lack of information about the prisoners, the country endorsed the
    jailings as well as Bush^^s promise to overlook the Constitution and try
    terrorists in special military courts.
        Jay Leno joked that ^^if your want to fly someplace on a plane, and your
    first name is Muhammad, your last name better be Ali.^^ And indeed Arabs, and
    anyone looking a little weird or reading an off beat book were subject to
    being pulled off a plane without apology. The practice hit its crescendo when
    a Secret Service officer with an Arab name was kicked off a plane. He is one
    of Bush^^s body guards. And now, we are told that there are 6,000 additional
    Moslems in this country that the INS is going to deport. No claims are made
    that they have anything to do with terrorism. Like 300,000 other foreigners
    they are just over staying their visa, but they are Moslems.
        When the American Civil Liberties Union asked the usually liberal Jewish
    establishment organizations to sign a simple pro Constitution petition they
    all refused. They haven^^t even come to support of the jailed Israeli^^s.
        And just what was supposed to happen after September 11? Obviously the
    criminal assault on innocent people required forceful response. Justice
    needed to be done. But a path had to be found that would lead us to this
    desired outcome without reducing us to the level of thuggery, reverse
    terrorism and domestic racism. It would be an incredibly difficult task to
    find this political/military way. Naturally the spoiled rich Bush hadn^^t the
    slightest interest in making the effort. He had no desire to heal our wounds
    with large redemptive visions of law, democracy and a generous version of
        Bush saw his task as reducing the country to his permanent level of
    anger and narrow meanness. Was there a way to fuck up bin Laden and his
    network of death^^s head ^^born to die^^ terrorists without wiping out whole
    villages in poor Afghanistan? There ought to have been, and sophisticated
    strategists should have been given the task of making decent and effective
    proposals. But going that route wouldn^^t have been fun. Listening to boring
    and highly complex approaches would have required that Bush had some kind of
    attention span. After the Twin Tower catastrophe it was just so easy to be
    popular by dropping very big bombs and otherwise letting Afghans kill each
        And that meant dealing once again with our friends, the Afghan warlords,
    thieves and drug dealers. We heard again that bit of ^^streetwise^^ pragmatic
    reason that it was a tough world and that to get the vengeance job done ^^we
    needed to work with some very unpleasant people.^^ Play that again Uncle Sam,
    during our next heroin epidemic.
        Bush got the flags waving and the people singing God Bless America.
    Interestingly, Wood Guthrie so hated that song that it prompted him to write
    ^^This land is your land.^^ We haven^^t heard Guthrie^^s number lately. it
    doesn^^t quite fit the the national mood. The current temperament is one in
    which some guy in a San Francisco gym shoots off his mouth about Bush and the
    papers report he gets a visit from the FBI. An iconoclastic art exhibit in
    Texas receives similar attention. A woman in the midwest gets a G-man visit
    because of posters she has up in her own apartment. And the editor of the
    Sacramento Bee is booed off a commencement stage when she speaks up for the
    Bill of Rights.
        In this paranoid climate the young and hopeful movement against the
    exploitive excesses of global capitalism seems to disappear. Fewer and
    smaller demonstrations are taking place. The new activists are guarded about
    radical tactics and properly frightened of neo-Cointelpro outcroppings.
            The war in Afghanistan is sort of winding down and bin Laden and his
    best pals may have escaped to kill another day. The warlords are back in
    charge, food supplies are being stolen by bandits and poor people are starvin
    g to death. Some call it a great victory. But Bush is getting moody and
    testy. He needs another war.
        The President^^s tax proposals and general policies are so blatantly pay
    back to his wealthiest supporters that he will run out of popularity if they
    can not hide behind flag waving and blood letting. He lives in terror of
    being discovered and known for his true character. He fears it is a family
        The Bush years require a permanent war fought against those who haven^^t
    the least means of fighting back. Our standard of living will go down and our
    freedom and life style will contract to the size of Bush^^s soul. But what do
    his fabulous victories mean for our safety and security? Besides the anthrax
    easy way of killing us, a guy recently got a shoe bomb on an international
    flight and a 15 year old pro-bin Laden weird kid in Florida heisted a plane
    and flew it into a building. So much destruction in the name of security has
    taken place but are you feeling any safer?
        And yet there are ^^60^^s progressives who are, with some reluctance
    supporting Bush. They see it as sort of like World War 2 where we are the
    good guys fighting the bad Nazi^^s. And yet, benighted Afghanistan and Somalia
    and even Iraq just seem too sad and pitiful to be compared to Hitlerite
    Germany and Imperial Japan. The Islamic fundamentalists are clerical
    fascists but their breeding ground is third world misery. A different
    approach to global economics and a more progressive and compassionate foreign
    policy is a better, if not sufficient way to fight terrorism. A radical
    movement that does not stand for this alternative is one that has shared in
    the national moral shrinkage.

    Stew Albert
    Visit my web page: http://hometown.aol.com/stewa/stew.html
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