James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Situations to ponder in the Bushy night

If things get dull in your neck of the woods, and the best conversation the people around you can come up with revolves – still – around the Academy Awards, here a couple of suggestions for stimulating livelier discussion:

* Why is Dick Cheney still hiding out, moving around secretly and sleeping in undisclosed places? (Just like Saddam Hussein used to do, incidentally – or not incidentally.) And why have the news outlets made so little of that very, very peculiar behavior? And what would they make of it if the creepy official were a Democrat? And why has nobody raised the obvious question of serious paranoia? The man is, unfortunately, the vice president of the United States. If anybody you knew behaved that way, you’d probably try to gather friends and relatives for an intervention; there would be talk about the immediate need of psychiatric care. Right? I simply cannot understand why the news media are letting this slide – or perhaps I can but really hate to face the truth.

* On the peace and justice front: The Bushies are very largely responsible for the horrendous mess in Haiti. Apparently because they didn’t like Jean-Bertrand Aristide – who is, indeed, a disgusting failure, but was the least disgusting alternative, it appears -- they prevented the payment of about $500 million in humanitarian aid (total due from several sources), which precipitated the present crisis. The way they handled the obvious build-up to explosion was to ignore it. Is racism a factor in their nonfeasance? Is lack of oil on the island, or the lack of any resources that would make it worthwhile for Halliburton and the other Bush & Co. parent corporations to enter that arena?

Now those saviors of Iraq from the evil torturer Saddam Hussein appear ready to accept the leaders of the anti-Aristide crowd, virtually all of whom have histories that make Saddam look like an apprentice torturer, a mere intern to their expert professionalism. And what should this country do now that the situation exists? One hopes we do more than station Coast Guard ships off the Haitian coast to prevent the terrified and abused from sullying our pristine shores, right? So far, those ships appear to be the entire Bushy plan.

And, just for fun, what’s the betting on whether U.S. troops did, at least for all practical purposes, kidnap and forcibly remove Aristide from the island? I know a couple of conservatives who can’t believe anyone would question the administration’s version of the story. Most of my friends can’t believe anyone would accept anything that came out of the Bush crowd’s mouths at face value. Throughout most of the rest of the world, apparently, just about everyone assumes the Bushies are lying. Such is the reputation they’ve built.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Kerry, Bush, the Democrats and the decline

Hiya, suckers.

It’s OK. I include myself among the fools screwed over by the flim-flam guys who run the Democratic Party, which is to say the really sneaky wing of the Republican Party.

The only reason I haven’t been equally suckered by the news guys who are substantially responsible for our present situation is that I had decades of watching the political writers up close, even doing such work myelf now and then; I know first-hand the high degree to which members of the current herd are self-serving phonies. And, of course, as a practitioner of the same trade, I can spot their tricks and identify their failures to perform.

That’s by way of introduction. In just three or four paragraphs I’m going to get blunt.

All of my life, which is getting longish, I have followed politics and government (not the same things) considerably more closely than the average U.S. citizen. Sometimes, when my job allowed it, I have been directly involved to some degree – distributing pamphlets door-to-door, carting and pounding in lawn signs, that kind of grunt work. Other than a couple of defections that involved only casting votes for Republicans running for local office, I supported Democrats for about 40 years.

More than a decade ago, I realized that when it came to choosing candidates for president and many other offices, the Democrats were playing us like fish. They kept giving us people who owed as much to the big corporations and billionaires as did their Republican rivals. But like all the other liberals I knew, I went along, voting for “the lesser of two evils” in almost every election, hoping that next time around the Democrats would choose an honest-to-Harry liberal to run for president.

Finally, four years ago, I wrote a letter to the Democrats in Washington, telling them that I would no longer play their shell game, I was tired of losing even when I “won.” (Yes, of course I knew that not one individual in the party would give a damn and that it was a million to one that anyone would even read the letter. It just seemed the thing to do.) I backed Ralph Nader for president. And, no, I’m not in the least sorry I did that.

Ralph Nader was not the reason Al Gore didn’t get to live in the White House. There were many reasons, and Nader’s candidacy probably doesn’t even rank among the top ten. The constant pounding at the Nader theme is a scam aimed at getting liberals back in line, at making those who voted for Nader feel guilty so that they’ll never defect again, regardless of what right-wing, billionaire-butt-kissing toady the Democrats nominate.

As I said, I’ve followed politics and government closely all my life. But since the beginning of January of this year, 2004, I’ve immersed myself in the available literature on our recent political history and the current run for the presidency. Here is the painful conclusion I’ve reached: The difference between what has happened under Bush and what would have happened under Gore is small.

Maybe the United States wouldn’t have invaded Iraq had Gore been president, but it’s quite possible it would have happened.

Perhaps the tax cuts for billionaires that have led to so many woes for most of this country’s citizens would have been smaller under Gore, but they still would have been substantial.

Probably (but no guarantee here) the attacks on the U.S. Constitution and civil liberties would have been less egregious and less successful. But it would be only a matter of degrees. We wouldn’t have had a maniac like John Ashcroft as attorney general, and a few other cabinet members and White House advisers would more nearly approximate sanity than those now in office. But they’d still be engaged primarily in making the big corporate donors happy.

It’s almost certain that with Gore as president, we’d have some sort of law like the Homeland Security Act, and we’d have all sorts of people jailed and imprisoned without charge or access to defense, just as we do now. We’d almost certainly have government employees illegally spying on American citizens, infiltrating and disrupting liberal and peace organizations, just as they are now. We’d have police agencies disrupting peaceful demonstrations, we’d have a huge loss of jobs to cheap- labor countries, we’d have an ever growing number of people without access to health care. We’d have those and virtually all of the other ills visited upon us by the Bushies.

I know, I know. You just can’t believe that. It can’t be true.

It is true, damn it.

Until quite recently, I was one of the millions who, if they thought about it at all, were certain that the likes of Michael Moore and Al Franken were lame-brained, screaming clowns. Know what? They’re right, and all of us good, “sensible” people are the fools. (And, lordy, how often has that kind of thing been true through the millennia? The “common wisdom” is pure foolishness, as often as not.)

One of the reasons I know that we’ve been had like rubes at a carnival is that in the past few weeks, for the first time, I took a close look at the Clinton presidency. I counted up just some of the many actions and inactions that, if they made the news at all, were reported one by one in very short articles on the inside pages of the country’s newspapers. No one kept a running score.

Following are some of the works of Bill Clinton, whom Michael Moore named “one of the best Republican presidents we’ve ever had.”


* Refused to sign the treaty banning land mine use, although 137 other countries already had signed. (Putting us in a small group of non-signers with North Korea, Libya and Iraq.)

* Ashcanned the Kyoto Protocol to reduce air pollution.

* Allowed accelerated drilling for gas and oil on federal lands.

* Declined to do what even Dick Nixon and Ron Reagan did; he refused to push auto makers to improve mileage.

* Supported a ban on late-term abortions and promised to sign any bill that denied abortion to any woman whose life was not in danger. (And backed at least two other anti-abortion measures, including one that attempted to interfere with other countries’ internal policies.)

* Declined to take any steps to slow the use of the death penalty or even to lend his “moral” support to those who wanted a moratorium on the death penalty while studies were conducted on how many innocent people were executed. In fact, he expanded the number of federal crimes for which the death penalty is allowed (bringing the total to an astonishing 60).

* Supported a bill banning marriage of gays and ran ads on “Christian” radio stations to assert his opposition to any form of legal recognition of gay unions.

* Backed measures that led to literally millions of Americans having their welfare support taken away, and urged states to take further measures to dump people off welfare. (Among many other results of this is a huge increase in the number of homeless families with children, and homeless working poor.)

And that is only a sampling of the accomplishments of our most recent Democrat president. It doesn’t even touch what Billy did to the working people of this country through NAFTA and other multilateral trade scams, for example.

Supposedly, Clinton came on the national scene as something of an outsider, but in hindsight it was easy to tell that he came in ready to play ball with the old gang. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) hardly blinked at his quick rise to leading candidate, which is all the information needed to tell you that he was going to play nice with the big-money contributors and the entrenched conservatives of the party.

Contrast that with the subtle but very cold treatment the DNC gave Howard Dean. As far as those would-be Boss Tweeds were concerned, publicly he didn’t exist. A very trustworthy rule of thumb: If the DNC is really comfortable with a candidate or an office holder – as it is with John Kerry -- that person is a Republicrat, a conservative prepared to play footsy with the corporate bigwigs and the religious right.

After close attention for several years, I’ve come to the inescapable conclusion that the DNC mavens would rather lose to a Republican, even to George W. Bush & Co., than have a real liberal win the presidency as a Democrat.

Why? Because if, say, Howard Dean or Dennis Kucinich had become the Democrats’ candidate and had won the election this fall, most of them would have to find real jobs. Most would quickly sign on as lobbyists for big-buck clients, I’m sure, but although lucrative, that takes serious effort and long hours. As it is, they get to schmooze with corporate officers and film and music stars and the like, the press treats them with what passes for respect in Washington and they don’t do much of anything. Sure, the party as now constituted gets considerably less than half the big money that the GOP gets, but it’s still enough millions to let the DNC guys be very, very comfortable in their sinecures.

The news people, broadcast and print, also did their very good best to insinuate Kerry into the role of Democratic frontrunner and candidate. I won’t go further with that now, because I intend to do much more on it later.

So we have John Kerry as the Democratic candidate, John Kerry whom the press likes – for now, but wait a couple of months – and whom the DNC rightly sees as one of its own.

I still think it likely that Kerry will lose in November. He is so vulnerable that the Republicans, with all their enormous riches, and the press with its hyena hunger for someone to rip apart won’t have to break a sweat to turn him into hamburger. He has waffled on every significant issue, he has shifted positions with every little change in the breeze. He is just another Republican lite politician. We’ve been reamed again.

There is some small chance that Kerry will win, however. I doubt this, but it’s just possible that the widespread hatred of Dubya is strong enough to outweigh everything else. That’s it. The election hangs on how much hatred for the nominal president is felt by how many people.

At my precinct caucus March 2, the numbers and the anti-Bush feeling were amazing, even to those of us who expected a big anti-Bush turnout. The head count was at least three times, and possibly four times, bigger than ever before, and most of the participants were there simply because they want George W. Bush out of the White House, not because they cared very much about any of the Democrats still in the race at that point.

That latter point does not bode well for Kerry. In a nutshell, it's the other major reason I don’t think he will win. Bush haters will vote, but it takes genuine enthusiasm for a candidate to get people working for him, and no campaign succeeds without a multitude of energetic volunteers.

But let’s pretend for a minute that Kerry’s a winner. What happens once he’s in office?

Left to his own devices and those of the many Republicrats in Congress, just more of the same, folks – more catering to the very rich, continuing decline of the lifestyles of everyone else. This country’s international stature will continue to plummet and increasing hatred of the United States will be felt around the world. The economy will continue to shut out more and more people who work for a living, Social Security will be in increasing jeopardy, health care will continue to get worse even as it grows ever more costly. All of that is virtually certain.

Should Kerry be elected, an overwhelming majority of those who voted for him will sigh in relief at the passing of G.W. and his crowd of crooks and crazies and will sink back into their couches to watch whatever replaces “Sex and the City.”

It would be possible to turn Kerry into a reasonable president, I suspect, if the liberals ride his behind like a surf board, but as a sometime horse player, I’d more likely bet on a 100-to-1 pony than on the liberals in that scenario.

Welcome to the decline of Rome, Part 2.