James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

They may lose, but will they go away?

Only smug, self-satisfied jerks say “I told you so.”

I’m going to do a modified “I told somebody so” anyway, though I deny self satisfaction. I’m going to do it because the little story below demonstrates the absolute predictability of the Bush crowd, which is a fact that liberals should be exploiting with considerably more skill than they have shown thus far.

Several days ago, Will Shapira -- an old friend of mine, a journalism school classmate, a radio and television reporter before he turned to public relations years ago– reminded me that about two years ago I predicted that the Bush nasties would start looking for a way to postpone or ignore the 2004 election results should they find themselves losing or in danger of losing.

What I said, as I now recall quite clearly, was: “Those people want to hold power at all costs. They despise democracy. They want to transform our government and keep themselves in charge, and they won’t necessarily step aside just because they lose the next election. They have no scruples, and they will happily lie, cheat and steal to get what they want.”

Well, that’s almost it. The observation to my two old pals may have included a Cheney-like suggestion or two involving anatomical impossibilities for the Republicans, but we needn’t go further into that.

Anyway, Will’s recollection was, of course, inspired by last week’s trial balloon from the Bush crowd. You know: The one about how it might be a good idea to “postpone” the November elections if terrorists perpetrate another horror in this country right before election day.

Well, maybe you don’t know. A shocking number of newspapers – and virtually all local news shows – ignored the story, even though it was big enough, and widely enough disseminated, that even the big cable news organizations covered it to one degree or another.

But it’s out there. The Bushies floated the idea of postponing the November election and are, I’m certain, watching closely to see how many people object and whether the objections are strong or limp.

Ridiculous? Think now: We’re talking about people who stole the last presidential election through a combination of chicanery and ownership of a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court justices. (Injustices?) They are the people who issue a terror alert every time something happens to boost the public standing of the political opposition. (Yes, every single “orange alert” has been tied to some event that hurt or might have hurt the Bushies politically.) They are the people who openly – and almost without challenge – are emptying the U.S. Treasury to pour billions upon billions of dollars into the pockets of their backers and friends.

And they are, above all else, the people who deliberately put us into an utterly unnecessary and foolish war – condemning many thousands of human beings to death – to further their own political and commercial goals.

Should they lose in November despite all the dirty tricks and voter fraud they can put together, there still seems to me a serious question about whether they will step down.

I know, I know. Probably 99 percent of Americans believe, as Sinclair Lewis said, “It Can’t Happen Here.” But Lewis thought it could, and so do I..

What’s to prevent the Bush people from trumping up some threat or actual event to postpone an election – perhaps for years, perhaps forever? Would they stop short of staging an event, even if X number of people die? (Did they stop short of creating the war on utterly false pretenses?)

My wife speaks for the overwhelming majority, no doubt, when she tells me the American people would never allow it.

She has more faith in the people than I do these days. It was obvious before the invasion of Iraq that there was no legitimate reason for creating such a war, yet most of the American public backed Bush unquestioningly. Even after the established facts made it impossible for any rational person to believe the stated reasons for the invasion,a substantial majority said the war was necessary and Bush was doing a fine job as president.

Even now, with still more truths laid before us, with the venality of the Bush crowd proven, half or more of the population of this country cling to the belief that G.W. Bush is a good president. (Hell, they even believe he is president, in fact as well as in name.)

I hope, passionately, that should they fail to steal this year’s election, Bush/Cheney and Co. will go away, but I can’t quite trust that to be true.


I want to make one brief observation about “Fahrenheit 9/11."

Every critic I’ve seen, and all of the “pundits” who have commented on the film, have mentioned the seven minutes during which our nominal president sat in an elementary school classroom after being told about the attack on the World Trade Center.

However, to my amazement now that I’ve seen the film, I haven’t read a single comment about what the camera shows during those seven minutes.

Whoever was shooting the film in that classroom – someone who was ignorant of what was whispered into the nominal president’s ear – stayed focused on Bush. Much of the film is in near-closeup. If Bush were an actor in a fictional drama, critics and public alike would be roaring praise for his portrayal; he said nothing, but his face clearly displayed his emotions and thoughts. The viewer cannot mistake what was going on inside George W. Bush during those moments.

He was in panic. He was confused and terrified. He hadn’t glimmer of a thought about what he should do. He needed to be told what to do, to be led by the hand, but for seven minutes that must have seemed like hours to him no one came.

You can’t doubt any of that if you see him twitching, his mouth moving this way and that, his eyes wide in panic.

Too bad none of the critics had the guts to say that, rather than going for the safely cliched complaints about Michael Moore’s “rants.”

Monday, July 12, 2004

An important story you'll never see printed

While reading a newspaper article about the horrors in the Sudan, I was struck, as I am every so often, but the utter, apparently deliberate, failure of the press to address an extremely important aspect of such situations.

The Sudan story, of course, involves yet another government encouraging and materially supporting the incomprehensibly brutal murder of countless of its citizens -- men, women and children. As is so often true, the divide between the butchers and their victims is ethnic.

Sudan is hardly the only current locale for senseless slaughter, of course, simply the most prominent at the moment. In Chechnya, private armies well supplied with mortars, guns and sundry killing machines continue to bloody the Russians. Afghanistan “war lords” rule their own regions of that sick, “liberated” country in any way they choose, and to enforce their rule with unchecked brutality. With a little thought, you certainly can name half a dozen other such situations around the world.

But here’s the puzzler: In none of the numerous articles about the Sudan, or any of the other bloody cesspools of this world, is there any mention of where the armaments come from. You won’t find a single word about who is manufacturing and selling the killing devices to the butchers, let alone any sense of the size of their profits, or the degree to which the arms dealers and makers are subsidized by their (our) governments.

It is obvious beyond any argument that almost any weapon short of nuclear bombs is available to anybody who can pay the price. Drug dealers, “war lords,” and human maggots in control of quasi governments around the globe have access not only to rifles and machine guns, but to armored vehicles, attack helicopters, all sorts of armor-piercing and antiaircraft missiles. You name it: If it kills, and if a potential buyer has the cash, it can be purchased.

But who is building that stuff for the killers, and who is selling it to them? So far as I can tell, and I’ve looked, not a single news outlet in this country as has raised those questions, let alone made serious effort to find answers.

You will, of course, find very occasional mention of the fact that the United States is the world’s biggest arms peddler, that Russia is now low, now high on the list of makers and sellers, that France is a big supplier of high tech weapons. But the stories never tell you to whom they are selling, though the implication always is that the buyers are “legitimate governments.” No specific information and no documentation is provided.

For the past 20 years or so, which include many years during which I was still a full-time news guy myself, I have been prodding newspaper editors to get that story done. My recollection is that I have raised the question very seriously with some editor or another every 18 months to two years. Sometimes I got nothing more than a short, blank look, at other times the editor made that phony-serious face that unmistakably says, “I want you to think I’ll consider this, but I won’t.”

OK. I readily concede that it would be an extremely difficult story to do. It would take a great deal of reporting time, and newspapers today mostly just want their pages filled, preferably with fluff that will amuse and calm readers and will not upset any large groups. Also, the arms manufacturers are more secretive than the Mafia, the dealers are even more so, and both sets of miscreants are protected by various politicians and governments, including our own. (Hey, they are very, very, very big earners, and they pay extremely well for protection, in campaign contributions and undoubtedly beyond that. And they’ve done a good job of conning large segments of the public about their role in “keeping democracy free.”)

For all that, it could be done. A team of good reporters, or even one very good, very courageous reporter could do it.

Don’t expect to see that story, though. The press has chosen deliberately to classify it as untouchable. We can only speculate on the reasons for that decision, but there no longer is any doubt that it has been made.