Thanksgiving in Bushcheneyland
So Thanksgiving is over, and now I won't step on your holiday if I put a somewhat different twist on it this year.
Yes, I am grateful for the things we Americans always think about in late November and again in December – family, friends, shelter, the comforts that I and most of you still have. But as we become immersed in the 2007 holiday period, I also feel great apprehension about a future that seems to be rushing at us with bared fangs.
Some of the nuggets of gratitude that have popped into my head over the past couple of weeks arrived with jagged edges and razor sharp appendages, and no amount of turkey dinners and family hugs will make them smoother or less frightening to contemplate.
For example, one day, as I glanced over one of the standard, soapy “things I'm grateful for” pieces that come our way at this time of year, I thought: “I'm grateful that neither I nor any of my family or friends are, as yet, in one of Dick Cheney's concentration camps.”
Don't know about those? Not surprising if you don't. The American “news” media as now constituted has chosen to ignore the subject. No more than a handful of newspapers, and no broadcast outlets I know of, reported the fact that in January 2006 Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Cheney's Halliburton, got a $385 million government contract to build “detention centers” for what is mockingly designated the Department of Homeland Security.
Never mind that KB&R already was accused of ripping off the government for many millions of taxpayer dollars. Those cases have since been hushed up.
The government did not reveal how many of the prison camps were to be built, although it was noted that each camp had to have to capacity to hold 5,000 prisoners. Locations of the camps were not revealed, nor would anybody say who is to be imprisoned in the camps.
So, as I said, I'm grateful nobody I know is in one yet.
I'm also grateful that I no longer have to make a living at the trade of which I was so proud for so many years.
I couldn't do it. I could not work for the miserable rag that still physically looks like the honest newspaper I once worked for, or any of the other well-known publications for which I sometimes produced reports on a wide variety of subjects. The newspaper is a shameful piece of daily waste, which loves “Dancing with the Stars” and the latest sexcapades of brainless bimbos and fails utterly in its duty to report daily on significant developments within its region or on the national or world stages.
It prints shallow stories on the game of politics and nothing on government. It has yet to put a word in its news pages about Cheney's concentration camps.
No, I wouldn't last a month in that environment, under the “leadership” of an editor whose self-proclaimed greatest achievement was acquiring an MBA. I grew up and lived in a time when reporters would have been hounding the Bushcheney administration, members of Congress, homeland security, and many others until they found out what those prison camps are for -- where they are, and how much they are costing us, and who will be manning them, and who will be held in them and for what reasons. So I'm grateful to be out of it now that the focus is on entertainment and fluff.
I'm grateful, too, that despite the accelerating rush to recession and quite possibly 1930s-style depression caused by the policies of our political “leaders,” I still have a pension and Social Security payments and some savings, though some of the savings are melting in the Bush/neocon/Greenspan financial markets, along with the investments of most of the middle class.
Those assets all may disappear, of course. Given the present ownership of that once-newspaper, I'm increasing worried about the possibility that my pension will be stolen, as have the pensions of so many Americans over the past decade and a half. And the neocons haven't for a second given up their long-term goal of destroying Social Security.
However, I'm grateful that, as a result of decades of reporting on business and economics, I understand some things about financial markets and corporate executives and their greed that most Americans don't get. Last spring, I moved some of my IRA funds out of stock, bond and real estate markets and simply parked the money. At the time, I told the guys with whom I deal at the two mutual fund groups in which I invest that a recession is coming and that the market was in for a substantial and possibly ruinous slide, beginning this fall.
Both guys nodded politely but made no effort to conceal the fact that they thought I was being absurd. I'm far from being saintly; I'll remind them of that at some point.
I feel a certain kinship with the brilliant economist and New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman, who also predicted our present financial mess – though I readily admit I'm not close to being in Krugman's class in understanding the mess we are in and how we got here.
My gratitude is based on the fact that I'm not likely to be among the first or even second wave of those who go bust, unless the bottom falls out all at once and all but the famous "upper ten percent" go down together.
I'm grateful that I learned a few years ago to find the places where real news reporting and honest analysis still are available, even as the corporate outfits became less and less interested in providing wide-ranging and solid reporting of events and developments that truly matter.
It's almost unAmerican these days to want the truth and, especially, to actually seek it out, but I'm still among the minority of millions who want to know what's going on, without the filter of the power elite's massive propaganda machine. Better to know and be warned, I believe.
So I'm grateful for TruthOut and MoveOn and Veterans for Common Sense and TomPaine.com, for FP Media Reform Daily and Media Channel and the Union of Concerned Scientists and a dozen more organizations that provide the interested public with facts that are ignored by the corporate giants. And I'm grateful for access to the international press – online versions of newspapers from England and France, especially. (I don't see the latter every day, but their reports on major developments find their way to me frequently.)
The defenders of corporations in our government are working to bring changes that will make access to such news-providing organizations on the Internet difficult, or even impossible, but for now we have them, so I'm grateful.
And I'm grateful for a decent background in world history, and the history of 20th century Europe and America and a fairly thorough understanding of the rise and fall of fascism and Nazism in Italy and Germany and their client states. The lessons are invaluable.
Also, I'm grateful for a handful of reporters such as Seymour Hersh and gutsy authors such as Joe Conason (“It CAN Happen Here”) and Naomi Wolfe (“The End of America; Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot”) and I'm glad they're not (yet) in Cheney's camps.
And when I'm depressed by the ignorance, cowardice and willful and self-destructive stupidity of much of the badly educated American public, I'm grateful for family members and friends who do understand what's going on and are willing to dig in and fight back.
Happy Thanksgiving, belatedly.