I'm so upset about politics (warning)greenspun.com : LUSENET : Beyond the Sidewalks : One Thread
I don't know about you folks, but this torturing and (now) killing stuff is really starting to get to me! You know what I'm talking about: Iraq (and God knows what's going on at Guantanamo).
Anybody want to talk about this? I know we run afoul when we talk politics, but sheesh....does anyone think this is really making sense anymore???? I need your feedback.
Do you really think these kids just took pictures with their own cameras for souvenirs?
-- Anonymous, May 12, 2004
btw, does anyone *know* anyone serving in Iraq? I don't...so I don't know what is going on except what I read in the papers/hear on the news.
-- Anonymous, May 12, 2004
No, I don't think the "kids" just took pictures with their own cameras for souveniers - I believe that, for the most part, they were following orders.
I further do not believe that most of the actions - underpants on the head, nudity, hooding, humiliation - should be considered torture. Intimidation, yes; torture, no. I believe that by apologizing, we have lost face; and lost a great deal of our power or upper hand in the middle east. As evidenced by the beheading. I believe the persons responsible - like we'll ever find out who that really was - for the actual incidences of prison torture should have been quietly punished; not publically. The apology was akin to saying - "Sure, go ahead, kill our people and we'll just say "War is Heck"; but if we kill yours, or even make them feel bad; then we will apologize to you. We punish US citizens for taking photos of flag draped coffins, but allow videos of a beheading. What in the hell is the matter with our government - and with our society, for flocking to view such stuff?
Does any of this make sense? No. I don't understand why we are fighting a ground war when we have the capability to fight in other manners. I don't understand why we are not hunting down and exterminating members of Bin Laden's sect. I don't understand a lot of things recently - and they don't all have to do with war. I don't understand why the pres says the economy is booming/recovering - pick your speech; when jobs are being outsourced and people are losing jobs. "Unemployment rate is going down" the papers trumpet. Perhaps they think we're stupid enough not to realize that it's because people are running out of benefits, not because more jobs are being created. Just because the white house decides that slapping together a burger at Mickey D's is a manufacturing job don't make it so. I don't understand why we aren't pulling foreign aid to countries that don't support our goals. I don't understand why we don't lock our borders to immigration at this time. I don't understand - oh hell, never mind - there's way too much I don't understand to go in to all of it here.
And, yes, I do know several young people who are currently serving in Iraq; and several more who will probably be going there in the near future. Why?
Going to bed now,
-- Anonymous, May 12, 2004
I'm so frustrated. The reason I asked about if anyone knew anyone was because I *don't* know anyone...I just wondered what someone with firsthand knowledge would say/write. I know one person who got discharged from the Marines 2 years ago and is grateful to be out now and not have to be in the Middle East.
Things just keep making less and less sense, and yet I feel like I have less and less information with which to make any sense of anything!
-- Anonymous, May 12, 2004
Don't disagree with anything said so far. And I understand your confusion. It is confusing.
I cut this down because it was way, way too long. Got mucho more to say, especially about the guards. They'll go to jail and the higher ups will retire. Oh well, that's another subject.
I think the main problem with the war and the atrocities is that it seems that the only bad guys are the U.S. It seems as if we're, according to the world opinion, the only ones committing atrocities. So far, the only thing proven is that we humiliated these torturous, baby killing, murdering rapist bastards. And for this, the world is up in arms. Aghast! Me? I personally don't give a damn how they're treated. If breaking their arms and legs will get information that will help end the war or save our guys, then I'm for it. These aren't guys who are there because they wrote bad checks, had too many parking tickets or did some white collar crime. They're the worst of the worst and yet, some people believe they should be accorded every right a US citizen would be accorded if incarcerated in the U.S. Babied and pampered. Rewarded for their actions. Remember, these are people that beheaded a civilian! That's one of the biggest "no, no's" in the Geneva Convention! You don't retaliate against civilians. Period. Yet, somehow, we're the bad guys. How did our humiliating prisoners become a bigger crime than a beheading? Where is the world outrage over the beheading? I'm so confused!
My theory is that the rest of the world and the U.S. expect no less from these people. After all, we're dealing with a society that believes it's their responsibility to kill their daughter if she dishonors the family and that can be something as simple as being seen drinking coffee with a man without the fathers permission. I'm betting that they don't have a big problem with unwed mothers! We're dealing with a culture that will piss on their hands to cleanse them before praying! A country where dogs live a better life than women. A people that will chop your hand off for stealing but will kill 6,000 people because they're not of the same religion.
Civilized societies evidently don't expect much from these people and certainly don't hold them to the same standards that they hold the U.S. These terrorist are laughing their asses off at us and the U.S. for being so soft. They understand that our outrage and resolve at the devastation that we suffered will wain quickly and that we'll return to our self absorbed lifestyle. In fact, most people can't tell you what year the Trade Towers were hit! We've got bigger things to worry about, you know, gas prices, elections, etc.
I think that the beheading was simply for propaganda purposes. They know that there is a faction of the U.S. and the rest of the world, that doesn't support this war and this is their way of feeding that faction. It had nothing to do with our treatment of prisoners. Well, that's not true. It probably scares the hell out of them that we're going to make them stand around naked in front of other men. For some reason that's a big "no, no" in their society. They also understand our political system and the supposed power of the people. The more people in the U.S., and the world, that they get to go against the war, the more support they get simply because the government can't concentrate on the war and do the things necessary to win quickly. Politicians always have to think of the party and reelection and America has become so soft that they would crucify a party that forgot about politics and did what was necessary. Personally, I think that we should torture them, video tape it and play it on all their television stations, 24 hours a day, so that the SOB's would understand that when we catch them, that they're aren't going to be laying back in bed watching T.V. and eating three meals a day and living the Life of Riley and to hell with world opinion.
When I was a kid, no one wanted to fight me because I didn't fight "fair". Now, I didn't know what "fair" was but I knew I did whatever was necessary to win. We are too wrapped up in ":fair", and are not doing whatever it takes to win. We're playing with a different set of rules than the enemy. We're limited by the Geneva Convention, world opinion, United Nations, etc. What are they limited by? Nothing. And they're the good guys? Winning is the only outcome that matters and when it comes to war, I have no stomach for half assed measures. Do whatever it takes to win and win quickly and to hell with politics, world opinion, the Geneva Convention and the United Nations.
Wildman, (these beliefs and opinions are those of the author and in no way reflect the........)
-- Anonymous, May 12, 2004
I'm mean I just don't see anyway out of this shitty mess! WE are STUCK just like Vietnam. Shouldn't stay but can't leave? Every terrorist in the middle east comes to Iraq so they can kill an American!! This is a horror show that will drag on and on and then end very badly! I hate Bush for doing this to our country....again....KIRK
-- Anonymous, May 13, 2004
I don't feel confused. I went back today and read several threads from before the 'war' on a political forum where I hang out, and it's simply amazing how we anti-war folks (you know, the unpatriotic ones) predicted every single thing that has been happening since this mess began.
And yes, Kirk, sweet man that you are, I agree that "This is a horror show that will drag on and on...," but there's nothing new about it. It's the same old story played out through millenia by primitive individuals who become drunk with power, are either intellectually incapable of seeing the futility of long-disproven paradigms of crisis-management, or simply so impassioned with the zealotry of what they see as their mission, that they refuse to listen to what I believe is that still small voice within, a voice that would never ever command us to harm another.
These people who have always been with us, who for 50 years have run the never-ending freak show of eternal revenge between Israel and Palestine, who worship physical power and might, who substitute domination and control for wisdom and understanding, are manifestations of life based on fear, and the more they share their terror of life itself, the more powerful they feel. I think we all know from life experience that those among us who are the most belligerant, who wear their macho on their sleeve, who swagger their way through life, are the most terrified folks of all.
It if wasnt so sickening, it would be amusing to listen to the blubberings of our leaders, so shocked and awed are they that our dear american troops and contractors could be capable of such naughty things. They pretend that this crap hasn't been going on for over 100 years, that the CIA hasnt killed countless people, doesnt engage in torture as a rule rather than an exception, has 700 suspects locked in cages in Guantanomo with no oversight or accountability. Pretending that people in the mideast are likewise aghast to hear of such unsavory behaviour by we civilized freedom-lovers, when in fact they were not even vaguely surprised, since they have been victims of american genocide and atrocity for decades.
But it matters not really I guess. The inmates have taken over the asylum. They will huff and puff and spew lie after lie to maintain power, their drug of choice. They will point fingers and blame someone else, anyone else, and never feel remorse, because they have god on their side. They will do whatever is necessary to maintain a world of non-ceasing war, the better to fill their coffers and separate the good from the evil, the rich from the ever-poorer, the righteous from the damned. And so, as it goes, they and those who listen and believe because they are afraid not to, become precisely the thing that they hate, and the circle is once again complete.
Our species really has no right to survive, has indeed proven itself, by the continued same first-chakra behaviour as our primitive forebears, not to be worthy or capable of truly enlightened progress, but still squats in the intellectually-barren caves of our ancestors, trying to figure out how he can konk his neighbor over the head, steal his food, and control the forest. How pathetic, how uncreative and predictable, and how utterly, pathologically, a waste.
-- Anonymous, May 13, 2004
"Our species really has no right to survive, has indeed proven itself, by the continued same first-chakra behaviour as our primitive forebears, not to be worthy or capable of truly enlightened progress, but still squats in the intellectually-barren caves of our ancestors, trying to figure out how he can konk his neighbor over the head, steal his food, and control the forest. How pathetic, how uncreative and predictable, and how utterly, pathologically, a waste."
Only now we have instantaneous media communications to expose human behavior for what it is.
So, since our species has no right to survive, what do you plan to do about it? Off yourself? Shoot the rest of them? Wait for Darwin to take over? Even with all the things we have in common, you and I could not come up with a plan to fix the world if tomorrow we were put in charge - because we could not agree.
People have always been people. The more tense they get, the more they revert to fight or flight. Yeah, even the "good" people. The more of this crap I read, the more irritable I get.
I've got to stay away from TB2000!
-- Anonymous, May 13, 2004
Since nonviolence is one of the immutable tenents of what IMO would be part of the prescription for evidence of real human progress, obviously I would not off myself or harm others, period. And although the gulfs between well-meaning people can be vast, I think covenants are feasible, provided that the parties have the same goals: peace among us and justice between us all, to the best of our ability, with learning and exemplifying respect being the centerpiece of our own personal growth and national policy. I think most people react with flight or flight, as you say, because they have been taught no alternatives, and as I mentioned earlier, are operating from a primitive mindset, a physical reflex to fear just like any other animal. I think we were made to go far beyond this, and I know we are capable of doing so, because I have seen it time and again.
As far as what I do, in my own puny way, to keep myself from despair and depression? I am as active as I have time for in my community (which has become, strangely enough, where I work more than where I live). As Polly labors daily making her contribution of love in the very real and difficult world of a blessed helping profession as well as constant nurturance of her family, we all can help in our own way to alleve suffering and lend a hand, instead of concentrating on our own personal issues and problems. I think we have a responsibility to work on our own personal growth and improvement, to choose not to be offended, to not make assumptions about others, to always do our best, and to live lives of integrity. And I know many of us have gifted the world with children who now live those kinds of lives as examples to others, to show that it can be done, and give us a sliver of hope that we,as a species, can be redeemed before it is too late.
-- Anonymous, May 14, 2004
Okay, someone help me out here. It seems that what I'm hearing here is that all of this is our, the U.S.'s fault. You see, my confusion comes from the fact, that for some reason, I thought Bin Laden and Hussen and the Taliban were the bad guys. My bad. I'll admit it.
I would really be interested to find out what our protesters would have us do. They have attacked us, something like 6 or 7 times. Killed civilians. Our civilians and our military men and women. And we did nothing. Well, that didn't seem to stop them. So, it seems to me that "nothing" didn't work. Now, I'm just spit balling here but, I really don't think you're likely to get those guys to listen when you try to tell them that their chakra is out of kilter.
"since they have been victims of american genocide and atrocity for decades."
Boy, I'm hard pressed to figure out what "American genocide and atrocities" we could have done to them that would have been worse than their leaders were doing.
Why is it that I sat here today and watched news shows and the majority of the news was about our treatment of prisoners and very little about the beheading? Why is it that the U.S. people are up in arms about our treatment of terrorist, who have killed innocent people, helped kill innocent people or supported the killing of innocent people and yet, no one seems care a bit about the atrocities that have been committed against the U.S.? Why is it that the American people seem to care more about the terrorist than they do about our own people? Why aren't the Americans irate at the terrorist?
Now, are our anti-war folks just against war or they against all killing? Do they not care a wit about the fact that millions of good Muslims are going to be living free for the first time in their lives, because of us? Or, do they not care that thousands of people were being killed, before the war, as long as it wasn't war?
When do they think it's time to put a stop to the attacks and what action do you take?
"anti-war folks (you know, the unpatriotic ones)"
Definition according to the Random House Dictionary ....Patriot...."A person who loves, supports, and defends his country and it's interests with devotion." Being "anti war" doesn't necessarily make you unpatriotic. But, I think what you do after the war starts determines that. I think, and this is just me thinking, that before the war starts, we should do and say what we want to do and say to stop it. But, after the war starts, I think we need to sit down and shut up OR do what we can to support the effort in order to expedite the end of it. No matter how we feel about it. Protesting after it starts only divides the country, ties up resources, gives the enemy propaganda material to use against us in their efforts to gain support from other countries and demoralizes our troops. Those are such basic and incontrovertible facts that I'm amazed that protestes don't see and understand them and the harm they're doing. And, yes, silly me, I consider protesting, after the war starts, unpatriotic. But fear not, patriotism is on the way out and soon those that are unpatriotic will be in the majority, if they're not already. We take our freedoms and security for granted and forget that they have a price and those that have paid the price aren't the protesters.
Like it or not, we are at war. You either support us or you support them. There ain't no third choice!
Wildman, (getting long winded)
-- Anonymous, May 14, 2004
I'm afraid that I'm not quite so evolved as you seem to think, EM. My feeling are in that middle ground between yours and Jack's, and probably closer to Jack's at times. I don't believe that all human life has value; and I do believe that some humans have more value than others. Probably stems from spending too much time around Psychopaths (AKA Antisocial disorder) and Borderlines. Some people are just a waste of air and skin. And please don't ask me how I would feel if someone decided I was a waste of air and skin. Yes, it's possible. It's not probable. I don't kill. I don't maim, torture, rape, starve, abuse....etc, etc, etc.
And yes, I think Saddam and Bin Laden are psychopaths, as were Saddams sons. Should they have been exterminated? I vote yes. By us? Depends on whether they really pissed in our Cheerios or not. I've read so much conflicting information that I really don't know who was responsible. Do I give a rats rump if the CIA puts a hit on them? Nope. Do I think we ought to track down and exterminate the people responsible for 9/11? Yes.
More questions - Do I care if people in foreign countries are being tortured and mutilated (think various S.A. tribes and females.) Not really. Oh, it bothers me to read it - but I see so many things in my own town that need taken care of, that I just can't find it in me to spend precious time worrying about something that I will have no effect on in any case. How in the heck can we expect the world to want to follow our enlightened example when all our example is, is a bunch of hot air? We don't even take care of our own people; how do we think we can take care of the world?
Now, on to the prisoners. They are damn lucky to be alive and in prison. They could have been shot while being taken in to custody. If you think the release of prisoners from Abu Dhabi (sp) was an admission that we arrested the wrong people, then you are politically naive. It was a sop to the world media.
"I think most people react with flight or flight, as you say, because they have been taught no alternatives, and as I mentioned earlier, are operating from a primitive mindset, a physical reflex to fear just like any other animal. I think we were made to go far beyond this, and I know we are capable of doing so, because I have seen it time and again."
I disagree with this statement as well. I have all to often seen fight or flight in operation; and felt it myself. You act like fear is a bad thing! It's what's kept us alive for however many zillion years humans have been walking the planet. It is a terribly powerful motivator; depending on how you react to it. It's sadly UNDERdeveloped in todays humans, IMO. Becoming "civilized" has left us bereft in the use of our senses.
Like Kirk said, I think we'll be there for a long time. We don't have a president, or presidental hopeful with enough guts to do what needs to be done - either: a. forcefully win or b. walk away, pull our aid, close our borders and take care of our own people. And kill any asshole who comes over here causing trouble. If US citizens want to do business outside the US, then let them know that they are on their own; no government to back them up.
Okay, now that I've resigned as ruler of Earth, I'm going to go play cards with Hubs and Pop. It may not be much - taking care of my family - but it's a hell of a lot more than many US citizens are doing right now. It ain't turning away from the Christian bible that has harmed this nation - it's turning away from family, and family values. Speech over.
-- Anonymous, May 14, 2004
Drip drip....billions of dollars....drip drip.....5 dead here 20 dead there.....drip drip.....failed false democratic goverment....drip drip.....more troops sent.....drip drip....more weekly dead americans.....drip drip.....fanatics won't quit.....drip drip....more billions needed.....more dead americans....drip drip.....more terrorists pore into Iraq.....drip drip.....up to 2500 dead troops....drip drip.....other countrys still won't help.....drip drip....more billions needed....drip drip....thousands of inocent iraq women and children killed....drip drip....more and more demonstrations held.....drip drip.....need draft.....drip drip....more billions needed....drip drip.....more dead.....drip drip....new military scandals....drip drip....FANATICS STILL WON"T QUIT....MORE BILLIONS NEEDED....HELLLLLLP!!!!!!
-- Anonymous, May 14, 2004
Exactly right,fanatics won't quit, not on either side. After all, isnt that a major characteristic of fanaticism? Their delusions, especially religionist ones, empower them to behave with an unstoppable psychotic mania, and it matters not which religion, which country, they are all behaving in exactly the same manner. They create enemies and then behave just like them. As Holly Near says in her wonderful song, "when will we stop killing people to show that killing people is wrong?"
The arguement that it is patriotic to suddenly start supporting a war that has absolutely not one iota of redeeming value escapes logic or common sense to my pea brain. My government, an unfortunate representative of me to the world, makes decisions of the very worst kind, cares not a whit what anyone in that world thinks or feels, including its own citizens, is something I should blindly support in those decisions which will have devastating effects most probably forever to my children?
I should support a war that is causing the deaths and maiming of scores of human beings every single day (I have no less sympathy for those poor innocents in Iraq than for our own people.....their children are just as precious to them as are mine to me) for ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD REASON? I don't think so. "Supporting our troops" has become a meaningless slogan flung out at those of us who knew better,(and there were millions, all ignored) because they have nothing else to say. I should encourage more soldiers being put in danger of their lives, exposed to the hideousness of war, returning with permanently broken bodies (the media rarely mentions the THOUSANDS of our troops now blinded and crippled by this meaningless war?) There is no defense of this war, none whatsoever. It is wrong on every level.
There is no truth to the contention that people in Abu Ghraib are necessarily the hideous creatures we like to imagine them, although it gives a modicum of cold comfort to believe so. It is not encouraging the 'enemy' to shout loud and hard when our representatives behave in ways that make liars out of all of us who contend to know what is best for the world. It is our responsibility to do so. This is my country, and it is our duty to keep the powers that control it accountable to us, the people of this nation. I see nothing patriotic about letting it be summarily hijacked by a band of brainless, heartless,arrogant fools, and becoming as foolish and complicit as they are. Fighting for my country does not,in my role, include violence. No one is fighting for ME or mine in Iraq; they are fighting for the Bush cabal, and it is tragic beyond measure they continue to die and suffer. Fighting for my country to me means holding the 'leaders' feet to the fire when they are just plain dead wrong,and doing all I can to get them the hell outa town.
As for Saddam, as even the dimbulb in the whitehouse was forced to admit out loud, he had nothing to do with 9-11. Nothing. He is a creep of the highest order,no one argues differently. His killing of thousands, as is often given as justification for our needing to be rid of him, for the most part happened in the late 80's to early 90's, with not only our government's blessing but its funding, but most 'patriots' like to ignore those little details. He's just another in a long long list of barbaric maniacal powermongers who our government has helped create over decades of ugly history, and after they become intractable to manage, we destroy them, along with any innocents in the way. Perhaps other countries are finally figuring out what it really means in the long run to take help from the US.
-- Anonymous, May 16, 2004
Well put Em.....Exactly how I feel.....Thanks Kirk
-- Anonymous, May 16, 2004
Worse Than the War By DAVID KRIEGER CounterPunch
Worse than the war, the endless, senseless war, Worse than the lies leading to the war, Worse than the countless deaths and injuries, Worse than hiding the coffins and not attending funerals, Worse than the flouting of international law, Worse than the torture at Abu Ghraib prison, Worse than the corruption of young soldiers, Worse than undermining our collective sense of decency, Worse than the arrogance, smugness and swagger, Worse than our loss of credibility in the world Worse than the loss of our liberties, Worse than learning nothing from the past, Worse than destroying the future, Worse than the incredible stupidity of it all, Worse than all of these, As if they were not enough for one war or country or lifetime, Is the silence, the resounding silence, of good Americans.
-- Anonymous, June 06, 2004
As I'm laid up with a nasty virus, I'm reading the book: American Dynasty, by Kevin Phillips. It's a very well researched documentation of the rise to power of the Bush families. Right now, I'm finishing reading about Enron and Haliburton (and KBR and other subsidiaries). Basically, big politico/power brokers (from the Walkers and Bushes and others) have changed the face of the entire world over the last century. From the crony capitalism (just reading about the trading of favors for deregulation, etc., turns my already weak stomach,)to the strategies of war/production using private resources (thereby bypassing congressional oversight, public scrutiny, Freedom of Information Act) in building infrastructure and generating war machines...well, I'm not surprised, as much as I am sickened. And a little frightened.
Clinton may have been a bozo, but at least he was more or less self- contained.
Next chapter I'm going to read discusses how the Bushes reinvented themselves: "turning from silver-spoon Yankees to born-again Texans." (IMO, it's a powerful strategy: sleight of hand. Get the folks mad enough to mobilize the vote from the pulpit: keep them focused on religion and *morality*!).
You guys know me pretty well. I try to see the good in everyone. These guys are Satan's spawn, though. The library will have this book. While it's not light summer reading stuff at the beach, it's a pretty good read.
Pray for our troops, our ex-pats, the people of Iraq, the American people, and anyone in the path of this madness. If you really think that liberating the people of Iraq was the goal of our involvement, read this book. Any benefit to the populace was purely coincidental.
Back to bed...
-- Anonymous, June 06, 2004
Thank you for that, sheepish. I feel your pain. Would that everyone would join us; perhaps there would be a chance of turning things around. Doesn't look good though,when the guy chosen to run against the current 'spawn' can't seem to talk about much other than war either.
BTW, I personally dont think Clinton is a bozo. He's an intelligent man. I guess I look at him as an appeaser, a guy who likes to try to make everyone happy, typical of those who grow up in alcoholic homes. Doesn't work of course; makes everyone miserable in the end, especially the individual, because they don't really behave according to their own values.
Here's an excellent bit on the legacy of Ronald Reagan:
Planet Reagan By William Rivers Pitt t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Monday 07 June 2004
Buffalo Bill's defunct who used to ride a watersmooth-silver stallion and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat Jesus he was a handsome man and what i want to know is how do you like your blueeyed boy Mister Death
- e.e. cummings, "Buffalo Bill's Defunct"
Ronald Reagan is dead now, and everyone is being nice to him. In every aspect, this is appropriate. He was a husband and a father, a beloved member of a family, and he will be missed by those he was close to. His death was long, slow and agonizing because of the Alzheimer's Disease which ruined him, one drop of lucidity at a time. My grandmother died ten years ago almost to the day because of this disease, and this disease took ten years to do its dirty, filthy, wretched work on her.
The dignity and candor of Reagan's farewell letter to the American people was as magnificent a departure from public life as any that has been seen in our history, but the ugly truth of his illness was that he lived on, and on, and on. His family and friends watched as he faded from the world of the real, as the simple dignity afforded to all life collapsed like loose sand behind his ever more vacant eyes. Only those who have seen Alzheimer's Disease invade a mind can know the truth of this. It is a cursed way to die.
In this mourning space, however, there must be room made for the truth. Writer Edward Abbey once said, "The sneakiest form of literary subtlety, in a corrupt society, is to speak the plain truth. The critics will not understand you; the public will not believe you; your fellow writers will shake their heads."
The truth is straightforward: Virtually every significant problem facing the American people today can be traced back to the policies and people that came from the Reagan administration. It is a laundry list of ills, woes and disasters that has all of us, once again, staring apocalypse in the eye.
How can this be? The television says Ronald Reagan was one of the most beloved Presidents of the 20th century. He won two national elections, the second by a margin so overwhelming that all future landslides will be judged by the high-water mark he achieved against Walter Mondale. How can a man so universally respected have played a hand in the evils which corrupt our days?
The answer lies in the reality of the corrupt society Abbey spoke of. Our corruption is the absolute triumph of image over reality, of flash over substance, of the pervasive need within most Americans to believe in a happy-face version of the nation they call home, and to spurn the reality of our estate as unpatriotic. Ronald Reagan was, and will always be, the undisputed heavyweight champion of salesmen in this regard.
Reagan was able, by virtue of his towering talents in this arena, to sell to the American people a flood of poisonous policies. He made Americans feel good about acting against their own best interests. He sold the American people a lemon, and they drive it to this day as if it was a Cadillac. It isn't the lies that kill us, but the myths, and Ronald Reagan was the greatest myth-maker we are ever likely to see.
Mainstream media journalism today is a shameful joke because of Reagan's deregulation policies. Once upon a time, the Fairness Doctrine ensured that the information we receive - information vital to the ability of the people to govern in the manner intended - came from a wide variety of sources and perspectives. Reagan's policies annihilated the Fairness Doctrine, opening the door for a few mega- corporations to gather journalism unto themselves. Today, Reagan's old bosses at General Electric own three of the most-watched news channels. This company profits from every war we fight, but somehow is trusted to tell the truths of war. Thus, the myths are sold to us.
The deregulation policies of Ronald Reagan did not just deliver journalism to these massive corporations, but handed virtually every facet of our lives into the hands of this privileged few. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat are all tainted because Reagan battered down every environmental regulation he came across so corporations could improve their bottom line. Our leaders are wholly- owned subsidiaries of the corporations that were made all-powerful by Reagan's deregulation craze. The Savings and Loan scandal of Reagan's time, which cost the American people hundreds of billions of dollars, is but one example of Reagan's decision that the foxes would be fine guards in the henhouse.
Ronald Reagan believed in small government, despite the fact that he grew government massively during his time. Social programs which protected the weakest of our citizens were gutted by Reagan's policies, delivering millions into despair. Reagan was able to do this by caricaturing the "welfare queen," who punched out babies by the barnload, who drove the flashy car bought with your tax dollars, who refused to work because she didn't have to. This was a vicious, racist lie, one result of which was the decimation of a generation by crack cocaine. The urban poor were left to rot because Ronald Reagan believed in 'self-sufficiency.'
Because Ronald Reagan could not be bothered to fund research into 'gay cancer,' the AIDS virus was allowed to carve out a comfortable home in America. The aftershocks from this callous disregard for people whose homosexuality was deemed evil by religious conservatives cannot be overstated. Beyond the graves of those who died from a disease which was allowed to burn unchecked, there are generations of Americans today living with the subconscious idea that sex equals death.
The veneer of honor and respect painted across the legacy of Ronald Reagan is itself a myth of biblical proportions. The coverage proffered today of the Reagan legacy seldom mentions impropriety until the Iran/Contra scandal appears on the administration timeline. This sin of omission is vast. By the end of his term in office, some 138 Reagan administration officials had been convicted, indicted or investigated for misconduct and/or criminal activities.
Some of the names on this disgraceful roll-call: Oliver North, John Poindexter, Richard Secord, Casper Weinberger, Elliott Abrams, Robert C. McFarlane, Michael Deaver, E. Bob Wallach, James Watt, Alan D. Fiers, Clair George, Duane R. Clarridge, Anne Gorscuh Burford, Rita Lavelle, Richard Allen, Richard Beggs, Guy Flake, Louis Glutfrida, Edwin Gray, Max Hugel, Carlos Campbell, John Fedders, Arthur Hayes, J. Lynn Helms, Marjory Mecklenburg, Robert Nimmo, J. William Petro, Thomas C. Reed, Emanuel Savas, Charles Wick. Many of these names are lost to history, but more than a few of them are still with us today, 'rehabilitated' by the administration of George W. Bush.
Ronald Reagan actively supported the regimes of the worst people ever to walk the earth. Names like Marcos, Duarte, Rios Mont and Duvalier reek of blood and corruption, yet were embraced by the Reagan administration with passionate intensity. The ground of many nations is salted with the bones of those murdered by brutal rulers who called Reagan a friend. Who can forget his support of those in South Africa who believed apartheid was the proper way to run a civilized society?
One dictator in particular looms large across our landscape. Saddam Hussein was a creation of Ronald Reagan. The Reagan administration supported the Hussein regime despite his incredible record of atrocity. The Reagan administration gave Hussein intelligence information which helped the Iraqi military use their chemical weapons on the battlefield against Iran to great effect. The deadly bacterial agents sent to Iraq during the Reagan administration are a laundry list of horrors.
The Reagan administration sent an emissary named Donald Rumsfeld to Iraq to shake Saddam Hussein's hand and assure him that, despite public American condemnation of the use of those chemical weapons, the Reagan administration still considered him a welcome friend and ally. This happened while the Reagan administration was selling weapons to Iran, a nation notorious for its support of international terrorism, in secret and in violation of scores of laws.
Another name on Ronald Reagan's roll call is that of Osama bin Laden. The Reagan administration believed it a bully idea to organize an army of Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union. bin Laden became the spiritual leader of this action. Throughout the entirety of Reagan's term, bin Laden and his people were armed, funded and trained by the United States. Reagan helped teach Osama bin Laden the lesson he lives by today, that it is possible to bring a superpower to its knees. bin Laden believes this because he has done it once before, thanks to the dedicated help of Ronald Reagan.
In 1998, two American embassies in Africa were blasted into rubble by Osama bin Laden, who used the Semtex sent to Afghanistan by the Reagan administration to do the job. In 2001, Osama bin Laden thrust a dagger into the heart of the United States, using men who became skilled at the art of terrorism with the help of Ronald Reagan. Today, there are 827 American soldiers and over 10,000 civilians who have died in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a war that came to be because Reagan helped manufacture both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
How much of this can be truthfully laid at the feet of Ronald Reagan? It depends on who you ask. Those who worship Reagan see him as the man in charge, the man who defeated Soviet communism, the man whose vision and charisma made Americans feel good about themselves after Vietnam and the malaise of the 1970s. Those who despise Reagan see him as nothing more than a pitch-man for corporate raiders, the man who allowed greed to become a virtue, the man who smiled vapidly while allowing his officials to run the government for him.
In the final analysis, however, the legacy of Ronald Reagan - whether he had an active hand in its formulation, or was merely along for the ride - is beyond dispute. His famous question, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" is easy to answer. We are not better off than we were four years ago, or eight years ago, or twelve, or twenty. We are a badly damaged state, ruled today by a man who subsists off Reagan's most corrosive final gift to us all: It is the image that matters, and be damned to the truth.
---------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------- William Rivers Pitt is the senior editor and lead writer for t r u t h o u t. He is a New York Times and international bestselling author of two books - 'War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know' and 'The Greatest Sedition is Silence.'
-- Anonymous, June 07, 2004