And The Truth
By Timothy V. Gatto
In this article I am going to make one last attempt to clarify my views on this presidential race, U.S. foreign policy, the economy and what we are experiencing in this new era as far as our civil liberties, the constant threats (real and perceived) to our “security” and the increasing gap between the rich and the not so rich in this country. One could write a book about each of these subjects, putting everything in one article is a daunting task. I’m not an expert nor am I an economist, diplomat or a military genius. What I am attempting to do is separate fact from fiction as I see it. I’m sure that many will take exception to what I have to say and that’s understandable, we all can’t be mirror images of each other. I ask your indulgence beforehand.
Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has emerged as the leading superpower. This is not because we are better or smarter than other nations; it is because we have basically been on a war-footing since World War II and have outspent more on our military than the next 20 countries combined. When the Soviet Union fell, we had no reason to continue to fund our military at Cold War levels, but our economy was so dependent on our Military Industrial Complex. The United States could have shifted its focus from producing weapons and funding our huge military machine to projects like rebuilding our infrastructure and finding alternative energy sources to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The problem with changing our focus from military spending to a peacetime economy was that the defense industry sector was a key player in our political structure. The influence of right wing conservatives that made up the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) that called for projecting American power throughout the world and installing friendly democracies in key strategic regions warranted continuing the high level of military spending.
During the Clinton and then the Bush administrations, the Federal Government basically took the hands-off approach as far as regulating business. Huge mergers, predatory lending practices, free-trade agreements and tax breaks to companies that were outsourcing their labor force to other nations led to decreased competition and contributed to rising unemployment. The practice of cutting benefits and pay cuts as cost saving measures while CEO’s and other top echelon executives were paid in the hundreds of millions, even though their companies were running in the red, faced little opposition from labor unions that had lost much of their clout while others worked hand in hand with management. The disparity between the rich and the poor increased so that now, the 10% of the wealthiest families in the U.S. hold 71% of this nation’s wealth, leaving 29% of wealth to be distributed by the remaining 90%.
Some sectors of the economy, Big Oil, the Pharmaceutical Industry, Banking and Investment, Insurance companies, the Defense industry and Lawyers made heavy contributions to politicians, gaining unprecedented clout in regard to influencing government policy. Huge contributions to political campaigns became essential if a politician wanted to keep his or her job. Campaigns became more expensive and many elected officials realized that corporate support was a necessity. The media was bought up by corporate entities and the large networks were bought up five or six corporate groups. The era of networks owned by networks ended. The large media groups were now owned by corporate entities, mostly owned by the defense industry, primarily GE and Westinghouse, two of the largest defense contractors in the country. This and “corporate-personhood” that guaranteed corporations first amendment rights, meant that much of the content in the mainstream media, was controlled by a few select industries. Self-censorship of network content in order not to incur the wrath of owners or advertisers became paramount to the network executives. The United States gradually entered a phase of corporate influence that some call the “Corporacracy”. The government eventually became not a “Government by the people and for the people”, becoming a “Government by the corporations and for the corporations”.
The attacks of September 11, 2001 ushered in The Global War on Terrorism. This became the replacement for the Cold War and justified the huge expenditures for the military, keeping the defense industries and the stock market thriving. Eisenhower’s warning to “Beware the Military-Industrial-Complex had become a reality. The largest slice of the nation’s discretionary budget is spent on the defense industry. The fall of the Soviet Union meant a larger NATO, and many more overseas military bases for the Armed Forces. We immediately invaded Afghanistan, holding Osama Bin Laden responsible for 9/11, even though, to this day, a criminal investigation has never been done. The ultimate result was the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the largest agency created since the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt.
The GWOT ushered in many new laws to protect the security of the United States. New laws such as the Patriot Act have been passed, which allows the government to search a citizen’s home without their knowledge or presence, and with no obligation to even tell the person after the fact, if he or she happens to be unfortunate enough to be deemed a “terrorist suspect” or a “terrorist sympathizer”. There are many more provisions such as a “No-Fly List” that prevents a suspected terrorist, or a terrorist sympathizer, from flying on a commercial airliner. Passports are now required to enter or come in from Mexico and Canada as well as other nations that previously did not require a passport. The new passport now carries a chip that contains much of your personal information. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 allows the Federal Government to arrest anyone without a warrant, and to hold them indefinitely without counsel, and to try them in a military tribunal. Extraordinary Rendition is a practice of seizing individuals suspected of terrorism and flying them to nations that practice torture so as to extract information vital to “national security”.
The John Warner Defense Bill (the re-vamped Insurrection Act) allows the President to federalize State National Guards and use them as law enforcement in any US State or territory over the objections of the State Governor. This effectively repeals Posse Comitatus that was passed in 1867 that prohibits Federal troops from acting as law enforcement in order that the military could not be used to effectively promote a dictatorship. These laws that were designed to promote the security of the country against terrorists, but these laws have also drastically reduced the civil liberties of American Citizens. The writ of Habeas Corpus has effectively been eliminated; this is the right to be presented with the evidence of a crime, and the right to be tried by a jury of peers, and the right to have a swift speedy trial that was written into the cornerstone of English and American common-law, the Magna Charta in 1215.
Other violations of civil liberties such as American citizens being subject to electronic surveillance and wiretapping without a warrant have also taken place. In violation of the law which established the FISA Court which requires the Federal Government to request a warrant at least 72 hours after the fact, were ignored. Presidential Directive 51 which establishes continuity of government in the event of a “national emergency” declared by the President has been written. This document, which basically gives dictatorial power to the President without authorization by Congress, has parts of it that are classified as “secret”. This directive is so secret, that members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees that possess the highest security clearances have not been allowed to see it. What could possibly be so secret that members of Congressional Intelligence Committee members can’t see it?
Many Americans disapprove of many of the decisions by the Executive Branch and Congress. The Bush Administration has been seen by many as an advocate of executive power and a danger to civil liberties. Allegations of torture and admissions of water-boarding, sleep depravation, sensatory deprivation, subjecting suspected terrorists to extreme heat and cold, slapping them around, being threatened by dogs and many other examples have surfaced. International Law on the treatment of prisoners has been broken. Many people around the world, and some people in America, expect the International Court to eventually file charges against members of the U.S. Government, to include President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. Impeachment articles against President and Vice-President have been introduced in Congress.
Everything written in this article has been illustrated to underscore the issues that we currently face as a nation. We are coming up on a Presidential election that will determine who will succeed this President. We are faced with a world that believes the allegations of torture by our government. We invaded Iraq on the premise that Saddam had WMD’s which proved to be false, killing over a million Iraqi’s and displacing another two million. We have almost destroyed their infrastructure. We have used over two hundred fifty tons of depleted uranium in our ordinance that is still on the ground emitting radiation that has caused the level of childhood leukemia to rise by 600%. Deformed children and the increase in all kinds of cancer have been reported. American soldiers have been exposed to radiation from DU and this affects their DNA and is responsible for many babies born in the US that fail to thrive and many children that have suffered their hearts exploding at 4 to 8 month of age (www.BeyondTreason.com). The economy is crippled by rampant capitalism and deregulation. American citizens are losing their homes to foreclosures due to predatory banking practices and the government is bailing out the banks and ignoring the homeowners. People are losing health benefits due to unemployment, firms that hire on a part-time 35 hour work week, and cost-cutting measures. 42% of Americans have either no health insurance or are under-insured. Unemployment has reached a 25 year high.
The Republicans are offering up Senator John McCain for the presidency. By all that has been said so far, he earnestly expects to “win” in Iraq without even proposing what the definition of “winning” is. He has said that he will follow the economic policies of George W. Bush. That means more “hands-off” behavior when it comes to regulating certain business practices that are hurting the economy. With a McCain presidency we can expect more Federal bailouts for banks and other industries, and no relief for the middle-class. We can expect to see more tax breaks for the wealthy, so that the divide between the Middle-Class and the wealthy, is even greater. We can expect more free trade agreements that could lead to more out-sourcing. We can look forward to more of our civil liberties lost to “protecting national security”. We can look forward to a continuation of the Global War on Terror and continued defense spending at the current rate as our economy becomes even more crippled and we stay dependent on fossil fuels that are heading the causes of global warming.
The Democrats are offering up Senator Barack Obama. This is a junior Senator with no executive experience. The Democratic presumptive nominee has already committed another two Army Divisions to the war in Afghanistan while leaving a “residual force” in Iraq, thus continuing this premise of the GWOT. He has not committed to lowering the defense budget. He has reneged on his opposition to strike immunity from prosecution for illegal electronic eavesdropping on American citizens by the telecoms. He has not come forward in opposition to the Patriot Act and the other draconian acts committed by the Bush Administration. He has pandered to AIPAC by threatening Iran with attack and supporting Jerusalem as the Israeli Capitol under Israeli control. He has threatened to invade Pakistan to fight the Taliban thereby increasing the scope of the war. The corporate control of the media and the body politic has not been addressed. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party has been virtually ignored. Senator Obama snubbed his nose at Netroots Nation, the so-called “Progressive” bloggers of Democrats and liberals. Senator Obama claims that he receives most of his financial support from small donations of middle income supporters. This is a not exactly the truth. Investment bankers and hedge fund managers are among his largest donors. “Bundled” contributions are the bread and butter of the Obama campaign.
see’s the United States as the biggest supporter of Israel’s
right-wing government. Israel continues to build settlements on the
West Bank and keeps the inhabitants of Gaza in a virtual “lockdown”.
Bulldozers still raze homes in Gaza and unarmed young men are shot
on a regular basis by the Israeli Defense Force. The J Street Coalition
of liberal Jews claims to represent 60% of Jews in America. AIPAC,
which J Street claims only represents 30% of Jewish Americans is the
target of Senator Obama’s affection. Why? What is it about AIPAC
that draws politicians in like moths to a light? The answer I come
up with is money. Money and the fact that Republicans that lean hard
right support AIPAC along with religious zealots like Rev. Hagee who
seems to believe that once Jerusalem is entirely in Israeli hands,
God can then fulfill the Bible’s prophesy and start the “rapture”
and Hagee and his followers can enter the kingdom of heaven. I wonder
if they’ll meet the Muslim suicide bombers and their 72 virgins
hanging out at St. Peter’s gate.
The two corporate political parties have their two corporate candidates. I see Cynthia McKinney as the favored candidate of the true left in America. She has ballot access and she isn’t afraid to condemn the loss of civil liberties in America, nor does she hesitate to criticize the pandering of both corporate politicians to the military industrial complex. She is highly critical of Israel and also speaks out on the corporate controlled media. The Greens, which in my mind are born-again feudalists’, are extremely lucky to have her. She just might qualify for matching campaign funds for the Green Party. Brian Moore of the Socialist Party is, in my opinion, the best candidate… but only intellectually. The lack of ballot access for the Socialists, and the hangover from the Cold War, leaves many Americans afraid of the name Socialist. I believe that if the same corporate control of the two political parties, that are essentially not too different from one another continues, those Americans that find the divide between the rich and middle class (if we still have a middle class), will find the message of the Socialists more attractive than at any time in the past. Their support of strong unions and a return to a peacetime economy will become much more attractive. While Senator Obama gets the Democrats misty-eyed with his talk of change and tearing down walls, in reality, change will be the last thing we’ll see in an Obama presidency, and the walls of distrust between the corporatists, the wealthy and the rest of us, will be higher than ever. Until real limits are legislated on campaign financing, the corporate money will continue to rule the two major political parties, along with the corporate media that will promote them.
Unless Americans start to look past the hype that the mainstream media provides to their myopic vision of this so-called two-party system, the future seems bleak indeed for the average middle-class citizens. To get a clear understanding of modern politics today, one needs only to follow the money in the political arena to see who will emerge as the victor in this particular election. It seems to me the cruelest joke that is being played today is on all of the young people in this country that see a champion in Barack Obama and his mantra of “change”. I believe that the disillusionment that they will feel when the changes they are hoping for fail to materialize, it will bring a backlash of epic proportions. Maybe then the Socialists will start looking pretty good in a world separated by those that have and those that don’t.