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(Sept. 14, 2006)

          I keep thinking I should write about Bush, and 9/11, and the “war on terror,” but I can’t bring myself to do it anymore. 9/11? I’d rather write about the anniversary of 7-Eleven.
          I’ve had it. The whole “war on terror” affair is so far beyond disgusting, so far beyond insane, so far beyond dirt-stupid, so far beyond a cheap trick, so far beyond infantile, that I can’t bring myself to comment anymore.
          I mean, I take one look at Bush delivering a speech, and I just start yelling. Dog-sees-intruder mentality.
          I know---it’s no loss to the world, or journalism. But you see, I’ve always felt a citizenly duty---rather in the old pamphleteer sense of Revolutionary War days---to take advantage of available forums and voice concern for my country.
          And I’ve done so---check my archive. I’ve ranted for years about how phony this “war” is, how 9/11 was used as a pretext for implementing a pre-existing plan, etc. Nobody listened!
          I marvel, I must admit, at the wonderful writers who still have the patience to comment upon and analyze ongoing affairs. I mean, just look at this hideous, wretched “president.” Look at his little beady darting animal eyes and listen to his condescending, snide, punk outbursts. Everything he says is either the most banal sort of B-movie claptrap (speeches), or so dazzlingly inarticulate (extemporizing), that to take any of it seriously is just silly.
          He’s a treacherous cretin, to borrow a song title from Frank Zappa, with a little imaginary friend named Jesus whispering in his ear. He’s not the president, and never has been. Those who do not understand that Cheney and Rumsfeld and a cadre of behind-the-scenes unelected creeps call the shots are simply children.
          But of course, this has largely become a nation of children. Whiney tykes with enormous hairy guts, cellulite asses and fake breasts, crying gimmemine gimmemine, their lives built on television, bad beer, cars, celebrity-worship, cyber-porn, out-of-context Biblical ranting.
          Could it be any more obvious, any plainer, that the Iraq invasion---that killed between 100,000 and 250,000 innocents, nearly 3,000 U.S. troops---was based entirely on lies? That this fake, British-created “country” was better off under the thumb of Saddam Hussein? That 9/11 was shamelessly exploited by Neocons as a pretext for implementing their fever-dream of “Global Pax Americana,” which calls for the permanent occupation of the Middle East? That Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice and the other hobgoblins have, with cynicism that is so brazen as to be paralyzing, cultivated fear to rally public support?
          Could it be any more apparent that not only has nothing---nothing---been done to make the country safer from terrorist attacks, but that the “war on terror” has created countless new terrorists and stoked incalculably greater hatred? Could it be any plainer that this administration’s policies are intended only to fatten up the rich and leave the poor to their own hapless devices? No, not just the poor---the remains of the American middle-class! Could it be any easier to see that quality of air, land, water, wildlife is of absolutely no interest to these people?
          Bush declares ever more tenaciously---almost psychotically---that “we” will not leave Iraq. No matter how many die, no matter how much mayhem, no matter how much world instability, no matter how many U.S. generals say it is a disaster and lost cause. Why, folks? Why is that? Answer: the Neocons never intended to leave Iraq. Removing Hussein was all a pretext, a con, for permanent occupation. Read about it. Read about the permanent U.S. bases under construction. Bush has the nerve to dress the whole thing up as a noble World War II-scale stand against “Islamic fascism”---a horrendous insult to every Allied soldier who fought real fascism in World War II. Capturing disparate plotters around the world is---or should be---a criminal matter.
          Yet Amerryguns just kind of shrug and light up another cigarette and open a bag of Oreos. Oh. Guess we’re stayin’.
          Why don’t more people see it? Why aren’t citizens out in the streets every day by the tens of thousands, demanding the removal of this runaway regime? Why isn’t Congress impeaching and removing Bush and Cheney from office? Nixon and Agnew’s crimes were comparatively penny-ante, almost quaint---and the “democratic process” took care of them in a hurry. Why not these criminals?
          Well, partly because a lot of people buy the lies, and partly because a lot of people want to see anything in a burka or khaffiyeh nuked. But mostly it’s because there really is no country anymore. There is only a TV show. People don’t know what their country is, or what it was supposed to be. All they know is what TeeVee tells them it is. So they react, grunt-level, to movie-like news footage that has no horror, and reporting that has no depth. Polls are taken, speeches are made in order to affect the polls, and that’s the country. The country has become television.
          A friend recently asked a question I hear a lot nowadays: where are the leaders?
          Well, they’re supposed to be in Washington, but that’s a long gone fairy tale. The federal government is famously and hopelessly inculcated with lobbyists and montebanks. Democraps and Repugnicans mostly strut around on their hind legs, thumbing their suspenders, blowing a lot of calculated---and usually numbingly stupid---hot air. Repugnicans are accused of war-mongering and churlishness---usually accurately---and Democraps are accused of treason and bleeding heart liberalism, if not communism. Insanely. (Am I naïve, or doesn’t the government have a fundamental duty to see to the health and well-being of the country? Hell, if that’s communism, get me a hammer and sickle.)
          Leaders? The stark-raving-bonkers “Christian” right-wing rules the Repugnican roost, the Democraps "boast" only such posturing power-mongers as Hillary Clinton and embarrassing lightweights as Nancy Pelosi. Sen. Russ Feingold seems a courageous and principled fellow, so naturally the corporate-owned electronic media has reduced him to fringe crank status. And most people who might have once considered public service as an honorable profession long ago went into academia, law, mobile pet-grooming.
          Still, out of old reflex, I do look for things that are heartening, signs that all is not lost. The pickings are very lean. Bill Moyers was persecuted by FCC crackpots for being "left-wing," when his “Now” program was merely good investigative journalism and rational commentary. (The show has lost its punch, and half its length, since Moyers’ departure.) At least Bill shows up now and again with a superb speech or commentary, and will return in October with three investigative specials.
          Columnist/author Dave Lindorff and Barbara Olshansky researched and wrote “The Case For Impeachment,” a book so factually argued that even the most intractable right-winger should nervously tug at his or her collar after reading it. Seymour Hersh keeps up his heroic investigative reporting, Amy Goodman indefatigably hosts "Democracy Now," a host of hard-working columnists still hunt and peck: Helen Thomas, Norman Solomon, Frank Rich, Sidney Blumenthal, et. al.
          And now we have a guy called Keith Olbermann bravely calling the presimaniac and his band of freaks on their fear-mongering and trashy stunts. His recent piece on the administration’s endless wallowing in 9/11---does this country have any dignity at all?---is must reading. Funny that it might take the likes of Olbermann, a one-time local TV sports wiseguy who is also using an available forum to express concern for his country, to start a trend against these extremists. A trend that would logically end with their removal from office. Of course, it is far more likely that the corporate media will remove Olbermann from his MSNBC office first.
          There is one more recent event that, against my better instincts, makes me think that perhaps the entire populace is not a prisoner of corporate greed, mass-media hypnosis, and Bush/Limbaugh/Fox brainwashing. I know it’s ridiculous to attach such significance to the sales of a mere CD, but the fact that Bob Dylan’s “Modern Times”---an innately anti-commercial, anti-false, anti-plastic, anti-deceit collection of songs---is the top-selling album in the country is a good thing. There is a great, affecting, sorrowful song on it called “Workingman’s Blues # 2,” which includes these lines:

          There’s an evening haze settlin over town
          Starlight by the edge of the creak
          The buying power of the proletariat’s going down
          Money’s getting shallow and weak
          Well the place I love best is a sweet memory
          It’s a new path that we trod
          They say low wages are reality
          If we want to compete abroad. . .
          Meet me at the bottom, don’t lag behind
          Bring me my boots and shoes
          You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
          Sing a little bit of these workingman’s blues

          Maybe that’s what it will take to stop this national nightmare that I really can’t write about anymore. A great big dose of workingman’s blues.

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