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America: The State of the Nation
[Opinion] 'Come to the cabaret'
Lee Roberts (lroberts92)     Print Article 
Published 2007-03-13 05:04 (KST)   
Well-wishers of America are scratching their heads in bewilderment. Less than four months ago, at the mid-term elections, Americans rendered a stark verdict on the Bush regime, and drove the Republicans out of both houses of Congress. The world was entertained by images of a triumphant Nancy Pelosi proclaiming a victory for democracy and a victory for women-kind. America is well behind most other developed nations in allowing women to hold high political office, but neither Americans nor Pelosi have any knowledge of or interest in life beyond the USA, so a victory in America is automatically a first for the entire world.

Nonetheless, despite all the past experience of what the Democratic Party does with power, there were high expectations. It became common, throughout the land, to denounce George W. Bush and his administration as the worst in living history, something unthinkable when the nation was flying the flag for the president merely a few years earlier. Progressive talk-show hosts on the few uncensored radio stations left in America proclaimed the dawning of a new age. There were to be congressional inquiries led by very able and experienced Democrat congress-people, such as Henry Waxman and John Conyers Jr., who were among the tiny handful of Democrats who openly opposed Bush before November 2006. The air in Washington became fresh and light as winter refused to arrive and people strolled along the Mall, in the shadow of the White House and the Capitol, dressed in t-shirts and shorts. And the whispers of that forbidden word "impeachment" grew to almost a strident call. A band of hardy Republicans, always deeply embarrassed and alienated by Bush's excesses, people like Olympia Snow, Chuck Hagel, and Arlen Specter, came confidently out of their closets and began to rally a small but sincere group dedicated to winning the party back from the fundamentalist Christian far-right, and the neo-cons that had dominated the Bush regime.

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The Bush regime appeared to behave in a thoroughly schizophrenic fashion. On the one hand, it began to run scared, withdrawing its illegal practice of tapping the phones of Americans without warrants. The regime also rushed into negotiations and an agreement with North Korea, in a manner unimaginable prior to November 2006. The regime transferred to Guantanamo detainees from secret prisons outside the USA, and began to bring indictments against detainees whom the administration claimed the right to hold for life without trial and without any legal rights. So, what was going on?

Those who believed that Bush has been cowed in any way by the change of power have been deeply mistaken. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made his announcement of his intention of using the FISA court (set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) to obtain his warrants to wire-tap, and did so only because the process is totally secret and not under any form of oversight. The rush to deal with North Korea was revealed as a device to concentrate U.S. military power and attention to a strike against Iran. The deprivation of legal rights continues at Guantanamo, and Gonzales has been busy firing prosecutors who refuse to follow the dictates of the White House.

Bush showed his true hand by announcing that he would escalate the troop presence and violence in Iraq, and would ignore anything Pelosi and her colleagues might try to do to trim the absolute power of the commander-in-chief. The White House allowed Scooter Libby to take the fall for the illegal outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, assisted by a prosecutor who seemed strangely unwilling to do anything serious with the evidence in his possession. All those who outed Plame are known by name and have walked free in one of the most bizarre perversions of justice in recent times. The book on this issue will close when Bush pardons Libby before leaving office, and it is unlikely that Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson (who was being punished by Dick Cheney for exposing the lies about Saddam Hussein's Nigerian yellowcake), will make any headway in their civil suit. Injustice has prevailed.

The nation has reacted in outrage at the continuation of Bush tyranny in the face of a clear vote for change. And how have the Democrats, who have the power to cut off Bush's funding for his illegal and unpopular war, responded to the fact that their existence has been totally ignored by the White House? Well, Pelosi rushed to denounce any efforts to impeach Bush and has done her best to frustrate Congressional inquiries that could result in that outcome. She has also made it perfectly clear that she will take no action to prevent Bush from doing exactly what he wishes, in Iraq and anywhere else, for the remainder of his term. The picture is now clear. The Democrats will be "big on words," passing toothless resolutions, allowing Bush to enact signing statements on any legislation he doesn't like, and do nothing to reign in Bush.

As a way of showing the most determined, implacable, and hideous face of the Bush regime, Dick Cheney, the nation's real president, was unleashed to tour Europe and Asia and inflict his threats and rottweiler growls against enemies and lagging allies alike. This coincided with and encouraged a renewed exodus from Iraq of the dwindling coalition of the bribed and coerced. The European Union increased its abhorrence of the CIA kidnapping of innocent people on the streets of European cities, and their rendition to nations prepared to torture them in exchange for U.S. largesse. Both Italy and Germany have begun prosecutions on these illegal practices. The opposition to Bush in the countries of his remaining allies, Great Britain and Australia, has reached fever pitch and destroyed the reputation and legacy of their leaders, Tony Blair and John Howard. Blair remains the last statesman on earth, outside Israel, that publicly defends everything Bush does. As Blair prepares to leave power and sell his memoirs for millions, the spotlight of Britain's indefatigable media will be increasingly trained on Blair's real motivation.

So we have perhaps the most amazing political spectacle in decades: a president of a rogue administration, who is loathed universally outside the U.S. and by a large majority of his own population, and who should be limping like a lame duck, utterly unaffected by an election that changed the balance of power. He continues to escalate Iraqi military action, disastrously so far, and sends the bill to Pelosi, who pays up with a mild "tsk tsk." It is true that the Bush administration has little regard for either democracy or the U.S. Constitution, and had openly displayed its preference for secular monarchy. But why, the world may ask, is he getting away with everything he does, and is sure to continue to get away with it until his term finally peters out?

What many American watchers do not understand, (perhaps even the majority), is the true "state of the nation." Because of the hoopla of the Democratic victory in November 2006, and the compelling pictures of Pelosi giving her victory salute, observers outside of America may be forgiven for believing that the Democratic Party is strongly opposed to the policies of the Bush regime. When those observers understand that that is not the case, everything becomes clearer.

The United States, which proclaims itself a democracy, is the only developed country on the planet with a political spectrum that lies entirely right of center. There is no left wing, or even centrist position in the political public domain. Even the first-ever "socialist" Senator, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, is no more than a moderate liberal when his political skin is scratched. The bulk of the Democratic Party is equivalent to the Christian Democrat movement in European terms, and would find themselves on the right wing of the Tory party in the United Kingdom (or the right wing of Blair's New Labor, which now dominates the right axis of Britain's political spectrum). Bill Clinton would not have nurtured a friendship with a genuine representative of labor, and found in Blair a kindred spirit, someone who transferred his allegiance without a blink to Bush. He was able to do so because there are very few fundamental disagreements between America's two parties.

Neither party is willing to cut back on corporate excesses; neither party will confront the insurance industry and give America a national health system; neither party disagrees with the aims of hegemony in the Middle East; both oppose progressive movements in Latin America and elsewhere; both believe deeply in American empire and domination; both are dedicated to the continued growth in America's nuclear arsenal. The Democrats are no more outraged by the slaughter of more than half a million innocent civilians in Iraq, or the thousands in Lebanon. Both parties are totally committed to the aims and goals of Israel and opposed to any concessions to the Palestinians. As I write, it has been announced that Pelosi and her Senate counterpart, Harry Reid, will make a bipartisan display of unity in support of Israel, by appearing alongside Dick Cheney at the March meeting of the ultra-reactionary American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC has dominated American foreign policy for decades, strengthened since 2000 by the Project for a New American Century, the Bush shadow cabinet, which drew up the blueprints for American empire and the conquest of Iraq and Iran.

None of the Democratic candidates for the presidency, with one exception, is committed to any fundamental change. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have only a whisper of difference between them and both are dedicated to the maintenance of corporate America. The exception is Dennis Kucinich, who having no other serious political party with which to affiliate continues with a tiny band of centrists, to push the Democrats into genuine opposition, to no avail.

When Americans forced the retreat from Vietnam it was only a small minority who were appalled by what America had done there. The outrage was due to the deaths of American soldiers, the unbridled spending, the presidential lies and disrespect for the Constitution and Congress. The aims of empire were never seriously challenged. And so it is today. You will seldom hear, if ever, prominent Democrats denounce the slaughter of Iraqis, the socio-economic devastation of Iraq or the attempts to steal Iraqi oil. Those are inextricably interwoven with the American dream. But Presidents are supposed to do things legally, allow genuine competition among war profiteers, respect the Constitution and keep Congress informed. That is what a Kerry invasion of Iraq would have been like; and the Iraqis themselves would not have been able to detect any real difference.

To add to the surreal nature of the charade, the Bush administration has committed its most flagrant act of arrogance since coming to power. It has allowed Bush to tour South America bringing a message of democracy and peace and proclaiming America's goal of defeating poverty in the subcontinent. This has stunned the populations to the south, the sheer gall of sending a reviled and utterly inarticulate puppet into enemy territory, carrying the usual agenda of lies and deceptions. Washington-watchers know that the real motive is to provide cover for an effort, without military invasion, to acquire control of Brazil's ethanol reserves. Bush's only concession to the international effort to combat global warming has been his announcement that oil will be replaced with ethanol. But Karl Rove, who designs such deceptions, had not done his homework, and in these somewhat heady days, the scam has been exposed by revelations that the manufacture of corn-based ethanol contributes significantly to carbon emissions, and the opposition of the meat industry, which needs corn to run the McDonald's economy. And as Bush lurches like a buffoon from country to country, he is being shadowed by his nemesis, Hugo Chavez, who reminds cheering crowds that this is the man who compared George Washington, the slave owner and richest man in America when he became president, with the liberator, Simon Bolivar, who gave up his personal wealth to free nations from colonial domination and end the institution of slavery.

Yes, indeed, America is in a period of cabaret, in which all the actors are playing out pantomime roles that would be hilarious if they did not threaten catastrophe. There is no compelling reason why the Final Days should be grave and portentous. The great Federico Fellini taught us that worlds might end with a giggle and a smirk.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Lee Roberts

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