Legacy of Shame
It seems almost comical that someone would commit any crime when he has such an identifying characteristic, but it's pretty obvious criminals don't think that way. They think they are going to get away with whatever crime they are committing. The attacker in Madison is an extreme example, but maybe not as extreme as we might think. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the rest of their gang lied the country into one war for sure, and likely the one previous. We know they lied about their claims that "Iraq" had weapons of mass destruction. They also lied about torturing prisoners. They thought they would get away with their crimes, and they did.
It can be said from this comparison that the Bush criminal organization is far more sophisticated than Donovan Stone, and also that it had and still has considerable power to fend off investigations of its criminal activities. Everyone in the Bush gang is as easy to identify as Donovan Stone, the tattooed attacker in Madison. Holding public office is like a big facial tattoo when one is committing crimes. All it takes is a justice system that actually prosecutes such criminals. We don't have one. They're too big to fail.
There is much to be learned from this. Similar to the impunity of banksters and the top 1% of income and wealth accumulators, the very top in terms of power and position in politics/government can get away with just about anything - mass murder, kidnapping, torture, indefinite detention, large-scale destruction, theft of resources, government overthrow, poisoning of environments, spying on citizens, and creating a national security state to, among other things, insure their impunity.
Bush is only the most recent and flagrant of political criminals. Ever since the crimes of Richard Nixon and associates the "Republican" party has engaged, through enactment of laws and in various executive and judicial actions to accumulate power and wealth to the already wealthy, to establish a worldwide military and economic empire, and to insure that those at the top are never held responsible for their crimes.
An article in yesterday's Salon explains how voter suppression is a key strategy in securing "Republican" hold on power. Another article in Salon yesterday describes how mythmaking has been used since the time of Nixon to combine lying with dire warnings of apocalyptic doom. Absent in any of their strategies is the intention to do anything to help ordinary people or to make the country a better place to live. Instead, what we have been given are Nixon, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II. Four terrible presidents. The terrible Supreme Court and Federal Court appointments during their presidencies include Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito. "Republican" majorities in Congress have done their own damage, supporting these terrible presidents in their various criminal schemes. Had Richard Nixon had majorities in both houses of Congress he wouldn't have been removed from office.
I don't mean to exalt the "Democrats." They are as dependent on bribes, er, campaign donations from corporations and Wall Street bankers as are "Republicans." Bill Clinton gave us NAFTA, CAFTA, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the extension of the sanctions against "Iraq," including extensive bombing, welfare "reform" and triangulation - standing for nothing - as a way of winning elections. He wasn't all bad, and certainly not as bad as any of the "Republicans," but he did much harm. Jimmy Carter supported the brutal Shah in "Iran" when he was about to be overthrown. Obama has his drone attacks.
How much harm has the Bush regime done? If the 2000 election hadn't been stolen there would have been no President Bush II, no active negligence that enabled the September 11 attacks, no invasions and occupations of "Afghanistan" and "Iraq," no kidnapping, torture, Guantanamo, drones, and likely no economic collapse of 2008, and no too big to fail banks.
And no ISIS. The gutting and disorder that resulted from the invasion and occupation of "Iraq" inspired the "insurgency," which then branched off into the "Islamic State."
There also may not have been the shooting in Chattanooga last week, except that may have had more to do with our support of "Israel" than the fiasco in "Iraq." Maybe it was the overall debacle in the Mideast. The shooter, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, was depressed. He had recently visited "Jordan," and may have become radicalized there. He had been treated for depression since age 13, and it may have been at least partly due to "American" xenophobia of Muslims and people from Arabic countries. One can only wonder how different his life might have been if there were no Bush presidency, I or II.
Had there been no Nixon presidency with his "Southern Strategy," and the Reagan, Bush I and Bush II presidencies, there is a good likelihood that the shooting deaths in Charleston, South Carolina last month also would not have happened. All of these presidents played on racial tensions and animosities by employing their own versions of the Southern Strategy. One of the effects of this enabling of racism was to perpetuate and validate attitudes and behavior toward African Americans that have persisted since the days of slavery.
Now that the supposed Confederate flag has been removed from the South Carolina State Capitol we can take some satisfaction that decades of intransigence in the American South has been broken. It is unfortunate it had to be after such a tragic shooting. It could have happened a lot sooner had there not been these "Republican" presidents with their Southern Strategies.
The effects of race-based political strategies on society as a whole are worthy of mention. In racist-friendly social context the vast majority of people gravitate towards the mean, or most conventional norms of society. If you look at the whole society in terms of a normal curve, 95% of people live within two standard deviations of the mean. The more alienated from the mainstream people are the farther from the mean they exist. Out in the "tails" of the population distribution are various malcontents, eccentrics, nonconformists, and in some cases religious fanatics and extremists of various kinds, including religious warriors and supremacists of one kind or another.
In the case of Dylann Roof, the Charleston shooter, he appears to be mentally unstable, another subset of the population who is fair game for extremist organizers. Various arguments have been presented about whether he is mentally ill or is a white supremacist hate criminal, as if he has to be one or the other. He's the guy who killed nine people in a church. He doesn't have to fit into our preconceived, binary categories. Indeed, it can be argued that anyone who wants to start a race war is mentally unstable. A question worth asking is how much he was influenced by race-based "Republican" strategies to win public office.
A different approach is called for. Change the entire probability distribution - the normal curve of society. The mean we have settled on accepts institutional racism, the prison industrial complex, empire, doing nothing about climate change, a near-completely corrupt political system, a corporatocracy that gives impunity to criminals who do murderous harm here and elsewhere around the planet, and a cultural orthodoxy that makes the bread and circuses of the Roman Empire look bland by comparison. The extremes we see are the extremes of THIS distribution of society. We can insist on battling and/or eliminating every extreme that presents itself, or, we can change our vast mainstream of society. It is more likely to reap positive results, but takes a deeper look. Part of our malaise is the inability to take a deeper look.
We can start by removing as many "Republicans" from public office as possible, and not electing any new ones. They not only enable racism, but are obstructionist about anything that is good for the general public. It is also no coincidence that "Republicans" are giving support to climate change deniers, and are indeed the loudest voices in pretending it is all a hoax. As we have seen with their emotion-based, race-baiting, corporate-impunity scheming, there is a power gathering criminality to their intentions. They have become a scourge upon the land.
While we're at it, we might want to take away their impunity.
R.I.P. Omar Sharif. Here's his most iconic scene.
R.I.P. E.L. Doctorow. Great guy. Great writer. Ragtime is one of my favorite books (and movies). He was very eloquent in his opposition to the Bush criminal regime. Here's an interview with him on NPR's Fresh Air from 1989.
R.I.P Theodore Bikel. When I first became interested in folk music he was was on shows like Hootenanny and others I can't remember the names of. He sang folk songs from around the world, in their own languages.
Here's a song (words and chords here). Here's another (words and chords here). And another (words and chords here).
Sean Illing of Salon believes we should shut down the "Republican" party, calling it deeply unserious.
"Republican" presidential candidate Donald Trump is in the news a lot these days, insulting everyone from immigrants to other "Republicans." My view of his antics are summed up in the following comment to this article.
Heh. The "Republicans" are being hoisted on their own petard. They have benefited from trash talkers like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly for decades. In 2004 they took it a step farther with the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," who lied about John Kerry's war record in the presidential race, damaging him enough that it likely cost him the presidency.
Trump is taking it another step farther - attacking "Republicans." He is appealing to the same element that Fox, Limbaugh and others have been doing. The way the "Republicans" respond will be instructive about their character and fitness to be president, but they all know that trash talking is what keeps the "Republican" party viable. This "race" is getting more fun every day.
And, regarding McCain, he did something heroic in surviving five years as a prisoner of war. Heroism is momentary. It is not a permanent status. Nobody gets to be a hero for life. His performance in the U.S. Senate certainly hasn't been heroic. He did something unheroic in the Keating Five scandal. Wouldn't that make him an unhero for life?
As for Trump, he never served his country. He's a huckster. Huckster is not a qualification for the presidency. A huckster who never served his country and disrespects the service of a combat veteran is unqualified to be Commander in Chief.