All things equal, it looks like a shoe-in for George W. Bush.
So I'm wondering: is it too early to start hating the Republican administration and all the groupies it is going to bring to town, all the pork it will hand out, all the flim-flam artists it will employ to cover the sellouts and abuses of power? You know it's going to happen. The presidency of George Bush Junior, however much of a relief from the Clinton administration, is going to be a repeat of his father's with slightly different coloring. That is, one long dark night of politics will be replaced with another.
The glory of American democracy is that it permits us to kick out the nasty tribe of parasitical despots that is currently ruling us. The tragedy is that it installs another group that will do essentially the same thing. Already you get the sense that GOP apologists, propagandists, and power brokers are gearing up for their turn at steering Leviathan. This is one reason the Republican Congress didn't cut government. Why shrink something you are going to inherit?
There are already signs that Republican Rule is going to be dreadful. Consider the choice of Richard Cheney as vice president. He was the mouthpiece for the military-industrial complex during the war on Iraqi civilians that Bush's father undertook ten years ago. Watching Cheney justify the killing fields in a distant country that never did any harm to us reminded me of Hannah Arendt's phrase: the banality of evil.
To this day, people wonder what the point of that war was. Here's a good conspiracy theory for you: it was designed to set back Iraq's oil business, permit OPEC to consolidate its power, drive up the price of oil, and put new profits into the hands of the oil companies that were the sponsors of the Bush presidency. Hey, take it or leave it, but this theory certainly fits the facts. You have a better theory as to why American tax dollars were spent to massacre those poor folks, not just during one period but for an entire decade of sanctions and bombings?
Also Justin Raimondo points out that Cheney, as CEO of the Halliburton Company, a major recipient of wartime and postwar subsidies through its Texas subsidiary Brown & Root, benefitted enormously from the war on Serbia. It received the engineering contract to house and feed US troops in Kosovo. It gets better: Halliburton's main job is providing infrastructure for oil extraction, particularly in countries with nationalized industries. With Bush-Cheney, we have an all-oil ticket, one with a history of war-making and war-profiteering.
Oh what joy it will be to have our guys in charge! The Bush administration can surely find a spot for the "highly respected" John Danforth, whose report on the Waco massacre is a model for how the government goes about justifying itself.
At Waco, we thought we saw a small religious community minding its own business, suddenly invaded by a huge SWAT team carrying and firing automatic weapons, tortured for 51days by the best psychological warfare techniques, asphyxiated with flammable poison gas, and then crushed by tanks ramming through their home and church.
But what were we thinking? The government didn't fire a single shot. It was merely defending itself against the violent people inside. The Davidians could have surrendered. Instead, they got themselves killed or even killed themselves. In either case it was their own fault.
I might suggest some further employment for this trope.
The government has never stolen anything from anyone. Sure, it finds the need to collect revenue from those who benefit from its services, and there are some freeloaders who resent this and try to make an issue of it. Sometimes the deadbeats have to be reminded that they must pay a price for civilization. And, yes, wages are sometimes garnered when the arrears grow beyond that which the tax code permits.
But steal? Never!
Also, the government has never murdered anyone. In wartime, there is sometimes collateral damage, as in Serbia, Iraq, Haiti, Somalia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, Colombia, Vietnam, etc., etc. It is said that these casualties are "civilian." But in what sense are people who resist the US really civilians? By failing to overthrow their own evil governments, they share responsibility for making the war necessary, and thus are military targets.
Murder? That's just the stuff of conspiracy. There's no evidence. If there is evidence, there's a justification for US behavior. There always is. Sure, mistakes are made. But never evil. Never malice.
Also, the government has never abducted or kidnapped anyone. Draft registration and conscription are necessary to defend freedom. The experience young people get from the military is often valuable later in life. In fact, people ought to pay the government to draft them!
How dare you compare the draft to actual crimes.
Are you getting the hang of this now? Here's the deal. The government, by definition, cannot commit crimes. What it does may superficially look criminal, by the standards applied to private individuals. For example, if you surrounded John Danforth's house with tanks and sprayed poison gas into his living room, you would be in a heap of trouble. But that's the way the system works. Government makes the laws, and decides what's right and wrong. When it says it isn't doing wrong, it's not. Got it?
Danforth, of course, is a Republican. And even Republican conservatives are celebrating his silly report. Here's the actual, real-life words of Michael Potemra, deputy managing editor of National Review: "Danforth's conclusions are serious and balanced. What the government did wrong in the Waco case was on the order of bungling and defensiveness, not evil or malice."
And now, the clincher, the dread words that remind you that Republicans are just as in love with power as the Democrats, and that Clintonian misrule will be replaced by Bushian misrule. Says Potemra: "We're about to have a national election to transfer power to a new administration.... To be effective in doing the work of government, that new administration will need to count on a public sense of its legitimacy. It's important, therefore, that we not encourage the fantasies of those who want to believe the worst about our American institutions."
But the central government is no longer an American institution. It is positively un-American. The only possible reason for wanting the Leviathan state to have legitimacy today is the belief that you and your friends are going to be in charge of it. But don't call that patriotism. It's nothing more than power lust.
July 28, 2000