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Age of Obama
Barack Obama's presidency
Bush End Game
George W. Bush's presidency since 2007
Bush - Second Term
George W. Bush's presidency from 2005-06
George W. Bush's presidency, 2000-04
Who Is Bob Gates?
The secret world of Defense Secretary Gates
Bush Bests Kerry
Gauging Powell's reputation.
Recounting the controversial campaign.
Is the national media a danger to democracy?
Behind President Clinton's impeachment.
Pinochet & Other Characters.
Rev. Sun Myung Moon and American politics.
Contra drug stories uncovered
America's tainted historical record
The 1980 election scandal exposed.
From free trade to the Kosovo crisis.
A Full-Body Scan for the US Empire
Editor’s Note: Even as the U.S. government expands its abilities to pry into the secrets of everyone on the planet, American officials are fuming over the exposure of their own secrets in the recent release of thousands of classified documents by WikiLeaks.
In this guest essay, poet Phil Rockstroh examines the ruling elite’s expectations of favorable double standards:
As many wags have noted, the disclosures of WikiLeaks have subjected the U.S. Empire and its operatives to their own version of a full-body scan.
Turnaround is fair play, because, until now, in the U.S., the powerless masses are subject to arbitrary pat downs and body scans, while the powerful and connected are massaged by privilege and ensconced in immunity. (Many are spared the indignities of the security line.)
In hindsight, one realizes, when the Obama administration promised transparency and accountability in government, National Security State enabler that Barack Obama has proven himself to be, that his administration's definition of transparency would entail the countenancing of said body scans at the nation's airports, revealing the private bits of the hoi polloi, as, all the while, his administration was engaged in stonewalling the hidden agendas and felonies of the corporate and governing elite.
Recent events should remove any doubt regarding who stands exposed and who will remain cloaked by official aegis.
Unlike Julian Assange at WikiLeaks, when the Democratic Congress had the opportunity to create an atmosphere of openness and transparency, they demurred. Once granted positions of authority, the Democrats didn't exercise their constitutionally granted powers to initiate investigations, hold hearings, nor issue subpoenas regarding actions of George W. Bush’s administration.
This failure of will and integrity amounts to complicity by omission. Withal, Democrats gave their tacit support and approval to the last administration's (as well as to the present one's continuation of more of the same) constitution-shredding, morally repugnant policies.
On most occasions, existing within the tacit repression and the benumbing, virtual reality carnival of the corporate/National Security State leaves an individual with a sense of being stranded in anonymity … cast into circumstances wherein one feels the necessity to follow the unspoken dictates of a nebulous form of authority that remains hidden, both by physical distance and organizational insularity.
In contrast, when one is introduced to the apparatus of the National Security State, by means of a full body search, this unnerving intrusion upon the body can bring clarity to the mind as to how the elite and apparatchik of the U.S. government regard that mass annoyance known as its citizenry and any quaint notions those wretches clutch pertaining to their constitutional granted rights and liberties.
These present outrages will flare up and spiral through the news cycle. Yet, the practices will remain in place, and, after a time, become normalized.
This has proven to be the case with other previously revealed excesses of the so-call “war on terror” and the attendant assaults against civil liberties and breaches of international law incurred in the name of this ongoing, seemingly endless, national psychotic episode e.g., the existence of the "detention camp" at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the illegal invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and those operations concomitant litany of war crimes and affronts to human dignity, such as the acts of torture committed at Abu Ghraib prison -- as well as -- the whole blood-sodden laundry list of outrages and excesses of present-day U.S. imperium.
If there is any hope for the U.S. to ever function as a democratic republic, the revelations, unearthed by WikiLeaks, should constitute the beginning of a long, painful process of grim discovery.
First, one must ask: Why is it the corporate media is so deeply invested in promulgating distracting and miss-the-point narratives, hyper-adrenaline arguments of narrowed context and little consequence -- and, in general, trafficking in piffle packaged as news and public debate -- rather than showing even a passing interest, much less an avidity, for the pursuit of stories that confront power and might present a challenge to the present order?
As with any criminal enterprise, the essential question to ask is: who benefits from the crime (and the subsequent cover-up) and who gets the payoff?
Although most of human existence is constituted by ambiguity, this situation is not. The evidence of war crimes and fiscal malfeasance committed by the nation's political and financial elite are so pervasive that it cannot be missed, and that is precisely the reason the corporate media, as well as a large percentage of the general public, works so hard to ignore the situation.
Lord Northcliffe's aphorism provides a clue:
"News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising." ~ Lord Northcliffe, British publisher 1865-1922
Accordingly, at present, there arrives a paucity of news, but, hour after hour, comes a drowning deluge of advertising. Enveloped in this commercially dominated hologram, on a cultural basis, it has proven difficult to arrive at a common lexicon to tell the tale of truths buried and freedoms imperiled.
The weightless, insubstantial quality of the consumer age engenders a state of mind wherein consequences cannot be grasped then processed. As a result, a sense of drift prevails. Yet below the surface churns a nebulous dread -- a feeling of being propelled towards a time of unbearable reckoning.
But such enervating thoughts must be banished from the mind; hence, amnesia, as a way of life, becomes the prevailing mindset of psyches minted in the media age hologram i.e., a manner of perceiving the world in which official accountability becomes as evanescent as last season's advertising campaign roll-out.
Voting for "change" becomes as meaningless and inconsequential as the introduction of Coke "Classic" and "Be all you can be." The U.S. might as well have election campaigns in which the Michelin Man runs against the Energizer Bunny.
By means of its inherently self-narrowing context, the lingua franca of the media hologram reduces complex and conflicted human aspirations into consumer choices -- and the vastness of life to retail experience, as, simultaneously, its proliferate narratives envelop, saturate and bind to the architecture of our psyches becoming the quanta of our thoughts and the shared lexicon of our utterances.
Living in this milieu, that is as manic as it is mind-grinding, decisions must be made rapidly, with little time allowed for reflection (decision-making carrying no more depth and lasting meaning than a text message vote by cell phone involving some contrived Reality TV competition) because the proliferation of empty, non-choices just keeps being proffered and the rate of arrival keeps accelerating.
Tragically, in this environment, the recent WikiLeaks revelations will be marginalized in the electronic image-crowded air and quickly dissipate like any other media-age phantom.
Yet the U.S. consumer state's infantilized inhabitants will never transfigure the raging Furies of truth-deferred into cooing Teletubbies of endless, imagined innocence (albeit, as terrifying as those homunculi of hell-bound cuteness are). The childishness of U.S. Uber-culture seems the voice of Orwellian Newspeak as it might have been composed by Dr. Seuss, in a fever delirium, dreaming he is Glenn Beck.
Often, it is not the content of what a cartoonish demagogue, such as Beck, is saying; rather, it is the way they say it -- the emotional tonality of the line reading that resonates with their audience.
Apropos, the U.S. is a depressing place nowadays. Viewed in the context of emotional catharsis, Glenn Beck's crying jags and feigned emotional disclosures resonate with his audience because there is much reason to weep regarding the degraded state of their lives.
In an era where policies of official secrecy and corporatist predation meet little resistance, dread and feelings of dislocation will be present just below the surface. If one listens to the subliminal criteria playing out beneath Beck's bathos, one can hear inadvertent arias intimating the end of empire -- a cheese-bag death-swoon -- operatic in scale.
What is lamentable is -- the emotional and intellectually dishonest, demagogic displacements he attributes to the cause of his audience's discontent and the sleight of hand employed to create the illusion of truths revealed.
"Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life."
This is the price paid when one affords scant deference to self-awareness, but, in contrast, possesses an unflagging fealty to the pursuit of shallow diversions and self-limiting delusion … All maintained by the crackpot casuistry, elevated to an art form, if not holy writ, in the U.S., that willful ignorance is a form of freedom of choice, that normalcy is maintained by official cover-ups and personal denial.
The system is rigged, from top to bottom; it is only through an astonishing (almost credulity-defying) degree of self-deception on the part of the general public of the U.S., in collaboration with the mendacity of its political and economic elite, this dim, brutal, unwieldy and wounded system continues to stagger onward.
Lamentably, the U.S. Empire, as was the case with any imperium throughout history, has grown into a bloated abomination kept provisionally alive by self-deluded apparatchik and ignorant killers. What can one do about the situation, other than try to get out of the way of this wounded giant and stand clear upon its inevitable collapse? Unfortunately, damn little.
The structure of the revolving door dynamic of the governmental/corporate exploiter class has allowed the elite therein to escape any sense of accountability.
In addition, their vastly inflated salaries, with attendant perks and privileges, have separated them even further from the general population; hence, providing them with immunity from consequences, as well as, insularity from commonplace experience; thus, allowing them to embrace the most airless of aspirations -- that greed, grotesquely out of proportion privilege, and unchecked power run riot constitutes a viable means to move in the world and establish a social order.
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made […]" F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Among the political elite of both major parties come few calls for the kind of disclosure and official accountability that could stem the decline of the nation.
Facing the fact that, in the U.S., there is not a true opposition party causes many people in the general population to become understandably angry, anxious, and depressed, thereby primed for pronouncements of demagogues and the diversions of commercial media palliatives.
"What WikiLeaks is doing is to short-circuit this entire democratic process — claiming for itself the exclusive, unilateral, and unchecked power to decide what should and shouldn’t be made public. This is therefore not only an attack on our national security, but an offense against our democracy and the principle of transparency.”
--Senator Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee
If one could cut through the thicket of false premises, logical fallacies, false dichotomies, arrays of strawmen, general flutter-headed palaver, and out-and-out paranoid fantasy marshaled by the caretakers and apologists of the present system, I would ask this question -- why is it you are driven with such vehemence to defend and attempt to preserve the current order?
As it is, it seems the nation is being held together with hydrogenated fat, wheat gluten, payday loans, Tyvek®, particleboard, and the provisional binding of homespun bigotry and official duplicity.
And what remains? How does one rise to meet the day confronted by such diminished prospects and prevailing degradations? Is there solace to be found in the following?
"It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." -- Samuel Adams
Sadly, in the provinces beyond the Washington/New York government/corporate state nexus, it may well be impossible to start an authentic populist brushfire when the political landscape is covered in flame-retardant, corporate-laid Astroturf.
Still: It would be entertaining, in the very least, to rock the foundation of the U.S. House of Empire with the repeated force of numerous WikiLeaks-type revelations, until its closet doors are flung open wide, causing the skeletons within to dance.
Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Phil's Web site And at FaceBook.
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