Oh say can you see by the fluorescent light
The politicians we’ve bought at our last corporate meeting?
Whose venal hearts and deceit wrought health care’s defeat,
While from boardrooms we laughed and then raised premiums?
And the wars that were fought for the profits we’ve sought
Gave proof to our shareholders that freedom is bought.
Oh say does that banner of corporate fascism now wave,
O’er democracy’s corpse and the working class slaves?
(Anthem of the Corporate Fascist States of America)
Make no mistake about it: America is hopelessly corrupt.
If there were any doubts about this reality, they were efficiently crushed by the Congressional stalemate over health care reform and by the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
Citizens United, under the pretext of expanding the First Amendment’s “freedom of speech” clause, continued the destruction of democracy, first spawned by the court in Bush v. Gore, by granting corporations unlimited ability to influence the outcome of political elections. Thanks to Citizens United, corporations can now buy and own politicians legally and outright, instead of concealing their purchases behind the veil of so-called Political Action Committees (PACs).
Meanwhile the almost unanimous Republican opposition to Health Care Reform has exposed just how pervasive and unifying this corruption truly is, and has made America’s so-called “two party system” unworkable and anachronistic.
Under the rules of the United States Senate, sixty votes are needed to break “filibusters”—tactics used to stall or obstruct proposed legislation. According to a recent article by Steven R. Hurst of the Associated Press, Senate Republicans are currently filibustering at a record pace. This practice has become so egregious that Republican senator Jim Bunning, an embarrassment from the State of Kentucky, recently blocked efforts to extend unemployment benefits and health insurance subsidies to millions of jobless Americans.
Kentucky is also represented by another embarrassment—Republican senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell has openly praised the Citizens United decision, proclaiming it would not increase the potential for foreign influence in American elections, even though he has personally accepted financial contributions from an American subsidiary of a foreign corporation.
The reasoning behind the Republican strategy is simple. In addition to appeasing their corporate masters, Republicans are hoping to neutralize the Obama administration and the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. Then, during upcoming election campaigns, they can speciously claim that “change” is needed because nothing is being accomplished under the current regime in Washington.
One would think, should the Republicans reclaim majorities in the House and Senate, that the Democrats would retaliate by using filibusters themselves. But, as I pointed out in my Pravda.Ru article REVOLUTION, IF NOT NOW WHEN? (June 8, 2007), retaliation is not that simple because unity is not that simple. The corporate fascists and their Republican allies are already united behind one common goal—profit at any cost. Those who oppose them, however, often have diverse, and sometimes conflicting, reasons for doing so. This enhances the ability of the corporate fascists to “divide and conquer” by creating or exploiting disagreements between and/or within organizations and political movements campaigning for positive social change.
The destruction of the “public option” during the health care reform debate has made it painfully obvious that corporate fascists already control a handful of Democratic Senators, and these would undoubtedly be enough to terminate any filibusters a Democratic minority might attempt.
Thus it was no surprise when Anthem Insurance Company recently announced that it was raising its health insurance premiums by as much as thirty-nine (39%) percent. Although such a move seemed the height of stupidity, given that exorbitant health insurance costs have been a driving force behind the reform movement, it actually reflects the confident arrogance of an industry that knows it carries a plethora of politicians in its pocket.
Sadly the corrupting influence of corporate fascism has so inundated America that it not only infects venerated institutions like academics, law and religion, it is also the primary reason America goes to war.
Ronald Reagan, for example, invaded Grenada to divert attention from the “Iran-Contra” affair; George H.W. Bush invaded Panama to divert attention from the “Savings and Loan” scandal; and George W. Bush invaded Iraq to increase the profits of the oil industry and to award his political cronies lucrative “rebuilding” contracts. But, by wrapping these wars in ideals like “democracy,” “freedom,” “human rights,” “patriotism” and/or “national security,” most Americans remained oblivious to this reality.
Sadly, even those who suspected the truth were often reluctant to admit it. After all, how would one feel to receive an official letter stating: “The United States Military regrets the loss of your loved one. But you will be pleased to know that, thanks to his/her sacrifice, the oil companies, themilitary-industrial complex and the rebuilding contractors are enjoying record profits this year.”
Meanwhile, during the past few years the legal system has increasingly ignored, endorsed and even rewarded the corruption and criminality of those who serve corporate fascists and the government they control. Police officers who have used excessive force to kill innocent people, or who have committed perjury, fabricated evidence or engaged in torture to send innocent people to prison are rarely if ever brought to trial, and even when they are, they can normally count on a “good-old-boy” jury to acquit them. In addition, prosecutors who have suborned perjury, withheld exculpatory evidence or lied to obtain wrongful convictions often go on to become judges or prosper in lucrative private practices.
Even the celebrated FBI, especially under the tutelage of its racist, cross-dressing former director J. Edgar Hoover, has engaged in illegal spying, burglary, frame-ups of political dissidents and murder to obtain its objectives.
America’s secret police, the CIA, often went even further. In the 1960s, for example, it actually allied itself with members of organized crime in a plot to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Although many pundits scratched their heads in disbelief when this alliance became public, it really was not so surprising. The FBI, CIA, and numerous other law enforcement or “national security” agencies were not created to defend democracy, freedom, or human rights, but to protect and promote capitalism, both domestically and abroad, and often at the expense of democracy, freedom and human rights. Organized crime, motivated by the philosophy of profit by any means, is a natural evolution of global capitalism. The CIA wanted to restore capitalism to Cuba, and the mobsters wanted to reopen their casinos and other operations in Havana; thus their alliance was simply a marriage of common interests.
Recently, as if to further emphasize just how far those who control the American legal system will go to protect the criminality of their own, the so-called “Justice Department” announced that two of its former attorneys, John Yoo (now a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley) and Jay Bybee (now a federal appeals court judge), will not be punished for advocating the use of torture, illegal detentions and the destruction of the United States Constitution, because they had simply used “bad judgment.”
But what about those who arguably use “bad judgment” when exercising the Constitutional freedoms that Yoo and Bybee sought to destroy? Ask Ward Churchill, a former University of Colorado professor who believed that the First Amendment’s “freedom of speech” clause, coupled with the security of academic tenure, insulated him from economic retaliation when he wrote a controversial essay criticizing American foreign policy shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.
Unfortunately Churchill failed to realize that those who wield power in the academic community consider the exercise of one’s Constitutional rights a greater sin than advocating the destruction of those rights. Claiming that Churchill had engaged in various forms of “academic misconduct,” the University fired him. And even though a Colorado jury subsequently ruled that the University’s academic misconduct allegations had simply been a pretext used to illegally terminate Churchill, a biased, ethically corrupt, Clarence Thomas wannabe trial judge named Larry Naves nullified the jury’s verdict.
Not surprisingly, Colorado University regent and Republican congressional candidate Tom Lucero is now using his “success” in terminating Churchill as a catalyst to persuade Coloradans to vote for him.
Sadly, corporate fascists and their supporters even exploit religion to justify actions that logic, science, or commonsense cannot defend. Recently one of the most despicable and evil men in the history of the United States, George W. Bush, told a group of students how his “faith” had sustained him during his illegal occupancy of the White House.
Leave it to a man who executed more people than any governor in history, who, after using his family’s wealth and influence to avoid combat duty, murdered thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis in a war based upon nothing but lies, who stole not one, but two elections, and who advocated the use of torture and illegal detention, to attempt to excuse his crimes under the guise of “faith.”
Although it may seem tempting for other nations to laugh at the buffoonery of American politics and politicians, this temptation must be tempered by the fact that corporate fascism in the United States means imperialist slavery in many other nations throughout the world. Imperialist slavery allows corporate fascists, and the governmental institutions that serve them, to control foreign governments from afar, through the manipulation of debt, bribery, coups (such as the one that recently occurred in Honduras) and/or the rigging of elections.
The result is that workers in poorer nations are often forced to labor in unsafe and harsh conditions, and paid so little that many cannot even afford to purchase the very items they are producing.
Naturally the corporate fascists don’t care. They simply ship these products to wealthier nations, knowing that people who cannot afford them outright will turn to those convenient and ubiquitous “genies in the bottles”: Credit cards and loans.
What the corporate fascists failed, or refused, to realize, however, is that other corporate fascists would join the exodus, leaving wealthier nations for poorer ones. This, in turn, meant that many people who had acquired substantial loan or credit card debt suddenly found themselves jobless and unable to pay their bills.
The result was, and is, a worldwide recession. But instead of taking the blame, the corporate fascists simply raise their prices, citing as an excuse the very economic conditions they created.
In a democracy where ten percent of the people control ninety percent of the wealth, it would seem that any political party that habitually defends the interests of these “ten percenters” would never receive enough votes to gain power. But, as I stated in THE GREAT ALLURE (Pravda.Ru, September 22, 2004), fascism is a seductive master. And the Republican Party is a master of seduction.
By incessantly repeating “great lies,” as Bush did to build support for the illegal invasion of Iraq; by targeting convenient and unpopular scapegoats, as Lucero is doing in Colorado; and by emphasizing emotion over reason, the Republican Party has often convinced even the most destitute of Americans that it is their “friend.”
Of course, some may argue that emotions can be positive or negative; consequently those working for positive social change have the capability to appeal to the good in people just as easily as the Republican Party and the corporate fascists can appeal to their evil.
But if appeals to positive emotions actually worked, there would be no divisive health care “debate” in America, only a unanimous voice demanding that all Americans have access to quality medical treatment. Nor would there be any Glenn Becks, Bill O’Reillys, Rush Limbaughs or Sarah Palins. Fascists know that appeals to human virtues are rarely as effective as appeals to human vices, and thus have made racism, intolerance, ignorance, greed, bellicosity, hatred, fear and hypocrisy the tools of their trade.
The nagging question, of course, is how did America, supposedly an enlightened and compassionate nation, descend into this cesspool of corporate fascism and political stagnation? There are three answers, because, when it comes to politics, there are (with some exceptions) three types of Americans:
Number Ones are the “ignorance is bliss” type. In many ways they are the most sympathetic of the three. During my years as an attorney, a teacher, and a writer I have come to understand that the stench of corruption, hypocrisy, greed and soullessness emanating from those in power is often so malodorous and overwhelming that one cannot help but retreat from it. Most people in America depend more upon the private sector than the government for their incomes and the material goods that enhance the quality of their lives; therefore they are not always concerned about political issues. And even those who are concerned often feel they are powerless to bring about meaningful social change, or fear that making the attempt could jeopardize their economic security. So if Type Ones participate in the political process at all, it is usually for superficial reasons.
Number Twos are the “I’m okay, screw you” type. They are paradigms of the “dog eat dog” mindset, and support political candidates who protect their personal and financial interests, even when those interests are detrimental to others. Although Type Twos may not be a majority in America in terms of population, they are a majority in terms of money, and they readily use that money to buy political influence and power.
Number Threes are the “dupes.” These are the target audiences of demagogues, opportunists and propagandists. Refusing to entertain any viewpoints that conflict with their own, they are Orwellian wet dreams who can be indoctrinated and herded through the simple use of “buzzwords.”
This is why opponents of health care reform in America do not have to fabricate complex “great lies” to convince dupes that reform is “bad.” They simply need to call it “socialist.”
But does anyone truly believe that distraught mothers looking down upon their sick children, or self-employed businesspersons unable to afford a thirty-nine percent rate increase, would reject affordable health insurance offered through a public option just because some “wingnut” calls it “socialist?” Dupes are susceptible to buzzwords because they never envision themselves in such vulnerable positions. But when they are, they are usually the first ones to lament about the “injustice” of their situation.
For example, several years ago a company where I was employed closed down an entire department, resulting in the layoffs of several employees, including me. A friend in another department subsequently informed me that the man who discharged us had spent the rest of the afternoon laughing and joking about how he had gotten rid of “dead weight.”
Three weeks later my friend called to tell me that this same man had cried like a baby after being told his job was being eliminated. Perhaps if this karmic justice occurred more often, the political power of the dupes would be lessened.
As I was writing the first part of this article, I could not help but wonder how a nation that believed in the “Audacity of Hope” just a little over a year ago could have become so hopeless. And then I thought about the central theme in one of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption: That hope can exist in even the most hopeless situations.
(For readers who have never seen the movie and intend to, please stop here, because the closing paragraphs contain “spoilers.”)
The Shawshank Redemption tells the story of Andy Dufresne, a wrongfully convicted man, and his friendship with fellow inmate Ellis Boyd Redding (aka Red). In one particularly revealing scene, Andy tells Red that his ordeal has been lightened by the knowledge that there is “something inside that they can’t get to; that they can’t touch: Hope.”
To which Red replies, “Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”
Although the movie subsequently vindicates the redemptive power of hope, I could not help but wonder if Red’s viewpoint was more realistic than Andy’s. The legal system did not vindicate Andy and make him a free man; he had to escape from prison. Pangs of conscience did not stop the corrupt activities of the prison warden; it was the fear of arrest. And Red was not granted parole by hoping he’d be released; he simply told the parole board he didn’t “give a s**t” whether he was released or not.
So I began to wonder: Is there some sanity in hopelessness? After all, if one does not hope, one does not get discouraged. And if one has no faith in the goodness of those in power, then one cannot be shocked by their evil.
In recent years I had hoped for many things: I had hoped that the United States Constitution would not be destroyed by those sworn to uphold it; I had hoped that freedom of speech would be the domain of the individual and not the corporations; I had hoped that a Colorado judge would not single-handedly destroy academic freedom; I had hoped that the legal system would work harder to do justice than it does to rationalize injustice; I had hoped that men as evil as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney would not be allowed to steal the two highest offices in the land; I had hoped that no lives would ever again be lost in wars based upon nothing but lies; I had hoped that the people who hawked or profited from such wars would be forced to fight in them, so they could experience the sacrifices they so easily demanded of others; I had hoped that the United States government would punish its own war criminals and torturers, instead of dismissing their crimes as “bad judgment”; I had hoped that a majority of Americans would be ashamed to live in a nation whose unspoken motto is “Billions spent to kill, but not a penny spent to heal”; I had hoped that the health care industry was actually in business for my health; I had hoped that those who ran for public office did so because they wanted to serve the people; I had hoped that people who abused the power of their office would be punished for doing so; I had hoped that once, just once, good would triumph over evil, selflessness over selfishness, and generosity over greed.
This list could go on, but you get the idea. And now I understand that, to survive in America, one must accept that sanity resides in hopelessness.
Of course, one could go insane living in such “sanity.” So I cling to a few hopes that not even the corporate fascists and corrupt politicians can take away: I hope that evil only prospers in the world of mortality; I hope there is a heaven and a hell; and I hope that those who have profited from evil, who have abused the rights of their fellow human beings, who have killed their consciences for the sake of ego, power or profit are eventually made to pay for all the suffering they have caused.
David R. Hoffman
Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru