Thursday, April 1, 2010

april fools

I've spent the last few days reading "Forward the Foundation", Isaac Asimov's final installment in his 4 book "Foundation" series.
These 4 novels, "Foundation", "Foundation & Empire", "Second Foundation" and "Forward the Foundation" tell a tale of the final 500 years of decline and disintegration of an Empire.
At first the symptoms of deterioration are subtle; unmanageably large, top heavy government driven by greed for power and wealth, a widening chasm between social classes and infrastructure breakdown. Then they get more obvious; perennial wars, assassinations, corporate and military government takeover, economic collapse, violent rioting and finally, outright anarchy.
Sounds familiar, don't you think?
. . .And oddly prophetic when you know that the first two of these marvelous books were written in the early 1950s.

Happening through the cemetery last week, I took an extra minute at the USS Maine Memorial there, where many of the 266 crewmen who were killed in that ship's explosion are laid to rest.

I'll spare you the historical chapter and verse and the conspiratorial back story but the reality is, the United States government used the sinking of the Maine as a "pretext for war" against Spain.

Because public support is critical to the process of initiating and waging war, the home population (we the people) are subjected to deceitful stratagems to get us whipped into a patriotic frenzy.
The most compelling "pretext for war", of course, is an apparently unprovoked enemy attack. The trouble is though, the attacks are, more often than not, fabricated - either incited or deliberately allowed to occur. Then they're exploited in the media to arouse widespread public sympathy for the victims, demonize the attackers (a.k.a. evil-doers) and encourage mass support for military “retaliation.”

It's like the bully in the schoolyard who wants the little guy's lunch and knows he can kick his ass to get it. But the bully teases and taunts the little kid until maybe, the little guy throws the first punch. War planners know that it doesn't really matter who throws the first punch. As long as it looks like an unprovoked cheap shot, the bully has license to respond with force.

In February, 1898 the bully in the schoolyard used the sinking of the Maine as a "pretext for war". Since then, he's gotten really good at pecking a pointless fight.
Here are a few more examples. . .
May, 1915 - Lusitania
December, 1941 - Pearl Harbor
August, 1964 - Gulf of Tonkin
September, 2001 - World Trade Center

Last weekend, I heard what I thought was the one of the dumbest things I've heard in a long time. "Harry Reid is a traitor", decried one of those manly-man TeaParty types to a TV news interviewer. "Why do do say that?" asked the man with the microphone. "Because," replied the TeaParty type, "because. . . because he. . . because he hates America, that's why!"
. . .Say what??
But then this morning, came the nasal pinched voice of an overweight bleached blonde (Victoria Jackson) who topped that. "The President is a Communist! Glenn Beck taught me well and "progressive" is the new word for Communist!" Sweet leaping Jesus!!
It seems to me that these "Tea Party" types have an arsenal of harsh words and stones to throw, pitchforks and torches to storm the castle with, but not enough wit between them to realize that their formerly well intentioned movement has been co-opted by the rudderless radical Republican right.

The sorry truth is, that beyond the political theater, there is no ideological difference between Republicans and Democrats. They're all after the same thing. . .
Appeal to the lowest common denominator of American people, confuse them with high-minded hollow rhetoric, fuel their fears to the point of anger and then sit back and watch them get at each others throats until it's time to send in the armed authority to arrest and incarcerate.
The Patriot Act makes it legal and the FEMA camps are good to go.
Will we stand up for whatever is left of the Republic or roll over for the rhetoric like a populace of April fools?

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