Bush and the Grassy Knoll

I've never been a big fan of conspiracy theories. As a child I learned that there were few secrets that could be kept by friends or family; when given a choice between silence (particularly sworn silence) and loose talk -- people will always choose the loose talk. It is the business of the world to know everyone else's business, and common knowledge is the enemy of conspiracy. How then could groups of adults get together to conspire to perform dark deeds and keep it secret? Sure, there were the classical examples; Brutus & Co. in their Ides of March stabbing spree on Julius Caesar for one, but that was Ancient Rome when everyone was made of white Carrara marble, wore laurel wreaths and spoke an oratorical Latin -- a language made for secrets -- at least it was for me when I struggled and failed to master it in the sixth grade.

Most alleged conspiracies like the Protocols of Zion prove to be ugly forgeries planted by professional haters, or, as in The DaVinici Code with its crazed Albino monk and sinister Opus Dei, fictions about the Catholic Church. Trust me, if Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a baby as alleged in that book, somebody would have told somebody and that somebody ad infinitum and it would have been on Page 6 in 2 AD. Brad and Angelina from the get go.

Having lived through Pearl Harbor, I heard all the stories about Roosevelt conspiring to bring us into the war by setting up our navy to be hit by a Japanese sneak attack in Hawaii. It seemed bunkum then, and bunkum now. Having lived through the Kennedy assassination and heard all the theories and speculations -- the other shooter in the grassy knoll -- the man with the umbrella who sprayed immobilizing darts into Kennedy's neck, the Mafia hit for the Kennedy investigations of organized crime, Castro striking back for the Bay of Pigs, I came to the firm conclusion (for which I have absolutely no evidence but my experience of life) that it was Oswald alone, crazy, embittered, failed Oswald, with a love for guns and a hatred for the President who assassinated John F. Kennedy. Some people are crazy, and they do evil crazy things by themselves all the time -- unassisted by Mafia hit men or guys with dart spraying umbrellas. They don't need orders from others to act, their own deranged minds issue all the orders they need. As far as 9/11 goes, it was an act of Islamic fascists to wound America, but it was not so secret that the Bush administration was not warned -- and as Ms. Rice testified -- chose to ignore the warning. When Hillary Clinton spoke of a vast right wing conspiracy to bring down her husband's Presidency it seemed to me that a lot of like minded conservatives disliked Bill Clinton and didn't need to conspire together to ruin him -- they simply acted together openly on their common dislike -- and Clinton himself seemed a part of that conspiracy through his ruinous behavior.

So, having said all that, why am I so willing to believe in a Bush conspiracy to destroy democracy in America? Many years ago the Nobel Prize winning novelist Sinclair Lewis warned us that when fascism came to America it would not arrive wearing a swaztika and marching a goose-step in jack boots. It would arrive looking like a good ole boy, speaking with a twang and smiling a friendly down home smile. He meant Huey Long. His warning could apply to George W. Bush. Such a man would stop at nothing to gain power, and having gained it, do everything to consolodate his power.

First, let me state that I now believe that there was a conspiracy to steal the election in 2000 and in 2004, and it was successfully carried out by Bush and Rove and Cheney and their Republican brethren. I believe that there was a conspiracy to keep Democratic and minority voters away from the polls, lose their names in voter registries, and in the last election, lose whole blocks of Democratic votes in Ohio and elsewhere. Some of these activities were felonies, and I suspect that if convicted these felons will be sent to a polictical rehab center like Rush Limbaugh with his drug rehab -- in other words, getting away with it. And I believe that there was a conspiracy of silence on the part of the American press to let it go -- to keep from seriously examining these elections and their results -- a conspiracy based on the fear of seeming partisan, kooky, and buying into lefty conspiracy theories. Most of all the press wanted to believe that the election was fairly won, the alternative was too threatening and thus inconcievable, and they did not want to encourage more accusations of liberal bias. To accept the fact that the elections were rigged would mean that the election was stolen by ruthless men and women who were ready to destroy the American democratic experiement for their own purposes -- profit and power -- much too scary for most of the press and the public to acknowledge.

I believe that the Democrats will lose the next election in much the same way for much the same reason -- now compounded by the proliferation of electronic voting machines and lack of a paper ballott and exit polls. Some of this belief I owe to the work of writer Mark Crispin Miller and his excellent recent book "Fooled Again." That book managed to overcome some of my congenital anti-conspiracy bias. And some of my new conspiracy acceptance was based on my observation that the American people are by nature moderate and not sympathetic to the right wing fanatics who now govern them, and that they did not vote them into power. While I am conspiracy hunting, let me add that I do believe that Dick Cheney conspired with big Oil in secret meeting to craft our energy policy to create huge profits for Mobile and Exxon. Doesn't take a genius to get that one. It's a no brainer. You can give me all the theories about demand for oil exceeding supply and China using so much of it, blah, blah blah, as a reason for the King Kong prices at the pumps -- and I will still say Dick Cheney. God doesn't give you that evil smirk if he didn't plan to make a villain out of you. Having said all this -- how did these conspirators get away with it? Easy. They do not regard themselves as conspirators. They are so imbedded in the culture of greed and power that they regard their conspiracies as good public policy, normal behavior, a fulfillment of the American way of life, the final full expression of free enterprise unleashed. The country club golf course is their grassy knoll, and they have used it as a place to take aim at our democracy.

Despite the pollster's claims that the Republicans are in deep trouble in the coming elections, they will win again if attention is not paid to the way they conduct their election business. It is business to them -- power means profits -- and profits buy more power. It will take an aroused and enlightened electorate to make certain that the past is not prelude to the future. As a recent convert to the notion of a conspiracy, I pass on this warning in my best conspiratorial manner. Watch out! And look under every rock. The bad guys are determined to win again, and they will if the people do not understand the danger our democracy faces from them. Psst! Trust me on this.