It took me sometime to process the whole MoveOn.org controversy and I finally realized that something truly monumental has happened in our nation. While the coverage of the now world famous MoveOn.org ad has been wall to wall and spun and re-spun from every conceivable political and ethical angle, the most important developments of this whole story have entirely been missed.
In order to understand what has happened, really happened with the advertisement asking if General Petraeus was essentially acting as a Teflon vest for the Bush administration, we must first understand the context and the background.
The Bush administration has been using media outlets as cutouts for state sponsored propaganda since even before the unelected Bush was appointed to office by a politically motivated Supreme Court decision against the will of the people and the popular vote. The attacks of September 11, 2001 were not the singular, all-transforming event that changed everything. Rather, it was the Supreme Court decision of 2000 that changed everything, a consequence of that single monumental failure to protect the Constitution. It was in a more general way, really, the 2000 election cycle that showed us just how willing the corporate fourth estate bosses were to fabricate a myth of goodness and accomplishment out of a man so ill suited to be anywhere near government, let alone the presidency of the United States.
The robber barons needed their figurehead, and so their allied fourth estate bosses fixed the propaganda around the myth, creating substance where there was none. The propaganda worked to create an image of a war veteran candidate Bush with a stellar educational background, an experienced and successful businessman, and an honest Texan raised on a farm. Those lies led to more lies and since then, we have essentially been held hostage by an ever expanding parade of liars.
The most extreme example of this, of course, is Fox News, which is seen by all credible reporters as political porn, of the low grade variety at that, featuring D-listers in the news industry with the ethics of Debbie and her Dallas doers. Fox is laughable, and it is clearly a state run organ which hires official state reporters to report officially sanctioned news.
The Fox outfit is obvious propaganda, but it has played the foil to something far more insidious and sinister, and which in its sheer subtlety is far more dangerous. The mainstream press, as it is known, compared with Fox looks like left wing reportage, of course. In reality, however, the mainstream is neither left wing nor anything remotely resembling even a moderate or objective fourth estate.
Should you have doubt in this regard, I urge you to consider, as an example, the revelations from Dan Rather about what CBS did to curry favor with the White House.
Or the most criminal example of what can happen to a corporate owned, fully politicized, fourth estate: the Iraq war. These types of political propaganda practices used to be called Yellow Journalism. Now they are the standard, cleverly renamed "fair and balanced."
So it naturally follows that the robber barons and their fourth estate business partners should indeed benefit from the puppet they all worked so vigorously to enthrone.
Corporate Interests merged with State Interests
The corporate interests of America are now almost entirely at one with the political interests of America. The people are either relegated to the outskirts as unimportant bystanders or are caught in the cross-fire as casualties of a hostile corporate takeover by American and even foreign corporations. We "the people" do not matter in a country where corporate profits are tied to state policy, which then uses those same corporations to tell us what is real and what is fabricated, what is true and what is false.
Think about this for a moment.
A defense contractor pays heavily into the coffers of political candidates to get them elected to office. After they are elected, those same defense contractors get big contracts -- but for what? If there is no war, how will money already promised to these companies be justified?
The mechanism is of course propaganda, repackaged as news, sold to us to convince us to part with our hard earned money so that the few can profit and re-profit from a veritable buffet of free labor, free brand marketing, and easy money, and all under the banner of patriotism, something which no one will criticize easily or lightly.
You see, these same defense contractors also happen to either own (as with General Electric) or have business relationships with media giants, which makes the solution of creating a war much easier. If the news informs us, as it did prior to the Iraq war, that Saddam Hussein has built an entire arsenal of WMD's ready to kill us all, we believe it, and since dissenting views are excluded, what other choice or avenues of information can we turn to? What other arguments from what other "experts," and what other evidence from what other "independent" institutions, can we compare to the so called facts being put forth?
Do we have a choice then but to believe, if for no other reason than because we want to have faith that someone is telling us the truth? But it does not end there, just in case a few questioning minds might try to locate a pebble of truth outside of the pre-packaged, pre-approved, formally sanctioned propaganda we have been so meticulously fed. The same corporate and political interests have not only purchased the truth or manufactured their version of the truth, they have also purchased identities, created front groups, bought off churches and through them the souls of the congregants, to act as a secondary machine of disinformation and even - when needed - to be called upon to attack and destroy.
If a voice of dissent should manage to slip through the heavily corporatized and politicized public censors, as we saw happen in the case of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a cadre of purchased truth tellers, reporters, and grassroots groups are ready in the wings to react swiftly, to silence and discredit back into the shadows not only the lone whistle-blower, but any other person considering coming forward.
This is not something that happens in a democracy. This type of political character assassination in which the assassins are so much of the mainstream does not happen in a democracy. It only happens in countries under the control of something other than the people, but not in a democracy.
In a nation where corporations control the government, the military, and every possible freedom that can be afforded to a people (voting rights, access to basic life sustaining resources, etc.), a thing such as "democracy" is merely another marketing strategy or product brand, worn like one might wear a tiny American flag on the lapel of a dinner jacket.
Such corporate control and merger with the government and military has been in modern times called fascism. In America, we call it "privatization," so that the jagged edges and unpleasant concepts of a nation where no choice is our own to make can be much more easily digested.
Some discontent began brewing in pockets across the nation shortly after the appointment of a corporate approved leadership. It was momentarily interrupted by the horrors of an attack on this nation, but it continued to grow again as the fear tactics of the state sponsored machine could no longer keep us all silent at the same time and for the same duration. Of course, the modern day printing press in the form of the Internet is something that cannot be emphasized enough as the single most important technological development of our modern era.
In America we now have designated areas where people may protest, conveniently far away from news cameras and the people they are protesting - so out of sight are the new Americans that they have been rendered largely invisible. The right to congregate, as with other constitutionally protected rights, would have been almost entirely dismantled by this administration if not for the Internet. So armed with a new printing press, a global printing press at that, it would not be long before the public awoke from the lies that led to the Iraq war.
And even when those lies were finally exposed, and we - the public knew that we were all being lied to, we watched is stunned horror as the corporate owned/state sponsored "news" outlets attempted to convince us that we simply did not understand the reasons given for the war in the first place. It was WMD; no, it was the spreading of Democracy; no, it was something or other; but whatever it was, it was always "we the people" who were at fault. We simply did not get it, is what we were told. The entire administration set off on a tour of the US hoping to convince us that we simply did not get it. What they did not realize, however, is that we simply no longer bought it.
And so we move into the Cold Civil War
It has slowly become more and more obvious that we are fighting a domestic war, as yet unnamed, but is palpable to any of us who pay attention. Although it is important today as ever that we hold the Bush administration accountable for cooking intelligence that led us into a war of choice against a nation posing no threat to us, the most immediately important questions surround the reasons for why we continue to be held hostage to that war.
Understanding the nature of the domestic battle can only lead to a single conclusion. Whatever the myriad of lies that have led us into Iraq in the first place, we now only continue to remain in Iraq as a distraction from the real war at home and likely for the worst kind of political abuses.
What possible motivations can continue to keep this administration focused on seeing through the worst policy decision ever to have been conceived, let alone carried out? It can't be the continued profiteering as the rape and pillage of Iraqi resources had already climaxed some time ago and the domestic pressure of Congressional investigations has already changed how US companies in Iraq are operating.
We can't be in Iraq because the people want to fight and win the war on terror as the majority of the nation does not believe this slogan anymore and also understands - despite the failings of the fourth estate - that Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11. It can't be that we are in Iraq because our allies want continued war - although the House of Saud likely wants us to clean up the mess we have already made. In general, however, the international community certainly wants a political solution at this point.
What motive is left for keeping our nation embroiled in a civil war abroad? If we had men of honor in leadership, then I might believe the humanitarian concerns about the Iraqi refugees and so many displaced and so much destroyed as a possible motive. Yet could anyone call George W. Bush and Dick Cheney men of honor or say of them in earnest that they are truly concerned with the humanitarian nightmare that is now Iraq?
No. The reason we continue to remain in Iraq is that it is the only weapon left in the political arsenal of the corporate robber barons trying drastically and desperately to maintain their grip on domestic power. That fight for domestic power and the abuses of those who I would call the domestic villains in the saga is nothing short of a civil war, a cold civil war to be sure, but nevertheless a national struggle with the same stakes and the same motives. Although there are no geographical demarcations indicating enemy territory, there is no uniform identifying the adversary, and there is no bloodshed in the streets, it is still a war, a war for the foundation of this nation and the future of democracy. Even the villains are the same now as they were during the violent Civil War, although they do not all congregate along a particular geographical locale. They are the same villains who during the American Civil War wanted corporate power, slave labor, and control of government and national resources.
Yet those villains would have us believe we are fighting each other, a nation divided by its own political and social views. The same corporate interests who are robbing us blind would have us believe that we are a deeply divided nation: pro-choice vs. anti-abortion, taxes vs. no taxes, God vs. godlessness, gays vs. heterosexuals, and on and on it goes, pitting us against one another on the basis of every conceivable human attribute, position, and whatever differentiates any one person from another.
Does it not seem odd that differences that have for so long existed and co-existed, even with some tension, would suddenly now be strong enough to split this nation apart over the policies of George W. Bush? I have yet to meet a sane and rational person, regardless of political affiliation, who believes anything positive about Bush, Cheney, and the rest of their administration. When I talk to everyday people in everyday context, they don't bring up pro-choice vs. anti-abortion, nor do they bring up the mantra of gays taking over the country. No, everyday people I talk to are appalled, embarrassed, and frightened of this cabal.
Indeed, on the most important issues of our time and despite our many individual differences, the majority of us agree on the basics of what is currently wrong with this country and its leadership.
So why are we being constantly bombarded with the idea that we are a nation divided? And just who spending billions on propaganda to make us believe it?
The Corporate Confederacy
In our cold civil war, the enemy is not a part of the country called the "red states," as conveniently manufactured. Nor is the enemy a phantom right wing "wing-nut" or left wing "liberal loony," although there are some people who fall very much under those definitions. On the whole, however, there are simply not enough delusional and/or corrupt Americans to fill the manufactured stereotypes of the typical this or a typical that, even if the label is color-coded for political fear tactics.
The image of a divided nation at war with itself is a false one, as false as the reasons for this war and the general war on terror, which is more of a reign of terror than anything else. But who is it trying so hard to divide this nation and for what reason?
Perhaps the most obvious answer lies in that same question reworded thusly: Who benefits? Consider this question in yet another way: So long as we are standing face to face and not standing shoulder to shoulder, who is benefiting? The answer of course is the same corporations and their lackeys masquerading in the garb of government. They need to distract us, divide us, spend billions of dollars trying to convince us what we need, what we hate, what we love, who is evil, who is good and everything in between.
These authoritarians, more appropriately fascists, understand that dissent is to be treated like a virus. It has to be, because the spread of individual opinions might collapse a whole industry. The more you know, the more you question; the more you question, the more you infect others; and the more people there are asking questions, the more we become a nation that cannot be ruled or bullied. We are far too many, and if we are left to think for ourselves, we might not like what we find.
We are, therefore, a threat, a virus, a thing that must be entertained, distracted, confused, frightened, anything, but allowed the freedom to think for ourselves or express those views to one another. People standing shoulder to shoulder outnumber the few who have claimed the control of our nation for themselves and against our best interests. We outnumber them and we frighten them because should we stand together, they cannot stand for long.
Forcing the President to Answer...
This brings me to the MoveOn moment of history, not so much for the ad itself, which I actually found petty because of its title. No, the ad has become almost irrelevant to the aftermath and the series of events that followed. It is those events collectively that are historic in their meaning, and on many and important levels.
Remember, the majority of the American public - regardless of age, religion, and political leanings -- is opposed to the war in Iraq. MoveOn represents but a mere 3 million or so Americans out of this majority, but still a large delegation expressing a very mainstream and popular view. So what happened, then? What was the real issue that no one noticed or actually verbalized, but felt almost instantaneously? We all felt it. I felt it. You felt it. But what happened that we all felt?
One of the major accomplishments of the MoveOn ad is that it showed that a President who claims not to care about the poll numbers, and hence the opinion of the public he claims to represent, suddenly had to answer the gauntlet publicly thrown down. His arrogance demanded it and his opportunistic nature wanted to exploit it.
Imagine this. The President of the United States had to answer 3 million Americans because they placed an advertisement in a newspaper. One newspaper ad is all it took for the most arrogant and misanthropic failure of a President in US history to be forced to stand up on national television and face the public. That is fairly miraculous in my humble opinion, and had the public known that this would work earlier, they would likely have peppered every space within every newspaper with a constant assortment of expressions, judgments, demands, and so forth. That alone would be a victory, but it is not the only victory that came, in quick succession, one after the other.
When the President denounced the ad as disgusting, he also denounced the public opinion of most Americans and, without meaning to, actually united and energized the public. He energized the public against him and the corporate-political junta he represents. We all felt energized by the arrogance of a leader who would so insult his own constituents and in such a public forum. In reaction, it was as though everyone was pushed into the streets - like it or not - at the same time.
Forcing the Corporate Confederacy into a defensive posture...
Yet the President and his corporate owners were far too panicked to stop at that. They were downright terrified -- enough to actually condemn the majority of Americans, including active duty members of the military, in the public circus of a formal Senate rebuke.
Think about this for a moment. Here is a Congress which cannot or simply will not do what they have been elected to do. We do not want a law passed, and they pass it. We want to redress our grievances, and they ignore us. Yet they were able to muster up the energy and numbers to get together in a collective rebuke of us because of an advertisement?
I'm not a member of MoveOn and I likely and in all honesty would have ignored the ad. But I felt insulted, as did many other people who might have also ignored the ad. If the corporate-political mechanism had not so panicked and not so overreacted, this would have been but an advertisement placed in a paper by a so-called liberal group. Perhaps a few official opinion makers would have noted it as a bit petty, but it was nothing anyone really would have remembered in a society where information is processed only in short bursts and quickly forgotten.
But the corporate and political mechanism could not ignore this, would not ignore it, and by attacking and rebuking the very mainstream sentiments about this war, they inadvertently made each and every American who shares that view feel directly insulted.
The realization that in numbers comes strength...
Something happened here, something momentous, but it took me some time before I fully understood what it was that occurred. In the end, it was really not the ad itself that caused such shameless and desperate attempts to muzzle the public. No, the ad was simply a mechanism for a popular opinion. What really frightened the corporate owned and their masters is that roughly 3 million Americans realized that in pooling their resources and standing together, they could take on the big boys. That is to say, they realized that regardless of their differences, they could stand shoulder to shoulder and this sent a wave of panic inside America Inc.
Because what would happen if more and more people defied the propaganda of a nation divided in opinion about this war? What if more and more people joined the ranks and showed that that without doubt, the public is very much united against this war? Most importantly, what if the public realized that it is not just the war they are so fully united in opinion on? What if this spread to other industries, such as health care, or taxes, and so on?
That notion is far too dangerous for America Inc., and also for their employees in government. What would happen if Americans could be heard above the din of corporate lobbyists and opinion makers, and were able to directly invalidate the carefully produced message telling us who we are, what we like, what we hate, what we want, what we need, and everything in between? You see the danger in this for those who spend billions upon billions a year on "public relations" and "advertising" and "image-making," all in order to make us believe that we do not agree and therefore cannot be united?
The public demand for redress was swift and unexpected, it blindsided the state mechanism, and it delivered a direct hit using nothing but a slogan, a picture, and facts.
Those who have betrayed us identify themselves...
But there is one more reason why this was something of a historic moment in its collection of reactions and counter-reactions. It exposed those in government as representative of someone or something other than the American people.
Consider that the majority of the public shares the sentiment of MoveOn's ad, not in the petty title of it, but in its content. The majority of the public which shares this opinion is also the majority of the voting public to whom these politicians in office are beholden, right?
Yet the President held full court to denounce the public. The Senate Republicans and 20 Democrats held full court to rebuke the public. The paid propagandists ran out with pen in hand to reprimand the public. TV screens were filled from channel to channel by the mobilized shills all condemning the public. And the corporate owned "grassroots" organization called Freedom's Watch wasted no time in creating and distributing its own ad vilifying the public. Does this not strike anyone as strange?
If the majority of the public shares this sentiment, then who are all these people rushing forth to defend? Who is this highly organized, well funded condemnation of the American public for? The only conclusion that can be reached is that the people who voted to rebuke the American people do not represent the American people. It is that simple. Whoever the elected officials in office are beholden to, it is most certainly not the public.
For the Still Deluded Among You...
If you are still a card carrying Republican, then you likely believe that the President and his party represent you. In reality, for those of you "Conservatives" still imagining yourselves to be the "base," and somehow represented by this President and his cronies, I have news for you: You are not in that club either.
Do you see a single soldier or a family member of a soldier represented in the President's "base?" Do you see a church, a temple, or any other religious organization represented, or a religious object in any way displayed at this "base" dinner? Do you see your political party friends or associates here, dining on food most of you cannot even afford to look at? In fact, do any of these people appear to you to be anyone you know? Does this event resemble your dining experience in general or your access to our dear leader in particular?
The majority of us now know that we are no longer represented by those in elected office. What we did not know until the Senate resolution to rebuke the MoveOn ad is just which of our elected public officials were "with us" and which were most decidedly "with the President." On that point, there is no longer any doubt. Every elected official who voted for condemning roughly 3 million Americans for something so fundamentally protected by the Constitution as the freedom to disagree with the President - does not represent us. Whoever they represent, it is not us.
In the cold civil war in which we are now all fighting to free ourselves from the corporate confederacy, the MoveOn ad was the first direct hit against a monolithic machine thought impervious before.