William Rivers Pitt: Bad, Worse, Worst and Beyond
Bad, Worse, Worst and Beyond
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Columnist
Fear is just another word for ignorance.
- Hunter S. Thompson
Once upon a time there was Bad, and there was Worse, and there was Worst, and that used to be it. Those were the only parameters necessary when the time came to assess the severity of a given situation and decide if the thing was merely wrong, actually dangerous, or just plan ridiculous. Bad, for example, was Gerald Ford's full pardon of Richard Nixon, which came in tandem with his decision to let Nixon keep the tapes. That's pretty straightforward, and the provided example should be clear enough: Bad means something is pretty damned bad.
Worse, by comparison, was Oliver North's sale of missiles to the same Iranian government that killed more than two hundred Marines in Beirut back in '83, followed by his illegal funneling of that sale's proceeds to fund a pack of kill-crazy fascists in Central America who shot some nuns and other non-combatants down like dogs using the good bullets they bought with thrice-laundered American tax dollars.
All of which was taking place as Reagan slid further into the senility that eventually left him capable only of pretending to be the president. Rather than deal with the reality of the situation, however, the decision was made to hand the entire hyper-weaponized machinery of the federal government over to a bunch of wild boys nobody ever voted for, whose abuse of that power rapidly devolved into a mind-bending crime spree that almost got their uncomprehending boss impeached.
As for Worst, well ... that's simple enough. Worst was a box in the cargo hold of Air Force One that left Dallas with John Kennedy inside of it, and was the blood pooling beneath Robert Kennedy's head as he lay dying on a dirty kitchen floor in California, and was Martin Luther King Jr. shot dead through the throat on some inconsequential Memphis hotel balcony, and was Medgar Evars shot dead in his driveway while his wife and children watched and wailed, and was Malcom Little who became Malcolm X who became El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz before a dozen gunshots put him down like Evars to die before the eyes of his wife and children.
That is a fair sampling of Worst, but only for openers, because this file is the biggest of the three by orders of magnitude, fairly bursting with names and events that sound in the reading of them like a roll-call of doom and nightmare, for that is precisely what they are.
Worst was as terrible as it could get, or so it was believed, until now, until the creation of a new fourth category became unavoidably necessary. The bewildering and terrifying fact of the matter is Worst has been fully and completely trumped by the times, relegated to silver-medal status and the lower podium. The grim reality of this brave new deranged world is the nation is now swarming with so many new and different horrors, which were upon us in one brief and ravaging eyeblink of time. It went beyond Worst just that fast.
As such, the new category is titled Beyond.
Beyond, for starters, is the fact nearly every American citizen stands surrounded by a confluence of mortal perils that threaten to completely unravel and eviscerate their country. Nearly every American will be severely and painfully affected should these dangers turn lethal ... and yet hardly anyone in America actually knows this. Almost nobody understands or recognizes the cocked and loaded gun pressed against their collective head, even as the trigger is slowly yet steadily squeezed and there are live rounds sitting in the chamber waiting for the hammer to drop.
One of those bullets is named George, just like his father, and he is an unimaginably dangerous fellow. People still don't know that the man sitting in the Oval Office of the White House is actively working to destroy all the American government he can get his hands on, because doing so is literally the bedrock of what passes for his political ideology. Many newsroom pundits saw him veto legislation to provide twelve million children with health insurance, but brushed it off as nothing more than the act of a standard-issue fiscal conservative. A renegade few on other news shows believed his veto was actually motivated by the need to snatch the cash set aside by the bill, so he could keep feeding the financial beast his disastrous Iraq war has become.
Both opinions were almost entirely wrong, but had just enough gristle on the bone to pass muster. Of course, Bush dropped the veto on two Democratic domestic spending packages; and, of course, he needs more money so he can keep losing two wars at the same time; and, of course, these trains of thought reinforce the conventionally-accepted story line of American politics; and that's nice for the TV people, but has nothing to do with the truth of the deal.
Bush vetoed those bills for one reason and one reason only: They were going to create government programs that worked. The very idea is rank heresy for privatizers like Bush, whose ultimate goal is to privatize everything from Social Security to health care to the pigeons in the park, because that's where the money his friends and constituents have been lusting after can be found.
A government program that actually and effectively serves the people is an intolerable thing to George, because that is the single best argument against privatization. If we know anything at all after all these gruesome years, it is that Bush simply will not tolerate the existence of any fact or idea that might disrupt the spinning, clanking, gear-grinding clockwork inside that craven pretzel-dented bone-sack that wobbles above his spindled, slumping shoulders. If he doesn't already believe in something, or if something contradicts the popsicle-stick infrastructure of his beliefs, whatever it is can basically go to Hell, because it isn't going anywhere else.
He vetoed those bills because they were going to work, period, end of file.
There is a man in the Oval Office of the White House working an agenda for the destruction of American government. His partner, Mr. Cheney, has been just down the hall taking care of the rest of the job. Subpoenas are ignored, documents are not delivered, Americans are put under surveillance without warrants by the NSA with assistance from nearly every phone company in the country, deep-cover CIA spies are blown to silence critics and whistleblowers, American citizens are imprisoned and denied rights that have been around for a thousand years, direct orders to fraudulently elevate terrorism threat levels are issued to provide cover for uncomfortable news reports, like the report on how many blunt warnings came in before 9/11 but were ignored got itself bounced to the back pages after the White House began yowling about the imminent destruction of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.
That is not even close to the half of it all, and this basic truth cuts to the heart of the matter: The quickest way to destroy the functionality of American government is to destroy the rule of law itself. Declare the Executive supreme and beholden to nothing, flood the Department of Justice and the federal courts with lickspittle political loyalists with no personal code of honor, upend the balanced counterweight of the separation of powers, terrify the populace into submission to avoid any hue and cry, roll out the grand distraction of war to get the flags waving and the newsrooms into line, and never obey any law or regulation imposed by anyone, ever.
This is what has been done to America, and it turned out to be a frightfully simple task. Once the rule of law is gone, there is nothing left to defend American rights and freedoms, nothing left to bring justice to the unjust, nothing left to stop those powerful few who aren't about to let quaint anachronisms like the Constitution, or pesky ideas like the ones that became the United States, get in the way of their work.
None of this information has ever been reported by the smart people on the cable TV news shows. Much of it may not have even occurred to most of them. Pundits don't get paid to think or be smart, so much as they get paid to shout and have stupid hairstyles and deliberately miss the point of every pressing issue they address. This guarantees nobody accidentally provides real and valuable information to the American people during any news broadcasts, and that is what mostly keeps many Americans dumbly frightened and easily managed.
The final product of this process is today's American body politic, almost completely unaware of the gun at their head, a body politic without the protection of law or basic rights and does not know it, a body politic that is altogether lost and wandering and afraid, for reasons they don't begin to understand. That is an unbelievably dangerous state of affairs, a real threat to the very survival of the United States. It is, simply, Beyond.
This barely scratches the surface of the situation as a whole, and that fact alone is pretty much Beyond even Beyond all by itself. If the national economy doesn't collapse before springtime now that debt has again become a bad thing and the dollar is turning into pudding, if Pakistan doesn't fall apart and lose control of its nuclear weaponry, if Iraq and Afghanistan magically stop being lost causes, and if George and Dick actually decide to obey the law and leave office next year, there will only be fifty more disasters left sitting on our national plate.
Only fifty? Boy, that would just be wild, almost like a vacation, really. It's good to have something to look forward to. I guess.
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation," is now available from PoliPointPress.