Friday, July 17, 2003
Questionable IntelligenceOn the rare occasion when I turn on the cursed tube it is impossible to stay on one channel for long. I can watch movies, but most of TV programming is so alien to me it's impossible to leave it on for more than a few seconds without switching to something else. My mind is on an entirely different speed, it traces a trajectory that cuts sidewaysacross the spectrum of cable programming. My hand clutches the remote with twitchy fingers. Maybe it's just the instinctive fear that if I stay anywhere for long, I may get caught in the lethal hypnosis it creates so effectively.
But lately the abysmal world of the news has seemed to show a spark of hope and it seemed like a good time to do a quick survey, running through the channels like a roulette wheel with palsy.
At 7 p.m. I turned it on, flipped off of whatever cheap drama first appeared, landing on a program listing channel. I spotted the BBC News being shown on cable channel 8 so I pressed the number into the remote and was suddenly sucked into BBC reality. The news reports saw American GIs in Baghdad, a heartwrenching sight. Young guys who are extremely unhappy, who have obviously lost faith in their leaders. It showed footage of them on the streets, interviews with a few. Some were grim and dutiful. "I'm just trying to do my job day by day until we can get out of here, trying to make sure everyone of my guys gets home alive. That's all I'm thinking about," said one.
Others were open in their frustration boiling into rage. "What are we still doing here? We were supposed to be going home now. They told us the way home was through Baghdad. So that's what we did and now we're still here."
In one shot a British reporter is sitting at a table with a bunch of young enlisted Americans. He asks, "If Donald Rumsfeld was sitting here, what would you want to say to him?"
There was a lot of snickering and exchanged looks and the first subject said, "I don't think I could say that on camera..." An explosion of laughter from the group. Then the question was put to another. "What would I say? I'd ask for his resignation."
After some of that the program shifted to a crusty old soldier from high command in Washington saying that, "As soldiers we don't have the right to criticize the Secretary of Defense. We don't have that right." I hate to think what will happen to those young men who spoke out. God bless 'em for their courage.
Yes, the old soldier is right, military men don't have the right, in a system of laws. But what if soldiers are sent off to fight a war on false pretexts by men who were not lawfully elected to their offices and once they took office have proceeded to violate Constitutional law on many fronts. That's a good question. I'd hate to be an enlisted man in Iraq wrestling with that question while my life may hang in the balance over the answer.
Next the BBC took us to Hong Kong, an arial view of streets packed with people vehemently demonstrating their outrage at a sleazy attempt by the mainland government to slide an "anti-subversion" law into place. Two public officials have resigned in the wake of the crisis. Right on Hong Kong people! Don't let them whittle away at your civil liberties! Yes! Exemplary behavior. See that Americans?
The BBC switched to a domestic British story and my attention span was at the brink of collapse so I switch up a few channels and found myself on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer. The black female anchor was interviewing James Schlesinger, the director of the CIA under Nixon and the Secretary of Defense under Nixon and Ford, and Madeleine Albright, the Secretary of State under Clinton. I put on the brakes and decided to take a look, with that morbid curiosity of driving by a catastrophic car wreck.
Schlesinger also spoke openly about his affiliation with the Council on Foreign Relations, the real upper crust of the New World Order. Not surprisingly, Schlesinger and Albright agreed on more than they disagreed on, if their words are to be taken as truthful expressions of their feelings, which is dubious at best. Albright is on the Council on Foreign Relations too.
Schlesinger was surprisingly harsh on the administration about failing to comprehend what the military understood from the beginning, that there would be Iraqi resistance even after the military machine lost its hold on the country. He also didn't seem to approve much of the finger pointing by Bush to the CIA.
Albright didn't like the finger pointing either, she said. The country is losing credibility in a way that will undermine us in other kinds of very important negotiations that are in line to be dealt with.
Schlesinger flipped it around so that the blame was on the people who asked the questions who were undermining the credibility of the U.S.
He puffed up and showed his fading machoism when he said that the US invasion of Iraq was a great success because it was such a stunning military victory it showed the "We are a strong country and anyone who attempts to thwart us will pay a price." He beamed a real tough-guy smile on that one. Time to leave.
On to NBC we see an interview with a 90-year-old Gerald Ford. From one kind of questionable intelligence to another. Ford said Nixon was "one of my best friends when I was in Congress. It broke my heart to see him misled by his own staff..." Yeah, blah blah blah, the overzealous underling bit. Wake me up when it's over. Did he have any doubt about pardoning Nixon? No way. "I knew it was the right thing because thirty days after I was in office I was spending 25% of my time on the Nixon tapes, the Nixon papers. It occurred to me that I had an obligation to spend 100% on the presidency. When you look at it in that light, it's obvious it was the right thing."
Yeah, when you look at it in that light. But the president isn't a 9-to-5 job where you are paid by the hour. It's not like milking cows or stocking vending machines. That was the job of presidency! Binding up the nation's wounds was his job at that point in history. As he said it, to put "the long national nightmare" behind us.
Ford put it behind us by suppressing the system of justice, protecting his "best friend" from prosecution. Because of the pardon, the true depth of Nixon's crimes may never be known. What is known is bad enough. He was the prototype of the present-day fascist government in America. If Ford had let the investigation go forward, the Constitutional system of laws could have worked it through. If he wanted to be humane he could have spared Nixon jail time, though Nixon would never have been humane to others facing jail or death. But an investigation was important for the future of Constitutional government in America and Ford thwarted it. That's why he lost the election. They didn't have black box voting machines yet.
But of course Ford's agenda was Nixon's agenda. Of course he didn't want Nixon's crimes to be laid out on the table. God knows how far it would have stretched. As Nixon said when he tried to threaten the FBI to back off in the Watergate investigation, if you don't back off, "all that Bay of Pigs thing" may come out. Haldeman said in his book The Ends of Power that whenever the old man said "Bay of Pigs" he was talking in code about the Kennedy Assassination.
(The quote from the Watergate tapes on June 23, 1972 is: (Nixon:) "Of course this Hunt [Watergate burglar and CIA liaison with anti- Castro Cubans E. Howard Hunt], that will uncover a lot of things. You open that scab, there's a hell of a lot of things, and we feel that it would be very detrimental to have this thing go any further... it's going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again." Later the same day: (Nixon:) "very bad to have this fellow, Hunt, he knows too damned much, if he was involved--you happen to know that? [Hunt was in radio contact with the burglars from across the street.] If it gets out that this is all involved, the Cuba thing would be a fiasco. It would make the CIA look bad, and it's very likely to blow the whole Bay of Pigs thing, which we think would be very unfortunate--both for the CIA, and for the country, at this time, and for American foreign policy. Just tell him to lay off..." See "The Nixon Connection". For more fun stuff on Nixon and the Bay of Pigs: see "George Bush, Skull & Bones and the JFK Assassination", The People's Voice, The Realist.)
Why were Nixon's tapes and papers taking so much of his time? Because he was actively involved in trying to suppress them. Of course. Ford was on the Warren Commission, which was put together to smooth over the Kennedy Assassination and calm the general unrest of the people by giving them a plausible explanation that wouldn't lead to any further investigations. An open-and-shut case was what was desired, and Ford was one of the few selected by Johnson to make sure the government's dirty secrets remained secret. Best friends indeed! (See "Nixon and Ford -- The Pardon and the Tapes".)
Flipping again I come onto CNN. A couple of dapper faces are discussing presidential fundraising. It sounds like a horse race. They speak as if the contest were nothing more than who hauls in the most bribes, as if anything after that is irrelevant. Maybe they are right. But their is always that renegade element in the human spirit, that capricious force that can never be entirely controlled or contained.
Sometimes an idea can be strong enough to upset the simple equasion, to supercharge the formula in a way and throw the simple addition into another calculus entirely. Ideas can be transmuted into money, and into political power. Especially at hinge points in history, times of upheaval and change, like now. Witness Howard Dean, virtually unknown former governor of a little sliver of a state up in the northeast and he is pulling in more money than all the old time Democrats who have paid their dues in the political establishment, delivered the right political favors to the powerful donors. Take notice all you lame Democrats who can't get enough courage together to represent the people or the Constitution. The people are hearing a call, something you neglected to provide. Watch them now try to figure out how to usurp Dean's issues. Will they all become anti-war candidates? It's easier for them now that the war in Iraq is turning into such a disaster, they didn't have to stand up against it at the time so they could play it cool, not upset the apple cart, be sure not to have their "patriotism" questioned. Now they can jump on Bush for the policy they supported when it was happening. At least Dean was anti-war all along. Anti-war, but only marginally anti-military industrial complex.
Okay, got it. Now moving along I switch to CNN Headline News and am suddenly looking at an unbelievably beautiful Asian looking face, a talking head as stunningly beautiful as a Victoria Secret model. It's an assault to the senses. I am tempted to leave it on this channel no matter what she says. She looks serene. Earth mother and seductress at the same time. In a moment I find myself looking at two men, one interviewing the other about bicycle races. Prime time news for the masses. (Just get out of here! Shut up!)
Okay, that's enough, no more TV tonight.