Bush: The Final ConflictMarch 20, 2002
Some of this appeared on Bushwatch.com
Beethoven's Seventh blasts its defiant choruses from my boombox on this cold, rainy first night of spring 2002. I look upon an uncertain future.
Is it a heroic time? Is it a time for heroism? I think it is. I think it is a time for each person to do his or her little part for our common aspirations for a decent, prosperous, peaceful, creative society. We are struck dumb. We are awe-stricken with what is playing out before us. The audacity, the head-spinning recklessness, the unleashed greed, psychotic in character and monumental in dimension -- it is hard to believe, therefore most do not believe it. And they do not act. They see the vase falling and are paralyzed as they watch it, though it appears to be going so slow it's as if time stands still.
It is time for Americans to wake up. Someone says black is white, up is down. Do you believe him? You know he is lying through that crooked face. Do you fail to call him on it? Do you honor his right to lie? He is picking your pocket. He is laughing at you. What will it take to change your mind, to wake you up to what is being destroyed, what is being perpetrated before your eyes?
A message to the unwary. It is time to fight for what you believe in. Today's heroism will not be in signing up for the U.S. Army in order to be a mercenary for the oil cartel. The fight today will be a fight to tell the truth against a colossal barrage of lies.
O'Reilly -- and all you faceless powder puffs of Fox News and all the other "news products" that ape Fox -- you are clever men indeed, but you are fools. You are aiding and abetting the destruction of the planet. You hold the people hypnotized while your bosses walk off with the earth's treasures, while they turn the earth into a wasteland. Your bank accounts grow, but you are hypnotized too. Your money will not protect you from the environmental disasters the government of greed is unleashing while it is paying you to keep the perpetrators undercover.
In the future, if there are human beings, they may call this the oil civilization. It is a toxic civilization that poisons and destroys everything it touches. It knows no moderation. The sanctioned greed of the multinational corporations that manifestly control the world through George W. Bush has been carried to such an extreme as to palpably threaten the survival of the human species.
On March 20, The Guardian of London reported that a piece of ice the size of Wales just broke off from Antarctica. This is an iceberg that weighs "500 million billion tonnes", according to the article.
On March 1, The Guardian also reported that if the present global warming trend continues the process could soon reach a threshold at which it would dramatically accelerate so that the temperature would rise drastically in a few years, leaving no time for ecosystems to adapt. The earth could suddenly be ruled by a "new climatic regime" qualitatively different from what we know. A change that would be so fundamental its effects would be felt for thousands of years. The report said it would be more catastrophic than any cataclysm in recorded history.
The article went on to say that a year ago the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) issued a report forecasting that global average surface temperature is likely to rise by 1.4 to 5.8 degrees centigrade between now and 2100. If that projection holds up, we were told, the change in temperature forecast for the next 100 years will be larger than any climate change on earth in more than 10,000 years. Five degrees centigrade is the difference between now and the last ice age when much of North America was covered by thousands of feet of ice.
But Bush incorporated, aka the oil cartel, rolled back the Kyoto agreement, the one feeble little attempt the nations of the world had been able to organize among themselves to try to help postpone global disaster. Why? Because the next quarterly income statements of a number of very powerful corporations require it. For one quarter's income after another, we are sustaining a system of energy consumption that should have been discarded 30 years ago. The American energy system based on petroleum is toxic, untenable for a future of increasing demand and reducing supply, requires Americans to die and kill others to maintain domination of oil lands. No rational person, even an oilman, could tell you that there will be enough oil to sustain consumption at current trends for more than a few more years, historically speaking. But the oilmen want to keep the country dependent on the diminishing supplies of oil, while they control the source.
So what are we doing? What are we allowing a gang of lunatics who unlawfully seized the White House to do to our planet, to our aspirations for a better life, a peaceful and life-sustaining planet? Who wants these policies? Who wants wars all over the world? Who wants space wars? Who wants to plan for nuclear strikes against other countries? Who wants the deregulation of companies like Enron? Who wants to give the Social Security fund to Wall Street? Who wants to give the federal treasury to the richest corporations and give up all our social programs? Who wants to live in a medieval capitalistic technocracy?
Certainly not the vast majority of Americans. It's easily demonstrable in any number of polls that the vast majority of Americans oppose the Bush junta on practically every issue.
It is time for Americans to come out of their deep sleep. It is time to take a good look at the Bush administration and stare extinction in the face. That is what we are dealing with now. Is that enough of a cause for you? Those who prefer to maintain an apolitical posture, will you stand on the sidelines and watch these mobsters dismantle every thing that is valuable in this country? Is this the promise of America, home of the brave land of the free?
Are Americans going to cower and stand paralyzed while the Bill of Rights is systematically destroyed piece by piece? Will we watch passively as they make the earth uninhabitable?
If so, then we deserve to be extinct. We have already lost the battle. We are already dead. If we were incapable of change, real fundamental change, then the scientific projections can easily be made: we will make ourselves extinct. The forces that are now in motion, technologically, environmentally, politically, are headed toward almost certain disaster. Our hope for survival comes not from this machine-like rationality that drives relentlessly toward amassing wealth, no matter what is destroyed in the process. Our hope for survival comes from our hearts, our aspirations, from our ability to adapt. The oil world is over. America must find a new way to fuel our society. And it can certainly be done. But it is not being done. No preparations are being made, except for those in power, whose design it is to control the increasingly scarce sources of fossil energy.
The scientific and intellectual communities in our society have long understood the importance of finding new sources of energy, new systems that can function on non fossil fuels. The multitudes of working people want a peaceful world, appreciate the beauty of the world and don't want it destroyed, are not set on being the richest and most powerful people on the planet. The people who really have a vested interest in the ongoing maintenance of the present dinosaur energy system are the few tycoons who hire the politicians to run the system for their benefit.
In the case of the Bushes, the capacity to thwart the will of the people on behalf of the ruling corporate elite is virtually unrestrained. The administration barely bothers to even maintain pretensions of respecting public opinion any more. Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, et. al. are mad dogs. The danger they represent to the world cannot be overstated. They have their fingers on the nuclear button. And they are waving the threat around for some inexplicable reason.
What has happened is that the battle against Bush -- the corporate oligarchy he represents -- has truly become a battle for survival, and no longer just a battle of survival of the poor, but of the planet. That battle of globalization becomes the battle for global survival.
What these men are doing is insane. Reversing the progress of environmental preservation to satisfy a few greedy cartels would be certifiably insane if there was any sane authority to proclaim it.
Ask the scientists about the magnitude of the forces at work in breaking off a piece of ice the size of billions of Titanics. Do they think their army is going to deal with that? How about the multi-billion dollar intelligence agencies that missed hundreds of documented chances to stop the mass murder of Sept. 11? Are they going to protect us?
Thomas Paine used the phrase "Common Sense." In today's vernacular, "It ain't rocket science."
With Bush, the what-me-worry face of predatory corporate domination, we have arrived: this is the final conflict. Either he loses, or the world does.
-- David Cogswell
Exchange with Matt Schweder re global warming
Matt Schweder wrote the following letter to Bushwatch.com in response to an article about global warming I wrote for Bushwatch. My reply to Matt Schweder follows:
Letter to Bushwatch from Matt Schweder
David Cogswell's commentary about Bush's ignoring global warming and the oil interests that create that position was a really wonderful piece. Many fine writers and journalists have also made similar comments, but I thought his had more punch. However, there is always something missing in the analysis on the subject, noteably why the oil companies would fight tooth and nail to impede the move to sustainable energy.
The obvious explanation, that they're clinging to their profits and power, doesn't make sense. Think about it this way. Most of the world is dependent on oil. We're talking for mobility, food production, factory operation, household products, etc., etc. down the line. We know we have a finite amount of oil in the earth, so these oil tycoons also know they can't continue their oil profits forever. To move the planet's economy from an oil dependent economy to one of an alternative fuel (or fuels), will be a most enormous undertaking, costing trillions of dollars and requiring millions of new jobs and hundreds of new industries. There will not be a single person on this planet who now requires pretroleum products who will not need to invest currency in these new products and energy sources. That means companies will stand to profit in the trillions of dollars. Now who in this world has the resources and capital to fund the coming shift into the Second Industrial Revolution? Not the average middle class worker. Not the small business owner down the street. It will be the wealthy corporations already in the business of providing energy, who already have deep pockets.
It seems to me that these energy companies would be licking their chops thinking of supplying the entire world with new cars, factories, power plants and all the thousands of household products contained within each and every home on this planet, instead of fighting to hold on to a system they know is dying. Everything these companies do comes down to money. The smart wager for future payoffs is alternative energy. The fact that they're not betting tells me we must have their motives figured wrong. Are they hoping for a total economic meltdown? Is this some twisted attempt at population control? Because if we run out of oil before alternatives are up and running, millions (and maybe billions) of people will die as a result. I would love to know what Mr. Cogswell, or anyone else for that matter, thinks about this.
Dear Matt Schweder,
Your comments are flattering, but I would suggest that it is the subject itself that is gaining punch. The issue of global warming is hitting us head on now. It is no longer an abstract concept. We can see it and feel it. We are still experiencing the trend in slow motion, but at the same time we are beginning to get a glimpse of what a colossal force we are dealing with. It also becomes more pressing as the Bush team gains momentum in a retrograde direction.
Your questions are profound, and others have raised them too. Why indeed would the most powerful forces on the planet seem intent on policies that seem bound to ultimately destroy them along with everyone else? I'm not sure anyone is competent to answer that. It's not apparent whether even Bush, Cheney, Bush et al could answer if they wanted to.
When I interviewed Noam Chomsky in 1993, it came up that Jimmy Carter provided weapons to the Indonesians, who were at that time massacring the Timorese people. I was shocked to learn that the arms shipment was a Carter initiative, not something some slick congressman had tacked on to a bill. I had not perceived Carter as capable of partaking in such savagery. In my disorientation I blurted out something like, "What could have been his motivations? How could he justify it?" Then I felt like a schoolboy in the presence of the genius.
To Chomsky it didn't matter why. With a scientific clarity of purpose, he focused only on the fact that it was happening and resisted the inclination to follow a path of inquiry into the personal motivations of the man. I think he believed in a very pragmatic way that such speculation could be endless and could take you away from the very important business of dealing with the fact that these people are doing these things and people are dying as a result -- right now as we debate these issues.
"When you ask whether Carter was a hypocrite or not, I haven't the slightest idea," he said. "You'd have to get into his head and find out. Maybe he believed he was doing the right thing, who knows? In my opinion, these are not very interesting questions. We all know from our own personal experiences if not from reading history, that it's very easy to construct a pattern of justification for just about anything you choose to do."
The Bush people, on the other hand, drive forward in fascist lockstep determination and do not pause to speculate. While we discuss and assure ourselves that we are being fair, they take up every inch of slack and trample over us. Whether or not we can figure out why they do what they do, they are killing us.
Like you, I can't resist speculating, trying to figure out the paradox: Why do they pursue this hell-bent, destructive agenda? It's not just the destruction of the ozone layer. These people are churning up the fires of nuclear war again. They are already carrying out war in Afghanistan and Colombia, and their aspirations for greater military conquests are no secret. They are engaged in the most massively macho game of brinkmanship ever, one that could drag all of life on planet earth into extinction with them. Are they crazy?
I think we must be prepared to face that possibility. Insanity is a relative term and there are many varieties of mental and emotional aberrations. Anyone familiar with the revelations that continue to unfold from the Nixon tapes must acknowledge the peril that the world was in when that man had his finger on the nuclear button. Was Hitler insane? It was not widely believed even in the West until massive carnage was an accomplished fact. Was Stalin insane? Peter the Great? Genghis Khan? Caesar? Perhaps.
If they are insane, to treat them like sane people would be foolhardy. Perhaps they are like the scorpion in the myth of the frog and the scorpion who could not change his murderous ways even though killing the frog would destroy the only thing that was keeping him from drowning.
It is possible that the human institutions of which the Bush corporate elite are part cannot function any other way but to blindly, mechanically seek profit, like a computer programmed with a singular objective. It is possible that none of these very clever men with their attaché cases, coats and ties have the necessary insight or force of will to change the momentum of the institutions they are part of, even if it kills them. Though alternative energy is potentially a tremendous moneymaking opportunity, these men may not be able to rise to the occasion. They are certainly smart game players on certain political and economic fields, but are they men of wisdom? Do they possess the necessary heroic strength? They may be little men way over their heads, moving machine-like one step after another toward the objectives they were programmed for long ago.
I tend to think it is just classic human folly, just basic incompetence employed on the highest levels of power, the same greed and narrow-mindedness that have destroyed humanity's greatest creations since time immemorial.
They may be suicidal. We don't know what really motivates them. We only know what they are actually doing and that it is lethal to all of us and to our children and our children's children. And we don't know how much time we have to take action.