August 15, 2005

Heartsick Heartland

In the last week and a half I traveled nearly 4,000 miles across the U.S. midwest and northeast, only a few hundred miles of which I didn't drive myself. I saw the great heartland up close and personal, via its highways, truckstops, hotels and roadside restaurants. I experienced the whole road culture of America. Much of the exploration of the landscape was actually carried out by scanning the radio airwaves as I drove through the country.

In much of the country that I traveled through there is little access to information via radio. In some places there was no radio signal available. And in most of it, there were no radio voices offering any view that clearly differs from the administration, no Air America, or Pacifica, just straight standard conformist corporate media, all too timid to say anything that may be jarring, as much of today's reality is.

Much of what I saw gave me the inescapable impression I was seeing a civilization on its last legs. The buffer that has to be put on reality to filter out the damning information has become so thick that Americans who dwell in that reality are nearly dancing on air, they are so out of touch with reality.

One can only hope that a new reality is ready to supplant the old one when it caves in, perhaps a latent counterculture, ready to spring forth whole, never really gone, only effectively obscured by the most powerful propaganda system ever devised by mankind. There are many signs of what could be a sea change, that catalytic moment that signals the tipping point in a process, in this case long overdue. Frank Rich's editorial in the Sunday New York Times, (see Truthout) hits the nail on the head: "A president can't stay the course when his own citizens (let alone his own allies) won't stay with him. The approval rate for Mr. Bush's handling of Iraq plunged to 34 percent in last weekend's Newsweek poll - a match for the 32 percent that approved L.B.J.'s handling of Vietnam in early March 1968. (The two presidents' overall approval ratings have also converged: 41 percent for Johnson then, 42 percent for Bush now.) On March 31, 1968, as L.B.J.'s ratings plummeted further, he announced he wouldn't seek re-election, commencing our long extrication from that quagmire."

There are many stories that could be told about driving across the eastern U.S., including Ohio, which lost many young soldiers during the week we passed through. It seemed that you could almost feel the pain and shock in the air. Poor beleaguered America, the state in which the Republicans secured Bush's 2004 victory by massive manhandling and perversion of the voting system. The country is so exhausted by the Bush onslaught the people you see seem to scarcely know which way is up.

Driving through Iowa on a paralyzingly hot day I saw a small airplane that seemed as if it had sprung straight up from the earth before me. Then it vanished below the horizon again. Still spooked by strange behaving aircraft like all people who saw the gash in the World Trade Center in person, my mind started reeling. What am I seeing here? Is this a plane crash? Is this craft out of control?

The plane lifted again above the horizon, then continued on a course that seemed to careen perilously close to out of control. As I drove closer it was at one point over my head not so far away, pointed in a strange looking direction that made it appear that it might just nose dive right on top of my car.

Then I saw tanks that indicated the plane was cropdusting and as it was barreling along over a field of corn to my right, my vehicle was suddenly enveloped in the heavy, deadly odor of insecticide. It was an unspeakably toxic smell. It made one want to gasp for breath, to break out to a place of fresh air. But there was none. There was nothing to to but try to breathe as little as possible until you could get out of the area. Then the next thought occurred to me. That's our food they are drenching with that poison...

Over and over, stopping at a fast food restaurant and spending $20 for leathery hamburgers for three people, seeing the price of gasoline, the dazed look of the people, the obesity, the avoidance on the mass media of substantive information about the war, I got the sense of there being something deeply wrong. It reminded me of the words of Ray Anderson, the CEO of Interface Corporation, the largest producer of commercial carpet in the world. Anderson explains eloquently in the film The Corporation that the industrial revolution is not working and we have to take another crack at it and see if we can get it right this time.

After extended exposure, watching the Bush administration becomes toxic, especially now that its own poisons are starting to catch up with it. Watching the whole stinking project come unraveled is sickening, the negativity is so pervasive. It is time for Americans to declare independence from this failed project and strike out on a new path to build a civilization that really works. It can be done. But anyone who trusts the leaders in Washington to lead the way to a viable world is tragically misled.

Meanwhile, here's a good site for a plain-speaking analysis of some of the more pronounced reasons why the official explanation for 9/11 is pathetically inadequate to accommodate the known facts of the occurrences of that awful day.

Back to Home Page