Making Up History
History, as we all know, is written by the victors. Implicit in this celebrated phrase, coined by Winston Churchill, is that there must be a loser — the one that history ignores.
In this election, a loser will be forgotten.
But it won’t be the manufactured war-hero or the “teleprompter virtuoso” who will fade into oblivion. It will be the American people.
Regardless of what happens today, the true significance of this election, (of this “historic” election), is the total surrender of this country to the forces which have for decades tried to co-opt its institutions and civic consciousness, and in the last eight years succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
The complete breakdown of accountability in the Bush administration after the ‘inciting’ incident nine months after his inaugural ceremony, not to mention the levels of absurdity reached within the unfolding of the incident itself, would have been enough to unleash a massive uprising a generation ago, but 50 years of network television, focused Hollywood productions and the more recent addition of cable fed ‘reality’ and infotainment has served them well.
At the risk of finding a ‘race card’ in my deck, I’d like to share a personal anecdote about a comment that a co-worker once made to me many years ago, while sitting in her car at a drive-thru bank teller window.
I had mentioned something about Leonard Peltier, the Native American activist who is serving two consecutive life terms in prison. Naturally, the conversation drifted into the general condition of Native Americans in this country and at some point she retorted, in all seriousness: “it serves them (Native Americans) right for not having Jesus Christ as their lord and savior.” Needless to say, I was taken aback by such a remark, compounded by the fact that she was black and shared a last name with a rather well-known, slave-owning, first president of the United States.
I was vexed.
Eventually, it became clear to me that ‘salvation’ is as much about forgiveness as it is about condemnation. It all depends on who’s doing the ‘saving’, I guess.
I bring this up only because of the choices that have been placed before us in the political circus of 2008, as a kind of prelude to the necessary questions that will emerge as a result of how things stand only a few hours before the election results are known. But before dealing with the obvious, it’s important to remember how long ago this “election year” actually began and the issues surrounding those first moments of political posturing.
In the beginning of the Japanese illustrated novel, Lone Wolf & Cub, in a scene reminiscent of a psychotherapeutic exercise, a new born child is placed in front of two objects by his samurai father: a ball and a sword. Whichever object the baby crawled to would determine his destiny.
America’s current state of regression can be compared to that of a small child or infant. From the very early stages of the Bush presidency, the population has suffered shock after collective shock. The motion picture-like violence of that fateful day in September, followed by outright lies, misrepresentations, corruption, and wars with no relation to domestic, or for that matter, foreign policy concerns, to the most recent debacle of the economy has left the American population reeling and in search of refuge.
The candidates started coming out of the woodwork earlier than they had ever done before and in numbers equally unheard of. There was Giuliani, Clinton, Huckabee, Romney, Richardson, Biden, McCain, Obama, Dodd, Gravel, Kucinich, Vilsak, Brownback, Hunter, Tancredo, Thompson, and Paul… Paul, the great diffuser, and his side kick Kucinich. Their roles were to embody the very real dissention that was engulfing the nation after so much spiritual and material graft; essentially to co-opt it and avoid it spilling over into more serious anti-establishment activity.
The candidates’ outings began as early as 2006, halfway through Bush’s second term, reflecting the reality of a president who had no voice left with his electorate. The blatant war of occupation had taken its toll with the American public which now required a chorus of establishment figures to direct the discourse. The first issue on the table, expressed in the mid-term elections, was the war in Iraq. After the democrats took control of the house and thereafter did nothing the issue was still hot, yet cool enough after the ‘ballot venting’ to allow prospective presidential candidates to start lobbing their own soft balls.
Nearly two years later, the issue of the war has pretty much been talked out and after the disaster-capitalist meltdown and bailout fraud, no one much remembers where they stand on the issues as they scurry about trying to keep their jobs and homes. To top it all off, the candidates who eventually emerged from the political fray as the official presidential candidates represent something far deeper than most Americans care to admit.
The issue of racism is always latent in a country of immigrants, but the white/black issue transcends race in that it cuts right through to the very definition of who made America what it is today and who is a true blooded American. Did George Washington make America or did the slaves who tended his mansion make it? Is a Founding Father more American than the slave who worked the cotton fields? These are issues of America’s infancy and they remain unresolved today. The social repercussions are still evident despite the civil rights movement and other apparent evidence of social progress.
The fact that a black man is this close to reaching the presidency at precisely this point in the nation’s history is not a good sign.
The country is divided and psychologically wounded. Like the child in the Japanese graphic novel, the country is being presented with a false choice, for if the child does not choose the sword, as he most certainly does, the novel’s plot cannot develop as the author intends.
Seven Days in September
Wednesday, September 5th 2001
Far away in a land known for fog came a news story. Not something you would run and tell a neighbor, not even something that would keep you from flipping the channel or turning to the sports page. This was something between “community gathers to fry world’s largest calamari” and the weather man’s daily anecdote.
At a press conference scheduled between 10:30 and 11:00 a.m. in Glasgow, Scotland a group of people belonging to an organization called the British Association for the Advancement of Science made public their intention to find the funniest joke in the world. The search would take place in three phases and would conclude sometime in the course of the following year.
To be sure, anyone who gives this question 10 seconds of serioius thought would rightly conclude that there is perhaps no other question that would yeild a more unscientific answer.
Thursday, September 6th 2001
It was on the morning of September 6th that President Bush appointed former Senator John Danforth special envoy to lead a U.S. peace initiative to Sudan. This is the same man who led the government probe of the branch Davidian compound investigation back in the Clinton days.
Another, supposedly separate announcement regarding Sudan was made by USAID that same morning informing the world that it was increasing its aid to said country by 25 to 30 million dollars. I wonder if special envoy John Danforth would be carrying the newly bloated stippend with him personally.
Meanwhile the head of state from another country altogether was adressing Congress on this special Thursday. Vicente Fox, the freshly elected president of neighboring Mexico, gave his best reasons to convince U.S. Representatives that cheap mexican labor was in the interest of all elites. Unfortunately, most of them were distracted, gnawing their teeth about not being invited to the big ball that evening.
Only 136 people were on the guest list for Bush’s first state dinner. On the menu, buffalo meat.
Clint Eastwood, among the few charmed to be there, was reportedly harassed by Senate majority leader Trent Lott during the cocktail reception party; the latter reaching out for the Hollywood film star´s sleeve proclaiming “We’re looking for a candidate for Governer of California…” Clint apparently ignored the man and kept moving.
A bit lower on the alphabetically organized list were Brit Hume and Kim Schiller Hume, a couple that stood out for their isolation. FOX News Editor and Bureau Chief respectively; the only main press staffers invited to the shindig.
Finally, we’ll never know what the Archbishop of L.A. was doing at Bush’s table… oh wait, I forgot, W is about to become the new leader of the christian world, pass the A1 steak sauce, please.
Friday, September 7th 2001: Launch day.
This day was indeed a special one in a week full of special days. Remember our friends from the British Association for the Advancement of Science ? They came up for air again. No news on the search for the funniest joke, not yet. Today would be the day when one million school children would be choreographed in a one minute jumping session to see if they would be able to casue an earthquake. Does this sound like science to you?
The event was held as an inauguration of sorts to something they called the Year of Science.
The UK is overrun by wannabe pagans, rune-toting ferry-hunters obsessed with celtic lore. No doubt 1 in 5 brits have access to a witch’s almanac where it clearly states that fridays are inauspicious days to hold any type of commencement ceremonies, or to begin anything at all.
Saturday, September 8th 2001
International literacy day. There’s gotta be something on TV., though you wouldn’t be able to watch any at the WTC south tower since all electrical power has been shut off in an unprecedented power-down order. Engineers are whisking in and out of the building doing some “re-wiring”.
Sunday, September 9th 2001
Finally, the results from Friday’s Launch Day experiment.
1.1 on the Richter scale. Are we beginning to see a pattern here?
Monday, September 10th 2001
Any time you’re about to do something of great importance or exciting like getting on a plane or taking a test, the day before always builds up all the pressure. You can’t sleep, you can barely think of anything other than what tomorrow will mean, what it will feel like.
When W woke up on this Monday he knew he was going to be reading the story of a pet goat to a classroom full of children the next day. There are certain kinds of people who get a kick out of doing things like that, George W. Bush is not one of them.
Maybe it was the thought of seeing his little brother in a few hours that made him all giddy at breakfast. Maybe.
In any case, the secret service and another affiliated company of security personnel had arrived at the Colony Beach Resort in Sarasota, the hotel where Bush would take up residence for a day and a night. They had begun setting up surface to air missile launchers on the hotel roof top. Sounds exciting.
Even more exciting was the fact that only ten miles from said hotel, on that very day, an ostensibly well known international terrorist and his cohorts would also be arriving for undisclosed business.
Mohamed Atta would, in a few hours, be blamed for leading the most sophisticated terrorist attack in history. What was he doing in Sarasota, Fl on the same day the president of the United States? Maybe Bush was giddy, or maybe he was just nervous. We all get nervous before a big test.
Well, what better than a joke to release tension?
One year later
Here’s the winning joke:
Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, “My friend is dead! What can I do?”. The operator says “Calm down. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says “OK, now what?”