Wednesday, September 05, 2007
A woman in Texas holds up a photograph of a coyote which has died from an extreme case of mange. The animal was completely hairless by the time it expired, its abdomen distended by runaway inflammation which began on the skin but became general.
The woman insists, however, that the corpse is a chupacabra, not a coyote. The legend of the chupacabra (literally, "goats sucker"), a mythical beast said to attack and suck the blood of livestock, originated in Puerto Rico about 20 years ago.
A couple months ago I saw a similar mange-ravaged animal dead against a curb about a quarter mile from where I live. Nobody suspected that Desert Hot Springs might be infested by chupacabras, but unlike the woman in Texas, we hadn't been losing chickens to a mysterious predator.
It's only natural that we prefer romantic and exotic myths over sordid and grimy reality, and therefore understandable why, in his now-famous "Vietnam" speech of August 22, President Bush said "I'm confident we'll prevail (in Iraq) because we have the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known - the men and women of the United States Armed Forces."
The pundit Tom Engelhardt noted that this breathtaking statement, besides being the only sentence in that speech which hasn't been exhaustively analyzed by critics, historians, and bloggers, "wasn't simply passing blather for an audience of vets, but a thematic summary of the thrust of the whole address..."
"Past American presidents," Engelhardt wrote, "might perhaps have spoken of the 'greatest force for human liberation' as being 'the American way of life' or 'the American dream' or American democracy, or the thinking of the Founding Fathers. But it took a genuine transformation in, and the full-scale militarization of, that way of life, for such a formulation to become presidentially conceivable, no less to pass unnoticed, even by fierce critics, in a speech practically every word of which was combed for meaning."
He might have added that the full-scale militarization of the American polity has been accompanied by a full-scale flight from reality. To "Freedom is Slavery" and "Ignorance is Strength," we can now add "Cluster Bombing is Liberation," then retreat into the comforting myth that free markets and the two-party system will solve all our problems.
That's certainly preferable to confronting the sordid and grimy reality.
Examining Barack Obama's jingoistic and inflammatory remarks about Iran reported in the New York Daily News a few days ago underscores the fact that both our political parties are now sales teams for the same franchise. Both have been fatally corrupted by corporate money, and especially by "campaign contributions" flowing to candidates from the constellation of firms which comprise the petrol-military complex.
And if you wonder, as historian Gabriel Kolko does, "why the U.S. makes the identical mistakes over and over again and never learns from its errors," (for example, Vietnam, followed by Iraq) the obvious answer is that powerful people are making lots of money from those mistakes, and rigging the political system to keep making them.
"It is close to impossible to assign some weight or priority to the arms industry but it must be taken into account that the arms manufacturers have power, strategic lobbies in Washington, contribute heavily to politicians who need campaign funding, and gain financially whether America wins or loses it wars," Kolko observes.
Likewise, the oil industry stands to maximize its profits by keeping the regime of happy motoring going as long as it can, no matter how many category-five hurricanes slam the Gulf Coast. So like its dependent, the arms industry, it also contributes heavily to politicians, thus underwriting the political system which is now dedicated to making "the identical mistakes over and over again."
It's all about money, folks. Money, money, money, money, money. Money which is paid to keep us hypnotized by a political system which promises to deal with our problems at the same time it perpetuates them. Money to bribe us, so as to prevent our confronting reality.
The sordid and grimy reality is that we are warring ourselves to death.
The War on Terror, not terrorism, is destroying us. The reflexive habit of perpetual warfare is bankrupting us, has undermined our credibility around the globe, and has turned us into an immoral and paranoid tribe of savages.
At the same time our military-industrial complex pays off our politicians of both parties for the privilege of making war on the people of the Middle East and money at home, the petrol boys address their generous contributions to the same quarter so they can enable us in our continuing war on the atmosphere and the oceans.
We are not addressing our problems: habitual warfare and its attendant squandering and misallocation of resources leading to impending bankruptcy; peak oil, and global warming.
And the root problem: institutions making megabucks from our problems are bribing the decision makers to avoid dealing with those problems.
Anyone suggesting realistic solutions to the problems we face is immediately labeled "an extreme left-wing radical" by the corporate media, which works 24/7 to keep the American people in a state of ideological narcolepsy. Hence, as a people we show little interest in actually dealing with our problems.
But you can be sure, that even though we may not deal with the reality of the situation we face, reality is certainly going to deal with us.