Of War Criminals, Enablers, and the Decreasing Significance of We the People
by Jason Miller
Remember the archaic notion that freedom of speech and peaceable assembly are guaranteed by a document the Bush Regime is rendering as “quaint” as the Geneva Conventions?
Here is a reminder:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Since the “leader of the free world” has established a consistent pattern of over-riding, circumventing, or simply ignoring both the Constitution and judicial rulings, the hallowed basis for our Constitutional Republic has nearly been reduced to a “God-damn piece of paper”.
As the mass murderer guilty of egregious war crimes descended upon Kansas City via Air Force One on 9/8, approximately 450 of us dissidents gathered to exercise what First Amendment rights we still have.
Bush and his entourage were arriving to raise funds for Jim Talent, Missouri’s junior US Senator who is up for re-election in November and who has marched in virtual lock-step with the Bush Regime.
Where was this revolting spectacle to take place?
Envision a setting encompassing picturesque multi-million dollar villas, sprawling lush lawns, and the obscenely expensive retail establishments of the world renowned Country Club Plaza.
A study conducted at the University of Chicago in the 1950’s called this corridor “the Ward Parkway and Mission Hills Gold Coast.”
The same study concluded:
The “blue bloods,” “the uppercrust,” “the Society Crowd,” and “the topnotchers” were said to live in this area. A man who could afford one of these mansions was assumed to be “one of the big industrialists,” “a leading man of commerce,” “a well-to-do executive,” “a top-ranking lawyer or doctor” or “one of the big shots among the real estate boys and stocks and bonds brokers.” This was the area thought to supply most of the members of the elite country clubs, leaders in the Chamber of Commerce, and board members of various cultural institutions.
And little has changed since that study was published. Many of Kansas City’s members of the United States’ de facto aristocracy still reside along Ward Parkway and in Mission Hills.
Bush’s and Talent’s host, candy magnate Scott Ward, is one such denizen of Kansas City’s “Gold Coast”. Brothers Scott and Tom Ward inherited and share controlling interest in the privately held Russell Stover, Inc. Russell Stover is the third largest candy manufacturer in the United States, lagging behind only Mars and Hershey’s. With 4500 employees and an estimated $450 million in sales in 2005, Russell Stover co-presidents Scott and Tom Ward wield far more power and influence than the 99% of We the People who comprise the “lower classes”.
(As an aside, please pause for a moment to reflect on the three billion human beings who live on less than two dollars per day, the 13% of the population in the United States that lives in poverty, the three million homeless people in the United States, and the millions slaughtered over the years by the American Empire. Their involuntary sacrifices have enabled the existence of palatial estates, obscene wealth, conspicuous consumption, and the concentration of power into the hands of the plutocracy of the United States. If you are amongst the tiny percentage of humanity on the side of the wealth chasm which possesses most of the gold and makes most of the rules, or perhaps are simply a “wannabe” who thrives on Horatio Alger fairy tales, at least say a prayer of thanks for those who are suffering or have suffered needlessly on your behalf.)
What was the truly urgent aspect of Bush’s agenda in visiting the “Candy Man” to stump for Republican Senator Jim Talent’s re-election? To evade impeachment and possible prosecution for his numerous violations of domestic and international law, Bush needs a Republican majority in Congress. Nixon and Clinton both faced impeachment proceedings for committing far less egregious crimes than Bush has. Clearly, partisan politics trump the “lesser considerations” of legality and morality, even in “one nation, under God… with liberty and justice for all.”
And on 9/8/06, Scott Ward abused his inherited wealth and status to aid and abet George W. Bush, a man responsible for the annihilation of over a hundred thousand innocent civilians, in his frantic bid to continue killing with impunity.
Jim Talent, another Bush enabler, is the consummate crusader for the “rights” of corporations and the wealthy to engage in rapacious behaviors. His campaign contributors include Jack Abramoff, Tom Delay’s ARMPAC, and three major tobacco companies. An examination of Talent’s voting record in Congress clearly demonstrates that he is neither representing nor serving the interests of a majority of We the People.
Consider these facts:
1. the NEA gave him a 27% for his “support” of public education
2. the US Chamber of Commerce rated him a 100% supporter of business interests
3. the League of Conservation Voters scored him at 5% for his abysmal voting record on the environment
4. the American Public Health Association rated him at zero percent on health care issues
5. SANE (now part of Peace Action) also placed him at 0% for his unwavering support of the military industrial complex
6. the AFL-CIO awarded him a goose egg to highlight his deep hostility toward unions
7. and the Alliance for Retired Americans determined that he deserved a ranking of zero for failing to represent the interests of seniors
Like Bush, Talent has a very narrow constituency he truly supports. It is not difficult to imagine George, Jim, and Scott gently clinking Baccarat Vence Champagne Flutes filled with Clos du Mesni to toast the wealthy elite. In deference to Scott’s candy empire located in Jim’s state, their toast would of course include their version of a quote often falsely attributed to Marie Antoinette. In unison the three would jubilantly proclaim:
“Let them eat candy!”
As this merry trio and their elite cronies prepared to assemble at Scott’s mansion, we proponents of social justice, peace, economic justice, human rights, and the preservation of the environment arrived at the intersection of 55th and Ward Parkway to call for an end to the Iraqi Occupation, the eradication of gross economic injustices in the United States, and Bush’s impeachment.
Corralled into a grassy median by police tape and a contingency of about thirty Kansas City police officers, we who dared to dissent learned our place under the Bush Regime. Yet despite the government restricting us to an area where we were invisible to the ruling elite and were not even an inconvenience to them, we were fortunate to even get our “free speech zone”.
Potent resistance to virtually any individual or group that threatens the power of the moneyed class or corporations has been an ugly reality throughout much of the United States’ history. Those who agitate for changes that would decrease profits, level the playing field, impede capitalist expansion, or curb US militarism are vilified, marginalized, arrested, and sometimes killed. Those calling for economic justice are dismissed as Socialists or Communists (the favorite “villains” of rapacious Capitalism’s mythology). Nuclear weapons protestors like Mike Palecek go to prison. “Suspected” terrorists are tortured and imprisoned indefinitely. Minority activists like MLK and Malcolm X who become too powerful “wind up on the wrong end of a gun”.
Perpetrating one of the world’s biggest hoaxes for an unprecedented period of time, the ruling class has beguiled the masses in the United States into believing they live in a bottom-up “participatory democracy”. The stark reality is that about 1% of the population holds most of the wealth, power, and influence in the United States.
With two million incarcerated individuals, the “land of the free” leads the world in prison population. Members of the virtually omnipotent Duopoly, most of whom represent the interests of the ruling elite because they come from among them or have accepted their bribes in one form or another, are often the only viable options at the voting booths. (Greens, Socialists and Libertarians can barely make it on the ballot, let alone truly compete). Corporate-controlled media sources pelt the populace with a steady barrage of revisionist history and propaganda (asserting the benevolence and moral exceptionalism of the United States). As their ace, the ruling elite have ultimate control of the most potent military force and arsenal in human history. We the People are at a distinct disadvantage on many levels.
Suppression of dissent has risen to new heights under the Bush administration. And 9/8 was yet another example. Bush’s carefully orchestrated appearance included a bevy of security forces to ensure he would be insulated from verbal confrontations with dissenters and even the sight of those opposing his rule, neither of which he has the capacity to endure.
The police sealed off the public street passing in front of the Ward home. When I approached her, a Kansas City police officer told me I would be arrested before I set foot on 55th Street if I attempted to take the protest in front of the “Candy Man’s” home. I asked her how they would justify such an arrest. She told me that there were no sidewalks on 55th Street and they wanted to prevent trespassing on private lawns or people walking in the street and getting hit by traffic. Evidently the only legal way to travel on 55th Street in Kansas City’s “Gold Coast” is by car.
[Note: A positive aspect to our “free speech zone” was that it was in the median of Ward Parkway, a heavily-trafficked street which afforded our protest high visibility. Had we been protesting in front of the Ward home, we would have been out of the public eye.]
As the Bush motorcade approached, the police closed down Ward Parkway. The sight of the fleet of black SUV’s and limos rounding the corner about a block north of us raised the emotions of our anti-Bush group to a fever pitch. We began chanting “no Bush” and “impeach Bush”. Seeing the caravan bearing the man ultimately responsible for the deaths of over 1800 human beings in New Orleans, 2700 US service people in Iraq, and hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and the Palestinian prison states instantly escalated my emotional state from simmering moral indignation to boiling rage. Several police officers moved toward us as we shouted our disapproval and disdain. The approaching officers reminded me of Nazi thugs with their close-cropped hair, Terminator sunglasses, neatly pressed uniforms, and menacing expressions. Several clutched fire-extinguisher sized canisters of what appeared to be tear gas.
I pointed toward the Bush motorcade and yelled to the officers that they needed to arrest the mass murderer instead of wasting their time restraining law-abiding citizens. I called them fascists. I crossed the police tape and stepped out into Ward Parkway. An officer came and told me I needed to get back behind the “barrier”. I asked him why. He told me I was in the road and could get hit by a car. I reminded him of the obvious point that they had stopped traffic for Bush. He told me they were reopening Ward Parkway soon. The exchange continued until I tired of arguing and reasoned that my arrest would serve no valid purpose. I belligerently informed the officer that he was a fascist and that I hoped he felt good about protecting a murderer. I then stepped back into the quarter acre of Kansas City where the First Amendment was not under siege by the threat of arrest or brute force.
Once Bush’s entourage had passed, I walked around a bit and encountered a woman who had brought her nine year old son dressed in a US Marines shirt. As they had been moving through the crowd of peace activists, he had been incessantly chanting, “Go Bush”. I listened briefly while a wheel-chair bound veteran politely conversed with this woman. A mother who was programming her son to become cannon fodder for the American Empire. She admitted she was not very educated on political or historical matters, that her son’s room was filled with Marine posters, and that she would support his decision to join “the Corps” someday. I asked her if she knew the United States had killed millions of innocent civilians in wars over the years. She said no. Pressing further, I questioned whether she thought “collateral damage” was morally justified, specifically referring to children in Iraq. She said that their lives did not matter since “our security” was involved. I had come face to face with a hubristic, ignorant, self-absorbed “Ugly American”. And I told her so.
Fortunately, I also had a chance to visit briefly with local activists for peace and social justice like Carol Huhs (of the 63rd Street Patriots), Gene DeVaux (Chairman of the Greenwood Citizens for Responsible Government), and Janice Matthews (the Executive Director of 9/11 Truthout.org).
Janice reminded me that attending protests is of little value if that is essentially all a person does toward subverting the dominant paradigm of predatory capitalism, militarism, corporatism, and rising fascism in the United States. Protesting does serve its purposes, but people need to do more than attend rallies of dissent. Janice offered me two tangible and potentially powerful ways to oppose the malignant forces which continue to raise the “collateral damage” count, impoverish much of humanity, and rape the Earth.
One way is to continue to press for the truth behind 9/11. ABC is preparing to air a “docudrama” to crystallize the public’s belief in the wild-eyed conspiracy theory that 19 militant Islamic men armed with box-cutters carried out the devastating attacks that day. And, are you ready for this? They expect us to believe that these 19 men accomplished this without the direct complicity of the Bush administration or, at the very least, without Neocon indirect complicity by intentionally “looking the other way” (as the Pearl Harbor they so desperately needed to initiate the PNAC fell into their laps). Even hard-core conspiracy theorists would have a hard accepting such wild assertions. For more on debunking the government’s 9/11 conspiracy theory, visit http://www.911truth.org/index.php.
Janice’s second suggestion to me for those desiring to strike a blow for economic justice and to empower We the People was to participate in a day of mass resistance on October 5th. The World Can’t Wait organization is calling upon people to exercise the power of our vastly superior numbers to severely cripple the socioeconomic system. It is quite simple. On 10/5/06, employees, students, and consumers across the United States need to unite and sabotage the machine by refusing to work, attend school, or shop. For more details, go to http://www.worldcantwait.org/. As Janice reminded me, we need to at least find a way to seriously inconvenience the ruling class if we want to effect significant change.
As a member of the Fifth Column, I do as much as I can within my limitations to help counter the predation of humanity and the Earth which the United States, its few remaining allies, and its mimics are collectively perpetrating in the name of the pernicious American Way of consumerism, obsession with money, and perpetual war. I challenge those of you who still blindly support the prevailing social, economic and political systems to examine your conscience and apply your powers of reasoning as you consider the effects the American Way is truly having on the world. Once you have recognized the utter moral depravity and lack of sustainability of our present course, I encourage you to join the struggle for humanity and the Earth against the miniscule percentage of the population which thrives on the exploitation of the rest of us and the planet that sustains us.
Meanwhile, if you live in Missouri, vote against Talent. His record in Congress offers proof that he is an enemy of the working class, the poor, the disabled, children, and seniors. And the next time you buy candy, remember that one of Russell Stover’s principal share-holders and co-presidents offered aid and comfort to a man whom history will remember as a war criminal and wanton slaughterer of innocent civilians.
Talent’s voting record:
Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed himself intellectually and spiritually. He writes prolifically and his essays have appeared widely on the Internet. He welcomes constructive correspondence at email@example.com or via his blog, Thomas Paine’s Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.