The new American way? 

Lies, censorship and fascism

America has apparently gone stark-raving mad. First, there's the Iraq stuff:

Exhibit A: We invaded Iraq because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. As it turned out, he did not. So the administration shifted the rationale. We invaded Iraq because Hussein was a murderous dictator. And yet, in the year since the "liberation" was undertaken, we have killed an estimated 10,000 Iraqi men, women and children, according to Amnesty International. That's more than Hussein killed in the last 10 years.

Exhibit B: We invaded Iraq because Saddam tortured people. Now, it turns out that our soldiers have been abusing Iraqi detainees in the same prison in which Saddam committed the atrocities that offended us so deeply.

Exhibit C: We invaded Iraq to eliminate Saddam's Baath Party. Now we are reinstating Baathists to military power.

And then there are the people who, having advocated the war, now deal with the mistake by blatantly distorting reality:

Exhibit A: Super hawk Dick Cheney, in a speech April 26, attacked John Kerry as "unfit" to lead America in war. As evidence, he said that Kerry voted to decrease military spending during the Reagan administration. He did not bother to mention, as David Sirota of the Center for American Progress recently noted, that Cheney himself had attacked Reagan for not cutting spending. Cheney told the Washington Post Dec. 16, 1984:

If Reagan "doesn't really cut defense, he becomes the No. 1 special pleader in town. ... The severity of the deficit is great enough that the president has to reach out and take a whack at everything to be credible. ... If you're going to rule out the other two [Social Security cuts and a tax increase], then you've got to hit defense."

Exhibit B: When "Nightline" announced its plans to honor the 700-plus American soldiers who have died in Iraq by broadcasting their pictures, the loonytoons on the right went berserk, accusing ABC of anti-war broadcasting. Indeed, the Sinclair Broadcast Group would not let its ABC affiliates, which broadcast to about a quarter of the U.S. population, air the show. Showing pictures of dead soldiers, the argument went, can be construed as anti-war if there is no accompanying statement proclaiming the virtue of their sacrifice. In other words, honoring dead patriots is only acceptable if you exhibit your partisanship as a supporter of George Bush.

Things don't get any saner on the domestic front:

Exhibit A: There's the much vaunted new Medicare bill -- the one that is going to cost so much more than the Bushies claimed, they forbade their own accountant from speaking about it.

Now we learn that they have budgeted $80 million in promotional costs to roll out the new Medicare plan. That's more money than would be required, according to the FDA commissioner's own $58 million estimate, to set up a program by which seniors could save literally billions of dollars by importing cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and other nations. Instead, the compassionately conservative Bush administration -- those people who support outsourcing -- has launched tougher enforcement of laws against importing drugs, ensuring the continued usurious pricing by American drug companies. They are busting geriatrics at the border.

Exhibit B: My favorite symptom of national insanity is the Bush administration's decision to spend millions of tax dollars to fight pornography. This is the same administration elected with the conservative agenda of reducing government's role in Americans' lives. Now, under the leadership of Attorney General John Ashcroft, who thinks even dancing is the devil's work, 32 prosecutors and investigators are holed up in a Justice Department office reviewing porn and preparing cases against distributors and consumers -- that would be you -- of porn.

The poor guys are so traumatized by their jobs that the Justice Department is providing in-house counseling lest they go insane from the repeated sight of copulation. It's just too bad they can't employ the same remedy used by millions of other people who don't like porn -- not watching it.

This is the first time in 10 years such an effort has been undertaken, and Ashcroft has let it be known that he is turning his beady eye not just on hardcore porn, but the kind of soft-core filth aired by HBO and hotels. But what are they going to do about Comcast, which makes zillions of dollars with its hardcore Hot Network? As the Baltimore Sun noticed recently, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and other company executives are major fundraisers for Bush. Of course, nobody at Comcast was willing to comment on Ashcroft's announcement that operations like theirs are vulnerable to prosecution.

Do you think, in a world where porn has become mainstream entertainment, there's any possibility the new battalion of porn busters is just a show to please the religious right during an election year?

The big mystery -- the one that has many Americans walking around scratching their heads -- is why more of us aren't horrified by all the lying, censorship and this steady slide into fascism. Anyone have an explanation? Write me.

Cliff Bostock is in private practice. Reach him at 404-525-4774 or at cliff.bostock@creativeloafing.com.

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