Miller’s new book, Cruel
and Unusual is not about the cipher known as George Bush
per se, but as Freud’s case studies (“The Rat man,” “Dora”) used
particular individuals living in early 20th century Vienna to expound
upon general pathologies they exhibited, Miller exhibits George
Bush & Co as exemplars of the sickness that has overtaken early
21st Century America. Individuals live their mortal days and disappear,
but lunacy endures.
and Unusual” is a brilliantly researched and executed “case study”
of the afflictions we experience via the character of one George
Bush and his cabal of super rich, corporatist, ultra-right wing
fundamentalist Christians, or “Christo-Fascists.” ("Christo-Fascism;"
Cruel and Unusual – CU – pg 280.)
compulsive lying of the right, like the peculiar sadism pervading
rightist rhetoric, also has a pathological dimension, which finally
constitutes the common ground of the rightist factions now in power
through Bush & Co. Outside the murky precincts of the psyche,
or the soul, there is no tidy explanation for the acid, sanctimonious
perverseness of Ann Coulter or Sean Hannity or Michael Savage. This
or that extremist ideology alone is but a carrier or a symptom of
the disease, not the disease itself" (CU – pg 282).
this cabal, which Miller calls “Bush and Co,” but I will, in the
spirit of liberty, condense further, for this essay, to "BushCo,"
is venal, murderous, corrupt beyond Spiro Agnew’s wildest dreams,
and ruthless enough bare comparisons with the politico-thugs surrounding
Hitler, Stalin, Mao and others of their ilk is known by many (outside
the U.S. at least) and if unknown, easily verifiable by even a cursory
glance at the public record (as it exists, usually outside the closed
system that was once the open society known as the U.S.) of any
given month of activity since September 11, 2001. That the so-called
“Bush Administration” is not only illegitimate, receiving its authority
not from the people of the United States, but five judges who reneged
on their sworn allegiance to uphold the Constitution for the benefit
of this particular sect of the Republican party, but openly treasonous
in both action and intent is the implied result of Miller’s study.
America is sick, just as Germany was sick under Nazism, and Russia
was sick under Stalinism and any other nation or people thus afflicted
with fanatical rulers, a corrupted legislative body and a compliant
press were sick and need of strong medicine administered by the
people themselves (if possible), or a superior outside force.
Germany smacked into History like a frog flung – splat! –
against a wall. So seems to be the course of the American Republic,
if it still is a republic. That it was once a republic of sorts
is probably what makes it seem somehow “different” and difficult
to imagine as a theocratic, corporatist police state. “This is America,”
we deluded Americans say. “Not any more,” suggests Miller.
presenting misdeed after misdeed, lie after lie, recorded (but not
by the hapless mainstream American media) perversity after perversity,
Miller makes his case clear and compelling for all who are willing
to see reality through eyes unclouded by BushCo’s PR juggernaut – aided,
abetted, amplified and expounded upon by the sycophantic corporate
media. As if BushCo’s fictions, their doublethink newspeak lies
lies lies, were hard "scoops" dug up by zealous investigative
reporters. This is no longer “just politics” any more than “Triumph
of the Will” was “just a documentary.”
This is life or death, for the Republic and for the thousands, perhaps
millions of “evildoers” BushCo haven’t yet punished for being born
non-white, non-Republican, non-Christian, non-wealthy, and hence
"evil" in the eyes of god, as interpreted by BushCo and
the larger “movement” that put them into power, that shoved them
into our lives, that created the state of emergency, paranoia, and
predatory violence that is the present day U.S. (CU, pp.
who do not understand the pathology that, as national pathologies
tend to do, found expression in a “movement” known as “Christian
Reconstructionism” (CU, pg 259) and an instrument of power,
BushCo, and take it seriously as the life-threatening illness that
it is, are courting the kind of disaster the Germans courted, and
ultimately seduced, under the Third Reich.
must become adults suggests Miller, and face hard facts, and understand
that the United States is not the creation of god for the benefit
of Humanity, but a state created by a particular group of humans
(“The Framers”) at a particular time in history (post-Enlightenment)
and codified in a by no means infallible set of laws known as The
U.S. Constitution. To bury our heads in the sand, or worse, to allow
ourselves the luxury of believing the imagineered, Disneyfied vision
of America, Daniel Boone and all, for a day, a week, a month longer,
is to allow our “great freedoms” to be completely revoked by the
machinations of a few mad men and women. Mad as hatters and mean
as whipped dogs.
and exact Justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious
or political; peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations,
entangling alliances with none; the support of the State governments
in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our
domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against anti republican
tendencies; the preservation of the General Government in all its
constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and
safety abroad" (from Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address,
1801, as cited in CU, pg 9).
Framers, born into the Enlightenment, attempted to create a government
that would avoid all the evils of European monarchies, theocracies
and tyrannies that preceded them, grant the individual freedom from
constraints of enforced religion and the prying fingers and eyes
of government, so long as he didn’t harm others while pursuing his
life, liberty and happiness. They did not trust standing armies,
hence the provision for citizens to arm themselves in “well-regulated”
militias in order to, if necessary, nip an incipient dictatorship
in the bud. They didn’t seem to care what you did in your bedroom
so long as it didn’t involve forcing others to do your or anyone
else’s bidding. Of course they harbored fatal contradictions: subservient
women, slavery, genocide. In light of these contradictions we must
look to the basic principals of the Constitution, not the document
as it existed in 1789, but the spirit of The Framers, a seed of
liberty with potential to grow, even as the original Framers were
privileged white men who benefited from the massacre of the natives,
subjugation of women, enslavement of Africans. Perhaps to avoid
excusing them, yet understand them as men of their time, we might
call them "evolutionaries," not revolutionaries. In this
spirit was the possibility of liberty, if not yet the realization.
Men like Jefferson and Madison were civic minded and convinced of
the necessity of continuous intellectual growth for all citizens.
In order for a Republic to remain free and enlightened, and consequently,
grow with time (and perhaps evolve toward true, universal liberty),
an educated citizenry is a must. Hence, freedom of speech, freedom
of the press.
of speech did not mean a corporation’s right to buy op-ed columns
in the New York Times, corporate use of money as “expression,”
or mainstream radio’s flatulent hate-rhetoric, but a free press
that would keep the citizenry
abreast of all that was going on in government, the nation and the
world. Even the checks and balances built into the three-branch
system of government was not enough if the people were ignorant
of what government was doing, and consequently, uninvolved in the
work of government, like the passive consumers of today, who, awakened
by the events of 9/11 and eager to DO SOMETHING civic-minded, BushCo
urged to "shop." ("The Unknown First Amendment,"
CU, pg 57.)
Jefferson, Madison et al, if brought to life, would not find the
current U.S. remotely like the one they founded would surprise no
one; what might surprise many is that they probably would not be
able to distinguish between the domestic government and foreign
policy of Germany, 1936, and the technologized, digitized upgrade
that is the United States, 2004. Fascism 2.0.
would The Framers react to the knowledge that we not only ALLOWED
the national catastrophe that occurred on September 11, 2001 to
remain uninvestigated, but passively watched the Executive branch
PREVENT Congress from such an investigation (CU, pp 35-41) while
using the incident, with the help of a compliant media, as a premise
to attack two foreign nations (CU, pp 60-66) AND deny citizens
the liberties guaranteed under the Bill or Rights? Such examples
of unrestrained authoritarian power in action would have struck
The Framers of the Constitution (and like-minded “sons of liberty”
of the day, such as Tom Paine, who would watch the French Revolution
fail in part because of the unaccountability of demagogues such
as Robespierre, Marat, Danton etc.) as mass cowardice, denial, apathy.
Or maybe just a big, sick joke. Then again, it should strike us
as a sick joke, for that is indeed what it is. A sick, very sick,
joke. Unfortunately the joke’s on us. And the people of Afghanistan.
And the people of Iraq. And the U.S. servicemen, many of them national
guards, fighting alongside mercenaries working for private companies
– for better pay and benefits than "our" GIs (CU,
of GIs, Miller makes it clear that “supporting our troops” seems
to be okay with BushCo, so long as it’s relegated to waving flags
and saying meaningful, original heart-felt slogans, such as “I support
our troops.” But when it comes to actual pay raises for combat duty,
families at home, extended medical coverage – often necessitated
by doing soldierly things like getting your legs blown off or spinal
chord severed by burning steel – BushCo draws the line. (BushCo
treatment of GIs, CU, pp. 157–160.)
a popular lounge/hang-out in Washington, D.C. called "Capitol
Hill," whose clientele consists of cowering Democrats who "legislated"
in favor of the invasion of Iraq lest they look soft on Islam, and
Hawkish Republicans, who generally favor any invasion, so long as
the other side can’t fight back (the Iraqis seemed to be of this
ilk, but have thus far killed at least 1000 GI s and maimed several
thousand others). The regulars at "Capitol Hill" voted
to support “our” troops with real money and benefits, but BushCo
likes to say the opposite: ‘They must have the best pay, the best
equipment and the best possible training!’ he told a cheering audience
in Milwaukee on October 3, 2003. In fact, our troops have been supremely
stiffed on all three counts. While handing Halliburton billions,
the regime has taken every opportunity to slash the modest income
of our military personnel" (CU, pg 257).
all, Uncle Sam already provided these "kids" with guns,
uniforms, MREs – where do you draw the line?
November 11, 2003, the Army Times threw down the gauntlet.
The Pentagon was closing at least nineteen commissaries, and considering
the sale or closure of fifty-eight schools on fourteen U.S. Military
bases. ‘The two initiatives are the latest in a string of actions
by the Bush administration to cut or hold down growth in pay and
benefits, including basic pay, combat pay, health-care benefits
and the death gratuity paid to survivors of troops who die on active
duty’" (CU, pg 157).
"Clinton," and the "Anti-Clinton"
Clinton committed some very real sins while in office: he bombed
The Sudan; he bombed Iraq sporadically, specifically the coordinated
attack of Operation Desert Fox in 1998; he bombed Serbia; in addition
to the usual duties of CEO of America such as embargoes against
“rogue states” Iraq and Cuba, (but strangely not Israel, China or
Russia); crackdowns on protesters in Seattle and elsewhere; NAFTA;
favoring Transnational Corporations over U.S. workers (Arkansas
was, after all, a “right to work” state); the Anti-Terrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act, precursor to the PATRIOT ACT; V-chips
and other Civil Liberties shredding sleights-of-hand etc.
none of this seemed to bother the Republicans a whole lot. It didn’t
bother them because in many ways Clinton was far more “Republican”
than he was “Democrat.” But what really sent them over the top,
sent them on insane prosecution binges with tax-payer dollars, and
Talk-Show fests of rhetorical frenzy, was the non-existent “scandal”
of Whitewater, in which the Clintons actually lost money, were actually
scammed themselves, (CU, pp 169–170) and the fact that
the "Clinton" of their fears (as opposed to the Clinton
whose domestic policies mirrored many of their own) couldn’t (or
worse, WOULDN’T) keep the presidential penis in his pants or Hillary’s
points out the shear hypocrisy, Puritanism and self-loathing projectionism
that is the M.O. of the perverts, gamblers, drug-addicts and general
sinners who are now running the country or, like Rush “The Pill”
Limbaugh, cheering from the press box. What with Bill “Black Jack”
Bennett’s gambling addiction and the sexcapades of so many Republican
moral scolds, (CU, pg 289) and of course Limbaugh’s drug
habit (but they were LEGAL drugs, if not always legally prescribed,
so he was really no more of a drug addict than, say, Nixon’s special
Deputy DEA Enforcer, Elvis) you’d think if there were substances
these folks would be keen on banning they would be stones, rocks,
anything that can be picked up and thrown at their innumerable glass
the Chicken Hawk factor alone, the number of scoundrels who, unlike
Bill Clinton, did not protest the war in Vietnam, but actively supported
it, SO LONG AS IT WAS BEING FOUGHT FAR, FAR AWAY FROM THE PROTECTIVE
APRON STRINGS OF ALMA MATER, BY OTHER PEOPLE, would be enough, if
I were one of these bird-mutts, to make me hide under a rock. But
these people are shameless, as Miller points out when he lists the
adulteries, addictions, and perversities of these public scolds
(CU, pp 226–235).
case after case, Clinton’s most dogged detractors stood exposed
as having done themselves what they deplored in others," Miller
writes (CU, pg 234).
the inability to mind their own damn business is a crucial component
to the PATHOLOGY, Miller points out. Again, it wasn’t Bill Clinton
that they spent eight years and tens of millions of tax-payer dollars
hounding, but “Bill
Clinton,” the bugbear of their warped perceptions, the Nasty Daddy
of their twisted dreams.
that they believed Clinton WOULD DO, BushCo ACTUALLY DID, writes
Miller (emphasis mine – AE). Their Waco and Ruby Ridge–inspired
paranoia of Jack-booted thugs trampling their civil liberties came
to fruition in the administration of George Bush II. From the Office
of Homeland Security to the PATRIOT ACT and the greatest expansion
of government surveillance “rights” versus individual privacy and
liberty in U.S. History, the Police State is alive and well.
and Hillary Clinton embody everything these people hate about the
sixties, as if "THE SIXTIES" were one big orgy of sex,
drugs and rock and roll. As if African Americans didn’t get hurt
or killed marching for basic Civil Rights and in the race riots
of Watts, Detroit and other cities; as if an eighteen-year-old without
money or family connections didn’t face a monstrous decision: to
go or not to go to Vietnam. To go meant participating in an illegal,
immoral slaughter of a foreign people in their own country, a people
who were not taking American invasion lightly, but were fighting
back, hard, sending 50,000 GIs home in body bags. To refuse to go
meant becoming an outlaw, a fugitive, leaving the country or living
in perpetual fear of arrest.
Clinton did not dodge the draft. He protested the war and did everything
he could to legally avoid participating in the criminal act of fighting
an imperial war. He had a temporary "out," the Rhodes
Scholarship to Oxford, which he earned through hard work and intelligence.
Bush, Cheney (who had more important things to do than fight in
the war he ardently supported) and dozens of their ilk within the
Regime, supported sending other people to kill and be killed in
a war that had nothing to do with defending the peace and prosperity
of the United States. Bush, like his fellow bookworm, former Veep,
Dan Quayle, used family connections to “serve” in the National Guard.
No one knows for sure just who he was serving, for he went AWOL
for a good portion of his tour. Like all things related to BushCo,
much of the record is not available for public scrutiny, though
both Kerry, in 2004, and McCain in 2000 have made their service
records available (CU, pp 141–149).
is not judging these Chicken Hawks for failing to do Johnson and
Nixon’s bidding in Vietnam, merely pointing to the dreadful hypocrisy
of the Chicken Hawk: support the murder of millions of South East
Asians via air, land and sea invasion that also resulted in the
deaths of 50,000 Americans and the shattering of countless minds
and bodies, yet hide in the stacks of a University Library, or a
Texas air base, or under Mommy’s bed, ANYWHERE to avoid fighting
this war yourself.
book that came to mind as I read Cruel and Unusual was Euripides’
play, "The Bacchae," written 400 years before the birth
of Dubya’s “favorite philosopher” (who he apparently misread and
misinterpreted as egregiously as any Nazi bumbling through Nietzsche).
Pentheus, the "beardless" king of Thebes has it in for
the charming boyish god, Dionysus. Symbol of all Pentheus allegedly
disdains – androgyny, liberation of female sexuality, wine,
dancing, music, in short, the “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll"
of ancient Greece, their anti-war (with Sparta)
“sixties” counterculture, or all that some particularly nave Republicans
associate with the era, never mind Civil Rights, opposition to an
unjust, illegal war, women, gays and others finding the voice to
speak out against repression. Like Ken Starr, Pentheus will spare
no expense to prevent the misdemeanor of people having a good time.
He ends up drunk and in drag, literally torn apart by the women
he believed should be in the kitchen or wherever they were supposed
to be, providing for men’s pleasure, rather than their own.
the Chorus in our American Tragedy, urging us on to yet more folly,
to perhaps bring this nightmare foisted upon the American people
to the Bushite Apocalyptic conclusion? The Media. Bush’s willing
Miller’s analysis of the corporate media’s attack on Scot Ritter
for calling for weapons inspections before war (he was right: no
WMDs) (CU, pp. 68–80); G. Gordon Liddy, Watergate felon-turned
“respected commentator” gushing like a fourteen-year-old Beatle
maniac after her first fainting fit about the way Bush strutted,
in Aviator garb, with the “right stuff” aboard the USS Lincoln and
the apparent meatiness of the presidential reproductive package
(CU, pp. 150–155); the false “rescue” of Jessica Lynch;
the marginalization or simple evasion of any meaningful dissent,
was as surrealistically slanted as the pro-Bush coverage of election
2000 (with then GE CEO and de facto media mogul Jack Welsh urging
his staff of "professionals" to tow the line in favor
of their man George). Such a biased chorus would have been hooted
off the Athens stage.
details the colossal failure of the corporate-owned media to provide
anything but BushCo PR and pro-administration “info-tainment.” The
Media has become the Great Enabler of the delusional anti-minds
that mind America’s beeswax and consequently, the world’s. For what
is America now, but the great world Bully, strutting across the
international theater of the absurd as Bush strutted, IN UNIFORM
(something Washington, Grant, Jackson, Eisenhower, who made their
names as Generals long before taking the oath of civilian office,
had never dared) across the deck of the USS Lincoln under a banner
that read “Mission Accomplished” in May of 2003, well before the
American death count reached 1000 and the Iraqi civilian death count
reached…well, who cares about THEM?
stated purpose of the Fundamentalist Right, according to Miller,
quoting them in their own words, is subversion of the constitutionally
mandated, secular Republic of the United States of America.
radical collapse of all distinction between church and state, and
the promotion of an angry "Christianity" as the USA’s
official state religion, have grown increasingly apparent as the
Bush regime has turned more grandiose and reckless after 9/11. That
revolutionary program has gradually come into view despite the press’s
failure to expose it, and despite the random efforts of the White
House to conceal it," writes Miller. "A cursory survey
of Bush/Cheney’s foreign and domestic innovations will make clear
that this regime has, from the start, been hard at work transforming
the United States into a theocratic system, and globally, at the
gradual creation of a nominally Christian New World Order"
(CU, pg 265).
the wealthy, fundamentalist, hypocritical, Chicken Hawks who scream
for (non-white, non-Christian) blood, who viewed “Clinton” as a
“subversive” are, in keeping with the pathology that projects all
the fears and foibles of the Self onto the Other, attempting to
(and by any standard of measurement, succeeding) subvert the Constitutional
Republic of Washington, Jefferson, Madison et al. into a corporate
sponsored theocracy with the ultimate goal of replacing THE BIBLE
for the Constitution they, the ones who bought, bullied, lied, and
cheated their way to public office, have "sworn" to uphold.
the president made quite a show of mounting NO rhetorical attack
on Islam and Muslims in the dark days after 9/11, as if to reassure
the world that the United States was NOT intent on waging a religious
war, that tolerant pose was shortly overwhelmed, those words of
peace obliterated, by much graphic counter evidence. The United
States was obviously mounting a "Crusade" – as Bush
himself so tactlessly announced on September 16, 2001," writes
Miller (CU, pg 265).
small to moderate steps have been taken since the election of Ronald
Reagan in 1980, including the corporate friendly globalization of
Bill Clinton and his Anti Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty
Act, which morphed so seamlessly into the PATRIOT ACT(s). But the
first Great Leap occurred with the cancellation of the 2000 Presidential
election by the five seditious members of the Supreme Court who
reneged on their sworn oaths to uphold the Constitution by giving
the Presidency to George Bush. No re-count. No “states rights” (though
Florida voted for a recount). No legitimate reason other than that
the possibility that Al Gore’s victory might somehow hurt the candidacy
of George Bush(?!!).
legislative branch of Federal government (with the exception of
the Congressional Black Caucus) participated in this treason by
acceding to the Supreme Court’s decision, when they could have intervened;
by giving this illegitimate president unprecedented war powers and
a fat war chest; by allowing this rogue administration to postpone
and ultimately deny a rigorous investigation into the events of
September 11, 2001; by passing the PATRIOT ACT without having so
much as read it; by allowing the destruction of two sovereign nations
(Afghanistan and Iraq) on faulty premises and innuendo. There were
no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, as Scott Ritter and countless
other experts throughout the world attested; there was no connection
between Iraq and Al Quaeda on 9/11.
Media is…well, we all KNOW what the media is. The public relations
arm of the Presidency and at times, the Court and Congress.
democracy is threatened by no mere cabal of scheming oilmen or titanic
business cronies, slyly playing on peoples’ fears. There is such
a cabal, of course, but this one is compelled by fear as well as
greed, is generally persuaded by the lies it sells to the rest of
us, and will not stop at pursuing its own demons until everybody
else is dead. Until the people rise to reckon with it – reasserting
the ideals, and honoring the laws, that gave this nation its extraordinary
promise – the apocalyptic movement now in power will trample
us and all the world, flattening the earth in ever larger circles,
like a mad elephant in hot pursuit of its own tail," writes
Miller (CU, pg 249).
so-called Executive branch has been so remiss in even the
most basic duty of upholding the law and investigating the greatest
single attack to occur on U.S. Soil in the history of the Republic,
that one wonders if they’ve been remiss at all. So long as the events
of 9/11 remain undisclosed, kept out of the spotlight of an investigation
that is accountable to the public, any explanation is possible.
Thus, "conspiracy theories" will abound, yet no one will
be able to definitively refute any of them. Meanwhile, individuals
who are inclined to believe the "official story," lacking
the concrete evidence a real inquiry might provide, will continue
to be plagued by a voice of doubt. It may be a tiny voice, one they
shrug off with the depressing headlines of the Morning Corporate
News as they start out on their day, but it will be there, poking,
prodding, like a child who received an unsatisfactory answer to
a simple question: "What if the unimaginable is imaginable?
What if the Regime is preventing a real investigation, hiding the
full truth, for a damn good reason, one that has a whole lot less
to do with protecting ‘national security’ than their own increasingly
firm grip on power?"
a tidy, and useful, state of siege under which to keep the rational
American mind, thereby preventing it from asking other painful questions
that might lead to equally painful conclusions.
a more complete and detailed list of high crimes and misdemeanors,
many of them perhaps impeachable offenses, I refer you to the book,
Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney’s New
by Mark Crispin Miller.
believe every American of High School age and above should read
this book. But beware. Everything you’ve ever read about the Nazis
under Hitler, the Soviets under Stalin, the Chinese under Mao, the
French under Napoleon, about any tyranny that has ever oppressed
people of the past or present is happening here now, on your dime,
your body bag, your conscience.
Why don’t we know what really happened on 9/11? Why has there been
no official investigation, in public, live, on camera? What have
we let them do to our country?
in light of Miller’s analysis of these projectionists of the Self’s
deepest and darkest fears onto the Other, those words Bush spoke
on September 16, 2001 are clear and understandable. It is not “they”
who are jealous of “our freedoms,” rather, it is BushCo who are
jealous of “their freedoms,” the freedoms of the Saddams and Bin
Ladens of the world to do whatever they wanted to whomever they
wanted, without restraint of Congress, a Supreme Court, a free press,
or any of the other messy trappings of a Republic. But they’re taking
care of all that. Pretty soon BushCo might have all the freedoms
they jealously coveted to do whatever they damn well please.
Engel [send him mail]
lives and works in the New York area.