the emperor has no clothes

Note: go to the original column (linked below) to check out Morford's hyperlinks -- they're worth checking out.

Evildoers In The Hood / Another batch of fresh terrorist warnings from the government, and you without your skepticism

by Mark Morford, "Notes & Errata" colum of May 24, 2002

The evildoers are coming. Again.

No really, they are. This time we really mean it. Those last 17 times we only partially meant it but this time we really really mean it and look even pallid and barely animate VP Cheney is muttering through the scary side of his disquieting mouth that fresh terrorist attacks on the US are "almost a certainty."

And you know he'd never lie about a thing like that, because he's too honest and pure and despite all contrary evidence doesn't actually adore war like Oprah adores cheesecake.

And look here's the FBI again, popping up like some sort of agitated gopher, saying very sorry but it simply won't be able to prevent any nutjob suicidal religious fanatics from strapping C-4 to their chests and blowing up a crowded Starbucks in downtown Chicago or maybe Seattle or maybe right down the street from where you live, and isn't that horrible and aren't you just terribly scared good now please hush up and stop asking questions.

This is the pattern. This is the message. Like some horrible clockwork they come, fresh terrorist attack warnings from the Bush administration or possibly a stern-faced government security agency, paced out every month or so just so you don't get too complacent, too wary, too, you know, suspicious.

Just so you don't possibly become a little too skeptical and maybe start looking around and noticing you seem to have misplaced a great many of your civil liberties and maybe your healthy cautious patriotism not to mention all those nail clippers at the airport and hey, aren't we still bombing the hell out of Afghanistan every day, nonstop, costing millions per diem? Is there anything even left over there?

And by the way, when's that huge government investment in alternative energy and fuels coming to get us away from our hate-inducing oil gluttony in the first place? Whoops, sorry. Bad question. Shhh.

Even the media is becoming skeptical. Even the toe-the-line, bandwagon-ready, not-nearly-as-liberal-as-you-think major media outlets from ABC to awfully coifed MSNBC have begun to look askance at the recent rash of warnings, unable to avoid the glaring coincidences that said divinations just happen to be shrieked right when lawmakers and the populace at large are beginning to question the war and just what Bush & Co. might've known about the pre-9/11 terrorist threat.

How dare you ask such questions in a sensitive patriotic warmongering time like this, mutters a grumpled and wan Cheney, as Rumsfeld stands behind him, sticking red pins into an oversize wall map of the Middle East and making cute little explosion noises with his mouth. Pschew! Kerplow! Kaboom!

No no no we don't need any special commission to look into just how poorly the pre-9/11 terrorist information was mishandled, grouses Bush and the GOP, shuffling their feet and looking all indignant while quietly checking their ExxonMobil and Lockheed Martin stock. And by the way, how's our new oil pipeline through Kandahar coming along? Whoops did I say that out loud?

This is the feeling. Skepticism and wariness and a general mistrust. It is not pleasant and it is not desirable but it is all too available and clear. This is the queasy sensation, that they're pummeling us with alarmism and manufactured threats, hammering the country's fear synapse and ringing the big bell of dread at every opportunity and at very specific times in order to deflect attention and get a specific reaction.

Just when you might be beginning to question their maneuvers and motivations and rather sinister levels of secrecy, their lack of discernable results in this war-that's-not-really-a-war because there are no actual results to be had except the ongoing promulgation of, yes, more war.

Too cynical? Too bitter? Don't want to think our government might actually be capable of such deceit and manipulation, of manufacturing rumors and strategically fabricating news stories and making it sound like if you don't blindly endorse every carefully constructed pro-war blurb muttered by Ari Fleischer or Rummy, the terrorists will surely break down your door any minute now and steal all your ice cream and sodomize your cat?

Possibly. After all, no one actually wants to believe Bush & Co. have essentially transformed 9/11 from an epic human tragedy into a blanket excuse to foist their pro-corporate big-oil agenda on a fear-addled nation and pump billions into the military-industrial complex and then keep the whole steamroller of savage karmic pain going for at least a few more years by preparing to bomb Iraq and enlisting a slew of new "nukuler" enemies.

You really do want to believe these are grumpy white pro-corporate pro-oil men of integrity and humane perspective who no more knew about the clear possibility of a 9/11-type terrorist attack than Bush could find Afghanistan on a map a year ago. And of course some of these terrorist threats are quite genuine and dangerous. They always are. But now they're being used as excuses. Weapons. Defense.

You really do want to believe they would never spread a truly odious strain of fear and alarmism around the nation as a means to deflect attention from their potential misdeeds, from this increasingly unnecessary and hollow war to their cozy ties to Enron to their decision to crank up the US arsenal of nifty short-range nuclear weapons while graciously cutting back slightly on all those thousands of musty old long-range missiles aimed at Russia.

You really do want to believe they'd like this cryptically defined "war" to be over as soon as possible, that they really do desire a full and honest investigation of, say, American flight school records and the FBI's knowledge of any swarthy students with blatant ties to known terrorist factions who just so happened to be in the US, learning to fly big commercial jetliners.

Oh but never mind. One forgets that Bush is a very nice fellow. Charming. Doing the Right Thing, he is. Do not question the president. You are either with us or against us. This is for your own good.

This is what they want you to think. Lots of mean evil people out there really really hate us simply because we're good honest pure democratic Christian folk with lots of money and giant malls who don't have to wear beards or heavy burlap outerwear, and Bush & Co. are merely trying to protect us all in the best way they know how: by blowing up as much as possible and denying everything else. Us versus Them. Good versus the evildoers.

Believe it? Good. Now please stop asking so many damn questions. And don't forget to hide your cat.
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