The American Taliban – Part 3

If you wanted to undermine a representative democracy where would you start? Would you attack the electoral process or perhaps the system of public education? Would it suit your purposes to put a lot of people out of work and then play one faction off on another? Each strategy and each tactic has its effect and purpose; some deliver short term effect while others, being strategic, emphasize long term results. Over the past several weeks there have been fatal attacks on American troops by Taliban assassins dressed as Afghan military or actual members of that military. Besides killing Americans the obvious intent of this is to undermine the relationship between Americans and Afghans. The assaults are tactics to create a situation where no one knows whom they can trust, cooperation and morale are displaced by mistrust and suspicion and chaos ensues. Chaos is the strategic outcome intended by the Taliban.

The same strategies and tactics of sowing mistrust and suspicion are at work in the United States. Hirelings of the American Taliban working under the guise of dozens of Foundations and Institutes funded by wealthy individuals and their organizations feed a willing press with opinion pieces and press releases opposing policies and programs that reflect community and promote social cooperation. Public schools and teachers have been the softest of targets along with public transportation, and public health care. If you control a major television network you can hire unscrupulous correspondents and commentators to slant, and plant stories about the sitting president created whole-cloth for the purpose of calling into question his motives and methods and even his birthplace.

Trust and Truth are the main targets of the American Taliban. They know that very few members of the public have the time or inclination to verify what is being reported. Recently on the Fox right-wing entertainment channel, Judith Miller, a former New York Times reporter, with a straight face, accused the sitting president of serious national security failings. The expectation of this theater being her’s and her sponsor’s belief that the public will not recall Miller’s role in the full-court press to invade Iraq when she published misleading information about Sadam Hussein’s nuclear activities fed to her by Vice-President Cheney who then cited her as his source. You might recall also that Miller was also involved in the scandal outing Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. After “resigning” her position at the Times, Miller’s apparent reward for her part in the shuck and jive was to land a talking head gig on Fox. Which calls to mind the cold war chestnut that there was no news in Pravda and no truth in Izvestia. With Fox it seems, neither truth nor news can be found there.

Another tactic being employed by the American Taliban to keep potentially non-conservatively inclined voters from casting ballots in the coming presidential election are voter file purges and voter photo ID requirements. The tactic is simple – if you cannot win the hearts and minds of people with your ideas, keep them from voting. In New Mexico clumsy efforts by the Secretary of State to implement a federal mandate have resulted in one State Representative’s wife being challenged and a high profile get-out-the-vote activist as well. It should also be noted that this purging process could have been undertaken a year ago but then last year wasn’t an election year was it? Sowing chaos is the tactic. In Pennsylvania where a  tough voter ID law is being challenged in court the state has admitted the number of fraudulent voting attempts has been virtually non-existent. The same scenario has been repeated everywhere the ID laws are being promoted and challenged. As to voter registration keep in mind there is no requirement in the US Constitution that requires a person to continually re-register once they reach the age of majority nor does it require them to vote. In the US voting is a birth-right not a privilege to be taken away like a lollypop from naughty non-voters. Voting is of course a responsibility which far too many fail to take seriously.

The Republican Party is now in a state of delirium over the choice of Vice-Presidential running mate to Willard Mitt Romney. Why the joy one must ask? Well the VP choice is a chap who made his reputation by vigorously undermining the American social contract. Paul Ryan, the Republican VP designate, has proposed among other things ending Social Security, he has written budget proposals that would, for all practical purposes end Medicare, end Food Stamps, and defund Planned Parenthood which provides basic health care for 1 in 5 American women. Paul Ryan, is not a military veteran (neither is Romney) but he is proposing to severely limit veterans health care to levels not seen since the 1930s. Ryan’s proposed tax plan would tax the wealthy less and the poor more. Ryan’s budget would cut $3.3 trillion from low-income programs, drop Medicare coverage for more than 14 million people along with eliminating 17% of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). Posing with animals he has shot and catfish he has caught with his bare hands, this little boy is a right-wing center-fold pinup.

One also has to ask why two boys who chose not to serve in the military also chose to make the announcement of Ryan as the VP choice using a US Navy ship festooned with red, white, and blue bunting sprinkled with stars and stripes as their stage. Much about the two candidates’ lack of character is revealed in the hypocrisy and pandering of their military charade  including their lack of common decency and respect for those who have served or are serving the country. Character does matter folks. “Character matters, we believe,” says James Davison Hunter in “The Death of Character”, “because without it, trust, justice, freedom, community, and stability are probably impossible.” The American Taliban has a political plan and chaos is their objective.

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