The biggest war America has fought since World War II began about three decades ago.
It was a silent war without explosions or gunfire. And it was not about geography, because it was a modern war. Instead, it was about money and power.
During these three decades more money and power has been transferred from America’s many to the few at its top than at any time in this country’s existence – a successful civil war by America’s elite against its masses.
A few battles the top has won:
– The wealth of the top 1% of households is up over 100% since the 1980s.
– The wealth of the poorest 40% of households down over 60% since the 1980s
– Food stamp use is at record levels
– The bottom 90% is earning only $59 more than in 1966
– Wages have fallen to a record low as a share of America’s gross domestic product.
– In the 1950s, corporations paid nearly a third of the federal government’s bills. In 2012 it was a tenth.
– Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs. Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.
And so on.
While it’s true that the recent economic crisis was not as bad as the Great Depression, it is also true that the New Deal worked hard to restore a decent economy, while the current administration has placed little emphasis on helping those at the bottom – or even in the middle. Instead it has bailed out banks while leaving foreclosed homeowners largely to suffer on their own. It has done little to create new jobs and has repeatedly aligned itself with the austerity aristocracy.
One can’t imagine Obama speaking as FDR once did:
“For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up. We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.”
I carry in my pocket a Wiki clip describing the 1930s Works Progress Administration that illustrates how stunningly different Roosevelt’s New Deal was from Barack Obama’s My Deal: “The WPA employed 8.5 million people in its seven-year history, working on 1.4 million projects, including the building or repair of 103 golf courses, 1,000 airports, 2,500 hospitals, 2,500 sports stadiums, 3,900 schools, 8,192 parks, 12,800 playgrounds, 124,031 bridges, 125,110 public buildings, and 651,087 miles of highways and roads.”
Even a Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, fostered a federal interstate highway program that would eventually cover 45,000 miles.
Obama, on the other hand, has talked of infrastructure but has done little. And while banks have been bailed out, their officers have escaped needed prosecution even as the Occupiers, whose first target was Wall Street, have suffered nearly 8,000 arrests. Meanwhile, some 67,000 bridges need repair.
But then a major goal of the silent war has been to dismantle the progress that Democrats had brought the country under the New Deal and the Great Society.
The two Democratic presidents of this period – Bill Clinton and Obama – have some interesting things in common
Both were carefully vetted by the Democratic Leadership Council, a rightwing group dedicated to dismantling the party’s progressive past. The leading Democratic candidate for 2016, Hillary Clinton, was also an active member of the DLC, which has been so successful that it has now retired, leaving its papers with, yes, the Clinton Foundation.
As a senator, Obama showed up on the “New Democrat Directory” of the DLC but asked to be removed for it wasn’t the image he wanted to sell to liberals. Yet less than six months after being elected president, he told a congressional group that he was a “New Democrat,” a code phrase for party dismantlers of the New Deal and Great Society.
Bill Clinton and Barack Obama had something else in common. They both had ties to the CIA as young men, a good place for the establishment to check out up and coming applicants to its ranks.
Bill Clinton, according to several agency sources interviewed by biographer Roger Morris, worked as a CIA informer while a Rhodes Scholar in England. Although without visible means of support, he traveled around Europe and the Soviet Union, staying at the ritziest hotel in Moscow. During this period the US government was using well educated assets such as Clinton as part of Operation Chaos, a major attempt to break student resistance to the war and the draft.
They found the right guy. When he reached the White House he helped get rid of important social welfare programs, create job smashing projects like NAFTA, and approved the repeal of legislation that for decades had prevented banks from acting like casinos. And, like Obama, he would never meet a civil liberty he truly liked.
As just one example of the results: before NAFTA, America had a trade surplus with Mexico of $1.6 billion. By 2010, trade deficit with Mexico was $67 billion.
A young Obama made one or two trips to Pakistan, funded by unknown sources, where he met prominent figures. His mother worked for a number of large institutions with close ties to the CIA and he eventually got a job with Business International, a CIA front. Bill Blum wrote during Obama’s first presidential campaign:
“In his book, not only doesn’t Obama mention his employer’s name; he fails to say when he worked there, or why he left the job. There may well be no significance to these omissions, but inasmuch as Business International has a long association with the world of intelligence, covert actions, and attempts to penetrate the radical left — including Students for a Democratic Society — it’s valid to wonder if the inscrutable Mr. Obama is concealing something about his own association with this world.”
Obama clearly passed his tests and by early 2004, wrote Chicago Tribune reporter and biographer David Mendell,
“Word of Obama’s rising star was now spreading beyond Illinois, especially through influential Washington political circles like blue chip law firms, party insiders, lobbying houses. They were all hearing about this rare, exciting, charismatic, up-and-coming African American who unbelievably could win votes across color lines. . . [His handlers and] influential Chicago supporters and fund-raisers all vigorously worked their D.C. contacts to help Obama make the rounds with the Democrats’ set of power brokers.”
According to Mendell, Obama had cultivated the support of the privileged few by advocating fiscal restraint and “calling for pay-as-you-go government” and extoling “the merits of free trade and charter schools.” He “moved beyond being an obscure good-government reformer to being a candidate more than palatable to the moneyed and political establishment.”
A candidate markedly different from who many in a few years would think they were voting for.
Clinton and Obama helped to end America’s traditional two party system. And they helped create a nation that so pessimistic that even liberals thought a Clinton or Obama was the best they could do.
There were many other silent war victims, among the saddest being America’s children. Our kids are now being trained to be cultural robots as education bullies remove curiosity, imagination, creativity, cooperation, civics and wisdom from their curriculum. Destroyers of public education like the Gates Foundation and Arnie Duncan want our children to become mere microchips that absorb and regurgitate data and values without ever having to think about, or act upon, what they really mean.
Many who didn’t go along were drugged as the definition of mental disorder expanded to meet the need for compliance in mind and deed to those in charge
And those who sought comfort in their own drugs were arrested and thrown into jail at levels far greater than during alcohol prohibition.
There has also been an unprecedented attack on over half the Bill of Rights, most recently demonstrated by the Obama administration’s assault on the right of privacy, freedom of the press, and protection from seizures without warrants.
And we have a deteriorating environment that hardly gets on either the government agenda or on the evening news of a media so unwilling to challenge the elite that even the White House Correspondents Association won’t stand up for fellow reporters abused by the administration.
While it is true that during this period, the status of women, blacks, and latinos improved relative to that of white men, there is also overwhelming evidence that, in an absolute sense, everyone’s rights markedly declined.
The death toll of the silent war – such as victims from drug prohibition, welfare cutbacks and environmental indifference – has easily exceeded that of any war since WWII. Our climate has been extraordinarily and perhaps permanently endangered. Community has been replaced by Facebook and Iphones and our schools are becoming more like boot camps. Even our universities – where voices of freedom and sanity once broke the silence around them – are now quiet and dutiful recipients of government and corporate grants.
Finally, those responsible for these changes have no particular loyalty to our country. If you are the CEO of a multinational corporation your products need not be made here, your workers hired here, nor your profits deposited here. You no longer need American workers, American customers, nor an American commitment. America for our elite is now just another address to reach those whose minds and actions are far away.
Robert A.G. Monks, a former corporate lawyer, corporate CEO, founder of companies, and bank chairman told it well in his book, Citizens Disunited, as Ralph Nader describes:
[Monk] quotes an Apple executive who told The New York Times: “We sell iPhones in over a hundred countries. We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems.” Monks responds: “This is what greed looks like in the global epoch of corporatism: plunder the Treasury, to be sure, but then deny all sense of responsibility to your country of domicile, outsource all obligations, and, like maggots, set to work destroying the host from inside by exporting its jobs and depleting its revenue sources.”
He then cites Clyde Prestowitz, founder of the Economic Strategy Institute, who wrote that, as a top U.S. government trade negotiator, he went to great lengths to open up the Japanese market for Apple in the early nineteen eighties, adding: “We did all we could and in doing so came to learn that virtually everything Apple had for sale, from the memory chips to the cute pointer mouse, had had its origins in some program wholly or partially supported by U.S. government money.”
Monks sums up: “Henry Ford’s great success was built in part on his decision to pay his workers a high enough wage so that they could afford the products they were producing. No more. The shrinking middle class, the widening gap between the rich and the poor – these are some of those American ‘problems’ that American-born-and-bred corporations like Apple really have no time for.”
If you find all this unbelievable, listen to Warren Buffet who has stated, “Of course there is a class war, but it’s my class, the rich class, that is waging the war, and we’re winning.” Or as the 19th century journalist Henry Demarest Lloyd put it, “If our civilization is destroyed, it will not be by barbarians from below. Our barbarians come from above.”
The barbarians from above have caused more damage to our country than the terrorists they would have us surrender our democracy in order to fight. The barbarians from above have killed more people and caused more loss of life, permanent damage to the environment, economy and civilized community.
But they had done it quietly, using lies instead of bombs, hedge funds instead of explosions, and misdirected budgets instead of random assaults. But it has still been a deadly war.
Whether and how we can end it remains unclear, but one thing is certain.
We can’t save ourselves without ending the silence.