Street's Meltdown Turn America Into a Police State?
By Scott Thill
capitalism is dead." -- Henry Paulson, U.S. Treasury
we just all go out and say things are OK?" -- President
Bush, to congressional leaders during bailout negotiations
- -- I'm not much of an
Army Times reader, but after reading that a brigade was
shipping from Iraq in October to serve as "an on-call federal
response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters,
including terrorist attacks" in the homeland right before the
election, my antennae perked up. Same as they did when I read
electoral college doomsday scenario exists in which Dick
Cheney casts the deciding vote that gives McCain-Palin the White
That is, if Cheney and Bush
don't take it for themselves. That may sound like fantasy, but
don't kill the messenger. They are all strands of the Gordian
knot the Bush administration has tied around the neck of the
American people for the last two presidential terms, best
represented today by the failed bailout of banks, brokers and
other complicit parties that have since jacked the American
people out of trillions. And while the Army Times
revelation or election doomsday may turn out to be paranoia
rather than prescience, the evidence just isn't there.
Like I said: antennae.
They've come in handy as
bullshit detectors since Bush stole the election from a
flat-footed Al Gore and set about engineering the
greatest transfer of public wealth into private hands in
American history. If you factor in Monday's failed takeover, as
well as the $5 trillion the American people now owe thanks to
the "bailout" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, not to mention
the continuing hyper-expensive occupation of Iraq and so on, our
citizenry is now so far in the hole that it's pointless griping
about numbers. If you want one, use the figure put forth by
half a quadrillion dollars. We have evolved past the point
of economic or geopolitical reality and entered a phase of pure
And all vectors of that phase
point toward the conclusion that the proverbial shit has totally
hit the fan -- head on, and all over again.
Meet the New Rome, Same as
the Old Rome
"Franklin Roosevelt had to save
capitalism from itself," Los Angeles Times business
editor Tom Petruno told me as Washington Mutual and Wachovia
became the latest banking dominoes to fall. "Is history
Indeed, it is, as one could tell
from the repetitive usage of loaded terms and phrases like "Great
Depression," "meltdown," "apocalypse," "Armageddon" and more
to describe the just-on-time cratering of the American economy.
After the strange bedfellows in both parties torpedoed Bush,
Bernanke and Paulson's so-called bailout, more than $1 trillion
of market value in American equities disappeared in a single
day. The Dow Jones average set a record for quickest suicide
dive in a single day. Other indexes sunk to multiyear lows,
wiping out years of value, and stocks across the board went
negative like Ann Coulter. In fact,
the only major stock that actually advanced on Monday was
Can there be a more fitting
metaphor for the American economy stuck beneath the Bush
But the reruns, and their loaded
terminology, are merging: Bush himself is just another iteration
of the infamous
"New World Order" instituted by his father while trying to,
what else, convince the American public that it needed to go to
war against Saddam Hussein. The revisionism is transparent,
befitting a government that cares nothing of what its people
actually think. Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show"
recently juxtaposed Bush's address on the financial
cataclysm with his pre-invasion speech in 2003 and found --
surprise! -- they were exactly the same.
This is a long way of saying
that this particularly frightening crux of historical
geopolitics, fascism and environmental calamity has been a long
time coming. Failing banks? Deregulation. Endless war? Homeland
security. Total information awareness? Transparent government.
The fundamentals are strong.
"Here's my question," Petruno
adds. "If this is remembered as Black September, will that end
up being too gentle a reference to what actually happened to the
American financial system this month? It is beyond comprehension
for people who have been on Wall Street their entire lives. I
can only imagine how absolutely stunned the American public must
be. Stunned, and very afraid."
It should be. From a military
brigade armed for action in the homeland in
blatant transgression of Posse Comitatus to what ex-hedge
funder and financial personality
Jim Cramer recently called "financial terrorism," the United
States is pushing forward back.
To start with, the bailout was
obvious theft, but our situation is more precarious than you
think. The hyperreal
credit default swap market, which few understand although it
is estimated to involve tens if not
hundreds of global trillions, is faltering under the weight
of its own Ponzi origins. The scenario significantly worsens
once you factor in the given that countries like China and
others who have denominated their loans in dollars are
shouldering our exploding debt, along with oil-soaked sovereign
wealth funds from nations whose civil liberties records suck
As I wrote last year on this clusterfuck, if the Chinese
call in our debts and oil-producing countries decide to peg
their petrodollars to the euro, you can more or less kiss the
dollar goodbye. Which means the last thing you'll need to worry
about is your stocks, retirement or credit cards. You will
instead worry whether or not the cash you have on hand will be
worth anything at all. That is the loaded gun that bankers,
brokers and the White House is holding to the public's head, as
I write. That trillion erased on Monday, as well as the
trillions that have been lost and will be lost in the coming
months, was nothing more than a hostage situation engineered by
the Bush administration, the Federal Reserve and their partners
in crime in finance, insurance and real estate business.
They don't call that sector FIRE
for nothing. Fire destroys everything and leaves little in its
catastrophic wake. Which raises the question: What's left to
"I think our economic situation
can get much worse,"
Danny Schechter, the veteran producer and author whose 2006
indie documentary "In Debt We Trust" covered this volatile
territory long before CNN would. "Jobless claims are already at
a seven-year high, but the government is worried about the
reaction from Asia. We are living on other countries' money, and
when that spigot gets cut off, we will be in deeper doo-doo.
Part of the reason for the scale of the bailout is to show Asia
and sovereign wealth funds that we will protect their
But for how long? The Bush
administration and Congress' disdain for the American people has
been painfully obvious, so it's hard to believe they will call
from sky-high Dubai to see how we are doing after making off
with almost all of our money.
"It's a high-stakes gamble,
which is why Paulson tried to do it quickly in a climate of
shock and crisis," Shechter says. "He knew that the longer it
takes, the more opposition it will attract. This plan, if
eventually passed, will pre-empt the next president from doing
anything about it, because there will be no money. They are
wrecking the government by wrecking the economy first."
That shock doctrine, as
explained in her brilliant book of the same name, has
foisted this same kind of disaster capitalism on country after
country over the last century. Klein's book is littered with
democracies that slept their way through coups and takeovers,
entranced by one simulation or another. The United States was
plugged into a matrix that onetime White House press secretary
Ari Fleischer described as "an American way of life," adding
without deceit that "it should be the goal of policy makers to
protect the American way of life."
By destroying it? Mission
"This is the September of
surprise," Schechter concluded, "not a war on Iran but on
Civil War, the Rerun?
So, what's the next step for the
shoe yet to drop? Perhaps the Army Times has the clues:
(The brigade) may be called
upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal
with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive
poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological,
radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE,
attack. ... The 1st BCT's soldiers also will learn how to
use "the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has
fielded," 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said,
referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and
nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous
individuals without killing them.
Like every move the Bush
administration has ever made, from the Patriot Act to the
occupation of Iraq and down to bankrupting the American economy,
this maneuver is a solution in search of a problem that it seems
destined to create. Look around you. Housing is over. Stocks are
nosediving. The banks are gone. War is ceaseless. Civil
liberties are disappearing. Nerds at the Federal Reserve and the
Treasury are taking hostages. It is madness.
And mad people have a tendency
to infect everyone around them. The difference is that when you
go mad ... well, that's the question mark: What will happen?
Ask the late Iman Morales, who went crazy in Brooklyn on a
ledge 10 feet above ground and was illegally tasered by New York
police officers, eventually falling to his death, immobilized. A
perfect metaphor for our economy, sure, but it's also the type
of literal shock we might be awaiting, as the November election
creeps nearer and shit begins to hit the fan with ferocity. Many
of us so-called alternative journos are not conspiracy nuts, but
realists. We look at galvanizing leaders like Barack Obama,
America's next president, and compare his impact to that of
Lincoln, Kennedy or King -- without forgetting that all three
were eventually assassinated. We are the type of realists who
live through two Bush presidents, both of whom configured a New
World Order, with and without the approval of the American
people and the world at large. The type of realists that notice
that after 9/11, we couldn't fly to Vegas, but Osama bin Laden's
family was flown out of the country on government charter.
And here is what we see today:
Crowds protesting in the streets, the people's money wiped
out thanks to the Bush administration's latest economic shock
and awe. An army brigade matter-of-factly betraying Posse
Comitatus for the purpose of crowd control. The public trust and
almost robbed cleanly with congressional approval.
In other words, we see
another unfolding coup, which is to say, a rerun. And there
is no telling what the future may hold, or whether or not we are
connecting vectors that should remain solitary. But our math has
worked just fine in the past -- better than Ben Bernanke and
Henry Paulson's math, that's for sure.
And we'd love to be wrong about
what's coming. But unfortunately that isn't up to us, and it
never has been: It's up to the Bush administration. And it has
never failed to let us down.
Scott Thill runs the online
mag Morphizm.com. His
writing has appeared on Salon, XLR8R, All Music Guide, Wired and
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