George W. Does Liberty

The Bush Doctrine of Contained Dissent

| July 2004


Jim Hightower's newest book, Let's Stop Beating Around The Bush, is scheduled for release this month. Utne.com is running a series of excerpts from the title.

The musician David Baerwald is not a household name to most Americans, but in the richly creative world of singer-songwriters, he's a standout. Particularly appealing to me is that he doesn't shy away from focusing on the political realities of the day. In the mid-Nineties, he produced an album titled Triage, and for the liner notes, he offered this dedication to 40 years-worth of America's nefarious governmental spooks and liberty-busters who had led our democracy so deeply into the shadows of autocracy:

'This record is dedicated to Dean Acheson, Paul Nitze, John J. McCloy, John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, Henry Kissinger, James Baker III, and George Bush in the sincere hope that there is a God and that he is vengeful beyond all comprehension.'

Imagine what David might write about today's list of liberty-busters and privacy-invaders who're so aggressive, so intrusive, so arrogant, so insatiable, so obtuse in their reach for ever-greater executive power over the American people that they make the line-up above seem almost prissy. Indeed, some on Baerwald's list would be shocked and amazed (if not appalled) that not only the Bushites, but also battalions of private corporate intruders have moved America so deeply and quickly into the darkness.

One issue that powerfully binds the right and left in our country is their shared distrust, suspicion, and (dare I say it?) HATRED (yes, Hightower, you do dare!) of those who carelessly trim -- much less whack at, bludgeon, and negate -- our Bill of Rights for their own political and economic gain. After all, 228 years ago, the assault by British Redcoats on individual privacy and their trampling of the Colonists' freedom of expression and association was one of the most passionate rallying cries for the American rebellion, and that passion breathes yet in the bosom of most Americans.



In Washington and on Wall Street, however, that passion has been squashed flatter than roadkill by the shortsighted rush of the elites to gain more money and power for themselves. Democrats in Congress have offered only lame lip-service to protecting our liberties, fearful that a White House hell-bent on amassing more executive and police authority will tar them as soft on Osama. Meanwhile, both parties willfully pave the way for still more privacy invasions by corporations, which happen to finance their campaigns.

The intruders, whether governmental or corporate, always insist that their every incremental incursion on our rights is done solely for our own good: 'We must balance your freedom with concern for your security,' they coo to us; 'We need to collect all of your financial, health, and other records in our databases in order to offer you better service and more convenience,' they assure us, ever so soothingly.