excerpts from the book

Imperial America

by Gore Vidal

Nation Books, 2004, paper


Some State of the Union lies [George W. Bush] told the Congress and the people that they may or may not represent:

Lie One: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Bush's speechwriters, aware that this information was false, thought that by attributing it to British intelligence Bush would not be culpable under Section 1001. But a lie to Congress is still a lie, no matter to whom attributed. Also, under another statute, members of the White House staff that prepared his speech could be prosecuted for partaking in "a criminal conspiracy to deceive Congress."

Lie Two: Bush declared that his "tax relief is for everyone who pays income tax." The Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution notes that 8.1 million lower- and middle-income taxpayers who pay billions of dollars a year in income taxes will receive no tax cut under the new law while the 184,000 taxpayers with incomes of over $1 million a year will receive approximately $17 billion in tax cuts in 2003 alone.

According to the Sierra Club:

"The Healthy Forests Initiative is President Bush's response to the past year's forest fires... the administration's true goal ... is to use the forest fire issue to cut the public out of the public land management decision making process and to give logging companies virtually free access to our National Forests."

Randi Spivak, executive director of the American Lands Alliance

"The president's [G W Bush] plan, would basically gut environmental laws, keeping the public and the courts out of the process.

Lie Five: "... to meet a severe and urgent crisis abroad, tonight I propose the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief-a work of mercy beyond all current international efforts to help the people of Africa. This comprehensive plan will prevent seven million new AIDS infections, treat at least two million people with life extending drugs and provide humane care for millions of people suffering from AIDS, and for children orphaned by AIDS."

columnist R. E. Blummer writes in the St. Petersburg Times (10/12/03)

If a population is not going to refrain from sex-the protection against transmission is the best defense. But subSaharan Africa, home to 30 million of the world's 40 million HIV/AIDS sufferers is suddenly facing a condom shortage. Family-planning clinics from Ethiopia to Swaziland have had their American-donated supplies sharply reduced or cut off and we can thank our president and his religious-right politics for this. President Bush reinstated the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule: the policy bars organizations that receive U.S. international family-planning funds from having anything to do with abortion; even uttering the word in counseling is verboten.

Lie Six: "Sending Americans into battle is the most profound decision a president can make. The technologies of war have changed; the risks and the suffering of war have not. For the brave Americans who bear the risk, no victory is free from sorrow." Along with this plangent tribute to our brave boys, the Bush administration has been cutting back on medical benefits heretofore taken for granted.

Washington Times, November 9, 2003. Rep. Chet V Edwards, a Democrat

"I have great concern that ' trillion-dollar tax cuts to some of America's wealthiest families have cut into our promise to support a decent quality of life for our military families and health care for our veterans."

Dave Lindorff (December 2, 2003, In These Times) notes:

"Over the last year and a half, President Bush has staged more than a third of his major public events before active military personnel or veterans. His rowdy "Hooahs" and policy pronouncements-even when they have nothing to do with military matters-are predictably greeted with rabid applause.

But those easy and unquestioning crowds at military bases and American Legion halls will be increasingly hard to come by as soldiers and veterans start to notice the string of insults and budget cuts inflicted upon them. Even more than his father, and Ronald Reagan before him, Bush is cutting budgets for myriad programs intended to protect or improve the lives of veterans and active duty soldiers.

Lindorf goes on to inform us:

"With 130,000 soldiers still in the heat of battle in Iraq and more fighting and dying in Afghanistan, the Bush administration sought this year to cut $75 a month from the "imminent danger" pay added to soldiers' paychecks when in battle zones. The administration sought to cut by $150 a month the family separation allowance offered to those same soldiers and others who serve overseas away from their families. Although they were termed "wasteful and unnecessary" by the White House, Congress blocked those cuts this year, largely because of Democratic votes.

This year's White House budget for Veterans Affairs cut $3 billion from VA hospitals-despite 9,000 casualties in Iraq and as aging Vietnam veterans demand more care; VA spending today averages $2,800 less per patient than nine years ago.

The administration also proposed levying a $250 annual charge on all Priority 8 veterans-those with "non-service-related" illnesses-who seek treatment at VA facilities, and seeks to close VA hospitals to Priority 8 veterans who earn more than $26,000 a year.

Until protests led to a policy change, the Bush administration also was charging injured GIs from Iraq $8 a day for food when they arrived for medical treatment at the Fort Stewart, Georgia base where most injured are treated.

In mid-October, the Pentagon, at the request of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, announced plans to shutter 19 commissaries-military-run stores that offer discounted food and merchandise that helps low-paid enlisted troops and their families get by-along with the possibility of closing 19 more.

At the same time, the Pentagon also announced it was trying to determine whether to shutter 8 military-run schools for soldiers' children at 14 military installations. The White House is seeking to block a federal judge's award of damages to a group of servicemen who sued the Iraqi government for torture during the 1991 Gulf War. The White House claims the money, to come from Iraqi assets confiscated by the United States, is needed for that country's reconstruction.

The administration beat back a bipartisan attempt in Congress to add $1.3 billion for VA hospitals to Bush's request of $87 billion for war and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In perhaps its most dangerous policy, the White House is refusing to provide more than 40,000 active-duty troops in Iraq with Kevlar body armor, leaving it up to them and their families to buy this life-saving equipment. This last bit of penny-pinching prompted Pentagon critic and Vietnam veteran, Col. David Hackworth, to point to "the cost of the extraordinary security" during Bush's recent visit to Asia, which he noted grimly "would cover a vest for every soldier" in Iraq.

Army Times, a newspaper widely read in military circles, ran a June 30 editorial saying:

"President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have missed no opportunity to heap richly deserved praise on the military. But talk is cheap and getting cheaper by the day, judging by the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately"

Ronald Conley, commander of the conservative American Legion, also recently blasted the White House for VA budget cuts and surcharges, saying:

"This is a raw deal for veterans no matter how you cut it. The administration is sending a message that these vets are not a priority at all."

Dr. Howard Strauss who sounded the alarm on Dan Rather's CBS Evening News.

Strauss, a Princeton computer science professor, warned:

The presidential election of 1992, without too much difficulty and with little chance of the felons getting caught, could be stolen by computers for one candidate or another. The candidate who can win by computer has worked far enough ahead to rig the election by getting his "consultants" to write the software that runs thousands of vote-counting computers from coast to coast. There are so many computers that use the same software now that a presidential election can be tampered within fact, may already be tampered with. Because of trade secrecy, nobody can be the wiser.

Albert Einstein

"The men who possess real power in the country have no intention of ending the cold war."

Mark Twain

"We cannot maintain an empire in the Orient and maintain a republic in America."

Theodore Roosevelt defended our war against the Philippine population, and he attacked the likes of Twain.

"Every argument that can be made for the Filipinos could be made for the Apaches. And every word that can be said for Aguinaldo could be said for Sitting Bull. As peace, order and prosperity followed our expansion over the land of the Indians, so they will follow us in the Philippines."

Brooks Adams, younger brother of Henry Adams

"The most difficult problem of modern times is unquestionably how to protect property under popular governments."

Henry Adams, 1890s.

"We have a single system ... in that system the only question is the price at which the proletariat is to be bought and sold, the bread and circuses."

Henry Adams, 1910

"The whole fabric of society will go to wrack if we really lay hands of reform on our rotten institutions... From top to bottom the whole system is a fraud, all of us know it, laborers and capitalists alike, and all of us are consenting parties to it."

Ronald Reagan's secretary of the interior, James Watt, 1981

"I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns."

Jerry Faiwell to the journalist Bob Scheer in the Los Angeles Times (March 4, 1981)

"We believe that Russia, because of her need of oil-and she's running out now, is going to move in the Middle East, and particularly Israel because of their hatred of the Jew, and that it is at that time when all hell will break out. And it is at that time when I believe there will be some nuclear holocaust on this earth ..."

Falwell spells out the Dispensationalist doctrine

"... our Lord is coming back to the earth. First, he comes to take the Church out. Seven years later, after Armageddon, this terrible holocaust, He's coming back to this very earth so it won't be destroyed, and the Church is coming with him, to rule and reign with Christ on the earth for a thousand years."

Grace Halsell

"A Nielsen survey released in October 1985 shows that 61 million Americans (40 percent of all regular viewers) listen to preachers who tell them that we can do nothing to prevent a nuclear war in our lifetime."

Governor Ronald Reagan to James Mills, the president of the California State Senate, 1971 (San Diego Magazine, August 1985)

"All of the other prophecies that had to be fulfilled before Armageddon have come to pass. In the thirty-eighth chapter of Ezekiel it says God will take the children of Israel from among the heathen when they'd been scattered and will gather them again in the promised land. That has finally come about after 2,000 years. For the first time ever, everything is in place for the battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ."

... "Everything is falling into place. It can't be too long now. Ezekiel says that fire and brimstone will be rained upon the enemies of God's people. That must mean that they will be destroyed by nuclear weapons .... Ezekiel tells us that Gog, the nation that will lead all of the other powers of darkness against Israel, will come out of the north. What other powerful nation is to the north of Israel? None. But it didn't seem to make much sense before the Russian revolution, when Russia was a Christian country. Now it does, now that Russia has become communistic and atheistic, now that Russia has set itself against God. Now it fits the description perfectly."

During the presidential race of 1980, Reagan told James Bakker of the PTL network

"We may be the generation that sees Armageddon."

a writer for the New York Times reported that Reagan (1980) told a Jewish group that

"Israel is the only stable democracy we can rely on as a spot where Armageddon could come."

Although most American right-wingers are anti-Semites, the Armageddonists need a strong Israel in order to fulfill prophecy.

Reagan had said to Gorbachev in Geneva: If the earth were ever to be invaded by Martians, the United States and the Soviet Union would, of course, be joint allies in a common cause. Gorbachev sighed:

"I told the president that it was, perhaps, premature to prepare for such an invasion but as we had a common enemy right now, nuclear weapons, why couldn't we unite to get rid of them?" But the planter of Mighty Oaks was not to be seduced.

Walter Dean Burnham

"The state is primarily in business to promote capital accumulation and to maintain social harmony and legitimacy."

Benjamin Franklin, 1787, Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia,

"There is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other."

National Security Strategy of the United States (2002)

"As a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed."

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution says that only Congress can declare war. But Congress surrendered that great power to the President in 1950 and has never taken it back.

former Senator Alan Simpson

"The Commander in Chief of the military will decide what the cause [for war] is. It won't be the American people."

historian Charles Beard, 1939

The destiny of Europe and Asia has not been committed, under God, to the keeping of the United States; and only conceit, dreams of grandeur, vain imaginings, lust for power, or a desire to escape from our domestic perils and obligations could possibly make us suppose that Providence has appointed us his chosen people for the pacification of the earth.

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