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La Brea Tar Pits: A Metaphor for the America Republic?

by William Hughes Wednesday, May. 02, 2007 at 3:58 AM

President George W. Bush now has the power, thanks to a mostly cowardly Congress, to declare “Martial Law!” The Defense Authorization Act of 2006 gave him the green light. All he needs is a Reichstag-like incident and our Republic will be history. Like the animals who were trapped in the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, it has been sinking for years. Author Chalmers Johnson is convinced the U.S. Empire is headed the way of Greece’s and Rome’s.

     La Brea Tar Pit...
trapped_in_the_tar_pit5.jpg, image/jpeg, 219x320

“It is truly frightening what is going on in this country.” - Ex. Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA)

Los Angeles, CA - It is one of the most visited sites in the U.S. The La Brea Tar Pits, aka “The Page Museum,” is located on famed Wilshire Boulevard, in an area known as the “Miracle Mile District.” Its 23 acres contain millions of fossils of prehistoric animals that were “trapped and preserved” in the asphalt between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago, according to the institution. (1) The findings represent hundreds of species of vertebrates. A huge animal, like a Columbian Mammoth, a predecessor of the elephant, could easily get stuck in the “oozing” asphalt, making itself prey to other hungry carnivores, who, in turn, would become victims of the tar pits at the Rancho La Brea. Is the American Republic currently sinking in a lethal tar pit of wrongs, perpetrated by a regime whose contempt for our Constitution knows no bounds?

As I was touring the museum last week, I was struck by its symbolism for what is happening to our America. Over the last six years, the Bush-Cheney Gang has systematically shredded our Constitutional rights. It lied us into the Iraqi War; gutted the Writ of Habeas Corpus; spied on citizens without a court order; condoned the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and at “rendition” horror holes. It claimed the power to declare an individual an “enemy combatant” and to hold him indefinitely and to use “signing statements” to circumvent congressional statutes. It has also set up restrictive “free speech zones” at protest rallies. However, more ominous than all of the above is that on September 30, 2006, the mostly cowardly U.S. Congress passed a law, the “Defense Authorization Act,” which granted George W. Bush Jr., the power to declare “martial law” and “to rule by decree,” if he feels that maintaining “public order” might require it! (2)

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) co-authored this monstrosity, with the then Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John W. Warner (R-VA). Levin, like many others in the U.S. Congress, (3) is suspected of having a “passionate attachment” for Zionist Israel by former CIA analyst, Ray McGovern. (4) The author of “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic,” Chalmers Johnson, describes Warner as one of the “seven morons who lost the war.” He said that when the Senator found out about the torture scandal, he promised that every one culpable in the affair would be held “accountable, but he failed to follow through.” Warner was also the sixth husband of the actress Liz Taylor. If there is a hell, Senators Levin and Warner deserve a special place in it. Bush, the Boy Emperor, from Crawford, TX, instead of facing impeachment, is now only one Reichstag-like incident away from seizing full dictatorial powers.

Johnson in his latest tome traces the demise of our democratic freedoms to our country assuming the role of Global Cop, after WWII, with rampant militarism as its weapon of choice. It was also around this same time that the CIA was hatched. Over decades, Johnson insisted that the agency has become mostly a “private army” for an imperial presidency. He said that “40 percent” of the defense budget is now secret, as is most of the spending done by the CIA. Johnson theorized that “imperialism is the root cause of blowback,” and that the 737 military bases and garrisons we maintain in 130 countries reflect that fact. He sees the American Empire going the way of Greece’s and Rome’s.

A lack of “clear thinking” by our leaders has allowed “evil to enter the picture,” Johnson wrote. As an example, he recalled an interview that Lesley Stahl of CBS did with the then Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, on May 11, 1996. Stahl confronted Albright with the fact that over “half million children had died as a result of sanctions in Iraq. That’s more than died in Hiroshima. Is the price worth it?” The morally obtuse Albright replied: “We think the price is worth it.” The Liar-in-Chief reportedly said after 9/11: “I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.” Johnson detailed the destruction, via our invasion and occupation of Iraq, “of a whole universe of antiquity” in that country. He added: the U.S. is guilty of “far greater crimes” in Iraq, than the Taliban committed in Afghanistan by dynamiting the Buddhist statutes at Bamiyan. Johnson also gave a back of his hand to the arrogant Neocon, Paul Wolfowitz, the prime architect of the Iraqi conflict. He is now ensnared in a girlfriend-related brouhaha at the World Bank.

The sleazy ultra-lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, a confessed felon, represented another nail in the coffin of our Republic, as did the criminal antics of ex- Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA), according to Johnson. Cunningham took .4 million in bribes from defense contractors, while in office. The Military-Industrial Complex is, indeed, very much at home on Capitol Hill. The number of registered lobbyists in D.C. has almost “doubled,” since the Bush-Cheney Gang took power--”that’s 16,342 lobbyist in 2000 to 34,785 in 2005. Sixty-five lobbyists for every member of Congress...Corrupt and indifferent, the simply not up to the task of confronting a modern Julius Caesar...The likelihood is that the U.S. will maintain a facade of constitutional government and drift along until financial bankruptcy overtakes it.” (5)

Johnson also takes to task the federal judiciary, particularly the U.S. Supreme Court, for its repeated failure to rein in the White House’s evildoings, and the Establishment Media, too, for its complicity. On April 16, 2007, I heard Bob Woodward speak at Goucher College, just north of Baltimore. He was awful! Whereas Helen Thomas was all over the Bush-Cheney Gang for their putative crimes when she spoke at McDaniel College on April 12th, (6) Woodward came across as a court stenographer. He’s an “insider,” who wants everyone to know he’s on a first name basis with the Secretary of State, “Condi” Rice. He made me ill. And, it is also interesting how this so-called “investigative reporter,” wouldn’t allow any taping of his talk. The doubts that I have had about “Watergate” were reinforced by this incident. (7)

Finally, Johnson is convinced that “we are on the cusp of losing our democracy for the sake of keeping our empire.” Meanwhile, our economy is tanking and the divide between the rich and poor is growing even wider. We no longer “make things” in this country like we used to, except of course, for weaponry. There is also little or no “war dividend” for most American workers. More are asking: “What the hell are we doing in Iraq?” (8) Time is running out. It’s true that a majority of people are now against the Iraqi War and are demanding impeachment. Somehow, that “inchoate bunch” has to be organized into a mass movement capable of restoring our Republic. (8) Saving our America from the “tar pits” that is the Bush-Cheney Gang and the Military/Security State that embraces it, should be a compelling duty for all patriots.



2. “Working for the Clampdown: What Might the President Do with his new Power to Declare Martial Law?” by James Bovard, TAC, April 23, 2007.






8. “Signs Along the Road: The Firing Line,” by JoAnn Wypijewski, “Mother Jones” magazine, Nov/Dec, 2006 issue.

© William Hughes 2007.

William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘No’ to the War Party” (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at

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