The State of the Apocalypse
Annual State of the Union Addresses usually present themselves as opportunities for various constituent interests to measure the chief executive's national assessment against their own wish lists of priorities. The pomp and ceremony of the occasion, in which all three branches of government are arrayed in one setting, is designed to affirm the stability of foundational national institutions, and to assure the public that normalcy -- or at least a kind of predictable order -- reigns.
Such cannot be the case, however, in 2007 -- the year in which the accumulated crimes and contradictions of the Bush administration's six years of global and domestic rampage must be massively confronted by an alarmed people and their representatives -- most especially, by people of color and those who purport to represent their interests, but also by every human being whose ultimate allegiance is to the species.
The Bush cabal has from its very beginning waged war against the rule of law among nations and within U.S. boundaries, and against the very concept of a national social contract.
Although the Bushite ranks are now demoralized and their public support at low ebb, they have never abandoned their crusade for a new world order based on raw, unilateral U.S. military force, a planetary "market" to be constantly restructured according to the whims of unfettered, hyperactive capital. This global dream regime of theirs recognizes no boundaries, no zones of protection from the predations of aircraft carrier-buttressed capital, whose imperatives they consider synonymous with, not only the "national interest," but the intentions of the Almighty, himself.
In the face of total disarray in Iraq, which was to be the staging area for further conquest, the Bush men choose to escalate the conflict against the clear wishes of the American public, and to the horror of an international community that has come to perceive the U.S. as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world" -- as Dr. Martin Luther King recognized in 1967. Relentless, with no other vision but that which leads to apocalypse, the administration persists in its preparations for wider war in the region, and opens yet another offensive centered in Somalia, the eastern flank of an American military buildup that stretches across the northern breadth of the African continent.
Domestically, Bush clings to the doctrine that executive power trumps both other branches of government and every previous interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, especially under conditions of a "war" they have proclaimed to be perpetual. Under this legal construction, no civil right is safe: all are subject to the exigencies of wartime executive "necessity" -- the factual justification for which is nobody's business but the executive's.
For Black people and other people of color, the new civil rights regime is a desert. Racial profiling -- the arbitrary exercise of state power based on law enforcement operatives' (and even common citizens') perceptions of ethnicity-based threats -- has risen like Lazarus from the grave that years of civil rights struggle had dug for it, and is now considered a legitimate tool of national watchdogs. Racial prejudice is, once again, patriotic.
The mushroom cloud called Katrina signaled that the modalities of Bush's foreign aggressions would be deployed against despised domestic populations -- even enlisting many of the same corporate actors as were commissioned to carry out the Iraq mission. Rejecting the ancient premise that all people have a right to place, the administration and its state and corporate ethnic cleansing co-conspirators engineered the exile of hundreds of thousands of New Orleans residents, creating a domestic diaspora that is intended to be permanent, and which nullifies the very concept of an American entitlement to domestic tranquility.
No peace, no law, no social contract -- that is the state of the union, thanks to the Bush regime. In the wake of six years of such savage mauling, the nation and the world require reparations -- repair! -- for the damage done by the administration's assaults on the fragile edifices of civilization, erected over centuries.
Instead, the newly-installed Democratic congressional leadership offers a bland soup of easily-passed (albeit worthy) measures crafted to give the impression of dynamism, but which fail to confront the fundamental challenges presented by Bush and his cohorts.
If impeachment is "off the table," then executive power as conceived by Bush remains operative, encased in immunity, and the rule of law is still in question.
If the military buildup continues -- even after the U.S. is inevitably ejected from Iraq -- then the Bush men will ultimately succeed in "starving the beast," as they call it, leaving no funds for social programs and entitlements.
If corporate globalization -- "euphemistically dubbed 'free trade'" -- is not checked, the impoverishment of the United States will continue apace, in a Wall Street-refereed "race to the bottom."
If the exiles of New Orleans are not returned and restored, then the congress will have confirmed that no social contract exists with Black America.
In the face of such challenges to "the American way of life" and the future of the planet, the formulaic applause and empty rituals of the State of the Union ceremony seem -- obscene.