How much has the American public been manipulated? The best symbol to answer that question is the Sport Utility Vehicle.
The vehicle costs more than an average car; gets less miles per gallon of gasoline; pollutes the air more; is less safe than a passenger car; is more likely to roll over during a simple swerve maneuver; and forces the United States to rely more heavily on imported oil. Yet Americans buy them up - the bigger and more expensive the better.
Why has a society become so easily sold on a product that is the opposite of everything that Americans claim to care about: safety, the environment, and dependence on foreign oil?
George W. Bush wears an American flag on his suit coat lapel. Why would an American President feel the need to wear the flag on his clothes? He represents the United States just being the President, does he not? And doesn't being the President of the United States mean that he represents the American flag?
On the weekend sports programs, all members of the CBS Sports anchor desk wear the American flag on the lapel of their suits. Why?
What does sports have to do with the American flag? Would sports viewers think the anchormen might be something other than American if they did not wear an American flag?
Are the CBS Sports anchors expressing to viewers that they are more patriotic than say, Fox Sports? The Fox Sports anchors do not wear lapel flags.
Has the lapel flag become a marketing and propaganda tool for both the President and even the "big business" of sports, especially CBS Sports? Does CBS mandate that their sports anchors wear the lapel flag? Would a member of CBS Sports be reassigned or fired if they did not wear a lapel flag?
Is the White House message to Americans, that to wear the flag on your lapel is to be patriotic and support President Bush and his Iraq war? Is to not wear the lapel flag unpatriotic? Does not wearing the lapel flag mean you do not support the Bush policies and war?
What does the lapel flag mean?
Bush Shows His Cards: Full House 2003. Acrylic on canvas, 36x48"
In March 2003, President George W. Bush was planning a war on Iraq, claiming that Iraq possessed nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, commonly called weapons of mass destruction (WMD). President Bush, meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar on the island of Azores, told the world that it was time for the United Nations to show its cards. In a press conference on the island Mr. Bush said, "I was the guy that said they ought to vote and one country voted - showed their cards, I believe - it's an old Texas expression. They said they are going to veto anything that held Saddam to account. So cards have been played. And we just have to take an assessment after tomorrow to determine what that card meant."* At that point in the chain of events, it was obvious that Mr. Bush had showed the world his hand - war, destruction, and death would soon be unleashed.
*Leaders Declare That Diplomatic Effort at U.N. Ends Today, The New York Times, nytimes.com, March 17, 2003 by David Sanger and Warren Hoge
Liberty 2003. Acrylic on canvas, 36x36"
In 2001, the United States was attacked by terrorists that were labeled as Islamic fundamentalists and were said to be carrying out a mission in a holy war.
The Taliban of Afghanistan ruled the country based on Sharia law, from teachings of the Koran. Iran is governed by Islamic clerics. Israel is a Jewish state whose laws are based on the Jewish religion. The Catholic church, headquartered at the Vatican in Italy, is governed by Canon law based on the Catholic religion. American Evangelical Christians travel about the world on a mission to convert other peoples to a Christian religion. Furthermore, American conservative Christians view the war on terrorism as a struggle between Western Christian religion and Middle Eastern Islam.
In 2002, a Federal Appeals Court ruled that "under God" in the American Pledge of Allegiance was an endorsement of religion in violation of the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, which established a separation between church and state.
American Christian conservatives, including President George W. Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft, denounced the Federal Appeals Court ruling.
In further response to the ruling, members of Congress, full of pious self-righteousness, ran out to the steps of the Capitol and recited the Pledge of Allegiance before television cameras. It was a publicity stunt of hypocrisy. Those same members of Congress routinely denounced other countries for being governments of religious extremism and echoed the belief that governments should be secular democracies.
The term "under God" was added to the Pledge by Congress in 1954, in direct contrast to the growing number of non-religious, Communist governments at the height of the Cold War.
In 1955, "In God We Trust" was mandated for all American coinage, again, to emphasize religion. The term was first used in 1864 on the bronze two cent coin, because of religious sentiment about the American Civil War.
Today, at the beginning of a volatile new century, perhaps we could all use some liberty from religion.
A Corrupt Third World Government 2003. Acrylic on canvas, 36x48"
In 2000, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush told the world that Mr. Cheney would interview possible candidates to be George W. Bush's running mate in the Presidential election of 2000. At the end of the charade, Dick Cheney was the running mate - two men personally and financially connected to the oil, gas and energy industries. Two corporate insiders who despised federal regulations, oversight, and corporate accountability. After the election and during the process of counting ballots, as part of the Florida recount, the United States Supreme Court stopped the counting and made George W. Bush President of the United States.