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December 20-26, 2006

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The Byrne Report

Dead Presidents

By Peter Byrne


On the Day of the Dead, I was dining out with friends, preparing to march in a candlelight parade in honor of the fallen. On my mind, of course, were the ghosts of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani people whom we have slaughtered these past 16 years. Over key lime pie, I commented that I planned, later that evening, to go see the film Death of a President, a mockumentary about the assassination of George Walker Bush. Then I made the mistake of grinning with pleasure.

My friends, bless them, are devoted to nonviolence, and so am I, in theory and in practice. But I was looking forward to seeing GWB get topped in the movies, and it showed. My friends were appalled. "Violence begets violence," they cautioned.

Later that night, I watched the movie in a Petaluma theater. I am sad to report that it was tedious. Plus, I had to look at Bush's face and listen to him talk, which I generally avoid since he gives me hives. When the shots finally rang out, and the president collapsed like the sorry sack of whatever he is, there was not a wet eye in the house. Nor were there any cheers. As entertainment, the experience was on par with watching roadkill.

Driving home, a verse from the Biblical book of Revelation reverberated inside my noodle: "But the Beast was captured, and with him the False Prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the Beast and worshipped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh."

Bush, naturally, reminds me of the false prophet. The beast is violence incarnate. Those wearing the mark of the beast are those among us who do nothing to stop Bush's war on the world, i.e., most of us. If Revelation is true, we are in a world of trouble here in America. (If you see a guy riding a pale horse, run!--or pray for forgiveness.)

A few weeks after my vision, James Baker, an old devil if there ever was one, rode to rescue the false prophet who had prophesied so falsely about weapons of mass destruction, hurricane levees, Social Security and budget deficits. But Baker's ride was in vain, because the only solution that the old devil could propose was to stay in Babylon until the Babylonians can "defend themselves."

What planet does Baker live on? The Babylonians are defending themselves. Against us. And they have won. At a horrible price: their country is destroyed. But it is not al Qaida kicking our tanks out of oil-rich Babylon; it is enraged Iraqi people driving us out before we annihilate more of their children with bombs and blockades.

Clearly, many of our more business-minded generals are pissed by Caligula's intransigence vis-à-vis Iraq. Defeat is starting to mess with corporate profits. I'll bet they had a private showing of the mockumentary at the Pentagon and served Chivas and popcorn. History is odd. When President Kennedy thwarted the military-industrialists, of which the Bush family is a charter member, he was assassinated in Dallas, probably by militarists and Mafiosi. He was immediately replaced by Lyndon Johnson, a veritable Moloch in thrall to the company known today as Halliburton, and Hanoi was toast.

And when Kennedy's brother called for an immediate pull-out from Vietnam in June 1968, he was gunned down by a guy who, to this day, claims he was brainwashed into doing it. Yes, I went to see another assassination movie, Bobby. A busload of Hollywood's finest (liberal) actors portrayed the last day of Robert Kennedy's life. He was running for president, and he had just won the California primary when Sirhan Sirhan popped him in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

The most interesting thing about Bobby is the real footage of Kennedy campaigning in the barrios and talking eloquently about violence begetting violence. I had forgotten that politicians used to resemble human beings, before the likes of Karl Rove robotized most of them. When Bobby was over, people wept in their theater seats. For me, the contrast between the two assassinations--one real, one fictional--was awful. President Dwight Eisenhower's warning in his valedictory speech in 1961 that the military-industrial complex was subverting democracy in America has been made obvious by the fact that the Kennedys are dead, while the Bush family thrives.

That may change, says Revelation: "But fire came down from heaven and devoured them."

Let us pray.


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