After the Fall
Expanded from the 3-18-2007 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
Vern Lavendar looked out the front room window of his Sparks home onto the community garden which replaced what had once been called Victorian Square.
"Better finish up your editing, dear, the mail wagon will gallop by soon," his wife called from the washing porch as she ran some dress shirts through the ringer.
Vern sat down at his typewriter and reviewed his work.
March 18, 2056
Matthieu Murdoch, Editor
Montreal, Quebec, Nova Norte
I sincerely hope that this article reaches you by the April 30 deadline. The newly improved mail system now promises coast-to-coast delivery in less than 30 days, but we've heard that before.
My best to Terry and the kids.
WIKIPEDIA HISTORY: THE NATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA
It has been just over a hundred years since the dawn of rock 'n' roll. Eight decades have elapsed since that flash-in-the-pan wonder called the Internet. And just a quarter-century has gone by since the breakup of the former United States of America.
Much has been written and printed as to the causes, but most historians agree about the corrosive effects of post-WWII corporate public relations departments and their tax-deductible propaganda think tanks. The proliferation of media combined with more than $100 million a year devoted to discrediting public institutions achieved the desired result. When people needed to have faith in their government, there was none left.
Historians differ as to the tipping point. There is consensus on the precursors: First came the public relations industry pioneered by Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, after he left U.S. Army intelligence after WWI.
Next came the well-funded vitriol of President Warren Harding's treasury secretary, Andrew W. Mellon, who didnt feel rich people such as himself should pay taxes.
The anti-government speeches of future president Ronald Reagan were direct echoes of Mellon's screeds from the Roaring 20's.
The Great Depression put the anti-government campaign on hold until after WWII. President Roosevelt's New Deal held together until 1976, which saw the election of a conservative southern Democrat as president, the little-remembered James Earl Carter. Many of the programs he started were continued by the more telegenic Reagan, who defeated Carter in 1980.
By 2009, as the second of three Bush family presidents left office, whatever faith in public service remained had been contracted out. Where there had been 15 government workers for every six contractors under President Clinton, by 2006, Bush had more contractors than employees. 
Hurricane Katrina, the South Asian Regional War and the California Earthquake broke the country's pride and its pocketbook. When financing was needed from Wall Street to rebuild the west coast, the financial markets crashed in an orgy of stock-derivative speculation. The global financial casino flamed out.
President Rudolf Giuliani's vaunted crisis management skills proved ineffective. He was defeated for re-election in 2012 by non-partisan former actor Mel Gibson, who promised to restore America to greatness by finding "A New Moral Center" (his campaign slogan).
The hold on elections and government which conservatives had enjoyed beginning with Carter began to slip away. When the long-feared cascade of space junk destroyed almost all communications and weather satellites in 2014, Gibson's Vatican-based brain trust placed former President George W. Bush in charge of homeland security. Bush used executive branch power accumulated from his White House days to declare martial law.
The loss of communications satellites allowed government control over information not seen since the analog era. The remaining land-based Internet crashed because of the shifted demand. Snail-mail was once again predominant, i-Pods became instant plastic dinosaurs.
With near-dictatorial control of information, Bush and Gibson were shocked when the country rebelled. The Bush royal palace had gotten away with stealing elections and fomenting ruinous foreign intrigues just by manipulating media and interest groups while cloaking themselves in God and the flag.
Where Filipinos and Ukrainians had taken to the streets to overthrow fraudulently elected governments, Americans had proven to be pussycats.
But the Martial Law Declaration of 2015 undid not only the dogmatists, but also the nation. Gibson and Bush tried to use the few remaining stateside troops to enforce their decrees, but the military lacked both men and morale especially in the face of an angry citizenry owning more than 200 million firearms.
Gibson could not recall any regular forces which were engaged in combat from Morocco to Mumbai. Secretary of the Interior Mary Cheney tried to organize a summit between the remains of the government and regional governors who had declared autonomy.
That plan fell apart when Mexico moved troops into Arizona and California to reclaim part of what they had lost in 1848.
When word spread, the United States disunited in a shockingly rapid manner. The well-armed nation might have been brought together by the Mexican invasion had not the citizenry been subjected to so much government corruption, dereliction and incompetence all combined with the right-wing campaign tearing labor and government down while promoting the private sector as anointed by the Almighty. Most people believed Reagan's famous aphorism: government IS the problem. But the private sector did not ride to the rescue.
Several groups of governors quickly organized new nations. Northern California, Oregon and Washington agreed to be annexed by Canada with the provision that much of the First Amendment be preserved. Mexico and the Mountain West went to war over mineral resources for the next two decades.
The Confederacy was born again after a fashion. Its new capital was established in Ave Maria, Florida, the Catholics-only community founded by Domino's Pizza dogmatist Tom Monaghan. A part of the world had finally been made safe for white people.
The northern rust belt muddled along by playing off the state-owned banks of Communist China against those of Montreal, which quickly emerged as the western world's new banking and cultural capital, replacing a crumbling New York City.
By mid-century, the political map of North America had been redrawn into the 33 nations we still see in 2056.
Vern and his wife had fresh-picked apples ready for the mail wagon's horses when they arrived.
Be well. Raise hell.
1. Light, Paul; New York University, NYC, quoted in Harper's magazine, April, 2007, at 17 and 75.
Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007; (not available online for several months, if at all). I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune. AB
Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate. For additional comments on the work of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning team, use the NevadaLabor.com search engine and sweep for "Barlett."
The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below
ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.
By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti-New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)
Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $8,520,829.88 in 2007 dollars.
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I've been telling you so for more than 10 freakin' years
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Reno war protestors march in memory of Molly
February 7, 2007
A group of Reno anti-war activists took the late newspaper columnist Molly Ivins' final words to heart and put them into action Tuesday.
"We're doing this for Molly," said Paula McDonough, who organized the Molly Ivins Pots 'n' Pan Brigade that protested the war in Iraq outside the Bruce Thompson Federal Building in downtown Reno. "We're doing this because Molly asked us to."...
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Copyright © 2007 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 38-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org, and a member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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