Sham! Sham! Sham!

Vietnam just sentenced three dissident bloggers to 12, 10, and 5 years respectively. Their trials were preposterous. The lawyer for Nguyen Van Hai, aka Dieu Cay, was only allowed ten minutes to defend his client, for example, and no opportunities to cross-examine government witnesses. That same day, Hai’s ex-wife and teenaged son were also detained for several hours to prevent them from showing up in court. At the police station, the son was stripped of a T-shirt that said, “Freedom for Patriots,” and had to walk home bare-chested. Hai has written, “Vietnam does not have the rule of law; it only has the rule of the Party.” The purpose of a trial is to allow the accused an opportunity to defend himself, to convince a jury of his peers that he is innocent, but since there is no jury in a Vietnamese courtroom, and since a lawyer can be ignored or neutered, as happened here, there was really no trial for Hai, only the appearance of one.

Hai and his co-defendants haven’t gotten much attention, not as much as Pussy Riot, for example, because the US is not currently harassing Vietnam, as it is Russia. In fact, America is courting Vietnam to act as buffer, pest, and possibly even a military staging ground against China. This past year, American naval ships have docked in Cam Ranh Bay and Da Nang. So much for the war against communism, for democracy or whatever. Hey! Ho! Hey! Ho! What the hell we fightin’ fo’? Within this larger geopolitical context, Hanoi knows that its dissidents can be shut up without much of a fuss.

Oppressive governments are also skilled at staging meaningless elections, where candidates are well-vetted and troublemakers prevented from running or ignored, if not discredited, by the establishment media. Cheering and voting, gullible citizens lend a false legitimacy to the choreographed proceedings. In the American case, voters are also baited by secondary issues, like gay marriage or abortion, for these don’t threaten the war profiteering, corporate looting and banking fraud agenda that really defines this nation.

In spite of not infrequent miscarriages of justice, the American court system is still relatively intact. Unlike in Vietnam, one can still expect to be defended by a lawyer, and judged by a jury, though technically, the President, whether Democrat or Republican, can already declare one a terrorist or enemy combatant, to be imprisoned indefinitely without charge, tortured or simply killed. The US, then, can be said to no longer have the rule of law, but the misrule of its chief executive, a lackey of the military banking complex yet a dictator to you and me, for sure, since he has the right to order the kidnapping or killing of anyone on earth.

Through drone strikes in Pakistan alone, Bush and Obama have killed thousands of people, many if not most of them civilians. These Pashtuns didn’t, don’t, and simply can’t threaten the US, and even the “militants” among them are only guilty of defending their homeland, but most Americans apparently don’t care about mass murders committed in their name, for they display loving signs and bumper stickers, wear adoring T-shirts, cheer and vote for their mass-murderers in chief, one after another. “Kill ‘em all, let God sort ‘em out” has become our unofficial motto.

In two recent articles, I’ve called for the boycott of the coming election. This is no sign of apathy, but revolt. I’ve suggested that on Election Day, Americans show up in massive numbers, in all cities and towns, not to vote but to protest and, very importantly, show the world that we’re not sanctioning a mendacious, lawless, and obscenely corrupt government that kills, loots and bankrupts with impunity. Teasing out niggling differences between our two bank-bought and war mongering mafiosi, many Americans believe that voting for one party or the other will at least benefit them personally, if not the country in a substantial way, but I’d like to point out that sacrifices are always necessary in any boycott, strike or revolt, and that the larger aim of delegitimizing this unrepresentative and immoral government is worth foregoing personal cookies, which are likely to be small, if not illusory anyway, judging from the American politicos’ past sampling of promiscuous promises.

Lured by a signing bonus and steady paychecks in a collapsed economy, our soldiers have become mercenaries willing to kill “bad guys” for a bogus and cartoony reason, “They hate us for our freedoms,” but if a man is to retain his character and soul, he must be able to say no to injustices and crimes, even if he himself suffers from this refusal. I’d like to think that no amount of money could induce me to shoot, on order, any Pakistani, Yemeni, Afghan, or Syrian, etc., even if I was declared a bona fide hero and shown, what’s left of me anyway, on TV for a few seconds shaking Collin Powell’s hand on Memorial Day. Similarly, whatever benefits you think you may get for voting Democrat or Republican should be dwarfed by the terrible complicity of sanctioning, again, habitual and systematic mass murder. To those whose loved ones have been killed or maimed by American imperialism in recent years, the sight of a “BAD GIRLS LOVE OBAMA” T-shirt or “PENNSYLVANIA LOVES O’BAMA” sign must be stomach turning. It’s telling that illegal war, killing and torture are no longer campaign issues.

As for third party candidates, your vote for Jill Stein, for example, won’t get her elected, but it will create the illusion that our electoral process can entertain candidates from outside the major parties. Stein’s tiny vote tally will only confirm the Green Party’s unpopularity, if not its irrelevancy in this system. Twenty-one years after its founding, the Greens have no representatives in Congress, none in any state house even, and no governor. A vote for Jill Stein will actually be a vote for the legitimacy of an Obama or Romney victory, since he will have won fair and square, you see, with a vastly larger number of votes. This rigged system isn’t too bothered by fringe candidates, since distant losers magnify the greatness of its chosen winner.

A government that ignores not just international laws, but its own foundational legal framework, the Constitution, is no longer legitimate but a rogue entity, but its serial crimes are trivialized and covered up by our farcical media, since they are owned by the same power brokers that manipulate and jerk around our servile government. If news peddlers also push planes, bombs and guns, would they protest war? Of course not, so the bank-funded politicos won’t bite the hands that feed them either. Serving the uber rich that control banks, weapon factories and our zombifying media, our national “representatives” earn their keep by working against us, so it’s time we stop consenting to this ghastly death dance masquerading as a democracy.

Courting votes, smarmy candidates evoke the American Dream, tout a non-existent economic recovery, and promise a future that’s even more prosperous than ever before, but those who aren’t too smug, deluded or tranquilized know that inflation and unemployment figures have been fudged for years now, and that living standard and wage will continue to plummet thanks to unchecked offshoring and the import of illegal or legal foreign workers, because they’re cheaper than homegrown versions. As an immigrant myself, I’m sympathetic to those who want to come here, since living in a world manipulated, bankrupted and bombed by America, they must do what they can to survive, including sneaking into the bossman’s house, but what’s often painted as an issue of ineptitude by the right, as we can’t control our borders, and universal brotherhood by the left, as in no human beings are illegal, is in fact a calculated plan by our ruling class to keep wages down here, there and everywhere.

The reduce the need for foreigners to come here, the US can start by respecting other people’s borders, but that’s not likely to happen any time soon. No way, Mustapha! As the football commentators repeatedly announce on TV, “We thank our brave men and women serving in over 175 countries around the globe,” for without their constant shooting, bombing, droning, kidnappping and torturing, the oil, natural gas, weapons, drugs and fiat money won’t flow so freely. This snuff film will be over.

Last year, an American college fair in Iraq was lauded by USA Today as “U.S. Opens Its Doors to Iraqi Students.” It’s supposed to be this great, heartwarming story, right?, until one considers the million or so we killed there, and the wreck we’ve made of their country, making emigration extremely desirable, if not a necessity. During the American invasion, hundreds of thousands fled to neighboring Syria and Iran, for example, and only a fraction have returned. An alternative headline would read, “After Bombing Iraq, America’s Stealing its Best and Brightest,” so it’s a boffo deal for Uncle Sam. Go, USA!

To vote for Obama or Romney is to sanction the continued degradation of the USA, an accelerating collapse of the economy, further erosion of your basic rights and more wasteful and immoral wars. Keep in mind also that an open-ended quantitative easing, supported by both parties and unquestioned in the press, is a sly, open-ended bank bailout that will deflate your dollar and increase your cost of survival. Instead of signing your own death warrant by voting, however, you can withhold your consent and protest this murderously corrupt system. As we reject their sham elections, we must also say no to their bogus wars, by refusing to fight them, and boycott all of their other mad schemes and poisons, for without our cooperation, this suffocating beast will buckle, then die. That’s the only recovery worth aiming for, for only then can we begin anew.

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He's tracking our deteriorating social scape through his frequently updated photo blog, Postcards from the End of America. Read other articles by Linh.