Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Andrew Bacevich is a retired colonel and now Professor who has written knowledgeably and soberly of the events of the past six years. He lost his son in Iraq a couple of weeks ago. He published an Op-Ed in ‘the Washington Post’ yesterday, Memorial Day (“I Lost My Son To A War I Oppose”, www.truthout.org/docs_2006/052807Z.shtml).

He mentions that among the many emails of condolence he received, he also received a strain of message to the effect that 1st Lt. Bacevich’s death was the result of the Professor’s giving aid and comfort to the enemy by writing against the war.

It’s revolting, and a clarion alarm, this strain of ‘thought’. I believe that it is a classic example of what Al Gore rightly (but too gently) observes is the “strangeness of our public discourse” nowadays.

People for whom such quality of ‘thoughts’ constitute the sum total of their mental and emotional ‘content’ will always be with us. In the pre-Internet days you sort of knew they were out there, maybe living down South – a lot of them – but they never really made it out into the wider world. Richard Hofstadter studied that part of the noxious berg that jutted up into the fresh air, writing of the paranoia in its politics. But with the exception of the John Birch bunch, they mostly stayed in seedy bars and brayed at each other, and decent folk didn’t need to give them much more thought.

But the Internet has come and ‘decency’ has gone – jettisoned by the Democrats in their frenzied effort to pander to fresh voting-blocs of newly-revolted Identities. And the Roveian Republicans surfed the former into the vacuum created by the demise of the latter. And thus these whackjobs who wrote to Professor Bacevich have a wire that now runs from their treehouses and bars out into the wider world.

The thinking surpasses sophomoric and approaches the moronic: if the loss of a child on military duty proves that one has given aid and comfort to the enemy, then all the other gold-star parents must also be giving aid and comfort to the enemy. It should have occurred to the emailers, but it didn’t.

They have been raised in the same school of ‘thought’ made nationally popular by the likes of Bible Bhagwans such as Gerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. We recall Their Worships observing that a hurricane in New Orleans or Miami is punishment for AIDS or ‘libbulism’, yet Their Plenitudes have absolutely nothing theological to contribute when series after series of twisters go through the reputedly God-fearing, patriotic Bible Belt states like angels of the Apocalypse.

This is the fundamentalistic view of history: you take an event and work backwards through the actions of your congregation to connect it ultimately up to (your idea of) God. In this approach to History and to events, the irrational results and conclusions that will issue if your ‘example’ is applied to other similar situations are irrelevant; the idea isn't to accurately understand the workings of the world - the idea is simply to move your particular bunch of hearers to ‘God’ at this particular moment; it’s preaching, not studying. Studying isn’t the point; acceptingjeezuzzasyourpersonalsavior is the point. And it’s the only point.

It doesn’t take much thought to realize that this approach, taken off the dusty backroads and put on the interstate of national and international affairs with lights, sirens, weaponry, and the authority of the Federal government is not going to make things any better in this darkling world.

But it’s not simply that the emailers’ type of thought is ‘preaching’ more than ‘thinking’. What thinking is actually in it is an immature form of thinking. It’s something you expect from kids; ‘sophomoric’. There was a time when ‘sophomoric’ thinking was more largely confined to … well, sophomores. And nobody was too worried about it: part of being a kid is that your brain isn’t fully developed, that you don’t always think clearly and don’t have a well-catalogued library of experiences to help clarify and temper your thought, and that one day you’ll likely grow up, helped by the formative influence of the adult world all around you.

But then American society became youth-besotted: the country was flooded with kids (the Boomers).

Then the advertisers realized that a) these kids actually had lots of cash and b) sophomoric thinkers make much more desirable consumers.

Then Vietnam got so many folks so frustrated that the charming but illogical conclusions were drawn: If you’re old enough to die for the country then you’re old enough to vote (and drink). No. It doesn’t take too much brainwork to get killed; indeed, very few soldiers induce their death in combat by ‘thinking’. It takes a hell of a lot of brainwork to perform your duties as a citizen, as an adult, and as a member of that awesome guild known as The People.

Then the Advocacies realized that ‘kids’ make far better cadres then adults; they’re more easily worked up, swayed, and they don’t consider ‘thinking’ to be anything but an obstruction to the excitement and overriding challenge of achieving true (fill in the blank). Probably for that reason kids make the most desirable revolutionaries as well as the most desirable enfanterie.

And the Dems were pandering to the Advocacies in hope of replacing all the ‘negroes’ who somehow turned against them precisely at the moment when the Dems had sacrificed their southern voters by passing the Civil Rights Act of ’65. And then it occurred to the Dems that kids and their ‘take’ on things were a potential voting-bloc themselves (hell, wasn’t JFK a kid, at least compared to Ike and Nixon?).

So the type of thought that was usually a cross-to-be-borne only by school-teachers now became the national Style. Adulthood and ‘maturity’ went over the side, along with the afore-mentioned ‘decency’ and all those other fuddy-duddy Capital Letter Words (Virtue, Excellence, God) that were suddenly discovered to have been nothing but the machinery of the oppressors introduced into a pure world only at the onset of the ‘age of patriarchy’ (Said ‘age’ was conveniently calculated to have begun sometime around the dawn of civilization and of recorded history; the logical possibility that dismantling the ‘machinery’ might damage the ‘product’ – i.e. civilization – was not considered appropriate discourse for enlightened minds, for those who did ‘get it’).

The ‘emotionalism’ once stereotypically ascribed to ‘women’ is most certainly a diagnostic hallmark of youth and of immaturity, and the assorted illogics of sophomoric thought fused with a too-quick recourse to passion rather than thought, as befits a brain and nervous system not yet fully formed. It was no longer a matter of thinking, especially of thinking ‘critically’; ‘criticizing’ was a form of ‘judging’, and in the face of the horrible injustice of (fill in the blank) the only proper response was instant outrage and total embrace of the ‘victim’. Anything less and folks might get to thinking you were a (fill in the blank) yourself.

And then the whole mess spread into the vacuum of the 1970s until it merged with the superheated enthusiasms of an explosively surging Fundamentalism, which erected sophomoric thought and volatile passion into a religion and then tainted it with suspicion – of strangers, of omnipresent and (functionally) omnipotent evil, of thought itself.

But just so: these emailers aren’t just illogical and too quick-on-the-draw in the manner of actual youngsters. They are also tainted with a vicious bitterness that can only stem from somebody older who – on some hidden interior level – knows that while the body has aged, the mind and spirit have not matured. And regardless of all the fundamentalistic hoohah that ‘maturity’ is for sissies and that all you really need is ‘loyalty’ to Jeezzzuzzz … despite that boisterous encouragement, the individual is slowly poisoned, turned into stone, turned perhaps into a vampire, by the unsleeping acid awareness that s/he has not ripened, though Time is remorselessly draining away life and years.

And then along came Falwell and Robertson and Atwater and Rove and all their ilk, who realized that this tortured lumpenvolk – especially thanks to the equally antirational antics of the Left of the ‘60s and ‘70s – could be forged into ‘a base’ for political power.

And thus Our politics was debased; because We as The People were debased.

And Our poltical class was thus debased. Aware of the ominous changes (and the Dems knew that they had somehow invited these changes over the thresh-hold in that dark midnight of fear that they would lose their reliable voters), the pols quickly sensed its impact on their world: it wasn’t worth it taking a strong, well-thought out and reasonable and informed position, because a) you weren’t going to be able to keep enough of everybody ‘happy’, b) you weren’t going to be able to explain your position reasonably to voters and hope to ‘persuade’ the doubters through deliberation and discourse; so c) you’d better just learn not to rile the herd or any particular sub-bloc of the herd, do what it takes to keep yourself in the saddle, and hope God’s invisible hand would somehow steer the whole cattle-drive to some safe and happy destination.

And doing what it took to keep yourself in power meant finding reliably secure sources of funding (corporations, rich folks) while pandering to whatever squalling sub-bloc manufactured an ‘incident’ or an ‘issue’ upon which you might emit a satisfactory sound-bite or two. Of course, it would help if folks didn’t recall too much down the road, on the off-chance that humoring the next squalling sub-bloc meant reversing what you’d said a while back. But children are notorious for ignoring the Past, over-estimating the Future, and pretty much going through the Present like a bull in a china shop. But that’s what kids do.

It is not however what a People should do. Or the government that They endow with Their authority.

But that – I would say – is what constitutes the “strangeness of our public discourse”. I’m a little tougher on the Dems than Al Gore is in his new book, but I suppose he can’t go and piss everybody off at once. This mess We are now in has been a long time in the making; more than just the last six years or the Regime of the Twelve Years recently dented by the elections last November. We are ‘strange’ because We are basically conducting the affairs of a world power on the level of sophomores or – seriously – 7th graders.

Now this is worse than the Soviets. Back in the '60s and '70s the USSR was referred to among professional diplomats as "Upper Volta with rockets". That is, a primitive and backward, hugely underdeveloped society and culture, that happens to have an unsettling array of rocketized thermonuclear weaponry. And indeed, that's what Soviet culture and the society it formed turned out to be.

But what then is the U.S. now? The Seventh-Grade with rockets? You can make a very good case for it. And it would mean that We have actually lost ground. The anti-adultness and anti-Truth emphasis rampant among Us - especially for the past 40 years, when so much of that was imposed under the guise of 'liberation' and enlightenment - has caused Us to become an immature and untruthful society (which is not a bad opening description of the Bushist Project and Bush himself, by odd coincidence). Not that anybody plans to not-grow-up; not that anybody plans to tell lies simply for the fun of being evil (quite the opposite - the first lie is to convince yourself that the untruth you're about to tell is 'actually' the truth). A huge public lie told in order to alleviate the 'suffering' of this or that 'victim' is as toxic to the ethos of Democracy and of the Republic as a huge public lie told in order to further pre-emptive, aggressive, imperial war. That's why the Democrats are now revealing themselves to be as unreliable as the Republicans (as Cindy Sheehan has realized). Nobody should be surprised.

And yet We have unleashed the most advanced accumulation of military power the planet has ever seen. And We have sent into the maw of Great Things, and of War, so many of Our own young, upon Our authority, drawing upon their goodwill and their trust in Us, their trust that We the People would not lightly spend their blood and the treasure of their life’s possibilities. But We have.

We have because the above-noted emailers more accurately represent the status of Our public discourse.

We most surely must hold Ourselves to account.

I spent Memorial Day afternoon – 3 hours of it – walking meditatively through one of the ‘parklike’ cemeteries, several centuries old, that lies nearby here. With my CD player. Among other pieces, I played Samuel Barber’s “Agnus Dei”, in which he puts the words of the venerable Catholic prayer “Agnus Dei” to the haunting music of his “Adagio”. I thought of young 1st Lt. Bacevich – no, I ‘opened a channel to him’, if you don’t like the fuddy-duddy formulation (thought up by ‘them Kathliks’) that the Living are in vital communion with the so-called Dead. And in the presence of all those veterans lying there in the military section, many of whom saw their last sunrise wearing a blue uniform or even a blue-and-buff uniform, I rededicated myself to the great task remaining before Us.

Nor is it enough to say that We must ensure that 1st Lt. Bacevich and his colleagues-in-death did not die in vain. We are too far gone to simply bid him and them farewell. We, fellow citizens, need all the help We can get. He, like Vachel Lindsay’s Lincoln, “cannot sleep upon his hillside now.”

Nor, damn it, can We. “Men of Harlech, lie ye dreaming … ?”

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Monday, May 28, 2007


… was the motto of Hitler’s SS. It was considered the prime indicator of character in those circles.

That was a shrewd move. When all the indicators of character such as it has been known in Western civilization are not present, are indeed actively replaced by their opposites, such that you are for all practical purposes making war upon ‘Character’, then you want to make the most of what little you’ve got left.

Thus with Hitler. Thus, especially now that things are going south, with more recent Leaders of a New World Order and the wannabe elites who serve them. A code of silence, of Mob-like omerta, preferably encased in a tall, steely-eyed, lantern-jawed, (and crew-cut, blonde, and blue-eyed, if at all possible) shell … that’s what Hitler was going for. But he was pragmatic; there aren’t enough crew-cut, blonde, blue-eyed paragons in any country to reliably administer a New World Order, and the Fuhrer was an equal-opportunity corrupter of souls. And he preferred vegetables and frowned upon smoking … the man was positively ahead of his times.

As previously noted on this site (“What’s A Wehrmacht To Do?”) one of the profoundly sobering aspects of those Twelve Years, for any patriot in any nation, is the awareness that so many young people were born into Time at just the moment when it would be the Third Reich that served as the vessel for the moral project of their life – that one, single, un-repeatable opportunity to stretch forth your hand into History, to shape a Self and extend its Gifts into the great human Stream. How many of them committed themselves in sincerity, only to find themselves ordered after a while to do the most unspeakable things under the color of their military or public authority; how many of them yielded, perhaps stubbornly, perhaps only with torturous personal conflict, but yielded … enough so that the taint of their actions and their association with the Third Reich will stain their memory for all Time.

How awe-full and awesome is the responsibility of a nation, of a People, to send its own, especially its young, into the maw of Great Things. They look to Us for the approval that tells them they have chosen rightly and well how to spend their opportunities and their energies. They grant Us implicitly the trust that We know what We are doing as a People in History, that We have committed Ourselves to the discipline of being a People in History, that We wrestle in season and out of season with the demons of pleasure and power so that We might clearly and rightly decide grave matters.

We have not performed well of late. Not at all. And thus We have delivered so many of Our own, who committed themselves in obedience to Our authority and to those whom We set over them … we have delivered them to unspeakable sufferings and temptations.

We must rise up, and regain Ourselves this Memorial Day. There is no time for sentimental nostalgia, for self-flattering illusions and shallow posturing. Only a moment can be allowed to think on the sacrifices of those who have gone before, giving their lives in Our service. Because even as We stand here, far too many still in uniform are exposed to the unchained darkness of Ares Ferox et Atrox. We sent them there. They will return to Us some day, in body or in spirit. But they need Us right now.

The Revolutionary War heroes and the Civil War veterans will understand if We direct the weight of Our attention and Our intention to those presently entailed on Our behalf. After all, if We take increased devotion to their successor comrades in arms still living and fighting today, then no matter what the circumstances of their own service long long ago, they will not have died in vain.

Nor can We allow Ourselves the sheepish thought that We are “only civilians” on this soldier’s day. We are the People, in Whose service and upon Whose authority American soldiers are brought into being. We must therefore respect them, but We can never defer to them. We can never lay down Our own authority to People the Republic whose uniform they wear. To forget that authority and that responsibility, to neglect it for even a moment’s indulgence in the syrupy pleasure of sentimentality and nostalgia, is a true treason, a trahison, a betrayal. And there has been enough of that in this generation.

Face them all – the ones of another time who fought here or over there or who served anywhere. Draw from them that increased devotion that We so deeply need, that We too largely lack.

If We are to fulfill Our commission, then We must enter into Our times, and wrestle with the demons and the angels there. If America becomes a country where only the soldiers live in the discipline of struggle toward the goals of Truth and Justice, then We shall meanly lose this Republic. And We shall have betrayed all of them who ever took on the responsibilities of the uniform. And they shall never forget.

Let us therefore brace Ourselves to Our duties, and so bear Ourselves …

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Sunday, May 27, 2007


William Fisher reports on the most recent Republican candidates night ("Leading GOP Candidates Surge to Embrace Torture”, www.truthout.org/docs_2006/052307B.shtml).

The erstwhile frontrunners, he reports, “appeared to be competing for the machismo award”. It’s a rather sophomoric gambit – trying to be both macho and more macho than the next guy or than all the other guys – but this sophomoric quality is key to the “strangeness of our public discourse” noted candidly by Al Gore.

Still, this is a fashion-show and each of the guys has to impress his particular, unique, signature ‘english’.

The thing was rigged from the get-go by the initial premise-question, posed by the Fox flunkey, Brit Hume. It was the phantasmagoric ‘ticking bomb’ question: if you were the president and there was danger of an attack here on American lives, then would you authorize torture? This is an almost impossible scenario (a product of Fox Entertainment, not Fox … ummm … ‘News’); it hasn’t happened and if it ever were to happen it would be a once-only kinda thing, not the type of premise upon which to construct a policy (and deconstruct a Constitution). But ‘scenario’ is what Foxy Hume is going for here, not premise. And We wind up right back at the Gore-point: Our public discourse is becoming utterly weird.

If you were interviewing applicants for a trolley operator's position, would your sole inquiry be: What would you do if your brakes failed and you either had to slam into a platform full of commuters or run it onto a siding and kill a single track-worker? Just how much useful information would this question get you in relation to the responsibilities and tasks that the potential operator is expected to undertake? This characteristic of Our electoral discourse is beyond 'strange'. Of course, before this Republican version of the (useless) Big Question, there was the 'abortion' proof-question. Single-issue politics, single-issue political questions: We need to sober up; this nation is well on its way to becoming the world's largest - how to put it tastefully? - republica banannica.

One wonders if these were the type of shows Goebbels would have put on as the Eastern Front went south. If Goebby had TV, would the German volk have been treated to such panel discussions: a ratpack of Party wannabes, each eager to be the Alpha Ubermensch, scratching their heads at such a thorny if implausible a teaser as: If ze Fuhrer ordered you to torture, vood you follow ze order? The mind boggles at the enlightenment sure to be elicited from such a proposed situation.

Come to think of it, the answers elicited by Herr Hume could have fit right in with the above-proposed eidesis.

One mensch, a Rep. Tancredo (R-CO) went for laffs and said he’d be “looking for Jack Bauer at that time, let me tell you”. He got the laffs from the good burghers of South Carolina, inducing in the reader involuntary speculation as to just how successful loud prayer really is in maturing the human spirit.

But Tancredo does Us all a large service; he reveals the new Doctrine, the new Party line: “we are the last best hope of Western civilization … if we go under, then Western civilization goes under”. Ach! Shades of the Sportpalast! Those verr ze happy times! We are no doubt going to be seeing more of this type of assertion, first made when it became clear in Berlin that the Russians weren’t going to wait and apply for visitor-visas when they got to the borders of the Fatherland.

It was partly to inveigle FDR and Churchill to see the Third Reich as just another ‘Western’ nation, albeit one that had put itself on the line to combat the demonic malevolence of Communism. And partly to provide themselves with a new and more plausible identity (i.e. saviors and front-line defenders of Western civilization) now that their previous identity (all-victorious conquerors embodying the New World Order) had sorta kinda totally gone south. The Nazis became, overnight, the sore-bethumped front-line defenders of Western civilization (and was the rest of Western civilization going to stop quibbling about aggressive, invasive, pre-emptive war and join them … on the Eastern Front, as fast as possible, and bring fuel, ammo, chocolate and lotsa cigarettes?) Ja. Yah.

And as if he had read Goebbels’ own stuff and the German General Staff manuals of the First as well as the Second World War, Tancredo then asserts that “you better respond in a way that makes them fearful of you, because otherwise you guarantee something like this (“nuclear attacks”) will happen”. Ach ja! Using ‘terror’ as a force multiplier worked wonders in the Ukraine, and a war before that in Belgium. Using ‘terror’ to prevent folks from hating you enough to resist you worked well in France and Greece and the Balkans. And look how it cowed England and Churchill. Ja! Yo! Make them fear you … as if Robespierre’s observation that “nobody likes an armed missionary” hadn’t already undercut the Fundy hubris, Tancredo will go those whackjobs one better by channeling the Alte Kampfer and imply that Western Civilization will work just fine when it’s based on hate and fear. What the flok? Christianity does! Don’t it?

But to really repeat the performances of the Berlin Sportpalast in February of 1943, you need an audience as well. And the Party faithful – the ‘base’, they are called nowadays – can always be drummed up in South Carolina (the state that sent another Poison Dwarf – the JAG Lindsey Graham – to the Senate). South Carolina, that fine upstanding State-full of true-blue Americans, whose peccadillo of opening fire on the Stars and Stripes at Fort Sumter and over the course of the next few years killing thousands of US troops, was apparently paid for (and the case closed) when General Sherman, having completed his tour of the Great and Patriotic State of Jawja, came north on his way to keeping an appointment with General Grant in the vicinity of Richmond. But now We are to believe that they are the saviors of Western Civilization and why quibble over a few hundred thousand dead soldiers when Western Civilization and America is to be saved? ‘America’ … formerly known in South Carolina as ‘The Union’. They were against it. Even more than against likker. Even more than they were against emancipation. That South Carolina.

Mitt Romney will also save Western Civilization. He will not abide ‘torture’; he will support “enhanced interrogation techniques”. Ah, by any other name … Language comes easy to Mr. Romney, and concepts even more so. They’re like play-doh: as, for instance, that Mormons are Christians and Jesus was a reely reely nice guy. Ideas are like the parts you can put on Mr. Potato-head; mix and match. Mormons and Christianity, Nazis and Western Civilization, patriotism and secession … whatever. As long as you’re on the right side and you mean well. Oh, and he wants to double the size of Guantanamo. But that’s one prison that no State wants the federal contract for. Whatever. Moroni loves you!

Sam Brownback, a convert to Catholicism, has thereby a little more cred as a savior of Western Civilization. But he’s not into civilization; he won’t go down that road. He’s going to support the President (well, another one, anyway) because the job of the President is “to protect US lives” because “my standard is US lives”. Hmm. By that standard Lincoln was a colossal failure. Ditto FDR. But it’s a shrewd gambit, and one inherited from the Identities and maybe the Israeli PR folks: don’t focus on pesky questions of logic or legality, focus on the terror and the emergency that you should be fearful of. So no questions now about whether a President (or even this President) must uphold the Constitution and enforce the laws; this is an emergency … think of the US lives.

Well, scratch the President as being in it for Western Civilization. He’s in it for US lives. Minus the ones he’s lost in Iraq. Minus future losses in Iran. Minus … but why quibble?

And Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) brought Us about as close to Sam Ervin as this generation of pols will ever be able to take Us: he didn’t like the “Newspeak” of calling ‘torture’ by the name ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’. “Nobody’s for torture” he then opined, kinda ambiguously. The Party faithful of the Great State of Carolina and formerly of the Confederacy weren’t sure they liked that: was he making light of them? Was he saying torture was not-good? (It is good – for other people … much as, in the pithy commentary of ‘The World At War’: “To the Japanese, bombing was something that happened to other people”).

He then had the nerve to think, out loud, in front of them, which in politics down South is the equivalent of the coach taking his pants down in front of the 8th-grade volleyball team. ‘We’ve given the President the power to go after Osama in Afghanistan, but now Osama’s in Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons, and we’re giving money to Pakistan. And we forgot about him and now we’re over in Iraq – that’s bogging us down – and we have forgotten about the people who attacked us.’

The response Paul got was a classic replay of any German general who suggested to The Leader that a two-front war was not a good thing.

And they say that there are no relevant lessons to be learned from World War Two! The neocons have been right all along, basically, about the relevance of World War Two. It’s just that they got the sides mixed up. But why quibble?

The article then nicely moves on to note that on the same day that this Party revival meeting was taking place, two retired Marine Corps Generals made a public statement about the dangerous use of “fear” as the driver of policy. General Krulak is a former Commandant and General Hoar commanded CentCom in Clinton’s day. Between them they have close to a century of experience and expertise.

It’s curious: as the actual generals themselves are starting to doubt the war, the Southrons, those uniform-happy military elitists, are now worshipping more reliable (i.e. reliably dead) generals like Stonewall Jackson (a man who was responsible for the deaths of more US troops than Admiral Yamamoto and Field Marshal Rommel). And they are deeply concerned for ‘the troops’. Forget the generals, they’ll support the troops. Perhaps to the tune of 800 tons a day? A few fresh divisions? A better war plan? Well, maybe not all that. But a new embassy compound in Baghdad. It will be no Stalingrad over there – no freezing in dirt trenches, exposed to the elements and starving. Our troops will be supported (and surrounded) in style. Festung Stalindhad. Fortress Baghdad. Potayto, potahto.

LBJ once gave some advice to Martin Luther King (on the afternoon of January 15, 1965, to be more specific). He didn’t want to “follow Hitler” the Great Texan said, but “Hitler had the right idea: Just take a simple thing and repeat it often enough, and even if it isn’t true, why, people accept it.” So Texas and Hitler go back a ways.

Here is the abominable legacy of Hitler. While he was militarily defeated, his (not unshrewd) observations about how to manipulate the citizenry of a large industrial state were spot on. Indeed, even if he got some of his own insights from American advertising techniques, he realized that while the people would buy a deceitfully advertised soap only once, they’d support ‘visions’ spun by their leadership to the very end (with a little help and inspiration from the government police power).

On the eve of his (and America’s) great civil rights victory of that Glorious ’65, with his appetite whetted for a Great Society that could go to the moon and defeat poverty and racism and so fulfill its historic destiny as a benefactor of humankind, LBJ was offering MLK the advice of Hitler.

He walks among Us still, Hitler. We must pray that Lincoln does as well. And that it will be the better – and not the demonic – angels of Our nature who prevail in the monstrous struggle now embroiling Us and Our Republic. But prayer must bear fruit in good works.

So shall We be known. So shall We be judged.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Over on Salon Gary Kamiya raises a huge point in his article “Why Bush hasn’t been impeached”, http://www.salon.com/opinion/kamiya/2007/05/22/impeachment/).

He opines that Bush hasn’t been impeached because too many of Us can’t face the bankruptcy of the fantasies and dark urges that were the basis of support for him. Thus even though the Dems have been in for almost half a year there is no impeachment on the horizon, despite all the now-coming-to-light illegalities that leave Nixon’s malfeasances in the dustbin of History; the Dems don’t calculate that there’s enough citizen support for impeachment.

This is a complementary explanation to the theory that the Dems don’t want to weaken the power of the government, or even re-cage it within constitutional parameters; they simply want to take it over for themselves. Their revolutionist Identities – now equaled in dangerousness by the soft fascism of the security-crazed soccer-moms – will not, probably cannot, dilute the font of that political power the grasp of whose levers has been their only meaning, calling and purpose in life (God, Virtue, and the Beyond having been Flattened to make room for their agendas).

Both explanations speak deeply to Our present danger.

We have become increasingly emotion-driven in the past few decades (almost as if the whole citizenry had become as ‘hysterical’ as now-quaint Dead White European Males once said ‘women’ were). We have become increasingly techy about our virtue and our ‘security’ – “offensensibility” as Opus the Penguin named it in the ‘80s. We have become increasingly Fundamentalist religiously (Freud would have a field day with this in light of current complaints about Islam): impatient, perfectionist, emotional, credulous, incapable of respect, cognitively immature in our either-or thinking, grandiose in the presumption that God has not only uniquely chosen us but has empowered us to lord it over others; queasily hypocritical in the double-standard by which actions we condemn in others are seamlessly accepted as virtuous when we do them.

And what We have become has cost its opposite virtues: patient, reasonable, modest, virtuous, mature cognitively and morally, displaying an integrity that extends from the characterological to the conceptual and the emotional.

This country – its citizenry and its government – has been displaying the characteristics of deep and pervasive immaturity overlayed by grandiosity of almost delusional intensity and complicated dangerously by its hyper-readiness to use its physical powers to extend its ‘issues’ out into the ‘real’ world and to impose them by force on others. That begins to sound a lot like Virginia Tech’s Cho. In fact, it sounds a lot like Bush himself. But it is also Us, or far too many of Us.

Meanwhile, the Town of Marlborough in ‘liberal’ Massachusetts has just passed a residence-activity restriction ordinance that bars registered sex-offenders from walking in its parks, eating in its restaurants, and residing in pretty much most of the town. And no doubt feels it has done a good night’s work. The point isn’t that the ordinance is unconstitutional; it’s that the townsfolk think that it’s a good job. And that the Supreme Court, where the matter may well end up, is almost bound to opine that if torture and the loss of Habeas is OK, then Soviet-level residency and activity restrictions must surely be OK. After all, if the greater evil is OK, then the lesser must be OK by the simple operation of logic. Or such ‘logic’ as obtains in our modern American reality.

This “violent self-righteousness” as Kamiya accurately calls it is a characteristic now of the ‘base’ in both the Democratic and the Republican Parties as presently constituted. And for far too many who would not consider themselves as active members of either Party’s ‘base’, such violent self-righteousness is still a perfectly acceptable, perhaps the only, Way to go.

This country now comes to resemble a monstrously powerful warship sailing through crowded waters with weapons-free. But those crowded waters are also now rather constricted by rocks and shoals and the ship is also running out of fuel. And those who command are uncertain of their continued authority and of their course. This is not a comforting scenario. And it isn’t Hollywood; the Ship of State is the very Republic bequeathed to Us by the Framers, preserved – however taintedly – by Lincoln, and preserved at all points by the sometimes dubiously-justified but so often generously-shed blood of its soldiery.

So between the forces of Revolution and of Reaction, this country’s citizenry comes to seem as volatile and unstable as France of the early 19th century. And between the Right that seeks Purity (its own brand) and the Left that seeks Perfection (its own brand) and both willing to see the country go to hell rather than ‘yield’ to the other, this country’s citizenry begins to resemble France in the 1930s, where the Left would have preferred Stalin’s governance, and the Right very much preferred Hitler’s governance, to that of the Third Republic. No wonder this country makes so much fun of France.

Meanwhile, the option of sobering up, facing reality about oneself, and getting the national act back together, seeking “a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations”, is ignored in the increasingly hyper-manic attempts to escape the national demons and – far more fundamentally – the imperfection and sinfulness that is as Original with America as it is with all Americans as it is with all human beings. To stop running all over the shop like an axe-murderer on steroids … you won’t see it from a Hollywood that no longer makes films for the ‘mature’ demographic, but while there is still a working awareness and conception of ‘adulthood’ in the classic sense among Us, then We really need to exert Ourselves here.

The revolutionists know that if We put the government back into the corral built for it by the Founders then they will lose their unboundaried power to play out their fantasies; they might even have their actions, as well as their visions, investigated more closely by a skeptical citizenry - the public that they've stampeded all these years. The fundamentalists know that if We put the government back into the corral built for it by the Founders then they will lose their unboundaried power to turn this nation and the rest of the world into a theme park Disneyfied according to the blueprints in the Book of Revelation.

And I think that the corporations have already come to the very quiet conclusion that – even more than the Mob Families figured about Cuba as Batista’s sun set – this country is no longer a reliably seaworthy vessel for their interests or their funds. They’ll be flown-off before the deck tilts too much for chopper operations, although too much for the rest of Us to launch the lifeboats. (But where would We go, I wonder?)

So, according to the theory that the Democrats don’t want to really preserve The Republic any more than the Republicans, then simply sweetening Our dreams with “the fall of the house of Bush” really isn’t going to solve the problems. Not any more than simply appointing a ‘woman’ to the presidency of Harvard is going to do much to recover the stunningly parlous condition of American education or putting all sex-offenders on reservations is going to ‘solve’ incest or save – in Michigan anyway – the sheep from violation.

The Republic – ‘Liberal’ in the classical sense that (as Thomas Nagel put it) certain aspects of the life of the individual are immune from the police power of the state – will find no support from the Left any more than from the Right. Indeed, with the effort to pre-identify and pre-empt selected crime-doers American law enforcement is set to take the path of the old Imperial Japanese ‘thought-police’. The simplest scan of the term limns the final result: ‘Imperial’.

Al Gore puts his finger right on it in “The Assault on Reason”: he calls it “the strangeness of our public discourse”. Even more than anything about the environment and global warming, what he is saying about Our “strangeness” must receive the full attention of every one of Us who can still muster the maturity to do so.

"We cannot escape history", Lincoln said. That includes ‘reality’, and that further includes ‘reality’ about Ourselves. The now florid ‘strangeness’ of American discourse and action, in the personal as well as the public realm, in foreign policy as well as domestic affairs, is the most serious danger The Republic faces.

Yes, the environment is changing (for whatever reasons) in ways that will gravely impact the physical world that We are used to; yes, the world has recovered from World War Two and there are now many potential competitors to American business; yes, the world is becoming even more tightly inter-connected, whether intentionally or not; yes, the oil is becoming finite just as many nations are now developed to the point where they want and need a lot of it.

But even as all these problems require Our best attention and efforts, The Republic itself – and We as its People – is becoming weirdly ‘strange’. As this site has always held, this problem has been building for decades. It has now reached the stage of efflorescence where serious measures must be taken, and quickly.

But this is a Republic and We are its People. No ‘Strong Man’ can be sought; no ‘Queen’ or ‘King’ (even Jeeeeezuzzzzzzzz). We cannot afford the magical and pagan idolatry of the Fundamentalist Perfect/Pure Hero. We cannot afford the idolatry of the magical and pagan Revolutionistic Perfect/Pure Idea. We cannot see Ourselves as Heroes; We cannot see Ourselves as Victims. As We cannot indulge a fierce idolatry, so We cannot indulge a sentimental idolatry. Idolatry is escape, and We are called very much to be ‘present’, here and now, to Who We are and to What We are and to the situation that is actually confronting Us now.

We are The People. Each human, each imperfect, each with powers latent or clouded, but Given. But each capable of taking the narrow high path of Maturity, of Respect for Self, for Others, and of living a mindful, respectful life in unremitting stewardship of this marvelous engine – clanky as it may be – of the Constitutional Republic.

This is Our ‘rendezvous with destiny’. Yet, if this be not a ‘common era’ but a ‘Year of Grace’, then We stand at this point not unaided.

If this be Grace, let Us make the most of it.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007


Matti Friedman of the AP reports that Israel is debating women’s role in combat (http://www.boston.com/news/world/articles/2007/05/13/israel_debates_womens_place_on_battlefield/).
It caught my attention because the Israeli feminist who is pushing for widening women’s role in that army’s combat forces says outright the kind of things that were sorta not mentioned by the salesforce when women-in-the-military/women-in-combat was for sale over here.

Naomi Chazen, an Israeli feminist, says “The move is not crucial for the army, but for Israeli women”. You would think that in a small country surrounded by slavering enemies and itself having pissed many of them off and having also just recently lost a serious land operation … you would think that the army’s best interests would be paramount. But that would be not-getting-it. That would be not really understanding the nature and dynamics of the feminist advocacy in this matter; revolutions do not brook ‘other’ concerns.

“The army plays a central role in Israel … if the army creates inequality on any basis, these values get into Israeli society”, says Chazen. So it’s not about the army or military success, it’s about equality. And “any basis” might include that women are not well-suited for the hell of combat. Neither ‘facts’ nor ‘science’ nor the weight of historical praxis will be allowed to impede the revolution (as Goebbels once opined candidly: “Truth is whatever the Party thinks is good for the German people”). Nor will discussion or research be permitted, if they start to head in the undesired direction. Nor will the actual realities of … umm … reality – combat, say, for instance – be allowed to interfere.

It’s about ‘equality’ – although how that value is derived from the suitability for combat is a little foggy. And its proponents intend for it to stay that way. The army is a stepping-stone to the revolution’s stronger position in society, and that’s all that really matters to the revolutionistas. This was the gambit deployed by the American sistern, but it was the early 1990s and it didn’t look like there would ever be another war involving Americans, and if one came it would resemble battle as waged on the concierge-level suite that was the bridge of Picard’s ‘Enterprise’. Israel, currently, faces far more serious potential combat. Combat that’s gonna sorta look like what American forces are facing in Iraq as We speak.

An Israeli general observes that “such principles [as the revolutionistas espouse] cannot drive military policy in a country that feels its national survival is at stake”. He’s being too modest: “Feels its national survival is at stake”? If the Bushist Imperium wrecks the Army and the Marine Corps and locals take the opportunity thus afforded to march into Israel (whatever its boundaries are), who’s gonna stop them? There won’t be anything left boot-wise except the Rhode Island National Guard, and Our bad-ass Navy and Air Force missiles are notorious for blowing up whatever they run into, and if the baddies are on Israeli streets, then We will wind up destroying Israel in order to save it. So the general understates the case.

He continues: “As we’ve seen in other armies [hint, hint!], gender integration causes sexual tension and is detrimental to combat performance and it’s just not worth it. It’s not coincidental that throughout human history, men have done the fighting.” Well, the Americans certainly can’t disagree – April was an ‘Awareness Month’ and by amazing coincidence We were blitzed with ‘news’ that female soldiers are being raped and abused in record numbers by our erstwhile ‘heroes’ in Iraq and that women are refraining from going to the latrine in the middle of the night because they are so fearful of being raped. Either there are a couple-three stupendously busy and robust bad apples over there or the women are letting us know that we don’t have many heroes on the ground over there after all. Or maybe you can be a hero and a sex-abuser? Or is that thinking too much?

Of the Israeli general Friedman delicately observes that “feminists might call his views old-fashioned”. Yah. As if that settles anything. Gravity is a view that’s kinda been around a long time now, too. The functional solidity of matter is kinda long in the tooth. And – as Quaint Al noted, taking his cue from the revolutionistas – the Geneva Conventions and the Constitution are kinda old-fashioned and quaint too. The hot ironies! Let’s change all that stuff! C’mon! Whaddah-ya? A sissy?

Friedman, wisely, sidesteps the yawning abyss she has just opened, shifting to the question of whether Israeli women really want to be in full-frontal combat (currently, they are very much segregated and assigned support duties). Wisely from the viewpoint of her career, but it is precisely here – where the Boomer idiocy about being ‘over 30’, shrewdly surfed back then by the revolutionistas, is applied corrosively to huge cultural and societal questions – that the matter has to be decided. Which was precisely why the Advocacy back then not only avoided it but used its new clout (those desperate Dems and bored media types) to discredit the very concept that something that had been around a long time could be worthwhile. (Truth be told, JFK had used the same gambit to discredit Eisenhower and Nixon at the decade’s outset).

Worse: As Christina Stansell observes in her TNR article “A lost history of abortion” (http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20070521&s=stansell052107), in the current Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Carhart “one hears the echo of the anti-choice movement’s new emphasis on abortion as a de facto violation of something at the very core of women’s being”. Now I am not here taking a position on abortion; I am pointing out that Stansell is calling “new” what was among the very first objections raised to abortion decades ago; and one which the Advocacy quickly moved to squelch by discrediting it. Theory was deployed to the effect that there is no such thing as ‘women’s nature’, that ‘women’ have no ‘nature’ (Men meanwhile were defined as ‘rapist’, which urge to perpetrate was so widely defined as to constitute for all practical purpose a ‘male nature’). And the huge danger lurking in this gambit – that if human beings have no ‘nature’ then there are no natural protections on their behalf that any government or constitution is bound to observe … well, who knew? It was the Sixties! It was an Emergency!

In the same informative article, Stansell quotes Mr. Justice Kennedy as being concerned that if a woman is going to contemplate so grave a procedure, she should have access to as much information about it as possible, and that it is in the State’s interest to ensure that she has access to that information. This, to the revolutionistas, is interpreted as “paternalism” (by, of course, the Patriarchy). Men don’t have the right to tell women what they need. That society has a right to deliberate about major changes to its ethos … well the outrageous Emergency of women’s oppression simply required that all those inefficient and quaint democratic processes be dispensed with. Who says people need to be accurately informed? A question that Rove and Cheney - those unsleeping children of darkenss - took to an entirely new level of play.

You can't be showing 'consequences' to somebody if it's going to maybe change their mind! What's consequence got to do with it? Anyway, we're making history here and eggs (if we may) have to be broken. And when the Imperium then borrowed the revolutionistas' playbook and took the game on the road to Iraq ... oops.

And so the laws were ‘overhauled’ and ‘reformed’. And into the broad sunlit uplands We went. Or were supposed to.

Meanwhile, the Israelis now face a far graver and immediate crisis. And that may in a way be a blessing: while the revolutionistas over here have forced the ignoring of many an elephant in the room, you can’t ignore a military situation right there in front of you, any more than you can sit in a football stadium of a Saturday afternoon and claim that patriarchal oppression explains the lack of female professional players. It’s all too obvious and right there in front of you. Better to go about it as the Harvard faculty does: gassy hype and bloviating abstractions and hyperthyroid outrage conveniently packaged and delivered for the hype-greedy evening news.

This is why the Pentagoons – sisters (if we may) under the skin to the revolutionistas – want to control the media: the bodybags and the wounds - all the consequences - would be too vividly and undeniably clear to The People, and then what would happen?

What indeed?

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Over on Truthout there’s an AP report that a Navy lawyer has gotten six months imprisonment (www.truthout.org/docs_2006/051907C.shtml). Thoughts are prompted.

The lawyer got the sentence after a court-martial; no surprises there. Concluding a six-month tour of duty at Guantanamo as a ‘legal adviser’ (whatever that might be in the circumstances obtaining down there), he had sent an anonymous note to a civil liberties group with the names of the 500 detainees.

Age 41, he was a Lieutenant-Commander. He was no newbie. So it’s getting bad enough that even guys around for the long haul in the JAG corps are starting to waver. In a mob Family, when guys already ‘made’ start to crack, the bosses gotta give things some serious thought.

He was on a six-month tour. That’s kinda short. You can’t hardly get anything done in such a brief tour: can’t get to know how things go, know the command and the commander, establish the informal web of connections that enable you to do your job efficiently. You hardly get unpacked and you’re getting packed again. Very inefficient. Maybe that’s how the Navy wants it, when it comes to ‘legal advisers’: that way, nobody’s to blame: the Navy and the individual’s conscience can be protected: s/he was new, wasn’t here long enough to get a handle on things … leaving open all the usual ploys like ‘it was an oversight’, it couldn’t be helped, it’s so tough down there with those awful terrorists that even hardened JAGs have to be rotated out quickly so send us more money and authority to torture. That sort of thing.

He was “eligible” for 14 years. He got six months. Maybe even juries of Navy officers are starting to get squeamish and are doing the right thing. Maybe. The charge was to the effect that what he did could be used to injure the United States … just a short climb down from treason. They gave him six months?

But perhaps it’s because he made all the right noises at the court-martial: It was “cowardly” to release the names in that manner, he ‘admitted’. Yah. But torturing people you’ve snuck up on and kidnapped is not at all cowardly. Amazingly, he was allowed to speak to the press: he had an interview with the ‘Dallas Morning News’, but maybe that’s not the one in the middle of Fundy, gummint-worshipping, patrioteering Texas … maybe it’s some other ‘Dallas Morning News’ that the Navy marvelously allowed him to speak to.

So he makes all the noises an Old Bolshevik would have made at his show-trial in 1938. But it's true: America is still better than Stalin's Russia: old Joe would have had him shot anyway; Attorney Diaz just got 6-months (and it isn't a felony unless you get a year, so his Bar license is safe too). Funny - you can do stuff that will "injure the United States" but it's only a misdemeanor. So kinder and gentler, our Navy - and so un-cowardly. Yah.

Not that the names weren’t up for grabs. The Supreme Court – marvelously – had ruled in favor of the Center for Constitutional Rights that the suspects had the right to challenge their detention, but the Pentagoons then refused to release the names of the detainees. But that wasn’t cowardly. Zey verr chust followink orders. Ja.

But if Mr. Justice Thomas parties with torture-whores, and Mr. Justice Scalia’s only defense of the Court’s Bush-enthronement Opinion of 2000 is that we should all ‘just get over it’ and fuhgeddaboutit, then We are going to have a job of work trying to hold the Navy accountable. But We have to start somewhere.

God, as the Fundamentalists brethren and sistern are wont to point out, is coming soon. And He’s got a little list.

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Over on Salon Alan Wolfe has an article about the demise of Jerry Falwell (“The stone is cast”, www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2007/05/15/jerryfalwell/print/html). Enough to say that if We haven’t figured out that his treacherous antics were not Christianity and that he set the cause and quality of American Christianity back centuries, then We really have come onto the world scene bringing the proverbial knife to a gunfight.

But Wolfe asks an excellent question: How did this man ever become a public figure in the first place? Just as the South was considered so profoundly warped that the rest of the country politely avoided it, or averted their gaze when such virulent whackjobs as Theodore Bilbo held forth, so the Fundamentalists were held at arm’s length by mainstream Christianity – if we can use the phrase.

We know that politically the virulence of the Revolutions of the Identities opened the hell-gate. They were not just figurative ‘revolutions’ in the mid-60s’ Boomer, pot-whacked, adolescent, self-flattering and self-hyping sense, their content being so ‘cool’ and ‘right’ that embracing them was a sign of vast enlightenment. Rather, they were revolutions in the sense of actual praxis ala Russe: truly Soviet-style revolutionary methods, whereby in the name of abstract ‘downtrodden masses’ and in the service of abstract Perfections, anything and everything must be done away with that would oppose or hinder the quickest possible establishment of the regime and prevent any further questioning of it. And this method is hell-and-gone from American democratic process.

We know that the Democratic Party itself was terrified that the loss of Southern voters consequent upon the Voting Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1965, and that the impending decline of the mostly male Northeast industrial-worker demographic, would utterly undo the New Deal coalition forged by FDR 30 years before. The Party was desperate to raise up new reliable voting blocs.

We know that the media – high as a kite on the heady wine of forsaking boring and stodgy ‘objectivity’ and deploying their powerful strength ‘in a good cause’ – did not want to go back to the corral after the civil-rights struggle reached its democratic zenith in 1965.

We know that French “Theory” was looking for a home, bringing in the luggage its insistence that there was no Truth, no Objectivity, no Tradition, no Common Sense, no Virtue(s), no ‘higher’ dimension to existence, and surely no real and actual “God”: there was only Oppression and there were only Oppressor-classes or -nations, who deployed such capital-letter abstractions for the purpose of keeping the oppressed, their ‘victims’, down. And that the high-road of life was to wage a perpetual struggle against Oppression and Oppressors, including the struggle against the malicious illusion that there was any other dimension except this one or that there was any other path (or content) to human fulfillment except the achieving of sufficient political power to avoid being oppressed. (Theory never really got around to the massive irony that a nation or a group that had achieved ‘un-oppressability’ was – human nature being what it is – ripe for going over to the dark side and becoming an oppressor itself. But then, for Theory there was no such thing as ‘human nature’).

In the previous Post, “Bad Therapy” I adverted to another crucial element back there in the cauldron of the later-1960s that led to the witches’s brew that precipitated out in the 1990s: “… a ‘valorization’ of ‘victimization’ that had just recently been professionally amplified in a public relations spin blitzed over here by the newly assertive Israeli state: we’ve been most awfully and uniquely victimized and therefore we can never be doubted and to doubt us is to join the victimizers and by being thus victimized we are owed whatever we feel we need to get over it and by being victimized we can do whatever we feel we have to in order to ease our fears of it ever happening again.”

This was the lethal approach: the Outraged Victim Whose Unique Pain Permitted ‘All’ For Assuagement, for Vengeance, and for Future Protection; and the corollary that to doubt or even discuss the validity or applicability of the Victim’s demands (or in the Israeli praxis, the acts already committed to create ‘facts on the ground’) was to endorse and even collaborate with new Oppression and Victimization.

It would not take more than a moment’s reflection to realize that such a position was utterly incompatible with deliberative and democratic political process. And not only in the field of international relations but also in the realm of American domestic politics.

But in the event the nascent but richly-supported Advocacies, springing up to professionally advance the assorted Identities that were to comprise the new voting blocs the Democrats desperately sought, embraced both Theory and the Victimiste conceptual web now vigorously spun on behalf of the Israeli state.

‘Oppression’ and ‘outrages’ were duly discovered here, there, and everywhere in American society and culture, each demanding and permitting only the response of ‘outrage’ and utter and total sympathy for, and acquiescence to, the demands of Victims; a built-in bias toward emotionality and away from skeptical or even critical evaluative thought. The toxicity of this brew for the health of the American body politic cannot be fully comprehended, but conceptually it should have been clear from the earliest manifestations. And it was, but a newly deployed ‘political correctness’ prevented rational or even reasonable critical evaluation, or even deliberation and discussion.

The effort began to succeed: Trying to induce a link in the minds of the citizenry between ‘Slavery’ and the Holocaust with each new ‘outrage’ specific to each new Advocacy. And that constituted not only an embrace of substantive inaccuracy but also a symptom of increasing corrosion of the citizenry’s capacity – or even willingness – to assess, deliberate, and evaluate. The People were diminishing; ‘failing’ even.

It is a persistent – we might even say perennial – question whether any other historical phenomena can be ‘equated with’ the Holocaust, even metaphorically. That the government of a reputedly civilized nation, enjoying the plenum of power and capability accruing to a modern industrialized state, would decide to exterminate an entire group of human beings as a matter of official policy and to also cast this programme as a positive and absolute Good … has not happened more than once in history, to my knowledge. Pogroms and razzias extend back as far as can be seen, and the enslavement of militarily defeated tribes and peoples as well. But they are not the same thing.

And the ‘politics’ deduced by the Israeli state from that unique and monstrous event – as described above – are equally unique. They cannot be introduced into a democracy on the basis of a shrewdly-obfuscated and metaphorical ‘link’ that justifies such an introduction.

Indeed, one might say that the Holocaust has created an ‘anti-politics’ as one of its most lasting (and lethal) consequences.

And this lethal anti-politics, variously dressed-up as ‘revolutionary progress’, as just another New Deal coalition, vastly and deeply corroded Our polity. And when extended to foreign policy, it has led to Iraq (and perhaps to Iran).

It took less than five years for the vigorous efforts of the Advocacies to bear poisoned fruit. Having watched the Emotional and the anti-Rational and the anti-Reasonable do so much for the Democrats’ new cadres – and thus morphing into what is now called the ‘Left’, the Republicans began to embrace this apparently winning formula. But where the Democrats historic ‘far left’ had been pretty well squashed by the anti-Socialism and anti-Communism of the previous 40 years, the Republican ‘far right’ – paranoid, irrational, unreasonable, undereducated, intensely religious, and overlorded by a still-breathing Southron elitism and militarism that had survived the hard century since 1865 – was more or less ready, willing, and able.

It was Falwell and his ilk who saw the way not simply to harness modern technology such as television to raise larger wads of cash from larger ‘congregations’ but to harness the power and passion aroused in the already predisposed ‘far right’ masses in the service of politics. Falwell and his ilk shrewdly aroused the outrage of those masses at the true-enough anti-religious assertions and consequences (intended or not) now flooding into American society at the hands of the assorted ‘revolutions’ and demands of the Identities over which the Democrats had now – haplessly – lost any semblance of modulating control and in whose behalf the Democrats now – perforce – had to take their stand.

Harnessing irrationality and emotionalism on the right as the revolutionary praxis of the left had already exalted them, Falwell did not seek to improve the consciousness or souls of his followers or further the Gospel of the Christianity he overtly flaunted. Instead he raised them up as an army of pawns to counter the equally anti-rational equally anti-political ‘bra-burners’ and aborters and the ‘godless’ (fill-in-the-blank).

Having already abandoned objectivity, the media increasingly lost its way, and the egregious Rupert Murdoch simply erected that drift into a business plan, putting media in the service of the Right (as it exists now) just as the mainstream media had, starting in the late-1960s, put themselves in peonage to the Left.

It seems to me that Congress realized early on that they had created a monster. In 1976 or so they allowed Political Action Committees to make campaign contributions, as if they realized that they had so fractured the American polity that they weren’t ever going to be able to reliably raise cash any other way, including the ‘old-fashioned’ way of individual voter’s contributions. The lobbyists arrived in town shortly after, and in Reagan’s Administration the 1980s became a vampires’ feast. In 1996 Congress, by then debauched, allowed corporate mass-holding of media, although by this time there was precious little objectivity to be had in journalism, and – the citizenry having lost a lot of its civic capacity to assess, deliberate, and debate – the pols and their corporate johns saw little need for an objective media anyway. Outrage and Fear and Emotion and Non-reason already ran the show.

And if Falwell and his spawn were to believed, it was all in the name of Jeezuzzz (whose angels, it was to be inferred, wore American flag-patches on the shoulders of their robes).

If those angels wear any flag-patches at all, I’m foursquare in the conclusion that it is a patch of the Cross. This opens up a vast unexplored – or at least presently unexplicated - abyss between American and Divine praxis. If the Fundies are right about anything, they are right that such an abyss is never a good thing. But they are profoundly incapable of mustering the moral imagination to envision that God and American praxis might not e on the same sheet of music. Now them Kathliks had a lot of ideas about this sorta thing happening. But the country is not disposed to think about such ‘depressing’ stuff and the bishops have other things on their collective mind.

If We are all Americans (no exceptions: bra-burners, sex-offenders, fill-in-the-blank) then We all need to look to Our polity. The Ship of State is hugely holed and taking on water, while now engaged in a hot-lead slugging match that cannot be won. Prayer and some very wise and good works are in order. And sackcloth, and ashes – and let the dust that was Falwell return to its Creator for appropriate disposition.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007


Over on TNR-Online, Yale Kramer has a meaty article on the consequences of “therapeutic culture” (“The Therapeutic Culture”, www.tnr.com/docprint.mhtml?i=w070514&s=kramer051607).

Kramer sees the enforced exaltation of the ‘therapeutic culture’ as being ill-founded, unwise, and as having generated tremendously damaging consequences. It sounds more than accurate. A previous Post on this site (“The Democratic Way”) had mentioned the Virginia Tech shootings as an example of how ‘sensitivity’ when combined with bureaucratic caution in the face of laws skewed to ‘privilege’ a ‘victim’ and thus to discourage ‘judging’, all combined to create a potent ‘soup’ that provided the matrix out of which could burst forth into ‘realtime’ and into ‘realplace’ so bloody an efflorescence as Cho’s effort to escape his troubled mind and brain.

Cho, we recall, had been forced to see a psychiatrist, but that professional’s cursory examination resulted in an insufficient diagnosis thus forcing a hamstrung judge to merely order the troubled youth to get outpatient help (much as the mental institutions were emptied in the 1970s on the professional and political presumption that the addled and the addicted would be willing and able to maintain extensive outpatient regimens at ‘community mental health’ centers that, in the event, were never provided).

Kramer writes from the perspective of one who was part of the screening/admitting team at the famed Bellevue in New York City. He noted that the street cops were usually spot-on in their intuitive ‘gut’ assessment of who was and who was not a prime candidate for Bellevue’s attentions. “Common sense is one of the rarest commodities these days”, observes Kramer. Yes. ‘Common sense’ and the public’s willingness to let ‘cops exercise common sense’ took some very big hits in the past decades. Surely, the sight of Southern cops exercising their wide discretion to enforce the ‘common sense’ (and ‘traditional’ and ‘reasonable’) judgment that Coloreds should not pretend to equality with Whites greatly damaged the public confidence in allowing police a wide discretion in social intervention. If anybody is looking for a ‘tipping point’ when the respect for police (never very high among the working and immigrant classes anyway) took a big hit, s/he could do well by looking at the damage that Southern law enforcement cadres did to the image and reality of police work in the 1950s and early 1960s.

But when the Revolution(s) of the Identities got going in the early 1970s, growing in the unTrellised, unfenced ‘garden’ left by the ‘creatively destructive’ whoopee of the later 1960s and the corrosive attitudes engendered by the public experience of the war in Vietnam and the government’s arrogant desperation in lying about that debacle, it was feminism that set the tone. It pluckily built on a ‘valorization’ of ‘victimization’ that had just recently been professionally amplified in a public relations spin blitzed over here by the newly assertive Israeli state: we’ve been most awfully victimized therefore we can never be doubted and to doubt us is to join the victimizers and by being victimized we are owed whatever we feel we need and by being victimized we can do whatever we feel we have to in order to ease our fears. Thus fortified, the feminists set out – shrewdly – to ‘deconstruct’ the social authority of their ‘enemy’, “masculine culture”, and thereby create social space and authority for themselves (and, perhaps, for all women).

In successive supreme instances of revolutionary hubris, the feminists declared all that had gone before as being their enemy, because it had been their oppressor: Common Sense was one of the first to go, along – in short order – with Reason, Tradition, Nature, Fact, Reality, Objectivity and all those other ‘male’ things that had merely served to keep women down for millennia. With a shrewd eye to alliances, ‘black males’ were excepted since they had been enslaved, Native American and other ethnicities’ males were also excepted, until the ‘classic’ oppressing evildoer achieved the iconic shape of the Dead White European Male.

Almost in self-parody, feminists who railed against the long-standing stereotype of women as ‘emotional, irrational, unstable, illogical, and sentimental’ also insisted that Empathy and Intuition were vastly superior to all the guy-stuff. Stolidly, the revolutionistas remained oblivious to the equally parodic efflorescence of woman-dominated shows such as Gerry Springer’s and its spawn: women sharing horror stories of pain and suffering at the hands of men and receiving the clucking empathy of the studio audience as the skillful host expressed empathetic outrage. But that all seemed kinda cheesy, and not infrequently went over the line into queasy.

Enter ‘the therapeutic stance’. Within the highly-defined and confined parameters of the therapist’s office, a stance of empathetic listening, of postponing judgment on past behaviors in order to help the patient get to and express and ‘work on’ deep emotional issues, had developed among psychological and psychiatric professionals; this highly artificial ‘space’ and ‘attitude’ – providing something like a drydock – had been developed precisely as that, as a space not to be found in actual life, a space in which certain essential societally required tasks such as ‘judging’ and ‘punishing’ could be placed in abeyance in order to help this particular patient, securely held in the web of professional oversight, to get at those damaged spots that in the ordinary course of human activity and events were now inaccessible (much as damage on the underside of the hull is inaccessible to repair while the ship is afloat). A fine concept, and effective enough within its limited parameters.

But society and culture are an ever-stewing broth. The feminist emphasis on the value of the ‘feminine’ Sensibility, the female ‘sense of things’ or take on things, was in danger of sinking under the weight of self-parody by its own recently-‘liberated’ devotees on TV. But to ‘professionalize’ it … ! To drape that Sensibility in the authoritative vestments of knowledge and social authority!

And wasn’t there something … particularly or even uniquely ‘feminine’ or ‘female’ about presiding over therapy? Indeed, the therapeutic stance certainly required skills (empathy, the ability to sit still and listen for hours on end) not usually seen in ‘manly’ men and this had been true since the earliest days of psychiatry; ‘men’ didn’t sit around listening to other people’s problems, empathizing, and gently proposing possible alternatives to pain-producing experiences. (Catholic priests, interestingly, were and are required to do a hell of a lot of this sort of thing themselves; you might even make a case that Fundamentalist preachers, desirous of preserving their ‘man-hood’ while supplanting the Kathliks in the role of socially authoritative religious arbiters, stood to gain a great deal from the priests’ recent discomfiture).

The ‘therapeutic’ doesn’t ‘judge’, doesn’t argue with, doesn’t remonstrate, doesn’t order or coerce, doesn’t punish. It listens, suspends judgment, perhaps even ‘forgives’ in a non-religious sense, and always and optimistically seeks to understand and to ‘support’. (Yes, the excess created its own reaction: ‘tough love’ type ‘therapy’ where the therapist carried on like a drill-sergeant, but that never went nearly as far as the classic ‘therapeutic’ stance.) Therapy’s a useful tool when properly wielded in the proper conditions and setting.

But you can’t run a society on it. You can’t simply transfer the ‘therapeutic stance’ beyond the well-regulated confines of the therapeutic space and extend it out into the streets so that the social ‘ideal’ is the ‘therapeutic’ kinda person (or ‘guy’). What happens to civil and societal interaction when everyone is trying to therapize everyone else? And if the ‘ideal’ for everybody is to be a good therapist, then who’s going to be the patient? Or is each citizen simultaneously patient and therapist? And if so, who’s going to have the strength left to produce? To make a living? To defend? To raise kids?

Such insensitive questions. Whether they are substantive or not is not the point. Whether they are relevant or not is not the point. They are insensitive.

The revolutionistas, like all revolutions, couldn’t afford questions. In the first place, questions slow down the momentum of the revolution. In the second place, questions cause the masses – and perhaps even your own cadres – to doubt the revolution’s rightness. In the third place, questions can expose the revolution’s logical and conceptual inconsistencies and destroy everybody’s sense that all of the revolutionary violence (and there is always a hell-full of it) is justified and necessary in order to stamp out the revolution’s arch-enemy (fill in the blank) and to usher in the Perfection.

So with the Democrats being desperate for the feministas’ votes, and with the mainstream media finding that they liked getting out from under plain old ‘objective reporting’ and doing their glossy, gassy bit to help their favorite cause along, then a massive amount of social and political energy and resource was poured into preventing ‘questions’ of a certain kind: whatever the revolution was for could not be questioned (dovetailing nicely with the victims’ self-claimed immunity from questioning mentioned above). Political Correctness (originally a Soviet phrase) was injected into the American body politic. By 1991 it would prove itself to have been fatal for the Soviets. Unfortunately, by that time, it had been given glorious asylum here, invited in. Unenlightened as they may be, no Transylvanian would ever have made so witless an error.

In Cho’s case, as Kramer acutely observes, the grossly exaggerated ‘therapeutic stance’, hypertrophied such that it quashed all other ‘stances’ and ‘roles’. No one could step out of the therapeutic ‘mode’ and say candidly and clearly that this singleton was very gravely and acutely in need of restraint and assistance. Cho’s almost florid condition was “the elephant in the middle of the room” that all of these erstwhile professionals in this Year of Grace the Two-Thousand-and-Seventh and of Sensitivity the Thirty-Sixth had to pretend was not there. And they went on pretending until reality reached supercritical mass and detonated in their midst.

This all brings to mind the late-1970s best-seller “Watership Down”. Specifically, the soup rabbits. For those who recently joined the living, “Watership Down” is an epic involving rabbits, rabbits who make a strenuous trek toward liberty, led by a particularly humble but resourceful and morally genuine rabbit. Anyhoo, one day, well along in the trek and suitably bedraggled and frazzled, the journeying band comes upon a marvelously sleek and fatted rabbit, contented, well-manicured, the epitome of rabbit suavity and ‘success’, it would appear.

The travelers are – if memory serves – invited to stay in a marvelous peaceful glade where these beauteous rabbits existed in peace. The Exodus has succeeded! But then a funny thing happens. They notice that every morning, one of the sleek rabbits has disappeared … and the other sleek rabbits don’t notice, nor do they inquire, nor do they even recall the now-missing individual; the sleek simply go on eating prime food that is magically provided for them. Finally, it dawns on the travelers and they depart in great haste.

The sleek rabbits were ‘soup rabbits’, raised in captivity and fattened specifically so that they would be available for rabbit stew or rabbit soup or whatever culinary necessity might require their services. And apparently the necessity arose pretty often. Unable to deal with the reality of their situation, or unwilling to sacrifice immediate comfort and pleasure in order to save themselves, the soupsters had simply pulled the wiring out of themselves, so to speak. They had honed their ability to not-notice until it was almost a form of retardation, conceptual and intellectual if not also mental.

And does this sound like something that might have been working among Us in the run-up to the present catastrophe on the eastern front?

Am I suggesting that there was – all those decades ago – a massive conspiracy to subvert the Republic and The People? Am I suggesting that there was a feminist HQ like that of the German General Staff, where all these complex forces were calibrated, shaped, and deployed? Not at all. But History, as most folks would rather not like to think about, is dynamic in ways beyond human ken and control.

This thing, then that thing, then something else, and they are combined for a particular purpose in order to achieve some effect, and then they go and create other effects that nobody had originally seen (or perhaps had wanted to let themselves see). Hitler looked at the Russian Army and saw only a gaggle of un-officered Untermenschen. But there were more millions of them than the Germans ever imagined, they turned out to have some very good officers, and they themselves were among the most sturdy troops the planet has ever seen. Ach! Who knew?

And ‘Ach – Who knew?’ is pretty much the claim being made by everybody in Washington these days. One recalls that in the later 1940s and 1950s, as former German generals wrote their memoirs, there was an almost uniform theme among them: we were only soldiers following orders. Ja. Yah. Eye vass only a zimple Field Marschall – vhat could eye doo? Of course, none of the Nazis – having been so thoroughly trounced – could have chosen the in-your-face defense, that ballsy gambit chosen by some of the Beltway movers and shakers nowadays: Get over it, ya sissy, and let’s just move on! Or: We need to focus constructively on the future (the great defense that Capone never tried to make at his trial; proving that mobsters aren’t the most sociopathic Americans).

Kramer’s article also includes responses from other clinicians. Was Cho evil? Not a question humans are equipped to answer, I’d say. Did he choose evil? He might have; or he might have been so thoroughly compromised neurologically that he couldn’t tell the difference. In which case, perhaps he suffered from the ‘Original Evil’ that has rendered all human being and doing somehow and to some extent flawed; we’ve all got some ‘orc’ in us, as well as some ‘elf’.

Of course, this is precisely NOT what any revolution or any fundamentalism wants to hear. The first dizzy and delicious High comes from letting yourself go, slipping the surly bonds of human-ness by declaring yourself (and others like you) not-orc and all-elf. And the second great dizzy and delicious High comes from declaring some other bunch not-elf and all-orc. Ja! Then, once all of ‘them’ are stamped out (and, of course, you and yours have been officially Deputized to do the job) why ice cream and Caddies will rain down from the very heavens. What’s not to like?

The therapeutic, again, is a hugely useful tool for helping people. But only when properly wielded by competent folks in a certain carefully controlled setting. The idea of an entire civilization, an entire society, walking around trying to deal with matters as if each of them were a mental health clinician in a session … as Kramer points out, you can’t run a society like that. And a society trying to run itself like that is going to go to seed very quickly.

It won’t be able to produce; it won’t be able to defend itself. There won’t be any ‘bone’ for the skeleton, only ‘soft tissue’. And so far, only Jabba the Hutt has been able to make a go of things merely on the basis of soft tissue.

Worse, the stifling ‘success’ of the feminstas, abetted by the desperate Democrats and the bored and ratings-happy media – Political Correctness as it had not been seen since the early Soviet era - created precisely the pent-up opposition that fueled the hyper-macho, hyper-religious whackery that propelled the Great Patriotic Go-Kart into Iraq. The feminstas’ National Nanny State fueled the National Krime State (the government is here to protect you perfectly from all crime) and destroyed the firewalls that might have prevented the National Imperial State. We have the largest prison population of any nation in the world (in yer face, Mao and Lenin and Stalin!) and We have a world-class invasion going south in Iraq.

Are We better off than We were? And are We going to get worse?

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007


This morning’s reading brings a curious sequence of straws in the wind.

Alex Koppelman over on Salon reports that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC, ex-JAG, reserve JAG, JAG appellate judge, senior JAG) boasted to a Marine who had gotten birthday wishes from the governor of SC (they certainly do like to be seen with uniforms, those Southrons; perhaps they’re attracted to them, as other demographics also are) that he Graham was going over to Ramadi in July and would “walk down the streets where the insurgents had a parade”.

Feh. As Churchill opined “In victory, magnanimity”. But of course, that presumes an adult mind and spirit sufficiently evolved and capacious to platform the virtue of magnanimity. Graham hasn’t got those kind of chops. Indeed, as has been discussed on this site, the JAGs are looking for a few morally mediocre folks (and given the challenge of getting up in the morning as a JAG, that’s both shrewd and prudent; see below). The banality of immaturity – especially of the American Southron macho type – comprises American’s unique corollary to Arendt’s ‘banality of evil’. Immaturity – maturational mediocrity and unripeness, psychologically, mentally, spiritually, morally – as the grease that speeds the path of evil. Yeeeeeee-hawwwwwwwwwww! The road to hell paved not with good intentions, but with the spent casings of .45 slugs fired into the air in bumptious assertion of a deformed efficacity. In yer face!

But of course: we aren’t winning. It would in a way be of some consolation to know that the JAGs were only deploying Churchill’s adult spirit in the alternative: “In defeat, defiance”. But that presumes that one is mature enough to see and ‘process’ the fact of one’s defeat. And the defiance would be of a distinctly Churchillian kind: sober, serious, resolute, efficacious; possessed, in short, of a gravitas emanating from the very spirit and soul of the soldier. Splendid. But it is not Graham, nor any of his ilk.

Graham’s is a macho, fratboy defiance only modestly better than the darkly-grooved and stained ‘stubborn’ and oppositional you-can’t-make-me defiance of the Unitary Deciderer himself. It is the queasy assertiveness of the semi-solid, underdone personality that senses the imminent danger of its own guilt and weakness being exposed and must seek to escape the truth about itself. Not so much whistling by the graveyard then, as it is in-yer-facing by the graveyard. The graveyard of actuality and consequences and one’s own weaknesses and failures … and if those be ghosts, then they do indeed walk.

And they made him a lawyer. And an officer. And a judge. And elected him to Congress. To the Senate. No wonder the 109th Congress did everything except make Bush’s horse a god.

Meanwhile, on another part of the ranch, Andrew Sullivan reports that the junior JAGs who did what they could to defend the Gunatanamo detainees have – by the by – been passed over for promotion (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/05/punishing_the_l.html. Gee. What a coincidence. The colonel JAG in charge of the ‘defense’ team opined that four of the six on the team who were up for promotion were ‘passed over’ because they had been warned that actually defending the accused “could be detrimental” to their careers. Thus military justice. Thus JAGgery.

Thus I say again that while Bush may have perverted the generals, he did not pervert the JAGs. That organization is already, in its very essence, perverse. Bush – and Darth Cheney – simply realized that the JAG way was perfectly suited to the subversion of the rule of Law in pursuit of quietly predetermined objectives. And the JAGs had perfected this vicious kabuki over 50 years of piously administering military justice under the ‘reformed’ Uniform Code of Military Justice. The JAG way was utterly congenial to the unripe character of an addictive personality and the machinations of a treacherous power-mad subverter of the Republic.

I think that being ‘passed over’ may be a blessing of Biblical proportions for these young JAGs, if they are able to rise to the opportunity Grace and Heaven have provided. In being cast forth into the desert of civilian life they will cease to be implicated in the Pharaonic stubbornness that is dooming the current regime. And perhaps they might even find themselves – personally and professionally – experiencing a new birth of freedom. There is precedent, and substantial precedent. It will require a certain ripeness, a ripening – more specifically – but any mature adult knows that such is always the Journey that must be undertaken. Nor is there any shortcut. Nor is there any substitute: uniforms, rank, medals, status, role, or place. There is only the willingness to follow the Pillar of Fire into the darkness, hoping and seeking to be equal to the day. And should their determination flag, they have monstrously clear examples of moral and maturational failure among their seniors to refresh their resolve. May they respond to this Call, and prosper. We need all the wise and honest lawyers We can get; We appear to be suffering a surfeit of the other kind.

In that regard, Heather Havrilevsky, Salon’s TV commenter, observes (http://www.salon.com/ent/tv/review/2007/05/14/sopranos/) “just how many layers of self-deceit it takes for the man [Tony Soprano] to get up in the morning, given all of the brutal acts he’s committed”. Naturally, one thinks of JAGs. But We have to prepare for this reality: everybody connected with furthering this Iraq debacle is – for the purposes of moral and psychological consequence – going to be experiencing this particular type of Post Perpetration Stress. Whether the individual admits it or not, and no matter how the individual handles it and deals with it, there are going to be invisible deformations even where there are no physical wounds; psychological, characterological, moral, spiritual. We have to understand this, because even more than the German people, We allowed this to happen to them, We allowed this monstrous situation to develop, We have allowed it to go on.

And to Us they will return. Hugely insightful, the ancient Christian Church required all soldiers returning from war to undergo a ritual period and ritual ceremony of ‘cleansing’, based on the profoundly sage insight that war – whether you win or lose and no matter how good your intention – is a viciously and insidiously infectious thing, and will wreak damage on the spirit and the soul even if it foregoes wounding the body.

If We must go shopping, let it be for the wherewithal to meet the needs of those who return.

And, finally, Glenn Greenwald, again on Salon (www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/05/14/thompson/print.html), reports on Fred Thompson’s latest sermon on the value of the Rule of Law and how only the Republicans (as presently constituted) can be trusted to uphold it. It can be said that at least in the time of Nixon nobody really imagined that things could get so bad, but We cannot make that excuse now. Nor can Thompson, for this reprehensible performance.

Perhaps he is merely posturing in order to play to the current Republican base; perhaps – as one of the former Nazi judges asserted in “Judgment At Nuremberg” – he stayed on the bench precisely and purely to modulate the horror and the evil. But if it is Thompson’s vision to retain the current base and still restore the Rule of Law, then his vision is flawed, if not witlessly execrable, to begin with.

And if he is truly planning to restore the Rule of Law, then he cannot in the same speech demand the pardon of Scooter Libby (see “Libby No Baddy?” on this site). Accountability is going to have to be accepted, with all the consequences. In that regard, Mr. Justice Scalia is not setting a good example. He has developed a stock response when interlocutors question him about his and the Court’s egregious intervention in the election of 2000 (now separated from us by an aching abyss of might-have-beens): we should just get over it and move on, opines Scalia – a defense which no doubt many of the defendants that have appeared before him in his career would surely have loved to have made. Should Mr. Thompson be sincere – and there is no reason to presume that he is – then his restoration of the Rule of Law will not be able to rely totally on the Supreme Court. Although, if torture might help, Mr. Justice Thomas will be glad to concur.

We here must highly resolve …

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Monday, May 14, 2007


David Rosen has an article over on Counterpunch (“The New Disappeared: Sex Offenders, Civil Confinement, and the Resurrection of Evil”, www.counterpunch.com/rosen/05102007.html). It’s an impressive piece. I’ll quote as I go along, and comment.

His piece is prompted by the new “’liberal’” [Rosen’s quotation marks] governor of New York’s early securing of the passage of “the nation’s most far-reaching civil confinement law”. As Rosen paraphrases the ‘thinking’ behind the law, "these inmates are defined as suffering a mental disorder and, thus, posing the threat of committing new crimes upon release". This thinking – so called – is flawed and ominously leaves the door open for the civil confinement of anybody, should the legislators feel the urge to ‘think’ further and move their illuminations to ‘the next logical step’.

First, there is no disorder called ‘sex offender’ or ‘sex offense’ recognized by the governing bodies and publications of the mental health profession. The Supreme Court itself has enabled things by opining that there’s no reason that legislatures can’t define mental status on their own, even if the (usually deferred-to) psychiatrists won’t do the job the way the pols want to see it done.

Second, if everyone who committed a crime and was found (by legislative fiat, even if not by medical/psychiatric professionals) to be at risk for re-committing a crime, then who isn’t liable for civil confinement? Bank robbers? Murderers? Tax cheats? The case has been made that the behaviors usually considered indicative of sharp business and entrepreneurial acumen qualify as forms of sociopathy. Do we confine CEOs? Do we – for that matter – confine politicians, whose own standard operating procedures seem to involve an awful lot of stuff that should attract the professional attention of law enforcement?

And of course there is the irony that this entire gambit is coming from the ‘liberal’ side; how curious that in their effects the ‘liberal’ and the ‘conservative’ as presently defined are indistinguishable.

“Today the terrorist … and the sex-offender, especially the pedophile, are perceived as the gravest evils to civil society.” Yes, but attention to the time-line yields even further detail: the sex-offender came first (although only 10-15 years ago). The ‘terrorist’ uproar achieved such critical mass so quickly in public opinion because it traveled pathways cut by the mania over sex-offenders.

The governor insists that there are sufficient safeguards in place: a panel of “mental health experts” assess the incarcerated offender before his (always ‘his’) release. But as the New York Times series this past March indicated, and as was noted on this site, the sex-offense ‘mental health expert’ is rarely if ever from the mainstream academic/clinical levels of the profession. More often than not they are social workers or ‘therapists’ or less who have started a cottage industry of providing their own version of ‘benefit of clergy’ to prosecutors and police looking for rubber-stamp approval. Against these the jury – the second level of review – is going to have an uphill time of it, if it is disposed to disagree in the first place.

Continuing the cruel and mendacious scam initiated by the Court, the New York law mandates ‘therapy’, the same ‘therapy’ that the Court piously insists is the efficacious tool that justifies this totalitarian civil-confinement gambit. But mainline professionals, even those as well-disposed toward the thing as Eric Janus, admit that there are few specific therapies, which should come as no surprise since even after all the (dangerous) legislation that has been passed not even the ‘experts’ in this field really know much about the cause or dynamics of ‘sex offenses’ (perhaps one of the reasons why the mainstream psychiatric and medical governing bodies haven’t erected ‘sex offense’ into a diagnosis). Thus, confining a person after he has served his prison term, and requiring him to ‘get therapy’ after final release, is worse than spraying water on smoke; we don’t even know what causes the fire.

There is also in the New York law a new crime category: “sexually motivated felony” that – according to Rosen’s article – “attempts to identify potential sex offenders prior to the committing of the crime” – which, if memory serves, was the plot of a dystopian future sci-fi flick called “Minority Report” not long ago. An ephemeral disease is being dealt with by a fantasy movie plot – all under the authority of American law and government. Is there any wonder that this nation is no longer considered worthy of unhesitating respect in the world? And this is before American performance in the Iraq debacle is factored in.

“America has never known what to do with sex offenders.” Rosen gives too much away here. America hasn’t known what to do with them because until recently ‘sex offenders’ didn’t exist. Yes, crimes involving sex existed, as did the people who perpetrated them, but like any other criminal the American system dealt with them as best a limited human government could: when discovered, they were prosecuted and if convicted sent to prison according to laws applicable to their crime(s), and then – their ‘debt to society’ having been paid - they were released. What else could a government not possessed of divine knowledge do without turning itself into a police state?

Why do people engage in crimes involving sex? Why do they rob banks? Why do they betray their oaths? Why do they evade taxes? Why do they speed? Why do they yield to evil? Why do we? Nobody has the definitive answer, and thus the Framers were not about to allow the government to go mucking about, engorging itself on the pretext of solving mysteries that have eluded solution for all of human history.

The more answerable question, and the more useful one, to ask is: Why are Americans so violently exercised about ‘sex’ recently? Perhaps part of the answer is that the feminists find ‘sex’ an easy and trusty cudgel with which to bash ‘men’ in their self-declared “war on masculine culture”. Perhaps part of the answer is that the invention of male sex-offenders takes the pressure of public concern off the numbers of women who procure abortions. Perhaps part of the answer is that parents increasingly unavailable to their children project their own guilt onto scapegoats. Perhaps part of the answer is that many politicians have seen their way clear to curry favor with unpredictable voters (yet shrewdly so: the focus is kept on Stranger-rapists – the disturbing but rare “violent sexual predator” – although such statistics as appear reliable indicate that the vast majority of sex-offenses against children are committed by parents, step-parents, and those close to the children). Surely, the unsleeping hunger of government - whether leaning to the Left or the Right - to enhance its invasive police power, cannot be discounted.

Justice Clarence Thomas – most recently seen enjoying the dinner company of the producer of the TV show “24” who supports torture – justified civil confinement according to a Kansas statute (putting paid to the illusion that the Midwest is still the home of the echt American ethos) by piously claiming that such confinement is not punitive (therefore not unconstitutional) because the detainee will receive “treatment” – the same treatment that the mainstream professionals report does not exist.

I used the term ‘detainee’. Once again, the timeline tells: these civil confinement laws moved forward in the later 1990s, within a year or so of the sex-offender “Registries” themselves. Did we think even Rove and Cheney – those treacherous children of darkness – were smart enough to think EVERYthing up?

And all of this even as the government’s own figures indicate that ‘sex offense’ numbers are falling significantly, and that ‘sex-offenders’ maintain some of the very lowest recidivism rates of all the crime categories. The scientific-sounding “Levels” are almost useless and ungrounded, merely taking the most horrific crimes and declaring their perpetrators “most likely to reoffend”, apparently on the basis of public opinion rather than any actual scientific grounding (and we wonder where the Creation-science whackos got their business model?).

And – almost as if it were parody – we are informed that at the insistence of animal rights advocates one Jeffrey Hayes of Michigan was forced to register as a sex-offender for having sex with a pair of sheep. Are we to presume he is at great risk of re-offending? Or ‘escalating’ to humans? In Florida – that fortress of values – a court has required several homeless sex-offenders to stay under a bridge at night; the offenders report that the lack of outlets hinders them from recharging their GPS-anklets.

What is going on here? I hold no brief for forcible sex with anybody, nor for any sex with children. But what the sex-offender mania has produced is a disaster morally, politically, and legally. It is based on misrepresentation and half-truth, it panders for the purposes of political gain, and it undermines the rule of Constitution and law under the nazi-soviet rubric of ‘emergency’ and ‘outrage’. And even on its own stated terms, it is consistently failing to address the most significant perpetrator-group.

We have allowed all of this to happen: the almost overnight creation of a full-blown crime category that was previously non-existent, resulting in legislation that peppers the watertight bulkheads of constitutional protection, backed up by ‘science’ that mainstream science and professionals do not accept as valid, supported by a queasy mix of for-profit hucksters and law-enforcement groupies-for-pay, in a trajectory that has steadily ticked off all the classic milestones of 20th-century descent into totalitarianism: identification, demonization, forced registration, residency restrictions, and – on top of trials deformed by abandonment of classic Western canons of evidence and procedure – indefinite civil confinement on the basis of spurious ‘mental health’ dangers.

Worse, this programme ticks off the classic markers of primitive Western banes such as witchcraft-hysteria and an even more ancient form of scapegoating: the Strange Other who is Evil. As if, by loading all ‘evil’ upon one class, the rest are ‘free’ of evil. The National Security State had hardly lost ‘the Communists’ before the National Nanny State erected the ‘sex offenders’. And having watched how quickly that gambit succeeded, the National Imperial State created the Iraqi WMD and Islamofascists. And dragged Us into war.

Can We be surprised at what has now happened? One cannot help but think of Homer Simpson’s heartfelt but uninsightful wail: “Why do things that happen to stupid people keep happening to me?”

Homer Simpson isn’t going to help Us now. But in the great tradition of English satire and parody, it may be time to start looking at this thing from a different perspective. Because what’s happening to Us – and it has now happened twice in 15 years or less – is politically ominous and lethal – and Our descent into public mania is now reaching out to destroy others, in foreign countries, women and children and – them too – men.

If We can’t stop Ourselves, somebody else will.

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