Sunday, May 27, 2007


William Fisher reports on the most recent Republican candidates night ("Leading GOP Candidates Surge to Embrace Torture”,

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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Blogger David said...

Yes. That Repuglican candidate debate in South Calinky was a stunner.

As a New Yorker, I'm familiar with Giuliani's facistic tendencies in abuse of the police power. New Yorkers of color still shiver remembering when a racist cop announced: "It's Giuliani time" as he anally raped a haitian immigrant suspect with a broken broom handle in the middle of a Brooklyn precinct house. Another innocent, unarmed, black immigrant, Amidou Diallo went down in a hail of bullets (41 hits to the torso) and Giuliani's cops all walked with impunity. He has never seen a use of force which he thought to be 'unreasonable'.

The revelatory moment was his demonstration of goebbelsian rhetorical chops in bringing the audience to its feet howling in protest against Ron Paul's common sense remark that 9-11 was blowback from decades of heavy-handed US foreign policy in the Middle East. So said the CIA, the Preznit's own 9-11 commission and the Iraq commission before him.

I hold no brief for Ron Paul. I kinda like Social Security, a progressive income tax, a sane monetary policy divorced from the gold standard, open borders etc. but he can at least control his smirk.

We'll be on the gold standard soon enough after we've used all our currency as camfire kindling when our oil hungry creditors pull the plug and the country goes dark in all manner of ways.

8:25 AM  
Blogger David said...

Another high point of the Memorial Day weekend was Cheney's keynote at the USMA graduation ceremony.

The cadets were told they are being sent by the unitary executive to slay enemies whose chief weapons were the US Constitution and the Geneva Convention.

We all know who 'hates our freedoms' and it's not Bin Laden. The latter has always been quite clear on the rationale for his violence. He observed at one point "We are not, after all, attacking Sweden."

8:37 AM  

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