Sunday, June 24, 2007


Over on Counterpunch, Alison Weir has an article about how one of the MSM, 'USA Today', either utterly ignored the USS Liberty aniversary or misreported it through gross inaccuracies that would lead an unsuspecting reader to the stupefyingly improbable position that the two-hour Israeli attack was a case of "mistaken identification" ('USA Today and the USS Liberty',

Apparently, in the eyes of "USA Today', any reasonable person who would entertain the possibility that if on a bright calm crystal-clear June day a certain nation's pilots report over the radio to their headquarters that a ship they have been watching for 8 hours is American by its flag and configuration, and if the pilots are then told to attack it anyway, and if after they fire all their rockets and napalm and leave, and if then an hour or so later elements of that same certain nation's surface navy arrive and then launch torpedoes into into the US Navy ship and then machine-gun the crew and liferafts of said US Navy ship ... well, anyone who would lean toward the strong possibility that such a country's attack was intentional would simply be a 'conspiracy theory' wingnut. Yah. I'd say that anyone who could swallow the 'mistaken identity' excuse is either - as the Victorians used to say - "a scoundrel or a fool". I'll go a tad further: I assert that to be a Liberty-denier is tantamount to being a Holocaust-denier. And that same certain nation is techy as all hell about folks denying its Holocaust.

How can it possibly be that We have come to this pass? That Our own government refuses to impose appropriate consequences for the crapulous criminal treachery, the act of war, perpetrated against Us on that June day in 1967?

Of course, one part of the answer is that the government itself refused to go to the assistance of the ship when it sent a clear and timely distress call reporting itself under attack. Indeed, the government recalled not one but two flights of Navy warplanes launched as a matter of course to defend the ship. Our government. Did that.

But that just makes the initial question even more intense: How the hell have We come to this? How in hell did this happen? What keeps it going? What in hell is wrong with our mainstream media? What has been wrong with them - on this point certainly - for 40 years? Because almost no MSM notice of the 40th anniversary of the attack on the USS Liberty has been taken (and yet for several months now Our attention has been invited loudly and unceasingly to the 40th anniversary of the release of a Beatles album).

This site has already Posted a couple of times on USS Liberty ('Infamy' and 'Unprofessionally Military', both in June of 2007). Let me get more into the dynamics that I think might answer that question.

The Democrats under LBJ were well aware in 1965 that they were going to pay at the polls for their support of the Civil Rights Act of that year, and were then stunned into political terror when the Watts riots erupted less than a week after LBJ had put the Party on the line by signing the Act. The Party was desperate to replace all those white Southron voters who would (and did) leave the Party after 1965.

The Party's embrace and slavish nurture of the assorted Identities and their assorted revolutions staring in the mid-1960s, including as well its support of the entirely novel 'phase' of Civl Rights that it termed "affirmative racism", can be explained in great part as a desperate political strategy to raise fresh blocs of voters out of the very earth.

In addition to the new Identities, however, the Party turned to the American Jewish demographic. This was hardly surprising. The American Jewish community had been deeply intertwined with the Democratic Party since the earliest days of the New Deal, the traditional Jewish concern for social justice meshing neatly with huge opportunities for communal self-betterment and advancement in those remarkable days of the 1930s.

But in the later 1940s, led by another vote-desperate President - Harry Truman - the Party had quickly recognized the absolute political need to recognize the State of Israel. It was an iffy proposition from the point of view of the best interests of the United States; anyone looking at the postwar Detroit gas-guzzlers in their chrome-plated excess could see that an awful lot of oil was now going to be a national necessity. But at the time We were still living off domestic oil production and 'the Arabs' could still be mistaken for merely the last, shredded remnants of the Ottoman Empire.

The Soviets started dabbling in the Middle East, and courted the Arab nations, who invited them in through the front door, to counter the influence of the Israeli state that the US had dropped in through a hole chopped in the roof. That set the tone for the 1950s, with the US now trying to keep a rein on its bumptious and hardly subservient client state - Israel - as the Soviets tried to pull the Arab nations into the modern world sufficiently to complicate US diplomacy in the Middle East.

By the early 1960s JFK knew that within a very few years US domestic oil was going to be unable to fulfill the majority of the country's needs. He was looking at some amount of rapprochement with the now-able-to-stand Arab nations that had been erected on top of the planet's largest known oil reserves. But suddenly he was gone. That was 1963.

Then came 1965, as above described. Then came that June of 1967. The Israelis were going to have their pre-emptive war and the Arabs, cocky because of their Soviet support, were inclined to give it to them. LBJ was already up to his big jug ears in Vietnam and things weren't going well there. And he needed all the domestic support he could get.

And so, as the Liberty incident demonstrates, the Democrats indeed went 'soft' on national defense. But not primarily because they 'lost' Vietnam, but because they had permitted an attack - an act of war - upon an American naval vessel to continue, and many members of its crew massacred. And then having thus committed an act of treachery against the United States, the vote-starved Democrats initiated - with the help of a mostly friendly media - a cover-up. A cover-up aided and abetted by the 'political correctness' that was already helping to lubricate the path of the newly-hatching Identities.

In the end, while the media focused on the eventual loss of Vietnam, the far more culpable failure - indeed treason - in the matter of the USS Liberty attack was enveloped and smothered in the dust of events. Purposely. Israel was now our 'ally'. No treaty, no request for one, and no agreement to abide by any regulations, restrictions or rule or law except those of its own privileged interests - as if Israel had appointed itself to "00" status, like the then-new James Bond's status as "007". Do whatever it takes, Mr. Bond.

Of course it was a 'special' ally. Oh yeah! What other ally had committed an act of war that shed copious amounts of American blood and been met with a unilateral American bestowal of 'alliance'? Without any treaty needing to be signed? And was showered with American foreign and military aid in consequence of its act of war?

The Democrats' greatest betrayal of the Sixties wasn't Vietnam. Not hardly. And it constitutes one of the great reasons for the Democrats decades-long refusal to face up to the Liberty incident: the Democrats and the Israelis are now bound by what in SS circles was known as the Blutbund: the bond that arises from knowing that each has shed innocent blood. The Israelis committed an act of war and arguably a war crime. The Democrats not only committed the treason of allowing it, but then rendered their treason ongoing by actually paying the Israelis huge sums in military and foreign aid with the money of the very People the Democrats had betrayed.

But as the Seventies progressed, another 'crime' - and this one also ongoing - was layered into this mess, layer upon layer like a lasagna. The Israelis, cashing the checks without yielding to the desperate affections of their truckling suitors, developed a strong PAC presence whereby great chunks of the tax monies sent to them would be kicked back to American pols in the form of political donations. Before long Democrat and - increasingly - Republican pols were hooked onto the steady flow of kickback cash. And in a country where no reliable voter-majority could be maintained, where a single litmus-test could determine candidacies and elections, both Parties had quietly come to the conclusion that money was a pol's best friend.

Thirdly, in a synergy that became more manipulable as time went on, the Victimist and the Manichean mindsets replaced a prior public maturity at the very heart and soul of Our culture. The Victimist mindset reduced Our public emotional posture to a toxic combination of paranoid fear and outraged vengeance: there is danger of crime and there are criminals lurking everywhere, folks must take the word of the 'experts' that only vengeance can stop these perpetrators, and nothing must be allowed to stand in the way of stopping them, and if anybody doubts that then let them look upon the victim of this outrageous crime (cue filmclip). Replacing the old American sense of balance and pragmatism about crime with an unquenchable bathos and outrage on behalf of the Victim certainly rendered American public discourse and atttiude far more amenable to the foreign policy gambits of the Israeli government, which of course represented and indeed constituted the greatest Victimization of them all: the Holocaust and the on-going obstructions of the Arab states to the agenda and vision of the Israeli state.

The Manichean mindset replaced a complex, nuanced, careful assessment of and well-considered response to events with a crude, vivid, simplistic either-or: you're either with us or against us, and if you doubt that then that proves you're against us too (Hitler used the code phrase "und niemals verzweifeln"), and since you oppose us then you must be pure Evil because (this part politely left unspoken until 1994 or so) we are pure Good. This was a child's unripeness, reflecting - as it does in children - an incompletely developed cognitive apparatus and a lack of experience and reflection upon experience (including mediation upon one's own mistakes, failures, and sins ... like them Kathliks always depress you about). But now it became the national mindset and heartset.

The MSM thus are very very leery of the USS Liberty incident. Both Democrats and Republicans have huge amounts to lose, including being exposed as being agents of a foreign state and having placed the programme of a foreign state above America's for the purpose of political expediency and personal enrichment - over and above the original trahison of June 1967 itself. None of the MSM's corporate bosses are going to start reporting on a situation where there are no identifiable Good Guys and so where the story cannot be told - even with 'spin' - with any influential Player benefitting. All the Players at this table are guilty, and it's blood-guilt. In a corporate-run MSM where 'reporting' is now sold to the most attractive bidder, there will be no takers for the USS Liberty's story.

Robert McNamara is still within US jurisdiction. So for that matter is Jimmy Carter, who in 1980 went on his knees getting the Israelis to pay some indemnity to the survivors, which money Congress promptly included in the next check to the Israelis. The Israelis had to be begged to pay surviving servicemen and their families with money that Congress would be only too happy to provide ... and they still did it only grudgingly. A special ally indeed. Sooo speshullll.

What do McNamara and Carter have to say about all this? We should ask them. But I mean "We" in the most fundamental sense of the People. I can't think of any of our elected representatives, past or present, who might consider themselves to be 'in a position' to ask on Our behalf.

So the USS Liberty incident is not merely the tip of the iceberg. It provides a portal directly to the core of it. Or to the bottom of it. Where be dragons far more foul and lethal than any of the dinosaurs the Fundies claim were booked into steerage on the Ark with the lions and the lambs.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Terry Eagleton has written a short but meaty book entitled “The Meaning of Life”; Laura Miller has reviewed it over on Salon (“What is the meaning of life?”,

One of his key points is that life – most especially human life – is ‘contingent’: we don’t have to be here and – as if that’s not enough – our being here is the result of random forces. This fear (I’m not going to call it an ‘insight’) can be seen clearly by the end of the 19th century in – say – a piece of literature like the American short story “The Open Boat” and in the famously-put exchange where ‘man’ says to the universe ‘I exist’ and the universe ho-hums the reply that ‘the fact however does not evoke in me a sense of obligation’.

Such contingency is a triple-whammy: a) it leaves human beings alone in the universe; b) it leaves human beings functionally helpless in the universe; c) it leaves human beings in a universe that is indifferent to them, if not itself downright hostile, and the universe might also thereby leave humans prey to powerful and dangerous and even hostile sub-forces over which the universe has no control or refuses to exercise control. Any human being who gets up in the morning embracing that ‘modernism’ is going to become deranged or deformed by sheer terror and anxiety almost immediately, and will then become further deranged and deformed by whatever response s/he attempts to muster (withdrawal from ‘reality’; existentialist in-your-face or rock-jawed pseudo-adult posturing; a retreat from the more mature forms of being where one is required to ‘know’ and to ‘act’ and a simultaneous retreat to less mature forms of being where one simply floats more or less vigorously on the surface of events and of one’s own being). It’s not a pretty picture.

And ‘post modernism’ is no improvement because it denies that there is any solid ‘reality’ at all. And while this relieves us of the nightmare of a hostile or indifferent universe, it leaves us with no solid ground to stand on, and no solid landmarks to get our bearings whatsoever. One thinks of Kirk’s original “Enterprise” suddenly going beyond the bounds of ‘this galaxy’ and into another one so different that none of the ship’s instruments – or that main computer with the old telephone operator’s voice – can fix its position. Or plot a course out of there.

As has been noted in recent Posts in regard to the Israeli state (or “realm” as it apparently prefers to call itself), such a monstrous and awefull experience can throw humans – and especially those who govern states and peoples – seriously out of whack. We might propose that the Holocaust was the ultimate ‘modernist’ experience: suddenly a people ‘discovered’ that it was utterly alone in a very hostile world without the power to resist. To avoid ever having to go through that again folks and their government would be willing to … do whatever it takes. (And since their first major step in the direction of securing their future against a repeat was to set themselves up on a piece of real estate by ejecting its inhabitants, then they set themselves up for endless threats and deformations at the very outset of their quest for security … )

Anxiety and terror – especially if sustained – deform us humans. They cause our behaviors and our thought patterns and our emotions to revert to the most primitive, least evolved and least matured parts of our brains and selves and they mutate us into sinister forms of life similar to Tolkien’s ‘Orcs’ – those monstrous results of the effort to reduplicate the marvelous Elves – or his ‘wraiths’ – those former humans who served Evil so deeply that it has now consumed them and they exist without hope and full of purposeful hatred in a shadow world that borders our own, whence they enter into our reality possessing no power to create but great power to destroy.

Any quest for the ‘meaning’ of ‘life’ starting out from the precincts of terror and anxiety is going to be similarly burdened from the outset, and its ‘discoveries’ similarly dark, dubious, suspect and dangerous.

It is a huge insight of Eagleton’s that he realizes that both the ‘liberal’ and ‘left’ postmodernists and the ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘right’ conservatives (so-called) are radically similar in their philosophical presumptions, as unexamined as those are these days.

Both ‘sides’ are, for different reasons, philosophical “Nominalists”. Nominalism is the philosophical position that all entities and beings are ‘named’ purely as constructs of human convenience and that there are no guiding essences in some other dimension to which these entities in ‘this life’ would have to conform (and to which, in consequence, our thoughts about those entities would also have to conform).

Early Protestants embraced a form of Nominalism in order to lever some conceptual and political space for themselves against the huge weight of the organized Roman Catholic Church. Very much accepting that there was another governing dimension (God in His heaven and in His glory) beyond this one, they yet insisted that God alone had power over the shapes and forms of our ‘earthly’ dimension and that no this-dimensional, ‘earthly’ power such as the Church and Popes and bishops’ and ‘priests’ and sacraments and ‘human’ rules and the rest of the Catholic panoply of belief and practice could adequately or even legitimately constrain the workings of that Divine Will. And whatever that Will at any particular moment said was good, was good – and whatever that Will at any particular moment said was otherwise, was otherwise. The human world and human life itself was not sustained by ‘laws’ but by the ever-present, directly-intentioned Will of God, and that Will would abide no ‘middleman’, no Church taking upon itself the ‘authority’ to apportion God’s gifts or to speak and act in His name.

Clearly, that illumination - such as it is - allows for no substantive mediation between the fierce-hot direct contact with God's Will and the leaden, sluggish matter of this earthly existence and its affairs. Further, following it out, one comes to a pretty dark and demanding role for humans in such a set-up: participating, collaborating, mired in and enwhored to the dreck-sludge of material existence, humans have no choice but to throw themselves onto God's hell-hot mercy and hope for the best while trying to keep their noses clean and close to the grindstone. Thus John Calvin.

American 'fundamentalism' was and is - well - American. So you have to have a happy ending. And you have to have the Lebensraum (oops, I borrowed that from a different messianism) to do what you have to d0, to do whatever it takes, and still stay in the Divine Will. The solution that the Fundies evolved (oops, again) was to get 'saved', or rather, to declare oneself 'saved'. Thus burnished, one could do whatever one felt it was going to take to do whatever one felt was the 'best' way to go, while still enjoying God's delight and - wheeee! - His authority. What was not to like?

Post-modern nominalism grew out of a similar need to lever some Lebensraum. Given the oppressive control exercised by the established 'have' powers of the world, and by conformity to those powers' concept of order and identity and right and wrong, the post-modern Theorists - with the most noble intentions - figured that the quickest way to proceed was to pull the conceptual rug out from under the whole edifice. Thus, there was no Right and no Wrong, and no authority to tell others what to do or how to do it and so the whole thing was up for grabs and may the best grabber win. Everything was wide open and totally fluid and life was just a bowl of cherries except shapeless and without-essence and waiting for those human hands that 'got it' to stretch forth and do the creating thing previously ascribed to that ultimate Dead White European Male, the artist formerly known as 'God', and His (male) minions. Grrrowwff!

Probably, the deeper-thinking post-modernists and advocates (the ones who did not deceive themselves as to the essentially calculating political nature of their glorious revolutions) figured that once they had actually come to power then they would need to sober up and start acknowledging that the Highway of Being indeed needed - and had - some very clear lines painted on it. But, like the Great Yellowstone Fire of 1988, things sorta got away from them, and the controlled but groovily creative destructions so gleefully begun began to create their own outcomes, and all those outcomes began to change the whole ballgame and define a new 'reality' altogether. Had one not been constrained by the already-entrenched Political Correctness, one might profitably have exclaimed with Albert the Alligator: "Gack!". But no such warning alerts were permitted, since a revolution in Theory brings no dangerous downside (except to the former oppressors who deserve whatever they would get). The sorcery mastered the apprentices. It could happen to anybody.

So we are now to conduct our individual lives, and We are now to conduct the life of the Republic, while existing on or in a sea of Ultimate Mush. The Fundies have solved that problem by pretending that they are standing on the solid rock of God's Authority and Power. The assorted revolutionaries have solved that problem by avoiding it, presuming - but not daring to say - that there really is nothing else but this-world, Mush though it may conceptually be; and that everybody can still feel good enough if they just focus on achieving 'milestones' and 'goals', however symbolic.

And so here We are, in the Year of Former Grace 2007: the Fundies are making war on Evil (them 'libbuls') and Sin as national domestic and foreign policy; the assorted revolutions are making war on crime (certain types) and men (generally, but with a few graciously-declared exceptions). We no longer produce much of anything tangible; We are in hock to the nation identified as America's most probable rival; Our currency is starting to become rather 'symbolic' itself; We have zero tolerance for pain or frustration, We have the attention-span of a three-year old, and We consider the ability to present oneself as a Victim to be the summation of maturity; We can no longer tell Right from Wrong, especially if it looks like We might be up to Our necks in Wrong.

Meanwhile the Executive has authorized torture and child-abuse (for 'enemy' children) and pre-emptive nuclear war on non-nuclear nations and has now given itself the right to run the country if it feels there's an 'emergency'; the Congress can barely recover its ability to influence events after Twelve Years of an orgy that can most charitably be referred to - as Scripture would have it - as a "whoredom of whoredoms"; and the Supreme Court considers that torture makes a great organizing theme for a dinner party and that it is itself the great giver of Order to the shapeless mass of the citizenry - if only the citizenry would stop yapping and listen up. We are losing a war and an army in Iraq and the Executive seems ready to throw the Navy and the Air Force at Iran. We appear oblivious to what the rest of the governments and peoples of the earth are thinking about Us.

We are desperately in need of some grown-up to burst through the door and demand "What is the meaning of all this?".

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Over on the Revealer site there’s an article by Alexandra Boutros about a new Creationism museum … in Canada (“Creationism in Canada”, Sigh. One had sorta hoped that the Canadians were immune to this type of thing. Ah well.

There is fear that the public will be duped into thinking that the whole world was indeed created in 6 days 6000 years ago and that dinosaurs did indeed cohabit the newly-Created earth with Adam and Eve and were even taken – in their dyads – aboard the ark by Noah (which must have made for a mighty big ark indeed … far larger than the Navy’s largest nuclear aircraft carriers … all of them … put together).

You have to ask yourself: is it conceivable that a nation that commands (for the present, anyway) the military destructive power that this nation commands … is it possible that a nation thus armed could be so clueless – so intellectually deranged – as to depart from any semblance of seriousness and thought so as to believe that dinosaurs were on the ark with Noah and that it all happened less than two thousand years before the rise of the First Dynasty?

And if it is fearful enough that such persons do exist in organized groups (called ‘the base’), it is even more fearful to think that their intense concentration on their ‘truth’ will overwhelm large numbers of mind-flat, gum-chewing, cell-phone tapping ‘moderates’ who are so enswamped in the Flat but frazzled ‘life’ of American culture that they cannot muster the mental energy, let alone skill, to evaluate the possibility.

The question arises: How can such people be The People? Because if no People, then no Republic.

Or is there indeed a ‘silent majority’ for this age: neither balkanized into hating and fearing all who do not think like them, nor living merely out of fear and hate, nor relying on the least-developed parts of their brain to comprehend events and shape a self and a life, nor seeking false security in phantasmagoria and caricatures of the unfamiliar, nor so fecklessly surface-bound as to be sail-less and rudderless on the sea of events and meanings.

Was Lincoln’s insistence on The People a result of what he had experienced, proven to him by those he had encountered in his life? Or was it a gamble that at least enough folks were willing and able to rise up to take a place among The People? Or was it a hope that had little basis in observed experience but appeared essential if the American Experiment were to continue? And if it was only such a hope, then wasn’t it a species of the Hitlerian insight that LBJ quoted to MLK in 1965: that if you tell folks something long enough and consistently enough and confidently enough, why then they’ll come to believe it – whether its’ true or not … ?

Or is it – somewhat in the best Catholic mode – simply to be accepted as an article of faith that this Vessel of Ours is what God has given Us and We go with it as very best We can until we die or It sinks or the world ends … ?

We need to answer this question, each of Us and all of Us. Because We are reaching a hugely dangerous point in Our national existence where We appear to have ‘options’: a Unitary Executive, a private mercenary Executive Army, a Congress enwhored to the continued personal success of each of its Members and nothing else, a more ‘efficient’ and ‘responsive’ police state benevolently destroying strangeness and otherness and unfamiliarity along with Evil and evil and crime.

Few of Us recall the siren allure of the middle-‘30s: here We were over here shuffling around, scuttling to get out of the way of the shiny box-like limos while searching for a way to keep bread on the table … the great American Promise betrayed. Meanwhile, over there in Germany, legions of sharp, fresh young faces put themselves to the task of implementing their Leader’s vigorous and demanding Order, busily constructing authobahns and steel and houses and looking like a million bucks. Hell, even the Italians – the Italians! – were looking pretty sharp with their Leader and on-time trains and their army of seven million bayonets. Maybe, the voice whispered in Our ear, there needs to be a change around here.

The question is being put to Us again … and – this is the great treason of Our age – it is being put to Us by Our own government. There are now real dungeons and almost-real dragons … no need to find them in games.

Can folks who think there were dinosaurs on the ark muster the skill to preserve the Republic by preserving themselves as The People?

Nor are We only at risk from the dinosaur-base. Over on Salon Patrick Smith in his regular “Ask the Pilot” column raises a thought-provoking point as he discusses airplane/airport security (

He refers to the craze of three summers ago where some woman, uncomfortable at the presence of a group of 12 sorta Middle-Eastern-looking males having a good time on an aircraft, got it into her head that they were a terrorist special-ops team on a dry run to repeat the outrage of 9-11.

Now this site has gone on at length about the confounding obliviousness with which this country enthusiastically slid into the slough of the very obviously over-hyped sex-offender mania. At least the Communists of the 1950s actually existed as a world-wide, or world-aspiring, organization, and they had those rockets. The sex-offenders were manufactured out of whole cloth … overnight as it were, like the proverbial Biblical dinosaurs.

But where the actual unfolding pattern of the sex-offender lunacy was spread over so wide a swath of events that it was hard for the average citizen to keep a close lock on the alpha-stream, on the key dynamics and significance of the thing, yet in the confines of an aircraft fuselage, over a short and clearly delineated period of time, it’s easier to observe the dynamics of the syndrome.

Reason could not help stop her anxiety: why would a covert special-ops group collect itself and proceed enmasse to create a situation where its presence would be clearly revealed to its ‘enemies’ or its potential targets and its mission compromised? No no no no no. There were terrorists somewhere, these men agitate me, ergo they must be terrorists – call the captain! Don’t argue with me because my agitation is dispositive proof of their guilt! Or are you one of them yourself … ? And of course at this point, even St. Peter had to say No. Three times. Thus is Truth betrayed in the face of frenzy.

And when Truth is betrayed, then reality is also betrayed. And then consequences will flow to the betrayer(s) in a Flood.

In today’s “sensitive” world a plane-full of balanced and quiet folks cannot hold a candle to the influence that a fear-addled singleton must be allowed to wield. In today’s “responsive” world an attempt to calm the screaming rather than grant the demand is taken as form of outrage and crime itself. It’s as if the two-year-olds were able to write the handbook for how to handle tantrums. But then again, ‘adulthood’ is merely an oppressive construct; and anyway, it’s those whom society deems unwell who are really well. Or so some book said.

On such grounds, indeed, a ‘sensitive and responsive’ Unitary Executive did feel Our pain and stretch forth its hand to smite somebody so as to alleviate Our pain. If in the process far greater pain has been caused, well … We are to appreciate its good intentions; and anyway the pain it caused was somebody else’s. If We flinch from the pain now irrevocably caused on Our behalf, then – as another world Leader once said as things went south – “if the people cannot muster the will to follow my vision then they are not worthy of me … and should disappear from the face of the earth”. Ach ja! He would have done for them himself, except that his own nemesis was approaching him at the speed of a T-34, steady and relentless. But they wouldn’t soon forget him; the whole world wouldn’t be able to forget him.

And how did We come to this? How have We lost so much capability over the past decades? Another piece in the puzzle of causation is occasioned by the ending of “The Sopranos”. In his blog at Buffalo Report (, Bruce Jackson discusses a book he reviewed when it was first written 30 years ago: Yochelson’s and Samenow’s “The Criminal Personality”.

These two ‘experts’ asserted that there is a thing called a “criminal personality”; that it is the ‘criminal personality’ that taints everything an individual does with the stain of criminality and indeed constitutes an essence (getting kinda medieval here); that such criminality is a choice and it is a willful choice made at a very early age (before puberty); and that very few ‘criminals’ can be talked out of their choice; because by the time they’re first caught they’ve been committing crimes for years, and will continue to commit crimes unless they are forcibly and effectively stopped; and a criminal who commits any type of crime is capable of committing any other type of crime and probably will, so that a bank-robber will easily rape and a car-thief will easily burgle and no matter what the crime the same ‘criminal personality’ underlies them all, and cannot be reformed.

The diagnostic symptoms of the inner criminal (interchangeably called the ‘psychopath’ and the ‘sociopath’) include children who expect their parents to meet their needs. Such insight. There’s not much actual scientific fact in the book (a pair of volumes, actually), but lots and lots of anecdotes – remembered stories told by clinicians about this or that patient.

But there is a unique thought process that is the core of their ‘criminal’. The ‘criminal mind’ doesn’t want to take responsibility for his actions and tries to distance himself from them; he practices deception to avoid detection; he says what he has to say to law enforcement and therapy personnel in order to get free; he is incapable of thinking correctly. So far this sounds like the unique markers said to apply to sex-offenders; and surely describes the behavior of recently deposed CEOs and … come to think of it, is pretty much the Standard Operation Procedure for the Executive and Legislative branches of the government. And the authors assert – remember – that this type of person is not reformable.

As to ‘numbers’, the authors have figured (in ways they don’t quite explain) that the average ‘criminal mind’ commits 187 crimes in a year. Now a) you have to ask how the hell they came up with a number like that and b) how does that compare to the number of crimes the average person commits … but then, of course, if you’re not convicted or caught then you don’t qualify as having that ‘criminal mind’. If you can follow that.

And what about the ‘criminal mind’ in a CEO or a politician or somebody in the Justice Department? How many crimes do they commit compared to the average person? But of course the ‘average’ person is by definition not ‘criminal’. And We must accept that this goes for the average CEO and politician. That still leaves us a couple-three more things that We might choose to believe before breakfast.

But to end on an upbeat note: this all means that if you incarcerate 2 million folks (roughly what our prison population is now) then you’ve – presto! – prevented 374 million crimes each year. No wonder they like this inside the Beltway. And – surprise! – in short order Samenow was appointed to Reagan’s task force on crime victims (because each of those crimes had to have a victim, and each victim can vote … presuming the crimes and thus the victims exist in the real world).

Worse, it is ‘the criminal personality’ that pre-exists any particular ‘crime’. Once a person is convicted of a crime, then it must be assumed that he is – and always has been – a criminal personality; thus one can go back through his prior life secure in the assurance that everything bad he did proves that he will irreformably continue to do bad, and every good he appears to have done was merely a proof that he has always been shrewd enough to cover his evil and nefarious tracks (until, of course, our glorious security forces shrewdly exposed him). Conversely, if you haven’t been convicted of a crime then you don’t not have – nor have you ever had – a criminal personality.

But of course, that can change, can’t it? In the twinkling of an eye. One could be convicted of anything, and suddenly find that one is now guilty of everything, past as well as present, potential and future as well as actual. And thus once convicted, one may be added to a list of those exposed and ‘tagged’, like cattle branded. Added to a list? Added to a Registry? Ah … that’s logical.

As Jackson notes, they think “the only adequate program for habilitating (you can’t “re-“ what was never there in the first place) the criminal to noncriminal life … requires 3 hours of group therapy every day, sexual abstinence, unquestioning acceptance of Yochelson’s and Samenow’s definitions of criminal attitudes, desires, needs, and behaviors, thorough self-disgust, and abandonment of criminal thought and work.” This may be a set of objectives (and dubious ones at that) but such a wish-list does not constitute a coherent set of methods and steps to achieve those objectives. And it wouldn’t take a college-degree for some potential therapee to entertain a few doubts – which of course would reveal him as ‘in denial’ and refusing therapy. All in all, a standard toxic brew of everything that distinguished Mao’s re-education camps as cutting-edge educational praxis. Packaged now as trew-blew American ‘science’. Yah.

It stuns. But the ballet of ideas-and-events that followed is exquisite in its symmetries and evolutions. 1978: the gender revolution has been waging its war on “masculine culture” (and – it would consequently have to be admitted – “men”), but it hasn’t yet figured out a way to harness the vast police power of the government in its cause. Rules of evidence, statutes of limitation, and other oppressive tools of masculinist ‘reason’ are impeding progress, perpetrating further outrage, revictimizing the victims. “Men” are inherently rapists, claims the vanguard thought of the revolution, but how exactly get the government to accept that assertion and deploy the police power and the criminal law in the service of your vision and your agenda? As it stands in 1978, the revolution appears to have bogged down in ersatz psychologizing and panglossian self-help and plaintive whining in sympathetic media outlets. What then is to be done?

Meanwhile, on the exactly opposite end of the ranch, the Fundies are trying to figure out how to distinguish the marks of Good and of Evil, so that Evil ones can be identified and exposed and fought and conquered by those who are clearly and permanently Saved and – thereby and therefore – Good both now and forever. And is it possible to actually stretch forth the collective Fundamentalist hand and wrest control of the wildly careening Culture of this country from the whackjob ‘libbuls’ who want to change all that is American and Good into Evil?

Along come Samenow and Yochelson with a theory that essentially creates something for everyone: an objective class – the criminal class – that is permanently dangerous and permanently evil and easily distinguished and can be permanently tagged; and against which permament and irreformable and willfully chosen Evilness anything may be done by those who are permanently and by nature Good because no matter what the Good have to do in order to do what it takes, that action that is taken is always and ineffably Good.

These two re-created at a stroke both a form of the old revolutionary “objective class of enemy” and an easily recognized and perfectly hate-able Manichean ‘Other’ against whom the purely Good might lustily wage ceaseless and no-holds-barred war.

The feminists get a justification for the bending of the criminal law against “men”; the Fundies get a justification for the marshalling of the criminal law in the service of enforcing their vision of the Pure and Perfect America; the law enforcement and criminal justice systems get a huge dose of respect and the justification and authority to do things the way they want to … and a budget to make it work. And they all are suddenly provided with an added, but from a PR standpoint indispensable, element: a class of Victims, who can be displayed (perhaps even prepared) for the cameras.

And so, as at Santa Anita, they were off.

Neither Communist revolutionary thought nor Old Testament war were ever going to be compatible with the American ethos and the fabric of the Constitution; indeed, they are positively toxic to it. And yet the Democrats needed voters and the Republicans needed voters. And politics were descending into “issues” upon which one must hold ‘the’ correct opinion regardless of anything else. And what the Democrats perfected the Republicans took and re-badged and put in a more powerful engine than the Democrats had ever managed and fueled it with a far less refined crude than the Democrats had ever dared. And here We are. Or, as Lincoln said that Spring day in 1865, with abyssal, ineffable sadness: “And the war came.” The Democrat would erode the Constitution to punish (male) perpetrators and the Republican would erode the Constitution to restore morality. The hope of neither could be answered fully; the consequences of each have been answered far too fully.

And the awesome police power of the government, carefully caged by the Founders, was set loose in the service of both ‘bases’ as 1980 saw an entrenched Democratic Congress and a wildly popular Republican Presidency. ‘Victims’ – of men, of crime, of evil, of Evil – could feel comfortable in either Party.

And within a year there were the pre-school dragon-sex-with-children cases. And then the drug-lords and the superpredator kids and then the abusive husbands and then the child molesters and then the sex-offenders and then the terrorists and then the Iraqis and now the Iranians. Democrats kept their feminist base happy criminalizing ‘men’ and Republicans kept their law-and-order base happy turning the police power loose on sex and drugs (rock and roll having gone away on its own).

Nobody needed to ‘think’, nobody was advised to ‘doubt’.

Of course, the huge dangers within the conceptual core of the Samenow-Yochelson universe have been ignored: anybody might be convicted at any time, thereby negating everything he had ever done and – the horror! – tainting everyone who had ever been close to him (and this was precisely the defining nightmare of every Soviet apparatchik).

For the unspoken beneficiary of the Yochelson-Samenow universe was the government power: if anyone can have his life utterly reversed simply by a ‘finding’ by the government power, and if that reversal might be occasioned by anything at any time, then the government became the all-powerful Source of success or failure, doled out in measure modest or immense, to be placated, obeyed, feared. And its police agents as well.

And Jackson notes that those police agents not only got to have their own Grand Unified Theory to justify their status as trustworthy professionals, but also got a theory that “reduced a great deal of complexity to a very trivial set of assumptions … that renders all punishment justified.” Which, come to think of it, is a pretty good description of the ‘thinking’ that led us to Iraq, our eastern front. The hell-hot ironies of how the Beltway hothouse takes a trendy idiocy from one area of activity and spreads it around to other even more significant areas. “And the war came.”

It was all well and good that this or that interest or coalition of interests rode high on the back of the tiger now; at any time any of those interests might itself be displaced and cast into the outer darkness, discovered to have a “criminal personality”. It set this nation on a course that was positively French in its potential for revolutionary, governmental Terror.

So much of what passes for ‘science’ in the assorted cries of the Advocacies is derived from this Yochelson-Samenow template. From 1980 through the still-erupting pockets of the sex-offense mania. And beyond – to the ‘terrorists’ who simply ‘choose’ to hate us, and are consequently evil in their very essence and thus against whom no perpetration can be deemed ‘excessive’.

As Yochelson-Samenow refused to consider structural factors as playing a causative role, so too the Imperium quickly spun matters such that the structures of historical events or geographical imperatives or even America’s own record of activities were considered irrelevant: as the feminists presumed “men” were rapists and the Fundies presumed that Evil is a choice that disqualifies the chooser from any further communion with the Pure and the Good, so too the ‘terrorists’, the inconvenient life-forms impeding American control of dwindling oil supplies … well, one can go on.

Yochelson-Samenow are no longer widely accepted as ‘cutting edge’, or even accurate. But their ‘bases’ are secure – especially in a law enforcement community that has waited far too long for its day to let go so soon. When ‘testilying’ and ‘framing the guilty’ are justified by two whole thick books (!) … you don’t just walk away from that.

Yochelson-Samenow have re-infected this nation with a primitive and simplistic conceptual scheme that has regressed Us back into the pre-Constitutional murk and slime. The philosophy of Muldoon of the Strong-Arm Squad, itself an importation from an older, darker world, was reintroduced: if a crime needs a guilty criminal, find one you figure is guilty of anything, frame him, and everybody’s happy and can get home to supper at a reasonable time. The dinosaurs walk among Us.

But that’s what the Fundies have been saying all along.

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Monday, June 11, 2007


William Deresiewicz has an interesting article in the “American Scholar”, entitled “Love on Campus”. He takes up the matter of professors and erotic energy exchanged with students, especially as seen through the lens of recent literature and film.

For the most part, recent films give us the impression of immature middle-aged male professors of literature or communications, either passively self-pitying or actively seductive (almost always toward their female students).

Deresiewicz raises the interesting possibility that professors are popularly seen as immature and “effete” because such a view feeds the abiding American suspicion and resentment of intelligence and intellect. When the universities – especially those ‘abstract’ literature departments – became the enthusiastic new home of discredited Theory, expelled from France like an intellectual plague, who can doubt that such suspicion intensified a thousand-fold?

This country has never successfully managed one of its crucial conceptual problems: how do you ensure political equality for all while respecting (and constructively nurturing and making use of) those gifted with more intellectual ability than their peers? Jefferson had spoken of a “natural aristocracy”, a group of individuals defined by an intellectual ability, a managerial competence, and a maturity moral and characterological. But how to enable American society to identify such persons and then provide them with the opportunities to develop and contribute their natural gifts?

Even more difficult: it appears that the Jeffersonian panoplium of ‘gifts’ almost never occurs in individuals in its entirety. Rockefeller and Carnegie and Ford were naturally gifted managers, but their moral and characterological abilities were hardly impressive. Indeed, it can be proposed that American business solved the problem of its own ‘moral’ authority by simply presuming that ‘business’ allowed its practitioners to do things that in the ordinary individual would be considered immoral and even – later on – sociopathic. In that regard American elite culture – even its popular culture – needed no large indoctrination by the Holocaust-deranged Israeli state and its ‘anything is allowed’ morality.

I don’t fully agree with his analysis that “the famously overprotective parenting of the baby-boom generation has put pressure on universities to revert to acting ‘in loco parentis’”. It may indeed be true, especially as the 1990s progressed. But two decades before that Political Correctness had been hugely enforced in the universities not to ‘parent’ the students but rather – in best revolutionary praxis – to take ‘children’ from the (presumptively outmoded and regressive) formation they had ostensibly received from their parents and re-educate them into the iron platitudes of Theory and the programmes of the various Identities.

But he shines as he reviews the wisdom of education in the Western tradition, to the effect that there is indeed an Eros (an Erotic element – not primarily sexually defined) involved in the best teaching. He uses the example of Socrates, an ugly, goggle-eyed lump of a man physically, who famously surfed the erotic attractions of the young Alcibiades to get the young man alone – at the young man’s invitation – in order to speak enthusiastically and energetically (the basic sense of ‘erotic’) about ideas with this hugely talented – if also drop-dead handsome – student. Socrates seduces the young man into “brain sex”, as Deresiewicz aptly quotes Alan Bloom’s pithy phrase. This is a scenario utterly beyond the comprehension of the current, sex-reductive, sex-obsessed mind.

American culture has no skill in grasping, let alone properly deploying, this sense of the Erotic. One thinks of the intelligent German, a young adult in the time of Hitler, who described Hitler’s entrancing speaking to the crowds as “er massiertete uns” – he massaged us. One thinks of two film-character teachers (not mentioned by Deresiewicz): Robin Williams’ teacher in “Dead Poets’ Society” and Maggie Smith’s teacher in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”. Smith entrances her “girls” with romantic and ideal visions of changing the world, such that one of them runs off to fight the Fascists in Spain (in 1936) and dies. Williams’s teacher, more of a performer in front of his students than a teacher of his students, ignites ideals that one sensitive student cannot reconcile with his parents’ prosaic desires for his future success, and winds up killing himself.

The Williams film, made in the already sex-offense addled later 1980s, carefully avoided any physically erotic attraction between teacher and students. And Smith’s film was made in the mid-1960s, and in any case she was a woman – who in the American demonology do not commit sex-offenses.

Deresiewicz does not take up the most recent film dealing with this, Britain’s world-renowned “The History Boys”. Here a widely-educated older prep-school teacher, intensely dedicated to the knowledge that he wishes to pass on to his class of gifted students, has the unhappy habit of giving this and that one (except the admittedly gay one) a ride home after school on his motorbike, during which journey he would inevitably contrive to momentarily grasp the student’s genitalia.

A habit taken very much in stride by the sexually-aware male students who also have the wit to recognize a good education and a devoted and unique teacher when they have one and absorb this groping into their daily round, firmly establishing it among their concerns as a much lesser priority than sharing in the passion for knowledge. This is not a reality with which contemporary American society is prepared to deal. Such value as it may contain is lost.

The passion for life and living – Eros – exists among Us in a very Flattened state. We shop, we cheer on sports teams and we track celebrities, measuring out our lives no longer in teaspoons but in text-messages. That We might pursue the Stoic ‘prosoche’ – the unceasing attention to our own maturation and development and right action – is an opportunity lost to Us, tossed out with all the other outmoded furniture crafted by Dead White European Males. That We might cultivate Our desires so that they are usefully keyed to worthwhile objects yet still capable of providing a life-enhancing pleasure – in the Epicurean vision – is equally lost to Us now. Americans are a weird mixture of Garbo’s dour revolutionary apparatchik Ninotchka and the ditzy Valley Kid besotted by appearances and the teapot-tempests that can only entrance an unripened mind.

Our concept of 'the good life' is purely a matter of surfaces, appearances, materiality. That the most valuable and essential 'good' is a well-mastered and well-matured Self (vitally connected to God and other human beings, as them Kathliks would remind Us) is utterly beyond the memory or the imagination or the desire or the will of far far too many of Us.

We are desperately in need of better education. And We are very much in need of more carefully thinking-through Our approach to the nation’s young. Is a youngster protected from passion in any form going to be any better off in adult life? Is a youngster raised in ‘total security’ going to be any better off if sent immediately thereafter to wage “the Long War”? Or will We import other nation’s youngsters to do that suffering?

Worse, will a youngster taught not to think but to memorize slogans and platitudes (and perhaps the tell-tale signs of ‘sex-offenders’ the way an earlier generation was taught to identify the silhouettes of Nazi and Japanese aircraft) be able to grow up as a Citizen who can join others to People this Republic?

The director John Ford missed a great opportunity in 1962. He completed “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” that year. In that film, a reporter says knowingly to Jimmy Stewart’s U.S. Senator: When you’ve got the facts and you’ve got the legend, and the legend is better, then you print the legend. Ford, at almost the end of his career and feeling that his earlier feel-good patrioteering pictures had left out consideration of the darker side of American culture, left it at that and figured he’d balanced his books.

I’ve always felt he could have done better with that scene. He could have given Stewart’s Senator the last word, something like: And how can you keep a Republic by doing that?

We sure as hell know now. You can’t.

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Well, metaphorically speaking. The avant-garde paper “National Catholic Reporter” reports on a recent meeting of the Catholic bishops discussing “accountability” in the “sex abuse crisis” (“CTSA: Accountability and the Sex Abuse Crisis”,

The NCR is interesting. It’s a classic instance of the fact that the Catholic Church in this country was low-hanging fruit not only to the government (that didn’t want a repeat of the ‘anti-nuclear’ movement of the 1980s in the run-up to Iraq) and the Fundamentalists (who were looking to succeed to the Catholic Church’s position of public moral authority).

But also within the Church there were many balkanized factions that were mightily exercised that Church affairs were not going their way. Thus the ‘traditionalists’ were mad at just about every development since and including Vatican 2 (the worldwide Church Council that ended, incidentally, in that gravid Year of Grace 1965). And the ‘liberals’ (divided between the ‘social justice’ advocates of the 1960s and the Theory-whacked feminist-influenced ‘women’s ordination’ revolutionaries who got started in the later 1970s, and who had made common cause with the sorta ‘American’ Church-is-a-democracy bunch).

Like France in the 1930s, there was nobody who was going to lift a finger to save the polity, and indeed the various factions were all angling to take it down – at least a peg or two or six.

The article is going to run the same game-plan that has become as Scripted as Socialist Realism this past half-decade (during which time the moral catastrophe of Iraq sorta slipped by under the moral radar as if by inadvertence). The bishops had embraced “clericalist attitudes” (in Stalin’s day, if your name appeared in print attached to the term “attitude” you could pretty well figure it was time to put your affairs in order; if somebody’s name you knew so appeared, you knew it was time to take them off your Christmas-card list and burn any cards you ever had gotten from them).

As one Catholic university professor put it, “ecclesiological failures of collegiality and synodality bear wicked fruit in practice”. Thus since individual bishops tried to deal with matters without dragging other bishops into it and since individual bishops didn’t feel accountable to their own diocesan church polity (they didn't put the news in parish bulletins, after all), then the sex-abuse crisis – such as it was and is – kept on going.

He has a point. If the bishops had gotten their act together and spackled up their collective courage, they might have found it within themselves to take a stand, both against those apparently few priests who really did some bad things and against the assorted Advocacies whose plan was to make it look like the Church was nothing but a legal-cover, a racket, organized for the purpose of ravishing children. An apparently Pulitzer-level vision that is as old as the Reformation and as recent as Hitler (Goebbels had tried to arrest an entire religious Order on child-molestation charges in Bavaria, where long-rooted Catholicism was withstanding the Nazi programme) and as American as the Nativist movements of the early 19th century. Such insight. Such progress.

As an example of the “clerical mindset” the professor and a nun who is a canon lawyer put forth the case of a former Milwaukee archbishop who quietly paid $450K to settle a sex abuse allegation in secret. Has it escaped the lawyer’s mind that in a situation where a public mania is roaring along; and where fundamental principles of jurisprudence themselves were being ripped out and tossed aside like old furniture; and where the media is fanning the presumption of guilt because it had already embraced the Victimist insistence that any ‘claim’ to be a victim must be taken at face value as irrefutable proof of victimization; and where any effort to examine the validity of a claim was considered not only proof of guilt but a further criminal insensitivity to the victim’s feelings … that in a situation like that no prudent lawyer would dare let a client actually defend himself in public forum?

The bishops are taken to task for presuming that their flocks were “not worthy to be treated as adults”. In the next sentence the said flocks are taken to task for allowing themselves to function “catechetically as infants” (which translates to: the faithful were not embracing the avant-garde thinking that considered their Church polity to be gravely out-of-whack). To a vanguard elite, everybody else is immature; they ‘just don’t get it’. But this is still America; Lenin’s solution (shooting them) and Stalin’s solution (putting them on public display in show-trials and then shooting them) still won’t work here. Well ... the show trials will work ... but not the shooting; it will be left to other more morally-advanced inmates to finish the job.

Of course $450K seems a small amount as these things go. But then again, the abuse might have been a single pat on the head, or – what the hey? – the behind. Or it might have been nothing at all, which nowadays is simply ‘proof’ that the perpetrator was diabolically clever in covering his tracks. Or, yes, it might have been sustained and repeated rape … but there appear to be very few of those cases when you actually start checking the facts and doing the math.

The professor and the canon lawyer have a couple-three recommendations. They propose, piously, that the bishops be relieved of their administrative duties so that they can be more pastorally involved with their flocks and their (presumably sex-addled … and male) priests. This, by the by, would open up “ways for women to participate more fully in governance in decision-making". Ah – there it is. Nor would it be enough that the massive educational presence of Catholic nuns for a century had exercised a profound influence on Catholic – and American – thought and practice. No. A ‘woman’ has to have a bigger office, preferably a corner one. Look at how much better the State Department runs now; look at how well the Attorney-General’s office ran under Janet Reno. And what on earth does one do with Margaret Thatcher? University presidencies are better venues for the revolution: nobody knows what the hell is going on in them nowadays anyway.

There should be “reform” in the selection of bishops as well, the nun thinks. Well, yes there should. The second half of John Paul II’s reign was notable for much the same mistake that the Bushies have been making: the Boss wanted guys who were ‘strong’ on doctrine. And as is now seen with the Bushies, folks who are ‘loyal’ and ‘strong on the issues’ aren’t necessarily ‘strong’ adults.

And an unripened episcopacy, dressed in the shallow authority of public pronouncements of loyalty, proved a disaster as the country slid down the easy slope to “the Dark Side” – to borrow a phrase from Darth Cheney – and the Fundies sought to become the new moral power in the country. The sex-abuse crisis was simply the vehicle for demoralizing, distracting, and displacing them, all those unseasoned bishops, skilled only at playing a part. And as the war-drums were set-up in the national temple, the bishops abandoned their own Pope – old JP the Two – and raised their arms in salute to the national will, demoting their war-opposing Pope to just another “foreign diplomat”.

Such priestly crimes as were committed need to be dealt with. But there are probably a lot fewer of them than the PR organs of the Advocacies have asserted. And meanwhile, something slouches toward Us to be born – had indeed already taken up residence among Us. It is a moral debauchery, a spiritual immaturity that threatens to contaminate Our integrity as The People and through Our contamination the peace of the world. By way of example, We now stand informed that The Leader has authorized the 'disappearance' of children, as young as 7 or 9, in order to force their parents to surrender as terrorists (see Glenn Greenwald, "New Disappearance Revelations", And it's priests patting altar boys' bums that are the marquis problem in this country?

We have strained out the mote and missed the beam. We’ll need to try harder. Even more than the bishops.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007


This site has consistently pointed out that by the very nature of the military organization, professionals (doctors, lawyers, clergy) cannot reliably discharge their full ethical obligations in the military setting. See, for example, “Bishops Bomb” on this site from November 2006).

The matter of the USS Liberty is presently receiving long-delayed attention. Jeff St. Clair’s article “Israel’s Attack on the USS Liberty, Revisited”, is only one of the many. There are others on the Counterpunch site and you are well-advised to check out the survivors’ association's hugely informative site: As an aside, let me say that even I had to pause at St. Clair’s profoundly shocking suggestion, well-founded by the facts he presents, that Moshe Dayan wanted the USS Liberty sunk – and with no survivors – in order to blame it on the Egyptians. We forget, far too often, just what the Holocaust did to elite Jewish political and moral thinking and thus later to the Israeli state. When they say that absolutely nothing will be allowed to threaten them ever again, they mean a lot more than most law-abiding people would think. To the extent that – God having let them down in the Holocaust – the Israeli state will do ‘whatever it takes’, thank you … to that extent Israel is a lawless state: it acknowledges no law above its own interests.

Of course you could say that’s the whole nature of a ‘state’ in the post-Westphalian age. But while the old pre-World War 1 era Foreign Office dictum that “gentlemen don’t read other gentlemen’s mail” may indeed seem quaint, I can’t see Washington or Lincoln approving the Israeli attack (whatever its actual motivations); in fact, I can’t even see Teedy Roosevelt proposing it, and he was the first Presidential “cowboy”.

In fact, I wonder now if Bush himself wasn’t infected by the Israeli ‘thinking’, rather than – as might too easily be supposed – the other way around. And if so, then the lawlessness of this Administration, rising to the level of “treachery” Constitutionally-defined, is provided benefit of ‘clergy’ not only by Fundamentalism (that claims that once you are God’s chosen then anything you do is ‘good’, going Nixon way better in justifying his dictum that “When the President does it, then it’s not illegal”). But also by some Israeli politico-religious illumination that once you are God’s victim, then you are entitled to “do whatever it takes” to make sure you don’t get thus blessed again. For if there is no ‘law’ beyond an entity to which it must submit itself, and since all earthly entities are incapable of assuring their own moral integrity, then any such entity – individual or corporate – is for all practical purposes lawless.

For a government and a People sending troops abroad for the purposes of war (all those little plastic flags stuck onto cars represented far far more than a sentimental Princess-Di moment), then the consequences are awe-full in their import. What did it mean when a young German solider wrote home to his wife about shooting Russian POWs who had already surrendered: “If you make yourself think that these men had killed German soldiers, then it’s not so hard … Please don’t read this letter to our children” …?

Have We given any thought as to how many American soldiers are writing (or emailing or texting or what-have-you) such a sentiment to their own spouses: “Please don’t tell our children about this”. What are We doing to our troops? We have sent them into a moral Little Big Horn from which they will not return as We knew them.Who will bear responsibility for this before Heaven? Will We the People seek to avoid Our responsibility in this moral debacle as so many of the reprehensible Beltway-Bunch are now doing? Will We demean Ourselves by bleating like Mussolini when he was finally cornered by his own jittery accomplices: “I Tedeschi sono responsabili di tutto” … the Germans are responsible for the whole thing … ? And will Heaven accept that when even the Fascist Grand Council and the little King Victor Emmanuel didn’t?

We are now widely informed of Catholic bishops and Fundy chaplains and even Fundy ex-Seals pseudo-chaplains cheerleading this leprous war; of medical doctors sending the wounded back into combat and of allowing others to rot in decrepit hospitals; of military psychologists actively and eagerly participating in the enterprise of torture; and of military lawyers mixed up in everything from torture and improper detention and kidnapping to the corruption embodied in the combatant tribunals and the corrosion of civil rights to the benefit military ‘law’. The Counterpunch, Truthout, and Alternet sites are just the entry-points to explore this rich, depressing, alarming lode of information.

Now here comes the latest example: the Navy JAG officer who advised the Inquiry officer in the USS Liberty matter has recently deposed that the whitewash sham of a ‘Report’ issued by that Inquiry – accepting the blatantly ridiculous and morally obscene Israeli excuse(s) that it was a case of mistaken identity – was ordered by the White House. And the retired chief JAG of the Navy of that time – this officer’s superior in the lawyer corps – acknowledges the same and is now demanding that the truth come out and be shown for what it is.

Both of them are to be commended. Serving the work of Truth is – famously – a very important job of morally mature and ‘honorable’ adults. And even more so of officers and gentlemen. And, We are ever fondly given to think, of lawyers.

But it’s damned late in the game. More to the point here, both of these men have demonstrated that in the military-justice world you are an officer first and a lawyer – or a servant of Truth – second. A very very distant second. They were ordered by the President … ooooh. We think of the torture-whores of “24” reverently intoning “the President” like Mel Brooks’s hilarious, pompously clueless “Blazing Saddles” Western townsfolk intoned – chorally – “Randolph Scott”.

So if you are an officer first, then the ‘law’ of your profession, the ‘higher law’, is effectively abolished. You are now under the ‘law’ of the regime that is giving the orders – which not-so-distant history teaches Us is the equivalent of being under no law at all.

Let these officers now make amends to Truth; let them be recalled to “their old allegiance” (as Lincoln referred to the returning former Confederate states). And may the officers and crew of USS Liberty – living and dead – be ‘justified’ for what they have suffered in Our service, at Our hands.

But these officers, and all the officials – civilian and military – who enabled this monstrous cover-up, have much to make up for. What might have happened in world history if this nation had refused to indulge the premeditated and deliberate attacks on Our sailors and Our ship? If back then We had given the rambunctious Israeli state the clear message that there are consequences for pulling obscene, criminal crap like this … ? How many now dead might be alive? What broad, sunlit uplands now cut off from so many might have been accessible to children whose lives have been deformed by injustice and untruth when not actually snuffed out by military action?

What awesome, awe-full, Hell-hot irony: that We now find Ourselves in thrall to an obscene, criminal, crapulous administration that took its schooling from the very perpetrators, not only unpunished but lavished with treasure, who were allowed to so indecently assault Us forty long Biblical years ago.

There is indeed a Law in this Universe. And it’s come for Us. We must return to our old allegiance.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007


Barack Obama gave an address at the Hampton University Annual Ministers’ Conference on June 5.

I’m not going to go into it exhaustively but one thing caught my attention. He speaks of the 15th anniversary of the Los Angles riots and reports that he remembers “the sense of despair and powerlessness” that fueled it. That same sense of hopelessness surrounds many communities today, he goes on to say.

It occurred to me that the most significant riot, then and now, was the Watts rioting of 1965. It took place – as mentioned in recent Posts – within days of the triumph of LBJ signing the Civil Rights Act of 1965 into law. The long and arduous struggle to fulfill the promises made to America’s blacks finally bore fruit a century later. In that stupendous Moment of July 1965 the country (minus the Southrons) experienced the successful conclusion of a refreshed struggle for black civil rights that had been building throughout World War Two (then less than two decades before) and most vividly in the decade of TV coverage between Rosa Parks’s refusal to go to the back of the bus and LBJ’s signing of the Act.

That ‘Moment’ in 1965 had to be – both in the short term and the long term perspective – one of the most hopeful in American history. All Americans could rejoice in the Act and black Americans could now contemplate a future far richer than any previous generation of blacks in the country. And yet within days Watts erupted in the most violent and sustained riots in modern American history. And that outbreak was followed a series of urban riots (distinct from antiwar protests) that surpassed in duration and intensity anything ever seen here, lasting through the ‘long, hot summers’ of ’65, ’66, ’67, and (arguably) into ’68.

The LA riots of 1992 failed to surpass the Watts riots in the sense that Americans had seen this type of thing before. But the two (sets of) riots were similar in that each took place at what was a Moment of great hope: in ’65 for ‘the negro’ and for America, and in ’92 for America and the world. When we look at that Moment in 1992 it seems weirdly counterintuitive: decades and dozens of billions had been spent in special programs and practices domestically, and just months before the riots the USSR itself had fallen without war – yielding a horizon of almost inconceivable progress and prosperity for America and world.

The L.A. police of the day certainly behaved in an unlovely fashion, and on national TV, but then Rodney King was – in the event – a rather unlovely gent himself, although nothing justifies lusty police indulgence in sidewalk ‘justice’.

I don’t pretend to have any or ‘the’ answer as to what caused any of these riots. But the list of causes most surely has to involve something(s) besides ‘hopelessness’. Or instead of it.

Certainly, the timing of the Watts riots not only raises large questions as to causation but also generated its own consequences that extended far beyond matters of ‘race relations’ and ‘black issues’. Coming as they did almost instantly after the passage of the Act – such a huge risk for the Democrats as a Party – the riots had at least two vast effects.

First, politically, they frightened the Democrats so terribly that the Party desperately sought votes en bloc. This led to the Party’s addle-headed embrace of any and every ‘Identity-revolution’’ that appeared; and since the PR elements of each Identity’s Advocacy began to deploy the Israeli schematic outlined in the previous Post, then the Democrats effectively welcomed the vampire of a very un-democratic, indeed anti-democratic, process and praxis in through the door, over and over again (contributing hugely to what Al Gore now terms “the strangeness of our national discourse”). And also politically, the Democrats embraced Israel as much as an enticement to domestic votes as to counter Soviet influence in the oil-rich Middle East.

Second, the Democrats accepted the utterly unshakable but also utterly unsayable commitment not only to the State of Israel (and without a Treaty to publicly formalize things) but to the unspoken proposition that ANYthing that State did in the pursuit of its interests was both justifiable and good. This seemed innocuous and ‘symbolic’ enough for a short while at the beginning, especially since Israel was at the time both ‘powerless’ and a ‘victim’ (or heir to the Victimery) of the Holocaust. But by the time of the USS Liberty incident and into the inevitable Palestinian push-back and Israeli counter-push-back of the early 1970s this stance had pretty much married the U.S. to … not a corpse certainly, but to a rather rambunctious, self-willed and not-altogether nice Israeli tomboy.

And in 1991, with the long dreamed-of and hoped-for dissolution of the USSR, with the half-century-long threat of atomic war thus dissolved, the USA was constrained to see itself through the eyes of its ‘ally’: as a nation ‘surrounded’ by the probability of ‘immediate destruction’, the only response to which would be the assertive cultivation of its role as Sole Hyperpower in foreign affairs and as a wary, suspicious potential victim of obstructive, distracting treasonous dissent in its domestic affairs. And perhaps as the pre-emptive aggressor who would secure the best assets of a dwindling world resource, and protect its smaller ‘allies’, and ‘make the world safe for democracy’ all in one slam-dunk, bravura performance.

It is certainly curious to go back to the 1960s and review the laudable, hallmark American Jewish concern for minorities and its concomitant and understandable support for a reduction in the ‘Christian’ presence in the public sphere (not only in Christianity’s acidly queasy fundamentalist mutation but even the mainline-church variant). And then to observe the Israeli lobby’s robust but theologically illogical embrace of the Neocons’ Fundamentalist allies in the 1990s. Politics makes strange religion.

Was the Democratic Party in LBJ’s time so thoroughly rattled by the almost unthinking and certainly unpredicted violence of the Watts riots that it desperately forged (unofficially) a pact of steel with the State of Israel that has locked it (and Us) into the Middle East even unto the toils and turmoils of the present day?

Did Watts play a role in that?

In order to understand our present foreign policy, and in order to understand how Our politics and society ‘work’ nowadays, as well as to grasp the dynamics of the black community with the larger national society, We need to look carefully and think things through. These matters are too important to be left to self-serving platitudes.

Which is not in any way to minimize the ongoing development of the African-American community within the national community. But Accuracy and Truth – as We have learned in Iraq – is utterly essential to success in the affairs of this world. It was not lost on the French that the famous ‘Theory’ of the 1950s, quickly expatriated until adopted by the Advocacies over here, was a creature of literature departments, not of science departments and not of the ‘real world’. The presumption that there is nothing that cannot be ‘changed’ by changing the perceiver’s perception – that everything important and vital in an individual’s and a nation’s existence can be changed because it’s all in our head and we can change that – has been hugely oversold.

Imposing upon Us a crash-immersion in Theory was a second powerful source of the Political Correctness that has rendered Us now so immature as a People. It had to be a ‘crash course’ because the Democrats were desperate for votes, revolutions are always impatient (as a matter of self-preservation), and nobody was really sure if the ‘solutions’ being implemented were really rationally and logically connected to the probability of a successful outcome. No kicking of tires could be permitted. If they told you that on a car lot you’d walk away forthwith. But it works differently, they would like Us to believe, on a ‘national’ level; everything’s on the level … if you just hold your head the right way. Yes, and didn’t all those Five-Year Tractor Plans and Seven-Year Cement Plans work gloriously?

But thirdly, Watts gripped the freshly-beating heart of America and almost stopped it. If something that had been so good and so long brooded into existence, at great cost in sweat and tears and blood, could evince so instantaneous and violent a reaction, then what had We done wrong or failed to take into account?

We didn’t ask that question then; We didn’t ask it on that afternoon of the Mission-Accomplished soap opera, when the first ‘post combat’ American deaths were reported – as if by inadvertence – on the inside pages. We ignored Reality and thus passed up Our chance to influence it; and now it’s mutated under the power of other forces acting upon it unchecked, and We must face what We would rather not.

This is a Moment of Truth. Let Us enter into it with at least the same amount of energy that We sent our soldiers to enter into Iraq. We and the world shall be the better for it.

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Monday, June 04, 2007


We are approaching the anniversary of that repeated and unprovoked attack on the United States Navy, without a declaration of war, that resulted in the deaths of a number of US sailors. It constituted an act of war.

Worse, insofar as armed relief units were deliberately and personally ordered to desist by the Secretary at the direction of the President, it constituted an act of treachery by this nation’s highest leaders unequaled in the peacetime history of this nation (up to the present, of course).

Stanley Heller writes clearly and forcefully about it on Counterpunch (“Arrest Robert McNamara”,

In broad and cloudless daylight, in international waters, displaying a large and then an even larger Stars and Stripes (the larger one run up after the first one had been shot away) flying straight out in a 12-knot breeze, on June 8, 1967, the lightly-armed USS Liberty was over the course of half an hour repeatedly attacked by a dozen Israeli aircraft, dropping napalm, shooting 30mm cannon shells and rockets. After that half an hour they broke off.

In response to the ship’s distress call, combat aircraft from the carrier USS Saratoga were launched. Before they could get to the ship, they were recalled, on the direct radio-telephoned orders of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.

That gave the Israeli Navy a chance to attack with torpedo boats, most likely to see if they could sink the ‘evidence’ (they almost did). And to machine gun life rafts to ‘remove’ witnesses (they partially succeeded).

And when another set of aircraft were launched from the carrier, McNamara recalled them too.

In response to the on-scene flag-officer’s demand for confirmation from ‘higher up the chain’ for such a monstrous and reprehensible order, LBJ himself then got on the line and said that “he would not have his allies embarrassed”.

Then there was an inquiry, hastily convened. In 2004, the very elderly and retired senior legal counsel for that Inquiry swore in an affidavit that “both Admiral Kidd (the presiding officer) and I believed with certainty that this attack was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew … I know from personal conversations I had with Admiral Kidd that President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of mistaken identity despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

The Israelis later claimed responsibility for their ‘mistake’ and paid some indemnity. If such a sustained attack under such conditions was a mistake on their part, then the Israelis should not be allowed to operate heavy machinery, let alone nuclear weapons.

“Embarrassed” is hardly the correct word. “Allies” is not at all the correct word: this nation did not have then and has never had and does not now have a treaty of military alliance with the State of Israel.

The commission, by the by, that followed its orders into rank untruth, included a retired Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps and – wait for it – a retired chief JAG of the Navy. They were only following orders, as befits a flag-officer and a gentleman.

LBJ having gotten out of the frying pan in 1972, only Mr. McNamara remains within US jurisdiction. Heller concludes with the candid exhortation “Arrest him”. Surely, there is no statute of limitations on treason that resulted in the deaths of American servicemen. And with the Marine Corps currently seeing its way clear to prosecute Individual Ready Reservists for wearing parts of their uniforms to protest against the Iraq War (WMD! Osama and Saddam! Mushroom clouds! Slam dunk! We’ll be greeted as liberators! We don’t torture!), then surely some room might be made in a military courtroom for Mr. McNamara’s case. And the survivors and families of the deceased must be – who can deny it? – the only ignored bunch of victims in modern US history.

Let us hope and pray that it happens. It’s summertime and those few kangaroos rousted from their domicile in the courtroom for the duration of the military justice proceedings should not have too hard a time of it. Or they could always be stabled in the courtroom next door. With the cavalry horses gone, kangaroos are about the only animals left in the military stable, except for the Dobermans and the dolphins.

But I’d like to go on a bit with this Israeli matter. As was mentioned in a recent Post, it was in the late Sixties that the Holocaust really picked up steam as a historical topic of wide interest. Before that time the ‘killing of the Jews’, never denied, was just one of the many nasty results of the Nazi imperium. No disrespect to the dead was intended thereby – certainly not by schoolchildren – but there were so many millions of dead that it was hard for the mind to get too selective. And to what purpose?

I think that there is a conceptual congruence of the highest order between the Holocaust’s enthronement and the policy aims of the Israeli state. For it was precisely the awfulness of the Holocaust that has justified what that State has done and been doing since its inception.

We recall that the desire for a Jewish return to Palestine long-predated the Second World War. The Hebrew scriptures and the history of the Hebrew people were deeply entwined with that land, and it was not considered dispositive that the workings of history had ejected the Hebrew presence in the time of the Romans. What would the Dream do about the non-Hebrew inhabitants of the land, who had been there for centuries if not a millennium? They would be considered to not-exist; the land was to be seen as ‘uninhabited’.

This was – let’s face it – kinda harsh, but the Dream considered that the Hebrews themselves had been treated kind of harshly since the Romans’ time, and that in History what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Then came the Holocaust. Although immediately after the war it did not capture the world’s sustained prioritized attention, it had created – very understandably – a tremendously increased impetus for a Jewish state. ‘A’ Jewish state and a return to ‘the’ long-lost ancestral Biblical homeland fused together in the Dream.

And the land was taken and the return was made and the State was erected. And whatever wildlife was found abroad on the property was subdued when it wasn’t otherwise removed.

That, one might say, was the original sin fused into the soul of that State at its founding; although it cannot be discounted that Hitler’s Holocaust was itself an almost-original sin (no government had ever tried such a thing before) that could not but galvanize any persons of good will.

America – Harry Truman had a tough election to win – was only one of the Western nations that acknowledged the State. And the State, hugely techy and spikey, immediately set about insuring its own and its people’s security, continuation and prosperity. Nothing would be allowed to interfere with that programme. Nothing.

In 1961 the State of Israel committed what was technically an act of war by going to Argentina and kidnapping one of its citizens, the former Nazi Adolf Eichmann. The Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, shrewdly, feared that a new generation of Israeli youth were coming of age having no personal experience of the Nazi era and the Holocaust. A refresher course was needed. Eichmann was grabbed by a covert government kidnapping team, smuggled out of the country in an aircraft, and brought back to Israel for a well-publicized trial that resulted – to nobody’s surprise – in his execution.

In the summer of 1963 JFK had been contemplating a bit of a tilt toward the Arabs, possibly after taking a look at the ’63 Detroit line-up and realizing that a country that was putting out cars like this would need to be pretty friendly with folks who owned a lot of oil (America’s own domestic production was already falling off and within a few years would no longer supply the majority of the nation’s oil needs). But then JFK was gone.

LBJ found himself closer to Truman’s dilemma. He and the entire Democratic Party leadership was in a state of shock when, having guaranteed themselves the loss of the entire voting South by signing the Civil Rights Act in the summer of 1965, and looking forward to the busy consolations of building up ‘the negro’ to replace the Southrons, they were instead confronted only a few days later by the Watts riots, televised as fully as Vietnam, including a large number of ‘spokesmen’ who felt that Dr. King and his ways were treason to the pain of the black people and that nothing short of revolution against whitey would assuage their situation.

A politician faced with a shock like that, on top of a Vietnam conflict burgeoning into a war, would be thinking of nailing down some solid votes. Jewish votes would have been tempting; the oil-gasoline problem would have to wait. LBJ invested the State of Israel as an ‘ally’ pretty much on his own. Democrats in Congress were not disposed to disagree.

In the later Sixties, after the incident with the USS Liberty, Hitler’s extermination of the Jews [and I do not like that slang term for ‘Jewish people’] started to morph into ‘The Holocaust’ as we know it today.

The emphasis was on the ‘outrage’ of Jewish ‘victimization’. Which was true enough and logical enough historically, but also – a neat two-fer – served to bathe the current Israeli State of the late-Sixties in the aura of victimhood. And for victims one can only feel pity, and respect, and sympathetic outrage.

And later on, but not much later on, a further corollary started to surface: ‘victimization’ justifies all. To prevent a repeat of the utterly unique horror of the Holocaust, nothing – NOTHING – must be allowed to interfere and EVERYTHING is allowable. Again, it’s very understandable. But it took a while for it to become clear just exactly how much that apparently decent sentiment allowed.

But by then, as has been discussed in other Posts, the nascent domestic American Advocacies were seeking to further the cause of assorted Identities and were being eagerly courted by the Democrats in their desperate search for replacement voters. The Advoacacies – probably through their PR folks – started to deploy the Israeli gameplan in the service of their own agendas and programmes.

Thus what has now become the classic paradigm: a) there is a unique and outrageous horror b) perpetrated by horrible and outrageous perpetrators c) that is victimizing many victims and d) that is so bad that anything can and must be done to stop it/them and e) this must be stopped and the perpetrators dealt with immediately and e) hesitation or obstruction under the rubrics of ‘deliberation’ or ‘due process’ is a second victimization of the victims and constitutes a crime in itself and f) even to question the rightness of any actions taken to address this outrage is an outrage since g) the rightness of any actions taken against the outrage is to be taken as self-evident and h) even to allow the accused to present their case constitutes a disrespect for the ‘victims’ and intolerably grants the benefit of publicity to the perpetrator(s) because i) what they have done is so horrible that they have forfeited any moral authority or rights or standing, and consequently j) only the correct attitudes are to be publicly allowed and only persons with reliably correct attitudes are to be permitted to comment in the media.

Now it doesn’t take a Rhodes scholar to see that this gameplan is technically comprehensive, hugely efficient, and hell-and-gone from democratic process. It is also the direct replicant of the propaganda procedures of those massive early-20th century upheavals: Fascism and revolutionary Communism.

It would certainly be strange if any Israeli official were to bemoan a United States public rendered hugely more sensitive to ‘victimhood’, more tolerant of any measures taken out of ‘grief’ and ‘outrage’ at ‘perpetrators’ of ‘evil’ and ‘horror’. It would certainly serve the needs and purposes of the Israeli State better than a residual old Yankee caution in foreign affairs or a blue-collar immigrant disdain for anybody who couldn’t ‘save themselves’ or a macho quit-whining-and-get-back-to-work willingness to let bygones be bygones.

And as begins to sound familiar above, the needs and purposes of one of the largest and earliest Advocacies, the feminist revolution, dovetailed nicely. A synergy was created that was later amplified and elaborated.

And even later, after various Advocacies and various victims and various ANYthings were done in the service of ‘closure’ – done to law and jurisprudence and constitutional praxis – then, when 9/11 burst into the American consciousness, it became the perfect pivot point upon which to turn traditional American governmental arrangements and foreign-policy upside down. Just as the Holocaust was a “unique” horror and outrage, so too “9/11 changed everything”. And after a while We began to find out just how much of a ‘change’ that ‘everything’ constituted. We still haven’t found out the whole story.

So a lot of what’s gone on since that June 40 years ago had its beginnings back then.

Conceptually, it’s another example of how distinct and separate forces and elements, operating in disparate circumstances, can sometimes create a synergy and if the conditions are right can sustain it.

Original sins are called that for a reason: they are blended in at the very beginning, and if not quickly and honestly addressed, will begin to deform the warp and woof of their host’s spirit and soul: be that host an individual or a nation, be that host an oppressor or an aggrieved – it makes no difference. And as time goes on, and layer upon layer of historical acts are overlaid upon it, that sin becomes part of the very fabric of the host.

Against this monstrous invasion no spirit and no soul can retain its integrity unaided. Yet no State can admit of any Power Higher than itself. We have seen here the Bushist solution to that conundrum: the adoption of a fundamentalistic identification (constituting a functional idolatry) between God and the government. Whatever an American government does is God’s will because God ‘chose’ America.

Whether the Israeli State saw the need to allow its own matters to progress to the point where the State’s relationship to God was a matter for public display is beyond my ken. Perhaps the population of Israel is so familiar with its scriptures that such a connection would be presumed; or its precise implications debated.

Over here, the Bushists had to turn the Fundys loose in the media to mobilize that ‘base’. And to familiarize the larger public with the terms and visions by which the Imperium would seek to justify itself and its actions. And overturn longstanding American arrangements as to Constitutional checks-and-balances, government respect for a broad array of the citizens’ civil rights, the waging of aggressive war, and the use of torture as a matter of policy.

God has kept His opinion – and his judgment - to Himself so far. Unless current American failings in Iraq constitute the first drops of a long and hard rain.

So much set in motion on that afternoon 40 years ago, when the US government let itself be attacked again and again and let its own servicemen be machine-gunned in their life-rafts, and then covered it all up with the help of obedient senior officers and military lawyers.

There should be a Day for them, those sailors of the Liberty. No official wreaths were laid on their graves in Arlington, I bet.

But there is more important work to be done. What they died for is now under grave threat from the very dynamics loosed upon Us that day. We must ensure that they did not die in vain. They need not be ‘avenged’; rather they must be ‘justified’, their lives and deaths given meaning by Our increased devotion to that Cause that Washington began and Lincoln preserved. The world needs no more blood. It desperately needs courage and Truth. Cowardice and untruth are killing it.

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Over on Truthdig, the insightful Chris Hedges has an article about why he doesn’t believe in atheists (“I Don’t Believe in Atheists”,’t_believe).

The article is comprised of remarks he made prior to his debate with one Sam Harris, a gentleman who has been making a name for himself as being ‘atheist’ and – as they would have said once – agin’ religion.

Hedges asserts clearly and calmly “the supreme importance of the monotheistic traditions in creating the concept of the individual”. After wayyyyy too much time having been spent in supporting – or at least allowing – the proposition that Hey Hey Ho Ho, Western Civ Has Got To Go, it’s about time to see what the structural and dynamic consequences of such deconstruction have been for the seaworthiness of the Vessel. Better late than never … We have to hope (and pray).

If there is no vital and palpable grasp of the value of ‘the individual’ as a concept and a reality, then Western Civilization’s very core collapses. Surely, the concept of ‘the individual’ underlies the Constitution’s concern for ‘rights’, especially against that ancient and monstrous predator, the government police power.

And if there is no ‘individual’ then there is no ‘individual responsibility’. And thus no sense of a self-governing Order among the members of a society, leaving it open to necessary (and inevitably excessive) ‘order’ being imposed upon the citizens from above (the hyperized police power).

And if there is no possibility of ‘the individual’ as a locus for constructive and efficacious contribution to the life of society, then there is no need for openness in society: why go to the trouble if there’s nothing worthwhile that openness might help to share? And maintaining openness can surely be a job of work and definitely results in some trouble. After all, human beings are not perfect (may even be tainted by a fundamental weakness for ‘evil’) and you can never be sure what sleaze or whackery such openness will wind up allowing into the public space of the society. Just look at the internet.

But even more, the concept of ‘the individual’ must point (and historically does) to some Beyond, some entity or realm outside of and above the things of this world: above governments and ‘feelings’ and fears and anxieties and preferences and prejudices and sciences and even laws. The only way to protect ‘the individual’ in this imperfect world is to anchor the authority and birthright of ‘the individual’ beyond (Beyond) this imperfect world. Thus, none of the world’s imperfections, “dress’t in a little brief authority”, can presume to engulf ‘the individual’.

And if there is no Beyond, then we lose not only ‘the individual’ but any secure concept of ‘the ideal’ toward which every individual should strive (and for glaring failures against which individual responsibility must be assumed).
Thus the utterly fatal dangers inherent in Flattening human existence by removing the Beyond from the realm of human experience.

Thus the dangers – far worse than in the ancient days of ‘pagan’ empires – when governments gather to themselves the Ultimate position in the lives of their citizens. For then the government is accountable to no power beyond or ‘above’ itself. Its status becomes merely a matter of maintaining physical power over its subjects and controlling them: their actions, their relationships, their very feelings and thoughts. This is more than a functional ‘paganism’ where the existence of a Beyond is acknowledged (even if the beings of that ‘Beyond’ do not respect or care for ‘the individual’). This is idolatry: a raising up of something of this world as an Ultimate power over the life of this world.

The Fundamentalists, though they will scream loudly that it is not so, wind up embracing idolatry by equating ‘government’ with the Ultimate, the Beyond, God – and they do this by claiming that their government is Deputized by the Beyond to wield Ultimate authority – authority that cannot be questioned without questioning the Beyond itself. An idol by any other name …

Back in their heyday the assorted Advocacies, drawing their justification from ‘Theory’ after the Europeans dropped it like a hot and poisoned potato, made fewer bones about what they were aiming for: there is no Ultimate – there is only political power now. And there is no Evil – there is only this-worldly oppression for which the only answer is government power wielded against every ‘oppression’ until all oppression is wiped out. And it-can-be-done. And it-must-be-started-now. And it-must-be-achieved-immediately. And nothing-can-be-allowed-to-stand-it-its-way. ‘Outrage’ and ‘emergency’ became the watchwords. And a state of permanent ‘war’ was declared – with all of the detriments to Truth and Liberty that a (usually time-limited) state of war entailed. And that ‘war’ would be permanent because victory would only come with total eradication of the ‘oppression’. And that ‘war’ would constantly expand because each Advocacy that came along had its own version of the ‘oppression’ that had to be thoroughly eradicated.

And it guaranteed the fatal fracturing of the structure of the host society because each ‘oppression’ had to have an ‘oppressor’ against whom the ‘war’ would be waged to total victory, and so each ‘war’ would further divide society as each ‘oppressor group’ had to be split-away so it could be warred-against. And because no member of the host society could be sure that he or she (so often ‘he’, interestingly) wouldn’t wind up on the enemies-list tomorrow.

Revolutions, like governments, allow no faith except in themselves (which is why the past few decades in this country have seen such a see-saw battle between the advocacy-revolutions and the government authority, each trying to control the other for its own purposes).

And they do not particularly appreciate Reason; instead of the free and unpredictable use of each individual’s reasoning capacity, they prefer the rote parroting of slogans (whether it be ‘they just don’t get it’ or ‘my country right or wrong’). And hence, the Democrats are now exposed as being Tweedle-dee to the Bushist Imperium’s Tweedle-dum.

And both governments and revolutions ‘externalize’ evil. The ‘bad’ is always somewhere else, in somebody else – and thus ‘war’ must be declared to totally wipe out that evil by wiping out that somewhere else or all those somebody else’s.

When really, evil is in us. Each of us. And each of us is enjoined to cast out the beam in our own eye first, rather than going after anybody else’s eye.

Are we authorized to take up the sword? Certainly, Jesus said that He (Himself) had come to bring a sword, yet when His disciple tried to draw a sword, Jesus forbade it and warned that those who lived by the sword would die by it. Which is a pretty ominous warning; kinda ‘harsh’ and ‘cold’ as would be said these days. You would think that if anybody would be Deputized, it would be Saint Peter … but no.

God did some serious authorizing in the Old Testament, but then Jesus came with a New Commandment; the Resurrection – to borrow a phrase – changed everything. And even in the Old Testament, God didn’t Deputize anybody so that He in effect gave them Goering’s guarantee to the German police: “whenever you feel you should shoot, then a bullet from your gun is a bullet from my gun”. Let alone giving anybody back then such authorization as would justify present Fundy claims that they are “the vice-regents of Christ”. Oy! Not even Hitler had the clams to claim that. Stalin didn’t allow that there was a God, and Idi Amin thought that he was God.

But to have a government-worshipping bunch like the Fundys claim that their gummint is possessed of the vice-regal authority from God Himself … I can’t see the Founders agreeing to the proposition. Surely not Lincoln (but then where most Fundys come from, Lincoln isn’t considered a really impressive example).

So atheism is profoundly dangerous to the Republic. Yes, everybody might agree to just-get-along, but there’s nothing that requires it, that justifies it, that grounds it, that Justifies and Grounds it. And the functional worse-than-Pharaonic idolatry of the Fundys – leaving aside its Confederate-worshipping elements – is hardly a less toxic option. And the Advocacy-revolutionism’s reduction of this life to political-power in the service of the vanguard’s particular agenda is equally lethal. And all are far-advanced.

The night is indeed far advanced. It remains to be seen whether the day is at hand.

We can only walk becomingly, as in the day. And “seek a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all peoples”. And soon.

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