Friday, April 20, 2007

Ostriches Raise Their Heads

Frenetically busy, I shall hand the chair over to Fred Mitouer...

"Here we have a true Republican conservative painting the Bush cabal as “Brownshirts” --- alluding to Hitler’s Nazi party.
My first take was that this piece was coming from the far Left. I wonder now how many people who voted for Bush still believe he is a conservative or are now admitting their delusion. Our national sanity will probably depend upon them waking up."

The Party of Brownshirts
April 16, 2007

(Paul Craig Roberts held the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies at Georgetown University and was Senior Research Fellow in the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He served as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. <;>)

Neoconservatives have turned the Republican Party into a Brownshirt Party.

Look at the evidence. While real patriots flee the party, the remaining supporters cling to power by asserting dictatorial dominance for President Bush. The Republican Attorney General denies that the US Constitution provides habeas corpus protection to American citizens. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, Republican candidates for the 2008 presidential campaign, believe the president has the power to imprison US citizens indefinitely without warrants or trials. The "conservative" Federalist Society favors concentrating more power in the executive. Neoconservative ideologues claim the right to impose American hegemony over all others--especially over Muslims.

All of these Republican tyrants and budding tyrants claim to be protecting liberty and democracy.

Polls show that the percentage of Americans who tilt Republican has declined to 35 percent. Republican recruits are refusing to run for Congress. Ken Mehlman, until recently the party's chairman, says many voters have lost confidence in Republicans. To win back people's confidence, Mehlman says the party will have to become less reliant on white males and expand its support among Hispanics and blacks.

Decency and intelligence have departed Republican ranks. The party's shrunken base consists of ignorant and fearful people who believe Muslim jihadists are going to murder them in their beds, rapture evangelicals who believe that war in the Middle East is the prelude to their being wafted up to heaven, the military-security complex reveling in power and fortune, and resentful and frustrated people who can freely vent their anger and hate on "terrorists."

This collection of fear, delusion, greed, and resentment comprises the 30 percent of Americans who constitute Bush's base. The Republican Party has made itself so unattractive that Democrats believe that it is now possible for a woman or a black to win the presidency.

The Republican Party lost its majority for the following reasons:

Greedy transnational corporations offshored US manufacturing jobs and destroyed the hopes and livelihoods of blue-collar Reagan Democrats. The gains from offshoring are diffused, but the costs are concentrated.

The same greedy and short-sighted corporations have spent the first years of the 21st century destroying the prospects of American middle class university graduates by offshoring jobs in professional services and by importing foreigners on work visas who work for less.

Neoconservatives captured conservative philanthropies, cut off funding to true conservatives, and used the captured conservative foundations to entrench themselves as advisors to the Republican party. The same neoconsertives that Reagan fired as a result of the Iran-Contra scandal occupy important policy positions in the Bush administration and dominate the National Security Council.

Republican "law and order" apathy to civil liberties easily transferred to the "war on terror." Republicans regard civil liberties as protective devices for criminals and terrorists. Republicans mistakenly believe that the law can be cut down selectively so that only certain despised groups are deprived of its protection.

The Bush administration lied to the American people and invaded two countries on false pretenses for indefensible reasons that the administration has never acknowledged. The war has had catastrophic consequences that are now apparent to a majority of Americans, but the Republican Party still supports the continuation of the war.

The Bush administration has destroyed American prestige and moral aura with torture scandals and disregard for Iraqi, Afghani, Palestinian and Lebanese civilian lives.

The Bush administration's budget and trade deficits have undermined the dollar. The Bush administration is calling for currency realignments that will lower the real incomes of import-dependent Americans.

The Bush administration's determination to exercise American hegemony through warfare, and its assaults on civil liberties, the separation of powers, American prestige and on good American jobs and the value of the dollar have destroyed the party's support.

America's virtue is its Constitution. An administration that attacks the Constitution attacks America's virtue. The true dangers that Americans face come from George W. Bush and Richard Cheney and their neoconservative Brownshirt Party.


David Brin chiming in at the end.

Of course I agree with most of this and I am pleased to see yet another decent conservative see the light. And yet, I bristle when I see the military portrayed as a beneficiary of this administration's treacherous madness.

In fact the US military is the number one victim. Name any other group of Americans who have suffered anywhere near as much, from horrific strategic and tactical blunders, mismanagement, perniciously insane MICRO-management by draft-dodging amateurs, betrayal of professionalism, and the gradual undermining of a powerful, honorable moral code.

Until the democrats wake up to their BEST AND MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE -- the destruction of US military readiness and the Bushite betrayal of our uniformed professionals, endangering the entire nation -- we will remain at the mercy of culture war.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, David, but I don't see Mr. Roberts saying the military is benefitting... he's saying the "Military-Security Complex" is benefitting. I believe he's refering to the companies that supply the military, not the troops.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff. But have you read Chalmers Johnson’s new book Nemesis? He was a former Republican and CIA employee and now writes some truly damming books.

Brother Doug

Mark said...

I was about to post the same comment Hawker made. "...the military-security complex reveling in power and fortune..." isn't talking about the military itself, but the corporations and contractors raking in the big bucks.

However, there are several points Roberts makes I don't agree with, mostly from the Pat Buchanan wing of the party, the wing I historically (until recently) disagreed with the most.

...and by importing foreigners on work visas who work for less.

I still believe in immigration and free trade. However, I really like the line on how the "gains from offshoring are diffused, but the costs are concentrated." That is a good point -- positive sum overall isn't the same as positive sum locally.

The Bush administration lied to the American people and invaded two countries on false pretenses for indefensible reasons...

Two? We were 100% correct to go after bin Laden in Afghanistan, the crime was losing our focus and attacking Iraq. Perhaps we was assuming we'd invade Iran by the time this got printed; otherwise I disagree and don't really understand the complaint.

I'm not sure I agree with isolating Regan from Iran-Contra, either, but otherwise I agree completely.

Anonymous said...

Yoiks! Some of these observations are a little angry and over the top. I have no love for the Bush administration, but the label "Brownshirts" is a bit strong.

One thing that I don't think gets pointed out enough is that BushCo is an alliance of sorts, each contributing something to the stew pot (or cesspool):

Operational style: Karl Rove and other politically savvy (and ethically contemptible) GOP operatives. These are responsible for the K Street Project, campaign by smear, and efforts to screw minority voters. I'm not sure if these guys care about policy matters . . . other than those that keep them in power. Since power means money, that translates into lots of favors for wealthy interests. Stacking the justice department with compliant ideologues also stems from the desire to stay in power.

Foreign policy: Neoconservatives.

Domestic policy: Movement conservatives, the religious right.

* * *

Lee Iococa's widely-distributed "Where are the leaders?" rant (the introduction to a new book) is in the same vein.

Anonymous said...

Mr Roberts does not mention the pusillanimous behavior of the Congress in bowing to political expediency.

The most important point Mr. Roberts makes is the disrespect for the Constitution.

All three branches of government demonstrate this disprespect.

Woozle said...

Ahh yes, the new "Congress is destroying the separation of powers and spitting on the constitution" claim, as exemplified by a recent Orson Scott Card editorial. I had a feeling this meme would start reproducing rapidly in conservative circles, so I posted an analysis here.

(That URL is a wiki page, so further discussion is welcome.)

Anonymous said...

No, no, ernieg's quite right when he's talking about Congress's disrespect for the Constitution. Well, until last November, anyway. For example, when the Congressional Republicans were insisting that the "advise and consent" power Congress has with many appointments just meant "Approve anybody the President sends, debate or anything else is bad."

Or for example the Congressional rubberstamping (after adding pork for their locals of course) of every one of President Bush's budgets and tax cuts, no matter how ridiculous or unwise, especially in a time of war. Or look at the majority of Congress's rolling over and not questioning any of the shaky justifications we were given for the Iraq war. Or Congress's rubberstamping of the PATRIOT act, and the FISA amendments, and the wiretapping bills, and the lack of investigation into Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, or any of the rest of the secret CIA torture sites.

The Republicans in Congress have been disrespecting the Constitution by completely and totally failing to live up to the duties and responsibilities the Constitution gives Congress. The President, on the other hand, has seized every power to himself he could.

Orson Scott Card has seemed to become crazier and crazier over the past few years. The strangest assertion in his article, though, is one I've seen numerous times from "conservatives". That the US will end up being alone against this spread of worldwide "Islamic fundamentalism". There's even a book called America Alone, which has little Muslim flags planted all over a globe on the cover, except the US. Even Canada. Which I totally don't get.

Why do these people, often the same people who are happy to proclaim America's greatness and power on a regular basis, and proclaim the greatness of western civilization, think our culture's so weak that "Islamic fundamentalism" is going to walk all over everyone? Don't they have any confidence in the strength of Western cultures, or other cultures? CANADA's going to be taken over by "Islamic Fundamentalists"? China? India? Japan? England? Mexico? Brazil? Australia? I don't think so.

For one thing, when Muslims immigrate to a country and are integrated into the general culture, it's not gonna happen. Especially once the first and second generations of kids grow up and start to take power in their own communities, because guess what, these kids have grown up surrounded by the ideals and culture of the country they live in. It's when you isolate your immigrants in a permanent underclass, like happened in France, or like the "Guest Visas" crap would do here, that you get problems.

Hang on. Isn't that exactly like what people were saying would happen with Communism, too? The rest of the world would fall like dominoes, and then we'd be facing a world of red... No WONDER so many people adopted this ridiculousness! It's exactly like the old Cold War paranoia, just find and replace Communism with "Islamic Fundamentalism" and you're good to go. And it's just as wrong now as it was then.

Anonymous said...

Got it in one, Nate. It's the World Wide Communist Takeover version 2.0, now with less actual possibility of succeeded, no massive nuclear capability, no 1st class army, BUT with numerous suicidal idiots willing to blow up innocents to make a pointless gesture.
The same people, yelling about the same wolf, the same way... but without a wolf, just a over-agressive minature poodle.
Oh, we'll take some nips... because a wolf won't attack unless he's sure he'll win, while a poodles are insane enough to attack without thinking about the 'win' thing.
To misquote Spider Robinson...
Terrorists are dangerous because they're weak. They're so weak that they have to do monsterous things to be even noticed.

Anonymous said...

I was not only referring to the current (110th) Congress, I have the greater contempt for the 108th Congress who in 2002 passed the Authorization to use military force AUMF totaly abrogating their responsibilities to DECLARE WAR, which gave the President the power to start an unconstitutional(illegal) war. This was done with practically no debate. Declaring war would have stated why, how, and goals for the war.

We have a new start every 2 years as far as Congress goes, and every one of our representatives and senators should have their feet held to the fire
(Oath of office to uphold the Constitution), no one gets a 'by'.

That includes the President and his administration, and the Supreme court.

As far as the Iraq Occupation Congress has a duty to:
not fund an unconstitutional military adventure
and probably should repeal/rescind the AUMF

I do not accept arguments that undeclared wars have happened in the past we are talking about now, illegal is ILLEGAL.

Anonymous said...

It's when you isolate your immigrants in a permanent underclass, like happened in France, or like the "Guest Visas" crap would do here, that you get problems.

Europe: Study Shows France Leading In Muslim Integration

"Nearly eight in 10 French Muslims generally say they want to adopt French customs," Allen said. "And this high preference for assimilation certainly compares with that in Spain, although Spanish Muslims tend also to come from North Africa. Only 53 percent of Muslims in Spain say they want to adopt Spanish customs. Only 41 percent in Britain say the same about British customs. And nearly 30 percent in Germany say that. So you can see that in some sense the Muslims in France feel more at home in that country."

Pew Research Center - Is France Doing a Better Job of Integration than Its Critics?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Brin said...

Zorgon's latest missive is excised with prejudice.

I will not allow the site to be used for lurid statements that - even in colorful and obviously exaggerated drama - call for violence. Especially violence against a duly-elected officer of the United States. (Ohio notwithstanding, Bush's second term is a legal one.)

The excuse that his scenario portrayed a stepwise legal process - and that it is therefore not strictly speaking a threat - is an important one. Yet it only slightly mitigates.

Look, I, too, have used the word "monsters". I believe we and our entire civilization are being betrayed in potentially lethal ways. I even posit a small but significant possibility that the betrayal is intelligent, determined, systematic and deliberate.

Nevertheless, I need to make one thing clear. George W. Bush is currently President of my country..

If he were to phone me right now and ask of me some service that only I am qualified to give, in the national interest - even to put my life on the line - I would demand that transparency and attorneys and protective measures set in motion in PARALLEL. I would demand to speak to genuine professionals along the way...

...while I also asked "where must I go and how soon do you need it, sir."

Zorgon, you are welcome here. You are a worthy poster and smart guy. I am (as you know) often tempted to bilious methapors toward these awful creatures, who are, AT BEST blithering imbecilles.

Still, as a man whose thrid cousins all were murdered by brownshirts or the SS, I have to tell you. Back off a notch. Take a breath. Take two.


David Brin said...

Some new stuff from Russ Daggatt:

According to a Pew poll released this week, regular viewers of Comedy Central's Daily Show and The Colbert Report were the best informed on knowledge of national affairs. Bringing up the rear were regular viewers of FOX News. (Only regular viewers of the network morning shows scored lower.)

(Pew Report: )

Which raises the issue of causation. Does viewing FOX News MAKE you stupid or is it just that stupid people are more inclined to watch FOX News?

We report, you decide.


Slate had a good piece yesterday on the latest evidence that "abstinence only" programs -- on which the Bush administration has spent more than $1 billion -- are absolutely worthless:

"In the past decade, the federal government has spent more than $1 billion on programs that promote abstinence as the only healthy choice to make about sex before marriage. Last week, the government's own long-term evaluation of the initiatives, required by Congress in 1997, showed that these programs seem to accomplish essentially nothing. That's right: Nada. Students in the programs were no more likely to abstain from sex than their peers. And if they did lose their virginity, they tended to do so at the same average age and have the same number of sexual partners as other students did. As Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., put it, "In short, American taxpayers appear to have paid over 1 billion federal dollars for programs that have no impact.""


There's more but it makes you cry. Can democracy really be doing this badly?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I wouldn't blame democracy. I'd blame them's that are supposed to be practicing it . . . us.

We've let cranks, jingoists, and avaricious scoundrels delude us and fool us. We welcomed it; it made us feel safe and self-righteous.

In out defense, they've gotten good at it. They hire experts who know how to yank our chains and divide us. They've broken democracy; broken as in broken to saddle.

We fight back by getting smarter and learning from our mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Abstinence is a wonderful thing, when practiced in moderation.

What's easier to break than a condom?
A promise not to have sex!

Hank Fox said...

All I can say is: Screw Paul Craig Roberts and his late-comer alarms.

Bush has not changed one tiny bit in the past six years. Neither has Cheney, or any of the other people who still surround Bush.

SOME OF US knew him for what he was from the beginning.

If anything, I more dislike the ones flipping sides now than I do those obstinately sticking with Bush. Because the flip-floppers are showing they’re bright enough to understand what was happening, but they were too stupid, or arrogant, or self-delusional, to see him from the beginning for what he has always been.

Bush is exactly the same man today, in the moment Roberts turns his coat, as he was when Roberts and all those like him acted as if they had their dream president. And forced the rest of us to live with the consequences of their deadly lapse.

I realize we need these people’s help to end the Bush presidency and the GOP reign, but I believe it’s a profound mistake to just forgive and forget what they helped do to us.

If six guys rape a woman on a pool table in a bar, and a dozen guys stand by and watch, by law the ones standing by should go to prison too, and rightly so, because they participated in the rape by standing by and doing nothing to stop it.

Where were all the turncoats six years ago? Voting for Bush. Shouting down any opposition. Standing by and watching while the GOP thugs raped America – betrayed every good thing about it. Painting those of us who spoke up as traitors ... when we were perhaps the only real patriots.

“Nevertheless, I need to make one thing clear. George W. Bush is currently President of my country..”

“If he were to phone me right now and ask of me some service that only I am qualified to give, in the national interest - even to put my life on the line - I would demand that transparency and attorneys and protective measures set in motion in PARALLEL. I would demand to speak to genuine professionals along the way...”

“...while I also asked ‘where must I go and how soon do you need it, sir.’ ”

Brin, I like you, but that’s about the dumbest, most jingoistic bullshit thing I ever heard. You can write about worlds of the future yet still define yourself so small as to say THIS? Are you really saying your independent mind shuts down at the scent of an alpha male?

What if someone OTHER than the President of the United States, what if a representative of Earth itself, were to phone you right now and ask of you some service that only you are qualified to give, in the interest of the planet Earth and all its people - even to put your life on the line – would you ask “where must I go and how soon do you need it, sir?” ... if that service was to NOT do what your nation-destroying fool-in-chief requested of you?

If you answer yes to that, if you can recognize allegiance to larger matters than mere nations ... WHY WOULD YOU EVEN NEED TO BE ASKED? All of us ARE representatives of the planet Earth ... and so clearly what is required of all of us right now – especially we Americans, and especially our Congressional representatives – is to disobey the corrupt stupid little man who now sits in the White House, and the corrupt stupid little men who surround him.

We need to get them out of office, and we need to punish them for what they’ve done.

David Brin said...

No, sir, you are the one, in your anger rush, who refuses to broaden his perspectives.

I did not say that this was my only loyalty. Ideed, any awareness of my writings and my work would make clear to you that I have hierarchies of loyalty higher than to the national entity whose flag flies over my nearby Post Office. I am the author of EARTH, yes?

And I would be perfectly capable (as I also made clear) of viewing ANYTHING said by George W Bush with profound skepticism.

Nevertheless, I am a citizen of many things, and this nation/flag is one of them. Yes, a gang of rapists has taken over and are flinging feces around that nation, harming it. Worse, they are harming a PROJECT. A project that is very real and one of the best and most noble projects the world has ever seen. That project - and the nation that conveys it - are THE VERY MOST-RAPED VICTIMS of this coterie of monsters.

And yet, I am compelled to consider the one thing that they never will. That the Project demands that we consider the possibility that we might be wrong.

That is the core lesson of science, of maturity, of the Enlightenment, and of Constitutional government. When my side loses an election, I cannot and must not ignore the possibility that the majority of my fellow citizens may NOT have made a mistake.

Yes, I am 99% sure they did. But I am bound by the compact that was drawn in that small, sacred room in Philadelphia, in 1787. I am bound to limit my hatred. To stop short of the age-old habit of hatred-unto death.

Try to stretch your mind (and I am sure it is a good mind, though right now in an indignant fury) around this, now.

I do not defend or show loyalty to that project by extending my hatred of these monsters to my country.

Nor can I remain loyal to it, while choosing to reflexively dishonor processes that - even though they have been hijacked - nevertheless, represent the procedures of a nation of laws, not men.

If a man like me, who you KNOW to despise the Bushites, then says something as surprising as what I did, in my last missive, then you MIGHT CONSIDER stopping in your surprised angry reflex and instead try contemplating what message I tried to convey, Rather than leaping to the conclusion that I have suddenly reversed course.

(Remember, I am the only one bruiting about the "Manchurian" scenario... making me quite possibly the MOST paranoid toward these creatures, of anyone around!)

I will try again.

Ultimately, we do NOT defeat these troglodytes merely by crushing them.

Liberals thought they had crushed conservatism in 64 and 74... and it came roaring back, more bitter and focused and divisive than ever, kicking out the gentlemen like Goldwater to make room for men who grew more strident, every time they were proved wrong, wrong wrong.

When 92 came around, and they were defeated by a genuine moderate who reached out with an open hand, that third defeat turned them into raging neocons. This trend is a caution. It says that we are not facing regular politics. Nor is this about "conservatism" anymore.

WE ARE FACED WITH A SICKNESS. And simply defeating it will not be enough. The sickness of culture war must be cured. The war splitting America must not simply be waged, but won.

And it will not be won by the methods you and Zorgon propose.

Unknown said...

Actually, it seems to me that much of the problem America finds itself in right now boils down to the attempt by both sides to "win" the culture war.
By definition, I don't believe that a culture war can be won. As Kuhn pointed out in his Structure of Scientific Revolutions, people who espouse a new paradigm typically can't even communicate with those who adhere to the old paradigm because the very terms used by each side create the presuppositions which support the paradigms they're using. Example include Repubs who dismiss any talk of tax cuts by shouting "class warfare" and Demos who ridicule any foreign military interventions by screaming "CIA-sponsored putsch." Commons-based peer production (such as we find in open source operating systems) and fourth generation warfare (as discussed by William S. Lind and Martin van Creveld) make both sets of slogans increasingly irrelevant to observed reality.
The Noam Chomskys and Karl Roves are screaming mindless slogans past each other and it's pointless for either side to try to "win" this futile culture war. The two sides can't even seem to communicate any more, and efforts by one side to "win" seem likely to merely worsen the current cultural rift in America. Indeed, I suspect that's what caused the current crisis. We need to insure that both sides can get enough of what they need politically without "winning." How we do that...well, that's not obvious.
What we need to do is end the culture war. We need to build bridges from both sides into the rational middle. I really wish we had a third political party, the Pragmatist Party. Their platform: "Let's do whatever works."
I'm doubtful at this point that we can get to that point without something like what went on after the Vichy government fell in France in 1944. We may need something like the Truth and Reconciliation commissions in Argentina. And I do believe that the worst of the culprits need to be somehow made illegitimate in the American political system. The failure of the American political system to expel Nixon and his criminals in any significant way after Watergate and the failure to punish the most culpable actors in the Viet Nam and Iran Contra crack-ups led to many of the same people who were involved in those earlier crimes returning to government under the maladministrations of Bonzo the chimp's co-star and the drunk-driving C student infesting the Oval Office. Maybe the old Greek practice of ostracism would work. Pass new law allowing ostracism for high crimes and misdemeanors, hold a public trial and then expel the guilty parties like Perle and Wolfowitz and Rove to wander the world on a stipend. But don't let 'em write & sell books in America (Charles Colson) or become talk show hosts (G. Gordon Liddy) or start up lucrative businesses trading on their genocidal crimes (Kissinger and Associates consulting). In particular, these people, once convicted of crimes, ought not to be able to become a part of the legitimate American political process once again, as so many former criminals now working the White House have done.
Since the drunk-driving C student stole the 2000 election, he is not your president, nor is he mine. He is a sqatter in a government building. The marine corps sergeant at arms at the White House needs to arrest him and eject him summarily from the Oval Office. Unauthorized drunks are not permitted to live as squatters in government offices in Washington D.C., as far as I know.
Most important of all, America needs to stop squabbling over all this phony abortion and flag-burning nonsense and get to work on the real problems of the 21st century -- issues like global energy & resource usage. Not Peak Oil, this is bigger: we need to find a way to allow the third world to enjoy first-world-level standards of living without indulging in first-world levels of waste of resources. This will hugely benefit the first world as well as the third world. We all need to do a lot more with a lot less, as Buckminster Fuller advised -- moreover, we can, and easily, since most of our technological infrastructure is pointlessly wasteful, from incandescent(!) bulbs to gasoline-powered internal combustion engines to jet engines instead of turboprops or rigid vacuum-filled supersonic dirigibles; we might or might not need to do something about global warming -- there are still some scientific questions open on that score, though at this point at least some of the warming appears anthropogenic, and getting rid of the carbon is a huge scientific and political task comparable to but bigger than Norman Borlaug's Green Revolution or the creation of the current worldwide information infrastructure. It's doable, but will take all of us pulling together, regardless whether we seed the deep oceans with iron filings to encourage plankton blooms, or start building a lot more TRIGA-design or pebble-bed nuclear reactors that can't melt down because of their basic design. (We probably need to do both.) We need to put a sharp stop to the fishing-out of the oceans. We need to reverse deforestation worldwide. We need to at least preserve the DNA of species going extinct, and preferably reverse the extinction too. The honeybee dieoff is scary, and shows an inkling of what might happen if we don't get busy on that front. All species on this planet find themselves interconnected by an intricate web of commensal interdependence, from soil bacteria up to whales. Trashing large parts of the ecological web bodes ill for homo sapiens, since we're part of that whole system.
Then there are the lesser but nevertheless formidable problems, like fixing America's broken education system. No excuse for currently low literacy rates in American high school graduates. There's no excuse for us to be graduating 1/20 the number of engineers as China. There's no excuse for cutting back on basic science R&D, while the largely worthless financial manipulation sector of the American economy grows without limit.
All these problems are solvable. We can fix them. They don't even require concerted effort as great as WW II or the Cold War. To do so, however, we need to stop fighting one another as Americans.
Unfortunately, we've got a small group of apparatchiks like Karl Rove in America who seem to have attained a great deal of power by deliberately exacerbating these kinds of divisions among Americans. Whether you call it the "Southern strategy" or "the race card" or "class warfare" or "swift boating," it all boils down to the same thing -- Americans are being pushed into another War of the Roses. Nothing is more tragic or more futile in European history than that sad chapter.
It's not obvious how we end this culture war. We need to end it. Both sides need to stop trying to "win."
But right now, we're clearly on the wrong path. We got another War of the Roses cranked up and ready to go in November 2008, with yet another Clinton running for president...and now the right-wing conservatives talking about drafting Jeb Bush for 2008 because none of the current Republican candidates are acceptable!
Another Clinton? Another Bush? How long does this go on???
We've had twenty years now of a Clinton or a Bush as president and like the Energizer Bunny, it just keeps going and going and going. There's something badly wrong in the whole process. We need to get out of this rut. There are qualified candidates living in America today would make a good president and whose surnames are not "Bush" or "Clinton." The fact that I even have to point that out...well, it illustrates just how dysfunctional our currently political situation has become.

Unknown said...

And it will not be won by the methods you and Zorgon propose.

So how about these methods?

Excision of a master kleptocrat?


Pointless exacerbation of the "culture war?"



Anonymous said...

According to a Pew poll released this week, regular viewers of Comedy Central's Daily Show and The Colbert Report were the best informed on knowledge of national affairs. Bringing up the rear were regular viewers of FOX News. (Only regular viewers of the network morning shows scored lower.)

This Modern World

RandomSequence said...


Have you read: The Authoritarians?

The craziness we see (the "culture" war) is a kind of madness created by an inherently self-contradictory philosophy. As the self-contradictions are revealed, nightmares start to be revealed.

It's what binds social conservatives and some libertarians together. Believing simultaneously that the world is both a might makes right kind of place, a place of naked aggression, while simultaneously claiming moral truth and superiority. When you are winning, the inherent contradictions can be buried, put off.

But what when you lose? If you are a loser, and winning is inextricably linked with moral superiority, how do you cope? You see the same madness erupt today in Islam, we saw it last century in Germany, and today part of the American philosophy is crumbling, as exemplified by manifest destiny.

You have to have a scape-goat. You have to have a parasite, a great fear, to fend off the double-bind, as you're mind swerves between defeat and your moral definitions.

And the conflict isn't just at the national level. What if you are an authoritarian, but not the Fuhrer, the Great Leader? He's great because he's strong. But you're weak - a loser in comparison. That implies moral inferiority. How are you even capable of moral choice if you are so degraded? So, simultaneously, you identify with those who hold power over you, while resenting their power deeply. Of course, that resentment must be projected.

It's all a weird S&M sex game. I scratch my head in disbelief.

Hank Fox said...

David, I think I get the thought you’re expressing. I'll have to consider the one percent possibility.

I HAVE had dark moments when I've thought there could be lefthandedly positive outcomes to the Bush presidency -- I speculate we're headed for a really deadly near-future, and I wonder if a slap like Bush could wake us up enough to change course. I don't think so; there's too much needs to be changed, and I kinda doubt we're bright enough to do it. But ... maybe.

“Hierarchies of loyalty” – Yes! I believe in that. Nations are just tribes writ large – beyond tribes are humankind itself, and beyond humankind, the planet itself. You have to have some allegiance to yourself in your life, and then to your family, and your tribe, but sometimes you have to do things contrary to your/their direct advantage – working to the advantage of humanity and Earth – in order to honor the larger stage on which these lower levels operate ... so as to create INdirect benefits for them.

I don’t hate the country. I think a major mistake among certain of the left has been to habitually talk America down. Speaking for myself, I criticize because I love, because I have hope of change and betterment. I’ve often thought war protestors in the U.S. should carry big conspicuous flags at every public appearance – to make the point that protest is really about betterment, the most patriotic of goals.

My allegiance to the REAL United States of America, the substance of its ideals, is very high. But to the storefront of the US, this particular man who plunks his butt down in that symbolic Oval Office chair and smirks and stumbles through his speeches, it’s zero.

I myself share a number of common values with conservatives (I hope for good reasons, and not just out of fear or ignorance or cultural insularity). And I recognize that about half of what’s happened can be laid at the feet of Democrats. So when I speak of “punishing them for what they’ve done,” I’m referring to the individuals, not the Republican party or the conservative movement.

Robert Heinlein, or Lazarus Long, would have had your same loyalty to the office of the President, enough that he would have done something personally distasteful if commanded.

I’d like to suggest to you, though, that a personal conviction of patriotic/hierarchical loyalty, IN THIS SPECIFIC CASE, is one of those very lower-hierarchy things you MUST give up in order to most selflessly serve a larger good.

Regarding orders from George Bush, probably the most excellent fuckup ever to occupy the White House, I’d have to be a conscientious objector.


And don’t call me “sir.” You’re one of my author-heroes. Jeez.

RandomSequence said...

Why the dissing of Chomsky? David and a lot of the posters seem to have a visceral dislike of him. Personal acquaintance?

I just don't see him as analogous to the right wing authoritarians. Once you understand his POV -- that the state (all states) should be destroyed -- the rest of his ideology is reasonable, and doesn't depend on propagandistic language or authoritarian statements ("you're with us or against us").

His faith in the common man, in my view, is mistaken. His goal seems unworkable. He may even be the enemy of liberalism. But he's a fair enemy, a good-faith enemy, sharing many of the enlightenment values that are discussed here.

This contrasts severely with the RWAs, for whom freedom is merely a slogan, where underneath it all, freedom means the freedom for me to crush you - what Bush means by freedom, what Limbaugh means by freedom, what D'Souza means by freedom.

Chomsky may have a nuttiness of process - that freedom can be gained by dismantling the state. But the current crop of neo-cons believe in freedom as a beard, as a tool of control, as a modern Machiavellian maneuver - a completely different proposition.

When I read Chomsky, he seems like a man I could argue with at a dinner party. Kissinger? I don't think I could bring myself to do the same.

Floyd Gilmore said...

I'd like to begin by citing our host's best comment in this thread.

"In fact the US military is the number one victim. Name any other group of Americans who have suffered anywhere near as much, from horrific strategic and tactical blunders, mismanagement, perniciously insane MICRO-management by draft-dodging amateurs, betrayal of professionalism, and the gradual undermining of a powerful, honorable moral code."

My hope is that we shall see more of the officers of our various military services step up and tell their stories regarding the situation they have been ordered into.

Some have tried. Few were heeded.

I also agree with those who point out our massive and possibly fatal error in charging into Iraq when the job in Afghanistan was nowhere near finished.

I'm not one to jump in without a good deal of forethought on a subject this important to our nation.

It is time for George W. Bush and his administration to tender their collective resignation.

Anonymous said...

According to Mark, "We were 100% correct to go after bin Laden in Afghanistan". I've heard this sentiment so often that I'd begun to wonder if I had dreamed the part where the Taliban offered to turn bin Laden over for trial to a third party, presumably an international court. When I went Googling, what should pop up but a short 2002 interview with Noam Chomsky, who's been something of a whipping boy around here lately. Here's a link, for those who might like to read the man:

Chomsky interview

The gist is that Chomsky would have supported armed intervention in Afghanistan under UN auspices, but that a less destructive course should have been tried first. A couple of excerpts:

"Maybe the U.S. had compelling evidence about bin Laden, maybe not. But it flatly refused to present any evidence to the Taliban, in fact, refused even to request extradition, presumably because that would have suggested some limit on the imperial prerogative to act without any authority. The demand was: hand him over, or else; and if you do, we may leave you alone [...] No government, surely not the U.S., would ever accept such a demand, unless compelled to by the threat of extreme violence.

[...] Putting aside that issue, would the Taliban have turned over bin Laden and others without the threat of violence? My own judgment is much like yours: highly unlikely. But we do not really know, since no efforts were made, and various Taliban offers, however ambiguous, were summarily dismissed.

[...] There's little doubt that the Nuremberg Tribunal was a case of "victor's justice." Even the chief prosecutor conceded that, pretty frankly. But despite the hypocrisy, I don't think it was wrong to try and convict the Nazi war criminals. Criminal justice systems are invariably unjust, unfortunately. But that is not enough to disqualify them, in the world as it exists. We can try to change that world, surely, but we have to make choices and reach decisions within it.

[...] On Iraq, [...] If there is a serious proposal as to how to overthrow Saddam, we should surely want to consider it. He remains as much of a monster as he was when the U.S. and Britain strongly supported him. But it's impossible to discuss in the abstract. We have to consider particular proposals."

Chomsky, a pragmatist? Who knew!

Anonymous said...

You know, I've always _hated_ the "Ostrich with its head in the sand" as a metaphor for willfull ignorance. Isn't it much more likely that if an omnivorous flightless bird _were_ to stick its head into a burrow, it would be because it was trying to eat something?