Sunday, June 24, 2007

How George W. Bush and his Neocon Gang Screwed the World

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Bush never bothered to ask: was it good for you? Now you feel dirty but a shower won't help.
An entire nation feels dirty. What started off as seduction ended in the rape of the Constitution, the people of the US, the people of Iraq, the environment, due process and the rule of law, the right to be safe in our own homes, reason itself.

This act of state rape has its origins in an endemic disdain for truth. It is a short leap from PR to the idea that truth itself is simply a matter of spin. Out of a relatively new "industry" of media consultancy comes the idea of "framing" a debate. In GOP campaign manuals you will find both communist and Nazi propaganda techniques, a "how-to" book from the Nazi Joseph Gobbels and the leftist, labor organizer, Saul Alinsky.

Bushies don't believe in truth or falsity —only raw power, winning at all cost. The cynical end result is paid for with our souls, our nation, our Constitution, and the safety we so vainly sought:
Truth for the GOP is whatever it can con you into believing. Bush's run up to war against Iraq is a textbook case that deserves scholarly research.

Ed Murrow, celebrated of late in the motion picture "Good Night and Good Luck", is a real American hero who would not be bought, would not bargain away truth for gain or, worse, to just get along, for fellowship.
The Duke of Norfolk: Oh confound all this. I'm not a scholar, I don't know whether the marriage was lawful or not but dammit, Thomas, look at these names! Why can't you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!

Sir Thomas More: And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?
A man for All Seasons, Sir Robert Bolt
Ed Murrow literally smoked a liar out of the shadows into the daylight. Another light in the darkness is Bertolt Brecht who must have had the Republican party in mind when he wrote:
A man who does not know the truth is just an idiot but a man who knows the truth and calls it a lie is a crook!
A perfect description of the GOP attack on reason itself. That is why I no longer acknowledge the legitimacy of the GOP. The GOP is not a political party, it has been hijacked —utterly bought and paid for by big corporations and powerful lobbies for whom winning is buying someone or something outright. The GOP, therefore, is not a political party, it is a crime syndicate. It should be investigated at the highest levels for violations of racketeering laws -a concept already applied to the Bush administration.

There is yet another sense in which the term "seduction" is used, a nuance I am sure not lost on Stanley Kubrick out to make a point about the nature of the post World War II world. As the sixties rolled around, the world seemed on the brink of repeating World War II but with nukes instead of Panzers, the bomb instead of Spitfires. That sense of the word seduction implied a Faustian bargain entered into with a great deceiver, a smarmy charlatan, a buyer of souls —Ol' Scratch, as he was called by Stephen Vincent Benet in The Devil and Daniel Webster. We would trade our souls for safety. After 911, we would, in fact, make such a pact. For our souls and the soul of the nation, Bush would make us safe from terrorism. Our only redemption may lay in the fact that Bush is in breach of contract. We got nothing for our souls.

We were deceived thrice: bush is no savior, no airliner struck the Pentagon, and "terrorism", however it is defined, conceived and exploited, is a greater threat now than ever. Just as Hitler exploited the Reichstag Fire, Bush exploited 911 to create, in his mind, a dictatorship which he calls a unitary executive.
When President Bush signed the new law, sponsored by Senator McCain, restricting the use of torture when interrogating detainees, he also issued a Presidential signing statement. That statement asserted that his power as Commander—in-Chief gives him the authority to bypass the very law he had just signed.

This news came fast on the heels of Bush's shocking admission that, since 2002, he has repeatedly authorized the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance without a warrant, in flagrant violation of applicable federal law.

And before that, Bush declared he had the unilateral authority to ignore the Geneva Conventions and to indefinitely detain without due process both immigrants and citizens as enemy combatants.

-The Unitary Executive: Is The Doctrine Behind the Bush Presidency Consistent with a Democratic State?, Findlaw
In 1936, Carl Jung was trying to figure out what was happening in Germany —as many are trying to understand America today. Jung wrote an essay called "Wotan". He tried to understand developments under Hitler, in terms of the mythology of the god Odin, aka the Germanic god Wotan. Jung wrote: "We have seen him come to life in the German Youth Movement." I am not sure what "gods" have come to life in America —but I am more inclined to characterize them as fallen demigods, if not demons. Gods or Demons, they are but manifestations of the human personality. There may be a "Wotan" in all of us.

A “mask” is but the smiley face we show the world. It's origin is the lie that we tell ourselves. Dr. Gustav Gilbert, the American psychologist at Nuremberg, came to some conclusions based on his experiences keeping Nazi war criminals alive until they could be hanged for war crimes. Evil , he said, was an utter lack of empathy. One who cannot see humanity in him/herself or in another is a Nazi in spirit. Thus, “Nazism” typifies what Jung would have called the "inauthentic" life, a life lived upon lies and denial, a life lived behind a false mask. In Jung's ideas, I saw the GOP under Ronald Reagan. I saw the lie they told themselves: "Ronald Reagan made us feel good about ourselves". That was, likewise, an era symbolized by a single phrase: "greed is good". I daresay, Ronald Reagan made even Gorden Gecko "feel good about himself".

"Existentialism" means I define myself. It also means that I take responsibility for my creation. Even unto death (should it come to that), Bush will be forever denied the power to define what and who I am. Bolt's portrayal of Sir Thomas More made that point so dramatically in "A Man for All Seasons". In a most poignant scene with his daughter, Meg, More ponders whether or not he can take an oath of loyalty to King Henry VIII:
God made the angels to show Him splendor, as He made animals for innocence and plants for their simplicity. But Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind. If He suffers us to come to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand to our tackle as best we can, and, yes, Meg, then we can clamor like champions, if we have the spittle for it. But it's God's part, not our own, to bring ourselves to such a pass. Our natural business lies in escaping.

—Sir Thomas More, A man for All Seasons, Sir Robert Bolt
Heroes never seek martyrdom willingly. As More described, "it's God's part, not our own, to bring ourselves to such a pass". But when he came to "such a case that there [was] no escaping", More chose his soul over his life. The following passage is from Bolt's portrayal of More's meeting, in his dank Tower cell, just prior to his execution for "high treason", because he would not take Henry's "oath"'
Thomas More: When a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his own hands. Like water. (He cups his hands.) And if he opens his fingers then —— he needn’t hope to find himself again. Some men are capable of this, but I’d be loath to think your father one of them.

Margaret: In any State that was half good, you would be raised up high, not here, for what you’ve done already. It’s not your fault the State’s three—quarters bad. Then if you elect to suffer for it, you elect yourself a hero.

More: That’s very neat. But look now ... If we lived in a State where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good, and greed would make us saintly. And we’d live like animals or angels in the happy land that needs no heroes. But since in fact we see that avarice, anger, envy, pride, sloth, lust and stupidity commonly profit far beyond humility, chastity, fortitude, justice and thought, and have to choose, to be human at all ... Why then perhaps we must stand fast a little —even at the risk of being heroes.

A man for All Seasons
The use of the phrase "...have to choose, to be human at all" is especially profound, and in that phrase, I find the essence of existentialism. Our lives are defined by our choices and, if we are to be human at all, it is because we have chosen to be.

From Buzzflash, the following reasons to impeach Bush/Cheney, in fact, the lot of them:
  1. Illegal warrantless spying on citizens
  2. Theft of budget surplus in tax cuts to rich friends.
  3. Illegal abuse of information: sequestration of official records; destruction or withholding of evidence; secrets leaked; congressional oversight refused.
  4. Illegal pressuring and firing of Department of Justice personnel for political purposes.
  5. Illegal detention of prisoners, torture and suspension of habeas corpus and other rights.
  6. Illegal refusal to enforce or implement laws, as indicated by signing statements.
  7. Criminal neglect and incompetence leading to uncounted deaths and enormous property damage during and after hurricane Katrina.
  8. Illegal aggression against Iraq implemented by lying to Congress and to the public leading to uncounted deaths and destruction of America's world position.
  9. Criminal neglect (at the very least) leading to the destruction of the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon with thousands of deaths to follow.
  10. Illegal vote suppression and refusal to obey recount laws resulting in invalid elections. Neither of them ever achieved office legally in the first place.
Found on Blue Girl, Red State:
There's a carbuncle on the presidency.
My two cents: it's Bush's head.

This update:

The secret government of Dick Cheney: US vice president claims to be outside the law

By Patrick Martin

23 June 2007

The office of Vice President Dick Cheney has refused to comply with an executive order issued by President George Bush four years ago, requiring all executive branch offices to cooperate in regular reviews of their security procedures for handling documents.

After the security office of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), charged with conducting the review, pressed the issue, Cheney and his aides tried to have the office abolished and sought to gag officials of the National Archives by barring them from appealing the dispute to the Department of Justice.

Even more extraordinary than the fact of this conflict within the executive branch—made public Thursday with the release of documents by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform—is the constitutional rationale advanced by the vice president.

According to Cheney, the office of the vice president is not “an entity within the executive branch,” as specified in the language of the executive order, because the vice president serves constitutionally as the presiding officer of the US Senate, with a tie-breaking vote, and therefore has legislative power as well.

The sophistry of this argument is plain: in case after case over the past seven years, Cheney has invoked “executive privilege” or similar doctrines to shield his office from congressional investigations and Freedom of Information Act requests from the media and liberal pressure groups.

The most famous case involved the energy task force, formed in the initial weeks of the administration, and engaged, among other activities, in poring over maps of the oil fields in Iraq and the concessions awarded to non-US oil companies—all subsequently canceled after the US invasion.

Cheney refused to release any information about his energy task force after a request was filed by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, citing the necessity for complete confidentiality in internal executive branch deliberations. He rejected similar requests from the media and environmental groups, filed under the Freedom of Information Act, and this position was upheld by a right-wing judicial panel.

But after rebuffing Congress’s request for information, on the grounds his office is part of the executive branch, Cheney in now refusing to comply with a similar request for information from an executive branch agency, on the grounds that he is really part of Congress!

What underlies this apparent Catch 22 is a sinister political logic: Vice President Cheney is not to be held accountable to anyone—not Congress, not the executive branch—a position so unprecedented in US political history that reporters at a White House press briefing Friday were compelled to ask whether Cheney had now set himself up as a “fourth branch of government.”

The vice president’s office has long been the focal point of the Bush administration’s drive to utilize the 9/11 terrorist attacks as the pretext for establishing the framework for a police state in America. In the weeks after 9/11, Cheney virtually disappeared from public view, conducting his activities at an “undisclosed secure location,” which turned out to be the headquarters of what became know as the “shadow government.”

Under the program, officially described as an exercise in “continuity of government,” supposedly a precaution against a terrorist nuclear strike on Washington DC, dozens of top executive branch officials were designated for redeployment to bunkers in the Appalachian Mountains from which they would direct government operations without reference to the legislative or judicial branch, which were excluded from the effort. (See the WSWS editorial board statement, “The shadow of dictatorship: Bush established secret government after September 11”.

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