Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lippmann: 'Brains are suspect in the Republican Party'

In these uncertain times, the enduring intellectual challenges of the GOP are, I suppose, comforting. If you can't depend on anything else, you can always depend on the GOP to come up with something assinine. Walter Lippmann came to that conclusion as an entire generation tried to make sense of an era of violence, uncertainty and violent uncertainty. Little has changed in almost 100 years.
Brains, you know, are suspect in the Republican Party.

--Walter Lippmann

A conclusion so obvious does not make one a genius. How you deal with it might make of one a radical, a revolutionary, an existentialist, or, worse --a liberal!!
Walter Lippmann, the son of second-generation German-Jewish parents, was born in New York City on 23rd September, 1889. While studying at Harvard University he became a socialist and was co-founder of the Harvard Socialist Club and edited the Harvard Monthly.

In 1911 Lincoln Steffens, the campaigning journalist, took Lippmann on as his secretary. Like Steffens, Lippmann supported Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Party in the 1912 presidential elections. ...

In 1920 Lippmann left the New Republic to work for the New York World. His controversial books, Public Opinion (1922) and The Phantom Public (1925), raised doubts about the possibility of developing a true democracy in a modern, complex society.

Spartacus, Walter Lippmann

Critics and historians describe Lippmann's A Preface to Politics of 1913 as a "penetrating critique of popular prejudices" found in abundance in America. It so influenced President Woodrow Wilson that he chose Lippmann to help formulate and draft the famous Fourteen Points and the concept of the League of Nations. Wilson sent Lipmann to the post-World War I peace negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles.
When men and women begin to feel that elections and legislatures do not matter very much, that politics is a rather distant and unimportant exercise, the reformer might as well put to himself a few searching doubts. Indifference is a criticism that cuts beneath oppositions and wranglings by calling the political method itself into question. Leaders in public affairs recognize this.

--Walter Lippmann, A Preface to Politics

These feelings resonate as well today, another age that will be characterized by profound disillusionment in almost every institution, primarily those institutions which presume to govern.
No writer writes in a vacuum. Shakespeare may have been by Johnson's reckoning "of all time". But every other writer is of his/her age. Vera Britain's autobiographical Testament of Youth, covering the year's 1913-1925, come to mind.

It was in that "no man's land" that Lippmann sought to balance the interests of the state against those of the individual. Lippmann's most productive years spanned a period which witnessed:

  • the slaughter at Verdun, the Somme, the Marne
  • the Bolshevik terror in Russia
  • black-shirted, brown-shirted hysteria in Italy and Germany
  • the Great Depression of 1929-1935
  • Stalin's purges
  • the Spanish Civil War
  • Nazi concentration camp and the Holocaust
  • the destruction of whole cities -- Coventry, Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki
Lippmann is a product of that world just as surely as were Kafka, Sartre, and Brecht. Kafka likened his times unto awakening as a cockroach. Sartre declared that "man is nothing else but what he makes of himself". As my generation was scarred by Viet Nam, Lippmann is shaped by America's WWI experience.
What most distinguishes the generation who have approached maturity since the debacle of idealism at the end of the War is not their rebellion against the religion and moral code of their parents, but their disillusionment with their own rebellion. It is common for young men and women to rebel, but that they should rebel sadly and with out faith in their own rebellion, that they should distrust the new freedom no less than the old certainties—that is something of a novelty.

-Walter Lippmann, Preface to Morals
That explains to a limited degree my own generation's disillusionment with the "establishment" we inherited. When revolution was required, the pre-war generation settled for half-measures.
There is no doubt, I think, that President Wilson and his party represent primarily small business in a war against the great interests. Socialists speak of his administration as a revolution within the bounds of capitalism. Wilson doesn't really fight the oppressions of property. [emphasis mine, LH] He fights the evil done by large property-holders to small ones.

--Walter Lipmann, Drift and Mastery (1914)

In retrospect, in light of Bush's corporatocracy, Lippmann seems to describe at best a program of half-measures. At worst, a problem left future generations to solve or make peace with.
When the forces of oppression come to maintain themselves in power against established law, peace is considered already broken.

--Che Guevara, Guerilla Warfare, Chapter I: General Principles of Guerrilla Warfare

The concept was not original with Che. Thomas Jefferson said the same thing in the Declaration of Independence. Given the contempt with which our current regime treats the established peace, revolution is overdue.

It was not only the Post World War I generation who were disillusioned "with their own rebellion", it was the Viet Nam generation as well. Of our times, I can only add that we confronted Viet Nam as Kafka's Gregor Samsa confronted the fact the had awakened as a bug.
As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was lying on his hard, as if it were armour-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his dome-like brown belly divided into stiff arched segments on top of which the bed quilt could hardly keep in position and was about to slide off completely. His numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk, waved helplessly before his eyes.

Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis (1916)

None of us, nor the whole of the US, ever made sense of Viet Nam. [See: The May 4 Shootings at Kent State University ; Also: BBC: 'Bottom Line, 911 is an inside job' ]

The spirit of the "Viet Nam" generation was more akin to Dylan Thomas. We would "rage against the dying of the light." The target had been fixed and described by President Eisenhower himself: the Military/Industrial complex. It is still with us, awaiting the Beowulf who will kill the beast.

I still find it troubling and absurd that in three articles of impeachment drawn up against Richard Nixon, there is nary a word about his illegal orders to bomb and invade Cambodia, a neutral country. There is nary a word about US support for the "string of faceless" generals in South Viet Nam, most of whom were installed and propped up by the CIA. That Bush is "President" is evidence that we failed despite Nixon's ignominious resignation in the face of impeachment. Had we won, Ronald Reagan could never have destroyed the labor movement, corporatized society, erased the middle class, crushed dissent, and, in countless other ways, pruned the nation of its soul. Lippmann would have been appalled.
Yet there was the fact, just as indisputable as ever, that public affairs do have an enormous and intimate effect upon our lives. They make or unmake us. They are the foundation of that national vigor through which civilizations mature. City and countryside, factories and play, schools and the family are powerful influences in every life, and politics is directly concerned with them. If politics is irrelevant, it is certainly not because its subject matter is unimportant. Public affairs govern our thinking and doing with subtlety and persistence.

--Walter Lippmann

Pascal wrote, "When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after, and the little space I fill, and even can see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of space of which I am ignorant, and which knows me not, I am frightened, and am astonished at being here rather than there, why now rather than then." Given the "finiteness" our our existence, it is easy enough to rage against those interlopers into "our" lives.

To be fair, Bush is not the only vainglorious idiot to have have considered the rest of us fodder. The war against Iraq is not the first folly to trespass against the sovereignty of our very selves. We have awakened cockroaches and if there is to be any peace at all, it is the peace we must make with our unwelcome circumstance. As Voltaire said: "I have no name but the name that I have made for myself". Likewise, Sartre: "A man is nothing else but what he makes of himself". We must make of ourselves a "resistance". As St. Thomas More said: "our business lies in escaping" but not, I may add, at the expense of losing. Voltaire said "Ecrasez l'Infame" as to William Wallace is attributed the existential question: what will you do without freedom?

Drift and Mastery

Walter Lippmann

Drift and Mastery, originally published in 1914, is one of the most important and influential documents of the Progressive Movement, a valuable text for understanding the political thought of early twentieth-century America. This paperback edition of Walter Lippmann's classic work includes a revised introduction by William E. Leuchtenburg that places the book in its historical and political contexts.
Additional Resources

Engineering of Consent: A Post War Story

President Wilson and his party represent primarily small business in a war against the great interests. Socialists speak of his administration as a revolution within the bounds of capitalism. Wilson doesn't really fight the oppressions of property. He fights the evil done by large property-holders to small ones.

--Force and Ideas, Walter Lippmann

Walter Lippman

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Bush Risks World War III with Russia, China and Iran

Two ominous developments have complicated Bush's plans to nuke Iran. One is a warning from Putin. The other --a dramatic demonstration by China. In their wake, Bush has now said he is committed to resolving the "crisis" diplomatically. But the new line was not forthcoming until after Vladimir "Pooty Poot" Putin, stated flatly and without emotion: an attack on Iran will be considered an attack on Russia. "Pooty Poot" has nukes and will use them. High-level diplomatic sources in Tehran were reported to have told the Asia Times Online that Putin and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had agreed on a plan that would nullify Bush's campaign to strike Iran preemptively with a nuclear weapon.

China, likewise, warned America's rogue psychopath. As if to underscore the point, a Chinese submarine popped up --undetected --in the middle of a Pacific Ocean exercise. The Sub was said to be "dangerously close" to the USS Kitty Hawk, having slipped past a US "shield" of a dozen warships and two US subs. US brass are "dumbfounded"!

We can only speculate about US ability to detect "subs". One would have assumed advances since the making of the early 90's film --"The Hunt for Red October". Even so -- that China has a sub that slips so effortlessly, silently past vaunted US detection technology confirms that the sub was of advanced design and equipped with advanced stealth technology. Just recently, in the comments section, I stated that China had the ability to put a nuclear sub undetected just off the US East Coast. China exceeded my prediction. I had not expected to be confirmed so quickly by events. [See: Submarine Detection]
The US Navy Fifth Fleet is headquartered in the Gulf State of Bahrain which is responsible for patrolling the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Suez Canal and parts of the Indian Ocean. The Fifth Fleet currently comprises a carrier group and two helicopter carrier ships. Its size peaked at five aircraft carrier groups and six helicopter carriers in 2003 during the invasion of Iraq. Presently, it is led by the USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier commissioned in 1961, and on November 2, began participating in a Naval exercise in the Persian Gulf.

The Fifth Fleet's base in Bahrain, is only 150 miles away from the Iranian coast, and would itself be in range of Iran's new generation of anti-ship cruise missiles. Also, any Naval ships in the confined terrain of the Persian Gulf would have difficulty in manoeuvring and would be within range of Iran's rugged coastline which extends all along the Persian Gulf to the Arabian sea.

Michael E. Salla, M.A., Ph.D, The US neoconservative agenda to Sacrifice the Fifth Fleet - The New Pearl Harbor

Bush downplays the vulnerability of the Fifth Fleet. Nevertheless, Iran, itself, has the ability to wipe out the US Fifth Fleet, currently within range of Iran's Russian-made mobile missile launchers situated strategically in mountainous terrain overlooking the Persian Gulf. Iran is not Iraq.
The most sophisticated of Iran's cruise missiles are the 'Sunburn' and 'Yakhonts'. These are missiles against which US military experts conclude modern warships have no effective defense [emphasis mine, LH]. By deliberately provoking an Iranian retaliation to US military actions, the neoconservatives will knowingly sacrifice much or all of the Fifth Fleet. This will culminate in a new Pearl Harbor that will create the right political environment for total war against Iran, and expanded military actions in the Persian Gulf region.

Michael E. Salla, M.A., Ph.D, The US neoconservative agenda to Sacrifice the Fifth Fleet - The New Pearl Harbor

A new Pearl Harbor may be precisely what the Neocon mentality desires. They would be willing to go back to the well. Bush logic, meanwhile, defies logic. Just recently [video below] Bush warned that WWIII is imminent. Therefore, he says, we must strike pre-emptively to prevent WWIII. Never mind that the pre-emptive strike will precipitate it. You can't make this stuff up!

The US continues to fall for Bush's idiocy!
So --who's the bigger idiot?

Defense analyst Tim Ripley of Jane's Defense Weekly, calls a US attack on Iran a "nightmare scenario", a war that could not be finished. Bush should have some experience in that field. He is utterly incapable of either finishing or winning in Iraq.

Intent on war, it is not surprising that Bush tries to cover up dissenting opinions and dangers. Bush is a "man" who has proven himself impervious to logic, common sense and empathy.

He will ignore the Pentagon's Millennium Challenge war games that resulted in the US loss of the fleet. Neoconservative kiss ups to Bush simply ignore the advise of experts. It is the nature of ideology that nothing is learned from experience.

Millions of lives were ruined by the back to back debacles of three idiots: Reagan, Bush Sr. and now a twisted twig. Millions of lives were ruined by Reagan who almost single handedly broke both the US labor movement and the US economy forever. Bush Sr was content merely to preside over the ruins while launching murderous and unjustified attacks on Panama and luring Saddam Hussein into Kuwait. Once a spook always a spook.

In the meantime, a veteran speaks out:

Iraq war is a betrayal of American democracy

November 11, 2007


Editor's note: Matt Howard gave this statement at a recent protest at the Statehouse.

In 2003 I illegally invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq with 1st Tank battalion 1st Marine Division. My commander in chief unleashed the world's fiercest fighting force upon the country and people of Iraq, and now those of us used and betrayed by him are demanding justice.

Four and a half years after our opening "shock and awe" Bush's lies are known throughout the world, and yet he continues to act with impunity. Four and a half years later the Bush regime has unleashed a hell upon the country of Iraq that only those who have been there can truly understand.

As a two-tour combat veteran of this brutal war, I have a responsibility to speak honestly and openly about what has been done and what continues to be done in our name. We veterans know that this war is not the one being sanitized on the nightly news. It has nothing to do with the liberation of the people of Iraq; instead it has everything to do with the subjugation and domination of these people in the name of US imperial economic and strategic interests.

We did not go to war with the country of Iraq, we went to war with the people of Iraq. During the initial invasion we killed women. We killed children. We senselessly killed farm animals. We were the United States Marine Corps, not the Peace Corps, and we left a swath of death and destruction in our wake all the way to Baghdad.

Let me say again so that there is no misunderstanding. I stand here today as a former US Marine saying we are killing women and children in Iraq. This is the true nature of war. War lends itself to atrocities. Don't think you can use an organization designed to kill other human beings for anything humanitarian. That has never been our mission. That was crystal clear from the moment I was forced to bury the crate of humanitarian food given to me in Kuwait.

Four and a half years later we as soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are done. We are done being told under threat of court martial to run over children that get in the way of our speeding convoys.

We are done raiding and destroying the homes of innocent Iraqis on a nightly basis.

We are done abusing and torturing prisoners.

We are done being hired thugs for the 160,000 contractors and US corporate interests in Iraq.

We are done being poisoned by depleted uranium, the unspoken Agent Orange of this war.

We are done coming home broken, from two, three, four tours of duty – only to find our commander in chief has actually tried to CUT funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs. To find our doctors being told to diagnose us with pre-existing personality disorders instead of post traumatic stress syndrome.

We are done killing for lies.

So Iraq Veterans Against the War is taking back our history – the history that has been robbed from us. We are dispelling the myth that the Vietnam war ended when the Democrats started voting against it. Instead we are spreading the truth about how the American War in Vietnam ended.

The Vietnam War ended when soldiers put down their weapons and refused to fight; when pilots dropped their bombs in the ocean.

We are re-educating the public to let them know that the power ultimately lies with the people. Just take a look at the thousands of pages of internal documents from the Department of Defense explicitly detailing how at the end of the Vietnam war the military had collapsed. It was literally in a state of mutiny. And that movement is slowly starting again. Because ultimately in every war waged throughout human history, those forced to fight quickly realize they have much more in common with those they are being told to kill than with those telling them to do the killing.

And we are re-educating the public about the true nature of sectarian violence. No, the middle east is NOT inherently violent. In fact, in the 1,400-year schism between Sunnis and Shias – there has NEVER been a civil war fought. They have always lived in the same neighborhoods and even intermarried. The United States has caused this civil war using the classic colonial techniques of divide and conquer.

George Bush is a war criminal who has violated international law, the Geneva convention and the Nuremberg standards and needs to tried accordingly for crimes against humanity.

I ask every red-blooded American today: What would you do if your homeland was savagely invaded and occupied by another country? The Iraqis will continue to resist and fight until the last American has left their homeland. Period. End the violence in Iraq? End the occupation.

We veterans are speaking out to stop the violence being perpetrated in our name. When we voted in the Democrats on an anti-war mandate, the Bush regime expanded the war. As we are marching against further occupation, the Bush regime is making threats against Iran.

And we will not continue to be silenced by the mainstream media. Top generals and bottom privates are all speaking in unison now. We know the truth about the slaughter of upwards of one million Iraqis. Why is no one listening? We will not stand by as this regime tricks the country into thinking that if you oppose the war you do not support the troops. We ARE the troops and we have never felt support from this administration. Stop mindlessly supporting the troops. Start demanding that we come home – and maybe think about apologizing to us when we get back.

Matt Howard attained the rank of corporal in the United States Marine Corps. He is head of the Vermont chapter for Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Additional Resources

Bush Lies

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