Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Enemy Within

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Carl Jung predicted our present sense of malaise as early as 1957 in his "The Undiscovered Self", decrying "...apocalyptic images of universal destruction" brought on by WWII and an atomic age ushered in when the United States dropped weapons of mass destruction on two cities in Japan. In its wake, Jung was fearful that 40 percent of the population —called a "mentally stable stratum" —might not be able to keep the lid on mass psychosis; it might be unable to restrain the spread of "dangerous tendencies", presumably: fascism, fanaticism, militarism, and intolerance. Jung seems to have been less concerned with external threats. The dangerous tendencies he feared were home grown.

The list above is mine —not Jung's, though I believe Jung would have approved. To that list I would add that most dangerous symbiotic cocktail: fear and hate.

Clearly —terrorism is a real threat but no more so than the dangerous and deliberate exploitation of it. Clearly —the subversion of Democratic ideals is a clear and present danger but no more so than home grown subversion by demagogues. What difference does it make to me if my "inalienable rights" are denied me by Alberto Gonzales or by the Taliban? Clearly —terrorist attacks upon the soil of any Democratic nation is worrisome but no more so than a home grown policy that nurtures, feeds, and inspires opposition at home and terrorism abroad. Clearly —Jung's list of "dangerous tendencies" must include our own tilt toward fascism, an unintended result that will have accomplished Bin Laden's goal without his ever having to leave his mythic cave in Afghanistan.

Clearly —the spectre of terrorism has been of greater benefit to Bush than it has been to those who espouse terrorism —those who, we are told, sow the seeds of fear and hate. Hitler, for example, could only seize dictatorial powers after a "terrorist" attack on the Reichstag building in 1933. Hermann Göring would later boast of having ordered the torching himself. Marinus van der Lubbe was executed but when a score of usual suspects were acquitted, an enraged Hitler dismissed the court itself. In both Himmler's Secret War by Martin Allen and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer, the Reichstag fire was the work of SS agents who accessed the Reichstag through a tunnel that connected Göring's official residence with the Reichstag.

Meanwhile, Hitler would raise the spector of communist terrorism and assume new powers. Later, Hitler would start World War II with a lie: that Polish troops had invaded German territory to blow up a radio tower. The culprits —not surprisingly —were Nazi SS in Polish Army uniforms.

We are now familiar with this tactic. Bush attacked and invaded Iraq though his administration knew there were no WMD to be found. Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations was known at the time to have been a fraud —consisting of plagiarized student papers and out-of-date satellite photos. Since that time, Bush has told some five or six rationales for the attack —all of them ex post facto. None of them were cited as reasons for the attack before the attack or at the time of the attack. They were seemingly pulled out of grab bag one by one as the official cover stories were exposed.

When all the various rationales proved hollow, Bush resorted to the Saddam was a bad man tact. But, of course, he was a bad man; but this nation could not possibly wage aggressive war on all bad men. And what difference does that make to the Iraqi in the street for whom Bush is a worse man? Bush's body count must surely exceed Saddam's by now and there is no law, no order —only chaos. With every milestone cited by Bush as progress, the situation has only gotten worse.

Very recently, there were two versions of the capture of Israeli soldiers. In my opinion, the more credible report is that the soldiers were captured inside Lebanon —not kidnapped inside Israel as had been claimed. Even conservatives concede that Bush most certainly encouraged Israel to invade Lebanon. In retrospect the over-reach is obvious: crush Hezbollah while weakening Syria and Iran. Like Bush's own invasion of Iraq, the power of the air attack was over-estimated. When no one else proclaimed an Israeli victory, Bush did. But that was public. Behind the scenes, Bush had changed the rules. He encouraged Israel to accept a cease fire that destroyed forever the myth of Israeli invincibility. As this blog predicted —even as the war raged —Hezbollah emerged stronger and, by proxy, Syria and Iran. On the other side, Israel is weakened, and, by proxy, Bush and his increasingly inept regime.

Is it only a matter of governments deceiving their peoples? Governments lie all the time —especially governments who now more than ever believe that lying to the public is not only permissible but desirable. They have it the wrong way 'round. Assured of their invincibility, they have convinced themselves that they must deceive the public in order to achieve some all important agenda. The arguments they have made to themselves are delusions of psychotic proportions.

This is the very segment of any population that so concerned Jung. This is a sub-stratum that Jung estimated as high as 60 percent of the population. It is these people that Jung feared might not be checked. As Jung feared, we have failed to restrain that sub-stratum of incipient psychotics inside our own country.

After Jung had written of his fears in "The Undiscovered Self", Ronald Reagan would come along and make it okay to be marginal or outright psychotic! Ronald Reagan showed Bush Jr how best to exploit the symbiotic relationship between fear and hate for GOP advantage. It's really a psychological "binary" bomb —a bit of fear plus a dash of hate, stir in a tape from Bin Laden and you've got yourself a fascist dictatorship. Reagan would make it okay to blame victims of Reagan's misrule. Reagan left Bush a legacy of absolving the selfish and self absorbed from all guilt. Reagan gave legitimacy to bigotry, making up —full cloth —a story about a Cadillac driving welfare grandmother. Reagan would make right wing nut cases "...feel good about themselves" and Bush would learn all those wrong lessons. Hitler taught them all.




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Friday, August 18, 2006

NSA case exposes blatant GOP hypocrisy

The American right wing has said repeatedly, loudly, and belligerently that they favored strict constructionist judges, strict constructionist interpretations of the Constitution. Now that they've got a decision that is as strictly drawn upon the Constitution as any decision in recent memory, the right wing responds by trashing the judge —Judge Anna Diggs Taylor! They claim she was once married to a Democrat and she was appointed by Jimmy Carter! The Bush administration attacks on another front, lamely resorting to the 911 argument i.e., he's a "war President" and, presumably, the Constitution no longer applies. But even before 911, Bush had quipped:
This would be a whole lot easier if this was a dictatorship...heh heh heh just as long as I'm the dictator.

—George W. Bush

The spirit of the decision is summed up in a single quotation from the decision:
There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution.

—Judge Anna Diggs Taylor

This is a strict constructionist interpretation if there ever was one. Right wing commentary that it is a victory for the far left is wrong and wrong headed! It is, rather, a victory for what's left of American democracy. Simply, the strict interpretation of the Constitution is best summed up in those very words, words worth repeating:
There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution,
The decision continues:
It was never the intent of the Framers to give the President such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights. The three separate branches of government were developed as a check and balance for one another. It is within the court's duty to ensure that power is never "condense[d]...into a single branch of government." Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507, 536 (2004) (plurality opinion). We must always be mindful that "[w]hen the President takes official action, the Court has the authority to determine whether he has acted within the law." Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 703 (1997). "It remains one of the most vital functions of this Court to police with care the separation of the governing powers....When structure fails, liberty is always in peril." Public Citizen v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, 491 U.S. 440, 468 (1989) (Kennedy, J., concurring).
The right wing, in fact, are only part-time strict constructionists. Endemically hypocritical, the right wing can be counted on to oppose the strict interpretation of the Constitution when it applies to those portions of the Constitution about which they are prejudiced and irrationally inconsistent. This is another instance in which the right wing is seen never to live up to its own standards, its own flawed and often incoherent rhetoric. The right, for example, often plays fast and loose with the Constitution if it is seen to be in the interests of corporations or the executive. Clearly —it is liberty, freedom, and the rights of individuals which suffer from this often loose and reckless interpretation of the Constitution. More from the decision:
The wiretapping program here in litigation...has undisputedly been implemented without regard to FISA violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The President of the United States, a creature of the same Constitution which gave us these Amendments, has undisputedly violated the Fourth in failing to procure judicial orders as required by FISA, and accordingly has violated the First Amendment Rights of these Plaintiffs as well....In this case, the President has acted, undisputedly, as FISA forbids. FISA is the expressed statutory policy of our Congress. The presidential power, therefore, was exercised at its lowest ebb and cannot be sustained.

The ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights published this statement in a news release issued today:
The President lied about the existence of the NSA Program for four years. Today's opinion proves that he was also lying when he insisted that the program was legal."
Other writers have said that this decision may provide the legal basis for the impeachment and removal of George W. Bush who has assumed powers not granted to him by the Constitution. Indeed, the decision confirms that there are " powers not created by the Constitution".

If we had wanted a monarchy, we had one! It didn't work out! Moreover, the one we had —King George III —was better than the cretinous would be King that arrogates unto himself powers he doesn't have and doesn't deserve. King George III was wrong and mad, but George Jr is merely ludicrous and slow witted.

Besides —not even Kings were above the law, as Bush claims to be. The example most relevant to us, being inheritors of the English Common Law, is that of King Charles I whom the British beheaded when he assumed powers that had not been granted him by the people and their Parliament. That is a cautionary tale.

Some important resources:

The Existentialist Cowboy

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

How the Military/Industrial complex turned America into Murder, Inc.

The Military/Industrial complex makes its "living" killing!

I believe Albert Camus [L'Etranger (1942) ], lately said to have been read by George W. Bush, would have called that absurd.

The business of defense contractors —even those only peripherally connected with the production of weapons themselves —is death! Yet another way of putting it: The Military/Industrial Complex is Murder, Inc.

Bush, of course, will not admit that our country has become Murder, Inc. His party will even deny that we've become it's euphemism: The National Security State. The origins of our Murder, Inc. is the National Security Act of 1947 —a blueprint for fascism . It granted to the Pentagon powers of unlimited defense spending.

It would not have been possible to justify such largesse without a bogeyman to be dragged out whenever the population is roused by truth to suspicion. In 1947, the bogeyman was the specter of communism —a tactic urged upon President Harry Truman by GOP Senator Arthur Vandenburg. The climate of fear is maintained by both parties but with less embarrassment by the GOP. [See: The Decline of the American Empire, Gore Vidal] In what Vidal called "a fit of conscience" never witnessed among modern Republicans, President Eisenhower warned us that such a Military/Industrial complex might establish permanent control over the state itself.

Fascism is not defined by the number of its victims, but by the way it kills them. —Jean-Paul Sartre
Sartre was, of course, correct. Killing someone for revenge, an act of passion, even a petty theft is one thing. But a society is morally lost when mass murder becomes its number one export. In such a society, everyone is guilty. That is Fascism. That IS absurdity. The rationale du jour is terrorism.

Terrorism can only be exploited in an atmosphere of irrational and endemic hatred. Hatred is nurtured by a party that could not possibly exist without the various strawmen upon which it directs the bile and hatred of the American right wing —hatred of science, hatred of the humanities, especially art, literature, and most of all: philosophy. Right wing hatred of philosophy is most certainly based upon its inherent distrust of critical thought itself. The GOP finds the process of critical thinking subversive of its own inflexible, unquestioned dogma. This is dogma that they would, of course, impose upon you in various and subtle ways. It is a brave and rare person who dares think outside the box.

For grins, let's factor out the GDP, the billions spent and the billions earned on the arts of war and those who enable it. We are third world. And for all that, we can thank the most absurd party of man's creation: the GOP.

What matters - all that matters, really - is the will to happiness, a kind of enormous, ever-present consciousness. The rest - women, art, success - is nothing but excuses. —Albert Camus
It would appear that America's raison d'etre has become the mass murder of people from Viet Nam to Iraq. If Camus was right, then the collective will of America is doing precisely what it really wants to do. There are no rationales. There are no excuses. And the world will not be safe until America faces that ugly fact about itself.

Now, if Bush would expect us to believe that he's actually read anything by an existentialist, let him begin by withdrawing American troops, however belatedly, out of Iraq.

More on the symbiosis theme:

Bush's Political Survival Depends on Terror Threats

By William Greider, Posted August 14, 2006.

The president is trying for the third time to make terrorism his big campaign issue -- are Americans going to finally snap out of it?

An evil symbiosis does exist between Muslim terrorists and American politicians, but it is not the one Republicans describe. The jihadists need George W. Bush to sustain their cause. His bloody crusade in the Middle East bolsters their accusation that America is out to destroy Islam. The president has unwittingly made himself the lead recruiter of willing young martyrs.

More to the point, it is equally true that Bush desperately needs the terrorists. They are his last frail hope for political survival. They divert public attention, at least momentarily, from his disastrous war in Iraq and his shameful abuses of the Constitution. The "news" of terror -- whether real or fantasized -- reduces American politics to its most primitive impulses, the realm of fear-and-smear where George Bush is at his best. ...

The Existentialist Cowboy

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bush lost his proxy war on Lebanon

Olmert is not in trouble back home because he defeated Hezbollah; Olmert is in trouble because he didn't. And, by proxy, neither did Bush. Secondly, Hezbollah did not start the conflict; The "Israeli Soldiers" were not kidnapped; they were captured inside Lebanon. Even so, Bush urged Olmert to attack Syria, perhaps hoping that Iran could be drawn into a conflict that even the conservative George Will had described as "cascading escalation". He drew a fearful analogy to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914. To his credit, Will was not as transparently gleeful about that prospect as were other conservative commentators. Did Bush hope that it would erupt into WWIII? If so, it is time for Bush to go.

Some 58 percent of the Israeli population most surely does not believe that Hezbollah is defeated. [See:Olmert fights for political survival] An excerpt:

He has faced a backlash over his decision to accept the U.N. resolution and for failing to deliver a fatal blow to Hezbollah. Army officers have said they were held back and right-wing rivals have been calling for new elections. The next national ballot is not due until 2010. —Washington Post
Hezbollah had only to fight to a draw to win. Even a majority of Israelis are not buying into the Bush spin machine:

Israel's verdict: We lost the war

By Donald Macintyre in Metulla, Israel

Published: 15 August 2006

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, was obliged to admit "shortcomings" in the 34-day-old conflict in Lebanon yesterday as he launched what may prove a protracted fight for his own political survival.

Mr Olmert's admission in a stormy Knesset session came in the face of devastating poll figures showing a majority of the Israeli public believes none or only a very small part of the goals of the war had been achieved.

Adding insult to injury, the leader of Hezbollah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, crowed on television that his guerrillas had achieved a "strategic historic victory" over Israel.

The Prime Minister, who was repeatedly heckled by opposition MPs during his address, insisted the international commitments in Friday night's UN resolution would "change fundamentally" the balance of forces on the country's northern border


Critics from right and left were fortified by a Globes Smith poll showing, remarkably given the degree to which the army is embedded in Israeli society, that 52 per cent of electors believed the Israel Defence Forces had been unsuccessful in its Lebanon offensive as opposed to 44 per cent who believed it did well.


But as the artillery batteries fell silent and firing stopped, there was a final single explosion at about 8.05pm, sending a plume of grey smoke upwards before the uneasy calm began.....
Post conflict spin can only lead to one conclusion: the relationship between Republican administrations since 1980 and the so-called "terrorists" is a symbiotic one. The GOP provides "terrorists" with a cause celebre while terrorism provides the Republican party with a Nazi tactic: scare the population to keep them obedient and compliant.

But neither the Israeli right wing —or the American GOP —have learned anything from the ordeal. I almost sensed a feeling of disappointment in Bush's voice yesterday even as he tried to convince himself and the world that Hezbollah had suffered a terrible defeat. Bush's sole accomplishment, however, lay in the fact that the Israeli attack took Bush's murderous Iraq quagmire off the front pages for a few weeks.

The GOP is not political party. It's a crime syndicate that has lately become a kooky cult of deliberate liars. And —as if to counter that image of Bush —it was made known that Bush is reading The Stranger by the Existentialist author, Albert Camus. But, if Bush knew anything of Camus or Sartre, he would surely know both men would have applied the term mauvaise foi (bad faith) to the likes of Bush, Cheney, and the entire GOP cabal, consisting as it does, of war criminals and torturers!

Fascism is not defined by the number of its victims, but by the way it kills them.

—Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialist

Bush is no existentialist. Existentialism is all about living an authentic life. Bush is a poser, a fraud.
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!

—Bertolt Brecht

A man who knew mauvaise foi when he saw it.

Some updates:

Another 'Mission Accomplished' Moment?

By Dan Froomkin

Special to
Tuesday, August 15, 2006; 1:20 PM

President Bush's startling assertion yesterday -- that at the end of 33 days of warfare between Israel and the Hezbollah militia, Hezbollah had been defeated -- once again raises questions about his ability to acknowledge reality when things don't turn out the way he intended.

Here, from the transcript of his appearance at the State Department, are his exact words: "Hezbollah started the crisis, and Hezbollah suffered a defeat in this crisis. And the reason why is, is that first, there is a new -- there's going to be a new power in the south of Lebanon, and that's going to be a Lebanese force with a robust international force to help them seize control of the country, that part of the country." ...

Assad assails US `illusion'

Syrian President Bashar Assad said Tuesday plans by the United States for a "new Middle East" have collapsed after Hezbollah's successes in fighting against Israel.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Syrian President Bashar Assad said Tuesday plans by the United States for a "new Middle East" have collapsed after Hezbollah's successes in fighting against Israel.

He said the region had indeed changed but "because of the achievements of the resistance." The Middle East that the United States "aspires to has become an illusion," he told a journalists' association conference in Damascus.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said early in the war between Hezbollah and Israel that any settlement should be durable and lead to a "new Middle East" where extremists have no influence.

But after 34 days of fighting, a cease- fire brought a fragile truce, with Hezbollah surviving and Israeli forces unable to score a decisive victory. Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah has already declared "strategic, historic victory" against Israel. ...

From The Nation:

Topple the War Profiteers

In 1917, at the height of World War I, Wisconsin Sen. Robert M. La Follette caused quite a stir when he suggested that one of the best ways to support the US troops fighting in Europe was to expose and challenge American corporations that engage in all forms of war profiteering. Even as attention is focused abroad on battles still raging, La Follette said, it is important to remain ever mindful "that there are enemies of democracy in the homeland."

"These," the Senator continued, "are the powers of special privilege that take advantage of the opportunity which war affords to more firmly entrench themselves in their control of government and industry. These interests are amassing enormous fortunes out of the world's misery."

More than 85 years later, America finds itself embedded in a very different conflict, yet La Follette's words still ring true. No matter what Americans think about the Bush Administration's preemptive invasion of Iraq, there should be broad agreement on the need to ensure that corporations do not turn the war and its aftermath into a bonanza for their bottom lines and a boondoggle for US taxpayers. In other words: Now that the statues of Saddam Hussein have been toppled, it is time to topple the war profiteers. But where to begin? ...

The Existentialist Cowboy