Thursday, December 29, 2005

Fluffer Extraordinaire!

Even though Chris Matthews occasionally plays a sensible person on TV, we ought always to remember that he is an ass-licking fool in actuality. Not too long ago he forgot to put the thumbtack in his shoe, and sure enough, right during the broadcast the dark forces caused his heart to speak plain in this Tourettor-like ejaculation:

MATTHEWS: I like him. Everybody sort of likes the president, except for the real whack-jobs, maybe on the left -- I mean -- like him personally.

Any reference to any real world outside the Bubble of W would have instantly uncovered a plethora of very mainstream Americans seized by disgust and loathing for Bush, one of the the most despicable individuals, let alone"Presidents," of all time.

Graphic lifted from uggabugga

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Hang Em' High

If only we could punish people in a more utilitarian fashion, that is, in accordance with the social harm their crimes usher in. Under such a scheme the big GOP contributors who blew a $40 billion hole in the economoy with the Enron Ponzi scheme (ruining how many hopes and even lives?) would be up for at least as much punishment as the neighborhood drug distributor, or even a drug-addled wayward like Karla Faye Tucker.

I'd be enthusiasitcally in favor of the death penalty, if it was made applicable to especially heinous white collar crimes, and especially to enriching yourself at the public trough.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Cretinaceous Era

My cold heart was somewhat warmed by Judge John E. Jones' verdict on the Dover, Pa. "Intelligent" Design case. "Breathtaking inanity," he termed the Christofascists' position. He also noted that all these people trying to inculcate some good Christian values (by wrapping them in moronic fairy tales) weren't above lying and perhaps perjuring in the name of having your children taught their superstitions at your expense. I mean, Jesus woulda. Or maybe not, since he was sometimes given to spouting off about how "The truth shall set you free."

The reportedly conservative, Republican judge also called the legal crusade for creationism in the classroom an "utter waste" of the school district's money and resources. Ouch. Maybe that's why the assholes who brought it about were, to a person, bounced by the voters of their district last November. This is perhaps the most fun legal opinion since a judge drop kicked Fox and O'Reilly through the goalposts of life, calling their claim to the "Fair and balanced" motto "wholly without merit." Al Franken, who won that lawsuit, said the latter phrase could perhaps serve as Fox's new motto.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Democracy Is a Muscle-Powered Passion

Here's an idea: July 4, 2006, why not convene people for a huge "Hold Them Accountable/Impeach Bush and Cheney Demonstration" on the Washington Mall? What better way to celebrate rejection of King George's rule? Ideally this would include music by the right people, serious speakers like Alan Dershowitz, John Conyers, Robert Byrd, Howard Dean, exhibits/presentations on the Florida vote manipulation, Ohio/Diebold, Enron's and Big Oil's Energy Policy Colloquium with Cheney, sweetheart deals by the FCC, the botched defense of New York and Washington, the botched, outsourced invasion of Afghanistan, the fraudulent/negligent case for the Iraq Fiasco, NSA spying, Plame, Abramoff's GOP slush fund, Padilla, torture, secret prisons, environmental atrocities, and many many more. If enough people come, the MSM won't be able to ignore the issues and the passion. Nor will the electorate. Nor will the politicians running for election. It might put some spine in the Vichycrats and some daylight between the Repuritans and President Bunnypants. We need symbols, memes, and spectacle to get this done. Maybe we should all wear orange. If it worked for the Ukraine maybe, just maybe it's not too late for a stagnant backwater like the U.S.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

America The Pitiful

A Few Random Thoughts on NSA Domestic Surveillance and Related Matters

Only a pathologically earnest and deluded people would subordinate itself to a "Patriot Act" -- a title so redolent of Orwellian correllative ('War is peace!') as to defy belief. If it were accurately termed it would be the "Trading Freedom for Hope of Security Act." Similarly, what kind of people would put their safety in the hands of Homeland (Heimland) Security?

It seems that W, typically, went way out of his way, to tell the country, over and over again, that all the wiretap surveillance Homeland Security was doing was authorized by the courts in warrants, though he knew, because he so ordered, that they were not. It is about time the media wised to the fact that these people lie for practice. This is illustrated, for instance, by the cases of Jessica Lynch, and Pat Tillman; members of this administration can't resist slinging bullshit even when there's no need to, and a down-side to getting caught. W leads by example here, having always lied reflexively, and when caight at it, reflexively issued new lies to cover the old ones. Dear Leader and his minions must get some kind of odd thrill from deception, it feels like power.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Connecting the Dots

Here in the United States of Amnesia the journalist can't seem to hold a thought for ten minutes, or leap the intuitive gap between A and B. The latest proof of this is the fact that nobody seems to be connecting the Plame case to the domestic spying scandal. The Plame/Traitorgate Affair shows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this administration will aggressively gather and disseminate intelligence on its perceived enemies, even and perhaps especially among the citizenry. They cannot be trusted to keep even classified information, and they certainly can't be trusted to surveil secretly, utterly without accountability, anybody they care to.

But, the rainbow coalition of Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Yoo and Ms. Rice are all out there arguing that W, the Great White Father, must be trusted to perform warrantless searches, to dispense with habeas corpus, and to answer nobody, ever, in the cause of saving American freedoms. Sometimes I really wish I could believe in Hell.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Bush Derangement Sydrome

W is an odd post-modern creature, a man without qualities – in the positive sense. Except in the perfervid fantasies of his worshippers he never seems to have excelled at anything. His fans cannot point to any athletic prowess, military honors, business acumen, artistic accomplishment, charitable works, principled stands or even pithy sayings. His only qualifications to elected office are name-recognition and blandly standard good looks. He’s a cipher around which his corporate handlers have spun a myth, keeping the real W, insulated, medicated, pre-scripted, fed his lines by hidden ear-piece but above all, far from public view, lest he unsettle the less credulous believers. All this seems to make him ideal as locus or vanishing point for a certain sort of mythopoetic projection. Just as it takes an artist with some talent to create a completely unredeemed botch, it takes a citizen with some intelligence, or at least lots of book-learnin’ to foist this on readers:

“Bush has been called a liar, a stupid oaf incapable of logical thought, an incurious nonintellectual who cannot ask a question much less answer one, a reckless Texas cowboy, a war-monger, a right-wing religious fanatic, a closet racist and overt homophobe, and, worst of all, a swaggering man's man who is completely comfortable in his own masculine skin.

Using our neurological model, GW is a total person, a well-rounded, warm, empathic, compassionate, sentimental, masculine, daddy-type figure who wears his feelings on his shirt sleeve. He has a personality and a very nice one at that. His neurons are firing across all four of our theoretical levels of the brain. OK, he doesn't spend a surfeit of his time at left hemisphere level IV generating abstract ideas, but he readily understands the abstractions of others and incorporates the best ideas into his own cognitive system. When he moves up to level IV, it is usually to ponder matters relating to his very complete and rich system of moral and religious values.”

The writer, a psychologist, here brings all the authoritative sounding jargon he can muster to the aid of his deep denial. He's writing for a minimally literate audience here, and so is clearly reaching to dazzle with high-toned bullshit, but alas, giving rich evidence that he himself is deeply invested in his proposition. Why else the odd procedure. He offers a pretty good common-language critique of W, ('liar, stupid oaf, etc.') as if hoping to immunize his darling to the truth with gradual doses. But the author may self-disclose more than he meant to when he makes that very weird, hyperventilating, meant-to-be-ironic twist at the end, adding tot he charges that thing libruls hate most, the "swaggering man's man who is completely comfortable in his own masculine skin." Bear in mind that he's speaking about W, the draft-dodger, not a doer of deeds but a leader of cheers.

W, of course, loves such talk, about his swagger and macho to the point of desperation, and if nobody else will do it, he'll brag on himself, as in his convention speech, "Some people say that I have a swagger. In Texas, we call it 'walking.'" To people actually acquainted with men of comfortable grace, W walking looks invariably like he's got a pantload, not like a man's man. Within cordons of armed secret service warriors he can indeed talk the talk ( "Bring it on!"), but nobody who's seen W's interminable Pet-Goat Moment can suppose that he does in fact, walk the walk.

It is true that W does, at times, seem comfortable in his own skin. Those times are exclusively when all around him are kissing his ass. If you've ever had even as much power as, say, an assistant professor, you know that's a pretty comfortable skin to be in, and so doesn't prove anything. The test of masculine self-possession comes under pressure or attack, and when W is challenged even slightly he grows a lot less comfortable, getting petulant, incoherent, visibly anxious, and often all of these in fluctuating little spasms. He's been know to break out in boils when under stress.

When the psychologist launches into his "neurological model" of W, he pretty much parts company of W with the known universe, and his unsubstantiated (though "expert" sounding) argument really just amounts to an "Is not" rejoinder to the evil suspicions of skeptics. But this is typical of the Bush fan. The hardest of that hard core are those who tend to believe in the Biblical inerrancy, the NRA philosophy, and Fox news, those who care nothing for Post-Enlightenment approaches to Truth. They're not long on deconstruction, and not much on the evidence of their own eyes and ears either. Authority figures speak, and they believe. This being the case, it's especially worth considering the author's most daring assertion about W here, that "When he moves up to level IV [cognition], it is usually to ponder matters relating to his very complete and rich system of moral and religious values.” I will return to this.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Evil Doofuses (Meme, part 7)

Like so much zealot’s rhetoric, Krauthammer’s Bush Derangement Syndrome, is deeply, though unconsciously and unintentionally ironic, or as he might diagnose it, “projective.” (Note, for instance, how Krauthammer, himself only slightly less funny than say, Henry Kissinger or Dick Cheney, nonetheless alleges that the urbane Howard Dean “has no detectable sense of humor.”) In retrospect, given that on Bush’s watch we have seen: the devolution of the GOP into a paradigm RICO case, the metastasizing Federal deficits owing partly to the Bush-sponsored, and yet-ongoing, transfer of tax burdens from the rich to the middle class, and partly to the Iraq war and the porking “earmarks” of the aforementioned GOP-controlled Congress; the numerous torture scandals, the boondoggle/atrocity of Iraq; the botch of Afghanistan; the diminishment of American prestige and stature; the wrecking of the military; the failure to in any way further secure America from terrorist attacks (is it unseemly to mention the failure to secure us from 9/11?) and strong suggestions of many other derelictions, perversions, and instances of criminal negligence and conspiracy yet to be uncovered, it is altogether fitting to ask whether “derangement” might be more strongly indicated by admiration of W. And, God knows, they do admire W.

Bush Derangement Syndrome, as propounded by Krauthammer, has been vital to the Cult of Bush. The cult must have a dogma and like any dogma, it must first be immunized to rational critique; in BDS the Cult has that serum. Confronted with W’s shortcomings and malfeasances, the adherents can always tell themselves, “Only a crazy person would believe such things about the President,” and go on, their somnambulism barely troubled. As Rick Perlstein argued recently, the “Conservative” philosophy is not about hypotheses applied to cases but is instead a circular “structure of thought” – conservatives who somehow enrage other conservatives are made non-persons by the Groupthink which declares then, “He’s not really a conservative.” The pronouncements of such people are thus articles of a faith, and not assertions of fact. (Sir Karl Popper helps us tell the difference with this stroke of genius.) Just so, cases that disturb the assumptions of the Bush Cultist are usually reclassified as something somehow not pertinent to the discussion. Either that or the Bushite will simply change the subject to Bill Clinton, Chappaquiddic, and/or something sexual or homophobic -- a Jedi mind trick that apparently works well among the Dittoheads.

It is instructive amusing (in an appalling) way, to examine the effusions of the true zealot Here is a classic from Powlerline:

"It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius [sic] , he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile."

Ordinarily we could assume that the author just wanted to get our attention with a surprising lead, but the rest of the text suggests otherwise, giving clear indications of deep denial. Note too how the author is careful not to assert anything very testable here, positing only that someday in the inderterminate future the "extraordinary vision" of W will be apparent, even to ordinary mortals. And he expects us, thus gobsmacked, to ignore the shortcomings of his analogy. Sure, W is like a great painter or musician except maybe for the hard work, study, discipline, focus, or sacrifice parts, but other than that, just like those other makers of masterpieces.

Here is a similar piece of reasoning, in which the peerless John Podhoretz throws down the gauntlet against those "deranged" folks who just don't get W:

"For years now, liberals and leftists have been unable to decide whether they dislike George W. Bush because they think he's a doofus or because they think he's evil. So they've come up with a peculiar new political caricature to make sense of the president they simply cannot undertsand: To them, he's the Evil Doofus.

"But this doesn't work. You can't be both evil and a doofus. Doofuses have a sweet and dopey quality. Evildoers know what they're up to and they're frightening in their relentless bad aims."

If I were still teaching freshman rhetoric I would certainly have my students try to spot the logical fallacies in this priceless passage: Straw Man, false dichotomy, ad hominem, unsupported assertions, distorted generality, illegitimate absolute, and perhaps a few others. Only in real, deliberate propaganda can you get such a black-hole density of nonsense.

But I digress. I offer this passage mostly to show how far from the truth, or even the intelligible, one must go to defend W from his detractors: one must descend into W's own rhetorical level, and work only in falsehood, nonsense, platitude and tautology. But I also like this passage for its epitomising of the Dittohead's sentimental idea of "evil," which, as you may have long forgetten, was the departure point for this essay.

Podhoretz "No Evil Doofus" notion is bullshit of the lowest order, the kind of thing that can only be professed by someone quasi-erotically infatuated with an adored personality, and by someone too far removed from reality, by dint of wealth and celebrity, to remember the common and distinctly evil doofuses by whom ordinary people are bedeviled from schooldays onward. Like many post-literate Americans, effectively lobotomized by the sentimental fictions of the mass medi, Podhoretz regards evil, or rather Evil, as something exotic, often something foreign and/or perverted (that is: not to their taste) but always Other. Evil is a deadly dilletante, a mustachioed tyrant, a priapic crackhead. Evil knows the right thing to do, but consciously chooses (Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!) the wrong for its sheer delectable forbiddenness. Or as Podhoretz, puts it, "Evildoers know what they're up to, and their frightening in their relentless pursuit of bad aims."

On the other hand, the Dittoheads think that they, like most of us, will do wrong from time to time, but never with a full, intellectual or ethical consideration -- therefore they're not Evil. We white, middle-class doofuses, most assume, err in a "sweet and dopey"way. Of course the slightest test of the assertion, "You can't be both evil and a doofus," shows it to be false. Evil very often knows not what it does; it has has utterly doofus undertanding of its own acts and motives. Often the dim torturer of cats,morphs into the the schoolyard bully, then the criminal, abusive husband, bad cop or death-camp guard. He's far from "relentless in his bad aims". He just thinks that his vague indignation, at whatever, licenses him (0r her) to get his rocks off occasionally through sadism. His victims deserve whatever he inflicts on them. This is evil in its banal very essence. The guards at Treblinka and Abu Grahib were not Hannibal Lecter clones or Eichmannesque demoniacs; they were picknose doofuses having fun in what they dimly perceived to be their line of duty. Evil operates similarly, constantly, in this lower-case way, from the White House to the DMV, wherever small people use their banal power to work out on those more helpless. And, leaving open the question of evil, for now, we can certainly say that W is one of those doofuses who is neither innocent nor sweet.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Bush Derangement Syndrome: Meme 6

Back in January 2003, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer published what would prove his greatest hit: “Bush Derangement Syndrome.” Establishing his infallible expertise as a kind of doctor in the first line, with a reference to an article he once had published in a medical journal, he declared he’d discovered another psychiatric syndrome:

Bush Derangement Syndrome: the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency -- nay -- the very existence of George W. Bush.

He seized specifically some of the few, silliest charges against W which are neither true nor improvements on the truth, to denigrate the sanity and judgment of all the many millions of people for whom W’s incumbency is a source of profound unease. At the time I thought Krauthammer’s column was (besides being craptacular in the author’s usual smug and smarmy way) perhaps ill advised, since in the state of Virginia, where the Post is printed, false imputation of mental illness, like that of venereal disease, is a category of libel for which the plaintiffs do not have to show economic loss. Howard Dean, in his backsliding Vichycratic mode, didn’t bother to take Krauthammer to court (He may have been a bit busy what with running for president and all.) and that’s a shame, because it would have made for interesting and perhaps enlightening arguments, at least.

The column, notwithstanding its sophomoric prose, its Limbaugh-like freight of clichés and straw men, its distorting quotes out of context, its wholly projective thesis, its lapse into preening archaisms – nay – because of these things, has gone on to become a big hit among the Bush fans. Google Bush Derangement Syndrome and you’ll get thousands of megadittoes from right wing bloggers; it is lovingly invoked every day. "BDS" has become a powerful meme in the Cult of Bush, and they invoke it often, hoping it will deflect scrutiny of their Beloved the way a cross reportedly discourages vampires.

As I have previously said in this series, hatred of W does have its irrational, self-blind, and projective components. But even if its sufferers cannot account for or articulate their loathing with perfect rationality, that does not mean it is not soundly based. Krauthammer sounds here like the sort who would have dined at the Captain's table, amusing the Astors, et al., with his haughty quips about the Ice Derangement Syndrome in certain quadrants of the crew quarters and steerage, while heartily urging the skipper to push the Titanic even harder. (To be continued)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Missions Accomplished

One of the blunders W's critics make is to oversimplify, unto distortion, the causes for the Iraq War. Michael Moore, for instance, wanted to make it all about blood for oil. Others say it was just W's unresolved Oedipal thang with 41; still others say it was just the Zionist neo-cons doing Israel's bidding, or a scam to further enrich the GOP's stable of profiteering contributors. And, as much as anything it was Rove's most cyncial notion that, unjustified and impractical as the war might be, it would still be good for W politically. The war was, as they say, "overdetermined."

The prospect must have seemed a "no-brainer" to the White House Iraq Group. It would kill so many birds with one stone. But the conspirators failed to remember even recent history in this. A hallmark of the Fautstian snare is this 'killing-many-birds' appeal. It was just like this for Iran/Contra: 'Hey, we can ransom the hostages in time for the mid-term elections, promote Moslem-on-Moslem mayhem, and fund the Contras! What's not to love?'

All the reasons for going to war involved delusion or deception -- or both.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Heeeeeere's Condi!

Our girl looking like just the person to explain to Old Europe why we don't torture in those secret prisons which they knew all about anyway and besides it's in their effete interest to get off our backs about how Captain Bunnypants and Dick the Dark conduct their Holy War on Terra. Don't question her integrity though....

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Last Light

The best that can be said about the invasion of Iraq is that it has been a boondoggle, that is, a perhaps (on some parts) well-intentioned effort which, predictably, has proved to be impractical, impraticable, and exhorbitantly expensive. But again, that's the best that can be said about it. One may also say, with perhaps more justice, that it has been a scam, a fraud, a disaster, an atrocity, or all of the above.

You Were Warned

The citizens should truly wonder
how these fools did come to squander
the country's treasure, blood and honor,
in one of history's greatest blunders.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Bubble Boy III

Reading the Washington Post A-section today is an appalling reminder of another aspect of W's bubble-boy existence. He is like a real life version of Minority Report's pre-crime psychics -- the ones who live in the sensory deprivation tanks and so pick up on the vibes of crimes about to happen. It is somehow related to W's historical Anti-Midas touch, which causes everything he handles to turn to shit; but it sure seems like virtually anybody he approves of is an overrated mediocrity and a lying scumbag -- a defendant just waiting for his indictment. In today's news we have: Alito disowning his own writing, DeLay getting too radioactive for even the GOP, Cunningham turning states' evidence for being clumsy where DeLay was slick, the EPA slanting evidence to favor the Clear Skies Scam, the Justice Department denying that it overruled itself illegally in the Texas redistricting, the Rove Team spinning Turdblossom's perjuries desperately, Rice announcing her offensive to sell torture in secret prsions to our European allies ('We're doing it for you.'), a denial that we're trying to overthrow the leftists in Venezuela, and the fact that we're no more secure today than we were on Sept. 10th, 2001, despite the War President's best efforts. That's just one day's section A.

It is as Michael O'Hare, and Mark Schmitt rightly observe, "Rovism: every institution must be corrupted to achieve maximum political effect for the Dear Leader. "

Friday, December 02, 2005

The CEO Presidency

(Ken Lay pretends to be listening.)

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

The corporate media will of course do all they can to insist that the gathering tsunami of GOP scandal is just the way of all flesh, and exactly the sort of things the Democrats do, or (if that doesn’t fly) did when they were in power. But the corporate media will always preach to the corporate choir. This will not stop the stooges of the Party from representing it all as a concoction of, or at least a hyping by, the Liberal Media. This might get hard to sell, too, if there are enough indictments by career prosecutors, but it will help the Believers stay in denial.
The ugly fact about the professionals of the GOP, and the reason why even Jack Kennedy regarded his his fellow rich white guys from across the aisle as “sons of bitches,” is that they’re basically immoral. Their unspoken credo is: “Party above principle, party above patriotism, profit above party.” This grows more clear in the news every day.

George Bush is the Ultimate True Believer in the GOP’s corollary prayer: “What’s good for [X Corporation] is good for America.” That’s why, when he was flying around on Enron’s jet, campaigning for his first term, he promised often that his would be a “CEO Presidency.” Of course he was being inadvertently truthful (the only truths he tells are inadvertent), for he has done for the country pretty much what Ken Lay did for Enron.

But the whole notion that corporate interest somehow dovetails with the people’s interest is just idolatry. If one were superstitious one might argue that the corporation is Satan’s most subtle snare, devised to undo man’s tentative progress, post Enlightenment, towards a just society. The corporation is indeed a sort of textbook monster, like a human, and yet not human. It has rights, property, plans, a philosophy, but no conscience. Its categorical imperative is: “Profit.” And if you try to confound it with questions like, “Short term or long term?” – it will only answer, “Both.” The corporation lacks even the vestigial and recessive reciprocal altruism we carry in our famously selfish genes.

Now many decent people work for and even run large corporations, but their moral impulses are under constant pressure, constantly being subordinated to the will of the stockholders, which can only articulate one consensus, “Profit.” Moreover, just as in any bureaucracy, the diffusion of all responsibility through the many layers of the organization will ensure that none feels it very compellingly. Unless a corporation’s most powerful executives articulate and exemplify a more ethical imperative, justice will not ensue.

We will do well to remember that Hitler was the golem of the Krupps and I.G. Farben, who expected him to preside over a kleptocracy for their benefit. He did, but then he took it a little too far – in the short term. We will also do well to remember that Auschwitz was a wholly owned subsidiary of I.G. Farben, a corporate property, run for profit.

The marriage of the corporation and the state is a miscegenation, as is that of church and state. It always spawns atrocity.