Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, October 5th, 2006.

Before the Fall

Bush Administration

Keith Olbermann called out President Bush for his dishonest and divisive rhetoric in another special comment on Countdown. Here’s a small quote:

Why has the ferocity of your venom against the Democrats, now exceeded the ferocity of your venom against the terrorists?

Why have you chosen to go down in history as the President who made things up?

In less than one month you have gone from a flawed call to unity, to this clarion call to hatred of Americans, by Americans.

If this is not simply the most shameless example of the rhetoric of political hackery, then it would have to be the cry of a leader crumbling under the weight of his own lies.

I’m sure it’ll be up at Crooks & Liars soon. [Update: Here’s the link.] In a nutshell, Olbermann called Bush “unbowed, undeterred, and unconnected to reality.” Bush is playing the straw man game — lying about what Democrats say so he can bash them. And, says Olbermann, for the sake of power for his political party, he is selling out America.

Dan Froomkin wrote yesterday:

President Bush is careening around the country, feverishly campaigning for Republican congressional candidates and unleashing highly provocative accusations against his Democratic critics.

But nobody really cares.

The only thing anyone wants to hear from the president right now is his reaction to the Congressional page-sex scandal revolving around former representative Mark Foley and rapidly enveloping the GOP House leadership.

On top of that, the public doesn’t trust him. A fresh round of polls shows that most Americans think Bush has been intentionally misleading about the progress in Iraq, they oppose his war there, and they don’t think it’s making them safer. His approval rating is back down to a dismal 39 percent.

And establishment Washington has finally and conclusively written him off as being in a state of denial.

Froomkin quotes Peter Baker from yesterday’s WaPo:

President Bush ratcheted up his campaign offensive against Democrats on Tuesday with perhaps his bluntest rhetoric yet as he accused them of being “softer” on terrorists and willing to allow attacks on Americans rather than interrogate or spy on the nation’s enemies.

With his party in serious trouble five weeks before Election Day, Bush shifted into full campaign mode this week, kicking off a month of frenetic barnstorming aimed at drawing disgruntled Republicans back into the fold. As part of the effort, he has escalated the intensity of his attacks with each passing day, culminating with what aides called a “very aggressive” series of speeches Tuesday.

“Time and time again, the Democrats want to have it both ways,” he told donors here. “They talk tough on terror, but when the votes are counted, their softer side comes out.”

He added: “If you don’t think we should be listening in on the terrorist, then you ought to vote for the Democrats. If you want your government to continue listening in when al-Qaeda planners are making phone calls into the United States, then you vote Republican.”

Bush’s tough talk Tuesday came after he suggested at a Monday night fundraiser in Nevada that Democrats were content to sit back until terrorists strike again. “It sounds like they think the best way to protect the American people is wait until we’re attacked again,” he said.

Of course, no one in the Democratic Party has suggested we shouldn’t listen to “al Qaeda planners” or that we should “wait until we’re attacked again,” but truth never stopped Junior before.

Stephen Walt writes in today’s Boston Globe why the Bush foreign policy is such a disaster:

JUST WHEN YOU think that US foreign policy couldn’t possibly get worse, the Bush administration manages to take it down another notch. Iraq is a debacle; the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan; and Osama bin Laden is still at large. North Korea has become a nuclear weapons state and Iran’s nuclear ambitions remain unchecked. The quixotic campaign to “transform” the Middle East has fueled several violent conflicts and empowered Islamic extremists in Iraq, Iran, the Palestinian Authority, and Lebanon.

This disastrous record is not just a run of bad luck. These setbacks occurred because the Bush administration’s foreign policy rests on a deep misreading of contemporary world politics. Conducting foreign policy on the basis of flawed premises is like designing an airplane while ignoring gravity: it won’t get off the ground, and if it does, it is bound to crash.

Walt then provides a succinct evaluation of the flawed premises — well worth reading — and concludes,

Fixing our foreign policy would not be that difficult because many states would welcome more enlightened US leadership. To do it, however, Bush will have to ask for a few overdue resignations (such as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld). He will also have to abandon the core beliefs that have guided his entire foreign policy. Bush has thus far shown little capacity to learn from experience, and he continues to maintain that we are on the right course. Americans had better get used to a failed foreign policy, at least until 2008.

If we live that long.

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Take Heart

Bush Administration, Congress, Democratic Party, Dick Cheney, elections, Republican Party

Dick the Dick predicts that the GOP will retain control of Congress after November.

This is great news! The Dems must be winning!

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Dear Conspiracy Theorists

big picture stuff, September 11

I have referred to a Alexander Cockburn article about September 11 conspiracy theories in the comments from time to time, but I just now realized that a longer version was published at Counterpunch that is not behind The Nation‘s subscription wall. And here it is.

Before I start quoting Cockburn: Of course, it was a conspiracy that brought down the World Trade Center towers, and all the butt-covering that’s gone on since amounts to conspiracies inside conspiracies. But there are conspiracies, and there are conspiracy theories, and then there are pathological conspiracy theories. Richard Hofstadter said back in 1963 (I’m adding some paragraphs breaks to make it more readable).

What distinguishes the paranoid style is not, then, the absence of verifiable facts (though it is occasionally true that in his extravagant passion for facts the paranoid occasionally manufactures them), but rather the curious leap in imagination that is always made at some critical point in the recital of events. John Robison’s tract on the Illuminati followed a pattern that has been repeated for over a century and a half. For page after page he patiently records the details he has been able to accumulate about the history of the Illuminati. Then, suddenly, the French Revolution has taken place, and the Illuminati have brought it about. What is missing is not veracious information about the organization, but sensible judgment about what can cause a revolution.

The plausibility the paranoid style for those who find it plausible lies, in good measure, in this appearance of the more careful, conscientious and seemingly coherent application to detail, the laborious accumulation of what can be taken as convincing evidence for the most fantastic conclusions, the careful preparation for the big leap from the undeniable to the unbelievable.

The singular thing about all this laborious work is that the passion for factual evidence does not, as in most intellectual exchanges, have the effect of putting the paranoid spokesman into effective two-way communication with the world outside his group–least of all with those who doubt his views. He has little real hope that his evidence will convince a hostile world. His effort to amass it has rather the quality of a defensive act which shuts off his receptive apparatus and protects him from having to attend to disturbing considerations that do not fortify his ideas. He has all the evidence he needs; he is not a receiver, he is a transmitter. [Richard Hofstadter, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” as reprinted in The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays (Harvard University Press, 1964), pp. 37-38]

The boldfaced words fit the “inside job” theorists like a glove. Now let’s go to Cockburn:

My in-box overflows each day with fresh “proofs” of how the WTC buildings were actually demolished, often accompanied by harsh insults identifying me as a “gate-keeper” preventing the truth from getting out. I meet people who start quietly, asking me “what I think about 9/11”. What they are actually trying to find out is whether I’m part of the coven. I imagine it was like being a Stoic in the second century A.D. going for a stroll in the Forum and meeting some fellow asking, with seeming casualness, whether it’s possible to feed 5,000 people on five loaves of bread and a couple of fish.

Indeed, at my school in the 1950s the vicar used to urge on us Frank Morison’s book, Who Moved The Stone? It sought to demonstrate, with exhaustive citation from the Gospels, that since on these accounts no human had moved the stone from in front of Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb, it must beyond the shadow of a doubt have been an angel who rolled it aside and let Jesus out, so he could astonish the mourners and then Ascend. Of course Morison didn’t admit into his argument the possibility that angels don’t exist, or that the gospel writers were making it up.

It’s the same pattern with the 9/11 nuts, who proffer what they demurely call “disturbing questions”, though they disdain all answers but their own. They seize on coincidences and force them into sequences they deem to be logical and significant. Like mad Inquisitors, they pounce on imagined clues in documents and photos, torturing the data –- as the old joke goes about economists — till the data confess. Their treatment of eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence is whimsical. Apparent anomalies that seem to nourish their theories are brandished excitedly; testimony that undermines their theories – like witnesses of a large plane hitting the Pentagon — is contemptuously brushed aside.

I’ve already explained why I think the “controlled detonation” theory is nonsense, here, and followed that up with more comments, here and here. Anyone who wants to argue with me on the merits of the “inside job” should click those links and read those posts, first. (If I have already offered an explanation for your “proof,” I will know you didn’t read the posts, and your comment will be deleted. I’m not your monkey.) And then please note that I am more than cognizant of the remaining mysteries surrounding 9/11 and am open to a wide range of explanations.

The “inside job” cultists, on the other hand, are not open to a wide range of explanations. They’ve made up their minds, and anyone who doesn’t agree with them entirely is (in their view) an idiot and a dupe. If someone were to say, “I think it could have been an inside job, but I’m willing to consider the possibility that it wasn’t,” I could respect that. I still disagree with it, but I respect it. However, the very fact that “inside job” culties are incapable of engaging in two-way discussion of September 11 reveals that something other than dispassionate reasoning is going on.

But that’s not the primary reason I ban the culties from posting comments here. The real reason is that the plethora of fantastical theories makes it less likely, not more likely, the mysteries will ever be properly investigated. And with all my heart I want investigations.

Cockburn again:

What Barrett and Collins brilliantly show [in their book Grand Illusion] are the actual corrupt conspiracies on Giuliani’s watch: the favoritism to Motorola which saddled the firemen with radios that didn’t work; the ability of the Port Authority to skimp on fire protection, the mayor’s catastrophic failure in the years before 9/11/2001 to organize an effective unified emergency command that would have meant that cops and firemen could have communicated; that many firemen wouldn’t have unnecessarily entered the Towers; that people in the Towers wouldn’t have been told by 911 emergency operators to stay in place; and that firemen could have heard the helicopter warnings and the final Mayday messages that prompted most of the NYPD men to flee the Towers.

That’s the real political world, in which Giuliani and others have never been held accountable. The nuts disdain the real world because, like much of the left and liberal sectors, they have promoted Bush, Cheney and the Neo-Cons to an elevated status as the Arch Demons of American history, instead of being just one more team running the American empire, a team of more than usual stupidity and incompetence (characteristics I personally favor in imperial leaders.) The Conspiracy Nuts have combined to produce a huge distraction, just as Danny Sheehan did with his Complaint, that mesmerized and distracted much of the Nicaraguan Solidarity Movement in the 1980s, and which finally collapsed in a Florida courtroom almost as quickly as the Towers.[*]

[*] If you aren’t familiar with the Christic Institute lawsuit against key players in the Iran-contra scandal — very briefly, Daniel Sheehan of the Christic Institute filed a lawsuit against the CIA and key players in the Iran-Contra scandal claiming they were engaged in various criminal acts, and I believe they were. But instead of sticking to core, factual issues that could be proved by evidence, the suit made unsupported allegations of various global conspiracies, shadow governments, and “secret teams” that had been running American foreign policy since about the Eisenhower Administration. And, what the hell, maybe the Christics were right. But they couldn’t prove their allegations in court, and as Cockburn says the lawsuit actually distracted attention from what could be proved. And the perps skipped, and many of ’em are back in positions of power in the U.S. government.

Is that what we want for the Bush crowd? To let them skip and live happily ever after? Or do we want them held accountable?

Cockburn follows up in another article, “Flying Saucers and the Decline of the Left.”

Actually, it seems to demobilize people from useful political activity. I think the nuttishness stems from despair and political infantilism. There’s no worthwhile energy to transfer from such kookery. It’s like saying some lunatic shouting to himself on a street corner has the capacity to be a great orator. The nearest thing to it all is the Flying Saucer craze. ‘Open up the USAF archives!’ It’s a Jungian thing.” …

… Richard Aldrich’s book on British intelligence, The Hidden Hand (2002), describes how a report for the Pentagon on declassification recommended that “interesting declassified material” such as information about the JFK assassination “could be released and even posted on the Internet, as a ‘diversion,'” and used to “reduce the unrestrained public appetite for ‘secrets’ by providing good faith distraction material”. Aldrich adds, “If investigative journalists and contemporary historians were absorbed with the vexatious, but rather tired, debates over the grassy knoll, they would not be busy probing into areas where they were unwelcome.”

By the same token, I’m sure that the Bush gang, and all the conspirators of capital, are delighted at the obsessions of the 9/11 cultists. It’s a distraction from the 1,001 real plots of capitalism that demand exposure and political challenge.

(Please note that I am less allergic to capitalism than Cockburn is.)

Just this morning I banned another cultie, who compared himself to Winston Smith. As I recall, at the end of 1984 Winston Smith learned that his beliefs about the “resistance” were a fantasy. And then they shot him. Not a happy ending.

I’m for anything that will open the doors and reveal whatever plots and plans and conspiracies took place. And if it comes to pass that I’m wrong, and it was an inside job, fine. But the “inside job” culties are standing in the way of investigations. They can’t see that, but they are. And that’s why I don’t allow this blog to be a medium for perpetrating the cult.

We must have more investigations to get to the truth.

We must have more investigations to get to the truth.

We must have more investigations to get to the truth.

And in case anyone still wants to call me a Bush dupe and a member of the Thought Police:

We must have more investigations to get to the truth.

Got that? Thanks.

See also: September 11 Conspiracy Theories

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