Monday, September 25, 2006
The Republicans: Just Plain Evil
KGB Headquarters Lubyanka Square; in the foreground is a statue of KGB founder Feliks Dzherzhinsky.
At the risk of intruding into the one area in which Jonah Goldberg enjoys unchallenged expertise, I begin today with a reference to The Simpsons -- specifically the episode entitled “Bart Gets an Elephant.”
Through a series of utterly random and implausible events that appear quite rational and predictable in the “Simpsons” universe, elementary school troublemaker Bart Simpson acquires an elephant named Stampy. At some point Stampy escaped and went on a rampage. En route to the Springfield Tar Pits (described by Time magazine as offering “the best in tar entertainment”) the terrified pachyderm barges through the local Republican Party convention. Among the signs displayed at the event to rally the faithful are two reading “We want what's worst for everyone!” and “We're just plain evil!”
After chasing Stampy to the tar pits, Homer somehow became mired in them and began to sink into their bituminous depths.
“I'm pretty sure I can struggle my way out,” Homer assured his horrified family. “First” -- he said, reaching down to grab his ankles -- “ I'll just reach in and pull my legs out. Then, I'll pull my arms out with my teeth.”
On the evidence of recent headlines, Homer's approach to freeing himself from the tar pits is pretty much identical to the Bush regime's strategy for getting the US out of the Iraq-mire: The way “out” is to bury ourselves completely in the Mesopotamian morass.
But the critical insight provided by that Simpsons episode was its revelation of the GOP's secret motto.
On more than one occasion I have adverted to the following piece of political folk wisdom:
In Washington, there are two parties: The Stupid Party (the GOP) and The Evil Party (the Democrats). Occasionally they will collaborate to do something that is both stupid and evil. We call this “bipartisanship.”
By common convention, beginning with John Stuart Mill, conservatives have been known as “the Stupid party,” and with the ascendancy of Bush the Dumber, and GOP spokesmen like Sean Hannity, the Republican Party does seem to be the natural habitat of the synapse-challenged among us.
But during the Bush administration, a type of amalgamation has taken place. The Republicans, while losing none of their stupidity, have added to that trait an apparently limitless capacity for pure, unabashed, vindictive evil, while the Democrats, while retaining their penchant for political evil, have apparently come down with a terminal case of the “stupids.”
This is displayed to good effect in the recent “compromise” over the question of torture. From the very beginning it was clear that the Bush-led Republican Party would settle for nothing less than some formula that would enrich presidential powers and put the US government on record – the first in modern history, if I'm not mistaken – as claiming the legal right to engage in torture. Not that Washington would be the first to practice torture, mind you, but rather the first to make a public assertion that it is legal, proper, and moral to commit that crime.
The Bush regime demanded that Congress enshrine that policy into law, and House Republicans eagerly approved the White House version of the proposed law. After a brief but transparently dishonest display of resistance from three Senate Republicans, a slightly modified version of the same basic legislation is now ready for passage. Although it bans nine forms of torture as violations of the War Crimes Act, the key element of the legislation is found in the provision authorizing the president to determine what “grey area” torture methods would be permitted, and how violations would be punished.
Which means, in effect, that in the matter of torture, as in so much else, George W. Bush would be a law unto himself.
And that is how the measure would read before His Imperial Stupidness nullified whatever restrictions it contains by revising it, after the fact, by way of a “signing statement.”
As the irreplaceable James Bovard points out, the “compromise” measure “will de facto permit the CIA to continue torturing people around the world. And the deal will prevent anyone — including Bush administration officials — from being held liable for the torture.”
Eric Margolis of the Toronto Sun, who was the first journalist permitted to visit the KGB dungeon at Lubyanka Square, believes that the torture “compromise” is one of the final steps in the process he calls the “Sovietizing” of the United States:
“We have seen America’s president and vice president, sworn to uphold the Constitution, advocating some of the same interrogation techniques the KGB used at the Lubyanka. They apparently believe beating, freezing, sleep deprivation and near-drowning are necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. So did Stalin. The White House insisted that anyone — including Americans — could be kidnapped and tried in camera using `evidence' obtained by torturing other suspects. Bush & Co. deny the U.S. uses torture but reject the basic law of habeas corpus and U.S. laws against the evil practice. The UN says Bush’s plans violate international law and the Geneva Conventions.”
What may be even worse is the arrogant triumphalism displayed by the Republicans in demanding that the Democrats simply shut up and play along.
“I don't think sitting on the sidelines in the war on terrorism is a good idea,” taunted Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell. “My advice to the Democrats would be to support us – that would be a great way to take that issue off the table.”
As if that weren't bad enough, consider how the “Christian” Right has dealt with the prospect of America's transformation into a terror and torture regime.
Lou Sheldon is the head of a group calling itself the Traditional Values Coalition, which for the most part has focused on cultural issues, such as abortion, homosexual “rights,” and the like. He recently ventured out of that field to endorse the White House's demand that our laws and policies be radically revised in a neo-Soviet direction.
"Our rules for interrogation need to catch-up with this awful new form of war that is being fought against all of us and the free world,” insists Sheldon. “The post -World War II standards do not apply to this new war. We must redefine how our lawful society treats those who have nothing but contempt for the law and rely on terrorizing the innocent to accomplish their objectives. The lines must be redrawn and then we must pursue these criminals as quickly and as aggressively as the law permits.”
Rev. Sheldon, it appears, has spent too much time communing with the GOP and too little time in the word, which is why he appears to have forgotten God's admonition against moving the “ancient landmark that our fathers have set” (Proverbs 22:28).
Unless Sheldon's idea of “traditional” values pre-dates both the Constitution and the Magna Carta – or perhaps even Law of Moses and the Code of Hammurabi – there's nothing “traditional” in his desire to “redefine” our constitutional and legal standards, or in his demands that legal and ethical standards be “redrawn.”
And pray tell me, what Christian would urge that we “catch-up” with terrorist barbarians?
That question assumes, of course, that it is the terrorists who are in the lead in the race to nihilistic oblivion. Bush and his junta manifestly have “nothing but contempt for the law,” and they – like the Clintonoids before them, who screwed down an embargo on Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of children – have no compunctions against killing or terrorizing innocent women and children.
I'll have some additional thoughts on this subject in my next installment....
at 2:01 PM
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You won't like much of what I say, but the time has come to open your eyes and listen. Download my Ebook (for free) and pay attention. You have been deceived about many things...
Pay close attention, profundity knocks at the door, listen for the key. Be Aware! Scoffing causes blindness...
The time is long past to stop focusing on symptoms and myriad details and finally seek lasting solutions. Until we address the core causes of the millennia of struggle and suffering that have bedeviled humanity, these repeating cycles of evil will never end.
History is replete with examples of religious leaders and followers advocating, supporting, and participating in blatant evil. Regardless of attempts to shift or deny blame, history clearly records the widespread crimes of Christianity. Whether we're talking about the abominations of the Inquisition, Crusades, the greed and genocide of colonizers, slavery in the Americas, or the Bush administration's recent deeds and results, Christianity has always spawned great evil. The deeds of many Muslims and the state of Israel are also prime examples.
The paradox of adherents who speak of peace and good deeds contrasted with leaders and willing cohorts knowingly using religion for evil keeps the cycle of violence spinning through time. Why does religion seem to represent good while always serving as a constant source of deception, conflict, and the chosen tool of great deceivers? The answer is simple. The combination of faith and religion is a strong delusion purposely designed to affect one's ability to reason clearly. Regardless of the current pope's duplicitous talk about reason, faith and religion are the opposite of truth, wisdom, and justice and completely incompatible with logic.
Religion, like politics and money, creates a spiritual, conceptual, and karmic endless loop. By their very nature, they always create opponents and losers which leads to a never ending cycle of losers striving to become winners again, ad infinitum. This purposeful logic trap always creates myriad sources of conflict and injustice, regardless of often-stated ideals, which are always diluted by ignorance and delusion. The only way to stop the cycle is to convert or kill off all opponents or to end the systems and concepts that drive it.
Think it through, would the Creator of all knowledge and wisdom insist that you remain ignorant by simply believing what you have been told by obviously duplicitous religious founders and leaders? Would a compassionate Creator want you to participate in a system that guarantees injustice and suffering to your fellow souls? Isn’t it far more likely that religion is a tool of greedy men seeking to profit from the ignorance of followers and the strife it constantly foments? When you mix religion with the equally destructive delusions of money and politics, injustice, chaos, and the profits they generate are guaranteed.
Dear Mr. Seven Star Hand --
I've never been one to turn down a free book, and I'll certainly download and read your book. Chances are, whatever I think about your conclusions, I'll find what you have to say very interesting. Thanks for the invitation!
Incidentally, my view of religion -- which will certainly get me in trouble with many of my Christian brothers -- is roughly this:
God gave us the gifts of faith, fellowship, grace, and salvation. From those gifts, man has forged the fetters of religion.
(At this point I can hear the disappointed groans issuing from several of my Reformed Christian friends; to them I say: Please hear me out.)
Jesus invited; He never compelled. In that fact, I believe, resides the difference between fellowship in shared faith, and the engine of tyranny that we call "religion."
In its purest form, as the Epistle of James teaches us, true religion is a sense of being knit together with others in shared belief and charitable concern. Assembling with other believers in communities of faith that strive after that ideal is a blessing, one that imposes not at all on the liberties of those not inclined to share it.
Well, you'll be able to tell I don't agree with you about religion, but I will say that your reasoned reply, though slightly misguided, is at least not as arrogant as many I've encountered.
Once you truly learn to understand the symbology that encodes these ancient texts, you'll understand my stance and my tactics.
By the way, a sharp two-edged sword issuing from my mouth and all kindreds of the earth wailing does not symbolize merely inviting. It symbolizes righteousness, hence the zeal for truth and justice, and the effects it will have. Everyone has the freewill to listen or turn a blind eye, but the pace of events and the results of my actions will have the effect of compelling people to pay attention and to finally understand the truth. Money, religion, and politics will become despised things of the past as they are replaced by verifiable wisdom.
I hope to speak to you again in the future.
i'll be blunt with your assertions of Christianity. the crimes for which you accuse Christianity....don't confuse Christianity with the Catholic Church. They are not the same. Christ said, "to love thy neighbor as thyself". so, if you see anyone one claiming to be Christian, yet "not doing the things of Christ", then you have before you testimony that Christ is not in what you see. God/Jesus/The Holy Ghost never said to go out and kill your enemies. He/They commanded us to win them over by example, deeds, and words. NEVER THE SWORD...like in all of your examples. The "god" you talk about as the cause for all of this mess is not Jesus, but Satan.
one question. your "writings" sound familiar. what "doctrine/religion" do you subscribe to? your politcal presuasion?
recently i was in a room with a bunch of folks. some former SF, some current. now there were about 7 of us in the room. the subject of torture came up because we were talking about SERE school. only one gent chose to stay out of it. i chose to listen. seems this group was for torture--"they're cutting off our heads!! how evil!!" -yawn- invade my country and i'll cut your head off too! this is how they have been fighting for years. asians had lopped off their enemy's heads for centuries. why are folks shocked at this?
in the immortal words of guns and roses...
"where do we go now?!"
..."gold, silver, and lead."
"A drowning man will clutch at a snake." Turkish saying. "Fear is the mindkiller." Bene Geserit philosophy from the movie Dune.
Let's pretend for a moment that Bin Laden and his ban of the merry are really evil personified and that GW and his band of the merry are really the defenders of right. Wouldn't the insistence on torture, evesdropping on citizens, continued back-to-back troop rotations look to Bin Laden et al to be the final acts of desperate men as they begin to drown? All he's got to do is keep doing what he's doing.
Fear has killed the minds of the people and they allow the continued tightening of the screws.
Could this latest move to allow torture also be used to get the ICC into our business by trying our soldiers who decide to openly practice this new "tool"? Any protest by our country would be token only and would open the door to complete jurisdiction.
If the leaders in the military do not do something - the military is currently the pawn of the Administration and is taking the brunt of the abuse - (resign, protest, figure out how to fullfill their oath to defend the Constitution, SOMETHING!) and do it soon, I believe this Administration will completely shelve the Constitution and become the first imperial government. The military currently enjoys great popularity and the public would at least wake up. Congress sure won't do it.
"So this is how Democracy (in our case, Republic) dies." Senator Amadala concerning the Republic after the Emperor reveals himself. I agree with Rick... where do we go?
Will, I think that many, probably most, folk cannot see perspective consequences of actions and behaviors beyond the next day, much less the next administration or the next decade. Hence, this is why folk have multiple children out of wedlock that they cannot feed and clothe adequately without state assistance...or get abortions; buy a huge fat house that they earnestly cannot afford and end up a few years later suffering a foreclosure; ad nauseam....
It's like a "Wimpy syndrome" in which folk literally abide in "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today" without thinking that the COST may be much higher by the time Tuesday rolls around.
The same can be said with torture and other schemes hatched up by elements of the political class, whether within the executive or the legislative branch. Laws encouraging or restraining anything should always and only be drafted carefully with the future, posterity, not to mention the fallen nature of man, in mind. Whatever restraint which might be exhibited by the Bush administration here and now may very well be absent in a future "Lizard Queen" Hitlery administration. And so-called "baby steps" in torture, or in any of the concocted "War on [insert hobgoblin here]," lead to adult leaps at a later time.
seven star hand, it's beyond obvious that you're a religious relativist (and by extension a moral one as well) extraordinaire. You seem to cloak everything you despise and think causes ALL wars, famine, evil, etc. on the catch all term religion. Actually I agree since I view all faith-based mindsets that folk live by - be it atheism/secular humanism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, or Mormonism - as religions. But where I part ways is I take note of the critical (and incompatible) differences betwixt all of these religions and you obviously do not. And I also think in your mind you really mean Christianity alone when you bellow "religion" but I'm speculating and hopefully I'm wrong in thinking that.
And to echo Rick, the Catholic Church is an entity unto itself and not at all representative of ALL Christianity. It's riddled with the "traditions of men" and its own precepts and the adherance thereof, not the Word of God. For me, any religion that requires another guidebook to live by in addition to, or instead of, the Word of God I pay it no mind.
Money, religion, and politics will become despised things of the past as they are replaced by verifiable wisdom.
Please describe what that "verifiable wisdom" is that will replace money, religion, and politics? Please lay out the imagery of your utopia in your own words, although I won't ask you to "focus on myriad details" of course. Just a mere synopsis would be adequate ;).
well said. i agree with you wholeheartedly. and i believe you nailed what i could not classify in SSH's position. i remember joseph farah called a guy on this. could not remember the term.
man, things are getting worse and it appears the majority approves of it. gotta get to montana!
The quote from Sen. Amidala is, correctly, "This is how LIBERTY dies... with thunderous applause."
The screenplay had the word DEMOCRACY, Lucas wisely changed that to LIBERTY in the film, because Democracy does not equal Liberty at all.
seven star hand and others,
let's not forget that the religion of atheism or the absence of religion has been behind some of the worst attacks on mankind. Just look at the number of people killed by their own governments in the USSR and other communist countries along with Nazi Germany.
What about the Khmer Rouge?
The danger is not religion. The danger comes from state rulers who think that God is on their side. It's hard to top the kind of arrogance and viciousness that comes from this mentality. These misguided fools think that the state is the the way to enforce God's will.
When you look at religion, Christianity specifically, when it is not tied to the state, you see the peacefullness that is intended by God. When you put the church and state together and an oppressive warmongering entity results, the problem is not the church. Evil men will use whatever means they can to convince the people that what the state is doing is right. Some have learned to uses religious language to deceive the masses.
Hitler was a good example of this.
I think GW is another one.
"The Republicans, while losing none of their stupidity, have added to that trait an apparently limitless capacity for pure, unabashed, vindictive evil, while the Democrats, while retaining their penchant for political evil, have apparently come down with a terminal case of the “stupids.” Now, Mr. Grigg, what was that that the honorable Mr. B Goldwater was saying? Something to do with ten-cent coins?
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