8/30/2007

Deflecting the Blame for Reich Wing Mistakes part Deux,

Mahablog expands his “Darmok and Jalad at Tenagra” post on Right wing and their metaphor / myths coded speach to show us how Bush's Vietnam reference is preparing the ground to blame liberals for "losing Iraq" -- law

Once we have entered the realm of myth, taboos replace rational discourse...

When Bush trotted out his highly imaginative version of Vietnam history last week, I realized that the facts of Vietnam were not the point of the speech. He was speaking of what Vietnam represents to the Right, emotionally and mythically... [ A stab in the back]

As Kevin Baker noted in an in-depth analysis in Harper’s, the “stab in the back” thesis is the ur-right-wing credo. It brings together two keystone beliefs: the idea that America is omnipotent and incapable of defeat, and that any war the U.S. engages in must be noble and heroic. Therefore, if America is defeated, traitorous elites — craven politicians, un-American punks, degenerates, longhairs, pinkos and agitators, and the cowardly elite media — must be to blame. Nixon and Agnew’s demonizing of “nattering nabobs of negativism” and Reagan’s claims that war protesters were giving “comfort and aid” to the enemy sprang from this belief.

The basic point is that the Vietnam myth and the McGovern myth are really just add-ons to the Yalta myth. And when you’re discussing Iraq with someone whose understanding of American defense policy is entirely steeped in the Yalta-Vietnam-McGovern mythos, you might as well be talking to a tree stump. And a nasty little bugger of a tree stump at that; one who thinks the only reason anyone would want to end the war is to stab America in the back...

However, Bush’s “Vietnam” speech may serve other purposes.

In some part of his brain, Bush knows this — which explains his other motivation for invoking Vietnam and attacking war critics as defeatists. As a partisan Republican, still dreaming of Karl Rove’s permanent Republican majority, he wants to ensure that the Democrats take the blame in the coming argument over “who lost Iraq?” By defiantly insisting, contrary to all evidence, that victory is within grasp, he is planting the seeds of a resentful revisionism, a stab in the back II, which he hopes will come to fruition in the future.


The Mahablog » America, Its Back Stabbed

"Stabbed in the back! The past and future of a right-wing myth" by Kevin Baker (Harper's Magazine)

"The stab in the back first gained currency in Germany, as a means of explaining the nation's stunning defeat in World War I. It was Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg himself, the leading German hero of the war, who told the National Assembly, “As an English general has very truly said, the German army was ‘stabbed in the back.’” Like everything else associated with the stab-in-the-back myth, this claim was disingenuous. The “English general” in question was one Maj. Gen. Neill Malcolm, head of the British Military Mission in Berlin after the war, who put forward this suggestion merely to politely summarize how Field Marshal Erich von Ludendorff—the force behind Hindenburg—was characterizing the German army's alleged lack of support from its civilian government. “Ludendorff's eyes lit up, and he leapt upon the phrase like a dog on a bone,” wrote Hindenburg biographer John Wheeler-Bennett. “‘Stabbed in the back?’ he repeated. ‘Yes, that's it exactly. We were stabbed in the back.’”"

"Stabbed in the back! The past and future of a right-wing myth" by Kevin Baker (Harper's Magazine):

The Mahablog » The Power of (Right Wing) Myth

Mahablog cracks the code for neocon speech: words and names are stories, facts are not invited... -- law

The key to understanding right-wing rhetoric can be found in an episode of the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation.

In “Darmok” (originally aired 1991) the crew of the Enterprise encounters the Tamarians, a people with an incomprehensible language. “We come in peace,” say the Enterprise crew. “Darmok and Jalad at Tenagra,” reply the Tamarians. “Temba, his arms wide.” The Next Generationers are baffled.

But then Captain Picard and Dathon the Tamarian have an adventure together battling an invisible beast, and during this adventure Picard has a “Helen Keller at the water pump” moment and realizes that Tamarians speak in metaphors taken from stories. For example, “Darmok and Jalad at Tenagra” refers to two enemies, Darmok and Jalad, who became allies at Tenagra. As a phrase, it means “Let’s put aside our differences and be friends.” So after much suspense and drama and the death of the unfortunate Dathon, by the end of the episode Picard knows enough Tamarian to say, “Bye. It’s been real.”

... The point I want to make here is that when righties talk about history, they are not talking about what actually happened in the past. Instead, they are evoking historical persons and events as archetype and allegory.

Thus, when they speak of Winston Churchill, they are not speaking of the real Winston Churchill. They are speaking of what Winston Churchill represents in their minds, which is the stubborn refusal to back down from a fight. In fact, the real Winston Churchill wrote a letter to Prime Minister David Lloyd George in 1922 advising him that British troops should abandon Iraq.

But instead of actually studying the life and words of Churchill for understanding, righties simply evoke the man as an archetype of bulldog, never-give-up tenacity... By the same token, Neville Chamberlain is the archetype of cowardly appeasement. Righties may know little else about the man except that he “appeased” Hitler — not an uncommon practice among right wingers of the 1930s, who considered Hitler and Mussolini to be swell guys who hated communism as much as they did.

In fact, former White House correspondent Lynne Olson argued awhile back that Bush was a lot more like the real Chamberlain than the real Churchill... In the rightie mind, any attempt to avoid war is “appeasement.” In his new book A Tragic Legacy, Glenn Greenwald writes (p. 177) that when Ronald Reagan signed the INF treaty with the Soviet Union in 1988, rightie editorialists everywhere evoked Neville Chamberlain and accused Reagan of “appeasement.” Earlier, in 1984, Newt Gingrich scorned Reagan’s rapprochement with Gorbachev as “the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolph Hitler met with Chamberlain in 1938 at Munich.”

Got that? All “enemies” are Hitler (whatever you think of Gorbachev, he’s hardly Hitler). So much as meeting with “enemies” is Chamberlain and Hitler at Munich...

I call today’s righties the “Reagan generation” because so many of them are Gen-X’ers whose first memories of politics and national events involved Carter and Reagan. They weren’t so much taught politics as imprinted with the Reagan mythos. For them, all Democrats are Jimmy Carter, an archetype of wimpy passivity. Reagan represents confidence, action, sunniness. The two of them together represent opposing forces that tell the entire story of American politics. Nothing more needs to be understood or thought through. Democrats bad, Republicans good, end of argument.

The actual persons Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan are/were far more complicated than the Carter and Reagan archetypes, of course, and they both have/had their virtues and flaws. [But tho righties] What’s important to them is not what Reagan actually did as President, but what he represents emotionally and mythically...

So yesterday, after years of denying historical comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam, President Bush delivered a speech comparing Iraq to Vietnam. To which much of America responded, WTF? Today America’s newspapers are peppered with complaints from historians that Bush’s speech distorted the facts of the Vietnam War. But of course; what actually happened during and after the war was not the point. He was speaking to those still inclined to support the war, and to them, Vietnam represents national disgrace. It also represents allowing the forces of darkness to scamper unhindered over the land. When Bush spoke of “killing fields,” for example, rightie listeners could relate. There was a movie about that, after all, never mind that the killing fields of Cambodia didn’t happen because America withdrew from Vietnam, but because we were bleeping there...

We lefties sometimes persist in trying to reason with righties. I’ve given up, mind you, but there are those who still try. But I say this is futile. As with the encounter between the Enterprise and the Tamarians, we don’t understand each others words. “We want what’s best for America,” we say. “Chamberlain and Hitler at Munich!” they cry. “Sam Waterson and John Malkovich in Phnom Penh! FDR at Yalta!

The Mahablog » The Power of (Right Wing) Myth: "

Magical History Tour

John Stewart shows how Bush flip flops on the Iraq war. Hillarious! -- law



Magical History Tour

8/28/2007

Katrina is The Titanic of Our Era

Did the builders of the Titanic design it in such a way that they aimed to kill the occupants of steerage? Not at all. They did, however, design it so that if anyone was going to die, it would be those in steerage. Their deaths were acceptable for the builders of the Titanic. After all, those in steerage were considered a less-relevant population than the rich on the upper decks.

The capitalism of the contemporary era shares many of the same values informing the builders of the Titanic; the poor are not the responsibility of society at large. The construction of the Titanic was not simply a technological matter. There was a decision that the poor could be sacrificed in order that the rich survive. That is the essence of capitalism in general, but particularly neo-liberal capitalism - the capitalism of this era. There need not have been an intent to wipe out thousands of poor and black people in the Gulf. The assumptions about how money would be spent, what was necessary, etc., meant that in the face of disaster, the poor and the black would be sacrificed, and the rich would have their SUVs [read: life boats]

For decades, this nation's economic policies have created a widening gap in personal wealth, making it impossible for many Americans to achieve economic security no matter how hard they work. The (largely unionized) jobs that provided opportunities for workers to climb out of poverty have been disappearing. In their place are low-wage service jobs, part-time employment or nothing at all. This is what makes comments such as those offered recently by conservative critic Linda Chavez so outrageous and insulting. Instead of finding the sources of Gulf Coast poverty in an economic system that casts off hundreds of thousands of people, Chavez and her allies place the blame on so-called family values. Chavez never grapples with the question of how to keep families together when their worlds collide with the shockwaves of the modern economy.

Through directing tax cuts to serve the rich and powerful; through the allocation of billions of dollars to pursue an illegal war and occupation of Iraq; through urban relocation programs that destroy entire communities, the steerage compartments of the good ship 'Gulf Coast' were created. All that was needed to create total devastation was a collision with an iceberg.

The infrastructure of New Orleans had been collapsing for years. Various scenarios within the last five years indicated the catastrophe that could unfold if a Category 5 storm hit New Orleans. There was recognition, now openly being admitted, that tens of thousands of the poor of that city might be left stranded in the face of a major hurricane while the rich could climb into their SUVs and escape.

There simply were not enough lifeboats, because those in steerage where just not that relevant.

After years of attacking the public sector and the rationale for essential government programs and taxes, the conservative right has reaped the results. They calculated that they could get by without investing the necessary resources into repairing the growing inequality in America. They calculated that they could ignore the plight of the Gulf Coast's poor. Each hurricane that missed the Gulf Coast was another source of relief and a confirmation that it was better to put resources into wars and tax cuts than into saving the lives of those at the bottom.

So, it did not have to be a conspiracy, because, in fact, the game of U.S. capitalism has been rigged from the beginning. We just happened to see the results in bloated bodies, crying and ill children, the devastation of a beautiful coastline, and the possibly permanent displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.

t r u t h o u t - Bill Fletcher Jr. | The Titanic of Our Era

8/23/2007

Neocons preparing to shift the blame for another disaster

"Why is George Bush suddenly making parallels between Iraq and Vietnam? Because he's preparing to shift the blame for another disaster."

For months now, many conservatives have been fundamentally positioning themselves for the post-war era, readying the arguments that will blame the failure of the venture in Iraq on its opponents rather than its architects. That Bush himself has chosen to join them is, perhaps, on some level the clearest reflection of the reality that the president knows perfectly well that the war is unwinnable, and blame-shifting now the best hope for saving his historical legacy.

Comment is free: Don't know much about history:

8/22/2007

if we're going to talk about the legacy of Vietnam, we need to remember what happens when a nation fails to take care of its veterans

"As President Bush said today, 'History does remind us that there are lessons applicable to our time. And we can learn something from history.' Let us learn that the men and women who have fought in Iraq, Afghanistan, (and all wars) deserve to be provided for. Not just used as a backdrop for another presidential photo op."

Paul Rieckhoff: President Bush to Our Veterans: Iraq is Like Vietnam - Politics on The Huffington Post

Marty Kaplan: Vietnam. Watergate. What's Next -- Disco? - Politics on The Huffington Post

ROFL! Precisely. -- law

"There's no longer any doubt about the master narrative of the Bush Administration. Their purpose is to re-litigate the 1970s. Nixon's downfall, let alone all that followed, clearly has stuck in Cheney's craw. All his New American Centurions were so scarred by the fall of Saigon and the Church Committee reforms that even Morning in the Gipper's America didn't do enough to restore the imperial executive and the American imperium."

Marty Kaplan: Vietnam. Watergate. What's Next -- Disco? - Politics on The Huffington Post:

8/05/2007

Boing Boing: Play Jane McGonigal's World Without Oil

World Without Oil, the latest alternate reality game from Jane McGonigal, my colleague at Institute for the Future, is now in high gear. The idea behind the game is simple: "Play it before you live it." Jane will talk with us about this game and her insatiable appetite for play in an upcoming Boing Boing Boing podcast. Jane says:

Wwojane World Without Oil is a month-long collaborative alternate reality project funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and ITVS. It’s the first alternate reality game to tackle a real-world problem: oil dependency.


Boing Boing: Play Jane McGonigal's World Without Oil

8/04/2007

Drowning the Government



Left 'Toon Lane: Drowning the Government

8/03/2007

Daily Kos: A bridge too close

My Rant at Dkos

A bridge too close
by lawnorder
Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 05:31:26 PM CDT

I come from a 3rd World country. A country where countless corrupt politicians have been skimping government funds for infrastructure for nearly a century. Where dictators told us what to think and that we couldn't vote during my lifetime. And where now spending money on popular projects trumps any logic or necessity. Where Karl Rove would have been considered old fashioned and naive.

So it was a big shock to me to see a bridge falling due to those myopic, corrupt views, not on my country of origin, poor and beleaguered by a succession of corrupt nepotist governments, but here, in my adopted country. The leader of the free world, the beacon of freedom. Where everyone was supposed to be equal under the law.

Except that we aren't are we ? What are the odds of Cheney or Bush's family and friends be subject to what those working stiffs in Minnesota were ? Drowning after an honest day's work. What are the odds that any of them and their enablers, the Washington pundits, would be found within 2 miles from the dome in New Orleans during Katrina.

I ask the red state voters who still support those madmen. Who do you think they are drowning in a bathtub ? Who are the millions of dollars stolen in Iraq being stolen from ? Open your eyes before you find yourself under several feet of water.


Daily Kos: A bridge too close

A trillion spent in Iraq, while bridges crumble

One fallen bridge due to cheap skating federal resources is one bridge too many - law

For half a dozen years, the motto of state government and particularly that of Gov. Tim Pawlenty has been No New Taxes. It's been popular with a lot of voters and it has mostly prevailed. So much so that Pawlenty vetoed a 5-cent gas tax increase - the first in 20 years - last spring and millions were lost that might have gone to road repair. And yes, it would have fallen even if the gas tax had gone through, because we are years behind a dangerous curve when it comes to the replacement of infrastructure that everyone but wingnuts in coonskin caps agree is one of the basic duties of government.

I'm not just pointing fingers at Pawlenty. The outrage here is not partisan. It is general.

Both political parties have tried to govern on the cheap, and both have dithered and dallied and spent public wealth on stadiums while scrimping on the basics.

How ironic is it that tonight's scheduled groundbreaking for a new Twins ballpark has been postponed? Even the stadium barkers realize it is in poor taste to celebrate the spending of half a billion on ballparks when your bridges are falling down. Perhaps this is a sign of shame. If so, it is welcome. Shame is overdue.

At the federal level, the parsimony is worse, and so is the negligence. A trillion spent in Iraq, while schools crumble, there aren't enough cops on the street and bridges decay while our leaders cross their fingers and ignore the rising chances of disaster.

And now, one has fallen, to our great sorrow, and people died losing a gamble they didn't even know they had taken. They believed someone was guarding the bridge.

We need a new slogan and we needed it yesterday:

"No More Collapses."

Daily Kos: Minneapolis Newspaper Speaks for Us UPDATE