Sunday, January 21, 2007

McCain and Graham on the Sunday Funnies--the "Truth" is in the Talking Point

Proponents of the Iraq war escalation were talking the same old shinola on the last round of Sunday political talk shows. The "same old" sounds lamer with each iteration.

On Meet the Press, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) trotted out the "if we withdraw, they will follow us home" duck call, as if we're all still dumb enough to be fooled by it (though, lamentably, some of us still are). They--whoever the hell "they" are--don't have a navy or an air force to follow us with. Al-Qaeda, Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and the other militias in Iraq can't execute an assault on Los Angeles or San Diego. It's too far to swim or jump from there to here. They could, I suppose, hide themselves in our troops' luggage, but I'd like to think that even our feckless Homeland Security apparatus is competent enough to keep them from sneaking into America that way. As to honest to goodness terrorists drib-drabbing their way through our borders, nothing we're doing in Iraq will keep (or has kept) that from happening.

Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) re-re-re-re-re-played the standard false analogy canard on Late Edition about how we should be patient with the Iraqi government because look how long it took the United States to form a constitutional federation after we revolted against the British. Graham and others who pull this cheap trick never bother to point out that, oh, yeah, we didn't ask the British to stick around for a decade so we could blow them and each other to kingdom come while we worked out how to organize ourselves.

On the same program, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) talked so much Rovewellian trash you could almost see the sweat dripping from his hands onto Wolf Blitzer's glass table.

In all, the right wing idiocracy revealed itself--once again--for what it really is: a feather-blowing machine that's running out of bulls to pluck.

Tongues on Fire

In all, the GOP Sunday punchers came off like a herd of J.D. Hayworth class Bush-kebobs, determined to stick to their rhetoric even though it makes less sense than the conversation in a Lewis Carroll tea party.

In Sunday's New York Times (TimesSelect password protected), Frank Rich wrote…
Those who forget history may be doomed to repeat it, but who could imagine we’d already be in danger of replaying that rotten year 2003?

…This White House gang is so practiced in lying with a straight face that it never thinks twice about recycling its greatest hits…

… The most important lies to watch for now are the new ones being reiterated daily by the administration’s top brass, from Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney on down. You know fiasco awaits America when everyone in the White House is reading in unison from the same fictional script, as they did back in the day when “mushroom clouds” and “uranium from Africa” were the daily drumbeat…

…The latest lies are custom-made to prop up the new “way forward” that is anything but…

…Facing the truth is the only way forward in Iraq.

The truth is that there is no "victory" to be had in Iraq, or for that matter, in the Middle East, and the only "way forward" is the way out.

Tell the Truth?

The war rhetoric of the Bush administration and its echo chamberlains is so disingenuous that to label it "criminal" would be a punch-pulling piece of understatement. How do their consciences allow them to practice such extraordinary disassemblage and how do they continue to get away with it for so long after reality has proven their assertions so false?"

Yale University professor emeritus and moral philospher Harry Frankfurt provides the likely explanation in his famous extended essay now published as a stand alone volume titled On Bullshit.
One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted…

Bullshit "artists," Frankfurt points out, differ from liars to the extent that liars know they're denying reality and they're deceiving their audience. Bullshitters don't recognize any reality other than the one they manufacture.

The audience that time after time after time eats up this "perception is reality" fertilizer is the lemming-like segment of the population I call the "autistic right." They've been conditioned by talk radio and Fox News and The 700 Club and on an on and on to accept things unsupported by the slightest hint of factual information as the "truth," and have been trained to regard anything resembling doubt or skepticism as unpatriotic, heretical or worse. They've come to accept shouting contests and schoolyard insult exchanges as genuine debate.

In his seminal novel of dystopia 1984, George Orwell describes this process as "reality control," a condition achieved through a tecnique called "doublethink."
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of doublethink he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated…the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty.

Thus it is that meme maestros like Bush, McCain, Graham and others can speak so forcefully and--to some--convincingly about their patently insane policy and strategy positions.

They really and truly believe their own bullshit.

And as I’m fond of saying, you can only call bullshit chocolate ice cream for so long before people start noticing that it doesn't taste or smell like chocolate ice cream is supposed to.

At least, I hope that's the case.

But maybe I'm ignoring reality.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.


  1. Anonymous6:54 PM

    I look at the whole kool-aid problem a little differently. Last generation's right wingers just mouthed the words to get the fundies to play along. They never believed any of it for a second. They were stone cold realist who would do or say anything to achieve power. This generation grew up on it and never seem so have been let in on the joke. When I ponder how this could be I look at "W". He's not his father's son from an intellectual perspective. He's is mother's son so he's essentially an empty headed 1940's socialite with testicles.

  2. bob g7:19 PM

    I don't think they're trying to convince anyone of anything. They're laying the ground work for future spin control. It's a repeat of 2003 but with less popular support (gullibility).

    If (when) they go into Iran it's because they had no other choice, "fight them over there." And if things go bad they point to their noble intentions and that there were no other options presented. So, once again, Democrats and moderate Republicans are to blame. These talking points shore up their neocon, religious right base and once these folks are on board then it's time to start the war.

    These guys have never cared about the folks who call them on their BS, we're not part of the base. This administration has been remarkably consistent here: take care of the base and screw the rest of 'em. I don't see this time being any different.

  3. Anonymous7:23 PM

    Glad to see someone raise the issue - 'or they will follow us home' or some such bullshit. I mean are they really telling us something here - like Homeland Security is so incompetent that they can't stop anyone who shows up at our borders, airports or harbors. I hear this position (if one could call it that) used constantly and it makes me cringe - and typically by college graduates. Most don't have a clue about geography - like where Iraq is located. Go figure - that's the mindset of their 30% support.

  4. Here we come down on one of the really interesting questions on Mad King George 2. Is he a religious nut or a stone cold fascist killer? Did he really kill about 200 000 +/- people for the glory of Jesus, or was it for the cause of Haliburton. (I am not talking about his administration here, but about the Decider himself). In short, is he a irrational actor or a sane but very very cruel actor?

    As to the 30% that still follow him: I do not understand it and I will never understand it. Its just one of those memetic things, like denying that smoking is dangerous or that theres a problem with global warming. Its very easy to forget that human evolution is far from finished. Given young Georges physiology, its veru tempting to name him Last Emperor of the Planet of the Apes...

  5. Anonymous9:00 AM

    W is a puppet on a variety of people's strings. He suspects it now and again, but it only makes him more petulant and doubly determined to do everything his own way (meaning, make all the messes you want, spend every dime you can appropriate, if there's ever a mess someone else will clean it up because.... well, someone always does).

    Just got a review copy of Chalmers Johnson's new book Nemesis -- military industrial complex and U.S. foreign policy and sorrows of empire, oh my...!

  6. Appreciate the read and the comments, gang. Thanks for adding to the discussion.



  7. "They really and truly believe their own bullshit." That Commander, is the grace of a patheological lier.

  8. Mandt,

    That's the point where I depart philosophically with Professor Frankfurt. Pathological liars and bullshit artists, IMO, are the same animal. Truth, for them doesn't exist.

  9. Mandt,

    Yeah. My keyboard gently weeps.

  10. In slightly different news it looks like things are looking down for Ahmadinejad

  11. It seems to me that the BS isn't merely their tool but rather, it's their intended end.

    It's far more useful to sow confusion and make people doubt absolutely everything they hear than to make the effort to come up with a logical argument, BS or not.

    The neocons have always had it as their prime goal to make the people detest and distrust their own government, and who could have predicted just how successful they would have been in so short a time?

    Further, by loading on the illogic and lies by the boatload, they've successfully derailed the reality-based among us, as we focus on first this, then that, then an endless string of thats, and meanwhile, they do exactly whatever it was they intended to do all along while we continue to make our sputtering and futile attempts to reason with them.

    It's a revolution that's beautiful in its simplicity. Confuse and obfuscate until the people give up and just go back to their "idol" pursuits, and leave the neocons free to gut this great nation right under our noses. The monetary profits they're making are just the gravy. They've never believed in democracy, or freedom, or the Bill of Rights, but only in their version of "Social Darwinism" ruled by the few, the elite, the deciders.

    Confusion is the goal. They don't give a hoot if we believe anything they say. And they're sure as hell not listening to anything we say.

  12. cbbb,

    Ahmadinejad has to answer to somebody, unlike some presidents we know.


    Yes, I agree that confusion is the goal.