News & opinion on Greater China and the even Greater Beyond: by Biff Cappuccino.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Hi Lewis: I wrote the following to a friend in the business world who supports the US democrats, a party whose platform is blatantly inimical to his own best interests. My theory is that my friend flatters himself that the dems are more enlightened and thus fashionably correct. Rather than be true to himself, he prefers going through the motions of being true to others. Sounds like pious crap to me... This is what I wrote to him...
Rich: you'll be familiar with most of this stuff already, so you mightwant to skim through it...
Hi: to continue our phone discussion from yesterday, George Bush is far from the worst president when it comes to bending the Constitution and blasting cannonball sized holes in the Bill of Rights. He's done this, but then again so has every other president that I'm aware of. There's plenty about the George Bush administration in particular that I do not care for. I'm an atheist for Christ-sakes! I agree with you that Guantánamo Bay seems a bad idea at this point. I too was opposed to the Iraq war before it started. But now that it's ongoing, I naturally support the effort to install some form of democracy, not that I'm terribly optimistic.

But to try to put things in a little perspective, the present hatred of George Bush is much like the blue-nose hatred for Abe Lincoln in 1859 and 1860. The Boston Brahmins loathed this bumpkin backwoods lawyer. And, as I remember, the left-wing peaceniks of congress were calling the Civil War a quagmire (which it often was) and unwinnable (which it never was) right from the beginning right through until the spring of 1864.

Hatred of bin Bush is also akin to the rabid rightwing of Clinton haters. When Clinton ordered Tomahawk missiles to hit a factory in the Sudan, the moronic claim was made that he was doing it to draw attention away from Monica Lewinsky. That seemed dubious if only because United States president is not a King. Sure enough, it turns out that the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the vice president, and perhaps even the head of the Supreme Court and others had to sign off on the attack. Keep in mind that Osama bin Laden considers Clinton to be America's worst ever president. In 2003 bin Laden stated that the White House blowjob condemned Clinton to eternal hell-fires... Hatred brings out the stupid in all of us.

Recently people have been complaining that Dick Cheney did his interview at Fox television. But if you actually watch Fox, as I've tried to do now and again, then you know that Fox does not give the present administration a free ride. I've watched O'Reilly intimidate Rumsfeld and essentially accuse him of lying to his face on camera. Brit Hume essentially told Dick Cheney that he was an idiot, in so many words, for not handling the press better in the recent shooting of his friend. If you watch the interview you can see that Cheney was not amused by Hume's charge. (Cheney's friend by the way apologized for "inconveniencing" Cheney. He said that hunting was, by its very nature, dangerous. They're all adults, he said. They all knew the risk.)

And who did Bill Clinton go to for his first interview after being exposed as having intimate relations with Monica Lewinsky? He went to PBS to get Jim Lehrer to do the job. My point is not that one softball interview deserves another. Simply that politicians are politicians. Would do you expect them to do? Why hate people for doing the inevitable? You might as well pop a blood vessel over the sun giving you a sunburn. Why not get in a tizzy because tree leaves are green? Where's the fairness to the other colors of the rainbow coalition in that?

Politicians lie and dissemble because they're put into office by an electorate which lies and dissembles on a regular basis. (I don't know if I've ever met a chronically honest person in my life. And I think we all know how honest people are first mocked, then feared, and then run out of polite society if not out of town. This, essentially, is my first-hand experience in Eastern Canada... haha... ) When the electorate grows up, we'll get grown-ups in the office of president. Until then, it ain't going to happen.

George Bush will be out of office in a couple of years and then there'll be a new imbecile bungling things. Clinton was better educated, but still profoundly ignorant and credulous. He had little useful life experience for making decisions concerning the common man. His background lay in ivory-tower and bureaucratic ladder-climbing and in talking the talk. He was, in his own way, the equivalent of a Ching Dynasty litteratus spouting ideology and pieties while driving the nation to ruin by holding back progress via the claim that the present moral/ethical scheme is immoral (in the Ching Dynasty, western thinking was immoral; to Clinton, capitalism and the greed ethic are immoral. I.e. both parties are ideological lunatics incapable of penetrating and understanding, let alone embracing, a change for the better as society evolves via technological and social progress. Both are/were vastly out of sync with the age in which they live in and represent, to me anyway, patriotic forces for preserving or returning to a golden age of traditional ignorance and incompetence)

George Bush is patently ignorant and miserably tongue-tied in front of hostile audiences. As a professional politician he's obviously inferior to Clinton who can produce water-works on command. But they are both clowns. And fortunately, as president, they're not in a position to make that big a mess of things. I think most people vastly, vastly overestimate the power that the president wields. This was perhaps most evident in the hysterical reaction to Katrina. A centuries old problem bungled by generations of residents, mayors, governors and presidents was laid at the feet of a wartime president. Unbelievable... It was perhaps the best example of Bush-derangement syndrome I've seen. (For that matter, Houston is suffering a huge crimewave due to the presence of some of the former Big Easy residents. Imagine the chaos if the criminal element was back in New Orleans. It would be like KMT troops in Taiwan in 1946, stealing everything not nailed down... haha...)

As I was saying about Lincoln's record on human rights, he's probably the worst US president. Even his hagiographers refer to him as the "Benevolent Dictator". He arrested hundreds of newspaper editors and okayed Sherman's march to Georgia which essentially resulted in a 60 mile wide swath of destruction through a couple of states in the South and ended with the torching of Atlanta. This was terrorism pure and simple. Army deserters were shot on the spot without military tribunal. Lincoln proactively started the war rather than engage in continued negotiations with the South. And for that matter, the union was presumed to be a voluntary one until Lincoln used force to keep the states together. Talk about an unconstitutional usurpation of power. Prior to Lincoln, newspapers wrote "The United States are..." Today, newspapers write "The United States is..." If you're serious in your opposition to despotic presidents, then I suggest you whip out the Confederate stars and bars. As you know I'm sure, Robert E. Lee was opposed to slavery, as were many other Southerners who fought against the North. Both northerners and southerners detested blacks. Expansion of slavery was the fuse, but the bomb exploded in my view (and I'm no expert) over the issue of 'increasing the size of the empire' vs. 'states rights'. Many northerners were pro-war because they wanted to reinstate democracy in the south. That was a major talking point of the day (They saw some southern elections as corrupt). And, as I've mentioned before, the last slaves to be freed in the US that I'm aware of were held by the Cherokee nation. It took the threat of federal troops to get them released in 1866. Cherokees as a rule were strongly racist and despised blacks. The nation held an equal ratio of slaves (around 10% of the Cherokees owned slaves) in comparison with the local white community.

History is much more interesting than it's made out to be. As you're fond of bringing up, many Japanese kamikaze pilots were actually Taiwanese aborigines proud to die for the Emperor. A Taipei County politician was just in the news recently for who poo-poohing the flying of Japanese flags by aborigines in Wulai. It takes a peculiar form of blinkered jackass, wedded to ideology rather than free thought, to make the claim that Taiwan's aborigines misplaced their loyalties given the vast change in local identity and sovereignty that Taiwan's residents have endured the past 500 years. But this is just the sort of ahistorical brainless sloganeering that the left (and often the right too) engages in back in the United States.

To continue comparing other presidents with W. Andrew Jackson engaged in ethnic cleansing of Indians in the South. Woodrow Wilson established apartheid in the federal bureaucracy when he became president. He only did this because he was unable legally to fire every black employee from the federal government which was what he initially wanted to do. We now know that he actively connived to get the United States into the first world war and that the ocean liner Lusitania was carrying munitions for England and that the Germans were in their legal rights to sink it. Wilson knew all of this and was satisfied with the results. His plan for the League of Nations was pure politics and he abandoned the effort as soon as the political winds were blowing the other way. Not to mention that he refused to see Ho Chi-minh, was pro-empire, etc. We now know the Roosevelt II tried to get the Japanese to attack United States assets for months prior to Pearl Harbor through an 8 point plan drawn up by Harry Dexter White. (And let me state that I have little problem with Roosevelt's scheming. He had to get the US into the war while 80% of the US electorate was opposed.) In 1995, documents were declassified revealing that Roosevelt had a secret 113 page war plan to get Japanese battle cruisers to attack phony US assets. In involved deputizing foreign nationals as Americans and putting them in Japanese sea lanes on phony US warships. The operation was scheduled to begin on December 8, 1941. In other words, Tojo beat Roosevelt at his own game. And how about Roosevelt's spiriting of ethnic Japanese into camps? (George W. Bush's reaction to US Muslims after 9-11 was to visit mosques and embrace solidarity with them.)

How about Harry Truman? He established the CIA which I presume has no constitutional backing. It's an organization lacking transparency and thoroughly opposed to the checks-and-balances spirit of the United States Constitution. Truman was not reelected because he fought a very unpopular war: the Korean War.

Anyway, my point is that George Bush is just following the lead of his predecessors. Not to mention which, he is not half as bad as his war-president predecessors when it comes to human rights because the Congress and the Senate gives far less leeway to presidential authority these days. Further, these days we have smart bombs, robot spy planes, embedded reporters and a variety of other ways and means which help ensure that casualties are kept to a minimum. Keep in mind the old way of dealing with insurgencies: Lincoln and the Confederate insurgency resulting in 600,000 deaths; Roosevelt and the campaign to subdue the Philippines resulting in 200,000 deaths; Lyndon Baines Johnson in Vietnam resulting in more than one million deaths; Nixon and Cambodia resulting in who knows how many deaths. If we were still living in the bad old days of vast collateral damage, the number of civilian deaths in Iraq would be far, far greater than it has been. (And before you agree with the Lancet study claiming 100,000 civilian deaths I recommend you go to the Lancet website and download and read the various caveats. The Lancet, like any other major academic publication prints studies proving and disproving the very same claim on a regular basis. Keep in mind that an estimated 50% of all formal medical research becomes invalidated at some point due to revelations of honest bungling, dishonest fiddling with statistics to make them prettier, suborned researchers, and so forth.)

I'm presuming that you're mostly reading left-wing web sites or that most of what you hear when you go out to bars is from the left-wing perspective. I was formerly a paid subscriber to Salon Magazine. I'm fully aware of what Zmag, Mother Goose, Democracy Now!, and the rest of these hysterical folk have to say because I used to take them seriously. Not anymore. Would you be surprised to learn that Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! makes US $400,000 per year as radio host. Al Franken is making something on the order of US$2,000,000 a year over at Air America. So I hope you don't think that left-wing doomsday prophesies don't pay well and that these scoundrels are out there due to the pious goodness of their hearts. Jimmy Massey, who claims to have been shooting up Iraqis in Mai Lai style massacres is making a mint out on the lecture circuit. Unfortunately, the embedded reporter who was with him says that none of these massacres took place. Not that this is stopping his financial juggernaut. Nor is it stopping Ward Churchill, a Celt posing as a Cherokee Indian. As mentioned before, he makes US$120,000 as a professor at the University of Colorado despite not having a Ph.D. or even a degree of any kind on anything related to Indian studies. He makes US$5000 a lecture during which he brags about his service as a special forces sniper in Vietnam (he was actually an audiovisual technician). A list of these fraudulent performers would take up pages. The chief witness for the No Gun Ri massacre during the Korean War turns out not to have even been there. He claimed that he was behind a machine gun, slaughtering Korean civilians. But his medical records place him in hospital for an injured foot on the day of the alleged massacre.

I know I've mentioned this kind of stuff before, but it bears repeating.

Again, I've read my fill of Marx and Chomsky and Edward Said etc. These and many other left-wing illuminati are con artists, plain and simple. And of course there are plenty of right-wing frauds as well. There's certainly no preponderance of frauds as far as I can tell on one side or the other. And when reading right-wing or libertarian web sites, you have to sift the grain from the chaff as always. But at least some of the conservative web sites try to be historically-minded without being ideological. The secular left wing is essentially neo-Christian and pushing the tired old meme of the meek shall inherit the earth. Along with the Jesus Freaks, secular leftists share a similar love of conspiracy theories (blameless workers vs. evil corporations), glib historically unsound slogans ("no blood for oil" - well then what where Rommel and Montgomery fighting over in their WWII North African campaign?), and false pride based on moral pieties. Likewise, lefties (and most on the right too) virtually shun libraries (preferring a diet of dumbed-down mass media, often followed by know-it-all grousing about dumbed-down mass media, following by more wolfing down of dumbed-down mass media), have a mad preference for ideology over experience, and, like Christians, view morality as if it came down from heaven and was engraved in stone as opposed to looking to anthropology for materialistic explanations of the great diversity of human morals and ethics over the ages.

Here’s something Mencken wrote in 1920:

“When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost... All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

What has changed? The mob is still with us just as described above. I know this from years of debating ideas with people, particularly during my pre-betamethasone days. Are Clinton and Bush better? In the 1920s, presidents didn’t invoke God. It was way too passé. Today, we’re right back to the days when Lincoln, an avowed atheist, is best remembered for his Gettysburg speech and his cynical blather about the “better angels of our nature”. Haha… If we’ve got morons in office that’s because we’ve got morons voting them in there. And when I look for a moron, the first place I look is in the mirror. I always seem to find one there… Somehow methinks this experience is a universal one…

Anyway, more than enuff said.

Have a good one…


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