Monday, April 30, 2007



For a special look at the right wing mentality today-- especially the penchant for self-entitelment and psychotic paranoia regarding victimization-- I want to take you back a few decades to the ideological and spiritual antecedents of George Bush's Republican base. The time: just after World War I. The place: Germany. The literal translation of "Dolchstoßlegende" is "Dagger stab legend," what we might call the "stab-in-the-back myth." After Germany's defeat, right wing propaganda carefully-- and hysterically-- encouraged and nurtured an ethos of persecution among the German people and successfully brainwashed a substantial part of the population so thoroughly that they blamed the war not on failed militarism and their tragically flawed political leadership but on the enemies of militarism and those very leaders. Germans bought it and instead of turning decisively against the right, many Germans turned towards it.

Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith have written an important essay on how the American right is already planning the same type of propaganda campaign to turn the question, Who lost Iraq? into a club with which to attack Democrats.
Republicans are preparing to dominate future decades of American politics by blaming the failure of the Iraq war on those who "sent a signal" that the US would not "stay the course" whatever the cost. President Bush and Vice President Cheney have already begun to project such a "stab in the back" myth. At a recent Republican luncheon, Cheney told senators that "What's most troubling" about Sen. Harry Reid's recent comment that the war is lost "is his defeatism."

Their propagandists-- as well as media hacks embedded in the mainstream press, like David Broder-- can always be counted on to lend a hand when it comes to smearing the respresentatives of working and middle class Americans they so detest.

Once the Bush Regime has decisively lost the ill-conceived war and given up the occupation of Iraq, Rovian swiftboating "will go into high gear to blame each new outrage on those in the US who didn't give 100 percent support to the war." That's a key reason why so many Democrats who know better are so tepid about supporting a frontal attack on Bush, Cheney and the neocons and on ending the war at once and denouncing it for what it is: a contemptible failure from Day One on the part of an illegitimate political clique outside of the mainstream of American politics. "The crucial problem is that most Democrats seem to be calling for withdrawal or 'redeployment' not because the war is wrong, but merely because it is failing. By framing the war as lost because of mismanagement, poor planning or being bogged down in a civil war, Democrats cede the argument that the war itself was a 'noble cause.' But if the war is right-- if, as Bush maintains, it is necessary to prevent horrendous consequences-- then the public will predictably blame those consequences on the 'defeatists' who made America 'cut and run.'"
What's necessary to evade this trap is to define the war itself-- rather than just the fact that America is losing it-- as wrong. It is wrong because we were lied into it by a rogue executive intent on launching an illegal war and occupation, in violation of national and international law, the US Constitution and the UN Charter. And it is wrong because it has imposed an illegal occupation that has systematically violated the Geneva Conventions and the US War Crimes Act.

The means to define Bush's war for the American people are at hand in the power of Congress to investigate executive branch actions. We are seeing that power being flexed in the use of subpoenas for documents and testimony by committees investigating the firings of US attorneys. But, so far, investigation of illegal war, occupation, torture and rendition has been pusillanimous at best...

In the aftermath of the Vietnam war, Democrats and the peace movement were smeared for "losing Vietnam." This campaign was largely successful because the public was never given a full picture of the real purposes of the war and the full machinations of those who fomented it. As a result, their anger could be turned against those blamed for losing it, rather than those responsible for starting and perpetuating it. That's why the lessons of Vietnam were never learned - and why simply blaming Bush for defeat in Iraq, rather than educating the public about the real meaning of the war, will lay the groundwork for more Iraq-type wars in the future.

There's plenty of evidence for the criminal violation of national and international law and the US Constitution by the architects of the Iraq war. But so far this evidence is not being presented to the American people by their representatives. As long as the American people hear that the only thing wrong with the war is that we're losing it, Democrats and the peace movement will be vulnerable to the Rovian trap.

Yesterday I took a look at an alternative scenario: the demise of the Republican Party. Today William F. Buckley writes a similar piece in the National Review, The Waning of The GOP. He sites opposition by the vast majority of the American people, by the Democrats and by Congress. He refers to accounts coming out from Bush Regime insiders that "demonstrate that there was one part ignorance, one part bullheadedness, in the high-level discussions before war became policy. Mr. Tenet at least appears to demonstrate that there was nothing in the nature of a genuine debate on the question." And he admits what Regime dead enders like Cheney, Bush and Lieberman refuse to do: "It is simply untrue that we are making decisive progress in Iraq."

This is at the root of my disagreement with Speaker Pelosi's assertion that impeachment is off the table. Bush and his illegitimate rogue regime must be exposed and everyone, even toothless rednecks in rural Texas and delusional religionist zombies in Utah and South Carolina must be made to look-- the way Germans were forced to walk through concentration camps after World War II-- at exactly what the war in Iraq was.

The best poster at the California Democratic convention was of Nancy Pelosi as Rosie the Riveter and she was received as a hero. Her opposition to impeachment was, however, washed away in the tide of history. Yesterday the convention delegates demanded that Congress use its subpoena power to investigate the misdeeds of Bush and Cheney-- and to hold the Regime accountable "with appropriate remedies and punishment, including impeachment." It wasn't close. For millions of Americans impeachment is very much on the table.

Bush and Cheney, according to the resolution subverted the Constitution by
* using false information to justify the invasion of Iraq
* authorizing "the torture of prisoners of war"
* "authorizing wiretaps on U.S. citizens without obtaining a warrant"
* "disclosing the name of an undercover CIA operative"
* suspending "the historic Writ of Habeas Corpus by ordering the indefinite detention of so-called enemy combatants"
* "signing statements used to ignore or circumvent portions of over 750 Congressional statutes"

Sounds a lot more convincing than consensual sex with an adult stalker.


A few weeks ago I spoke with a young Army vet from upstate New York, Jon Powers, and was impressed by the work he is doing with Iraqi orphans. Yesterday he penned an article at the Huffington Post to commemorate the anniversary of "Mission Accomplished." He explains, from the point of view of an American soldier, how the Bush Regime betrayed our soldiers and the Iraqi people. Jon makes a heartfelt plea to Bush, on behalf of Americans and Iraqis, to sign the bill the U.S. Congress is delivering to him today.
When my soldiers and I took over our section of Baghdad from the battled hardened 3rd Infantry Division we were preparing to execute the plan for "securing and reconstructing" that our leader talked about. Driving around the streets of Baghdad it became quickly evident that the Iraqi people were desperate for some basic social and economic needs. Sewage, waste, jobs and other basic needs were not being met.

As a commander on the ground, I expected those leading me to provide me the guidance and systems for my soldiers to implement. I expected there to be a Phase IV for us to execute so we could become "engaged in securing and reconstructing" that our leader talked about in front of the Mission Accomplished banner.

I was a believer, but I was betrayed.

Thomas Ricks, in his book Fiasco, and many others have now proved that there was NO plan for reconstruction. Lieutenant Colonel Alan King recalls, in What Was Asked of Us, as he rolled into Baghdad Airport "they told me I had twenty-four hours to come up with a reconstruction plan for Baghdad."

My platoon and I were not the only ones to feel this betrayal. The Iraqi people began to notice that their simple needs were not being met. Ahmed, an Iraqi friend, asked me, "America has been to the moon, why can't you pick up our trash?" I wondered the same thing as Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority quickly rejected any efforts the ground troops made in preference to the American contractors who did not show up for months. These stories have all been told.

It was because of this betrayal that Baghdad began to slowly deteriorate into the situation we now see today.

Mr. Bush, my soldiers and I secured Baghdad in the summer of 2003. We drove the streets without doors on our Humvees and ate dinner in the homes of the Iraqis people. We needed a plan to address our basic responsibility of social and economic solutions for the nation's needs.

Four years later you now send more troops into Baghdad who are beginning to build walls around neighborhoods such as Adhamiya, where I was stationed, against the wishes of the Iraq people. Your goal is to secure Baghdad, but you again fail to address the social, economic and now more importantly the political issues.

Even General Petraeus, the current commander in Iraq, admits that the solution to this fiasco is not a military one.

Jon Powers thinks Bush has an opportunity to redeem himself as a leader by taking up Congress' well thought out plan to disengage from occupation and war of the anniversary of his infamous speech and bumbling miscalculation. "The American people have spoken, Congress has spoken, and now Mr. Bush it is your turn."

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At 10:19 AM, Blogger Milt Shook said...

Hmmm... I agree with you on pretty much all of this. I do kind of disagree with you on what Pelosi said. At the time she said it, it needed to be off the table, for two reasons. The first one was that there had been no investigations at the time, because the GOP didn't believe in them, and there was nothing solid to impeach him ON. Plus, at the time, impeachment would have energized wingnut voters.

Impeachment isn't off the table right now, though. momentum is building, and investigations are uncovering one thing after another, and we are approaching the critical mass needed to impeach, convict and remove Bush and Cheney. The time to impeach is when you have so much info that the Republicans can't turn away from it without incurring major electoral damage. We're definitely getting there, though.

In a perfect, less political world, I'd like to see him impeached, anyway, just so that someone can just lay things out for the American people, even if he's not ultimately removed.

Now, as for the end of the GOP...

I wrote about this a very long time ago, and the article is still on my web site ( The wingnuts have screwed the pooch for good; the only chance the GOP has is to jettison them altogether. They have poisoned the well for generations, because of their basic ideology, which is that government does everything wrong, so you need to take all functions away from the government. It's akin to running Wal-Mart when you know that Wal-Mart sucks.

Exactly. It does suck. And the wingnuts have turned the United States into Wal-Mart. And make no mistake; while Wal-Mart makes a lot of money, most people do NOT shop at wal-mart...

The GOP may not be over, but the right wing is done...

At 10:46 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Milt, I was on the phone with the Speaker Pelosi last week and she was adamant that impeachment is still off the table-- at least from her perspective.

At 1:07 PM, Blogger Murdoch Matthew said...

When the Democrats or the media talk about War, either the War on Terror or the Iraq War, they do the rightwing's framing for them.

You can't have a war on terror, an abstract noun, or even a war on a technique of disruption. Nor is it necessary -- "terrorists" can only produce damage comparable to natural disasters. The destruction of the world trade center was in the same class as the last major Florida hurricane or California earthquake. We need economic and diplomatic initiatives to neutralize the anger and alienation that gives rise to criminal conspiracies to cause showy damage. "War" is only an excuse for political oppression and profiteering.

And the Iraq situation isn't a war. Bush declared that war over four years ago and he was right. What's going on now is an occupation. How different it would sound to call for an end to the Occupation, rather than an end to the War. You can't win or lose an occupation.

Yes, please. Declare war on the war metaphor. (The war on drugs is no better.)

At 6:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds to me like Bush is calming his rhetoric, and the news talking heads seem to be preparing us for a big love fest on war funding.

There may finally be an impeachment, but I think it will take the fall of Cheney and Rove first.


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