Friday, June 1, 2007

The Age of Unreason

Al Gore's book, "The Assault on Reason", is #1 on Amazon's list. Does this mean people are engaging in reason, logic, fact-checking? Unfortunately, as studies on advertising have shown, people are engaged on a more primitive, emotional level before their rational mind kicks in.

I haven't read the book, but I looked at the pictures (and read reviews, commentaries and saw him discuss the book on several shows, including Jon Stewart's). I believe his thesis is that the American people are being manipulated by cagy Machiavellians who use fear, pride and patriotism to infuse them with fact-free convictions
. To repeat what Dr. Joseph Goebbels said (someone who I'm sure Karl Rove takes to heart):

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come
to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State
can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences
of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of
its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and
thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the state."

Bush & Company rely on stirring up our emotions, instilling fear, evoking pride and patriotism. Whenever Bush's poll numbers go down perilously, he mentions 9/11.

He was also recently "emboldened" (his favorite word for what people who disagree with him do to the enemy) by the Democrat's cave-in on the Iraq War supplemental funding bill. The Democrats completely neutered the bill they passed. There are no stipulations; neither the U.S. nor the Iraqi government are required to meet any benchmarks and even if there were benchmarks, there would be no penalty for not meeting them.

When the Democrats retreated from their strong initial stance, Bush crowed and preened himself as if he faced down Osama Bin Laden. He declassified and "leaked" intelligence that bin Laden was defeated somehow in 2005 (I'm not clear on the details; the gist was that the government had been doing something about someone who actually planned and executed 9/11.)

Another argument Gore makes is that Bush & Co. came in with predetermined goals, such as "let's invade Iraq" and "let's make the U.S. a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party." In that case, there is no room for facts. As Goebbels said (see above), "(T)he truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." All inconvenient facts are made to conform to the ideology. The ends justify the means.

Another Guantanamo detainee killed himself yesterday. There were about 380 people kept there. Now there are about 379. Some of the detainees have been there for 5 years. They are told they will never be released. Most of these people have not been charged and the legal rules have changed to prevent them from ever challenging their situation. It's inevitable that there will be more suicides.

I saw the spokesman (don't remember his name) from on Countdown yesterday. He was sadly resigned. At Fort Lewis the decision was made not to hold individual funerals honoring one fallen soldier, but to hold one funeral a month to honor all the soldiers that died that month. The spokesman from Fort Lewis said it was done because "there were too many soldiers dying."

Meanwhile, Bush says we will stay there indefinitely (like in Korea). Only Iraq is not Korea. In Korea we had multi-national agreement. We have had relative peace for decades. Anyway, Bush's statement is a recruiting slogan for al Qaeda. I briefly glimpsed a picture of the new American Embassy in Iraq. It's huge (larger than 3 football fields) with all the amenities of home and then some.

Republican candidates fervently declare their support of torture as an interrogation technique despite all evidence that it doesn't produce valid intelligence. And Joe Lieberman goes to Iraq to declare that "progress is being made", resolutely refusing to hear the soldiers' cries, "When are we getting to go home? We're riding around waiting to be shot."

Somehow this is related: An article in the N.Y. Times yesterday described the plight of refugees seeking entry into the United States. Their fates vary widely depending on what immigration judge they draw. In some cases, with judges from the same court (for instance, Miami), one will allow 70% of the cases to remain in the U.S.; the other will allow 5%. There is no real rhyme or reason, no system or legal structure to guide these decisions.

At the end of the article, the reporter slipped in that Monica Goodling, the liaison between the DoJ and the White House, not only vetted potential DoJ prosecutors and civil servants, she also passed judgment on immigration judges.

Next entry: How is Bush & Co. like the Nazi regime? (I already gave you a clue with Goebbel's quote.)

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