Monday, October 30, 2006

Garry Wills on the Theocrats + Iraq Is Great, Jump Off a Cliff

Garry Wills on W's Theocracy
I haven't had a chance to get to some of the interesting books on the gathering theocracy in Washington, but I did recently read Garry Wills's recent piece, "A Country Ruled by Faith," in the New York Review of Books. To put it directly, he writes about the theocratic underpinnings of the current administration. He starts off by noting that from 1789 to 2000, no American government was "highly religious, specifically highly Christian, and even more specifically highly biblical"; then George W. Bush was appointed by the US Supreme Court, and the fix was in. Wills goes on to state throughout the piece, as he assesses the breadth of the extremists' governmental network of influence, that most Americans have no clue as to the extent of the Talevangelicals's (Dobson, Robertson, etc.) presence or power in our government, though at times it has come to the fore, such as when Harriet Miers' nomination occasioned an outcry and the tidy right-winger John Roberts Jr. and the less tidy Samuel Alito were placed on the Supreme Court. I'd add that that whatever outrages they've been involved in have been so regularly superseded by even greater ones, the Iraq-mire the greatest or worst of them all, that it would take a flowchart the size of one of the Grand Canyon walls to register all of them. I'd forgotten about John Ashcroft's demand that hospitals turn over information on all women having abortions back in 2001, or that attacks against abortion clinics had jumped from 209 during Bill Clinton's final year to nearly 800 during Bush's first--but then again, the horrorshow of September 11, 2001, effectively--and I mean this in the worst way--wiped the memory slate clean for so much of the crap the Bushites rushed to implement before that terrible, enabling event.

I urge J'sTheater readers to check out the piece. Some or even much of it you may know, but there are probably tidbits that you haven't seen before, such as the politicized buying off of Black ministers; of course this use of "taxpayers' money" ($1.5 million to a Milwaukee bishop, for example) fobbed off on Black folks provoked none of the usual Republican outcries, because, as Wills points out, Republican candidates implied that the bribes faith-based coins would be flowing only with their election. Of course there's much more. At any rate, Wills, an acclaimed historian, is quite thorough. He does, according to Tristero on the Digby (Hullabaloo) site, make several errors involving the creationist Discovery Institute. But overall it's an informative, fact-based piece, and it buttresses accounts by former insiders like David Kuo. It is probably fair to say that these crackpots should be kept as far away from federal governance as is humanly (and divinely) possible.

Iraq Is Great, Jump Off the Cliff
Okay, I'm pretty clear on what denial and delusion look like and how they function psychologically and socially. Nevertheless, I have a challenge for anyone who claims that Iraq is "great," "going well," that it's "better than the media portrays," that "Baghdad is as safe as Manhattan," or any of the other deranged rhetoric that we hear periodically. To those of you who spout this crap, I can't promise you any money, but I will blog about you if you can provide documentation (no fake pictures taken in Turkey, now!) that you are an American but not a member of the US military and that you've spent TWO WEEKS living in any part of that country (and this includes Iraqi Kurdistan) OUTSIDE THE HEAVILY PROTECTED GREEN ZONE, WITHOUT US MILITARY PROTECTION, à la former Chicago mayor Jane Byrne's famous stunt where she moved (for a nanosecond) into Cabrini Green, or Corey Booker's actual extended stay, during his council terms, in working-class housing project in Newark.

Because isn't it reasonable to expect that if you are continually asserting that it's so great over there--so great that our Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, had to fly corkscrew fashion into the airport for fear of getting shot down, so great that she had to wear a bulletproof vest, so great that she had to be helicoptered from the airport to the Green Zone lest her convey be blown up by a roadside bomb, so great that as she met with the Iraqi president the lights went off for a while, etc.--certainly some of the diehard champions of the great policy this country is currently pursuing there will have no problems fulfilling this simple challenge. Hell, Republican Congressman Peter King stated that "being in Baghdad is like being in New York." Wow, so it really must be great. I guess King can do us the honor of staying in Baghdad OUTSIDE THE GREEN ZONE, since it's so like Manhattan. I'd love to see a tape of him enjoying the "liberty" and "freedom" his overlord frequently brays on about; wouldn't you like to see him just strolling wherever he wanted when he wanted, as he might on 125th Street or 2nd Avenue or Maiden Lane or Broadway or West End Avenue, because as in Manhattan, a sniper's bullet or IED wouldn't blow a hair of that blowdried pompadour off his astoundingly vacuous head. Maybe some of those diehard Young Republicans or the Bush babykinfolk will do us the honor. Please. I mean, I'm from the most dangerous city in America (according to certain questionable methods), which is in the "Show Me" state, so please, show me and the rest of America how truth-based (as opposed to truthy) your rhetoric is. And hey, no resorting to the private security firms whose bills are devouring our "taxpayers' dollars," you hear? I suggest a week in either Nasiriyah or Basra, since we're constantly told that the "south" of Iraq is so safe, so great, so wonderful, so stable.

Meanwhile, back in the reality-based world, we have this military verdict on the president's brilliant, great, superb policies. It's enough to make you want to take up the Bible and the bottle simultaneously:
The top U.S. military commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., predicted last week that Iraqi security forces would be able to take control of the country in 12 to 18 months. But several days spent with American units training the Iraqi police illustrated why those soldiers on the ground believe it may take decades longer than Casey's assessment....

"I wouldn't let half of them feed my dog," 1st Lt. Floyd D. Estes Jr., a former head of the police transition team, said of the Iraqi police. "I just don't trust them."....

[Jon Moore, the deputy team chief] estimated it would take 30 to 40 years before the Iraqi police could function properly, perhaps longer if the militia infiltration and corruption continue to increase. His colleagues nodded.

"It's very, very slow-moving," Estes said.

"No," said Sgt. 1st Class William T. King Jr., another member of the team. "It's moving in reverse."

THIRTY TO FORTY YEARS! But then today the President, at a spectacular neo-fascist style rally down in Georgia, shrieked: "the Democrat (sic) goal is to get out of Iraq," while "the Republican goal is to win in Iraq." God knows, if this debacle is "winning," we are beyond f*cked....


  1. Bitter much? Lol. I don't think I've ever read you so vitriolic and furious as in this piece. It is tiresome, isn't it, to always remain in the cool, reasonable (blue) part of the spectrum when one in fact one's outrage is hot hot hot? You have almost the vehemence of radio personality here. Whew!

    Kai in NYC

  2. Hmmm, I think you'd be quite surprised if you drove around Chicago and Evanston with me..LOL. I think I've blown off steam before on here. Usually it's political issues, though. Unlike the radio loudmouths, I think everything I'm saying here is factual, which is to say, verifiable. I try my best to keep an even keel. High blood pressure and a history of extensive family heart disease will do that to you...