Staring Into the Abyss

Friday, June 23, 2006

I adore Ron Suskind. I've been a major fan since he created shock waves with his profile of Karen Hughes in Esquire. Andy Card spilled his guts to the reporter and the most a madly backpedaling White House could do to discredit his reportage was complain that the color-blind Suskind had misrepresented the carpet as blue. I knew then that Suskind had a gift; an intangible quality that makes total strangers want to pour their hearts out to him. I have that knack myself, and avoid crowds for that reason, but I imagine for a reporter it's a major asset.

Public figures love to confess their fears and regrets to Suskind, and more than any other reporter, he has been able to part the curtains on the internal dynamics of the most shrouded White House in American history. From the tragic John DiIulio's pronouncement that the Administration was being run by the "Mayberry Machiavellis," to the inscrutable Paul O'Neill's tell-all-to-Suskind "The Price of Loyalty," to the cultish fervour of a White House that eschews the "reality based community," Suskind always gets the goods. So I am very much looking forward to reading "The One Percent Doctrine." More so after reading this review in Salon.

"License to Lie" by Gary Kamiya is worth reading as a stand-alone piece, even if it means sitting through the ad, just for insights like this:

Suskind's great achievement here is to reveal how the Bush administration short-circuited and ultimately corrupted the way America's government is supposed to work. Actual coups d'état are lurid and violent and attract attention. As Suskind reveals, Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice and Rove pulled off a much more sophisticated job: a bureaucratic coup d'état. Without firing a shot, they silenced critics, squelched unwanted facts, and created their own false but salable reality.

And this:

And if it is necessary to understand our enemy, it is also necessary to understand the risk that we could become the very thing we fear. Nietzsche wrote, "He who fights with monsters should see to it that he does not become a monster himself. And when you stare long into an abyss, the abyss also stares into you." Secrecy and lies in the service of a higher good -- it has a Marxist, a fascist, a theocratic sound. Little by little, under the guise of "national security" -- since the birth of the republic, always the greatest threat to American values -- Cheney and his blustering, deeply devout accomplice have steered America away from its priceless legacy as a land governed by laws, debate and transparency, and toward something none of us would want to recognize.

Aaaannndd this:

Perhaps then we can ask how it happened that the government of the United States was hijacked by a bullying, fact-averse religious fanatic and his puppetmaster, an evil courtier out of Shakespeare. How we were plunged into a disastrous war simply because a cabal of ideologues and right-wing zealots, operating in autocratic secrecy, decided they wanted war. And how all of the normal workings of a democratic government -- objective analysis, checks and balances, transparency -- were simply trashed by an administration waving the bloody shirt of "terror."

But there is little reason for optimism that such a reckoning will take place anytime soon. The Democrats' failure to address the historic debacle that is the Bush presidency is so vast, so complete, that it must stem from reasons deeper than merely its pathetic fear of appearing to be weak on "national security" -- that meaningless shibboleth invoked by political consultants who would nervously triangulate if they were being devoured by a great white shark.

Sadly, I share Kamiya's pessimism. Works like Suskind's are revelatory to those of us with eyes to see and ears to hear. But nothing seems to pierce the bubble of illusion that keeps, the Bush White House, both houses of Congress, and the DC Press Corps, thoroughly insulated from the reality based community.

24 comments:

Simon Malthus said...

that's some nice writing, but you know, it's missing something. take this bit:

As Suskind reveals, Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice and Rove pulled off a much more sophisticated job: a bureaucratic coup d'état. Without firing a shot, they silenced critics, squelched unwanted facts, and created their own false but salable reality.

sounds great, but it's just not true. without 9/11, the bureaucratic coup d'etat was going nowhere. so, either they covertly pulled off a lurid, violent, coup, or they were gifted with a most remarkable assist - call it Providence or dumb luck, but Bushco was going nowhere without it. before you can wave the bloody shirt, you need to get the shirt bloody.

the beautiful untruth continues:

Cheney and his blustering, deeply devout accomplice have steered America away from its priceless legacy as a land governed by laws, debate and transparency, and toward something none of us would want to recognize.

i guess the myth of your own innocence is pretty much priceless. still, reasoning from a myth of American history and identity doesn't strike me as very likely to penetrate to the root of what's going on. Bushco isn't aberration, but culmination. from genocide and slavery, through subversion of democracy around the world in the name of profits, our freedoms have come at a cost for others. if we don't recognize America it's because we didn't know it in the first place.

this isn't some new development so much as it is an end game.

Curmudgette said...

Simon Malthus said:

without 9/11, the bureaucratic coup d'etat was going nowhere. so, either they covertly pulled off a lurid, violent, coup, or they were gifted with a most remarkable assist

I agree that 9/11 has given them great cover but I disagree that they were going nowhere without it. Their bloodless coup started in FL when they subverted a legal vote recount and stole an election. Unlike Ohio of 2004, we know with a fair degree of certainty that a completed recount in 2000 would have given the election to Gore because the votes were later counted and showed that Gore had a substantial margin of victory. They've been upending the democratic process at every turn since then, leveraging every opportunity, including 9/11.

i guess the myth of your own innocence is pretty much priceless. still, reasoning from a myth of American history and identity doesn't strike me as very likely to penetrate to the root of what's going on. Bushco isn't aberration, but culmination.

On that we wholeheartedly agree. We have long been an empire in denial that we are an empire. What the Bush Era has done is bring the ugliest aspects of our national identity screaming to the surface. That's why I have a problem with people who insist we just need to put the Democrats back in power to make everything alright again. Things were never alright. There was a bit more balance between good and evil but the evil was always there, lurking beneath the surface, and I don't particularly want to return to that status quo, even if it were possible.

Simon Malthus said...

They've been upending the democratic process at every turn since then, leveraging every opportunity, including 9/11.

we're in almost complete agreement, but there's a little point that i think is significant and needs to be made clear:

yes, Florida 2000 was a bloodless coup, but without 9/11 that accomplishment was basically dead in the water. Florida or no, he had lost the popular election, and was for many a laughingstock.

it was only 9/11 that gave him the credibility to leverage anything. hence the foundational importance of that date, as evidenced by his administration's shameless employment of it at every turn. 9/11 changed everything - how many times have we heard it? by common admission now - and this epitomizes what that White House aide meant when we said we create reality - we are living in the post 9/11 world. that day wasn't a crime among some catalog of crimes. it was a cosmogonic act.

Curmudgette said...

A "cosmogonic act." I like that. I take you to mean that from that point of origin they were able to unfold an entirely new universe and reality and I don't disagree. At the very least, they were able to create a compelling narrative. I just can never help wondering what it would have been if the events of 9/11 hadn't occurred. I think it would have been something else. There's no way these people were going to let go of power once they had it. I don't buy that they were radically changed on 9/11. (Nor was the world. Everything accelorated dramatically. It didn't "change.") Their agenda including the war in Iraq was well-documented before they were even elected. I tend to think they would have simply found some other catalyzing agent. Playing with historical variables is never more than an intellectual exercise, so who knows for sure? But the bottom line is that these folks are sociopaths who will stop at nothing to attain their goals; even now that they've lost that veneer of legitimacy amongst the population and are significantly lower in the polls than they were before 9/11. The way they are still maneuvering even with their popularity dead in the water is the best evidence I can point to to demonstrate that they don't need the public behind them. All they need is a supine Congress and a compliant media, both of which they had before the towers fell.

Simon Malthus said...

completely right, they weren't changed by 9/11, but by means of 9/11 the world was changed to suit them. that's what cosmogony is all about: changing the world to suit you.

they don't need public support now because thanks to their exploitation of 9/11 we're already living in their world. the War on Terror is a fiat accompli, and everyone else is left to debate how best to wage it.

this gets to the heart of that famous quote provided by Suskind. that's how things will sort out... and so they have.

regarding catalyzing events: as the writers of PNAC knew, it would take something on the scale of Pearl Harbor to shift the world so that it would spin around their axis.

the cosmological metaphor comes in handy here for understanding different levels of change. the rise and fall of public opinion is peripheral change. 9/11, as a cosmogonic event, brought axial change. with axial change accomplished, peripheral events can rise and fall without altering the basic orientation of those events.

Curmudgette said...

I don't know if you saw this but it's kind of a funny synchronicity. Rush Limbaugh was on a panel discussing the "pro-America" show "24."

Later, Limbaugh went back to the program's creation, saying: "You got lucky with 9/11 happening shortly after the show started." He quickly stopped himself, saying: "Sorry — not got lucky — bad choice of words."

Freudian slips are so fun.

Anyhoo. I agree that 9/11 is the event around which Bushco was able to organize their agenda. I'm still not convinced that they would not have been able to do so without it. On a larger scale I think 9/11 was seminal, but for other reasons. I don't believe anything happens in isolation but as aspects of a greater totality. In other words our consciousness did not shift because 9/11 happened -- 9/11 happened because our consciousness shifted. But that gets into my cosmology and really isn't relevant.

I still think the Bush Administration started restructuring reality the minute they stuck their flag in the White House. They've never operated within the bounds of conscensual reality. They find they're probably losing an election and suddenly Fox calls the election the Bush. Huh? After Bush v. Gore with all the associated animosity, with a country sharply divided, Bush immediately began to govern as if he had a mandate. It didn't matter that at least half the country hated him and people threw eggs at his motorcade. He was an imperious, entitled twit from the outset.

This is what Rove does best; invert reality. He's doing it right now by convincing Republicans that they should run on an incredibly unpopular war that we are probably losing. It's a knack that a lot of sociopaths have. Untethered by any kind of conscience they can lie without shame and can say with a totally straight face that black is white and white is black. And they can be very convincing.

You say the shift in public perception was peripheral, but it's really the only thing that markedly changed post-9/11. Now it's changed back and it still doesn't matter. The media was solidly in the Bush camp, so to speak, before Bush even ran. It was obvious throughout the meaningless Clinton/Monica scandal and the savaging of Al Gore heading into the election. Congressional Democrats were already just as supine, as evidenced by the fact that they did NOTHING during Gore's call for a recount except press him to politely call an end to all his foolishness. Journalists and Democrats like to talk about how 9/11 had a subduing effect on them, but it's bullshit because they had already submitted utterly to Republcian domination.

And yes, 9/11 was absolutely the Pearl Harbor members of the PNAC had hoped for, but what did it really net them? They still could not convince the UN to authorize war in Iraq. They still couldn't even swing public opinion. Only a very slim majority in this country supported the war before it started and masses of people were protesting it all over the world. Doesn't matter. They do it anyway, leveraging whatever they have. In this case by falsely connecting Saddam and bin Laden, and playing on post 9/11 fears. But if it hadn't been that, it would have been something else. It's what they do; present total illogic in the face of often incredible resistance and run roughshod over anyone who isn't convinced by it. 9/11 did not singularly allow them to do that. They've been doing it all along. 9/11 did engender a kind of accelorated, hyper-reality, which affected everything including their illusory, alternate reality, but that alternate reality was where they always operated from.

Simon Malthus said...

yes, he was an imperious entitled twit from the outset; and yes, they intentionally, without conscience, work to invert and invent reality. but even the authors of PNAC knew that they'd need an event on the scale of Pearl Harbor to catalyze the invention they imagined. without 9/11 or something similar there is no War President, no PATRIOT Act, no Gitmo, no invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, no faux justification of mass wiretaps, and so on. again, we're in complete agreement that 9/11 didn't change them. it gave them the pretext and energy to change everything else. as Rumsfeld said to an aide as the Pentagon burned: go big.

so, forgive me for repeating myself, the energy of 9/11 is used to shift the axis of public awareness. after 9/11, the 'war on terror' became inevitable. the momentary (and perfectly predictable) spike in public confidence was essential to establishing a new set of givens. now, public approval can wane, but the givens are already established. take a look, for example, at the front page of the Booman Tribue right now, where Larry Johnson is talking about how the U.S. isn't running a proper counterinsurgency. we're living in their world, and without 9/11 they didn't have the credibility (however fleeting) to pull us there.

sorry for the repeat. this may be a point on which we won't agree. i just don't see how the War on Terror (which is the fundamental context established by this Administration) could have been instigated without a major attack. how do you wave the bloody shirt - and think of how many times they've done that - if the shirt isn't bloody?

Simon Malthus said...

re: your cosmology

i think it's entirely relevant, as i suspect it gets to the great difficulty underlying a realistic analysis of historical forces. to enter into this analysis is, as Robert Anton Wilson put it decades ago, to enter Chapel Perilous, where conspiracy emerges from and returns into synchronicity.

this gets at one of the great weaknesses of being 'reality-based': reality is, as has been said, not only stranger than you imagine, but stranger than you can imagine. this strangeness relates directly to the seemingly arcane and pointless secret societies like Skull and Bones, with their apparently silly initiation rituals and so forth. creating reality is an arcane art.

so, when you say something happened because 'our consciousness shifted' it strikes me as both incisive and a bit off the mark. where the mark is, i can't quite say. still, i think we should take the claim to be history's actors seriously; and understand that there are inner and outer churches of history creation. that aide, i'm guessing, is a devotee of some outer circle.

my point, inner and outer churches aside, is to say that the shifting of public awareness has been managed for so long that i can't quite understand what it means to say that a planned event happened because our consciousness shifted. it seems more sensible (though it is not necessaritly correct) to put the horse in front of the cart, as it were, and attribute the occurance of events to the actors who undertake them, the directors who call the shots and the producers who foot the bill. it seems to me that what you're saying is akin to watching a movie and saying it occurred because our awareness shifted by witnessing it.

again, i would completely agree that the ultimate source of causality is inscrutable. i just think we ought to arrive at that inscrutability as prosaically as possible.

Curmudgette said...

simon malthus said:

without 9/11 or something similar there is no War President, no PATRIOT Act, no Gitmo, no invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, no faux justification of mass wiretaps, and so on.

But the original point was not whether or not the war on terra would have happened. It was whether or not the bureaucratic coup would have happened. The specific elements that have unfolded as a direct result of 9/11 may or may not be tied that causative agent. But I still contend that the coup itself was well underway and would likely have succeeded with or without the added energy of 9/11. A lot of people have said that Bush's presidency was in the dumper before 9/11, but I don't remember it that way at all. And many people have called it over many times since then because there have been numerous events that should have, in a normal world, ended it. Then, as now, the mass media was propping up his sham of a presidency. Then, as now, Democrats were bullied into submission -- something that really started during the Clinton years. Republicans have no effective opposition party, which is why, even now, with bad news breaking for this Administration almost daily, there is little hope for Democrats to retake either the House or the Senate in the fall. We're effectively under one party rule. Because there was a coup. They've used tools that were in no way dependant on 9/11, like gerrymandering districts in numerous states, even though those states were just redistricted after the last census. It was audacious. It was only one of their methods. These people are relentlessly aggressive and they're gripping power like a terrier on a pant leg. The events of 9/11 would appear to be fortuitous for them, but they were not decisve in terms of their upending one institution after another. They may have sped it up and changed certain veriables, but I still think they have would have been going along changing the fabric of our government one way or another.

it seems to me that what you're saying is akin to watching a movie and saying it occurred because our awareness shifted by witnessing it.

No, that's not what I'm implying at all. It would be more apt to say that the movie was made because the collective unconscious was prepared to express and experience the ideas reflected in that movie and those ideas localized in the creators of said movie.

Simon Malthus said...

But the original point was not whether or not the war on terra would have happened. It was whether or not the bureaucratic coup would have happened.

from the final bit by Gary Kamiya that you quote:

And how all of the normal workings of a democratic government -- objective analysis, checks and balances, transparency -- were simply trashed by an administration waving the bloody shirt of "terror.

i read that as saying that the bloody shirt was critical to the 'trashing' of the normal workings of a democratice goverment. in other words, the coup (in Kamiya's opinion) required the war on terror. as PNAC predicted, 9/11 accelerated the rate of change (and sometimes more is not just more, but also different). i'll admit that Kamiya may be referring to the bloody shirt merely as a sort of adornment that characterized the appearnance of this administration, but that strikes me as a non-standard, and misleading, usage. when someone's waving the bloody shirt they're not just using it as a decoration. it is a means to an end.

this makes for what i think is a profound juxtaposition - between bloody shirt and bloodless coup - that emerges directly as a consequence of how 9/11 is popularly understood. in short: thou shalt not put two and two together - though as Limbaugh shows, sometimes in a drug-addled state the math just slips out.

as i see it, the fundamental operation of tyranny is to suppress what i'll call natural cognition (putting two and two together, seeing the named emperor, etc). that's what i'm pointing at here. Kamiya refers to a bloodless coup accomplished by a bloody shirt, but apparently neither puts the two together nor notices the incongruity.

the bloody shirt is just a given; and considering it as such i think allows us to avoid how damn mysterious it is that these people got exactly the sort of thing they needed to rapidly effect the changes they envisioned. conspiracy or the power of prayer?

It would be more apt to say that the movie was made because the collective unconscious was prepared to express and experience the ideas reflected in that movie and those ideas localized in the creators of said movie.

thanks for clarifying that. i knew what you meant, but couldn't quite become conscious of it. so the question is: how does the collective unconscious come into expression?

this is what i was referring to in talking about conspiracies arising from and returning to synchronicity; and also why i suppose that there is an inner and outer church of 'reality creation' - as hinted at by the persistence of secret societies populated by highly influential people. in short: reality creation is about management of the collective unconscious that bears within it the power to manifest reality.

so, when you say the collective unconscious was 'prepared to express and experience' certain events, i ask to what extent the collective unconscious is being consciously manipulated. who's doing the preparing? (this question, by the way, is of central concern within the DUNE books. the prophet dominates in the realm of imagination out of which history flows. Hegel meets conspiracy theory meets theurgical apotheosis.) it gives the Battle for Hearts and Minds much needed depth.

well, um, obviously this is a conversation i need to have... so, thanks.

Simon Malthus said...

by the way, did you know that Jerome Armstrong (arch anti-conspiracist Kos' Jerome Armstrong) was formerly an astrologer speculating on how planets impace manifestation of the collective unconscious?

what an odd coincidence it was to find that just a few moments ago.

Curmudgette said...

Simon Malthus said:

Kamiya refers to a bloodless coup accomplished by a bloody shirt, but apparently neither puts the two together nor notices the incongruity.

Before that he writes:

As Suskind reveals, Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice and Rove pulled off a much more sophisticated job: a bureaucratic coup d'état. Without firing a shot, they silenced critics, squelched unwanted facts, and created their own false but salable reality.

I can't speak to Kamiya's views about the relative importance of 9/11, but I can say that the silencing of critics, squelching of facts, etc., is how they operated long before 9/11 and was quite noticeable during the recount debate in 2000. They ran roughshod over Florida law. It's just how they operate. It could also be argued that the only one could say that 9/11 makes this a bloody coup is to assume that they were behind it. I've never excluded that possibility, but there is insufficient evidence. But I take you to mean that without the bloodshed of 9/11, whomever was behind it, they could not have accomplished their aims. My point is that they may not have accomplished all of them, but that they would still have quietly dismantled a good bit of our Constitutional democracy, because it's what they were determined to do and they never met enough resistance from within the organs of government nor from the fourth estate. They did wave a bloody shirt, but if they hadn't had a bloody shirt, they would have waved whatever else was handy, and 9/11 or no, the people's representatives would have continued to allow themselves to be bent over the sink; just as they did during Bush v. Gore; just as they did during the Clinton scandal.

by the way, did you know that Jerome Armstrong (arch anti-conspiracist Kos' Jerome Armstrong) was formerly an astrologer speculating on how planets impace manifestation of the collective unconscious?

I was not aware that he was an astrologer. I did read in Salon that he is a Buddhist. Neither fact impresses me very much. I've known many Buddhists and many astrologers in my life and there are good ones and bad ones.

I don't agree that astrologers interpret how planetary motions impact human events, although many astrologers believe they are doing exactly that. I believe that they are looking at one set of reflectors of human events. You can read anything from tea leaves to tarot cards to the flight patterns of birds and divine some information because all things reflect all other things.

I also don't believe that anyone can act upon the collective unconscious; only act within it because we are all tributaries of the same great river. Power mongers have power because, on some level, we are all in agreement that this should be our experience for the time being. It has certainly been that way for a long time. As Joseph Campbell said, we need to "change the metaphors" and shape a different reality.

Our current government is an expression of our entire collective conscious; I believe an eruption of the shadow. I like this guy's take on it, but that's just me.

Simon Malthus said...

a bureaucratic coup d'état

yeah, i'm aware of that. that's the juxtaposition (bureaucratic coup d'état and bloody shirt) that i find interesting.

it seems to me that we have divergent memories on Bushco pre-9/11. i didn't see them as creating a salable reality, especially as compared to the Bushco created reality post-9/11 - which corresponds to PNAC plans, and hence seems to me as likely pre-existing aim of the administration.

probably no need to go around on that point again, so i'm content to leave it there. i saw the Bush Administration as very weak prior to 9/11. that's my memory.

I was not aware that he was an astrologer. I did read in Salon that he is a Buddhist. Neither fact impresses me very much. I've known many Buddhists and many astrologers in my life and there are good ones and bad ones.

i mentioned it because it struck me as interesting vis-a-vis our discussion of manifestation from the collective unconscious. i also think he makes for an interesting juxtaposition with Kos - in particular because he'd get ridiculed and banned were he to post an astrological analysis to the proud flagship of the Reality Based Community.

i've likewise known lots of astrologers, and spent a good number of years considering the subject. my point (beyond the coincidence with our discussion) isn't to deride Jerome, but to note the incongruity.

I don't agree that astrologers interpret how planetary motions impact human events, although many astrologers believe they are doing exactly that. I believe that they are looking at one set of reflectors of human events.

this, of course, is an ancient debate, made more complicated by the fact that different cultures make use of different systems.

I also don't believe that anyone can act upon the collective unconscious; only act within it because we are all tributaries of the same great river. Power mongers have power because, on some level, we are all in agreement that this should be our experience for the time being. It has certainly been that way for a long time. As Joseph Campbell said, we need to "change the metaphors" and shape a different reality.

if reality is shaped by metaphor, then don't those who control metaphor exert some control over the unfolding of reality?

Curmudgette said...

Simon Malthus said:

i saw the Bush Administration as very weak prior to 9/11.

Not nearly as weak as they should have been, in my opinion. They were enabled by the mainstream media and the Democrats were tripping all over themselves to heal the country after the recount battle. Remember the tempest in a teapot over the "trashing" of the White House offices? The press bought it hook, line, and sinker. It was classic Rove.

I found that whole time period to be utterly surreal. I could not believe that anyone could look at Bush and think of him as a legitimate President, especially when he talked about the co-presidency with Cheney. But every bizarre, childish thing he said was reported as if it made sense. The newspapers even cleaned up his grammar and syntax.

Everything about this presidency was a separate reality, spun by Karl Rove and Karen Hughes, and delivered by an unquestioning press, from day one. Hughes and company understood something that a lot people don't; that access to the White House is the ultimate bargaining chip. They leveraged that power in a way I've certainly never seen. They told the press to jump and the press corps said, how high? I had little hope that reality would catch up. It still hasn't. Even after all the political capital of 9/11 has been long spent.

this, of course, is an ancient debate, made more complicated by the fact that different cultures make use of different systems.

The differing systems don't enter into it, just as the differing divination systems don't matter. It's about cosmology and how you perceive reality. I come from a mystical perspective, and see all things in one-ness. I don't believe the stars are separate from me so they cannot act upon me. They are simply one point of reflection. Just as I don't believe some "other" can "control" the metaphor. Control is an illusion of the ego. None of us have control. We either or aren't conscious of how we participate in structuring the greater reality collectively.

Curmudgette said...

i also think he makes for an interesting juxtaposition with Kos - in particular because he'd get ridiculed and banned were he to post an astrological analysis to the proud flagship of the Reality Based Community.

So, so, so true!

Simon Malthus said...

None of us have control.

what, then, does the word should mean? or spun, or leverage?

Curmudgette said...

what, then, does the word should mean? or spun, or leverage?

They have to do with intention. We can take actions but we can't control outcomes. Even coercive methods have variable results. I can put a gun to your head and insist you give me information, but you can still choose whether to tell me what I want to know, to make something up, or to martyr yourself. I won't necessarily get what I want no matter how much power the gun gives me, so I'm not really in control. The White House appears to control the press, but it's only because the press is accepting a submissive role. They are choosing not to ask certain questions. They are balancing their need for access and internal promotion by right leaning media owners against their journalistic training and choosing the path of least resistance.

Simon Malthus said...

great. i didn't mean to suggest absolute control. i meant to ask to what extent the collective unconscious, with it's apparent power to manifest reality, is being manipulated.

we can't control outcomes exactly, but many different sorts of science have developed that enable varying degrees of control - not to mention sometimes astronomical magnifications of power.

so, to say that 'they' don't control outcomes is not to say that they don't influence outcomes, sometimes very successfully relative to intention (e.g. the attack on Pearl Harbor or the sinking of the battleship Maine). it helps when you're willing to commit horrors.

Curmudgette said...

Well, again, from a mystical perspective no one can influence, let alone manipulate, another, because there is no other. It only seems that way from the perspective of being inside the illusion that is manifest reality -- what the Hindus call "Maya." Dick Cheney appears to be separate from me, but he is not, in actuality. He is only part of my reflection. That's mystical thought. Outside events cannot impact us, because nothing is outside of us.

It is a question worth pondering, however, how we became so ensnared in the spider web that so many of us seem so powerless over greater events. Mystical thinkers say we are not in fact powerless because each of is the creator and that cosmology can be found as an underlying premise in virtually every religion; more explicitly in ancient systems than in modern. Man is the measure of the all things. He contains the entire universe in microcosm. But I, personally, struggle with the question of how we fell into such a deep sleep and just how in the hell we snap out of it. How does the dreamer wake up in the great dream and reclaim a conscious role in reality creation as opposed to an unconscious one? It's certainly not as simple as training the beta brain to focus on certain concepts. It's not an intellectual exercise. The lesson I take from "The Matrix" movies, which are as perfect a representation of mystical thought as I've ever seen in any art form, we can "choose."

Simon Malthus said...

two nights ago i composed a long reply that i was very interested in, then accidentally closed the wrong tab and lost it. oddly enough, i lost it because a i'd been distracted by a friend who called to tell me about a radio show she'd just listened to, which happened to be on the very subject i was so intently writing on.

the moment went from perfect to terribly, terribly, frustrating in one irreversible instant.

then yesterday i got an idea that the lost 20th comment - the Zacharias comment - was only appropriate to this thread hijacking. there was a larger pattern at work.

here's a page image i put together for you. a traditional view...

Curmudgette said...

simon malthus said:

i lost it because a i'd been distracted by a friend who called to tell me about a radio show she'd just listened to, which happened to be on the very subject i was so intently writing on.

Aren't Jungian synchronicities fun? One of life's little reminders that all things reflect all other things. Thanks for the link. That's what I mean about mystical thought. It's in every religion, usually buried under a pile of dogma.

I caught your Booman Tribune discussion on the netroots "endorsements." Good stuff. I'm one of the netroots and I can't even post on the Daily Kos. So much for my input. Those of us who were banned by the blog of record just aren't the netroots I guess. All we can do is press our noses against the glass like disenfanchised street urchins and watch the party.

Simon Malthus said...

All we can do is press our noses against the glass like disenfanchised street urchins and watch the party.

that reminded me of this.

i want to return to something you wrote upstream a bit:

Dick Cheney appears to be separate from me, but he is not, in actuality. He is only part of my reflection. That's mystical thought.

i don't think that's quite it. Dick's not your reflection any more than you are Dick's. rather, historically speaking, you and Dick are expressions of some meta-entity. this meta-entity is what Hegel referred to as the Idea of History - which is not an idea that someone has about history but rather the God that manifests as and within History. sounds pretty much like the biblical notion of God to me.

in the DUNE books, this Idea is embodied by the God Emperor, whose prescient vision manifests in the Golden Path. in V for Vendetta, the Idea of history is embodied in the character V. this is made clear in the final scene of the movie when the police officer asks Evey, "who was he?" and she responds, "he was so and so and he was my father, and my mother, and my brother, and me and you..." and so forth and so on.

which gets to what Frank Herbert called the fundamental question of politics: Who gets to play God?

the question i'm interested in is how does one play God? a big part of the answer to that, i think, is by waging war.

the point we differ on here concerns whether or not anyone has the freedom to play. we're exploring the nature of freedom within a universe of implicate order.

personally, i think there is some room for play, and that religion and politics as systems of social control make use of exactly that. for an example of this, read the chapters in Exodus in which Moses receives the Ten Commandments with the phrase psychological operation in mind. it's fascinating.

well... i'm not going to go back and try to make this all linear and sensible. if i try to be too clear i'll never write a thing.

svensun said...

The quote cited from "License to Lie" gets to the heart of the issue:

Suskind's great achievement here is to reveal how the Bush administration short-circuited and ultimately corrupted the way America's government is supposed to work. Actual coups d'état are lurid and violent and attract attention. As Suskind reveals, Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice and Rove pulled off a much more sophisticated job: a bureaucratic coup d'état. Without firing a shot, they silenced critics, squelched unwanted facts, and created their own false but salable reality.

This is getting to the heart of the matter. What has Suskind all rolled up in knots is that the Bush Administration has had the TEMERITY to actually run the government, rather than just leave it in the hands of bureaucrats! Horrors! How dare an Administration constitutionally elected by We The People actually dare to make decisions and take actions over the objections of unelected bureaucrats, with lifetime government sinecures, federal pension plans and all the rest. After all, we all know how concerned and caring government bureaucrats are towards the people who pay their salaries, how greatly they put the needs of the public ahead of their own. If you are uncertain, just head down to your local DMV or Social Security office for a refresher.

This is the crux of Suskind's argument: he is shilling for a bunch of disgruntled CIA employees who have seen this Administration ignore THEIR sage advice. After all, these are the people who know Osama best, right? They're the ones who were tracking him down, and stopping him dead in his tracks. NOT!

Honestly, why would one give credence to the kind of people Suskind is carrying water for, like Scheuer or Richard Clarke, examples of bureaucratic failure who bear a lion's portion of the blood of the 9/11 victims on their heads. Only Clinton, offered Osama on a silver platter by the Sudanese, carries a heavier load.

Lest I be accused of sheer partisanship, I believe the Bush Administration bears blaming as well, for 9/11, but it has nothing to do with that ridiculous PDB nonsense. The Bush Administration had decided early on to do the RIGHT thing in dealing with Al quaeda; their error was to take too long to formulate and implement it. The irony is that their policy was finalized and ready to implement by the beginning of September, but they mistakenly thought they had months to change policy, while in reality they had only days after taking office.

It's doubtful that even if they had implemented their policy immediately in January of 2001 that it would have made a difference, but it certainly wouldn't have hurt.

Curmudgette said...

Sevensun,

Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are career bureaucrats. That's how they've done what they've done. And yes they have demonstrated quite well that bureaucrats should not be doing things like, say, planning wars. It's not just the CIA and the State Department that they've ignored in their planning. They also shut out any military mind that did not agree with them. General Shinseki, for instance, whom they cut off at the knees for pointing out quite publicly that we would need a few more boots on the ground in Iraq or we would have chaos. Let's see now... Who was right? The man with actual military experience or Dick "Five Deferments" Cheney? Oh right. But no these geniuses liked their pet bureaucrats better; like Paul Wolfowitz who testified before Congress that Iraq had no serious ethnic divisions. Greeted with flowers, wasn't that what those genius Vulcans said?

The point of having deliberative processes with war-making decisions between separated between the executive and legislative branches (You remember Congress? That other body of elected officials that this White House steamrolls over?) is the hope that cooler heads will prevail; that through a deliberative process faulty thinking will be exposed through debate. That's what the Bush Administration has dispensed with and they have done some very stupid things as a result and many people have paid the price for their idiocy with their lives.