liberal ["liberalis" L - suitable for a freeman, generous; "eleutheros" Gk - free] (adj) generous, open-minded, not subjugated to authoritarian domination; (n) one who believes in liberty, universal suffrage and the free exchange of ideas. elite ["eslire" Fr -- to choose fr.L "eligere" -- choose] (n) the choice part; best of a class; the socially superior part of society.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


I finally got around to starting the Buzz Flash article by Jonathan Greenburg, "Why Bush's America Feels Like Orwell's 1984." It's good. There's so much to read. I rarely look at mainstream media now. I'm beginning to think of alternative media as underground.

A central premise of the Big Brother world of 1984 was what Orwell called "Doublethink," defined in the book as "the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them."

This is such a key concept for understanding today's voters. He goes on to describe in detail many of the actions voters apply this mechanism to.

In the mythical empire of Oceania in 1984, citizenship meant "not thinking -- not needing to think." The government of Big Brother alternates between war and alliance with two competing empires. At one point, the enemy changes in the middle of a patriotic speech, and the audience immediately accepts the new reality. They have no choice. In 1984, according to Orwell, "The heresy of heresies was common sense."

The Bush Administration has been tremendously successful at convincing its supporters to suspend common sense. Last month, a survey by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes found that 72% of Bush supporters believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for producing them (25%). This survey was done after the widely-reported results of the CIA's "Duelfer Report," an exhaustive $1 billion investigation, which concluded that Hussein had dismantled all of his WMD programs shortly after the 1991 Gulf War and never tried to reconstitute them. The Duelfer Report also found that Saddam Hussein did not support Al-Qaeda terrorists.

When asked whether the U.S. should have gone to war without evidence of a WMD program or support to Al-Qaeda, 58% of Bush supporters polled said no. Yet these same voters support the war, suggesting an inability, or refusal, to accept "discernable reality."

This is no accident. For three years, the President and his Administration have used every opportunity to manage the perceptions of the public by distorting facts. Even after the conclusive CIA report, Bush and Cheney deliberately fused the war in Iraq with the war on those who caused the September 11 attacks. And who can forget the certainty with which the President declared, a few months after the Iraq war began, that "We found the weapons of mass destruction."

We have all heard the litany of assertions by this Administration that Hussein posed an imminent threat to the United States, that the United Nations inspection program to disarm Hussein of weapons of mass destruction had failed, and that the Iraq War was necessary to prevent terrorist acts on American soil. Not one of these assertions was true. The truth, as former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil revealed last year, was that at their first cabinet meeting in January, 2001, the Administration was planning to go to war against Saddam Hussein -- nine months before the September 11 attacks.

Even the Administration's pursuit of Al Q'aeda could have been culled from Orwell's 1984, where 'Ignorance is Strength" was another key Big Brother slogan. Right after September 11, the President swore that he would stop at nothing to get the perpetrators of the attack. This was right after his Administration allowed a plane full of Saudi Arabians, including bin Laden's relatives, to fly out of the U.S. without being questioned by the F.B.I. Then, six months later, while laying the ground work to divert most of our country's military resources to a war against Iraq, Bush said of bin Laden, "He's a person who's now been marginalized...I just don't spend that much time on him...I truly am not that concerned about him." By April, 2002, Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Myers followed that with: "The goal has never been to get bin Laden."

No one ever thinks about applying this concept to the Bush Administration members themselves, though. It's always assumed that they are deliberately twisting the truth about issues in order to deceive voters. I wonder. I believe that in order to propound "doublethink" one must be a doublethinker oneself. And this brings us to the Edgar Allan Poe horror of the Orwellian world of Bush. He is his own primary victim. In order to win the Presidency, he lost his soul.

Jon Greenburg concludes with this, emphasis on "sad":

When Orwell created Doublethink and the dark world of 1984, he was satirizing the future of Stalin's Soviet Union. It is a sad time for America when his message applies most fittingly to our own country.

Just remember, Bush may have the right to sterilize his own corporate mind and spirit in order to "gain the world," but he doesn't have the right to take ours.

Of course, the "watchdog" media have become the Administration's lapdog. This is nowhere more problemmatic than in the Iraq war coverage.

As Michael Massing writes in, Iraq, the Press and the Election, published on Common Dreams,
[reporter Nir] Rosen believes that such encounters are common. The American soldiers he saw "treat everybody as the enemy," he said, adding that they can be very abusive and violent. "If you're a boy and see soldiers beating the shit out of your father, how can you not hate the Americans?" He added: "Why doesn't anybody write about this in the New York Times or the Washington Post? The AP always has people embedded -- why don't they write about it?"

One reason, he suggests, is that embedded journalists who write negatively about the US military find themselves "blacklisted." It happened to Rosen: a series of stories he wrote for Asia Times about his experience while embedded elicited an angry letter from the commander and the public affairs officer of the unit he accompanied, and he has not been allowed to become embedded since. Other correspondents told me of similar experiences.


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