June 28, 2002
Oh, I get it: it's okay to pledge allegiance to the State, but not to God – and that about sums up the official ideology of our ruling elites.
BEARISH ON THE WAR
The news that only one in three Americans think we're winning the "war on terrorism," and that 49 percent say neither side is winning is being blamed on the scare tactics of an administration that publicly muses on the "inevitability" of a nuke attack. But what percentage of Americans even understand what this war entails, aside from the Afghan campaign? How many can identify the enemy – is it the now-never-mentioned Osama bin Laden? Al Qaeda? Iraq? Iran? The "axis of evil"? Cynthia McKinney? The entire Arab world? The most significant number to come out of this USAToday/CNN Gallup poll, however, is that support for a large-scale long term war is way down from its November high of 62 percent, to 51 percent. The War Party's stock is sinking, which is why their war-whoops are getting louder and ever more militant.
CLUELESS IN KNOXVILLE
One tries to ignore Glenn Reynolds in the hope that we'll all wake up, one day, and find that he was just a bad dream. But this howler from his Fox News column pretty much confirms that the State-worshipping cluelessness of the new "conservatives" is pretty much embodied by this Tennessee law professor-cum-warblogger:
"If the war on terror is going to succeed, we have to be able to trust the government."
In that case, I guess, the "war on terrorism" is unwinnable, and we might as well drop it right now. For Americans have never trusted the government, and I don't care what the push-polls tell us about how Big Government is back. This innate skepticism of all things governmental is even truer now, as we are regaled with revelations of how the FBI not only messed up real bad, but also obstructed the investigation into terrorist activity on US soil. And that's just the beginning. …
When Americans get wind of what whistleblower Sibel Edmonds is saying about how a certain Middle Eastern country infiltrated and disrupted top secret FBI operations, you can forget about people trusting government officials – because the problem will be preventing patriotic Americans from lynching them.
Oh yes, we're from the government and we're here to help you. So you've just gotta trust us, and
"That means not just the President, or the Secretary of Defense, but the people who will actually be operating where the rubber meets the road."
Or, rather, where the rubber truncheon meets the skull. It's pathetic, really, to contemplate the mentality of dutiful little Stalinists like Reynolds, whose enthusiasm for employees of the federal Leviathan is like something out of Pravda in the 1930s:
"We have to trust them to do their best; we have to trust them to be honest; and we have to trust them not to cover up when they make mistakes because understanding mistakes is crucial to learning, and learning is crucial to victory in any war – but perhaps especially this one."
That's right, we have to trust them not to cover up. Forget Watergate, Monica-gate, Cointelpro, and the long record of bald-faced lies that have gotten us into every war in modern times. Don't bother recalling Kuwait's incubator babies, the Gulf of Tonkin deception, April Glaspie's green light to Saddam, and the Pearl Harbor investigation whitewash. Because everything's changed since 9/11. Or haven't you heard? We're all lobotomized dummies now. So just repeat after me: Hail Dubya! Rummy rules! All power to the feds!
Reynolds finds it "disturbing" that Thomas A. Kelley, the man who whitewashed the crimes of the FBI at Waco and Ruby Ridge, has been appointed to investigate intelligence "failures" prior to 9/11. Why, it seems the FBI was "more anxious to cover up its mistakes than to learn from them." Imagine that! Oh give me a break, willya? It is doubtful that this kind of naivete exists anywhere outside a kindergarten. Does Reynolds really expect us to believe that he's shocked – shocked! – that "misleading statements were issued" to justify the spectacular public execution of 74 Americans, 21 of them children? Heavens to Mergatroyd, exclaims young Reynolds, "some of those at fault were actually promoted and given awards."
Such weirdly inverted behavior is naturally incomprehensible to neoconservatives, especially the younger ones for whom the oxymoronic dogma of "Big Government conservatism" poses no dilemma at all: in their view, we can go rampaging all over the globe, militarily occupy entire continents, and maintain the Jeffersonian purity of our institutions. But such "split-screen Republicanism," in Jim Henley's phraseology, is just not tenable.
For all the pragmatic toughness of these "warblogger" types – who brush off every criticism of the Bush-Ashcroft regime with "don't you know there's a war on?" – they all seem to have an almost childlike theory of the State, like something out of a high school civics textbook circa 1950. I have news for Reynolds and his fan club: the State acts like a gang of self-interested careerists because that is its nature. These guys have the power – and they aim to keep it. It's that simple.
Reynolds whines that "understanding mistakes is crucial to learning" – but that's precisely why all governments everywhere inevitably try to cover up their "mistakes." They don't want us to learn that we're being fleeced by a gang of power-crazed fools, lest Jefferson's opinion that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing becomes more widely appreciated….
Our Instapundit is baffled by Kelley's appointment, but libertarians can hardly stifle a yawn. Reynolds makes the point that in a working organization "bad news flows to the top" – but fails to see that this market mechanism cannot work for government agencies. Market institutions must adjust to new conditions or face failure when they lose (or fail to attract) customers. But State institutions, unlike private entities, have no "customers" – because they aren't selling anything except the myth of their own legitimacy.
Government enjoys a monopoly on coercion in a given geographical area – and, in the case of our own government and its "pre-emptive" foreign policy, you can extend this monopolism to the entire planet. Short of being invaded and conquered, however, there is no question of a government agency losing out to the competition – since none is allowed. The worst that can happen to a government official is that he or she will be demoted, or, rarely, fired (i.e. pensioned off). Reynolds is simply appalled that government employees found guilty of wrongdoing are rewarded, but the culture of government institutions dictates that the very worst always rise to the top.
The wartime "good government" piety of would-be government "reformers" is a sham and a diversion away from the really interesting question: Why is our national security bureaucracy desperately scrambling to whitewash its own behavior in the crucial months prior to 9/11? A little birdie tells me that more than mere incompetence is being covered up here….
Our leaders are demanding the right to spy on our email, our reading material, and our political associations and opinions, an assumption of powers that would be "tolerable" to Reynolds, albeit somewhat problematic, "if only the American public can be assured that those who wield them can be trusted." They can be trusted, alright – in the sense one can count on them to use their power to undermine their political enemies, buttress their own positions, and smear anyone who dares challenge their dominance. Which is why the seizure of such untrammeled power by an out-of-control executive is absolutely intolerable and the greatest threat to our liberties since the Alien and Sedition Acts.
We shouldn't give the authorities our "blind trust," says Reynolds. Gee, thanks for the tip, but there was never any danger of that. Instead, he avers, we must "trust but verify." Yet how do we verify anything when the new "Homeland Security" legislation outlaws whistle-blowers and "loose lips sink ships" is the byword as far as this administration is concerned? Government officials – used to running their wars without interference from bothersome journalists – keep all pertinent information from the public as a matter of routine. Remember, these are the same guys who wanted to set up an "Office of Strategic Influence" mandated to manufacture and distribute disinformation – in order to mislead our "enemies," of course. The problem is that, to the bureaucrats, the public is the enemy.
The main danger to liberty is not hiding in the wilds of Central Asia, but is right out there in the open, tearing up the Bill of Rights and tearing down the constitutional order. Osama bin Laden is cowering somewhere in a cave, but John Ashcroft dares to appear in public proclaiming his "right" to hold an American citizen, Jose Padilla, without charges – indefinitely. Never mind that Padilla – as Larry Johnson, a former deputy director in the State Department's office of counterterrorism, puts it – "couldn't make a dirty burrito, never mind a dirty bomb." Trust the government in exchange for "winning" an undefined, increasingly wider "war on terrorism"? It's a bad deal for Americans – the kind of offer that a free people can only refuse.
In my June 21 column, "Treason is the Reason," I wrote about Sibel Edmonds, a wiretap translator formerly employed by the FBI who has stepped forward with allegations about infiltration of the FBI by a mysterious "Middle Eastern country." Citing "a trusted source," I wrote:
"According to his Justice Department sources, the mysterious "Middle Eastern country" the [Washington] Post couldn't name for reasons of ‘national security’ is indeed Israel."
I am now informed by this same source that the country in question may not be Israel.
While the column is not completely invalidated by this backtracking on the part of my source, it is nevertheless important to make clear that there is no solid evidence that Israel is indeed the country referred to in the Washington Post piece. I regret the error, and apologize to my readers.
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