Saturday :: Nov 29, 2003

So Sayeth The Pharisee


by pessimist

Hatch suspends GOP aide

"You have seen fit to bring it out, and, if there is a God in heaven, it will do neither you nor your cause any good."

- Joseph Welch to Senator Joeseph McCarthy

I could say these words to one of the biggest hypocrites in the United States, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). He announced at a hastily called press conference in the Senate Radio-TV Gallery Wednesday night that a committee aide has been placed on administrative leave with pay.

Nothing like a paid vacation as a reward for a job almost well-done!

This after an internal investigation determined that the aide had accessed sensitive Democratic computer files that were leaked to the press. “It is with deep regret that I must report today that the interviews conducted to date have revealed at least one current member of Judiciary Committee majority staff had improperly accessed some of the [Democratic] documents,” Hatch said. He also said a former committee majority aide also had knowledge of the security breach, but was not disciplined.

Hatch said he was “mortified” at the results of the investigation, which he ordered.

Ya gotta sweep away the cookie crumbs when your hand is found in the jar, eh Orrin?

“There’s no excuse that can justify these actions,” he said.

And your false piety falls unheard by these deaf ears.

Hatch earlier claimed innocence earlier in the day when he announced that the internal GOP investigation had turned up no evidence of culpability by the Republican staff.

But someone found out, didn't they, Orri? I can call you Orri, can't I? Better to beat them to the punch so you have control of the spin! Oh! the Hypocrisy!

I long for the day, hopfully soon, when someone stands up, faces the Republican Party and their hypocritical leadership and their willing foollowers (sic), and says:

"You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir[s], at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

More Hypocrites

Earlier this week, several Judiciary Committee Republicans, including Sens. John Cornyn (Texas), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Larry Craig (Idaho), and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) objected to what they feared would become a open-ended fishing expedition into committee business.

“We strongly object to allowing anyone to read backup tapes or other electronic media from the Judiciary Committee server, the Exchange server or otherwise breach the privacy of our electronic files and communications,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter dated Nov. 22.

Such indignity! I knew those acting lessons would come in handy!

Committee Republicans requested that the sergeant-at-arms give them a status report of what steps have been taken and are currently being taken in the investigation, and notify them of all current action and any future action in connection with the investigation. They also demanded that the inquiry be limited exclusively to an examination of the 14 Democratic memoranda that were leaked to The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times.

Can you smell "whitewash"? I knew you could!

WHY HYPOCRISY MATTERS

Terry Sawyer at popmatters.com speaks on hypocrisy more eloquently than I can:

Republicans have become increasingly savvy about hypocrisy. Surely, it's a matter of evolutionary course that they would need to develop this skill in order to insure their survival. After all, as the putative God party, they are the ones who rail against the decline of their shoebox morality, where everything is in its place and the creator of the Universe is a very old man who votes for their candidates, believes that taxes are too high, and helps Confederate flag fans pick their lottery numbers.

It's a curiously sniping form of moralizing, the kind where single mothers are filthy whores but philanderer Newt Gingrich, can be blithely forgiven for his "lapse". Anne Coulter puts the conservative position on hypocrisy rather succinctly in her own inimitably demented way: "Hypocrisy is the only sin that really inflames them (liberals). Inasmuch as liberals have no morals, they can sit back and criticize other people for failing to meet standards that liberals simply renounce." (Coulter, Townhall.com 16 October 2003)

In this transparently hagiographic recasting, conservatives are only hypocrites because they are the only good people in the universe who must cast about in a sea of savages. The truth of the matter is, in fact, the reverse. It's conservatives who tailor morality to fit the needs of the moment, acting as moral relativists who depend on the public's thimble worth of historical recall. Liberals have never renounced morality, but only claimed that matters of good and evil require nuance, engagement, compassion, and complexity.

The reason hypocrisy is an important vice is not because conservatives should have to live lives in perfect sync with their vision of the perfect world. But where liberals get most incensed with conservative hypocrisy is that it is frequently symptomatic of a much darker, more corrosive form of moral corruption. What hypocrisy reveals most often is that one's stated belief system is one of expedience and false purity, in short: a huge, fucking lie. What conservative hypocrisy reveals is not lapses in morality, but the craven absence of authentic belief. The hypocrisy of the moment is often superseded by the broader hypocrisy of political temperament.

When moral standards are applied with ferocity only to one's political opponents, it's impossible not to wonder what exactly lies at the core of that ethic. Is it an actual belief in right and wrong, or is it a belief that you are more likely to be able to dispatch an enemy's reputation if you inflate mistakes to the level of unforgivable offense? What conservatives ignore about the constant presence of hypocrisy is that at some point surely it becomes a measure of moral inaccuracy.

When liberals decried the jerrybuilt rationales for invading Iraq, they did so because they recognized what a hypocritical load of horseshit it was. Here was the George Bush, the candidate who swaggeringly ridiculed nation building and the party that eviscerated Clinton for his humanitarian uses of the military, and he's now suddenly pretending to care about the Iraqis. People in the Middle East aren't as stupid as the people who watch Fox news. For example, they can remember when Saddam Hussein was our ally, when we were shoveling cash and weapons into his coffers at the height of his slaughtering reign. They probably also remember that we enticed Hussein to invade one of our enemies while roundly smacking him down for invading an oligarchy that had cushy ties to our government.

Tell the truth to a Republican, and you get a book like Coulter's Treason (Crown Forum, 2003), whereby detailing the anti-democratic exploits of our government means that you hate our entire country and, in the inchoate and terrifying terms of Coulter, that perhaps you should be murdered or jailed for thinking such things. Indeed, Republicans don't give two shits about freedom and oppression in the world, and they never have. But they know how to rape the good will of the American public into believing that we're just missionaries piercing the darkness with our wondrous shafts of Holy light. In this case, the brazen hypocrisy of the Bush Administration, and its roughshod, ill-conceived, adventuring in Iraq has meant that the people of the Middle East view our presence with loathing and bitterness.

See, when you're a hypocrite, people quite sensibly stop listening to what you say and develop their own theories about your true intentions. In this case, the Iraqi people have seen how hypocrisy and lying are kissing cousins, as the motivations for war have been revealed like patches of skull on a decaying corpse. Conservatives have an uncanny capacity for brushing all such contradictions and imperfections aside, as if sheer fervency supersedes every ethical snag. It's the typical fundamentalist ideology of believing that greater goods excuse minor sins. This is particularly galling for the rest of us when there appears to be no greater good forthcoming.

Hypocrisy also reveals a baseless opportunism. My personal favorite conservative hypocrisy is "reverse racism", that bastard spawn of the dark arts of marketing genius. Like "Federalism", "reverse racism" is simply a smarter shade of an old goal. After all, the modern Republican party has never exactly been the friend of minorities. Hell, even now, at private parties, they have a nasty tendency to wax rhapsodic about the days when darkie had a separate drinking fountain. Despite their deeply entrenched historical ties to segregation, they have baldly attempted to portray themselves as the party who now wants a "colorblind" society. This is perhaps the most evil version of hypocrisy: where one's stated belief directly contradicts one's actions in order to intentionally deceive. Do one thing, call it another.

I can't help but see people wielding beliefs like bludgeons that they'll gladly drop once the bloodwork is done. There's a real difference between the hypocrisy that emerges from unreached goals, and that which emerges from empty posturing. We all posit ideals that no person can meet and we should be not be throttled for what is essentially the human condition. But that's far different from positing beliefs that, at many levels, you truly don't believe.

I think it's acceptable for liberals to hold conservatives to the consequences of their rhetoric. The rehabilitation of hypocrisy is a calculated exercise in shrouding conservative's shoddier motives. It's part of a wider program of ranking the worst sins as the ones you are least likely to commit. When is the last time you heard a conservative polemic against greed? Exactly. And that's why hypocrisy matters.


It's not anti-Americanism, it's anti-Republicanism

This issue is another major theme for America's hypocrites. Zafar Sobhan is an Assistant Editor of The Daily Star [Lebanon]. He says:

I don't often find myself in agreement with much that pop stars have to say about the state of the world, but British singer Elton John's words at a benefit concert last month hit the nail right on the head.

Dennis Miller the one-time comedian from Saturday Night Live who has bizarrely chosen to reincarnate himself as the Bush administration's court jester had just finished one of his typical sets in which he denigrated liberals, Arabs, Muslims, and non-Americans in general.

Before he sat down to perform, John remarked, "This night is about charity -- not washing your dirty political laundry. I love America, but if you want to know why the world hates America, I can give you two words: Dennis Miller."

To which I would like to add two more: Charles Krauthammer.

Krauthammer is the reliably conservative commentator whose screeds against liberalism and tolerance regularly darken the back page of Time magazine. His latest turn is a relentlessly ill tempered and bile-filled outpouring in this week's Time entitled: The US Gets No Sympathy. Should It Care?

Krauthammer's piece is a classic of unintended irony. It is filled with arrogance and contempt and condescension and is an unwittingly brilliant illustration of what it is about America that the rest of the world dislikes. Krauthammer is ostensibly writing a piece on why everyone hates Americans, all the while remaining utterly unaware of his own healthy contribution to this phenomenon.

Ever since 9/11 Americans have been asking themselves why so many people around the world seem to hate them. But for the likes of Krauthammer, the answer is simple:

"The fact is that the world hates the US for its wealth, its success, its power. They hate the US into incoherence. The search for logic in anti-Americanism is fruitless. It is in the air the world breathes. Its roots are envy and self-loathing -- by peoples who, yearning for modernity but having failed at it, find their one satisfaction in despising modernity's great exemplar."

That's it. That's his analysis. That's his considered judgment on the subject. I don't need to embellish a thing -- his words speak for itself. Krauthammer quite simply oozes arrogance and contempt for the rest of the world.

He dismisses out of hand the notion that anyone could conceivably have a legitimate grievance against the US or have a problem with the way it conducts its foreign policy. The only possible reasons he can see for dislike of the US are the envy and self-loathing of all those losers in the world who are just sick with jealousy that they have failed where the US has succeeded.

Let me reiterate: this is why people dislike Americans.

But let's get one thing straight. Most people are able to draw a distinction between Charles Krauthammer and all Americans. We realise that thankfully he doesn't represent the whole country. We realise that the US is filled with people of good conscience and generosity who do not share Krauthammer's smug certitude or intemperate xenophobia.

It's not really America that we dislike. It is a certain conception of America personified by the likes of Dennis Miller and Charles Krauthammer that we dislike.

The America that most people dislike is the America that is arrogant and xenophobic and says to hell with the rest of the world.

It is the America that conducts its foreign policy in a tone that seems calculated to offend and has nothing but disdain for world opinion.

It is the America that dismisses all criticism of America as the product of envy and self-loathing.

In short, what most people dislike is not Americans so much as it is the attitude that is embodied by a certain kind of American. And this certain kind of American has found a home for the past half century in the Republican party.

Now, this is not to say that all Republicans are rabidly anti-foreigner. But the party does pander to the electorate's basest instincts and just as it is home to the bigots and racists and homophobes so it has also opened its arms to the arrogant and intolerant xenophobic America-firsters who despise anything non-American and feel that the US should do as it pleases and not be constrained by opinion beyond its borders.

It is this kind of American that most people around the world have a problem with.

Most people have no grievance against the US as a country per se or Americans as people in general. Bill Clinton was hugely popular around the world because he embodied a face of the US that people found reassuring, and, not coincidentally, America's stature in the world was never higher than during his presidency. Under Clinton people felt that the US saw itself as a part of the world community. Under Clinton people felt that the US respected world opinion and that it could potentially use its massive power for the common good.

But the kind of American I am writing about wants nothing to do with what Krauthammer contemptuously dismisses as "the Clinton administration's hyperapologetic, good citizen internationalism."

And it is this attitude -- not being American per se -- that people around the world don't like. It is the Republican mind-set that pours scorns on multilateralism and sensitivity to world opinion and takes comfort from the bullying and the bluster of the Bush administration.

It is important to make this distinction between anti-Americanism and anti-Republicanism. If the sole problem the US faced in the world today were the anti-Americanism of those who are filled with envy and self-loathing, as Krauthammer imagines, then he would be correct in his belief that there isn't much Americans can or should do about it.

But that's not the only problem. The US is facing a huge problem of lack of support in the twin wars it is waging against al-Qaeda and in Iraq, and if it wants to win these wars then it needs as many people on its side as it can possibly muster. If it takes the attitude that people who are opposed to it are opposed to it through blind hatred then it will never make the adjustments necessary to win people over.

To win hearts and minds, the US must understand that many of the people who oppose it are not anti-American but merely anti-Republican, and that it would not be difficult at all to enlist their help. All that is necessary is little less hubris and a little more respect.

It must be nice to live in as simplistic a world as Krauthammer's. It must be nice to be able to determine that if no one likes you then it is their fault not yours. It must be nice to be so certain of your own rectitude and so contemptuous of others that you never have to question yourself or your own actions.

But the problem with this attitude is that it precludes the possibility of anything ever changing and is ultimately self-defeating. It isn't a particularly helpful or illuminating perspective to take if one is truly serious about addressing so-called anti-Americanism.

The search for logic in what he calls anti-Americanism is far from fruitless, and for Krauthammer it should be easier than most to locate. He can find it every morning looking back at him from his bathroom mirror.

Republican hypocrisy abounds

Republican Nebraska State Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Misconduct, But Is Still In Office

Republican Governor of Nebraska Won't Remove Republican State Treasurer Who Wrote Phony Checks

Bush Invades Afghanistan and Poppy Growth Doubles. According to His Own Statements, He Must be Aiding Terrorists Then

Shevardnadze says US betrayed him

Judge not, Rush, lest ye be judged

Indignities Endured by U.S. Military Veterans

Dictators Should Be Only Ones Shutting Down Media Broadcasts

Schwarzenegger Proposing to Cut Back Programs to Poor, Disabled

Seattle Times: "U.S. pharmaceutical companies will be better protected than elderly Americans in the overhaul of Medicare passed by Congress."

U.S. Soldier Killed Day After Bush Visit. Far In Excess of 400 U.S. Military Killed in Iraq Now. 298 Since Bush Told Us "Mission Accomplished"; 232 Since Bush Taunted, "Bring Them On."

We have seen what a religious man can do, and, by God, there are a thousand reasons to send him packing.


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