Monday :: Feb 13, 2006

The Cult Of The Crude Crusade

by pessimist

When a country has only one functional political party, and all those who oppose are treated as second-class citizens or worse, that is the accepted popular definition of totalitarianism. When that party is supported by anti-capitalists, that is the accepted popular definition of communism. On the obverse, when that party is supported by capitalists for their benefit, that is the accepted popular definition of fascism.

Either way, and regardless of the definition, if one party rules without any input from any other party or group, there is no democracy.

There have been many signs that this is the current situation in America today, and you don't have to take my word for it. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorialized thusly:

Editorial: Bill tampering / The GOP majority subverts the democratic process

While the Bush administration has earned a well-deserved reputation for acting in secrecy, similar cloak-and-dagger tactics are popping up on Capitol Hill, where the Republican majority has demonstrated that it can make legislation appear or vanish without even a vote.

But what's happening is that the bills actually are being rewritten behind closed doors by GOP leaders, assisted by their staffs and with input from special-interest lobbyists. In some cases, changes reportedly have been made even after conference committees have met and voted.

Such practices were employed occasionally when Democrats held power but observers say they have been elevated to an art form by the GOP majority. It's gotten to the point that no one knows what's in -- or out of -- legislation they're voting on until well after the votes have been counted. Moreover, major public-policy changes are slipped into law without any kind of public notice or debate.

Such tactics are more than high-handed. They are a fundamental short-circuiting of the legislative process, just one more layer in the culture of corruption that is slowly strangling Washington and making a mockery of our democratic form of government.

So what motivates the destruction of the Great American Experiment?

Do Bush followers have a political ideology?

It used to be the case that in order to be considered a "liberal" or someone "of the Left," one had to actually ascribe to liberal views on the important policy issues of the day – social spending, abortion, the death penalty, affirmative action, immigration, "judicial activism," hate speech laws, gay rights, utopian foreign policies, etc. etc. These days, to be a "liberal," such views are no longer necessary.
Now, in order to be considered a "liberal," only one thing is required – a failure to pledge blind loyalty to George W. Bush.
The minute one criticizes him is the minute that one becomes a "liberal," regardless of the ground on which the criticism is based. And the more one criticizes him, by definition, the more "liberal" one is.

Whether one is a "liberal" -- or, for that matter, a "conservative" -- is now no longer a function of one’s actual political views, but is a function purely of one’s personal loyalty to George Bush.

People who self-identify as "conservatives" and have always been considered to be conservatives become liberal heathens the moment they dissent, even on the most non-ideological grounds, from a Bush decree. That’s because "conservatism" is now a term used to describe personal loyalty to the leader (just as "liberal" is used to describe disloyalty to that leader), and no longer refers to a set of beliefs about government.

One can see this principle at work most illustratively in how Bush followers talk about Andrew Sullivan.
In the couple of years after 9/11, Bush followers revered Sullivan, as he stood loyally behind Bush, providing the rhetorical justifications for almost every Bush action. And even prior to the Bush Administration, Sullivan was a fully accepted member of the conservative circle. Nobody questioned the bona fides of his conservative credentials because he ascribed to the conservative view on almost every significant political issue.
Despite not having changed his views on very many, if any, of those issues, Sullivan is now frequently called a "liberal" (at best) when he is talked about by Bush followers.
We see the same thing happening to hard-core conservative Bob Barr due to his criticism of Bush's violations of FISA.

George Voinovich became a "liberal" the minute he refused to support John Bolton’s nomination

John Sununu is now "liberal" because he did not favor immediate renewal of every single provision of the Patriot Act which Bush demanded

Senators like Chuck Hagel and John McCain long ago gave up any "conservative" status because of their insistence on forming opinions that occasionally deviate from the decrees from the White House.

That "conservatism" has come to mean "loyalty to George Bush" is particularly ironic given how truly un-conservative the Administration is.
It is not only the obvious (though significant) explosion of deficit spending under this Administration – and that explosion has occurred far beyond military or 9/11-related spending and extends into almost all arenas of domestic programs as well.

Far beyond that is the fact that the core, defining attributes of political conservatism could not be any more foreign to the world view of the Bush follower. As much as any policy prescriptions, conservatism has always been based, more than anything else, on a fundamental distrust of the power of the federal government and a corresponding belief that that power ought to be as restrained as possible, particularly when it comes to its application by the Government to American citizens. It was that deeply rooted distrust that led to conservatives’ vigorous advocacy of states’ rights over centralized power in the federal government, accompanied by demands that the intrusion of the Federal Government in the lives of American citizens be minimized.

Is there anything more antithetical to that ethos than the rabid, power-hungry appetites of Bush followers?
Indeed, as many Bush followers themselves admit, the central belief of the Bush follower's "conservatism" is no longer one that ascribes to a limited federal government -- but is precisely that there ought to be no limits on the powers claimed by Bush precisely because we trust him, and we trust in him absolutely.
The blind faith placed in the Federal Government, and particularly in our Commander-in-Chief, by the contemporary "conservative" is the very opposite of all that which conservatism has stood for for the last four decades.
The anti-government ethos espoused by Barry Goldwater and even Ronald Reagan is wholly unrecognizable in Bush followers, who – at least thus far – have discovered no limits on the powers that ought to be vested in George Bush to enable him to do good on behalf of all of us.

We have heard for a long time that anger and other psychological and emotional factors drive the extreme elements on the Left, but that is (at least) equally true for the Bush extremists. The core emotions driving the Bush extremists are not hard to see. The rage and desire to destroy is palpable. It is a driving rage and hatred – for liberals, for Muslims, for anyone who opposes George Bush.

The combination here of rage and fear is potent and toxic.
One of the principal benefits of the blogosphere -- with its daily posting and unedited expressions of thought -- is that it reveals one’s genuine underlying views in a much more honest and unadorned fashion than other venues of expression.

For that reason, the true sentiments of bloggers often stand revealed for all to see. And what I hear, first and foremost, from these Bush following corners is this, in quite a shrieking tone: "Oh, my God - there are all of these evil people trying to kill us, George Bush is doing what he can to save us, and these liberals don’t even care!!! They’re on their side and they deserve the same fate!!!"

It doesn’t even sound like political argument; it sounds like a form of highly emotional mass theater masquerading as political debate.
It really sounds like a personality cult. It is impervious to reasoned argument and the only attribute is loyalty to the leader.

Whatever it is, it isn’t conservative. For a glimpse of how actual conservatives quite recently used to think, one should read this article at, which decries the dangerous loss of liberty and privacy as a result of the Clinton Administration's use of a "secret court" (something called the "FISA court") which actually enables the Federal Government to eavesdrop on American citizens! Worse -- much worse -- the judicial approval which the Government (used to) obtain for this eavesdropping is in secret, so we don't even know who is being eavesdropped on! How can we possibly trust the Government not to abuse this power if they can obtain warrants in secret? Conservatives used to consider things like this to be quite disturbing and bad -- and the eavesdropping then was at least with judicial oversight.

Now, George Bush is in office, and all of the distrust we used to have of the Federal Government exercising these powers has evaporated, because we trust in George Bush to do what is best for us.

Veteran reader phidipides found this next post, which also points out the similarities of a cult to that of Bu$hco and its supporters:

Heart of Darkness: The Bush Cult and American Madness

After decades of sliding toward the abyss – blithely, blindly, drunk with corruption, letting democracy and justice wither on the vine – now we are here at last, in the heart of darkness.

Now we know, from their own words, that the Bush Regime is a cult – a cult whose god is Power, whose adherents believe that they alone control reality, that indeed they create the world anew with each act of their iron will. And the goal of this will – undergirded by the cult's supreme virtues of war, fury and blind faith – is likewise openly declared: "Empire."

You think this is an exaggeration? A typical bout of "liberal paranoia"? Then heed the words of the White House itself: a "senior adviser" to the president, who, as the New York Times reports, explained the cult to author Ron Suskind in the heady pre-war days of 2002.

First, the top Bush insider mocked the journalist and all those "in what we call the reality-based community," i.e., people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality."

Suskind's attempt to defend the principles of reason and enlightenment cut no ice with the Bush-man. "That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality," he said. "And while you're studying that reality, we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Anyone with any knowledge of 20th century history will know that this same megalomaniacal outburst could have been made by a "senior adviser" to Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini or Mao.
Indeed, as scholar Juan Cole points out, the dogma of the Bush Cult is identical with the "reality-creating" declaration of Mao's Little Red Book: "It is possible to accomplish any task whatsoever." For Bush, as for Mao in the all-devouring Great Leap Forward, "discernible reality" has no meaning: political, cultural, economic, scientific truth – even the fundamental processes of nature, even human nature itself – must give way to the faith-statements of ideology, ruthlessly applied by unbending zealots.

Thus the reality-twisting assertions of Bush's ideologues:

* The conquered will welcome their killers.

* The poor will be happy to slave for the rich.

* The earth can sustain any amount of damage without lasting harm.

* The loss of rights is essential to liberty.

* War without end is the only way to peace.

* Corruption and cronyism lead to universal prosperity.

* Dissent is evil; dissenters are "with the terrorists."

But God is with the Leader; whatever he does is righteous, even if in the eyes of unbelievers – the "reality-based community" – his acts are criminal: aggressive war that kills thousands of innocent people, widespread torture, secret assassinations, imprisonment without charges or trial, electoral subversion. Indeed, the doctrine "Gott mit Uns" is the linchpin of the Bush Cult.

It's a circular, self-confirming mindset that can't be penetrated by reason or facts, can't be shaken by crimes and scandals.
It's based on blind faith, on poisonous fantasy: simple, flattering ("We're uniquely good, we're God's special nation!"), comforting, complete – so unlike the harsh, bewildering, splintered shards of real life.

This closed mindset is constantly reinforced by the ubiquitous rightwing media – evoking the threat of demonic enemies on every side, relentlessly manufacturing righteous outrage with distortion and deceit – and by Bush's appearances (epiphanies?) at his carefully-screened rallies, where even the slightest hint of demurral from his Godly greatness is ruthlessly expunged.

I deliberately don't use such language as I'm about to use in posts, but nothing else is going to correctly express my feelings about their upset: FUCK THEM AND THEIR OUTRAGE!

There is an article out today, discovered by reader Mike, that demonstrates the truth of the foregoing opinion about Bu$hCo being a cult.

I'm sure you can already hear our wrong-wing wregulars screaming in outrage at the blasphemy we progressives are here presenting. As the Bible says, (and let's see them try to make the case that the Bible is merely a liberal propaganda rag!) Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them. [Matt. 7:20] The person they claim to worship is - according to the Gospel - the one who spoke these words: And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were astonished at his teaching: for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. [Matt. 7:28-29]

An Outspoken Conservative Loses His Place at the Table

Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy aide at the White House in the Reagan administration and a deputy assistant treasury secretary under the first President Bush, was fired from his job at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a research group based in Dallas after writing Impostor, a book sharply critical of President Bush.

Although Impostor is flamboyant in its anti-Bush sentiments — on the first page Mr. Bartlett calls Mr. Bush a "pretend conservative" ... its basic message reflects the frustration of many conservatives who say that Mr. Bush has been on a five-year federal spending binge.

John C. Goodman, the president of the organization, said he dismissed Mr. Bartlett because after reading the manuscript of Impostor last fall, he determined that Mr. Bartlett had reneged on an agreement not to personalize his criticism of the president or any other individual, in the Bush administration or not. "He was supposed to write a book on policy," Mr. Goodman said.

"[O]ne thing I've noticed giving speeches in the last couple of months is that conservatives remain pro-Bush, but the loyalty to the movement and the ideas is deeper than the personal loyalty now. Two years ago, Bush was the movement and the cause."
- William Kristol, conservative strategist and the editor of The Weekly Standard

Mr. Bartlett is well regarded in conservative circles, even as the tone of his book has made him a maverick. So what now?

"I've been thinking about writing a history of the Democratic Party," Mr. Bartlett said. "It kind of seemed an interesting thing for a Republican to do."

"The Clinton people were vastly more open and easier to deal with and, quite frankly, a lot better on the issues," Mr. Bartlett said in the interview, in the kitchen of his pared-down modern house on a street of big new homes in Great Falls. Mr. Bartlett hastened to add that although he admired Mr. Clinton's economic policies, that did not mean he had changed sides.

"I haven't switched to the Democratic Party," he said. "I wrote this for Republicans."

And look at the thanks he gets! Excommunication from the Cult of the Crude Crusader!

At least Bruce Bartlett has personal principles. That's more than we can say about all those who blindly support George W. Bu$h.

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