Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Moral Confusion

Moral Confusion

A week ago, Donald Rumsfield, in a speech to the American Legion, accused those who opposed the Bush war in Iraq of suffering from “moral or intellectual confusion about what is right and wrong.” He compared critics of his war to appeasers in World War II. He referred to the rise of a “new kind of fascism” which we have to fight.
Obviously I disagree with the first part – I am opposed to the war and I assure him I am not confused. The merchants of death on Pennsylvania Avenue may like to think that they are the ones with moral clarity, but I assure them they are not alone. Oddly, I agree with him on the rise of a new kind of fascism. But it is not occurring in the Middle East, it is occurring in Washington, D. C. Democracy requires a certain amount of honesty when discussing policy. This administration has repeatedly ignored the truth whenever it will help them reach their desired ends. Scientific inquiry and results are ignored if they do not fit the dogma of the administration and its beliefs. Debate is not tolerated – those in the administration who differ from the party line are summarily dismissed – whether they be Generals (Shinsekis), or cabinet Secretaries (O’Neil). As in any good tyranny, it has fit the needs of the government to keep the people in fear, for if the people are in fear and feel the leader (whether Big Brother, Il Duce, or W.) is the one protecting them from the enemy and death, they will rally behind him. The trashing of the Constitution by Bush and his minions is perhaps the most horrifying thing. The concept that the “Commander in Chief” clause gives the President unlimited power in war time, power to ignore every law Congress passes and to permit anyone he wishes to ignore the law in his service is the most pernicious interpretation of the Constitution ever. Does that not strike at the very heart of our democracy? Is not the essence of American democracy that no one, not even the President can be above the law – any law?
As for moral and intellectual confusion, here are few Americans with views on this sort of thing – you may recognize the names.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

-Theodore Roosevelt

"For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter."

-- George Washington

"Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people, by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations."

-- James Madison

This one, by Madison, is a bit long, but so germane he could have been writing it now, although with different punctuation.

"The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, & most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the Legislature. But the Doctrines lately advanced strike at the root of all these provisions, and will deposit the peace of the Country in that Department which the Constitution distrusts as most ready without cause to renounce it. For if the opinion of the President not the facts & proofs themselves are to sway the judgment of Congress, in declaring war, and if the President in the recess of Congress create a foreign mission, appoint the minister, & negociate a War Treaty, without the possibility of a check even from the Senate, untill the measures present alternatives overruling the freedom of its judgment; if again a Treaty when made obliges the Legislature to declare war contrary to its judgment, and in pursuance of the same doctrine, a law declaring war, imposes a like moral obligation, to grant the requisite supplies until it be formally repealed with the consent of the President & Senate, it is evident that the people are cheated out of the best ingredients in their Government, the safeguards of peace which is the greatest of their blessings."

He wrote that to Jefferson in 1798 -- without ever meeting George Bush or even Paul Wolfowitz.

I will proudly stand with those men, who I am confident would oppose the current dangerous occupants of the executive branch.

As for an analysis of the President and his style, here’s something that seems dead on –

“His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”

That is from an OSS report during WW II, describing Hitler’s psychological profile.
No, I'm not comparing Bush to Hitler. Just his political style and those of his minions to the most egregious example of fascism. In the last days of the Soviet Union, pollsters found that with near unanimity, the people assumed that anything the government told them was a self-serving lie. Does that sound familiar?

The Bush administration is surely not morally confused – just morally bankrupt.


Keith Olbermann had a response to both Rumsfield and the subsequent yammerings of the Bushistas. I strongly recommend them to you. Both the commentaries (10/30 and 9/5) are in his blog in written form and in video to its right.



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