Friday, September 08, 2006

What Civil Liberties? Oh, Those Civil Liberties

Glenn Reynolds has a spectacular round-up high-lighting the Clinton administration's temper tantrum about a fictional account (although, according to Dick Morris, it's spot on, if taking some dramatic license) of the pre-9/11 world. The Free Republic has more--especially on the New York Times doing the DNC's bidding.

I blame no one for 9/11 except Osama and his merry band of murderers for the Twin Towers' destruction. The event was psychologically unfathomable--even for leaders dedicated to our safety. Neither Clinton nor Bush could believe the possibilties would become real. Who wants to believe a worst case scenario? Certainly not an optimistic idealogue.

Denial can be very powerful even in the face of very credible evidence. Political realities skew the most hard-nosed realist's judgement. Clinton was neither hard-nosed nor a realist. He was and is more academic than leader, all theory and no action. And he was certainly not comfortable being hard-nosed in anything save political ambition. Those personality traits tended to cloud his vision.

Bush, too, still attempting to build a cohesive Washington (ha!) after a hard-scrabble election, recount, etc. focused on domestic policy--No Child Left Behind, the Economy (remember we were still in a recession and talking tax cuts), Social Security, etc. The paint was still drying in the White House and the new interns had just found and replaced the missing "W"s when the Twin Towers went down. Bush was at a photo-op, remember? Any notion why? Trying to build the love, spread the education gospel.

Stupid mistakes were made by everyone. Ignorance was not bliss. 9/11 shocked many in America out of the cozy complacency we have so long enjoyed.

It is difficult, even today, to believe that people want to kill us just 'cuz. But they do. It is a fact that must be lived with in the post-9/11 world.

This all leads me to today's leaders and fellow citizens. For some, 9/11 changed everything--domestic and foreign policy, both. For some, 9/11 was a bad, isolated event that should be ignored. Still hating Bush, resenting as some did, the fact that Bush was so lucky to have such a tragedy happen so he could display his leadership (unlike Clinton who was robbed of such a lovely opportunity) could not, would not acknowledge the gravity of it. If they did, hard decisions would have to be made. If they did, everything would have to change.

Those people still attacking Bush instead of Americas's enemies (this statement would be disputed, even--America didn't have enemies, Bush made them) are the worst sort. Those doing it with the full knowledge of the intelligence at the time and who continue to attack with the full knowledge of the current intelligence because it scores them political points with a deranged American voting block.....What can be said?

And that's not all. To the above-mentioned American element the worst thing that has been lost, is not the lives of those murderered, but their own civil liberties. Patting down at airports deprives them their freedom to board a plane unharrassed! And, I'll agree with them. I hate the whole sham. And yet, I'm not the one who would cry at more selective searching. Yea, verily, I would welcome it--so I have a leg to stand on in that civil liberties outcry department. These people bellow like moose in heat when they know full well that the reason they are being patted down is because of their umbrage at any sort of profiling.

And that's still not all. If terror attacks were not averted, and it was found out later that a phone tap (something that has been used in every war ever) could have prevented it, who would cry loudest? We all know the answer to that. There is no such thing as a "shit happens" department for a liberal. Someone is always to blame and it is never them. Someone always has a better idea--and it's ME! I can hear it now, "If Gore were President, this would never have happened." Or, even more likely, "If I were President, this would never have happened." (Clinton, Kerry, Carter--take your pick.)

So, these antagonists bleat like lost baby goats about civil liberties and turn around and use their status as elected officials to bully one of their own about how a piece of artwork--a docudrama is a piece of art, no?--should be "edited" to make it "truthful" to their satisfaction. Can you imagine if Bush had said something about Farenheit 9/11? Not a word. Not. One. Word. And for good reason. He would receive scorn by everyone--not just the Leftists. The Right would believe it lowered his stature to even acknowledge such silliness. The Left would cry "CENSORSHIP!!!" as loud as their little lungs could screech.

So what is going on with the Clinton's hew and cry over this program coming up? Do they not see how what they are doing looks to everyone? But wait a minute, the Leftists who love, indeed profess deep, abiding, soul-comforting adoration for civil liberties are crying the most. What gives? Shrinkwrapped says it's a classic case of projection:

When powerful government officials begin to use intimidation openly, it is chilling, to say the least. Perhaps all the claims of incipient fascism that the left sees all around it embodied in the Republicans is a projection of their own authoritarian tendencies. This is, of course, not a novel idea; the left has been accused of authoritarianism for quite some time. What is most troubling is the apparent lack of awareness of the impact and importance of this letter from the most powerful and important members of the Democratic party.

I would not expect the DU crowd to show any awareness of their own projections; they are quite openly authoritarian and are willing to use almost any means to silence those they oppose. This kind of authoritarian silencing of those who do not espouse the proper political line is also common in academia, which is troubling but not surprising. When the disease of authoritarianism, the readiness to silence one's opponents rather than engage them, has spread to the core of one of the two major parties, the danger to our political system is real, though one hopes it is transient.

Projection is a much more dangerous and primitive defense than externalization. In projection, one's own unacceptable thoughts and feelings are imputed to another person. Thus, a person who cannot tolerate their own intolerance will intolerantly accuse another of being intolerant. For several years now we have heard repeated, almost non-stop, accusations, that the Bush administration and the Republicans are trying to stifle free speech. When Michael Moore's amalgam of half-truths, overt lies, and occasional brushes with reality was screened, any criticism by those who opposed his world view were treated as attempts at censorship, though no one on the right, to my knowledge, called for the banning of the film. Yet now that a TV series threatens to show the Clinton administration in a poor light in the lead up to 9/11, the howls of protest have escalated to true attempts at intimidation and censorship. The Democratic leadership of the Senate sent an overtly threatening note to Disney: [HT: Hugh Hewitt]

Just to remind you, this is John Berger, Open Democracy's Arts Critic description of Mr. Moore: "Michael Moore, artist and patriot" is the title. Here's what he says:

What makes it an event is the fact that it is an effective and independent intervention into immediate world politics. Today it is rare for an artist (Moore is one) to succeed in making such an intervention, and in interrupting the prepared, prevaricating statements of politicians. Its immediate aim is to make it less likely that President Bush will be re-elected in November. From start to finish it invites a political and social argument.

Will Michael Moore’s film help prevent George W Bush’s re-election? Todd Gitlin’s weekly openDemocracy column, written with verve and insight, is an unmatched guide to the presidential election race.

Maverick movie, political event

To denigrate this as propaganda is either naive or perverse, forgetting (deliberately?) what the last century taught us. Propaganda requires a permanent network of communication so that it can systematically stifle reflection with emotive or utopian slogans. Its pace is usually fast. Propaganda invariably serves the long-term interests of some elite. (And this piece didn't serve John Kerry?)

This single maverick movie is often reflectively slow and is not afraid of silence. It appeals to people to think for themselves and make thought-out connections. And it identifies with, and pleads for, those who are normally unlistened to.

Making a strong case is not the same thing as saturating with propaganda. Fox TV does the latter (you gotta love this slam wedged in ever so discretely), Michael Moore the former.

Ever since the Greek tragedies artists have, from time to time, asked themselves how they might influence ongoing political events. A tricky question because two very different types of power are involved. Many theories of aesthetics and ethics revolve round this question. For those living under political tyrannies art has frequently been a form of hidden resistance, and tyrants habitually look for ways to control art.

Has Mr. Berger been outspoken about defending the artists involved with the ABC Docudrama? Or is it only avante guard if one agrees with his so enlightened political positions?

When Harry Ried writes to Disney honchos and says this:

The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest. Nowhere is this public interest obligation more apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needs of a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion of political ideas and events.


Should Disney allow this programming to proceed as planned, the factual record, millions of viewers, countless schoolchildren, and the reputation of Disney as a corporation worthy of the trust of the American people and the United States Congress will be deeply damaged. We urge you, after full consideration of the facts, to uphold your responsibilities as a respected member of American society and as a beneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves to cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program. We look forward to hearing back from you soon.

should one view this letter as a gentle remonstration and not an implicit threat? Tell me, Mr. Berger and those on the Left, where is the defense of this artistry? Where is the clamor for protecting civil liberties? What about Free Speech?

Aren't you the same people delighting in the "Docudrama" fantasizing about George Bush's demise at the hands of a freedom fighter? Staunch defense of such art and then all-out attack on another piece of art seems a might bit disingenuous, no?

Did you notice that the Right essentially ignored it? Poor taste, but art and all that. The timing is suspect, but art and all that.

Same for Moore's piece. As insulting and stupid as Michael Moore's work might have been, as politically motivated and delightfully timed, the Right's reaction was, "Oh well. Life is tough in politics."

The Clintons, the DNC, the Leftests, the Progressives can never ask to be taken seriously about Civil Liberties again--not that they ever were.

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