December 15, 2010

America in the Golden Age of Schizophrenia?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Bob Patterson @ 2:03 pm

Item 26 on the Action Calendar for the Berkeley City Council Regular Meeting, which started at 7 P. M. on Tuesday, December 14, 2010, brought the famous university town to world wide attention (once again) because it called for support and freedom for Pfc Bradley Manning and urged the council to proclaim Manning a hero. Citizens were given one minute each to speak about the item. The two opposing sides were firmly entrenched in their divergent positions. For the folks against the item, it was a matter of patriotism to defeat the motion; for those who endorsed the motion, approval was a manifestation of the position that the USA must adhere to the principles enunciated at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials. The Berkeley City Council voted to table the motion, which means they decided to not make a decision (for the time being).

In a city where the Hearst School of Journalism is located, there did not seem to be any j-school students getting a first hand look at the noteworthy meeting. It was easy to get a seat in the audience an hour after the meeting started. There were a few TV trucks in front of the building where the Council Chambers are located (not the City Hall), but it was not the large number that was adjacent to the Court House in Santa Monica when the matter of the Roman Polanski statutory rape case was being considered. Perhaps the world news organizations were economizing by using the work of various San Francisco TV stations as pool feeds? Or could it be that sex cases are more important than war?

Can an entire nation become schizophrenic? There are two schools of thought on that question. One says “absolutely” and the other says “No way, Jose!”

Those who say it can happen offer some items for evidence such as: When Ed Muskie cried in Vermont, while seeking his party’s Presidential nomination, the media stepped in and destroyed and discredited his quest by pointing out that he was emotionally unstable, but when Rep. John Boehner, the Republican who will be the next Speaker of the House and will be right after the Vice-President in the line of succession, cries it’s OK because it is a manifestation of the Orange man’s “softer side.”

When the Germans used waterboarding, they were committing a war crime; but when America uses the “simulated drowning” method of questioning, it’s OK because they are protecting their country.

During the eight years of the Bush era, tax cuts do not seem to have provided a surfeit of jobs, but now that a Democrat is President, extending those tax breaks will suddenly provide jobs.

When Julian Assange exposes war crimes, he should be lynched because he might be endangering American lives; but when Dick Cheney outs a CIA agent (which is specifically verboten) that’s OK because her husband’s loyalty to President George W. Bush was in question.

After Germany’s leader used subterfuge to instigate an invasion of Poland, that example of misconduct was used at Nuremburg to produce the principle that any invasion is a crime against peace. When George W. Bush used nonexistent weapons of mass destruction to justify the deployment of American troops into Iraq, that was OK because he didn’t know that they were figments of his own imagination. Isn’t that like using a “temporary insanity” plea as a way to avoid a conviction for war crimes?

There’s an old bit of wisdom for those who attend Comic-con: “Reality is a crutch for those who don’t understand Sci-fi.” Should that axiom be amended? “Reality is a crutch for those who don’t understand patriotism.”

Rupert Murdock is a (very wealthy) wise old media mogul from Australian and the thought that a cute and much younger, much less experienced guy, who is also from Australia . . . is there something going on here that the US doesn’t know about? Do you think that . . . ? Isn’t it just a case of a refusal by the older journalist to pass the torch to a new generation? Does the management at Fox News think that the Assange sex case more important than war? Is it?

Would it be deliciously ironic if the password to unlock the next WikiLeaks document dump uses the Des-key (F2654hd4) used to keep the electronic voting machines secure? Perhaps that could happen by repeating those same 8 characters several times? If that is the case, could it be considered an inside joke for the hackers community?

In the land where former PM Tony Blair was affectionately called Bush’s Poodle, are the Brits refusing to participate in a new installment of the “dog and pony show”? If America wants to bring Assange to the USA, why is it necessary to play the shell game about getting Great Britain to send him to Sweden first? Can’t the USA just ask the Brits for extradition? Have the people who benefited from the Lend Lease program completely lost their sense of gratitude?

Whatzizname from Facebook has just been named Time magazine’s newsmaker of the year for being who he is and doing whatever it is that he has done. Folks in Russia think that Julian Assange deserves a Nobel Peace Prize but the news organizations seem to be skipping over what the Commies think of Time’s selection.

Neal Diamond has just been named to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

When Berkeley has the chance to once again direct the focus of anti-war sentiment to their city, they tabled the motion.

President Obama was last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner. He has continued using the questioning techniques authorized by George W. Bush & Co., which some say qualifies as a war crime. Will future historians dare to ask if those two facts, taken together, prove that the year 2010 was the high point of the Golden Age of American Schizophrenia? On the one hand, this columnist is inclined to predict that it will happen; on the other hand, maybe we should just table the motion and let it slide.

In The Dream of the Golden Mountains (The Viking Press hardback 1980 on page x in the Foreword), Malcolm Cowley wrote: “I say ‘we’ and ‘us’ while conscious of their being treacherous pronouns; any reader is entitle to ask, ‘Who is we?’”

Now the disk jockey will rock out and play “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” “Holly Holy,” and “I am I said.” We have to go get a wifi connection to learn what happened after we left regarding Item 27 for the Berkeley City Council which meant they would urge Pacifica to reinstate to KPFA’s Morning Show. Have a “Stones” type week.

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