Thursday, April 25, 2013

The World's Most Exclusive Club

A mighty wind, about an F-5 on the narcissism scale, bore down on Texas today. It was a nationally televised club meeting to which you weren't personally invited. If you did have the effrontery to show up anyway, and you got just a little too close for their comfort, you got your ass kicked. No matter that you were an Iraq veteran whom the club members all professed to love and honor. Besides, the corporate media were more interested in FLOTUS's couture and what Babs and Barry were burbling on about than in the hundreds of protesters gathered outside the gates.

The wind soared mellifluously -- Barack Obama blew them all away:
When all the living former Presidents are together, it’s also a special day for our democracy. We’ve been called “the world’s most exclusive club” — and we do have a pretty nice clubhouse. But the truth is, our club is more like a support group. The last time we all got together was just before I took office. And I needed that. Because as each of these leaders will tell you, no matter how much you may think you’re ready to assume the office of the presidency, it’s impossible to truly understand the nature of the job until it’s yours, until you’re sitting at that desk.
I, I, I, I.  Couldn't help noticing convicted felon Silvio Berlusconi, the bada-bing Italian president, in the audience. He's not in our club, you know, we American presidents are all family men. We don't own strip clubs -- we just help private equity vultures strip assets. We don't cheat.... on our wives. Hmmm.... Bubba? It depends on what the meaning of is, is. But back to Barry Windrip. Absolutely right, the post-presidency thing is like a support group; the club really is confronted with the Herculean task of serially holding each other up and holding each other unaccountable for high crimes and misdemeanors. And I-I-I Obama, even more than Bush, desperately need the next guy (or Hillary) to never hold me accountable for drone assassinations, for Gitmo, for continuing to outsource torture to black sites. Today's homage to Bush is nothing less than a dog-whistle plea for clemency from future club members.

 The first thing I found in that desk the day I took office was a letter from George, and one that demonstrated his compassion and generosity. For he knew that I would come to learn what he had learned — that being President, above all, is a humbling job. There are moments where you make mistakes. There are times where you wish you could turn back the clock. And what I know is true about President Bush, and I hope my successor will say about me, is that we love this country and we do our best.
Sorry, should have said the presidency is a humbug job. We all make mistakes, which is Newspeak for politicians committing felonies. I know this is true about Georgie. And he knew he was he and I was him even before I knew it myself. His gut told him. So here's hoping that my successor will tell the same lies about me at my own special lie-berry day.
So we know President Bush the man. And what President Clinton said is absolutely true — to know the man is to like the man, because he’s comfortable in his own skin. He knows who he is. He doesn’t put on any pretenses. He takes his job seriously, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He is a good man.
But we also know something about George Bush the leader. As we walk through this library, obviously we’re reminded of the incredible strength and resolve that came through that bullhorn as he stood amid the rubble and the ruins of Ground Zero, promising to deliver justice to those who had sought to destroy our way of life.
President Bush, he is the man. I lifted that part about his sheddy reptile skin directly from the puffball interview he gave to the Dallas Morning News last week. He is one comfortable lizard brain, is George. If we weren't all comfortable with who we are and the crimes we commit in the name of freedom, we couldn't sleep nights. And please, folks, forget everything I ever said against the Iraq War when I was running for my first term. George, as he stood in the rubble that day at no personal risk to himself, was salivating over what a perfect excuse 9/11 would be for the invasion, what a lucrative opportunity for Big Oil, for Bechtel and Northrup Grumman and Boeing and Blackwater and General Dynamics and Halliburton. As my old pal Rahm once said, "Never let a crisis go to waste." And Afghanistan.... still there, always will be. There's gold in them thar hills, drones in them thar skies. Enriching the plutocrats is what is meant by "our way of life" -- just in case I was not being perfectly clear. 

And finally, a President bears no greater decision and no more solemn burden than serving as Commander-in-Chief of the greatest military that the world has ever known. As President Bush himself has said, “America must and will keep its word to the men and women who have given us so much.” So even as we Americans may at times disagree on matters of foreign policy, we share a profound respect and reverence for the men and women of our military and their families. And we are united in our determination to comfort the families of the fallen and to care for those who wear the uniform of the United States. (Applause.)
Forgive my boilerplate jingoism. Weasel words: "solemn burden" = lying our complacent asses off with a straight face and pretending it's a huge drag. "Profound respect and reverence for the men and women of our military and their families" = we'll say a prayer, but forget about those benefits even after ten years of soul-crushing deployments. With the exception of Bush Sr. and Jimmy Carter, the good old boys in the Exclusive Club have never put their own hides at risk. Their families will never have to put themselves at risk. That's for other people's sons and daughters.  And if they do come back, they will wait months and years for their disability claims to be chained-CPI'd or even denied, they'll commit suicide at the rate of 22 every day, and their PTSD and traumatic brain injuries combined with their weapons expertise will make them more dangerous than the foreign terrorists we speciously claim are trying to destroy our way of life. But when the Homeland Security secretary warned about such an eventuality, her report was maligned by the offended wingnuts across the beloved aisle and across the reactionary spectrum. 
No one can be completely ready for this office. But America needs leaders who are willing to face the storm head on, even as they pray for God’s strength and wisdom so that they can do what they believe is right.
George always listened to his gut. Like all of us, he left whatever vestigial conscience he may once have possessed at the Oval Office door.  Because when it comes to killing and maiming and spying and torturing and giving ourselves and the criminal financiers who destroyed the entire world economy free rein, we the members of The World's Most Exclusive Club will simply blame it all on our invisible friend in the sky.


4Runner said...

Karen, thanx once again for nailing the happy horseshit emanating from the POTUS Oval Orifice. Actually, there could not have been a more perfect site for such verbal diarrhea---duh Dubya Lie-berry. What is it other than a monument to an ignoramus & his unindicted co-cons, a serene haven untouched by austerity, a source for research followed by future "speak no evil" non-dissing dissertations. The only splinter in the wood, I hear, is that the seating is uncomfortable: chairs are all built from recycled water boards donated by Dicktat Cheney.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Emperors Bush and Obama have no clothes, at least after Karen strips them of their claptrap and fustian. The lies the Bush Library enshrines certainly are whoppers. Looking forward, Obama's Library will do the same thing: cover up and spin. More troubling with Obama is that his deeds continue, on a grander scale, and in more fields of concern.

There’s so much to protest nowadays, one has difficulty deciding where to invest one’s energies. Enormous problems are too threatening to ignore yet too numerous to attend to or too far gone to undo or reverse. There’s climate change, drones, widening economic disparities, drones, the erasure of civil liberties, drones, the militarization of good order, drones, increasing corporate rule and, lest I forget, drones.

It appears I’ve narrowed it down, at least for this afternoon, to one issue: drones

Hancock Airbase in Syracuse is one of several sites where the empire toggles drones over hapless people around the world. Last fall a handful of American protesters at the base were arrested then sentenced yesterday (24 April) to two weeks in jail and fines of $125. All covered by the local newspaper, which wouldn't have raised the drone issue in its pages on its own.

The protesters were guilty of what? Their “attempt to deliver a ‘citizens’ indictment’ to the Hancock base commander…for ongoing war crimes being perpetrated with weaponized hunter/killer Reaper drones over Afghanistan.” OK, so they also trespassed (nonviolently) after they had been refused entry.

Syracuse has long been a dependable hot bed of protest against injustice. There are several established peace groups. The Berrigans grew up there. Chris Hedges lived upstate and graduated from Colgate in neighboring Madison County. Other Syracusans of their stripe, I knew (“knew” as in I was sometimes in the same room with them) have moved on, alas, to the In Memoriam list at the bottom of the following link, which further describes current local and national protests against drones. There’s a lot going on.

If you have any inclination to participate in anti-drone actions, the above link lists many local and national organizations doing just that, some of which may be near you.

As for the incorrigibles of Syracuse, the link tells us they are again revving up their protest machine with teach-ins and more demonstrations this very weekend. Break a leg, Syracuse.

Resistance makes its points with imagination, numbers, repetition and insistence. Anti-drone demonstrations amount to bold theater. All it needs is more actors.

Denis Neville said...

George W. Bush’s presidency is undergoing an intensive laundering. It is as if the “Party on a Boat” has been dropped down Orwell’s memory hole – the pneumatic tube in the Ministry of Truth which erases history.

George Orwell predicted the post-truth world that was the sanctifying of Bush's new Lie Bury yesterday by idol worshipers and the political class who value power above justice. By such calculated and cynical acts against the truth, they hope to push the nation further into collective amnesia. Their world imperialism pomp – American exceptionalism rooted in an egotistical belief of superiority - and determined destruction of the middle class and enormous transfer of wealth from the public to the elite are being dropped down the memory hole.

“The primary job of the Ministry of Truth was to supply the citizens of Oceania with newspapers, films, textbooks, telescreen programmes, plays, novels - with every conceivable kind of information, instruction, or entertainment, from a statue to a slogan, from a lyric poem to a biological treatise, and from a child's spelling-book to a Newspeak dictionary.

“Winston worked in the records department (a single branch of the Ministry of Truth) editing and writing for The Times. He dictated into a machine called a speakwrite. Winston would receive articles or news-items which for one reason or another it was thought necessary to alter, or, in Newspeak, rectify. If, for example, the Ministry of Plenty forecast a surplus, and in reality the result was grossly less, Winston's job was to change previous versions so the old version would agree with the new one.

“This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs - to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance.” – George Orwell, 1884

Obama envisions receiving the same kind of sanctification: “And what I know is true about President Bush, and I hope my successor will say about me, is that we love this country and we do our best.”

And he likely will.

All the destruction and lives ruined will be airbrushed, i.e. rectified, by speakwrite, and called humble progress.

It boggles the mind!

Pearl said...

Watching via video, excerpts of the speeches at the Dubya library was an
Orwellian fantasy come to life.
My god, even Jimmy found something to praise him for. Absolutely sickening.
But then, it was proof positive that they all belong in the same vortex.
Wonder what they were thinking as they praised each other with their fingers crossed. Probably getting ideas for their own libraries built or planned for.
At one point I thought I heard loud guffawing coming from ( way up
above?! ). They should show this event with a sound track of howling
laughter after each comment to be played on the comedy channel.
Only it ain't funny.

Karen, great column as usual, interpreting Obama's speech correctly.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

As I read your post, Karen, I at first thought that a computer glitch had somehow rearranged your usual style of alternating actual statements from the person being critiqued with your own rewrite of what was actually meant --- that is, I thought that the indented paragraphs, Obama's supposed words at the George W. Bush presidential library dedication, were also of your invention, part of your sarcastic-sardonic commentary.

I'm savvy enough to know that on certain ceremonial occasions (or the "promotion" of some high official out the door), politicians will utter a few sentences worth of platitudinous praise; it's to be expected. But the indented paragraphs were so fantastic, layer upon layer of moronic admiration for a moron, that I thought they couldn't possibly be genuine quotes from Obama.

But upon following your link, I found that your excerpts were indeed accurate. I shouldn't really be surprised by Obama's nauseating praise of Bush. After more than four years as President, and the occasional good speech notwithstanding, Obama has clearly demonstrated by his repeated actions who he works for --- and it isn't you or me, or any of the proles. Democrat or Republican, most Presidents (and most politicians at any level) work to advance the fortunes of the wealthy, the powerful, the banks and other large businesses, the military-industrial (and now, security) state.

And like Pearl, I found it profoundly disappointing that Carter didn't demonstrate the integrity to avoid the charade of honoring GWB.

By the way, note the line of trumpeters on the roof. Imperial heralds, or, given that it was on the campus of Southern Methodist University, herald angels? Offensive either way.

Finally, why does the architecture of Bush's lie-bury remind me of the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, aka Mussolini's "Square Colosseum"?