Friday, October 10, 2008

From Ignorance To Fear, From Fear To Hate ...

The current smearing "strategy" of the McCain-Palin campaign is, simply put, criminal.

Here are a few samples of those "good Americans" attending McCain-Palin rallies:



Obama's a terrorist.
Look at his name and bloodline.
Obama hangs out with terrorists.
Obama supports terrorism.
Commie fagots!
European socialists. Go home!
Obama should die!

And one could go on and on and on ...

The hateful, hatefilled Ann Coulters, Michelle Malkins et al. of the land are certainly cackling their asses off these days.

I'll let Glenn Greenwald's words speak for a while here, since they echo my opinion/analysis exactly (emphasis added):
(...) the McCain/Palin ticket is now relying almost exclusively on some of the ugliest and most outright dangerous character smears seen in a modern presidential election (...)

Just look at the videotapes of the angry, hateful hordes attending these rallies — screaming that Obama is a socialist; that he’s both a Muslim and a terrorist as proven by his “bloodline” and his name; that his supporters are “commie faggots”; that he’s guilty of treason; underscored by increasing racial invective and even punctuated in one case by a call from an audience member for someone to be killed. These aren’t just isolated individuals; these sentiments are common at these rallies and becoming increasingly virulent and enraged — at the rallies and otherwise:
A billboard in West Plains, Mo., showing a caricature of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama wearing a turban has caused quite a stir in town.

The sign, located south of West Plains on U.S. 63 across from the Dairy Queen, says: “Barack ‘Hussein’ Obama equals more abortions, same sex marriages, taxes, gun regulations.”
And worst of all, all of this rage and this innuendo is taking place in the most volatile climate of all — one of severe economic distress and anxiety — and these mobs are increasingly becoming convinced, because the Right and the McCain/Palin campaign is leading them to believe it, that this economic crisis is the fault of the black candidate — Obama — for making banks give mortgages to racial minorities. As an email printed just now by Jonah Goldberg put it — defending someone at a McCain/Palin rally today who screamed he was “very angry” at Obama the “socialist”:
He, and the rest of the conservatives in this country are sick and tired of being taken for granted, having our money stolen by the government and given to lazy, ungrateful people who don’t contribute or produce (or often, aren’t even citizens) anything.
This is what happens when you stoke the fury and resentments of people looking for scapegoats and work them into a blind rage. And they didn’t just pop up and start believing this. They’re saying this because the core premise of the McCain/Palin campaign has become that Barack Hussein Obama is a Terrorist-sympathizer, being funded by secret Arab sources, who hates the military and the troops. As McCain now asks in his most sinister tone in every speech: Who is the real Barack Obama? As National Review’s illustratively deranged Andy McCarthy put it: ”Someone is either a terrorist sympathizer or he isn’t; someone is either disqualified as a terrorist sympathizer or he’s qualified for public office.

Look at those videos linked above if you haven’t seen them (this one, this one and this one). Is there anything even remotely comparable taking place at Obama rallies? Are the accusations against McCain even arguably similar to the Right’s relentless and self-evidently dangerous depiction of Obama as a military-hating, subversive Muslim and Terrorist? What do we do with Terrorists and traitors — or, in the past, with those wanting to take over the U.S. with a secret socialist agenda? We kill them. If that’s what Obama is, if that’s what hordes of enraged right-wing mobs are becoming convinced of and having those passions stoked, then what should be done to Obama — just merely defeat him in the presidential campaign?

(...) Everyone can see with their own eyes: over the last two weeks, we have witnessed some of the ugliest and most dangerous attacks by any presidential campaign that one can recall — not from surrogates or from shadowy groups but from the candidates themselves and their campaign. The most hated, despised thing one can be in the U.S. is a “terrorist,” followed closely by ”traitor” and, in many circles, “Muslim.” The McCain/Palin ticket’s prime strategy now is to win by scaring Americans into believing that Obama — the first black candidate with a viable chance to become President in our country’s history — is all of those things. There just is nothing comparable to that.
Actually, there is something quite comparable to what McCain-Palin are doing: the run-up to the Iraq war.

Indeed, let us not forget that Bush-Cheney et al. shamelessly exploited the ignorance, fear and anger of Americans following the 9/11 attacks, using the same tactic of "nebulous" linkage between Saddam Husein and bin Laden, along with lies about WMDs, in order to stir up fervor in favor of a U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Furthermore, the consequently stoked anger, rage and hatred reached such levels that anyone who dared to offer logical and fact-based dissenting arguments against the validity and righteousness of such a war of choice was swiftly accused of being a traitor, a terrorist-sympathizer, a Muslim-lover - along with the habitual anti-American, commie and coward epithets. Thus many voices were silenced (one example here) not only by the corporate media which was too eager to jump on the band wagon of hate, but likewise by journalists all-too-cowardly refusing to call such dangerous frenzy for what it was, instead safely hiding under the banner of "journalistic balance" and consequently contributing in distorting the truth.

The same scenario was more or less repeated in the 2004 elections - especially with regards to the swiftboating of John Kerry and him (along with Democrats) being portrayed as "soft on terrorism". Again, too many journalists decided that "balance" subordinated truth because it insulated them from charges of "bias" - thus contributing in granting legitimacy to such mendacity.

Just like what is going on presently.

Nonetheless, it is a truism that what McCain-Palin are doing goes much further beyond what Bush-Cheney and Co. did during the run-up to the Iraq war and the 2004 elections.

Any competent politician would have never gone where McCain-Palin are going. That is because a competent politician would have chosen to err on the side of responsibility, foreseeing the inherent dangers in exploiting ignorance in order to stoke fear and anger to such levels, thus choosing the preservation of relative civil/social peace over blind political ambitions.

In other words: putting the country first.

But of course, McCain-Palin are not competent politicians - or human beings, in this respect. As I wrote previously (emphasis added):
History dresses an extensive list of charismatic, decisive and righteous Leaders. However, the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of these have consistently proven to be fearful, petty, power-hungry, or violence-prone, authoritarians. To them, the end ever justified the means, as they disguised their incompetence with grandiose ideologies, wrapping themselves in religious, nationalist or racist flags of intractable absolutism, and using their deceitful siren song to stir passion, loyalty and even fanaticism - all in order to gather sizeable followings of narrow-minded, hate-filled, or warmongering, underlings. It is no wonder that people have suffered, one way or another, each time such a Leader rose to prominence.
From the beginning of his presidential campaign, all McCain has been doing is chant the mantra that he has a record, that he knows how to do this (or that), that he knows how to catch bin Laden, that he knows how to win wars - and yet never offer even a shred of what he would actually do.

That is because he is seeking to exploit the mis- or non-informed public in order to cover-up his 26+ years of shady dealings, lies and flip-flopping. Why? The reason is simple: he sees himself at having been denied the Presidency back in 2000 and his blind ambition, if not actual greed for power, will not be denied this time around. Hence, he has been playing the card of "elder statesman leader" (an authoritarian one at that) while hoping it would be sufficient to win over the largely misinformed/uninformed American electorate.

In his mind, he probably has come to believe his own delusions and lies to this effect. That is why the "that one" incident from the last presidential debate is quite significant. Let us see it again:

From my (ahem) point of view, McCain is not being a bigot or anything of the like. Rather, he is showing his frustration at the public for not embracing him lovingly and unconditionally as he has come to expect - look at his demeanor, hear his tone of voice; this is a man frustrated by unrequited love trying to convince his paramour that "that one" she is interested in is no good, as opposed to himself.

So now the scorn would-be lover is doing eveything he can to demonize his rival in the eyes of his paramour - with the help of his "friends".

John McCain seeks the Presidency not to serve, but just for the satisfaction of achieving this level of power. The same as George W. Bush.

And Sarah Palin is no better - remember which vice-president she remembers the most? George H. W. Bush. Why? Because he was afterwards elected President - he "moved on up". And remember her Freudian slip?

Therefore, the McCain-Palin ticket is driven first and foremost by pure, unadulterated ambition and incompetence - how else can you accuse the "other camp" of wrongthinking/wrongdoing exactly what you are wrongthinking/wrongdoing (one recent example here) and still look at yourself in a mirror? Consider their current dangerous strategy and what I previously wrote:
It never ceases to amaze me to what levels of utter irrationality the fundamentalists, neocons and other right-wing madhaters are willing to descend into.

They lie, they misrepresent, they use decoy arguments and make ad hominem attacks. For them, the use of duplicity, of secrecy, of arguments of (non-existent) conspiracy, of fact (and non-fact) selectivity/cherry-picking, of quacks/fake experts, as well as putting forth logical fallacies, are simply means to an end.

And this "end" is the following: to promulgate, support and defend their beliefs or their ideologies.

Truth be told: these are the only things that truly matter to them.

(...) Why else would they use the politics of fear, ignorance and lies?
All the lies and distortions of the truth by McCain, Palin and surrogates, even McCain's own wife, constitute merely the means to and end - and the consequences be damned as long as the end is achieved: winning the prize.

This has nothing to do with serving one's country.

However, this has everything to do with the Eight Principles of Incompetence (emphasis added):
  • Zeroth Principle: Incompetence is driven by intellectual sloth.
  • Intellectual sloth is a human character flaw. It pushes any person who is afflicted by it to wallow in ignorance, finding security in absolute ideologies, philosophies of thoughts, tenets of faith or various dogmas, without seeking to understand them fully or even less to question them. A person afflicted by intellectual sloth is constantly in search of the quick-and-easy and instant gratification. Incidentally, a person afflicted by intellectual sloth is egocentric and selfish, even greedy, in his/her immature search for facility and instant gratification. Furthermore, such a person refuses to accept any fact of reality which confronts, rattles, or even invalidates, the comfort of one's “convictions”. To this effect, such a person will be arrogant, if not contemptuous, towards anything and anyone that confronts his/her ignorance generated by intellectual sloth" (...) one who is afflicted with intellectual sloth is often deluded by intellectual vanity and invariably becomes a slave of expediency. Furthermore, everything is about image and appearance, instead of substance. Truthiness, instead of truth. All of these characteristics underlie incompetence - whether as nations, as communities, as citizens, as blue-collar/white-collar workers, as parents, and/or as thinking, reasoning human beings. In short, intellectual sloth transforms any adult person who is guilty of it into an irresponsible and reactionary child or adolescent, who lives only in the “now” while remaining blind to “yesterday” and “tomorrow". Such a person thus becomes incompetent - in dealing/composing with reality, or in at least trying to understand it.

  • First Principle: Incompetence surrounds itself with incompetence.
  • Incompetents do not realize their own incompetence (intellectual vanity, remember?) and rarely recognize de facto competence in others. In addition, the incompetent distrusts anyone who shows signs of actual competence, should he/she somehow recognize it, because competents not only make the incompetent look bad, but are most likely to question him/her. Furthermore, incompetents find security and comfort in echo chambers - consequently, loyalty to self, as well as to same ideology/beliefs/party, overrides all considerations in the incompetent's petty mind (i.e. cronyism rules). To this effect, incompetents will seek to bring all those around them to their level. Therefore, incompetents are always surrounded by like-minded, and likewise, incompetents. In addition, in this context, incompetence always rewards incompetence. Some call this "functionning inside the bubble", I call it "herd mentality" (especially in the context of the Fifth Principle).

  • Second Principle: Incompetence is ethics-impaired.
  • Consider the characteristics bestowed upon incompetents by their intellectual sloth, as outlined in the Zeroth Principle, along with the following: it is a fact that those individuals who are 'corrupted' by power are inevitably revealed at their core to be selfish, greedy, covetous, paranoid or fearful. Consequently, these use power expediently as a tool for the wasteful satisfaction of their every whim, want and need, or as a weapon to aim recklessly at their outwardly-projected inner demons. In short: only incompetents abuse power. Indeed, icompetents cheat, lie, misuse, "backstab" and abuse anything and everything in order to get their way - and they always make perfectly quaint rationalizations, as well as giving themselves a deluded moral highground (or authority), to justify their wrongdoings. In other words, incompetents are morally hypocritical and ethically impaired, because of their intellectual sloth-driven reasoning/emotional immaturity, egocentricity, intellectual vanity/intolerance, and slavery to expediency.

  • Third Principle: Incompetence abhors transparency and accountability.
  • When you take into account the Zeroth, First and Second Principles, it becomes self-evident as to why incompetents prefer to do whatever they do under the cover of concealment and/or secrecy ... and thus why they abhor transparency and accountability. Not surprisingly, whistleblowers, which are inherently viewed as "traitors", constitute a veritable danger in the intellectual sloth-driven paranoid, petty minds of incompetents.

  • Fourth Principle: Incompetence does or says anything to defend itself.
  • Because of the previous four principles, incompetents never take responsibility for their wrongdoings, or those of other incompetents within their "circle". To whit: incompetents will do and say anything to defend themselves and other incompetents, including disassembling, obfuscating, lying and blaming others. For incompetents, everything is about spin and truthiness - never about facts and truth. Even when they are blatantly caught, incompetents continue to react and reason with their intellectual sloth-driven infantile/adolescent immaturity - they will deny that they did anything wrong or that they have lied, then they will blame/attack (read: character assassinate) their "accusers". I call this: "Lie and Cry".

  • Fifth Principle: Incompetence always supports incompetence.
  • Because of the "herd mentality" of incompetents (see First Principle above), they will always support and/or rabidly defend other incompetents - after all, in the incompetent's paranoid and petty mind, if one of his/her "kin" is allowed to be exposed, then surely he/she would be next! Consequently, incompetents use profusely the Fourth Principle (above) whenever other incompetents require support, protection or defense. Caveat: because of their inherent intellectual sloth-driven mendacious nature, incompetents have no qualms turning against another incompetent, should this poor sap be utterly (and hopelessly) exposed - as a result, other incompetents will use (again) the Fourth Principle profusely to "distance" themselves from another such "terminally-besieged" incompetent individual.

  • Sixth Principle: Violence is the last refuge of incompetence.
  • Along with the Zeroth Pinciple above, consider the following: intellectual sloth reaps ignorance. In turn, ignorance festers fear which, as we know all-too-well, acts as a powerful motor in driving irrational thinking and actions. Furthermore, fear is quite expert in the exercise of nullifying any semblance of intellectual and emotional maturity in people – in other words, fear transforms a supposedly adult (and thus mature) person into an irresponsible, reactionary, judgement-impaired, and comfort-craving, child or adolescent - one who searches for easy and absolute answers. And such intellectual sloth, through the fear which it causes in those people afflicted by it, eventually brings in turn the incapacity (or lack of willingness) to deal face-to-face with the unknown and the uncertain. Thereafter, the table is set at last for intolerance and hate to arise: the eternal and real justifications (although never self-admited) behind violence in any of its shapes or forms. In other words: ignorance breeds fear. Fear fosters hate. In turn, hate leads inevitably to violence. It is invariably the incompetents among us who consistently promulgate violence as a solution for anything, to everything.

  • Seventh Principle: Incompetence is nothing but consistent with itself.
  • As long as incompetents do not acknowledge their affliction with intellectual sloth, they will stubbornly refuse to change. Some people call this hubris. To this effect, incompetents are known to repeat the same mistakes again and again, because of their arrogance and utter fright at being exposed for what they truly are - and thus, they find themselves unknowingly enacting Franklin's, and/or Einstein's, very definition of insanity, which is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
    You can return to everything being said and done by the McCain-Palin ticket - from Palin's religious convictions, her silly lies/exagerations about her record and experience, to claims that Obama wants to raise taxes on everybody, to "suspending the campaign", to every flip-flop about the economy and the bailout (and pretty much everything else), to "troopergate", to "voting against funding troops", etc., etc. etc. - and there you will find the Principles of Incompetence in action.

    Which brings me back (finally) to the current McCain-Palin smearing campaign against Barack Obama, exploiting the intellectual sloth-driven incompetence that is characteristic of their "base" (see videos above), if not actually of too many Americans out there.

    Because of their own incompetence, McCain-Palin just do not see where their current reckless fueling of fear and anger can lead. Perhaps they don't even care at all.

    But the axiom remains: ignorance breeds fear. Fear fosters hate. In turn, hate leads inevitably to violence.

    And this is the consequence of allowing dangerous incompetents like McCain-Palin do what they are currently doing, of remaining largely silent (cowarly or approvingly) in loudly decrying and denouncing their current strategy: it has now become almost inevitable that the Sixth Principle of Incompetence will be enacted by someone, somewhere, somehow.

    On that fateful and tragic day, should it ever come (and I still hope that such never happens), John McCain, Sarah Palin and the rest of their campaign staff will have to be indicted for conspiracy to incite murder.


    And if I could, I would then be the first to slap the cuffs on and throw their collective criminal asses in jail to rot for a long, long time.

    John McCain and Sarah Palin: you have been put on notice to cease and desist - I strongly suggest that you heed such notice, if only to spare your pathetic, selfish, greedy and immoral persons from suffering the consequences of your dangerous incompetence.

    (Cross-posted at NION, TWWL, and Progressive Historians)

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