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John Chuckman: Drowning In Filth

Drowning In Filth


By John Chuckman
June 24, 2005

"We are all drowning in filth.I feel that intellectual honesty and balanced judgement have simply disappeared from the face of the earth."
- George Orwell (diary entry for 27 April, 1942)

I've given the date of Orwell's words lest someone think they were written by a contemporary bearing the writer's name. Recent events surely qualify the United States to claim some sort of title from the Guinness Book of Records such as the world's largest moral and intellectual open sewer.

A man by the name of Ed Klein has written a vile book called The Truth about Hillary. Perceptive readers may require no more information about this book than the fact that Klein is a former editor for The New York Times. The Times reputation as a newspaper upholding genuine liberal values exists only in the minds of those who regard rolling on the floor and babbling in tongues as divine inspiration. For decades, The Times has demonstrated enough dissembling, unwarranted personal attacks, subtle omissions, and tweaking of words to qualify many times over for a J. Edgar Hoover Official G-Man Helper Award. So what would you expect from a former editor?

You must give Klein his due, he knows his market: America always loves vile books about successful women. I could ask, how does a man with any self-respect, any sense of decency - claiming to be a responsible figure in journalism to boot - write a book retailing trashy gossip about a living, former first lady's sex life? The subject would be off-limits for anyone possessing some integrity. But remember, this is America, where literally almost anything goes to make a fast buck or a vicious political point.

How does writing such a book differ from the behavior of thirteenth-century tribesmen stoning women for presumed transgressions? Why, not a bit, of course. Never mind that swill about women's rights and freedoms America pitches out there. That's only for consumption by ignorant turban heads. When it counts in America, when something untoward occurs like an independent-minded woman seeking high office, stoning remains completely acceptable.

One good measure of any book is the nature of those who promote it. Well, here is Rush Limbaugh - America's pill-popping television clown for lads stuck in the onset of puberty, almost certainly America's greatest living authority on the threatening qualities of women - slobbering over the volume:

"I've got some interesting, juicy details on this book on Hillary by Ed Klein, but I'm not going to be the first to mention them. I'm not going there. It will come out eventually. It has to do with sexual orientation, and I'm not going to be the one. That's the book that everybody says is going to be presenting a firestorm."

Klein's intent of course is to poison political prospects for Mrs. Clinton, who is frequently mentioned as a future presidential candidate. We knew Mrs. Clinton had a fine intelligence, but she also has demonstrated her steel, rising from the most savage treatment ever accorded a President's spouse to success in the Senate. And she is richly hated for precisely that reason.

It was a fine moment recently when the American Senate offered an apology for about five thousand American lynchings. The number came in at a mere five thousand because limits were placed on the time span covered. The Senate is punctilious about details if nothing else. The Senators' gesture was reasonable and fair, wasn't it? A privileged body totally neglects its duty and plain human decency for a century and then says it is sorry five thousand corpses later.

Note that the number of lynching victims counted (and there were many more in the previous century) is roughly double the number of people killed in 9/11. The population of the United States was much smaller when lynching was a regular source of family-values entertainment in the South, so the number killed actually represents a far greater proportion of population than those consumed in 9/11.

The families of those lost in 9/11 were overwhelmed with donations, many even became multi-millionaires, but never mind compensation for the descendants of people savagely lynched by their neighbors. America's not of a mind for that sort of thing as the sponsor for the apology explained.

Now that an autopsy has proved the late Terri Schiavo was blind, missing half her brain, and showed no signs of abuse, you'd think the American politicians who made complete asses of themselves trying to have the courts interfere in the private affairs one poor citizen would shut up.

But not Governor Jeb Bush of Florida. He now has a prosecutor looking into the original reporting of the injury Terri suffered fifteen years ago. Her poor husband not only lost his wife, endured years of marriage to a vegetable, years in the courts trying to bring a decent end to the misery, he has been reviled, abused, and threatened by America's Christian Right who claim they cherish life while cheering their troops in Iraq murdering, maiming, and torturing thousands.

At Terri's death (a natural and peaceful one following the legally-authorized removal of life support), her husband actually had to go into hiding for fear of his life. So the Governor of his state, confronted by scientific facts and embarrassed by the idiocy of his party's behavior, launches a witch hunt against the only real victim in the whole terrible saga, Terri's husband. It is difficult to imagine a more vicious and dishonest action by government authority than this of Jeb Bush.

The American House of Representatives is to vote for the sixth time on a Constitutional Amendment to make defacing the flag a crime. My, here's a cause right up there with ending slavery or defining high treason: the horrifying act of defacing a piece of cloth with red and blue dye.

I just wonder about all those cheap little flags that went up on car aerials after 9/11, you know the ones that were shortly reduced to millions of faded gray rags or fluttered down in the thousands like autumn leaves to be ground into the pavement? Are drivers with ragged, dirty bits fluttering from their aerials or stuck to their tires to be regarded as felons?

How about all those "Made in America" flag labels they love at Wal-Mart? Would you go to jail for soiling your Jockey shorts or disrespectfully crumpling used Dixie Cups? Would spilling coffee on your star-spangled track suit in the privacy of your recreational vehicle become a crime? How do you handle American flag mud flaps?

Considering the monstrous things in which America now is engaged, both at home and abroad, this political farce borders on pornography.

We have the revelation in a New England Journal of Medicine article that American doctors attending prisoners at America's torture chamber in Guantanamo Bay give confidential patient information to the CIA and other agencies so that they can assess which of their efforts proves most effective. I guess you could call it a system of continuous improvement in torture using information collected by doctors sworn to do their patients no harm. Psychiatrists and psychologists treating prisoners work as part of an integral system of punishment and rewards to keep prisoners under stress. I wonder whether they tell their victim/patients "Have a Nice Day!" as they leave each session.

A ministerial letter leaked in the U.K. confirms not only that American Marines used napalm-type weapons in Iraq but that the American government lied to its British ally when asked whether it was doing so. America's napalm weapon is now innocuously named MK-77 to avoid tripping memories of roasting villagers alive in Vietnam. The MK-77 consists of a dumb bomb containing a mixture of jet fuel and polystyrene, a compound which clings to the flesh of victims like barbecue sauce as it burns white-hot. The letter claimed it was only used away from civilians, but dumb bombs do have a way of going astray, and I'm not sure any person of conscience can accept poor conscript soldiers being treated that way. There are many unconfirmed reports that this hideous weapon also was used by Marines on Fallujah.

The Downing Street Memos - Eyes-Only, Secret documents also leaked in the U.K. - are irrefutable proof that Bush had the invasion of Iraq planned almost a year before it occurred, before all his phony outrage about weapons or support for terror. It points, too, to intelligence and diplomacy being deliberately bent to the purpose.

It is rare for historians to have such evidence of plans and intentions, especially at so early a date after an illegal war. The only other example I can think of is the Nazi government's papers falling, completely intact, into the hands of the Allies. Yet the American press has minimized these revealing documents by misrepresenting them, under-reporting them, and playing with words when they are reported.

Instead, we were treated to a sentimental love-in over memories of two cub reporters at the Washington Post three decades ago during the last days of Richard Nixon. It followed the revelation of just who Deep Throat was, a high-level government source for the reporters at the time. It was re-assuring that the Washington Post managed one act of serving the public thirty years ago. They certainly have done nothing worthwhile since. One of those daring cub reporters, Bob Woodward, has since gone on to such meaningful work as singing the praises of America's current brutish-thug President.

Last, we have a genuine investigative reporter, one of America's last, a remarkable man named Seymour Hersh, telling us that sadistic horrors are contained in tapes from Abu Ghraib prison never released to the public. They contain, among other things, pictures of young boys being sodomized and the soundtrack has their screams.

ENDS

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