Keeping America terrified

Today’s Republican leadership is truly a one-trick pony. It has no achievements to stand on, nothing to recommend it to voters, and so it turns to the only thing it can produce en masse: fear.

The Republican Party will begin airing a hard-hitting ad this weekend that warns of more cataclysmic terror attacks against the U.S. homeland. The ad portrays Osama bin Laden and quotes his threats against America dating to February 1998. “These are the stakes,” the ad concludes. “Vote November 7.”

Brian Jones, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said the ad would run on national cable beginning Sunday, but he declined to discuss specifics of the buy. The commercial tracks with Republican Party strategy to make the war on terrorism a central theme of this election. It will air as recent polls show Republicans losing ground as the party best able to combat terrorism.

The level of cynicism here is difficult to conceive. Most of today’s terrorism is taking place in Iraq, a country of little interest to Al Qaeda and career terrorists until we decided to invade it. (Saddam terrorized his citizenry, to be sure, but there was no civil war, no car bombs or IEDs or Shiite death squads making mass murder of innocents – and of American soldiers – a daily feature of Iraqi life.) And now, after creating the big mess, the GOP is trying to convince us we should vote for them because they are the only ones who can handle it. The Democrats, effette and French to the core, are too busy eating snails, spreading cheese on their baguettes and sipping latte.

Of course, the GOP has proved to all of us just how well they handle huge threats. Like the Taliban, now making a frightening resurgence. Like hurricane Katrina. Like Iraq after more than three years. Why on earth would we even think of giving them yet another try at it?

Time to yet again revisit the words of the man who got it all right, who had the prescience and genius half a century ago to envisage exactly what our world was coming to:

In accordance with the principles of double-think it does not matter if the war is not real. For when it is, victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won, but it is meant to be continuous. A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance, this new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia but to keep the very structure of society intact.

From George Orwell’s 1984. Without the ongoing hysteria, the Republican house of cards, rotted from the inside out, would collapse in an instant. So prepare for fear and more fear. It’s going to get a lot worse over the next three weeks.

The Discussion: 7 Comments

Amazing how prophetic Orwell was. When I first read “1984” in the 1970s, I thought it was about the USSR. Never dreamed it would apply to the US. I make a point of re-reading it every few years. Never has it rung truer than now, especially when it comes to the perversion of language.

If the American people are swayed by this tactic, then they deserve what they will get. Sadly, I think enough of them will to make theft of the “election” possible. Glad I’m not one of them any more…

October 20, 2006 @ 1:34 pm | Comment

If I were the Democrats I would create a new ad by taking excerpts from this very ad and then intersperse them with regular Americans talking about their fears of continuing with a do-nothing, rubber-stamp, GOP controlled Congress. I think its time for the Democrats to go toe to toe with the GOP with a light hearted…but very pointed “Fear Factor” campaign.

I just don’t think fear can work this time if the Democrats will hit back. Karl Rove has made a career of taking his opponents strengths and turning them into liabilities…and its time someone return the favor. His house of cards is ready to fall.

See a tongue-in-cheek visual of Karl and the boys singing some of their favorite “Church & State” hymns…here:

October 20, 2006 @ 2:15 pm | Comment

There are people who want to kill non-believers. Some would be happy killing as many as possible.

The corporate media does not show people jumping out of WTC, or heads being severed from living bodies, but does show guys with panties on their heads, and pristine Mickey Mouse dolls among old rubble.

Reminders of the actual facts are acceptable. Orwell got much correct, but he did not anticipate the wide information flow we enjoy today. Orwell’s description of an unreal threat does not quite match today’s world.

The real driver in this discussion? The vacuum of compassion and ethics clustered around one political party. They will say their opposition should not speak of terrorists, because that will “terrify America”. Odd choice of words, that.

October 21, 2006 @ 12:02 am | Comment

a reader,

The real driver in this discussion? The vacuum of compassion and ethics clustered around one political party. They will say their opposition should not speak of terrorists, because that will “terrify America”.

Yeesh, where to begin with this? First, it is obvious to the most casual of observers that a lack of compassion and ethics is a defining characteristic of the Republican party. If you don’t know this, you haven’t been paying the least bit of attention to reality.’

Second, Americans don’t need to be reminded that terrorists want to kill us. If you ever look out into the real world, you’d see that the most sane people go about their lives more worried about things that the (Republican dominated) Government might do, or fail to do, than what Al Qaeda might try to do. This isn’t because they’ve forgotten, it’s because they’ve a bit of courage and pride, unlike you.

I forget where I first read this, but it is the best critique of drivel like this ad I have yet seen:

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
-Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“The only thing we have is fear.”
-George H.W. Bush

October 21, 2006 @ 7:40 am | Comment

“reader,” who ever said any party shouldn’t talk about terrorism? No one, ever. You’re making it up. What many people like me are saying is that you shouldn’t exploit emotional fears by constantly keeping people in a state of irrational dread, as the lastest GOP campaign ad is specifically trying to do. Do you get that? We have to talk abouty terror. We don’t have to keep everyone hysterical.

October 21, 2006 @ 11:56 am | Comment

I sent this to Janes and to a weblog in all sincerity:

Here is a question that has never been satisfactorily answered: if the cabin doors of the airliners had been stiffened and unopenable, if pilots could be armed, is it possible that 9/11 could not have happened and this huge plot would have been seen as a much less traumatic event.?

Why is everybody so afraid of Al Qaeda when there seems to be little known about it. It is very disconcerting to find no source for the strength of Al-Qaeda, no numbers of actual agents, actual locations, actual plots – they get pulled out whenever they release a video as some bogeymen. Are there 300 Al-Qaeda agents, 3,000, 30,000 or more or less? If there are 3,000 of them, do we need to be afraid of them? Fear is of something we don’t know or fully understand. I wrote to Jane’s about this, but never got a response.

Why are we so afraid of them, based on the propaganda that’s been bandied around? Based on something real? Most of the plots that have surfaced are relatively trivial in terms of threatening the real strength of our large country. Like that English plot, where they didn’t even get tickets. We Americans have a reputation for not being afraid of what we fully understand, and I’m not sure we fully understand the threat.

October 24, 2006 @ 11:04 am | Comment

All very valid questions.

October 24, 2006 @ 11:28 am | Comment

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