THOLOS OF ATHENA

Saturday, April 30, 2005

POOR LITTLE HORACE WITH ONLY ONE BALL

"It's farewell to the drawing room's civilized cry,
The professor's sensible whereto and why,
The frock-coated diplomat's social aplomb,
Now matters are settled with gas and with bomb."...

"So Little John, Long John, Peter and Paul,
And poor little Horace with only one ball,
You shall leave your breakfast, your desk and your play
On a fine summer morning the Devil to slay."...

For it's order and trumpet and anger and drum
And power and glory command you to come;
The graves shall fly open and let you all in,
And the earth shall be emptied of mortal sin."...

--W.H. Auden, Danse Macabre
It can be said that a sociopath has at least one card missing from his deck. On the other hand, there is often evidence of enabling behavior, a misguided, dysfunctional support, in the family or community that surrounds his psychopathic personality.

The President lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; and the Pentagon, that he controls, covers up for torture, and shields senior officers from prosecution for crimes against prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and in Afghanistan. Moreover, Republican accomplices try to use a family's legal dispute over removing a brain-dead person's life support, as a gambit in their gameplan for packing the courts with political and religious extremists.

And against this background of abuse of power, there is an even more dangerous suspicion, confirmed by "Justice Sunday" in Kentucky, of a cultural war which is waged against secular institutions, journalistic integrity, and democratic process, here in America. With respect to co-dependency, let's take the example of ABC Nightly News, and its April 29th report on the diplomatic dispute, that arose from the wounding of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena and the killing of Nicola Calipari, an Italian security agent, only a short distance from Baghdad airport.

Calipari had obtained the release of the kidnapped journalist Sgrena from Iraqi insurgents. But only minutes from the airport, they were fired on by a mobile "checkpoint" , a recently formed detail of American troops, put together to protect Ambassador John Negroponte, on a special, restricted road, on which Calipari had obtained clearance to travel. And in point of fact, Agent Calipari had used his cellphone to call American authorities to confirm their arrival just minutes before he was shot dead, as he attempted to shield Ms. Sgrena from bullets.

ABC Nightly News is doubly concerned to inform its viewers of the serious illness of its News Anchor, Peter Jennings; but when it comes to reporting the rift between the American and Italian governments, it is indeed more circumspect. Talk about an absence of context and background information. ABC shows a photograph of the death car, taken from an angle that shows none of the important evidence of bullets. It's reported that the American and Italian governments have had a falling out over their contradictory accounts of what happened; and ABC News just can't summon the courage to say why.

ABC might have informed the public that the bullets struck the car from behind. They could have reasonably concluded that evidence more strongly supported the Italian version of events. But no, they are only able to report that the Americans and Italians just don't see eye to eye on this one. It's not sufficiently patriotic to suggest that American military authorities are telling lies. The ABC Nightly News omits crucial information; and of course, they are not accused of bias, which is something else altogether.

President Bush runs the government on a "need to know" basis; so why shouldn't ABC NEWS operate on the same assumption? And patriotism is an important consideration. There's such a thing as too much information, after all. On the other hand, it's important to come back to the question of the psychopathic personality, to the President himself, that is.

Dr. Hervey Cleckley's famous book, The Mask of Sanity, published in its Third Edition in 1955, used case studies to illustrate this kind of disorder:
"He shows a total disregard for truth and is to be trusted no more in his accounts of the past than in his promises for the future or his statement of present intentions. One gets the impression that he is incapable of ever attaining realistic comprehension of an attitude in other people which causes them to value truth and cherish truthfulness in themselves."
This immersion into the psychopathic personality is characteristic of what has befallen America, these days. The manipulative genius that still operates with this level of moral impairment, is bound and determined to use American cult energy and religious extremism for partisan political leverage. Bush is not concerned in the least about releasing religious fanatics into our domestic political life; he is not phased when it comes to ultimately destructive borrowing, or unrestricted license to lenders, or the undermining of Social Security. or even the enslavement of the middle class. Here we have a man for all seasons of madness.

We also have a complacent press that facilitates Bush's irrational behavior. And worst of all are the Radical Republicans and their religious extremist base, who with the ease of a psychopathic personality, would knock the laws flat and destroy democracy itself, if only for the momentary satisfaction of wrapping their fingers around the throat of the Devil.

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