James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Madness at the top, Part 1

So here’s the problem, the godzilla of all of the U.S. of A.’s many problems:

The people who run this country are insane.

Yes, lots of folks say that these days. Many people reflexively say “that’s crazy,” when the Bushies do some new outrageous thing, or some one of their rabid supporters tells the rest of us that the torture of prisoners is little more than a fraternity prank and we should get over it.

But I mean it, and I think many people know it’s true but can’t quite say it out loud without pretending they’re joking.

So I repeat: the people who run this country are insane. Or, as a clinical psychologist friend of mine might put it, in technical terms, they’re nuts. Gaga. Bananas. Screwy. Round the bend. Wacko.

OK, I’m going for smiles there, but the craziness is demonstrably true. And saying that means that I immediately will be labeled more than a little nuts myself by self-styled “centrists” who happen onto this little essay, let alone any of the crack-skulled right who see it. Folks, the Third Reich was rubble before most Germans would publicly admit that Hitler was insane, and most Italians pretended Mussolini was rational right up to the time the Allies hit their beaches.

It is on record that George W. Bush believes we are in “End Days,” a crackpot Christian concept that means that the world will end soon, as soon as he and his crowd help to create the right conditions. (Please note that I am not saying all Christians are crackpots; I refer to the lunatic fringe.)

Bush and his toadies maintain close ties to the leaders of what, in all our past, would be labeled cults. Some of those who brag about their regular contact with and advice to the White House are on a par with the people who killed themselves some years ago in order to transfer to the space ships they knew were waiting for them. As reported in numerous serious journals, the looney religious people get regular briefings from the White House on what the Bush crowd is up to domestically and in foreign affairs. The rest of us, journalists and public, are locked out by the most secretive presidency in American history.

In a May 18 article in the Village Voice, writer Rick Perlstein provides some shiver-producing information on the connections between the White House, the United Pentecostal Church, an organization called the Apostolic Congress, and Robert G. Upton, a Pentecostal clergyman big in both of those organizations. The article quotes the organization’s own summary of an off-the-record meeting with White House officials dealing with the “cultural, economical, and social struggle on every level.”

Perlstein also explains Pentecostal groups’ opposition to an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza strip “on the grounds that all of Old Testament Israel belongs to the Jews. Until Israel is intact and Solomon’s temple rebuilt, they believe, Christ won’t come back to earth.”

Upton is quoted as bragging that “We’re in constant contact with the White House. I’m briefed at least once a week via telephone briefings...I was there about two weeks ago...At that time we met with the president.”

It’s a fairly long article, and needs to be read in its entirety. However, here’s one other fascinating tidbit from Perlstein: The representative of the Pentecostal groups in Israel – a group consulted by Bush’s National Security Council’s top Middle East aide -- believed herself at one point to have been attacked by witchcraft after she got in too close proximity to a Harry Potter novel.

The End Days belief, as several analysts have said, explains the utter lack of concern for the environment, among many other obviously stupid, if not evil, positions taken by the Bushies. They believe they can sell our air, our water, our minerals and forests for the money to be elected because they must stay in office in order to help bring about the coming of Christ, and since the world is going to end soon, the physical health of the earth doesn’t matter.

No, I’m not kidding. If you read the journals that are reporting facts as the become known – everything from The Nation to The New Yorker – you’ll see well-documented reports on those beliefs and contacts.

As several publications in addition to the Village Voice have reported, with ample documentation, the End Days belief also accounts for the Bush administration’s encouragement of the Israeli right wing in their efforts to drive out (or kill) the Palestinians. Every time Sharon’s Israel conducts some terrible massacre or destroys the homes of several thousands of Palestinians, the rest of the world shouts angrily, but the Bushies, at most, utter a “tsk, tsk” for public consumption.

Honest. I’m not making that up.

Another little sign of, shall we say, a shortage of wheels on the train is that our unelected president has been quoted several times saying that he knows he holds office by divine will – God put him in the White House.

And here you thought it was a crooked brother in Florida and a corrupt Supreme Court.

A former Bush speech writer, David Frum, wrote a book titled “The Right Man,” in which he tells of a conversation between Bush and another speech writer, Mike Gerson, himself an evangelical Christian. After a Bush speech following the Sept. 11 attacks on the East Coast, Gerson telephoned Bush and said he’d seen the speech on television and “I thought – God wanted you there.” According to Frum, Bush responded, “He wants us all here, Gerson.”

Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention, was quoted last fall in Sojourners Magazine – a liberal-leaning Christian publication – as saying he heard Bush state that “I believe God wants me to be president.” The Sojourner article also notes that Time magazine quoted the president as saying he was “chosen by the grace of God to lead” this country after Sept. 11.

The Sojourner article was written by the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Jim Wallis, a rational man and an obviously excellent reporter.

We can wish that in his weirdness George W. Bush had decided to believe he is Napoleon or Caesar or some such, because even the dimwits who make up such a large portion of our electorate would recognize the insanity in that. But there are a whole lot of people who believe they know God’s truth, absolutely and down to the tiniest detail, and many of them believe with George that he is the chosen one because their power-besotted preachers tell them so.

It’s hard to know which, if any, of the people who run the administration share Mad George’s apocalyptic beliefs. They all use them, obviously, to keep the nominal president “on course,” as they say, and there are indications that at least some of the second-tier types are equally true believers.

John Ashcroft, our attorney general, God help us, probably belongs to the religion-wacked crowd. I can’t think how else one could explain his loopy draping of the statue of Justice at the Department of Justice building in Washington in order to cover (oh shame!) a stony naked breast. The man has shown in other times and ways that he is horrified by the human body – a pretty reliable indication of irrational religiosity, as is his apparent belief that sex is one of God’s little mistakes.

The other major players, including Rumsfeld, Cheney and Rove, seem more driven by an equally insane right wing ideology. They cynically kowtow to the religious crackbrains, but their real drive comes from the fanatic belief that all wealth and power must be held by a handful of superior beings, among whom they are, of course, chief. They reject democracy – their words and actions prove that beyond doubt. They and a few close associates must run this country and this country must rule the world. This they believe.

They further believe that they can and should do whatever (they think) it takes to solidify their power. There are no rules, as demonstrated by their rejection of all international treaties, notably the Geneva Conventions. You must ask why they have the gone through almost incredible legalistic contortions – calling that most basic of international agreements “quaint” and “outdated” -- in order to permit themselves to torture prisoners and abuse and even murder civilians. The only answer I can come up with is that “whatever it takes” attitude and the refusal to be bound by any rules.

Much to the dismay of our own army’s lawyers, they fail to understand, or care, that the Geneva Conventions protect our own military people. Given their disdain for lesser beings, it is most likely that they just don’t care.

(See transcripts and additional information related to the Friday, May 21 broadcast of “Bill Moyers NOW” on public television on the program’s Web site. Scott Horton of the New York City Bar Association, said during an interview on the show that members of the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s organization approached his association for help in fighting the administration’s rejection of the conventions.)

That kind of megalomania is – what?

That’s right gang: Insane.

It is the same sort of madness that has afflicted murderous dictators since time began.

Think that’s overstated? Again, read the journals that actually cover the world and public affairs. The quotes are there. The right wing nuts condemn themselves by their own words. Unless you live in Washington, New York or Los Angeles, you won’t usually find the reports in your local newspaper, or they will be paraphrased in such a way as to appear insignificant. Even the big papers are avoiding as much of the White House weirdness as they can. The stories often are ignored by Time, Newsweek and all of the other “news” magazines that now generally feature pop stars and young film actresses on their covers.

(“Madmen are running the country? Gimme another shot of J.Lo, and this time let’s see some boobs!”)

There is another aspect to the story of craziness at the top. The wigged out people running the government are there essentially because they bought their way in. They’ve been given and still are being given, previously unimaginable sums by corporate executives and other billionaires and millionaires.

We have to ask why those plutocrats would pay to put our government in the hands of people who demonstrably walk outside the boundaries of rational thought. Stay tuned.

If you see important information that your local press has failed to provide, write them, email them, call them and demand they do their jobs.