Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Iraq Situation, the Media, and the "Festival of the Undead Wrong" (with Application to Recent U.S. Catholic Bishops' Meeting)

To call the following a meme among commentators looking at American news and mainstream media in the last three days would be a vast understatement (there are many similar statements I could cite, too):

The rule seems to be that if you were wrong in 2003, you're still an expert in 2014.

Charles Pierce on the weekend's "festival of the Undead Wrong":

On a week in which all the predictable chickens came home to their predictable roosts, at least all those chickens and roosts predicted by all the people who were roundly ignored in 2002, there wasn't a single guest on any of the shows who opposed the clusterfck in the first place. This is an astonishing bit of circular history.

The people who broke Iraq have a lot of ideas about fixing it now.

Kristol and Wolfowitz and all the other people responsible for dragging us into Iraq should be pariahs who labor under the expectation of doing some measure of atonement for their stubborn and wrongheaded pursuit of a disastrous policy. Instead they get invited on to Sunday shows to discuss what we should do next in Iraq.

Perhaps the only response is to republish what this charlatan was saying in 2003 in a tone utterly unchanged from his tone today, with a certainty which was just as faked then as it is now. Read carefully and remember he has recanted not a word of it.

Abby Zimet (citing Jim Wright):*

Amidst the saber-rattling on Iraq, a fine, furious, gut-wrenching rant from a former Naval intelligence officer who knows whereof he speaks on the mindless claim by a draft-dodging Mitt Romney and all the other "simpering capering madmen" and "cowardly connected wealthy weasels" that "tragically, all we've fought for...is on the cusp of vanishing." 

A tweet from McCain's account in 2010 stated, "Last American combat troops leave Iraq. I think President George W. Bush deserves some credit for victory."

[After 9/11] we had the good will of virtually the entire world on our side. It was Bush’s foolish choice of how to respond that changed that irrevocably. Within a month, we were the ones killing innocent civilians with our airstrikes in Afghanistan; that’s how quickly we moved to erode our moral high ground.

And, so, you get the point. At least, I hope you do. It's not just that the shameful old Undead Wrong who lied us into war in Iraq a decade ago are shameless enough to show their tired old wrong faces on American television all over again in 2014, offering the very same wrong prescriptions to us now, the very same wrong prescriptions that got us into a disastrous and wrongheaded war in the first place. And which created the conditions for what's happening in Iraq right now!

But the point is also that the same shameless and tired old wrong media that did everything but stand on their heads to amplify these tired old wrong voices in 2003 are willing, without blinking an eye, to offer them to us all over again. As experts. As the folks to whom we should listen in 2014, to solve the problem of Iraq now.

Being spectacularly wrong and causing massive suffering for many innocent human beings doesn't in any way disqualify these folks from standing before us once more and offering us the same half-baked, ill-informed notions that got us into the previous needless war. Nor does it disqualify the media from continuing to pretend to be all about presenting us with the facts, just the facts, ma'am, about providing balanced and fair coverage of the news.

But as I say all of this, how can I avoid thinking, too, about the clear parallel to be drawn between how the men who run things inside the D.C. beltway and the men who manage the media do business, and how the men running my Catholic church in the U.S. behave? There was that same lack of shame as my bishops gathered last week to offer the church they lead the very same tired old wrongheaded prescriptions that they've offered us lo these many years now, as people exit right and run left to get away from the mess these bishops have created as failed pastoral leaders.

Hold the course! the bishops told American Catholics last week. Keep bearing down on those non-negotiables of abortion and same-sex marriage, and keep casting your votes on the basis of those non-negotiables, no matter how ineffective this strategy is or no matter how marginal and crazy-cultic the church becomes as a result of this strategy. Get ready for Fortnight for Freedom 2014!

As I think about what the men running beltway politics and the men running the media and the men running my church have in common, I'm struck by the complete lack of shame in all three elites, when they're simply colossally (and destructively) wrong. I'm struck by the lack of any price to be paid when the men running things make mistakes that result in terrible suffering, even death, for myriads of innocent people.

I remember the ecclesiastical "price" that Bishop Robert Finn paid (not!) when he was found guilty of placing children in harm's way. I can't forget the "price" paid by Cardinal Bernard Law (not!) after he made a horrific mess of so many lives in the archdiocese of Boston. I remember the story of Father Marcial Maciel and how he was shamed and punished (not!) by the men running the church after his years of malfeasance. 

And as I think about all of this, about what the  men running the political sphere, the media, and  my church appear to have in common, I hear echoing in my head Sister Teresa Forcades's question, "Can we talk about a free market when in reality capitalism, historically, has always gone hand in hand with political power?" 

It seems to that what all these elites have in common, what accounts for their continued ability to present themselves to the public as trustworthy and ethical guides when mounting (and massive) evidence suggests that they're anything but this, and what accounts for their lack of shame or penalties when they demonstrate clear malfeasance, is this: all are closely connected to the most powerful elite of all, the economic super-elite that calls the shots for the entire planet. In increasingly destructive ways for which all the rest of us are paying a huge price . . . . .

*See tinywriting's comment in the thread below for a note about the link to Wright's blog provided by Abby Zimet.

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