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Higher morality paving the way to tyranny.

Reader comment on item: The Deceits of Bridges TV
in response to reader comment: Response to Ianus, Like Caesar's Wife

Submitted by Ianus (Poland), Mar 5, 2009 at 09:05

Hi again, Merry!

> And, while I appreciate your kind words about my "unstained idealism," well, heh. No, I'm not a wide-eyed innocent, and I'm afraid I have to refute any entry of "unstained idealism" on my resume. I have no illusions about the "unidealistic forces" wreaking havoc here in the U.S. and across the globe.

Nice to know that. We stand on the same ground.

>But given the option to assign credibility to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, or to Craig Unger — no contest. I believe Unger is a full-blown radical ideologue of the anti-war, anti-Christianity, fellow-traveler variety who was afflicted with "Bush Derangement Syndrome" before the term was coined to depict the stereotypical Bush haters among the other venom-spitters with bylines in Salon, HuffingtonPost, TruthOut, et. al.<

Strong words, I must say. After reading them one is positively discouraged to even browse Unger's writings, let alone take them seriously. Yet leaving your vivid antipathy to the writer aside, I wonder where his 360-page book on the unholy alliance between the Saudis and the Bush dynasty justifies it or not?What's e.g. so anti-war , anti-Christian and sick in the following analysis :

"The House of Bush is defined here as George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, James A. Baker III, Dick Cheney and the major institutions that they are tied to, including the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, the Carlyle Group and Halliburton." (...) The Carlyle Group owned defense contractor BDM from September 1990 until early 1998. One BDM subsidiary, Vinnell, has trained the Saudi National Guard since 1975, thanks to a controversial contract that allowed it to be the first U.S. private firm to train foreign forces. While under Carlyle ownership, BDM's and Vinnell's contracts with Saudi Arabia included the following:

In 1994, BDM received a $46 million contract to "provide technical assistance and logistical support to the Royal Saudi Air Force."

Between 1994 and 1998, Vinnell serviced an $819 million contract to provide training and support for the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG).

In 1995, Vinnell signed a $163 million contract to modernize SANG.

In 1995, BDM signed a $32.5 million contract to "augment Royal Saudi Air Force staff in developing, implementing, and maintaining logistics and engineering plans and programs."

In 1996, BDM got a $44.4 million contract from the Saudis to build housing at Khamis Mshayt military base.

In 1997, BDM received $18.7 million to support the Royal Saudi Air Force.

In 1997, just before BDM was sold to defense giant TRW, the company signed a $65 million contract to "provide for CY 1998 Direct Manning Personnel in support of maintenance of the F-15 aircraft."

Halliburton: $180 million

Vice President Dick Cheney served as CEO of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000. At press time, he continued to hold 433,333 shares of Halliburton in a charitable trust. Among Halliburton's dealings with the Saudis, those whose details have been made public include:

In November 2000, Halliburton received $140 million to develop Saudi oil fields with Saudi Aramco.

In 2000, Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, and Root was hired, along with two Japanese firms, to build a $40 million ethylene plant.

http://dir.salon.com/story/books/feature/2004/03/12/unger_2/index1.html

?

> And, given the option to assign credibility to Unger or to Michael Isikoff (Newsweek Magazine writer/ed), again, no contest. Isikoff refuted Unger's Saudi - Bush financial entanglement allegations and identified $1.18 billion of the $1.4 billion as a single-source 1990's contract between the Saudi Arabian government and a US defense contractor (for training Saudi military and guard personnel)."<

Isikoff's refutation was in turn refuted by Unger. Isikoff's argument is based on wrong chronology. So Isikoff leaves "the reader with the impression that the Bush family and its allies had little or no relationship with the Carlyle Group until 1998. If that were true, he might have a point.

But in fact, the Bush-Carlyle relationship began eight years earlier when the Carlyle Group put George W. Bush on the board of one of its subsidiaries, Caterair, in 1990. In 1993, after the Bush-Quayle administration left office and George H. W. Bush and James Baker were free to join the private sector, the Bush family's relationship with the Carlyle Group began to become substantive."

http://web.archive.org/web/20040708051711/http://www.houseofbush.com/

> I cringe, with the contemporary news cycle of 24-7, for which ambitious newscasters leap on every sensational crime story, pick out a handy face to point suspicion at, then report the "suspect's" neighbor's gossip, or leaked tidbits from prosecutors, police, and a sundry list of bystanders auditioning for their 15 minutes of --- well, not fame, but some attention maybe. Lurking in the shadows of every crime story news coverage, is a potential miscarriage of justice, not because of any substantial evidence against the accused, but because the newscasters were just so certain, and so relentless.<

It certainly reflects the unhealthy spirit of our age. But I am still uncertain if it is exclusively the demand that creates here supply? Statistics indicate that incarceration rates in the US have increased between 1980-2007 by c. 400% ! In other words more crime produces more social concern of which sensation stories are an important part . There is some sad social truth in "leaping on every sensational crime story", I am afraid.

> But that simply pales in comparison to what the major networks and news organs, radicals and ideologues of the opposition or on the periphery, do in the way of character assassination, baseless allegations, and just plain vitriol, to our political leaders, particularly Republican leaders.<

Power in a democracy is not all ale and cakes as it is in Saudi Arabia or any other Moslem despotic regime. And I mustn't be ! Politicians must know they are being watched and controlled. Too much is at stake to leave them a free hand and a feeling of impunity.

> That's not to say that some of our political leaders are not villians --- some of them surely are, including some in the GOP. But the villianous ones are almost NEVER the ones clobbered and defamed. <

That's bad. But frankly, I have never met a single person above criticism. So I wonder why these people manage to escape its scrutiny ?

> Do some of them, even many of them, exploit their offices to feather their own nests? Probably, and those who do should be prosecuted, impeached, or whatever is appropriate to the case-by-case specifics. By the same token, many of them serve honorably and often at substantial personal cost.<

I am afraid that cases where we have just villains and heroes in politics are too few to be of much use for us. Usually, politicians are depending on the occasion. They want power and to exert it one has to make sometimes nasty compromises and unpleasant sacrifices. Money is needed for an election campaign. Where to get it from? A Saudi prince my friend knows is generous. Money doesn't stink and I will use the power honestly ..." I just wonder how many politicians have been forced to make such confessions in private? In public they will deny all, of course. At the same time in other respects they may be impeccable.

> Absent compelling evidence of criminal conduct, it is just plain morally repugnant to throw accusations of such conduct at honorable men, or to stand mute when such allegations are made.<

May I ask you a question, Merry? Don't you happen to be a lawyer by the way ?

If honorable men are unjustly accused, they shouldn't have a problem to prove their candor and honesty. I suspect that usually the Macchiavelian dualism of their careers makes it very hard. E.g. your ex-president G. W. Bush might simply disclose his bank accounts and ask the archives to make the all critical documents accessible to the interested public to refute Unger's assertions. I'd do that if accused. But I am sure he will never do that. He has too much to hide from the public eye.

Now if may may make a general remark, arguing "on moral grounds" where hard vested interests are involved, where the numbers of millions of US dollars provided by the Saudis to the leading political figures in the US have been specified, where shameful acts like that of flying the Saudi residents out of the country just two days after 9/11 2001 are known to the public , is hardly admissible. In the history of establishing tyrannies and curtailing freedom of speech and thought it is always the 'high morality' that plays the avant-garde role. First, the persons who dare voice their distrust, doubts and censure are silenced under the notorious and so wonderfully flexible charges of immorality, denigration and defamation. Then gradually everyone else's freedom is curtailed and lost- all in the name of the same higher moral principles. So I feel very distrustful seeing the same game at work now - higher morality interfering with anything we think and say. Freedom is not for free. It costs a lot in fact. But I'd rather pay for it than allow its cheaper and more moral opposite to replace it.

With best regards , Jan

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