June 29, 2010

Yes, Rush, I Just Can't Imagine Why

I listen to Rush Limbaugh so you don't have to. You're welcome. Occasionally, he's funny because he intends to be. Many other times, he's a complete laff riot because, well, he's a nincompoop.

Today, Limbaugh is Outraged! that Russians are spying on us! Why, it's like 1952 all over again! (He was very particular about the year.) Russia is still evil! They never changed! How incomprehensibly malevolent that the evil Russians should be spying on the United States, which is solely and uniquely devoted to spreading happiness and joy all over the world. If you have a decent life at all, you can thank the United States for it.

Since the United States is inherently, unquestionably good, all good people can only react with slack-jawed amazement to the evil revealed by the fact that the Russians are spying on us. Why, in all the possibilities of all the universes that have ever existed or will ever exist, would the Russians need to spy on us?

Never fear, Rush has the answer. The commies were always maniacal about making the U.S. completely commie just like them. And they still are! But now, the U.S. has a president who is a commie himself! He'll do the work for them! So...

It must be a trick! It can't be true! The U.S. is up to something, or so the Russkies think. So they're spying on us, to find out what we're really doing.

Never mind that all the stories about this refer to "[a]n F.B.I. investigation that began at least seven years ago," or that the suspected spies "had lived for more than a decade in American cities and suburbs from Seattle to New York." Note: I'm not saying the reporting is accurate in any respect -- this is, after all, the story the government has chosen to tell us, so who the hell knows what the truth is -- but this is the story we have to work with, and that Limbaugh has to work with.

But just set all that aside. It's all because of the commie in the White House.

It remains somewhat amazing to me that so many radio gabbers of the conservative persuasion arrive at the same line of commentary at warp speed. Before Limbaugh came on, I heard the same general reaction from a local morning radio host in Los Angeles (minus the commie in the White House part, which is why this guy remains a local personality, but I'm sure he's working on that). I shouldn't be amazed in the least; the same phenomenon occurs on the liberal side of the spectrum. And this is precisely how tribes operate: all the members, especially those with any kind of public voice (or with ambitions for same), are exceedingly familiar with the major talking points, all of which they obediently apply to whatever story comes along. You can do it, too, if you want to make yourself superstupid. It's remarkably simple, and simpleminded.

The local L.A. guy was also Outraged! He talked about how "scary" and "creepy" it was, and how it was just like the 1950s. The level of detail in the identical reactions -- now that's creepy. But as I say, that's what makes tribes tribes, political or any other kind. The L.A. host couldn't get over the fact that these scary, creepy spies used names like "Richard" and "Cynthia Murphy." They seemed to be ordinary Americans, like you and me! Hello: they're spies.

On that same point, I seriously love this bit from the NYT story:
Jessie Gugig, 15, said she could not believe the charges, especially against Mrs. Murphy. “They couldn’t have been spies,” she said jokingly. “Look what she did with the hydrangeas.”
I mean it: I love Jessie Gugig. (A great name, too!) If Ms. Gugig doesn't use that line in her own fabulously successful and crappy spy novel (if it's as fabulously successful as I imagine, it's almost gotta be crappy), I'm gonna steal it. Hey, she's only 15. She has plenty of time left.

To return to Limbaugh's amazement that the evil Russians would feel a need to spy on the noble Americans: yeah, that's a tough one. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that by means of NATO expansion on one side, and permanent (or at least decades-long) occupations on another, the U.S. is intentionally engaged in an encirclement of Russia. An encirclement that happens to involve deployments of large numbers of troops, plus weapons of all kinds.

Moreover, as I recently discussed in "Evil in Broad Daylight," the United States is now systematically engaged in the following. And this is only what the government wants us to know. From a Washington Post story excerpted in the earlier post:
Beneath its commitment to soft-spoken diplomacy and beyond the combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Obama administration has significantly expanded a largely secret U.S. war against al-Qaeda and other radical groups, according to senior military and administration officials.

Special Operations forces have grown both in number and budget, and are deployed in 75 countries, compared with about 60 at the beginning of last year. In addition to units that have spent years in the Philippines and Colombia, teams are operating in Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.

Commanders are developing plans for increasing the use of such forces in Somalia, where a Special Operations raid last year killed the alleged head of al-Qaeda in East Africa. Plans exist for preemptive or retaliatory strikes in numerous places around the world, meant to be put into action when a plot has been identified, or after an attack linked to a specific group.
Yes, it's entirely impossible to imagine why any of this might make other nations the slightest bit uneasy.

To put the actual point very bluntly: the Russians, along with the Iranians, along with everyone else in the world, are entirely justified in thinking that, if they are not on their guard and if they do not take all possible precautions, the United States will fuck up their shit. This is what it means to be devoted to a policy of American worldwide hegemony, enabled by, among other elements, a global empire of bases. The United States is intent, to the fullest extent it can, on fucking up everyone's shit. That's what the U.S. has been doing for more than a century. See, e.g., here, here and here.

I have never believed Limbaugh is as stupid as he pretends to be. He knows the Russians have very good reason for using every means available to determine the U.S.'s plans. Russian leaders, like leaders of any other nation, would be extraordinarily derelict in their responsibilities if they did not use spying and many other methods for trying to ascertain the next outrage planned by the U.S. And that's where the word "outrage" can be used with genuinely good reason. In fact, "outrage" barely begins to capture the nature of the evil involved.

But Limbaugh also knows the storyline demanded by his audience. In essence: the United States, always good and noble and uniquely so, always devoted to spreading freedom and prosperity. If the U.S. has to bomb you into Paradise, it will. The U.S. only does it "for your own good" (yet another example: "To conquer Mexico, in other words, would be to do it a favor"). And Russia, along with anyone else who dares to interfere with the U.S.'s plans to any degree at all, is necessarily evil. They're asking to be obliterated. "Obliterated," not coincidentally, is the word I heard another conservative talk show host (Mark Levin) use in connection with Iran. But I'll deal with the current nonstop barrage of lies about Iran another time. (Nothing of significance has changed since the time I wrote "The Worsening Nightmare," so you can take a look at that and the numerous other essays about Iran listed at the end for an extended preview. The basic dynamics remain precisely the same today.)

"Look what she did with the hydrangeas." Limbaugh (and Levin, too) provide their own version of this cover for other purposes: they are devoted to their pets, and they talk about them often. Aw, they love dogs and cats. They can't be evil. But given the role they play in American culture and politics, in view of the endlessly destructive and murderous ideas they continually reinforce and spread still further, they are.

Oh, yes. They are.