Re: If You Only Knew

1

Why would journalists (who, Seymour Hersh aside, are all too human) have to have heard special, secret stories to be frightened into pliability?

The aether is already charged with phlogiston:

- "the unassimilated Muslim underclass in Britain/France will use weapons acquired from rusted-out Eastern European arsenals to seize control of Christian Europe";

- "the lower orders will outbreed the Aryans and enslave the blue-eyed nymphs and heroes of the Fatherland";

- "a suitcase [more like trunk, really] nuke will be detonated in a U.S. city before 2025";

- "Islamists will soon depose Musharraf and use the 'Islamic Bomb' against India."

These and similar tales have already frightened plenty of people into agreeing to all sorts of nonsense.

Additionally, are things going so well for the Bush Administration that it makes sense to keep the Good Stuff in the liquor cabinet for when Friedman and Brooks drop by to sit for a spell? Don't they have every incentive to hand out photocopies of their Lovecraft/Clancy slash fiction to all takers about now?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 12:33 PM
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I can vouch for this sort of thing, not for journalists, but for right-wing security-types. A true believer I know who used to work in the DoJ would talk in hushed, forboding tones about how his buddies in the FBI would talk in hushed, forboding tones about the Terrible Awful Very Bad Yet Curiously Unspecific And Never-Discovered-By-The-Press Near-Armageddon that was foiled only because we had access to torture/illegal wiretaps/the secret tracking implants Dick Cheney puts in measles vaccine/etc.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 1:55 PM
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Needless to say, if there had been any such apocalyptic terror attack stopped at the last minute by Our Boys in the burgeoning police state, this administration would've leaked news of it immediately.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 1:59 PM
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A true believer I know who used to work in the DoJ

It sucks that our horror stories are true.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 2:15 PM
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Continual use of "horror stories" in this context is making me think of Charlie Stross's "A Colder War".

While I agree that the lunatics ain't got nuthin', it doesn't strike me as at all implausible that they could convince various visitors to Wingnutistan that they're keeping lids on the really dangerous stuff. It would fit in perfectly with the Washington establishment's biases and their apparent desire to roll over and have their tummies rubbed by being cut in on the inside scoop.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 2:27 PM
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Hmm, I have a friend who formerly worked at a right wing think tank and some conservative congresspeoples' offices who's visiting next month- I'll ask him.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 2:28 PM
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"A true believer I know who used to work in the DoJ would talk in hushed, forboding tones about how his buddies in the FBI would talk in hushed, forboding tones about the Terrible Awful Very Bad Yet Curiously Unspecific And Never-Discovered-By-The-Press Near-Armageddon that was foiled only because we had access to torture/illegal wiretaps/the secret tracking implants Dick Cheney puts in measles vaccine/etc."

I'll disclose the secret: it was electing Kerry.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 2:28 PM
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Big, bad, tough, "we will not bow down to terrorists, " Americans will shut down if/when some church in the midwest gets blown up.

We will give up so much so quickly. It scares me to think how easily intimidated this country will be.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 2:32 PM
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7: Worked like a charm, too.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 3:00 PM
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It affects plenty of people who ought to know better. A couple of years ago, Steve Clemons recounted on his blog a conversation he'd had years earlier with some Admin type, not a partisan gunslinger (iirc) who assured him there was nothing to the stories about detainee abuse.

The conversation was before Abu Ghraib.

What's most maddening about this sort of thing is that journalists will keep ignoring the meta story as these things get discredited: the guy feeding false information ought to be exposed, along with the people who authorized it. Or, if it's true, RW journalists ought to have the patriotic sense to turn the guy in for revealing classified information.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 3:36 PM
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Knowing something that other people don't can be a bit of a thrill. It makes you feel important. And it makes journalists overvalue "inside", unverified sources and undervalue publicly available ones. (Their editors too.)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 3:42 PM
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We need Howard Beale:

"We all know things are bad -- worse than bad -- they're crazy.

It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we're living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, "Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone."

Well, I'm not going to leave you alone.

I want you to get mad!

I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot. I don't want you to write to your Congressman, because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street.

All I know is that first, you've got to get mad.

You've gotta say, "I'm a human being, goddammit! My life has value!"

So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell,

"I'm as mad as hell,

and I'm not going to take this anymore!!"


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 3:42 PM
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I've heard British politicians explicitly evoking this sort of thing.

"If you saw, what I see, in my daily briefings, you too would support every draconian law enforcement measure we suggest."


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 3:43 PM
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I've got the feeling this weekend. Why are we all so resigned?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 3:46 PM
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14 to 12


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 3:46 PM
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You know, everything I've ever heard from DC journo contacts has been just the opposite: I.e. nobody really cares about the perpetual crisis, much less acts on it. And everybody inside the Beltway -- from the intern-fondling Senator down to the anonymous NGO office manager -- is utterly compromised by the influence-peddling and toadying and status-obsession that the city runs on. The whole X-Files/24 spectacle is just so much shuck.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 4:22 PM
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There are analogues to the computer security world, I think, where the Richard Clarke types are genuinely extremely concerned about how vulnerable we are, and aren't wrong, but are so single minded about it that they lose perspective. My hacker friends who went into the security biz were aware of how much damage they could cause if they chose to, so they were easily able to imagine a vast array of bad actors who would choose to.

All this is not to say that these people can't get used by unscrupulous politicians, but their concerns are often genuine.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 4:40 PM
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Just reporting that here in the Arctic it hit 100 degrees today.

On the "secret knowledge" front, I remember that the only person I knew personally who got suckered by the "children abducted by Satanic cults" scare was a psych PhD. There were a lot of free-lancers touring the country beating the drum for small groups, and people in the biz get that insider feeling.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 5:14 PM
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18: Those Satanic cults were all over the place in Alabama, I think mainly 'cause Satan is still quite alive down there.

However, would anyone be surprised if some plots involving the acquisition of ex-Soviet military radioactives or other nasty goodies hadn't been aborted by some well-placed gold or bullets? It's not as if Osama and his buddies would refrain from doing what they could if they had the chance- that our government is nuts doesn't mean the other guys are sane.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 5:34 PM
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The British police and security services certainly claim to have foiled several plots and there have been court cases and convictions. So the idea that there's a threat out there isn't empty. However, as we all know, politicians also have a vested interest in exaggerating that threat. If anything truly dramatic had been foiled, we'd know about it. It'd be too useful to keep hush.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 5:39 PM
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their Lovecraft/Clancy slash fiction

I think I just creamed my shorts.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 5:48 PM
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Tom Clancy was harder than the titanium on an uparmored M998 A0 series HMMWV as he crept into the sepulchral chamber. The tomb echoed with the howls and barks of the unearthly beings once imagined by it's lone resident. As Clancy urgently shoved the top of the crypt to the floor, the zombified master of horror felt a cold stirring in his groin: this master of hardware was sure to have something to teach him about hummers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 5:57 PM
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22: Nice, but where are the rugose cones from beyond space and time?


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 6:10 PM
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23: Zombie H.P. has to stuff his bra somehow; even alive, he was never a busty man.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 6:12 PM
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Boy, the apostrophe in 22 is going to bug me forever.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 6:13 PM
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"And in unholy ecstasy he rasped Ia! Ia! with increasing, maddening fervor."


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 6:41 PM
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24: I didn't say anything, but it it totally ruined the effect.

Actually, I told everyone via the back channel.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 6:46 PM
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Oh, everyone already knew. w-lfs-n got that strange pain behind his ear, and knew instantly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 6:51 PM
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Labs, edit 22 and I'll do all your work for you, and you can go to the meetup.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 6:52 PM
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In the words of Alec Guinness in The Bridge on the River Kwai, "What have I done?"


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 9:38 PM
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30: What have you done?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 07- 7-07 10:10 PM
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