dissociative politics

The Plame affair is a curious cultural relic. It revolves around an utterly revolting law that prevents the names of covert CIA operatives from being leaked. This unnecessary constraint on our civil liberties was passed in 1994, meaning that we somehow managed to trundle through the Cold War without it. The Alice in Wonderland aspect of the case begins with the law, which has suddenly become a sacred thing, next to the flag and motherhood, in the liberal ‘sphere. Taking down America’s imperial ambitions, or at least making them transparent, is never going to occur if the transparency is blocked by a trumpery law. Novak is an utterly ridiculous figure, in LI’s view, but we are glad he revealed the inner workings of this particular action. Far from being a traitor, actions like Novak’s are necessary if we are ever going to rein them in.

Laws like the non-disclosure law are not, however, ever about treason, but about court society. The exist in order to create vectors of blackmail and blackguardism. The second Alice in Wonderland aspect of the Plame case is that it shows us how American foreign policy – a thing of D.C. cabals – is enacted. Joseph Wilson might well have been the right man to send to Niger to check on the bogus yellow cake story, but it is nevertheless of high interest that his wife put in a word for him. Who does put in words for people in that place? Who puts in the word for Chalabi? Who put in the original word for Pearle? At least the investigation has opened up that mechanism a little, so that we can see springs operating against springs. There is a distressing American habit of respecting the governing class. The governing class in D.C. is no more respectable than it was in Byzantine courts – indeed, a lot less respectable. It consists of circus performers, praetorian guards, satyrs and whores. Unlike the Byzantine court, there is a lot less learning among them.

The third Alice in Wonderland thing is how journalism works through the blackmail vectors. Obviously, journalists are used as the knights for complicated in-fighting, whispering a little info here, spreading a little gossip there. Basically, journalism operates to weed out any bit of talent or dissent that appears to threaten the cabal form. Judy Miller’s role is particularly interesting, since she was basically an operative in Operation Lie mounted by the belligerents in 2002-2003. Diffusing information that the white house wanted diffused allowed her to play the game of then bouncing the information off the white house or the collection of neo-con eggheads and sycophants with White House connections.

Bringing us to the fourth Alice in Wonderland thing, the use of jail. LI has always wondered at the American addiction to jail. In our opinion, jail is properly the place for the few truly dangerous criminals – rapists, murderers – plus the occasional incorrigible robber. Mostly the people in jail should be under house arrest. There is, of course, no incentive for the purging of the jails, and every incentive to build more of them. We would support with all our Mighty Mouse powers a politician who proposed creating anti-jail incentives – for instance, tying one hundred fold increases in social welfare to increases in the jail population. But to jail everybody must go, it seems…

In Antonio D’amascio’s Goodbye Descartes, there is a story about a nineteenth century railroad worker who suffered a horrible accident that made neurological history. An iron rod, accidentally propelled by a mistimed explosion, entered his skull at such speed that it entirely left the head, exiting out of the top of the skull, and taking with it some frontal brain matter. The worker survived, but his personality was utterly changed. He became unable to understand goal oriented action. Or rather, he understood it intellectually, but he couldn’t incorporate himself into any larger plan. As D’Amasio puts it, he was dissociated, with his intellect disconnected from his pragmatic life.

Dissociation is a very good term for D.C. politics. Politics on this level is not about ideology – ideology is secondary. It is about the dissociation of power as its own goal. Judith Miller, Christopher Hitchens, CNN, Fox – they are all products of the dissociative form of governance we suffer under.

Since we are talking about jail, we must talk about another issue, however heavily it weighs on our heart. Yes, LI is terribly sad that Li’l Kim’s going to the slammer. Not that we are surprised. In the slammer’s terms, this was a slam dunk. But listen to Shut up bitch for the Queen Bee's response to her critics. Like the Elizabethan wits, Li'l Kim has taken the opportunity to make a little artistic use of an unfortunate predicament. But hasn't she always? Ah, women like Li'l Kim have wrought complete disaster on my heart forever. Why is it I treasure every tantrum and twist of mood? I don't know. And I don't care.

Kimberly, if you are out there, listen: Kit Marlowe was killed moving in similar circles to those of Ms. Bella Mafia, and he got 'a great reckoning in a small room", as Shakespeare said. It happened like this:

...it so hapned, that at Detford, a little village about three miles distant from London, as he meant to stab with his ponyard one named Ingram, that had invited him thither to a feast, and was then playing at tables, he quickely perceyving it, so avoyded the thrust, that withall drawing out his dagger for his defence, hee stabd this Marlow into the eye, in such sort, that his braines comming out at the daggers point, hee shortlie after dyed."

Ingram? As you would expect, look for the man with dubious connections to the cops, down to a fake weapon laydown, rumors, and a skewed inquest. Then another Elizabethan, Ben Jonson, killed an actor with whom he'd previously been in prison, guy named Gabriel Spensor. You will appreciate that Spensor was murdered because he claimed that the Chamberlain's Men were better actors than the company Jonson preferred, the Admiral's Men. Shades of a certain incident for which you are playing the patsy.

So Kimberly -- if you need a prison correspondent, and this message in a blog bottle reaches you, write me at rgathman@netzero.net. We won’t rat you out, take that as a solid fact. And since we have piss poor aim, our firearm skills aren’t gonna get you in trouble either. We will always be there for ya…

Ain’t no mountain hiiiiiiiiiiiigh enough
(shut up, bitch)


Deleted said…
Jail and prison are fairly awful, Roger. They, too, remove the ability to focus on fruitful long term goals as effectively, in many cases, as a rod of iron through the skull. One of my jobs as a free range do-gooder brings me into contact with people attempting to get out of the institutional mindset. To reintegrate, they have to pass through a battery of agencies and paternalistic, professional do-gooders. With very few exceptions, the people who direct the programs have strategies for making them good, often at the expense of helping them cope, which frustrates, naturally, the people who actually work with them. Budget constraints and political needs put a real crimp into what it takes to help a human rehabilitate. Faith based predators and well-connected blue noses abound; all looking to get in on the misery market. If one tends to the paranoid, as I do, it's easy to think of it as deliberate.
Brian Miller said…
Interesting post, roger. I have to admit I believe(d) in the liberal consensus on this matter (I still do in regards the hysterical hypocrisy of the right vis a vis patriotism). You've made me re-think it. I still don't feel much sympathy for Judith Miller or even the whole concept of "reporters' privelege"

I still find Operation Yellow Elephant screamingly funny, though. They aren't REALLY trying to increase enlistment, ya know!
roger said…
Brian, I made a mistake in my post -- the malign Intelligence Identities Protection Act was passed in 1982. So we had only gone through 37 years of the Cold War without it. Then along came Philip Agee, who cast a light on the CIA's immoral dealings in Latin America and fomenting of death squads on the continent. Hence, the act.

I agree with you about the right's hypocrisy. But I think the more interesting thing about the whole affair is the diagram it gives us of the nesting of entitlements in D.C. I don't think this is about ideology -- I really do think this is dissociative politics.
Alan said…
Damasio's book is called "Descartes' ERROR".

roger said…
Alan, that was Roger's error. I was confusing the title with another book named Goodbye Descartes -- thanks! So, right, two errors in that little post -- the date of the law and the title of the book.

Hmm, must cut down on the vodka...
kmort said…
Initially, sensing some remnants of college-boy liberalism, I was dismayed by Miller's imprisonment; after a weekend of reading endless whines and kvetches of the blogger-mommies, I am now of the opinion that big-time journalists, or even shrews pretending to be journalists, should be obligated to divulge such information. If it were a rightist (say Coulter, not that I admire her hatchet jobs, but she sort of rocks in a Goebbels-like fashion) doing some expose about some liberal politician and witholding the name of a source, the molly ivins and the rest of the lesbocrats would all be calling for her imprisonment if not torture. Disclosure requirements are I think Jeffersonian really, even if as in this case it seems like the Crimefightah is the one taking the fall. But Miller's quite an arrogant freak, as anyone noted seeing her blather on CSPAN a few nights ago. This may no sound very elegant to the LI cadre, but what's ths issue really: Why shouldn't she divulge the info? Doesn't the public have the right to know? How do we know she's not lying or at least exaggerating.
roger said…
Kmort, this is the second time you've mentioned Molly as a lesbian. Have you ever met her? I have, several times, at various parties in Austin. Your cultural compass bearings are way off. I don't know if Molly has ever dallied with the fair sex in her life, but her persona is definitely Texas divorcee. That shouldn't be surprising -- polls show that women are much, much more likely to vote Democratic after a divorce than before. There is more than one way to skin the patriarchy, after all.

But I also think that a Coulter-like person is involved, here: Novak. I haven't read what M.I. says about Novak, but I'd be surprised if she is crying out for him to be jailed. Coulter was abundantly leaked to during the fellatio impeachment, and I don't remember any comments about putting her in jail. In general, as I said, I think we are all too ready to throw all and sundry in jail. America really is a monopoly set. I think:
a. the intelligence identity act is unintelligent.
b. there should be less hooting about people going to jail who violate it.
c. the law's non-necessity as a security measure is compensated for by its use as an instrument of blackmail -- apparently, something that Rove was relying on.
d. I don't really understand what information Fitzgerald wants. I don't think he wants to know who whispered in Miller's hot little ear. I think he wants to know who she bounced that info off of. But then again, I don't understand why we are spending more time and money on this issue than on who calmly dispersed anthrax through the mails years, oh those many years, ago. Or whether the Bush administration purposefully distorted information in the lead up to the war. Or, if we can't bear to look at the bloodshed without growing pious, perhaps we could have an investigation of Wolfowitz' personal financial state, to see if he could make up some of the difference between his prediction that the war would cost 10 billion dollars and the present two hundred to 300 billion cost. I think we could take a little bit out of his paycheck every month, don't you? Or maybe he has a credit card he could use...

Now I would like to see a prosecutor going after these matters, but I'd also like to win a million dollars tomorrow. I'm not going to count on it.
winn said…

kmort, your lyricism continues to astonish me.
roger said…
Winn, don't you wish there was a lesbocrat party? I'd join it in a heartbeat. Ditto with a dykocrat party. Unfortunately, in D.C., we have a masocrat party. Any costume, any humiliation, as long as I get to be a senator!

These people need to be gently eased into the six digit lobbyist positions they so richly deserve.