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Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal is an internationally acclaimed novelist, essayist, playwright and screenwriter whose historical fiction and collected criticisms have garnered him the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, among others. An outspoken political activist, he ran for the U.S. House...


President Jonah, Meet Oliver Cromwell!

(Page 2)

Berman does a brief tour of the American horizon, revealing a cultural death valley. In secondary schools where evolution can still be taught too many teachers are afraid to bring up the subject to their so often un-evolved students. “Add to this the pervasive hostility toward science on the part of the current administration (e.g. stem-cell research) and we get a clear picture of the Enlightenment being steadily rolled back. Religion is used to explain terror attacks as part of a cosmic conflict between Good and Evil rather than in terms of political processes…. Manichaeanism rules across the United States. According to a poll taken by Time magazine fifty-nine percent of Americans believe that John’s apocalyptic prophecies in the Book of Revelation will be fulfilled, and nearly all of these believe that the faithful will be taken up into heaven in the ‘Rapture.’

“Finally, we shouldn’t be surprised at the antipathy toward democracy displayed by the Bush administration. ... As already noted, fundamentalism and democracy are completely antithetical. The opposite of the Enlightenment, of course, is tribalism, groupthink; and more and more, this is the direction in which the United States is going. ... Anthony Lewis who worked as a columnist for the New York Times for thirty-two years, observes that what has happened in the wake of 9/11 is not just the threatening of the rights of a few detainees, but the undermining of the very foundation of democracy. Detention without trial, denial of access to attorneys, years of interrogation in isolation—these are now standard American practice, and most Americans don’t care. Nor did they care about the revelation in July 2004 (reported in Newsweek), that for several months the White House and the Department of Justice had been discussing the feasibility of canceling the upcoming presidential election in the event of a possible terrorist attack.” I suspect that the technologically inclined prevailed against that extreme measure on the ground that the newly installed electronic ballot machines could be so calibrated that Bush’s heirs would win handily no matter what (read Rep. Conyers’ report (.pdf file) on the rigging of Ohio’s vote).

Meanwhile, the indoctrination of the people merrily continues. “In a ‘State of the First Amendment Survey’ conducted by the University of Connecticut in 2003, 34 percent of Americans polled said the First Amendment ‘goes too far’; 46 percent said there was too much freedom of the press; 28 percent felt that newspapers should not be able to publish articles without prior approval of the government; 31 percent wanted public protest of a war to be outlawed during that war; and 50 percent thought the government should have the right to infringe on the religious freedom of ‘certain religious groups’ in the name of the war on terror.”

It is usual in sad reports like Professor Berman’s to stop abruptly the litany of what has gone wrong and then declare, hand on heart, that once the people have been informed of what is happening, the truth will set them free and a quarter-billion candles will be lit and the darkness will flee in the presence of so much spontaneous light. But Berman is much too serious for the easy platitude. Instead he tells us that those who might have struck at least a match can no longer do so because shared information about our situation is meager to nonexistent. Would better schools help? Of course, but, according to that joyous bearer of ill tidings, the New York Times, many school districts are now making sobriety tests a regular feature of the school day: apparently opium derivatives, not gin, are the opiate of our stoned youth. Meanwhile, millions of adult Americans, presumably undrugged, have no idea who our enemies were in World War II. Many college graduates don’t know the difference between an argument and an assertion (did their teachers also fail to solve this knotty question?). A travel agent in Arizona is often asked whether or not it is cheaper to take the train rather than fly to Hawaii. Only 12% of Americans own a passport. At the time of the 2004 presidential election 42% of voters believed that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. One high school boy, when asked who won the Civil War, replied wearily, “I don’t know and I don’t care,” echoing a busy neocon who confessed proudly: “The American Civil War is as remote to me as the War of the Roses.” He should have added the US Constitution, as well.

We are assured daily by advertisers and/or politicians that we are the richest, most envied people on Earth and, apparently, that is why so many awful, ill-groomed people want to blow us up. We live in an impermeable bubble without the sort of information that people living in real countries have access to when it comes to their own reality. But we are not actually people in the eyes of the national ownership: we are simply unreliable consumers comprising an overworked, underpaid labor force not in the best of health: The World Health Organization rates our healthcare system (sic—or sick?) as 37th-best in the world, far behind even Saudi Arabia, role model for the Texans. Our infant mortality rate is satisfyingly high, precluding a First World educational system. Also, it has not gone unremarked even in our usually information-free media that despite the boost to the profits of such companies as Halliburton, Bush’s wars of aggression against small countries of no danger to us have left us well and truly broke. Our annual trade deficit is a half-trillion dollars, which means that we don’t produce much of anything the world wants except those wan reports on how popular our Entertainment is overseas. Unfortunately the foreign gross of “King Kong,” the Edsel of that assembly line, is not yet known. It is rumored that Bollywood—the Indian film business—may soon surpass us! Berman writes, “We have lost our edge in science to Europe…The US economy is being kept afloat by huge foreign loans ($4 billion a day during 2003). What do you think will happen when America’s creditors decide to pull the plug, or when OPEC members begin selling oil for euros instead of dollars?...An International Monetary Fund report of 2004 concluded that the United States was ‘careening toward insolvency.’ ” Meanwhile, China, our favorite big-time future enemy, is the number one for worldwide foreign investments, with France, the bete noire of our apish neocons, in second place.

Well, we still have Kraft cheese as of today and, of course, the death penalty.

Dig last updated on Feb. 7, 2006

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By Jim MacKrell, January 27, 2006 at 11:36 am Link to this comment
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Yes, the pen is still mighter than the sword. Now, what do we do to truly reform? I still find the fires of bigotry burning brightly across the land. “We are not like them” and ” I am on God’s side and you’re going to Hell” are matra’s heard across this land of the free. Again, sincere thanks Mr. Vidal. When we hear truth we hopefully respond.

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By Christine Smith, January 27, 2006 at 11:34 am Link to this comment
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I would like to invite interested readers to my Dec. 21, 2005 interview with Mr. Vidal…though published in many online publications, I provide the link for “Alt News - Alternative News and Views Daily, liberty and justice for all”...this link is directly to the Vidal interview:

Christine Smith

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By Christine Smith, January 27, 2006 at 11:22 am Link to this comment
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Mr. Vidal,

Congratulations (and thank you) for sharing your insightful observations via the internet.  Through your blog, you have the possibility of reaching millions worldwide who may not have otherwise been exposed to your writings.  This blog is exactly what is needed; and I wish you and those who have helped you create it well.  I do hope you have a plan for marketing/publicizing it widely…as I am sure as word gets out it will certainly be a most sought and read blog.

It is rare the truth is spoken…yours is a voice that must be heard.  Your first entry is excellent, and I am grateful (for the world’s sake; and for those who do seek understanding) you have chosen to share your thoughts/opinions in this forum.

Best wishes,
Christine Smith

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By Red Ruffian, January 27, 2006 at 10:48 am Link to this comment
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Amen Brother! Throw his unlucky butt over the side. I don’t care if he is swallowed by a whale or not. I have been telling people for some time if they don’t believe he is a crook, they’ve got to believe he is a Jonah.

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By Sarah, January 27, 2006 at 10:25 am Link to this comment
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All I can say is thank God for Gore Vidal. As long as he is still wielding a pen, people like me won’t have to feel so wholly alone as we struggle to resign ourselves to the fact that the bad guys won and we’re a permanent minority.

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By John Yorks, January 27, 2006 at 8:53 am Link to this comment
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I have been reading Gore Vidal for more than ten years now, since I was in college. I have always thought he tends to get at the root of the matter. The ground he can cover in one essay is amazing. Also, he tends to use a writing style that is easy to understand - right to the point. This is different from someone like Chomsky who (or whom?) I also admire.

The problem is that I believe some of us (certainly myself) feel like we are far too gone at this point. We have no opposition party. We have very little in the way of a true independent media. Bush declares himself the “unitary” leader, and yet nobody really tries to counter this claim. I imagine there might be some ploy within the next few years to continue this imperial regime - or maybe we will get Hillary armed with the same policies. (Have you noticed how close Bill has become with George I?)

I don’t know where hope is these days.

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By Barbara Goetz, January 27, 2006 at 8:50 am Link to this comment
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Jeff LaCoss states the obvious.  We preach to the choir, we need to find a larger forum.  Include me please.

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By jefhadist, January 27, 2006 at 7:26 am Link to this comment
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Reason and faith are not mutually exclusive…and visa versa.  One mutually informs the other. For a modestly aware individual, authority is then given or acquiesed to (or not) based on our everyday choices.  Some say we deserve George Bush karmically.  If that’s true it doesn’t say much for our immediate future. However you look at karma it is at least a two-sided coin. Unfortunately for Bush-types it’s always a “heads I win and tails you lose” proposition.  This is defintely not fate. It’s pathology.

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By Collin Baber, January 27, 2006 at 7:17 am Link to this comment
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“President Jonah” is far too kind in describing the reckless misleadership wrought by Mr. Bush.  Loyal adherents of the “Bushian Warfare Cult” have, in just a few years’ time, destroyed the very foundation of our hard-won international strength - the power of diplomatic and commercial influence.  Their having had jettisoned the power of reason and turned to unbridled worship of the golden calf of war, the Cult has enraged oversea Melians into rebelling like new Vandals and Visigoths against Modern-day Rome.

Should the Cult be allowed to ram a beam through eye at the top of the pyramid and scrawl a phrase “Novus Ordo Odium” at the base?  I sure hope not.

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By Nortcliff, January 27, 2006 at 7:12 am Link to this comment
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“Now all we need is a really good attorney…”

Although traditionally when Daddy President acts up, it’s a really good hitman who gets the call.

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By sally, January 27, 2006 at 7:04 am Link to this comment
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May you live forever, Mr. Vidal.  Well, OK, maybe not forever, but long enough to sense that you are not going down in this leaky boat.  And yeah, the 2 Gores idea could be extremely cool—much like the Three Tenors, only more au courrant!
Guys who can speak in complete, complex, truthful sentences.  Who knew?

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By Morgan-LynnLamberth, January 27, 2006 at 6:29 am Link to this comment
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B ush is unscientific.HIS anti-science-creationism,bad-mouthing of globalwarming,etc- must be opposed. Gore V.AND Idaetest religion,but Bushangers our relilgious brethren.

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By Dave Hookes, January 27, 2006 at 5:59 am Link to this comment
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Dear truthdig

Like others I appreciated the clarity and sharpness of Gore Vidal review of the state of US politics today.

However he failed to mention what concerns many of us on this side of the Pond. We worry somewhat that GWB and his shit-awful crazed religious cronies or their successors( controlling the voting machines means that they may be in power forever??) have a get-out when the proverbial hits the fan- they can carry out ‘Gods will’ and initiate the Apocalypse( Armageddon), That is, start a nuclear war to defend God’s chosen people in Israel, their local garrison in the middle east. The latter has been given nuclear weapons and may be persuaded( ordered) to use them e.g. against Iran which, it is said, cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons.

I suggest a campaign to convince a majority of sensible Israelis that they are in deadly danger of being part of the ‘Armegeddon’ fallback position and so they should renounce their own religious Zionist crazies,and do a deal, pronto, with the Palestinians to share equally the land of Palestine. This will remove from Bush and the evangelical christian Right their fall-back getout and also remove a cause for Islamic ‘terrorism’ which has, to date, killed a trivial number compared to the 5-10m killed by US state terrorism since the end of 2nd World War.

Just a thought

Dave (Liverpool, UK)

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By William Wulftange, January 27, 2006 at 5:13 am Link to this comment
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If only we had a President that could read, he might have read Gibbon’s “The Decline and Fall of the HRE.”
But on the other hand, he still would have spent his time riding a bicycle. Onward Christian Soldier, back to Crawford.
The only defense is to buy gold (and maybe Scotch).

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By Ken Coffin, January 27, 2006 at 1:40 am Link to this comment
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Gore Vidal’s article and the commentary has me revitalized to keep the pressure on my Republican neighbors.

I am reminded of a video I saw of Gov. Bush on a Texas “Dove Hunt” The idiot shot a killdeer. Is there some parrelle here?

Also , what else could have Osama bin Laden’s comments to Bushs’ reaction after 9/11/01 have been but, “Mission Accomplished!”

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By Bill Johnson, January 27, 2006 at 12:27 am Link to this comment
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RE #48 Comment by Jeff LaCoss on 1/26 at 5:01 pm

Reply to; “So, folks, rather than preach to each other, how do we move the discussion into a larger forum where ‘ol Joe Internet will see through to the problems?” 

There really is a rational solution to all this global Capitalist madness and much more!

Understood and supported by Albert Einstein among growing numbers of the World’s working class.
Common Ownership, not private, corporate or state with free access and production for use, ‘not for profit’.

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By Rowan Berkeley, January 26, 2006 at 11:32 pm Link to this comment
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Roberto (comment # 16) says “America needs a John Galt”. I’m afraid that a little sitz im leben regarding Ayn Rand (aka Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum) will disillusion you, Roberto. To this day the organised Ayn Rand presence devotes much of its energy to the implausible notion that zionism is somehow a force for free enterprise. I doubt that Henry Ford, who was as close to being a ‘John Galt’ as any American has ever been, would have agreed with them.

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By Bruce Colquhoun, January 26, 2006 at 11:19 pm Link to this comment
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The president has sure stepped on the best of our institutions and associations that are vertually faultless:  Court supervised surveylence, social security, librarys, the UN, Nato, National Guard, and Geneva Convention. 

Wants to tinker about the free speech forum of the internet and all he wants is your ok and your trust.  Data mining.

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By John, January 26, 2006 at 10:36 pm Link to this comment
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A very powerful piece by Vidal. But I have to wonder with our collective attention disorder culture that it would mean anything. Vidal provides a wonderful historical lens through which we can see a troubling past which is increasingly looking like our future.

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By Buster Hapless, January 26, 2006 at 10:34 pm Link to this comment
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We want a Divorce? Sounds like what the Ole South was saying in 1860 or there abouts.  And what were they saying after they failed to get their divorce?  “The South will rise again”.  And you know what?  It seems like it has.  Think of the US now as Bush’s plantation.

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By mike, January 26, 2006 at 9:56 pm Link to this comment
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Gore Vidal has been one of my heroes since I first saw him on TV in 1964. I saw the famous exchange in 1968 between him and Bill Buckley. I read his essays whenever and wherever they appeared and one of my most prized possessions is a signed copy of “United States: Essays 1952-1992.” (I was born in 1952 by the way). I admired his having the courage to write a gay themed novel in the late 1940s. “Julian”, his novel about the Emperor the Church called “The Apostate” and Vidal, an admirer of classicism, considered the turning point, the last chance to save classical learning from blind faith. If you want a rueful laugh, check out “Kalki”, his end of the world satire (Kalki being the last avatar of Vishnu; in the novel, he’s a rock singer)—it’s dated, but still worth a look.

He has sounded the alarm on the Bushes for years, but he is equally critical of the Democratic Quislings (he’s a distant cousin of Al Gore). What he is is, a true American patriot, but that term has been so corrupted by the “Big Brother Act” it leaves a bad taste. Let’s just say he stands for everything that opposes the malignant ignorance and murderous rapaciousness of the Bush/Cheney junta.

He is 80. Long may his voice continue to be heard, not just for his own sake but for all of ours. When he is gone, who is there who can take his place? A true Renaissance man, novelist, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, actor, polemicist, scholar, journalist, politician…he’s done it all with brilliance, style, grace, and inimitable wit.

That we no longer produce people like him is itself an indictment of what American has become.

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By R. A. Earl, January 26, 2006 at 9:16 pm Link to this comment
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Just read a piece on by Dr. Hubert Locke, former Dean of the Daniel J.Evans Graduate School of Public Affairs, University of Washington.

In speaking of the alarming state of affairs in the political life of the USA today, especially as it pertains to the religious right movement,  he states (in part) the following:

“Were all this only a battle for the hearts and minds of the American people, we could wade into the conflict with a great deal less concern, confident that good sense and human decency would ultimately triumph over ignorance and bigotry. But this is a battle for power—it’s about seizing the reins of government, manipulating the courts and judicial decisions, controlling the media, and making incursions into every possible corner of our private lives and relationships, so that what the religious right perceives as the will of God will reign in America.”

And make no mistake, folks. GWB and Co isn’t interested in power WITH the people… they’re only interested in power OVER. Are you ready and willing to wake up one day soon and find you have NO POWER AT ALL anymore? And don’t think it can’t happen. READ HISTORY.

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By Lightshy, January 26, 2006 at 9:06 pm Link to this comment
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Gore Vidal has been writing my entire adult life, and I have been reading.  How very fortunate we are   that this awesome intellect, this wonderful man and writer, has shared so generously his thoughts and passion for freedom for all these decades.

He’s always passin’ the ammunition.  Let us use it wisely and surely.

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By R. A. Earl, January 26, 2006 at 8:44 pm Link to this comment
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C’mon Vern (#47)... the fellow you glibly label as “Billy Jeff C,” ON HIS WORST DAY and even WITH HIS SHORTS AT HALF MAST, was so much more a competent leader than GWB could ever dream of being. Sure, he tended to play fast and loose with the truth, but that’s the American Way as the world understands it!

The problem, I agree, is much as Jeff LaCoss in #48 outlines: “This lack of deliberate thought is THE key failing of the American people that the Bush - and EVERY other - Administration so effectively exploit to put one over on people.”

“The People” are just not paying attention. But you can’t blame them 100%... as children, these future voters didn’t get to select their own educators or education. They were force-fed whatever HIGHLY expurgated and edited fodder that similarly intellectually deprived parents and “authorities” deemed appropriate.

Even today, what children are taught “critical thinking” so they might have a ghost of chance to separate the wheat (if any) in political rhetoric from the chaff?

When, by age 10, your head is filled with BS by parents, priests and other “authorities,” and all the GENUINE information is kept well hidden, the chances any of us has, as an adult, to accurately assess and judge are slim and none. And, as LeCoss pointed out, our appointed and well-connected “authorities” (you know, the ones with guns and keys to the GENUINE INFORMATION VAULT) know they’ve got the population in a head lock of ignorance… and they bloody well intend to keep us there as long as possible.

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By James, January 26, 2006 at 8:22 pm Link to this comment
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The problem with Mr. Vidal is, he is too good a writer.  He could write a book on the nature of a grain of sand.  Be careful folks!

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By Fred Schaefer, January 26, 2006 at 8:13 pm Link to this comment
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I am not a defeatist about educating the electorate, but I think of my farmer family members getting up in the morning working all day, supporting their religious beliefs, sending a family member before Congress to speak of their financial plight, explaining their financial loss of $250,000 for 2005, and surely they thought their vote went to elect an honest Conservative with their same fairminded values.  When they awake from their sleep what a changed country it will be..

Like the failure of President Clinton to draw the line and clarify the need and Rights to have sexual orientation not be important in our military staffing so that we might have military morale of the Israelis and other countries who embrace all of their populus. 

Look at the humor of Jim Morin in the Miami Herald today Jan 26th and you will note the place in history we find ourselves - slugs sitting in chairs not frontiersmen and strong willed women.

For Gore Vidal and those of you endorsing his intelligent review of our situation I join and thank you.

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By Thomas King, January 26, 2006 at 7:24 pm Link to this comment
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Mr.Vidal: I would crave your indulgence of a brief literary point. Your quotation of the Deity in Jonah was somewhat misleading. You suggest Nineveh’s benightedness inspires his disdain. In fact, it illustrates his pity, and appears in the verse expressing his mercy (Jonah 4:11):

  “And should I not spare Nineveh, that
  great city,wherein are more than sixscore
  thousand persons that cannot discern
  their right hand and their left hand;
  and also much cattle?”

I know, Sir, that you invoked Jonah primarily as a stand-in for Bush, and the consequence of his passage to Tarshish, a symbol of impeachment: a man thrown overboard. But it might be instructive, particularly in the light of the theme of dispensationalism , to consider the parallelism of Bush and Jonah in respect to their view of fate.

Ernst Bloch deserves the hat tip here. He posits Jewish prophecy as the antithesis of Cassandra and Moira (incontrovertible fate.) The lesson of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Jonah not only that fate(prophecy) can be averted, but also “that it is dependent upon human morality and its resolve.”(The Principle of Hope,vol.3,p.1282)
the key verse in Jonah is found in chapter three:

  “When God saw their works, that they
  turned from their evil way;and God
  repented of the evil, that he said
  that he would do unto them;and he did
  it not”

The anger of Jonah arises because “he did not grasp the difference between himself and Cassandra.” His reverence for literalism blinds him to the reversal of disaster implied not just by the moral renovation of Nineveh, but that also, of God. For Bloch the atheist and humanist, this latter is the point:

“This sort of thing is expressly directed against fate, indeed in a veiled manner against its lord, who is increasingly brought to justice.”(Ibid.,p.1283)

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By Jeff LaCoss, January 26, 2006 at 6:33 pm Link to this comment
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Mr. Vidal makes a number of very good points, particularly the trade imbalance. (Though I
believe he exaggerates the 2003 trade deficit:
it was closer to $2.5B per day in October 2005.
Why amplify when the bare fact is staggering?)

If our creditors fail to float the gap, what
happens to the US? I think the US falls to
client-state status as we can’t produce the raw
materials needed to drive a stable manufacturing
Oh, our military is incomparably strong,
but the current state of the Middle East is a
clear demonstration that the US can’t successfully
become an occupying force should we make a direct
play for the Gulf oil reserves. Not to mention a
possible inconsistency with 200+ years of
foreign policy, provoking unpleasant reactions
with the remainder of the world.

I take issue with Mr. Beardsley’s comment. He
speculates on “most people having working
brains.” Average Americans do NOT possess a
well-toned neocortex. If they did, how could
Bush have been elected in first place?

This lack of deliberate thought is THE key
failing of the American people that the Bush
- and EVERY other - Administration so
effectively exploit to put one over on people.
(Life sure is sweet when everyday realities
just never enter into the ol’ world view, eh?)

To refresh an obsoleted credo, “the Internet is
the opiate of the people.” Joe Lunchpail begat
Joe SixPack who begat Joe Internet. Every
conceivable viewpoint is ranted at myriad blogs.
Joe Internet reads the rants, and buys into any
viewpoint enabling a way to offload the tedium
of actual contemplative (vs knee-jerk) thought.

Thinking people should bear personal (non-blog,
non-ranting) witness to facts whenever possible
in order to help the non-thinkers. This is a Big Job, but someone has to do it.

I do it all the time, and often find it quite
painful. When confronted with the public lies
of Mr. Clinton, I have to agree he was a slick
son of a gun who got caught telling a couple
whoppers. My riposte is, “Do you have any issues
with the blossoming of the American economy in
the 90s?” (It’s SO much fun to watch folks
squirm when you roll with the punches and then
zap ‘em with a few good points.)

So, folks, rather than preach to each other, how
do we move the discussion into a larger forum
where ‘ol Joe Internet will see through to the

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By Vern, January 26, 2006 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ok. Here’ my beef.

Ya’ll jump on old W like he invented this stuff.

But when BIlly Jeff C. pulls his drawers down, bombs aspirin factories, bombs the living s*** out of Bosnia and tells ya that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, you lap it up like idiot children sitting in front of a bowl of jello.

So how about this:

They all are rascals and should be thrown out. There isn’t but a tiny difference in the way they smell.


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By R. A. Earl, January 26, 2006 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment
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Oh little people… little people. Don’t you realize by now that your opinions don’t count?

Approximately half the population of the USA did not vote for this administration but does that matter to the alleged “winner?” Not a whit.

Until and unless the citizens figure some way to regain control of the political leadership I fear we’re stuck in “1984.”

I hope it’s a bloodless coup when the time comes, but even if not, it is imperative it occurs. The world awaits.

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By Gabrielle, January 26, 2006 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment
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Gore Vidals brilliant article and the following comments wake the hope in me that we are not yet entering the"Götterdämmerung” of the Western World.
I’m also an avert reader of “Atlas shrugged” which I pick up every 10 years to check if we are still on course.Waiting for John Galt may not be the answer; we have to become John Galt in multitude.

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By kt, January 26, 2006 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment
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As always, Gore Vidal shines a light.  As we watch the war machine consume our culture and see that both parties are it’s tool, why don’t we, as other countries have done, look to artists as leaders?  The corruption and fear runs so deep that it seems to me the independant thought and courage required to be an artist is what we need.  Creative thinking and moral intentions do not come from politicians whose ambition is geared to power.  It comes from a will to defy that power, to overcome the comfort of complaisance and pursue truth. It’s a personal fearlessness that politicians rarely exhibit, but real artists live with daily.

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By Kira Hodge, January 26, 2006 at 11:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It seems that the world is devolving into George Orwell’s “1984”.  Big Brother is definitely watching.  George W. Bush and his administration are taking away our civil liberties at a rapid pace.  My fervent belief is that he and his administration are secretly (not secret anymore of course) spying on all civilians to gather information in which to blackmail with.  Case in point, the eight Democratic senators who are refusing to participate in a filibuster of Bush minion, Samuel Alito.  I’m willing to bet that he is blackmailing them with information he received from his illegal wiretapping forays.  Just a little food for thought.

Before we know it, Bush and his religious fanatics will have this country with the Constitution being null and void on all accounts.  Just think: Women and minorities will be without the right to vote, Black Americans will be enslaved, Asian Americans will be in internment camps, Women will not have the right to work or to make decisions regarding their reproductive health (just use your imagination).

All of the gains we have had in the past 50 years will be erased if we don’t take action.  I appreciate Gore Vidal and other public figures for speaking their minds.  As you well know, in the Bush Orwellian nightmare we are living in that comes at a price.

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By Dan Kallem, January 26, 2006 at 10:52 am Link to this comment
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With regard to the comment by Rembrandt, and in fairness to Mr. Vidal, he is not in any sense, I believe, trying to “pin all of our woes” on the current administration. They are merely the pre-eminent expression of the naked imperialism that has been refined in this country by the ruling oligarchy since the end of the second World War.

Vidal has on numerous occasions outlined in detail the perfidy of those “in power,” from administrations from the very beginnings of our country, and his scorn has appropriately been directed at both Democrat and Republican power brokers. I refer you to his numerous essays in book, magazine and online, and especially to his “State of the Union” remarks.

And to Mr. Vidal, keep up the amazing work you’ve performed throughout your storied career—we need your analysis, inspiration and black humor to help us keep up the good fight!


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By Rembrandt, January 26, 2006 at 8:12 am Link to this comment
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While I agree with Mr. Gore’s sentement. I question if its fair to pin *ALL* of our woes on the current administration. I think it would be more apt to have started the counter when Regan killed The Fairness Doctrine, and left it running.

I don’t think Bush stepping down from office, would make the next political toad any less bloated.

I propose that its not really the individuals that are the issue here, its our whole political system, combined with the media’s love of drama, the ‘working-class’ love of the media, and the political zealot’s love of the endorphin rush their brain produces when they argue about their beliefs.

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By Desert Rat, January 26, 2006 at 5:05 am Link to this comment
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I’m not a great student of history, but it seems that Germany evolved from a democratic form of government between the first and second world war to a dictatorship.  Are we following that same ugly path? The parallels are frightening. . concentration of power in the executive, avoidance of accountability by the executive, surreptitious surveillance of our citizens, clandestine torture of suspected enemies, incarceration without due process,defamation and slander of critics, and on and on. . . Our country once stood for something, proud and free. . .we need to take it back to that state. . .or maybe forward to that state as we are rapidly sliding backward now.

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By VictorG, January 25, 2006 at 11:42 pm Link to this comment
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Reading the transcript of bin Laden’s recent statement and considering Bush’s continuing flouting of national and international law, privacy rights, and basic standards of human decency, lead me to speculate that Bush’s actions are exactly in line with bin Laden’s goals.  Anyone with any insight (which obviously excludes the current White House resident) rejects out of hand the assertion that we were attacked by people motivated by hatred of our freedoms.  This is purely a sound bite, an assertion with no foundation. 
We must assume that those capable of planning and executing the 9/11 attacks have a fairly high level of intelligence, motivation, resources, and devotion to a set of clearly understood goals.  Only by rejecting moronic assertions and working to understand those goals can we hope to prevent the success of such attacks or, better yet, have the basic intelligence to follow the chain of causation back to its sources and attempt to resolve those causes.  This basic “ounce of prevention” approach requires only the intellectual fortitude to refuse to demonize the enemy.  Since Bush & Co make their living by demonizing the enemy, they are ab initio incapable of this analysis. 
My own revelation (which I am sure has occurred to many others before) is that the current Bush crime-wave-under-color-of-law goes one step further - backwards.  Not only does it shun the path that could best prevent future attacks, it actually forwards what I submit are the acutal goals of our past and would-be future attackers: to degrade the US society, culture, economy, and international standing, and thereby reduce its influence in the world in general and their regions of interest in particular, presumably the Middle East and south west Asia. 
The degredation of the economy attributable to their actions, for example, has been highly successful.  Witness record breaking deficits, for which the “war” Bush purports to be waging is in part both a cause and an excuse, and the accelerating transfer of resources from productive uses to increaaing “security”. 
The “enemy” can also take credit for the degredation of US society and culture through the persistent, blatant, and unapologetic violations of civil rights and privacy rights that Bush has committed and continues to commit against citizens and prisoners, again with the “war” as the principal cause and excuse. 
Since Bush has presided over policies that have so efficiently advanced bin Laden’s actual aims (not to mention giving a great boost to his recruiting), and at the same time so thoroughly bungled the military efforts to capture or kill him, I would submit that bin Laden is likely one of Bush’s greatest fans.  Surely, bin Laden wishes Bush continued success in keeping his party in control of a rubber stamp Congress that can be relied on to ignore, excuse, and explain away his egregious and invidious crimes by not only refusing to impeach him for those crimes, but by passing any odious legislation shoved under their credulous noses to further them.  The Bush “ill wind” surely blows someone some good.  Bin Laden has a lot to thank Bush for.

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By Jeffrey Moskin, January 25, 2006 at 10:53 pm Link to this comment
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“The US economy is being kept afloat by huge foreign loans ($4 billion a day during 2003). What do you think will happen when America’s creditors decide to pull the plug, or when OPEC members begin selling oil in euros instead of dollars?” -Morris Berman

An interesting question, don’t you think?

When Nixon abrogated the Bretton Woods Treaty, America was still the dominant global force in manufacturing. Dollars were gladly accepted by all foreign countries and became the “reserve currency of choice.” In truth, there was no other alternative - - not the Pound, not the Deutchemark - - as their economies were too small and still rebuilding from the war. The limited quantities of Gold (and deGaulle’s annoying attempt to cash in all his dollars at the US Gold window prompted Nixon’s action. It was a power play, and the US held all the cards.

Following the first OPEC oil-shock of 1974, Kissinger got OPEC to agree to make US Dollars the sole means of payment for their oil. It was an easy request for OPEC to comply with, as there were no alternatives. Having just come off the “gold standard,” Kissinger was, in essence, putting the dollar on the “oil standard.” As a result, most Nations happily accumulated dollars as their “reserve currency” because they could use it to buy oil as well as American Goods which still dominated the landscape of the manufacturing world.

Fast-Forward to 2006. Having out-sourced our manufacturing to China, and our Tech sector to India, those dollars (and there are many trillions of them out there as currency reserves) are now really only useful for buying oil. As Berman correctly asks, what WILL happen when Dollar hegemony is finally broken and the Euro becomes a favorable substitute because the EU is still a manufacturer of goods needed on the world market?

In 2000, Saddam Hussein announced to the world that he would accept Euros as payment for oil. I understand he came to a bad end. A few years ago, Iran announced plans to build an oil Bourse (opens in March, 2006) to trade financial instruments for their oil denominated in Euros. The Bush regime put them on the “axis of evil” list, and I have heard about planned air attacks on their nuclear reactors. I would not be at all surprised if an errant cruise missile found its way into the newly constructed oil Bourse. Collateral damage. Oh, and Hugo Chavez had also expressed an interest in the Euro. The CIA gave him a 72 hour holiday during a failed coup a few years ago.

The sad and sorry fact is that, with a world that is awash with tens of trillions of dollars, now useful only to pay for oil, the Bush regime has embarked upon a course of perpetual dollar hegemony, even if that means perpetual war as well. And those petrodollars are what is propping up our stock markets and providing cheap mortgage money, because ultimately those dollars have to come back to America and we have practically nothing else to sell. We used to make stuff; now we make deals.

Ironically, when Bush invaded Iraq, the world lost 7% of its oil supply because the “insurgents” kept blowing up the pipelines. Oil doubled in price, creating a need for TWICE as many dollars. We are in the enviable position where we can exchange $100 bills (cost = 2.3 cents each) for DVD players, barbeques, and pricey automobiles. And there is nothing the world can do to stop this. Not yet, at least.

Clearly, in the long run this game plan is not sustainable. A better approach would have been for the G8 nations to adopt a basket-of-currencies approach, much like the EU did when they went over to the Euro. But when you are drunk with power it is easy to overlook the hangover that is certain to come. And with it will come a devaluation, much like what Argentina experienced a few years ago. And it will not be pretty.

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By Kimosabe, January 25, 2006 at 10:32 pm Link to this comment
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This is a brilliant explanation by Gore and Berman of the reality of the Bush Administration.  But I don’t have much confidence in it reaching the American Public, much less be embraced by them.  I read a study a few years ago by a political scientist that concluded that only about 12% of the population has a “coherent political philosophy”, and I think he was being generous.  If the masses ever wake up, it may be too late to save us. For 2006 elections the white house is planning to tout its success in the war on terror and paint the Dems as weak on national defense.  The Who was wrong, “We WILL be fooled again”.  I am active,  will do everything I can to fight it, but after Nov. 2004, I’d be lying if I said I felt confident of a Dem takeover of the House of Representatives.

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By Jim Slater, January 25, 2006 at 9:24 pm Link to this comment
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Gore Vidal, you are my hero! 
  When I say: This country’s going to hell in a hand basket, is far too mild!  My friends say that I’m un-patriotic—I’m not—I’m embarrassed!  When the rigged election of 2000 happened, I knew then that the presidency could be bought…Just like Bush’s college degrees.  Those of us who are REAL native Texans, unlike “Dubyee”, are ashamed he calls Texas his home—Even his accent is fake!  Mr. Vidal, I sinceley appreciate your influence and vitality in the service of this great land, and I certainly hope there is some way to invigorate the sleeping masses to shrug this true despot off the body politic, before there’s nothing left to strive for.  Again, thank you sir, I’ve admired you for many years for your bravery and strength in the public forum.  When you’re right, you’re right!!
Your friend, Jim Slater

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By Opinder IN ONTARIO, January 25, 2006 at 9:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


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By A. A. Murphy, January 25, 2006 at 8:27 pm Link to this comment
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. . . ‘the gradual subjection of reason to faith and authority.’ This is what we are seeing today, and it is a process that no society can undergo and still remain free. . . .

Worse, we also are seeing the subjection of reason to economic coercion in this country and abroad. Consider the growing self-censorship by our corporate-owned media and the exploitive trade policies now being inflicted by the U.S. on the rest of the world.

Republicans’ Old Testament analogies—the Axis of Evil, etc.—add a terrifyingly apocalyptic tone to American policy. This is not good.

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By Suzanne McQueen, January 25, 2006 at 8:12 pm Link to this comment
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What do you mean - “few foresaw”? Try half the nation who didn’t vote for this moron.

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By Martin Fass, January 25, 2006 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment
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Deepest thanks to Gore Vidal for this vital contribution.  II hope it will be widely circulated by all who first read it with care and then are moved to take action.

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By TheOkie, January 25, 2006 at 6:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“authorized King James version of 1611;”

Too bad that book isn’t updatable.

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By william berk, January 25, 2006 at 6:43 pm Link to this comment
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Hope the media picks it up.
Gore Vidal has done a great service for America in this complilation of truths.

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By Ahmed in rural Oklahoma, January 25, 2006 at 5:45 pm Link to this comment
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Can the Bush handlers really be this smart, or are we this stupid? Never mind that this dog never could hunt, but he is all hat and no cattle. So it goes, on the way to irrelevancy.

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By Bill Mac Bean, January 25, 2006 at 5:13 pm Link to this comment
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How about the two Gores on a nationwide lecture tour? (Al Gore & Gore Vidal, of course). Once word of their first lecture and the thunderous applause following it got around,they’d probably have to hold their talks outside to accomodate everyone. We sorely need true orators speaking the plain, irrefutable truth about what this evil regime has done to our country. I wonder who can talk them into it?

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By Sunny, January 25, 2006 at 5:07 pm Link to this comment
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Cheers, hoorays, and bravos for this elequent and foresighted author/writer! But who will read this essay? It should run on the ticker tape and be force fed to all before breakfast. Could enough of the public understand? Would they? Oh well, “what the hell dearie” as Mehitable would say. Sunny

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By Jim Hanley, January 25, 2006 at 4:54 pm Link to this comment
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BUSH’S GRAND PLAN     Fact Or Fiction?

  Fact Or Fiction? 
at any cost?
  It all started when ‘he’:
and included his (conversion to ISLAM?) affiliation with OSAMA’S
oldest brother Salem, the HEIR to the bin Laden ‘TRILLIONS’, who;
after providing ‘W’ a KEY to the bin Laden BANK, was killed in a
never solved mysterious plane crash in Texas!
This provided ‘W’ his means of heavy influence in;
possibly even CONTROL? of, OPEC?
  Now, all he needed do, to MULTIPLY his millions, or billions of
dollars profit each year, was to eliminate the one ‘undermining’
Jim Hanley

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By Thomas Price, January 25, 2006 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment
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George II (the Boy Emperor) is certainly a Jonah, who has brought evil upon the ship of state, and should be thrown overboard immediately. My fear is that he might try to claim emergency powers (say, by extending the war to Iran), cancel elections, and stage a coup, thus making the fundamentalist Imperium permanent.

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By Mark, January 25, 2006 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment
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re 12

I wish it could just pass… but I think that we are rather doomed to pass into darkness. Sorry to sound a dark note but that is just the way I see it. Where is the opposition to all the illegal activities of our government, for example?

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By John M Sandoval, January 25, 2006 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment
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We have a president that deliberately stole the election with electronic voting disfunctions, in “Ohio” and elsewhere I am sure !
He is incompetent as much as he is drunk with malicious, religiously fanatical political power.
Such; can be said of a man that has lost his mind.
As per the constitution; there is an article, that the “CONGRESS” has the responsibility and constitutional power, to remove and replace a president - anytime he becomes incompetent and/or incapacitated. (We know; some of the congressmen have “sold out” their authority - as seen by the Abramhoff Fiasco)
It is up to “us, the people.”
I refer you to < >
I refer you to item 2 by Susan Block
John M Sandoval
185 Kona dr.
Bastrop Texas 78602

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By Glynn Wilson, January 25, 2006 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks for the comment. We agree, but put it another way…

The Crisis 2006: Calling All Freedom Lovers Everywhere

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By Dan Weisman, January 25, 2006 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment
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WOW!...the gradual subjection of reason to faith and authority….the triumph of religion over reason…..a nation unable to perceive reality correctly (Because they watch “Reality TV shows)....Are we talking about the Taliban here?...Uh,,,Mr. Gore?...What was that thing you said about Mr.Bush and the Justice Department CONTEMPLATING cancelling an upcoming presidential election? I think that’s WRONG!.... AND…I had NO idea I could book a train trip to Hawaii?!!
          Thanks for the info Mr. Gore!
              Dan Weisman, Lost Angeles

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By Fresno, January 25, 2006 at 2:10 pm Link to this comment
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To all the conservatroids:  Wasn’t life much simpler when all you had to worry about is the cleaning bill from a blue dress.

But no you had to retore “dignity and honor” back to the white house.  Now we have neither.

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By Kaiser, January 25, 2006 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment
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Another brilliant piece by a master of the form.

For those who haven’t, try his collected essays.

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By Sissy, January 25, 2006 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment
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Another masterpiece from this intellectual giant, Mr. Gore Vidal. 

The comments are wonderful also, especially that of SUSAN BLOCK!

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By Roberto, January 25, 2006 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment
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To Susan Block (2): I enjoyed your comment even more than the article. Pretty well written -nice style.

If anybody out there has read Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand), this article and America’s Bush/mysticism led road map for the future must be eerily familiar.  I never thought it could actually happen but the U.S. brain is de-volving to Neandrethal state, qualification is second to nepotism, feelings replace facts for decision making and myth overcomes reason. Even our freedoms our viewed as dangers.  America needs a John Galt. Not the one who went into hiding but the one who addressed the nation and put it in its place.
This is no joke. We are in serious trouble. If trends continue we may not even have an Atlas who’d shrug. He might be too busy leading the church service in a barn instead.

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By Stanley Meshell, January 25, 2006 at 1:08 pm Link to this comment
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Gore Vidal is a vile anti-semite whose past writings were pathetically anti-Jewish. Anything he says or writes should be considered the ravings of a wacko and nut case.

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By Gerald Nelson, January 25, 2006 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment
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One Very Magnificent Piece of Writing! Thank you Gore Vidal. And Amen to the posts before this.

All the bible-thumping rednecks need to be coralled within a a very high fence, and forced to listen to this being read to them, since they cannot read for themselves.

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By Antoinette, January 25, 2006 at 12:21 pm Link to this comment
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Oh! what a Relief. Gore Vidal You ARE America.(as we used to know it) Brave- Truthful & Free.

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By John Earl, January 25, 2006 at 11:54 am Link to this comment
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The ox in the White House has been truly Gored!

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By Just Jim, January 25, 2006 at 11:44 am Link to this comment
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Mr. Vidal,

Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful article.  I will certainly distribute it to my friends, including my Republican friends.

I’m absolutely convinced we are now living in a “police state.”  And the confirmation of Alito to the Supreme Court will solidify our new ship of state, the state of perpetual fear.

But, it is never too late to turn the ship.  To those of us who still seek enlightenment and don’t want to live in the new dark ages, persevere.  This too shall pass.

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By James Sorrells, January 25, 2006 at 11:44 am Link to this comment
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Vidal does a superb job of summarizing the idiocies of this administration. Obviously, the piece was written before it became clear that the Bushies were refusing to cooperate with Congressional investigations into the response to Katrina, yet another debaucle and cover-up.
There is another use of “Empire,” as in the work of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, in which “Empire” refers to the emerging and inevitable sovereignty of multi-national and trans-national interests such as the U.N., Amnesty International, International Red Cross, etc. Bush is the final hurrah for those who think that hegemony is the key to our survival. As Chomsky wisely observes it is hegemony OR survival.

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By Don Hutton, January 25, 2006 at 11:34 am Link to this comment
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It seems to me that if we can have the “Kennedy’s” and the “Bush’s” we ought to be able to have the “Gore’s.”

Can you imagine: Mr. Vidal debating Mr. Chaney! Can you imagine Al Gore, casting off the DLC muzzle, and debating Mr. Bush? Bring it on!

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By Quinty, January 25, 2006 at 11:32 am Link to this comment
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We appear to be insistent on destroying the democratic ideals which define us. And anyone who remotely believes that Bush’s illegal activities will be confined to terrorists doesn’t know human nature. If there were such natural moral restraints there would be no need for law. Law puts it in writing. Bush disobeyed the law. He should be impeached and convicted.

Will we wake up from our dream? (Or nightmare, more peoperly.) If only Gore Vidal’s words would reach more people. What a remedial effect they would have!

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By Barb Goetz, January 25, 2006 at 11:10 am Link to this comment
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Our state of affairs so historically defined by Gore Vidal is as always the breath of fresh air that allows us to realize our failures as a people to demand our representatives listen to us. 
Thank you Mr. Vidal…a treat as always.

However, I am more inclined to forward the post of Susan Block.  You go girl!!!!

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By Hellene, January 25, 2006 at 11:06 am Link to this comment
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Why is it OK for our government to snoop into our conversations, but everytime we ask for/about conversations/documentation they are having it’s call National Security.

These guys are paid by us, and we don’t have the right to know how they are doing their jobs or what they are up to. I need a job like that.

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By R. E. Bullis, January 25, 2006 at 10:02 am Link to this comment
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To say that Mr. Vidal has “hit the nail on the head” is a well worn understatement. There’s more than one nail, and he’s hit most of them.

I find myself feeling, for the umpteenth time in the last 4 years, like a 6 year old struggling to wake a drugged parent because the house is on fire.

If I hear one more guy telling me about how America is the greatest, most powerful country on earth, I’m going to bitch slap him several times before resorting to reason, because it’s very close to becoming history.

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By Clifford Weinstein, January 25, 2006 at 9:58 am Link to this comment
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In the “sixties"the U.S. conducted its objective set in the “fifties” by the fear nolonger posed by European powers but Asian ,more precisely, Oriental Domination. These fears as I recall became our countries nightmare. Induced by books such as ‘The Yellow Peril’and bolstered by the common geo-political axiums laid out in the Domino Theory. And the French pullout from Viet Nam and a distorted event involving a Navy vessel and the Coastal patrol of Viet Nam; presented the playing field onwhich to oppose and defeat these human carnations of evil in the us vs. them arena. Viet Nam offered a solution to two major fears in America at that time. By our support of South Viet Nam we were battling Communist North Viet Nam ,at first ,and inevitably Red China disrupting the domino effect of countries falling to their domination.
We didn’t see at the time what was really happening, the people were devesting themselves and their lands of foreign invaders. the Western European nation states that had colonized and enslaved them. Iraq,Iran, and the Middle East are now the battlefieds on which we confront the nightmares of the Twenty -First Century. What’s different? Nolonger fearful of being oblitterated by the invading hoardes of ‘yellow devils’ or democracy falling to communism. nukes are now being aimed at us,the U.S. by our recently identified enemy Terrorism.
An all-out War ensues…,
And this which we oppose gives us the common greivence that binds this nation.

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By Derek Brett, January 25, 2006 at 8:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Damn!!!  This is so powerful a piece!!!  Gore Vidal has certainly not lost his edge.

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By Morgan-LynnLamberth, January 25, 2006 at 5:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Right on.

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By Susan Block, January 25, 2006 at 4:47 am Link to this comment
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Once again, Gore Vidal is right about America.  America wants a divorce. 

Ya hear that?  George, we want a divorce. We the American People - those of us who voted for you and those of us who didn’t, those of us who believed your bald-faced fish stories and those of us who didn’t - want your abusive lying ass, your ignorant monkey face and all your low-life chickenhawk asshole buddies out of our House (the White one) and out of our lives. We’d like to send you to Guantanamo, but we’ll settle for Crawford. We are so over you, we really are.

We are tired of your beatings and neglect. We are sick of your “war fetish,” sending our children off to kill and be killed in your disgusting illegal invasion and occupation of a country that wasn’t even bothering us. We have had it up to here with your mismanagement of our (America’s) finances. We are tired of being humiliated by your obnoxious behavior in our Global Village, where when you act like a boor, we (America) get blamed. We are fed up with your born-again patriarchal, gay-bashing, liberty-smashing ways. We are outraged at your spying on us illegally, like a political Peeping Tom, as though we were all your playthings with no rights and no privacy. We are grossed out by your frat boy lust for torture. We are appalled by your being a Poster Boy for Executive Power Run Amok. We have had enough of your cheating on us (America) by giving all your attention, affection and OUR MONEY to your lover-cronies at Halliburton and Bechtel. We know that men like you tend to *think with your dick,* but YOUR Dick (Cheney) is our nightmare. We are disgusted with your ignoring the basic needs of our poverty-stricken brothers and sisters, our fellow Americans, as you cater to your family (that’s Family Values for you), friends, patrons and cronies. Speaking of family, we are sick of being nice to our mother-in-law-from-hell, Babs the Beastly, and her “beautiful mind” which can’t be burdened with news and pictures of our loved ones that have been killed in her rotten son’s failed war. Most of all, George, we are sick and tired of your lies, lies, constant lies, Big Lies, little lies, smirking lies, shifty-eyed lies, neocon-artist lies, bald-faced lies, lethal lies. You’re lying and spying, while we do the dying, and we’re tired of it! We’re sick of “staying the course.”

This awful marriage has broken our bones, killed too many of us, ruined our reputation, and damaged our future in ways we can’t even imagine. But as the song goes, we will survive! We are the People, after all. And we might be a little slow on the uptake, but at a certain point, we see the light, and that’s it: George, we want a divorce.

Now all we need is a really good attorney…

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By Edward Beardsley, January 25, 2006 at 3:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For his part in the murder of Hypatia Cyril of Alexandria was rewarded with sainthood. Thereafter, for a thousand years, barber-surgeons cured none and murdered many, and the greatest technological achievement of the age is said to have been the invention of the metal stirrup.

Can anyone seriously think of those dark days as “good ol’ days” ... I mean, besides George Bush, Pat Robertson, and Osama bin Laden? Surely, most people have something like a working brain and would see that a retreat from reason at this juncture in human history would be suicidal. Or is that too much optimism?

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