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Country First? Hardly

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Posted on Sep 11, 2008

By David Sirota

Let’s say that you enjoyed watching last week’s Republican National Convention on television.

Let’s say you drank in the almost uniformly white faces and the regimented revivalism, you clapped when speakers belittled Barack Obama’s work organizing impoverished communities, indeed, you cheered with Rudy Giuliani’s zinger, “Drill, baby, drill!”

Let’s further stipulate that you were not at all discomfited by the convention’s incessant “Country First” mantra that defines loyalty to America as lock-step fealty to the Republican Party.

Let’s say—for sheer argument’s sake, of course—all of this is true. What, then, of the substance? Stripping away the partisanship, passion and propaganda, what about the veracity of the claim that the GOP puts this country first?

Well, let’s just say it’s a little dicey.

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On national security, the Republican Party advocates continuing to force thousands of young Americans to risk life and limb refereeing Iraq’s civil war. Though the party’s slogan hearkens back to conservatives’ “America First” isolationism, the GOP nonetheless supports spending $12 billion a month on the war—money needed at home.

Same story on economics. In 2004, the Republican White House called outsourcing “a plus.” In 2006, the Republican commander in chief OK’d the sale of critical infrastructure to foreign dictators. And today the Republican presidential nominee is demanding more NAFTA-style trade pacts that eliminate American jobs. This, says the GOP, is putting our country first.

But who is the “country”? According to the Census Bureau, it will soon be mostly nonwhites. That is, the demographic groups that the alleged “country first” party regularly disparages, whether Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) yearning for a return to segregation, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) scapegoating Latinos, Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) celebrating Japanese internment, President Bush genuflecting to Bob Jones University’s white supremacists, or Ronald Reagan echoing bigoted rallying cries at the scene of Mississippi race murders.

Maybe, you insist in your post-convention fervor, I just don’t get it. Maybe “country first” really does mean refereeing foreign civil wars, spending billions overseas while cutting domestic programs, exporting jobs and bashing ethnic groups that will soon make up the majority of the nation.

But I don’t think so. More likely, Republicans have simply taken the famous parable to heart—the one about patriotism being the last refuge of scoundrels.

As a political strategy, it’s not stupid. Following the Bush-DeLay-Abramoff era, many Americans rightly think Republican politicians are scoundrels. And so those politicians are trying to make sure “this election is not about issues,” as John McCain’s campaign manager said this week, but about a hideous hypernationalism only Joe McCarthy could love. Employing flag pins, war stories and Bible-thumping social conservatism, former POW McCain and Christian fundamentalist Sarah Palin hope their red-white-and-blue phantasmagoria will hypnotize America into voting Republican.

Such desperation leads to seeming incoherence at times. For instance, when anti-war protesters at the GOP convention demanded lawmakers actually put country first by bringing the troops home, Republican delegates responded like an entranced mob of cultists, mindlessly chanting “U.S.A.”

Then again, in the Karl Rove age, every televised scene—no matter how absurd—is part of sculpting an election victory with a mallet of jingoism and a chisel of intolerance.

On the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities, the Republican convention reminds us of what Barry Goldwater suggested 44 years ago: Terrorists are not the only ones who believe extremism is no vice. And, as the old aphorism warns, when the most virulent extremism attacks our country, it won’t be shrouded in Islamic fatwas—it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.

Sadly, the when is now. McCain is the flag, Palin is the cross—and Americans will have to decide whether we believe their zealotry puts country first.

David Sirota is a best-selling author whose newest book, “The Uprising,” was released in June. He is a fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network, both nonpartisan organizations. His blog is at www.credoaction.com/sirota.

© 2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.


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By 95flhtcu, September 16, 2008 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment

Let’s just call it the bull$*it that it is. If the rpugs or McBush, or palin herself were interested in the country, they wouldn’t have brought her on. If SHE had any respect for the country, she would have declined the VP slot because she’s in WAY over her head. It’s so bad that they have to HIDE her from anyone with a question? Her incessant lying aside, she’s grossly unqualified. John McBush may have really been in a position to fly that flag, once upon a time, but now, in what he knows is his last ditch effort to get into the whitehouse, he’s going to do and say absolutely anything.

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By yellowbird2525, September 14, 2008 at 11:45 pm Link to this comment

read The Prosecution of George W. Bush for premeditated murder: vincent Bugliosi’s; not only him, but Chaney, Rumsfeld, all of Congress, Clinton’s & the 75 retired from military from Pentagon & contacts with contractors whom they have stolen billions & billions of $ from taxpayers by laundering back the $; and every single one of them & the Corps they write the laws for: 90% of the military & most Americans due to the FALSE information repeated numerous times thought that by going to war with Iraq was payback for 911; it was terrorists who did it but they were not from Iraq nor were they Al Quida; WHY did the 2 towers go down like they had explosives placed in the bottom? they were PLANE CRASHES into buildings folks: no other plane crashes into buildings EVER fell down like the towers did; every other country on the planet KNOWS the truth: just like who sent aids over to Africa with the polio vaccine? and do you sincerely & honestly think that the Pentagon & Bill Clinton, John Edwards, & so many more would be doing the hanky panky without protection with so many various people if they did not KNOW that THEY would not get aids? they died believing they were serving their country thru DECEPTION; because it is NOT democracy at all: it is DECEPTION;

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By yellowbird2525, September 14, 2008 at 8:22 pm Link to this comment

yours truly: the disabled vets who have yet to receive a cent from Iraq & Afghanistan: from Congress: of whom BOTH candidates Obama & McCain are from; those disabled enough to NOT fulfill their signed up for term: get called 5 & 6 times a day every day DEMANDING their $ back; no $ for medicine for vets; no $ for decent housing or food, or armor; YET: there is lots of $ at both st & Fed levels for “ag workers”; given no interest loans like $3,000 for dental work; brand new cars/trucks/housing complexs built just for them; NO one is illegal here! NO 2nd class citizens HERE! the Gov of the USA started the LIE “all military personnel have mental problems” so the Corps working & telling them how to write the laws etc all in THEIR favor: said “we don’t want to hire military personnel”; giving political patronage for years to illegals; at the EXPENSE of the citizens; their slogan is: what of peoples rights? then: what of the rights of human beings? SO: say it BACK to them: What of peoples rights in a country to NOT be poisoned; NOT be harrassed (oh that’s right it’s ILLEGAL) in the USA; got THAT from Congressman Gordon SMITH when I said I thought it was TORTURE; YOU decide; YOU determine if it was not premeditated long term goal of both parties united to do GREAT HARMFUL ACTS to the CITIZENS of the USA; then on to globally.

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By Tony Wicher, September 13, 2008 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment

By cyrena, September 12 at 2:40 pm #

I hear a lot of disappointed voices here, assuming that most Americans simply aren’t paying attention. I know there is at least a portion of truth to that, and it’s been the cause of my own frustration for years now.

Still, I actually do believe that more American’s are paying attention now, than we were 8 years ago, and we’ll have to hold on to that as a motivation to use the next 45 days to make sure that more of us DO become aware that this election is as simple as possibly surviving another decade or more, or just giving up right now.

I think we all have to be politicians for the next couple of months, and that means convincing everybody we know, that SURVIVAL is what we want, and it’s going to take a collective effort to achieve it.

In this game, anyone casting a vote for McCain/Palin, or anyone NOT voting at all, is choosing AGAINST survival. At this point, our collective survival is contingent on putting Barack Obama in charge of a rescue administration, but it will require participation from all of us, to the extent that we can.
——————————————————————————
Precisely, cyrena! It’s a matter of life and death, win or die. The house is burning down; there’s no time to hold on to one’s ideological possessions. We must hang together or we most assuredly will hang separately. There will be plenty of time and opportunity to argue if we are still alive.

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By jackpine savage, September 13, 2008 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment

But it sounds catchy, doesn’t it…and it fits on a bumper sticker.  What more do you need?

As Hunter Thompson said, “We’re a nation of pigs and we’ll get what we deserve.”  How i wish that he was wrong…

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By cyrena, September 13, 2008 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment

Vietnam Vet:


“I am dumbfounded that a significant percentage of the voters STILL just don’t get it! They will do ANYTHING, legal or illegal, to WIN!”

~~~~

Me too, dumbfounded that is.

Leefeller,

You’re right. Both words may disappear. We might not even be allowed to speak at all.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, September 13, 2008 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment

Thanks David Sorota what you stated below say’s it all.  Great article.

“And, as the old aphorism warns, when the most virulent extremism attacks our country, it won’t be shrouded in Islamic fatwas—it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.”

“Sadly, the when is now. McCain is the flag, Palin is the cross—and Americans will have to decide whether we believe their zealotry puts country first.”

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By yours truly, September 13, 2008 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The great humanist Mark Twain said it best, “Patriotism is supporting one’s country all the time and one’s government when it deserves it.”  As to whether or not our troops in Iraq died in vain, they did not.  They died that there be no war no more, nowhere, never, not even one.

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By VietnamVet, September 13, 2008 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment

Country First! Give me a break…the only thing the GOP has as a “first” is to win elections and stay in power. As McCain is clearly showing, they will tell any number of lies, stoop to any level in the gutter, smear as needed, and any other hateful tactic needed to win. I am dumbfounded that a significant percentage of the voters STILL just don’t get it! They will do ANYTHING, legal or illegal, to WIN!

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By Leefeller, September 12, 2008 at 8:07 pm Link to this comment

cyrena,

“Patriotism is just another word for nationalism, and that ain’t good.”  The new scheme of things, the new world order may eliminate both words.

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By Fadel Abdallah, September 12, 2008 at 7:44 pm Link to this comment

“Republicans have simply taken the famous parable to heart—the one about patriotism being the last refuge of scoundrels.”
======================
Well said David Sirota, and your statement quoted above gives the gist of all the matter. However, I feel that the word “scoundrels” is a light term to describe those bunch. Allow me to add that they are the ultimate evil ones, the ultimate hypocrites, and the epitome of arrogance and stupidity!

Beware America to be further misled by the enemy from within!

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By yellowbird2525, September 12, 2008 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment

the US military is NOT fighting Iraq’s civil war: the TRUTH is that Iraqi’s were excited to see us cuz they had heard about FREEDOM. Sad to say with the huge Corps there taking all the $ along with the “Congress” and political elites as our politicians told them: they can take all the $ for themselves, friends, family, & “pretend” to disagree so the people get nothing ha ha ha; they realized it was DICTATORSHIP and WORSE hundreds of times if not thousands of times WORSE for them & their country than under Saddam Hussain; in fact, they wished he were alive again cuz while he was bad it was not NEARLY as bad under him as under the USA Gov set up & large Corps; it is NOT an “insurgency” it is folks fighting for freedom from Corp greed & politican greed who can never be charged with anything just like in the USA. Same “shortages” there folks (supposedly) for gas; which is now $1.49 or something probably higher now; whereas before it was 5 cents a gallon; they were never taxed; but they are NOW! ha ha ha ! they didn’t think they should be TAXED! and the people have less than nothing. Bush immiediately changed it from “democracy” to “peace” and said we prefer to be known as “dysfunctional” not dictatorship. How much LAND have the people lost to the big Corps? There schools will never be good; they will have NOTHING. and THIS is the reason wars are fought: for the Corps’ to have it all; tax the people & more slaves to the Corps; argue with THEM? YOU are a TERRORIST!

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By cyrena, September 12, 2008 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment

I think Eric hit the bullseye with this:

Patriotism is just another word for nationalism, and that ain’t good.

It’s not any better for the majority of US than it is for any other nation state, when it means that we’re living under authoritarian rule.

I hear a lot of disappointed voices here, assuming that most Americans simply aren’t paying attention. I know there is at least a portion of truth to that, and it’s been the cause of my own frustration for years now.

Still, I actually do believe that more American’s are paying attention now, than we were 8 years ago, and we’ll have to hold on to that as a motivation to use the next 45 days to make sure that more of us DO become aware that this election is as simple as possibly surviving another decade or more, or just giving up right now.

I think we all have to be politicians for the next couple of months, and that means convincing everybody we know, that SURVIVAL is what we want, and it’s going to take a collective effort to achieve it.

In this game, anyone casting a vote for McCain/Palin, or anyone NOT voting at all, is choosing AGAINST survival. At this point, our collective survival is contingent on putting Barack Obama in charge of a rescue administration, but it will require participation from all of us, to the extent that we can.

Otherwise…..we don’t stand a chance.

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By dale Headley, September 12, 2008 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Remember, the “country” that the Republicans want to “put first” is the country represented by all those well-off, caucasion, Christian fundamentalist faces that painted the convention floor white.  They are counting on the majority of Americans being of the same wealth-oriented, racist, religious, bent.  Sadly, they are probably right.

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By Frostedflakes, September 12, 2008 at 12:21 pm Link to this comment

Once again this is a case of, primarily caucasion, Americans being duped and going aganst their own best interests.Could you imagine if Obama, a black skinned man, used the same tactics of fear as McCain? Americans would be rioting in the streets. And why is the media, which isn’t worth a shit, cuddling McPalin? If anything they should be exposing their extremist views and denouncing the harm that they would truly bring to this once great nation.
  When are we as Americans going to stand up to the destoyers of this nation, be it big oil, mainstrem media, corporate interests, or the Bush administration? This country is in need of a true revolution, and I don’t mean the simple rhetoric of “change”, but an all encompassing upheavel of policies and those elected to uphold them. We have got to begin to hold all politicians, judges and corporations criminally liable for their acts and decisions. This election will not bring this about,but it can become a catalyst by empowering those who have been inactive to awaken and take a stand to bring about accountability to the participants in our corrupted Republic.

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By Eric Schechter, September 12, 2008 at 7:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sirota is a great writer, but here is a point that he has not stated explicitly enough: Patriotism is another word for nationalism. That whole business about “U! S! A! Num! Ber! One!” is an ugly part of our culture. Even Obama, who surely knows better, is forced to keep saying “America is the greatest country on earth” because otherwise he has no chance of getting elected.  Greatest at what?  Imperialism, I guess. Ionesco’s play “Rhinoceros” seems to be out of stock at the local bookstores, so I guess I’ll have to order a copy.

Someday I hope to see national borders disappear. They don’t seem to have much use except as an excuse for starting wars. You and I have more in common with the workers of another country, than we have with most politicians of either country. Of course, my dream of erasing borders involves rule by us masses, not by corporate takeovers such as NAFTA and SPP.

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By Purple Girl, September 12, 2008 at 5:05 am Link to this comment

Could he be referring to Saudi Arabia and UAE?( hellova Job deflecting blame away from the 9/11 attackers homeland-Mac’s scripted leak, ‘Anthrax came from Saddam’)
Could he Be referring to Georgia? (“We’re All Georgians?“Which Ones?  ASK Plain who she feels about those regions wanting to succeed from Georgia?Seems to have considered it for Alaska)
Could he be referring to Columbia? ( his advisor/Lobbists for Columbia seems to think so)
Or could he be referring to which ‘Country first’ regarding military action…Iran, Russia, Venezula?

As far as I can see Mac hasn’t put country first since he returned after being a POW. Let’s not forgt his Keating 5 S& L scandal affiliations- costing Americans (seniors) their savings.
Let’s not look at the Economic Advisors he’s taken on Mr. & Mrs Enron.And his other cast of creepy, criminal Lobbists he using as stage Props before the rolled out the ‘Lipstick’.
Let’s not forget the tax breaks for the rich he supports, lets not forget the GI Bill he did not. Let’s not forget this man can’t even keep th estory straight about which NFL team he claims to have ‘decieved ’ the Vietcong with ( difficult to remember details when you are LYING)
Let not ignore the cost of HIS ‘Surge’ in Blood and Treasure. Let’s not ignore the economic reprocussions it has had on OUR ‘Conditions on the Ground’. Let’s not ignore we are nearly 4 TRILLION in Debt for a War which has finally been revealed (acknowledged) to be about OIL, While that Country has 80 Billion sitting in the Bank. Let’s not ignore the FACT that Mac’s ‘Surge’ in Iraq has resulted in a PURGE in Our Way of life and the lives of our future generations!
Mac doesn’t know the difference between Sunni & Shia, He doesn’t know the Old Czech has been gone for 15 yrs. He thinks we are still fired up about ‘the Cold War’ and are eager to give it a boost.
DOES MAC EVEN KNOW WHAT COUNTRY HE’S FROM, OR WHICH CENTURY HE IS IN????
Shit I don’t know who is more Disoriented- Mac or Pat Buchanan!Did both Drop acid in ‘68 and are getting ‘Flash Backs’ on a daily basis.Fuck You, go away you are Last Century Shit we want to disgard and forget!
The First half of that century was the Corps building their Regime of the Backs of the People, the Second half was them spreading their ‘New World Order’ while fucking those who Created Them!The Corp’s ‘Golden Age’ Ended 7 yrs Ago On 9/11. The Chickens came Home to the MIC to Roost that Day!
The Attackers Did NOT Target civilian sites…They hit the Financial backers, the military Might and attempted the Policy makers- They hit the ‘Military Industrial Complex’!So Who’s 50 yrs of Global Business Stratedgy is Actually to blame for those innocent lives lost?
And has been involved with Big industry since before Keating 5? Who supports Bush 90% of the Time. What Bush advisor has been intimately attached to every Republican admin for the Last 40 Years…Cheney.And Which Bush top advisor did Mac say he would love to have in his admin..Cheney!Cheney is attached at the hip to Halliburton who has subsideries and affiliations with other Corps who are taking over Gov’t Responsiblities (ie Intelligence and Military) Seems to me Cheney is building His Own country within OURS and with our Blood & Money!
So Perhaps the ‘Country’ Mac is referring to is CheneyLand!

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By Fahrenheit 451, September 12, 2008 at 4:36 am Link to this comment

Well David Sirota, you say in conclusion;
“Sadly, the when is now. McCain is the flag, Palin is the cross—and Americans will have to decide whether we believe their zealotry puts country first.”

We have less than 60 days to know the answer to that.  Frankly, I’m not optimistic at all; I just don’t think the majority of Americans are listening.  They’re wrapped up in god, flag and jingoism (their version of patriotism)and maybe most importantly; a good dose of the irrational fear of ignorance.  The evidence is self evident.  Finally, I firmly believe we ultimately get the leaders we deserve.

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By cyrena, September 12, 2008 at 12:57 am Link to this comment

Another great piece from David Sirota.

And it’s true. That time of fascism is certainly here,  with McCain as the flag and Sarah as the cross. Both far more ‘extremist’ than any Islamists we’ve ever experienced. It’s more than a little bit eerie, because it’s downright terrifying. 

I listened earlier to a small portion of the interview she had with ABC and Gibson, and that just scared me that much more. Reminded me of some old Alfred Hitchcock movies that I saw as a child and left lasting nightmares.

Sometimes I think we just don’t have any idea how serious this is. I get that thought after seeing fellow citizens participating in this latest RNC horror flick.

What could they be thinking?

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By Caryl S. Foster, September 11, 2008 at 10:29 pm Link to this comment

On this unfortunate day spent sadly memorializing the seventh anniversary on 9/11, the fact that Senator McCain called for and willingly supported the invasion of Iraq, a country whose leader had nothing to do with 9/11, at the expense of taking our military resources and our focused national attention away from tracking down and capturing the true culprit of 9/11 Osama bin Laden who remains free at large to further murderously scheme against us on this unfortunate day, is the only reason I need not to vote for Senator McCain as in ......

Never Under Any Circumstances.

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