One definition-aspect of the word, theatrical, is deeds marked by pretense or artificiality of emotion.
Our entangled mess of a planet nowadays is becoming a very-astutely-written piece of theater, a play of many acts and performers — the plot is of a horrible, anti-tragicomedy.
And the end is as the French do, ‘finis.’
In this current and certain piece of time, many different, and mostly-terrifying, events have appeared to have come together to form a much-horrible whole.
Nearly all the global problems — climate change (much-more rapid and strange than we all suspect), food shortages, high energy costs — are caused by man, some more recent, others going back hundreds of years.
And just about all of the problems facing the US this summer have either been instigated or exacerbated by one man — Decider George.
Of course, Decider George makes the decisions retched up by his vice president, Dufus Dick Cheney, and the two perform as a pair of psychotic twins — impaired reality testing; unable to distinguish personal, subjective experience from the reality of the external world — characters usually found in John Carpenter movies.
Even catfish farms are feeling a literal draining in Decider George’s energy program, which even near-moron New York Times‘ op-ed writer Tom Friedman calls “massive, fraudulent, pathetic excuse for an energy policy…”
And on climate control, Decider George both blows and sucks.
Yesterday, the EPA stood on its feet, belatedly, and reported global warming is a real-enough kind of thing and will bring on many changes — none of it real good.
And this after Decider George acted the complete arrogant, don’t-give-shit asshole at the G8 summit in Japan last week — a departing quip both cruel and dark:
- The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter.”
He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.
Grinning more like a psychotic, born-with-a-silver-spoon-in-the-ass kind-of-guy, a true performance.
Decider George’s total karma is absurd-theatrical, highly seasoned with an all-hat-no-cattle girth of the non-cow-puncher asshole.
In this theatre, however, the absurdity is darkness and death.
He’s guilty not just for two catastrophic wars, an economy in a toilet that’s about to be flushed and for governing without any regard whatsoever to the Constitution, but for the horrific image the US now has abroad.
He’s even part of theatre in Gaza:
- Brandishing “the sword of Islam”, a Palestinian boy stabbed U.S. President George W. Bush to death in a new puppet show for children aired by Hamas-owned television in the Gaza Strip.
“You are a criminal, Bush, a despicable man. You made me an orphan. You deprived me of everything,” said the hand-held puppet, representing a child and accusing the U.S. president of killing his family in Iraq and in Gaza in collusion with Israel.
The programme was broadcast on Hamas’s al-Aqsa television, which has used puppets and cartoon characters in the past to illustrate the Islamist movement’s battle against Israel and opposition to U.S. support for the Jewish state.
Above it all is the criminal, inhumane use of torture — Theatre over-watched by the Marquis de Sade .
A dark, dark horror which signaled the end of the US as America.
Writing about all of Decider George’s shit does sometimes require a creative, theatrical insight to be able to piece all the ugly parts together.
One of our most favorite opinionators on this is the New York Times‘ Frank Rich, a Times theatre critic for 14 years and a columnist for the newspaper since 1994.
Whether it’s Barack Obama and race or Hillary Clinton and gender or the continuous mischief of Decider George, Rich has an unique voice in laying open was really bare beneath.
And it has the sound of the theatre.
Last Sunday, Rich’s column was about torture and a new book about inside dealings in the White House in approving the use of torture in the lubricious Global War on Terror.
He compared The Final Days, about Dick Nixon’s last few months in office, and The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War On Terror Turned into a War On American Ideals by freelance investigative writer, Jane Mayer.
Read Rich’s full piece here.
- â€œThe Final Daysâ€ was published in 1976, two years after Nixon abdicated in disgrace. With the Bush presidency, no journalist (or turncoat White House memoirist) is waiting for the corpse to be carted away.
The latest and perhaps most chilling example arrives this week from Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, long a relentless journalist on the war-on-terror torture beat.
Her book â€œThe Dark Sideâ€ connects the dots of her own past reporting and that of her top-tier colleagues (including James Risen and Scott Shane of The New York Times) to portray a White House that, like its prototype, savaged its enemies within almost as ferociously as it did the Constitution.
Nixon parallels take us only so far, however.
â€œThe Dark Sideâ€ is scarier than â€œThe Final Daysâ€ because these final days arenâ€™t over yet and because the stakes are much higher.
Watergate was all about a paranoid presidentâ€™s narcissistic determination to cling to power at any cost. In Ms. Mayerâ€™s portrayal of the Bush White House, the president is a secondary, even passive, figure, and the motives invoked by Mr. Cheney to restore Nixon-style executive powers are theoretically selfless.
Possessed by the ticking-bomb scenarios of televisionâ€™s â€œ24,â€ all they want to do is protect America from further terrorist strikes.
On those larger issues, the evidence is in, merely awaiting adjudication. Mr. Bushâ€™s 2005 proclamation that â€œwe do not tortureâ€ was long ago revealed as a lie. Antonio Taguba, the retired major general who investigated detainee abuse for the Army, concluded that â€œthere is no longer any doubtâ€ that â€œwar crimes were committed.â€ Ms. Mayer uncovered another damning verdict: Red Cross investigators flatly told the C.I.A. last year that America was practicing torture and vulnerable to war-crimes charges.
In her telling, a major incentive for Mr. Cheneyâ€™s descent into the dark side was to cover up for the Bush White Houseâ€™s failure to heed the Qaeda threat in 2001.
Jack Cloonan, a special agent for the F.B.I.â€™s Osama bin Laden unit until 2002, told Ms. Mayer that Sept. 11 was â€œall preventable.â€
By March 2000, according to the C.I.A.â€™s inspector general, â€œ50 or 60 individualsâ€ in the agency knew that two Al Qaeda suspects â€” soon to be hijackers â€” were in America.
But there was no urgency at the top.
Thomas Pickard, the acting F.B.I. director that summer, told Ms. Mayer that when he expressed his fears about the Qaeda threat to Mr. Ashcroft, the attorney general snapped, â€œI donâ€™t want to hear about that anymore!â€
In last Sundayâ€™s Washington Post, the national security expert Daniel Benjamin sounded an alarm about the â€œchronicâ€ indecisiveness and poor execution of Bush national security policy as well as the continuing inadequacies of the Department of Homeland Security.
Mr. Benjamin must feel a sinking sense of dÃ©jÃ vu.
Exactly seven years ago in the same newspaper, just two months before 9/11, he co-wrote an article headlined â€œDefusing a Time Bombâ€ imploring the Bush administration in vain to pay attention to Afghanistan because that countryâ€™s terrorists â€œcontinue to pose the most dangerous threat to American lives.â€
How bad does it go?
Mayer held a question-and-answer session last week with Scott Horton at Harpers magazine:
- Horton — Reports have circulated for some time that the Red Cross examination of the CIAâ€™s highly coercive interrogation regimeâ€”what President Bush likes to call â€œThe Programâ€ â€” concluded that it was â€œtantamount to torture.”
But you write that the Red Cross categorically described the program as â€œtorture.â€
The Red Cross is notoriously tight-lipped about its reports, and you do not cite your source or even note that you examined the report.
Do you believe that the threat of criminal prosecution drove the Bush Administrationâ€™s crafting of the Military Commissions Act?
Mayer — Activists will be angry at me for saying this, but as someone who has covered politics in Washington, D.C., for two decades, I would be surprised if there is the political appetite for going after public servants who convinced themselves that they were acting in the best interests of the country, and had legal authority to do so.
An additional complicating factor is that key members of Congress sanctioned this program, so many of those who might ordinarily be counted on to lead the charge are themselves compromised.
Before September 11, 2001, these extreme political positions would not have stood a change of being instituted â€” they would never have survived democratic scrutiny.
But by September 12, 2001, President Bush and Vice President Cheney were extraordinarily empowered. Political opposition evaporated as critics feared being labeled anti-patriotic or worse.
Itâ€™s a familiar dynamic in American history â€” not unlike the shameful abridgement of civil liberties represented by FDRâ€™s internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry.
Helgersonâ€™s 2004 report had been described to me as very disturbing, the size of two Manhattan phone books, and full of terrible descriptions of mistreatment.
The confirmation that Helgerson was called in to talk with Cheney about it proves thatâ€“as early as thenâ€“the Vice Presidentâ€™s office was fully aware that there were allegations of serious wrongdoing in The Program.
One of the strongest quotes in the book, I think, comes from Philip Zelikow, the former executive director of the 9/11 Commission, former counselor to Secretary of State Condi Rice, and a historian who teaches at the University of Virginia.
He suggests in time that Americaâ€™s descent into torture will be viewed like the internment of the Japanese, because they happened for similar reasons.
As he puts it, â€œFear and anxiety were exploited by zealots and fools.”
So check out the insane, tortured expression on the face of Decider George.