12:14 p.m. September 5, 2013

Syria: An Epic Tornado of Bullshit Assumptions

For a country that still longingly stares at its television for moral guidance, there is a special signal that tells us Important Things are happening - and it is neither the mind-numbing "Breaking News" chyron nor the red-faced pundit/anchor pulling yet another Howard Beale. The signal in the noise is the relative quiet of CNN abruptly turning into C-SPAN, as it did this week when it delivered wall-to-wall coverage of Syria-related congressional hearings.

These moments are few and far between - and they are, indeed, important, but not only for how they remind us about the whole democracy thing. They are also significant for how they provide that rare unvarnished glimpse of all the subjective assumptions du jour, and how those assumptions ignore even the most self-evident facts and the most obvious history.

Not surprisingly, an aversion to constitutional fact and historical context defined this latest spectacle from the moment President Obama announced his desire to start yet another military campaign in the Middle East. As Washington quickly hooked the drums of war back up to the media's assembled amplifiers, few seemed to even notice the oxymoron of such an announcement coming a mere 72 hours after the same president pledged his loyalty to the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King - aka the man who self-righteously derided the U.S. government as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world."

Even fewer seemed to notice the inadvertent comedy in Obama's decision to request Congressional authorization for an attack on Syria. Despite that being a crystal clear constitutional requirement, our self-congratulatory president deemed it a "pretty big idea" - as if he sincerely believes it is a radical notion to simply follow the law.

All of that, of course, was just the beginning. As the drums now boom louder, so many history-averse assertions and fact-free presuppositions are now swirling through the discourse that it is probably inaccurate to call the back-and-forth over Syria a "debate." This is an epic tornado of Bullshit Assumptions carrying Dorothy, Toto and the rest of us away to a militaristic Land of Oz.

In the midst of what is now officially deemed the era of "persistent conflict," it is worth pausing to behold the texture, consistency and flavor of this particular type of bullshit. It is worth, in other words, clicking the heels of America's blood-soaked shoes and pondering five of the bullshittiest of the assumptions.

Perhaps when we finally wake up, we can then answer the biggest question of all: What are the real objectives of the wizards behind the curtain?

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