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alexPureWhen I met Alexander Cockburn, one of his first questions to me was: “Is your hate pure?” It was the question he asked most of the young writers he mentored. These were Cockburn’s rules for how to write political polemics: write about what you care about, write with passion, go for the throat of your enemies and never back down. His admonitions remain the guiding stylesheet for our writers at CounterPunch. Please help keep the spirit of this kind of fierce journalism alive by taking advantage of  our matching grant challenge which will DOUBLE every donation of $100 or more. Any of you out there thinking of donating $50 should know that if you donate a further $50, CounterPunch will receive an additional $100. And if you plan to send us $200 or $500 or more, CounterPunch will get a matching $200 or $500 or more. Don’t miss the chance. Double your clout right now. Please donate. –JSC (This photo of Alexander Cockburn and Jasper, on the couch that launched 1000 columns, was taken in Petrolia by Tao Ruspoli)
 Day 19

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The Amoral Arena

Welcome to the Benghazi Express

by JAMES ROTHENBERG
It’s not dead yet, so we can’t bury it. So goes the outpouring of elite opinion makers. We have to get to the bottom of this Benghazi business. It’s a matter of asking the right questions and where better to ask them than the SELECT COMMITTEE? This is the only way to put politics aside and get to the truth about Benghazi!
You’ve seen it before and you’ll see it again. You’ve seen it all week long so it now embodies the American principle of seeking truth, justice, and the…I can’t remember the rest but if you watch a Superman movie it could be in there.
Amidst the clamor to obtain a full accounting, Hillary Clinton’s quote from January 2013 is recalled, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” We shouldn’t simply dismiss this out of hand. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton, benefitting from her intimate knowledge of state politics, understands something we would all benefit from.
States are not moral agents. They, the institutions supporting them, and the managers thereof, exist for the purpose of self-furtherance. To this end, questions of truth become subordinate to the usefulness of that truth. Political power is not amalgamated by being truthful; it is amalgamated by making the masses believe. Images trump essences, a defining difference between the sentient beings we could be and the insentient beings that a strong state produces.
In this amoral arena, the purpose is not to put yourself on the proper side of an argument to obtain the truth; the purpose is to achieve an end. How can situations be used to advantage, or, what amounts to the zero-sum same, how can it disadvantage opponents?
Ascertaining the truth of the circumstances involving a Jessica Lynch, a Pat Tillman, or the full-fledged Warren Commission, the Challenger Hearings, or even the September 11 suicide hijackings, undergoes a synthesis in which some facts are melded with politically-induced goals to form a useful narrative. The truth (meaning adjective not required) is really besides the point because it’s outside the arena.
James Rothenberg can be reached at: jrothenberg@taconic.net.