Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jonathan Pollard, Mordechai Vanunu, Paul Levy, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush

Once the bad news of Bush and post 9/11 America started shaping up, it became an almost unrelenting surge. Old customary notes of compassion, or joy, or just simple awe and wonder at life almost never came up anymore---but, with one or two exceptions.

One of the earliest analysis I read about President Bush that engendered an unequivocally positive reaction in me was called, "The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis," by Paul Levy, which also carried the startling-to-me-then subtitle, "Bush’s sickness is our own." This was empowering, in as much as Levy makes a strong case for our collective responsibility for a cultural field of disease, of which George Bush was but one, prominent, manifestation. By requiring me to do some of the necessary work of recovery, I no longer could just sit by helplessly feeling the victim. For better or worse, I invented the standard bearer persona of StevenWarRan in consequence, and the rest is, well, history.

I can legitimately feel feelings of compassion, understanding, sympathy and love for George W. Bush.

Levy's piece was published on January 13th, 2005, and it is still found at the Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel website, which I believe, was the original publisher. I highly recommend it to everyone as a 6434-word therapeutic tool. Paul Levy describes himself as,
"a healer in private practice, [who] is profiled in the book Saints and Madmen: Psychiatry Opens its Doors to Religion. Steeped in and inspired by the work of Swiss-German psychoanalyst C. G. Jung, Levy is an innovator in the field of dreaming. He has had over forty articles published on consciousness, dreaming and spirituality, and has lectured about his work at various universities. A Tibetan Buddhist practitioner for over 20 years, he has studied with some of the great masters of Tibet and Burma. Inspired by the Bush Administration, Levy describes himself as "a spiritually-informed political activist." He is currently writing a book about his work. Visit his website at or write him at
Rereading it again after several years it gives me the same feeling of deep satisfaction I felt when I originally read it. Levy seems to have got it exactly right I should image.

I say all of this by way of a long preamble. We all should work toward maintaining our dignity, our hopes, and our humanity, as we move into whatever the hell it is that is next in store for us. I personally need to be reminded of this often, and give a little extra push to search out the positive aspects to experiences. So what I really wanted to say from the beginning here is, George W. Bush's leave-taking from office in Washington D.C. this week was a dignified, becoming exit that deserves our commendation.

He decamped cleanly, without fanfare, and thankfully, without adding any thing more to our national burdens. I speak specifically about his foregoing of most pardons, for individuals like Scooter Libby, but abstractly, for the rumored hypothetical class of "people who may have done something illegal or wrong while earnestly undertaking their duties in the War on Terrorism."

And I had been reading in the Israeli press about a concerted effort underway from Jews at home and abroad seeking the freedom of convicted Israeli spy Jonathon Pollard by means of a presidential pardon. Supposedly, so many pro-Pollard calls were flooding the White House switchboard in recent weeks they dwarfed every other appeal combined. But the politics of the case, and the probable damage to our nation's security Pollard caused, which can never be publicly known, had America standing up to Israel, if in only this one case.

Phalanxes of the highest-level American security operatives had repeatedly threatened mass resignations should Pollard ever be released from prison, even after decades behind bars for him now. That says a great deal actually.

This reminds me---do you know who is looking very good these days?

Mordechai Vanunu, seen in this image from July 3, 2003 while awaiting his parole hearing at the district courthouse in Beersheva, the shot taken by my newest photographer to loath, Haim Horenstein. (I never said I was perfect.)

Vanunu was the Israeli double-agent who confirmed knowledge that Israel possessed an arsenal of nuclear weapons, thereby he did the worldwide balance of powers some degree of service. The United States certainly didn't want to keep knowledge of the weapon secret from its potential opponents, that's why we used it twice, so why should Israel benefit from an unknown holding?

I forget his story exactly, but he was said to have been caught by utilizing a "honey pot," an attractive female agent who lured him into bed and then a jail cell. It looks to me like she could have had some fun with this duty.

Contrast Vanunu's image with that of Jonathan Pollard's I.D. photograph, from his U.S. Naval Intelligence job, probably taken in October 1984, when he started.

I choose not to try to imagine how Pollard must look today after his long imprisonment, with his first seven years in solitary confinement, for which I feel genuine anguish. But the limited signals we are allowed to receive in the matter would lead me to believe he doesn't resemble the handsome, beaming, healthy visage of a just-pre-release Vanunu.

Read Jonathan Pollard's entry in Wikipedia, to hear of an American Jew from Galveston, Texas who began to "blame [...] hostility directed at him on antisemitism." As "[h]e began to focus on Israel as a place where Jews could be free from attack," according to Joseph Sobran's Territory of Lies, book review in the National Review from June 16, 1989. Sound familiar?

So Bush, contrary to the appalling example set by Bill Clinton, (and I had to get one more dig in here somewhere, folks,) has earned my grudging respect, even if his actions stemmed from an utter lack of political capital---he did the right thing, for the right reasons, as far as I'm concerned, when he could just as well have done the opposite. I latch on to signs of American independence from the influence of foreign governments such as that of Israel's---as the drowning must reach out for life preservers, or the blind...

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