Saturday, September 26, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Well, yesterday's kiddos were about a jillion times more compelling than today's grab-bag affair. "This is what democracy looks like!" Is it? Yoy, I'll take the global gulag. A most undignified afternoon all around. I hopped on the trusty Trek hybrid and dogged this sorry accretion of has-been and never-was political yuksterism.
Personally, I think the whole global order is close enough to an inflection point that I reasonably expect to see some or other revolution of affairs within my lifetime. As to what I can do to bring it about or speed it along at least, I'm fairly convinced: not a thing. Nor do I share anyone's certainty that what comes next must inevitably be better. Even were I to believe that peoplepower could crack the foundations on which rests the superstructure of global capital, I am . . . dubious of the papier mâché revolution.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The people's uprising was a brief and hilarious failure, as I expected, although the sweet scent of tear gas now drifts over my garden, suggesting what might have been. It was mostly kids, and while charmingly earnest, they mostly didn't understand the most basic principles of protest or cooperative action, and so they were easily and swiftly dispersed by the police. We may lament the gaudy police state in which we live and chuckle ruefully at the loudspeaker warning, "This is an illegal assembly"--the fuzz no longer even bothers to change the constitutional language in propounding orders that directly contravene the rights that language is meant to guarantee. Puts a man in a mordant mood. Anyway, you know, a great deal more might have been demonstrated if they'd held hands, sat down, and sung spirituals. If you'll pardon me, their problem is just as much aesthetic as it is political. They are not compelling.
Confronted with the titanic failure of the Obama administration to live up to a single one of his progressive supporters' more or less fervent dreams, our Progressive cuts open the steaming belly of Dick Cheney and offers it as shelter: Well, would you rather still be living in there? I always say that I find Cheney preferable. I don't deny the reality of his secretiveness, his evident disdain for what good-government types call "transparency," but I propose that even a cursory examination of his character, his habits of speech, his patterns of thought as they emerged over the years, show that his commitment to the practices of secrecy are superficial compared to his deeper and more discomfiting trait of frankness. He was a blunt, misanthropic curmudgeon of a man, he kept his cards close and his subversions of the constitutional order closer, and yet it seems to me that he was and has been forthright about his luciferian principles when asked. Indeed, he famously put them right in the open at the very outset of our supposed post-9/11 era when he said quite plainly that we must tread on the dark side. I am not absolving him of prevarication. Like all politicians, he lied and dissembled. He wasn't above telling tales, and he certainly hated specifics the way all humanity hated the dentist before the advent of laughing gas. But Cheney, as a matter of character, was always willing to tell you that the dress made you look fat. If not entirely above flattering America with lies about its inherent nobility, he was markedly less prone to such nonsense than most pols, and when one regards his eight viceroyal years, what emerges, perhaps surprisingly, is far less the portrait of a blinkered neocon hoping for democracy to bloom in the desert than a man whose American exceptionalism is heterodox--is, at last, an understanding that we are an empire or hegemon and that preserving the prerogatives of such primacy require brutality.
Also he was unpopular, deeply so, whereas Obama maintains a deep reservoir of good will and a legion of loyal defenders despite clearly pursuing the same practical path. Obama is certainly more charming than Dick Cheney, but his rhetorical openness is the superficial dressing behind which lurks a much more opaque character. It doesn't require embracing some birth-certificate paranoia to ask, who is Obama?--not to ask: where did he come from, what is his citizenship, who are his secret masters?; instead, to ask: what does he believe, what are his governing principles? And that, I think, is a trickier question. Well, in the first place, I think that his American exceptionalism is orthodox. He believes the cant. He thinks this is the greatest country in the world, the greatest force for good in history as he himself once put it, although he is plainly willing to go far, far into the supposedly forsworn territory of evil Cheney in pursuit of . . . global freedom? What? Since taking office, he has ratified the policies of domestic surveillance that supposedly marked his predecessors as uniquely intrusive, has continued their policies of detention, has expanded a war, has reaffirmed rendition, i.e. kidnapping, is building a bigger, better concentration camp at Bagram, etc. etc. Practically speaking, he is at least Cheney's equal, with two exceptions. One: he is the president. Two: he is immensely popular.
Many liberals and progressives and suchlike will tell you, and not without some reason, that they oppose these policies now as they did before, that they condemn them in this administration as they did in the last. But it takes no special powers of discernment to see that their hearts aren't in it, that the frequency and fervor of their criticism is greatly diminished, that the prospect of some or other bullshit, half-assed, health-insurance subsidy causes them to pull their punches, and that their temperamental preference for Obama is a fine substitute in their minds for substantive improvement. When they begin suggesting that he be impeached, as they yowled about Cheney, I will take them more seriously in their complaints that I and others like me target them unfairly. They remain "supporters" of this president. Well, why does he need, and why does he deserve anybody's support?
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
You know, the Dalia Lama, yeah, awesome! But he does not represent a belief in liberty. Yes, the Chinese have behaved atrociously, and I am all for Tibetan autonomy, but let us not pretend that his holiness is Thomas Paine. He represents an autocratic, medieval system of clerical feudalism.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The idea that Timothy McVeigh was a dittohead driven to violence by "hate filled rhetoric" is not new, but the evident hysteria of tea-party America has revived the notion in certain segments of liberal America. McVeigh was in reality as far from the Fox News demographic as an American can get, a veteran of the Gulf War who forswore American imperialism in the starkest possible terms, a man of extraordinary dispassion--some would say sociopathy, although I'd disagree--and extreme seriousness of purpose, a man whose grievances against the federal government were far more similar to those held by America's left than by conservative tax complainers. Of course, the left is still largely unable to admit that their political leaders are equally culpable when it comes to the crafting of an overseas hegemon, less yet laying the foundations of a domestic surveillance state. Waco is a tragic accident, and those who see in that Gaza-style assault the creeping of a militarized security apparatus are taken to be mere gun nuts. Bill Clinton, the man who held that you cannot love your country and hate its government, is still revered by the rump left that forms the motivated primary base of the Democratic Party, who don't seem to appreciate the irony of holding up Clinton, a southern conservative, as an exemplar of the popular liberal president.
Now. I have promised, full of fear and trembling, not to say mean things about Digby during these days of awe, so let me offer some modest praise instead. She has plainly recognized that however abhorrent you find the actions of al Qaeda et alia, dismissing Islamic militants and anti-American insurgents as plain "evildoers" without recognizing their full bank of legitimate and illegitimate grievances, without acknowledging a commensurable history of Western violence, is folly and propaganda. They have their reasons. She understands that they aren't motivated by blind hatred, by disdain for "our freedoms," or by anger at "our way of life." Indeed, I suspect she knows as well that many militants, including most suicide bombers, are drawn from the ranks of the educated, from the ranks of professionals . . . that they are, in other words, people able to appreciate the consequences and moment of their actions, not merely brainwashed trash from the slums.
And so I suggest to Digby and to everyone that Timothy McVeigh likewise cannot be understood except by allowing for an understanding of his motives, which were not so-called "eliminationism" nor yet some tawdry mixture of talk-radio vitriol, but rather a serious and evolutionary process whereby a young man of unusual intellectual sensitivity came to believe, not without reason, that the United States Government so traduced that ideals of freedom and liberty, was so violent and unaccountable, that he quite literally went to war against it. It is not to condone his acts to admit as much, and it is a tawdry act of political propaganda to pretend otherwise.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Well, if there's one thing that you can hypothetically know for certain assuming that it turns out to be true, it is that this potential plot would definitely maybe be a potentially serious matter due to the possibility that the participants might at some point have planned to propose it.