Rant: State of My Mind
I've always thought myself a patriotic person - I love this country, I've voted in every major and local election since I was 18, I've worked on campaigns because I believed in the policies of the candidates, I even volunteered 6 months of my life to work 70-90 hours a week for an administration I believed in. Four generations of my family have devoted themselves to military and public service, from grunt infantry to elected office. I still get shivers when I read the preamble.
Something has gone terribly wrong in the last 4 years.
The impeachment made me extrememly bitter towards the neo-republicans. It was apparant to those of us who supported the notion that, while clearly in the wrong, a blow job was no excuse for tossing the consitution under the bus that the whole process was about unseating a popular president. I mean, the shutdown was one thing - it proved some political will and didn't do much permanent damage, but this was something else. I've never believed there was any good intention to any of the proceedings that went on during the Starr investigations. The damage done at the behest of a few well-heeled think tanks and guys like Scaiffe is still hard to estimate.
Then came Florida. It was surreal watching that whole process unfold. It's gotten worse since, but at the time, it was a coup d'etat that played out on CNN as if it were business-as-usual. Between the Tallahassee legislature, James Baker, Katherine Harris and the USSC, they took over the electorate like a bunch of CEO's with no regard for representative democracy, or the rights of the voter. And Gore pretty much wimped out. It was a stolen election, and anyone who's really followed the Harris-ChoicePoint-Texas felon list story knows it was stolen. I think the moment that scared me the most was when my sister, a very anti-conspiratorial, centrist type with lots of political experience, called me the next day and said, "Bush fixed it!". I asked her why she would say that, and she referred to the scene of GHB and GWB sitting on a couch after they'd called florida for Gore, and how calm they looked. Now I know they were sure they'd done all the work necessary to garauntee Florida for Bush, and couldn't have been worried. Florida was a distaster for democracy in this country, and the second manufactured consitutional crises to come from teh GOP in two years.
The first 11 months of GWB was an excercise in jaw dropping. One by one, all f the serious efforts at peace, preservation and unity were stripped of meaning and tossed on the heap of good ideas sacrificed for political favor. I'd paid attention to politics since I was, say, 14 or 15, and I'd never seen anything like it. Sure, Reagan declared national Respect for Law day on the same day the World Court found in favor of Nicaraugua, a ruling we ignored, but the audacity of GWB went way past that. Instead of the ABM treaty, we got Star Wars. Instead of Kyoto, lower emission standards. One idea after another just tumbled out of Heritage, down K street, and right into the exective order. The Energy Commission was just a profanity against open government. Ashcroft was too much a fundamentalist for the people of MO and he became the AG. By the time I woke up to go to work in the Sears Tower on 9/11/01, I was already numb.
Then it happened. Right away, I felt something odd about my reaction. I wasn't surprised at all - all through the late 90's, OBL was public enemy number on. I remember when Durante shot a machine gun on Penn Ave in '94, the SS thought it was Al Quaeda or Islamic Jihad and locked us down for 5 hours on a saturday. Even since the first bombing, we knew they wanted the towers. Everyone who cared about national security knew that it was the prime target. Then the administration came on, first Rice, then Powell, then Rummy, the nfinally GWB, and they all said "we never thought..." and I KNEW it was bullshit. They were just lying, flat out, about the real threat analysis ofthe last, say , 6 years from Langley and the Rentagon. It was curious, but it couldn't be impromptu, it was a single message - we never thought this could happen. Most people know now that we did think it could, and the most prominent people were saying yes, it probably would. We knew about Bojinka, we had written the Northwoods memo in the 50's, this whole style of operation had been considered by pretty much every national seciryt apparatus in the world in the last 20 years or so.
The moment of my complete disconnect with reality was when the plane hit the pentagon. anyone who's ever lived in DC knows that at the first sign of trouble, Andrews scrambles the ready squad and they are all over the capital in about 15 minutes. I saw it happen at least 5 times in less than a year. But ti didn't happen at all. The idea that someone could flay a commercial airliner over the potomac and into pentagon city, after NY had already been hit, well, it just can't happen. But it did. Then, at 5 pm, we had a nearly full dossier of the 19 guys who did it. That's just not possible. In the months that followed, we learned that, in fact, many of those guys are actually still alive, their identities were stolen by other guys who got on the planes, but that's pretty low frequency news, all since forgotten. As are the short sellers on the affected stocks. Dead issue. Lots of red flags all over the place, but everyone too shocked to notice. Serious people are still looking for answers to all the things that went wrong that day, while everyone else was THROTTLED by the administration and a pliant media to get pissesd, point the finger and get ready for a war like no other. World War Three started about a year later, and Cheney now says it will likely last for decades. Iraq was the real target, but the 9/11 attacks created ther pretext we needed, even if we knew they didn't do it. And attacking them has made us less safe according to anyone not on Bush's payroll. The whole situation just stinks to high hell, but don't ask Ailes to worry about it.
Somewhere in the midst of all this, I started rooting against us. I want the bad guys to win. Not take over america or some absurd notion like that, I'm no fear monger reading wolfowitz & pearle's strangelovian predictions, I think those are pretty much just propaganda machines who happen to have the pulpit at the moment. I mean we need to be driven out of these countries by their own armies, and we need to accept defeat with humility and not nuke them for spite. The hypocrisy needs to end, we're completely confused about the truth anymore, and the people of this country have never been so horribly misinformed about basic realities of the political landscape their plowing their hummers through. I don't see the world in black and white, nor am I a relativist. I just don't think the world can take this country too much longer without risking total annihiliation via weapons of mass destruction, which we continue to build and deploy. It's been 50 years since Einstein and Russell wrote the definitive statement on the survival of mankind in the context of modern warfare, and we couldn't be going faster in the wrong direction. I feel like we NEED to lose for the world to win.
So when he takes the podium tomorrow night, I expect him to lie, to prevaricate, to twist meanings in new and insidious ways, and to defy every line of reasoning ever declared sacrosanct in the history of public service. In short, I expect him to committ treason from paragraph one. And I will feel wholly and completely ashamed of my flag, and the cronies who wave it when it suits them. I'll wonder what my dad would have thought, a veteran and liberal. I'll worry about the guys, some of whom are my family, in Tikrit and Fallujah, and I'll hope they make it out of there alive and not fucked in the head. I'll think about the increasing crime in my city, the decrease in affordable housing and jobs in my neighborhood, and I will expect nothing from him about any of the real problems facing america. And then I'll watch him drum up another war, delcare another enemy, or announce a new NSS that will undoubtedly win the Posts edboard approval on Wednesday, and get some sort of , yes but, from the Times. I'll listen to Pelosi afterward, think about how completely unlikely it is that her criticisms will catch on in the press. And, as I have so often lately, I'll feel like a helpless plebe in an autocratic system which doesn't weant to know I exist until its time to tax me or arrest me for opposing them.
I need this to change. A lot of us do.