Saturday, September 22, 2007

Harbingers of Doom or Another Week in the Life of Bush's America

"The most merciful thing in the the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents." H.P. Lovecraft

I think Lovecraft may have had in mind a week such as the one just past when he uttered those words. Certainly correlating seemingly unrelated events would leave one with a distinct feeling of unease regarding the United States and its continued headlong surge into moral and financial bankruptcy courtesy of the Bush administration. Tear yourself away from the latest O.J. spectacle and consider the following:

The failure of the U.S. congress to restore habeas corpus by a 56-43 vote in the senate that fell just short of invoking cloture.
A similar debacle regarding the "Webb Amendment" to allow troops in combat equal amounts of time off to attempt to recover. Once again failure to invoke cloture, which raises some uncomfortable questions as noted at the Daily Kos:

"But why would anyone agree to allow Republicans, who are already on pace to shatter all previous filibuster records, to stop an amendment this important and this sensible without even lifting a finger? And the question here is not just why anyone would allow it, but why everyone did. A single Senator could have put a stop to this simply by saying, "I object" when the unanimous consent request was made. Just one Senator.

Yet none did.

Not Harry Reid. Not Russ Feingold. Not Bernie Sanders.


And so the Webb amendment died quietly yesterday, allowing Republicans to enjoy all the obstructionist benefits of a filibuster, without having to stand up and tell Americans and their fighting men and women in the military exactly what they were doing. And not a moment was "wasted" on the "extended debate" that's supposed to make up a filibuster.

Everyone just politely agreed that 56-44 would be a losing vote for America's sons and daughters wearing the uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan. And they did it on national television. And America yawned, hit the snooze button, and slept in."

Even more unsettling questions and observations are raised at which makes one wonder if the American political process offers any solutions at all.

"The great debate about Iraq is not, and never really was, about what we should do in Iraq. No matter how many Iraqis have died or become refugees thanks to the Bush intervention, they remain largely ignored bit players in our central drama, which is, and always was, about what we will make of America. Now, the outcome of that debate is coming more clearly into view and it's not a pretty picture. The compromise the two parties are hammering out on Iraq policy reflects a deeper compromise the public seems to be groping toward on national identity -- between who we are in reality (pragmatic, if sidelined, civilians who know a war is badly lost and want to end it) and who we are in our imaginations (heroic soldiers proving our character in the theater of war).

All theater, all storytelling, rests on the power of illusion and the willing suspension of disbelief. Bush and the Republicans have repeatedly given millions of doubters a chance to suspend their post-Vietnam disbelief in traditional tales of American character; the Democrats have given millions of doubters a chance to suspend their disbelief that the will of the people can make any difference whatsoever. The two parties join together to give the whole nation a chance to believe that a fierce debate still rages about whether or not to end the war. That political show we can expect to go on at least until Election Day 2008.

And we can expect both parties, and the media who keep the show going, to abide by an unspoken agreement that one kind of question will never be asked, because the tension it raises might be unbearable: Is it moral for our troops to occupy another country for years, bomb its cities and villages, and kill untold numbers of people halfway across the planet? If the script ever makes room for that question, we'll be able to watch -- and participate in -- a far more profound debate about the war."

Meanwhile other chickens came home to roost, the dollar slowly drifted downward against the Canadian loonie and the Russian ruble among others. The real measure of value is now energy rather than the currency of a country unable to come up with a coherent national energy policy that doesn't involve military domination of petroleum production in distant parts of the world. Which brings up the latest record setting price of oil and its inconvenient implications for the future.

No comments: