Friday, November 04, 2005

The World Can't Stand It

Bush's approval rating has sunk even lower, to 35%. Everyone hates him! Yesterday, when he arrived in Argentina for the Summit of Americas, he was greeted by tens of thousands of angry protesters. Also yesterday, when Sisk and I met at Union Square for the exuberant World Can't Wait march, we eventually noticed a tiny cadre of ten or fifteen people standing on the other side of Broadway. They comprised the most pitiful counter-protest I've ever seen. They had awkwardly haughty grins on their faces, and signs which said "Hippies Go Home" and "Bush/Cheney '04 - New Jersey." Now, obviously, we "hippies" were home, whereas they lived in New Jersey.

Across from this miserable handful of blowhards, there were hundreds of people, filling Union Square. (Half of them were New York City high school students who'd walked out of class to participate in the protest.) It really was an accurate picture of America at the moment. A vast majority demanding the overthrow of the corrupt and murderous Bush regime -- and a few others, on the sidelines, insisting that the corrupt and murderous Bush regime is just swell.

That opinion is a dying one, as evidence of the administration's corruption and murderousness grows heftier by the day. On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the CIA has been secretly holding and interrogating terror suspects, in the complete absence of oversight, at former Soviet camps in Poland and Romania.

From The Guardian:

"Poland and Romania were identified as the main sites after Human Rights Watch studied the logs of a Boeing 757 jet -- with a tailplane registration N313P -- which is widely alleged to fly terror suspects outside the US. The group found that in September 2003 the plane flew from Kabul to Szymany airport near the Polish town of Szczytno, north of Warsaw, where a training camp for the Polish intelligence service is based. From there it flew to the Mihail Kogalniceanu military air base near the Romanian city of Constanta on the Black Sea -- which the Pentagon has been upgrading -- before heading to Morocco and then on to Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, the notorious prison for al-Qaida suspects. Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch said: 'It is highly probable that the flight was transporting prisoners because Guantánamo was the final destination ... We do not believe the stops were for refueling -- if you're flying from Kabul to Guantánamo Bay you do not stop off at a small rural airfield in Poland, head south to Romania before flying to Cuba via Morocco.'"

The Bush administration thinks it can do whatever it wants to, but this strategy has been failing wildly. Like no administration before it, the Bush organization has replaced the common sense of good governing with the facile sloganeering of political campaigning. These people are capable of manufacturing a few endlessly-repeated, lofty-sounding phrases for the cable news networks. They're capable of branding all dissent as anti-American. They're capable, basically, of running an extremely nasty and underhanded perpetual political campaign. When it comes to governing, though, they're worth less than shit. A quick survey of American history since 2000 suggests that we'd all be a lot better off if the Bush administration simply never showed up for work.

But of course, it's not just the Bush administration. It's also the majority of the Republican Party, which has transformed a system of checks and balances into an approval machine. Yesterday, by a vote of 51 to 48, the Senate approved drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And you know what that gets for us? One million barrels of oil a day, in 2025. Currently, this country uses twenty million barrels a day, and 60% of our oil is imported. Opening ANWR for drilling means that by 2025, we may be using 64% imported oil, as opposed to 68% if we opted not to destroy North America's Serengeti.

Now, wouldn't it make more sense to put some of this money -- perhaps some of the $2 billion we're spending every week to kill Iraqis and Americans for the sake of a new Islamic fundamentalist theocracy -- into reducing our dependence on petroleum? Of course it would, but alas, these decisions are being made by people who a) don't care, and b) are in the oil business.

It's easy to say that the Bush administration is the worst in modern American history, but that does it no justice. Even the Vatican, for crying out loud, has just made statements which basically accuse the American radical right of being stuck in religious ignorance! Cardinal Paul Poupard said at a press conference that the faithful knew the danger of science untempered by ethics, "but we also know the dangers of a religion that severs its links with reason and becomes prey to fundamentalism."

That's right, Santorum, he means you. And you too, bin Laden.

"The faithful," said Cardinal Poupard, "have the obligation to listen to that which secular modern science has to offer, just as we ask that knowledge of the faith be taken in consideration as an expert voice in humanity." Getting more specific, Monsignor Gianfranco Basti reminded the room that in 1996, John Paul II had referred to evolution as "more than just a hypothesis. A hypothesis asks whether something is true or false. [Evolution] is more than a hypothesis because there is proof."

But there are a lot of people in the United States, Monsignor, who take that book of yours so literally that proof makes no impression. And there is a political movement in the United States which has figured out that these people can be taught to vote, as long as you explain to them that the other party is a bunch of Satanic homosexuals. Oh, there's not enough of them to win a presidential election, of course. But if you figure out what the key swing states are going to be, and you make sure the highest-ranking members of the state legislature are on your campaign staff, and you prevent black people from voting in those places...then you can be the President of the United States.

But not for long.

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  1. That whole "hippy go home" image perfectly illustrates the battle that has been going on for the past 25 years, starting with Reagan and, hopefully, ending with these incompetent clowns. That is the fight to villify and then erase the human spiritual gains of the sixties. Every pro-war rebuttal I ever hear is worded like it is 1968 and the dissenters are these wild-eyed long hair radicals who want to burn down your house. Completely perposterous, but it works, so they will keep doing it.

    True Story: when I went to the second anti-war protest in midtown (2003?), right after we invaded, the next day my mother called me and asked me why I went? I responded, quite matter of factly, because I am against this war and against the policies of this administration.

    She immediately asked, "But you support the troops right?"

    By that time, my mom rarely left her house and all of her information came lock stock and barrell from the "liberal media." which was telling her that we were all a bunch of crazies, trying to convey the image of Chicago, 1968. Of course, that characterzation was far from the truth because I personally witnessed all walks of life united against this terrible War decision. But that damn "liberal media" sure as hell convinced alot of people back then. How else do you explain the fact that my mother, who knew me for well over thirty years, felt compelled to ask me such a ridiculously arcane system?

    Because we are trained to hate the sixties, and the humanism that decade represents. For Christ's sake, they're still paying attention to Jane Fonda, like anything she does is culturally relevant.

    But this situation also gives me hope because the support for the Neo-Con agenda (made up of all the "high end" draft dodgers from the decade they hate so much) is running on fumes, and no matter how hard the Malkins and the Coulters paint people who genuinely dissent as crazy, irrational maniacs, the more they reveal themselves as people who are small of stature, empty of ideas and full of nothing but the baser emotions with nothing to peddle but their own fear and pain.

    And afterall, in the grand scheme of things, fascism and fear easily win battles but hope and the human spirit will ultimately win the war.

  2. Absolutely, Lawrence. It's amazing how they've inverted the most obvious truths -- creating in many an otherwise reasonable person the insane notion that to "support the troops" is to act as a cheerleader for a war which has needlessly claimed thousands of their lives. Much as the far right loves to invoke Vietnam protest as a smear against the current antiwar movement, I think most of us on the left take that as a compliment. When we think of the Vietnam War, what's the first image that comes into our minds? Thousands of protesters marching on Washington. The antiwar movement worked then, after soldiers started coming home and joining it. And they were able to join it because it existed in the first place. I share your disgust, and also your optimism.

  3. Rumsfeld at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base