Happy talk

It would be hard to sum up current right wing ideological support of American reversion to Middle Ages brutality and arrogance any better than Andrew Sullivan does here, discussing a recent gleeful performance by right-wing-apologist-and-ideologue-extraordinaire Dr. Charles Krauthammer. Krauthammer more or less abandons the so-called ticking time bomb fantasy as a justification for torture and gets right to it, noting that in 2002, the US of A had minimal intel as to what al Qaeda might be up to next, so torture got down to it quickly. (Sullivan notes that Krauthammer avoids the word torture, though it is clear that Krauthammer is giddy that we do it; this is a pretty good analog for our entire country and body politic at this point– there seem no limits on how egregious actual executive conduct may be, as long as the proper code words are used, which can be duly endorsed by the spin machine, and if necessary, partisan judges.)
Jim Henley picks up the riff, and notes that not only does one of our two political parties regard torture as “acceptable”… it regards it as awesome.
And here we are: while Mike Huckabee’s Bible thumping credentials make him an attractive candidate to many in his party, he is being chided by some of his rivals for not himself embracing arbitrary detentions, if not torture and barbarity, to the degree they do!
This is all remarkable to me, on so many levels (warning: meta-personal-comment to follow). Yes, I was personally angry on September 11th itself… but I was as much, or more, angry with our own government and its inability to protect us, and worse, its inability even to be around (our nominal head of state, rather than head to the nearest military base, i.e. the one he took off from, and try to mount some kind of “a defense”, or even the appearance of one, went on an ass-covering trans-continental rudderless joy-ride, while the mantle of leadership instead fell to local martinet Rudy Giuliani, himself probably single-handedly responsible for hundreds of needless deaths on 9-11 because of years of his own mismanagement of emergency services, including not providing working radios for firefighters and for locating an emergency response center in the target. (BTW, my fair State’s former governor, was in a position to take charge, as the WTC was, after all, on State land; instead he chose to hide in the shadows behind Giuliani. Had he not done so, he would doubtless be the frontrunner for his party’s Presidential nomination, instead of the crazed, corrupt, and God damn it, evil Rudy. But I digress.)
My point is that, having witnessed the events of 9-11 myself from across the God damned street, walked home through the maelstrom, pretended the normalcy of even going to court, as if the trial I had on for that day in lower Manhattan would still go on as if nothing happened, and then finding poison-laced dust everywhere, all over the car and the house and everything else, WTC office documents wafting into the yard, a pall over everything, news provided by a perpetually on television as, other than periodic phone calls to people I hadn’t talked to for a while to recount that I was, indeed, alive (as was my brother, who also worked a block from the WTC, and dived out of the way of the dust cloud from one of the collapsed towers)…
Anyway, the emotion that day was anger, and for a while, fear, and then, when I found out I lost my job, as my office was displaced, anger again, and then I got another job, and resignation, and then… well, ultimately, you deal.
But the United States of America didn’t deal. It didn’t sit down, assess wtf happened, and respond in a careful and intelligent way. It did in part, of course, attacking and displacing the Taliban harborers of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. But then, we refused to invest enough boots on the ground to finish the chase and take out OBL and al-Zawahiri and AQ command once and for all (and they are still around and at large, over 6 years later, even as hundreds languish pointlessly at Guantanamo Bay and perhaps thousands elsewhere in the new American presence in the world, our “secret prisons”). While capturing some big AQ fish (mostly with the help of our duplicitous friends in Pakistan), we then proceeded to blow even that by quickly abandoning slow, boring interrogation and going to torture. We squandered our moral authority with Guantanamo, ghost prisons, renditions and outsourced torture, and then ultimately with the huge waste of blood and treasure in Iraq, and ultimately, we got Abu Ghraib and… well, you know the rest. [And yet, despite it being clear to many Americans that their government’s response to the events of September 11th left quite a bit to be desired, voted with their spleens, and reelected said government. Anyway, that’s democracy for you, or the American version of it.]
The point is, though, that this is a Constitutional democracy: it is understood that there are limits. Or it was, anyway. Apparently, it is no longer. Other people have their fantasies of the events of 9-11 justifying just about anything, and although they are dwindling in number, enough of them, like Dr. Krauthammer, are, sadly, still influential, and buttress the most egregious abuses of what we all thought this nation stood for. And they’d God damned better stop– or at least, cease being influential– or this nation will just be Argentina with nuclear weapons and not-as-good-steak in no time at all.
This has been “Happy talk”.