Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Where We Is, And Why

But first: Why Not.

Curious how the tenor of our national dialogue has shifted since 2002. Those like myself who opposed going to war in 2003, and articulated those reservations (I did so on the eve and very day of the war's launch, on the now-defunct "The Swamp" board, my personal venue in the equally-defunct "The Kingdom" discussion board which led to this blog), prompted howls of outrage from proponents of the war and pro-Bush devotees. We were wrong, dead wrong, and only ire could result from any attempt at rational conversation.

Now, the sorry nature of the exchange -- such as it was, such as it is -- remains derision, with the almost weekly manifestation of everything the anti-war folks predicted as inevitable outcomes provoking cynical yawns from weary former pro-war, pro-Bush advocates. From next door neighbors and internet penpals to pundits in the public arenas of print, radio and television, those still arguing on behalf of the President and the War(s) seem to derive some perverse satisfaction from saying, "See! I knew that would be your reaction!" Thus, the hard reality is shrugged off, inviting only sarcastic dismissal (at all costs, the 'left' must be kept from being 'right').

The almost weekly outrages from this President and Administration's behavior prompts only further low comedy between those bothering to comment at all in that portion of the blogosphere not specifically dedicated to political dialogue, commentary and the 21st Century mutation of journalism (into whatever the blogosphere has made of that).

The sane response would be, "Why aren't you outraged by this? How can you defend this?" (pick your latest 'this' bon mot), but the 21st Century American pro-war, pro-Bush Rovian tactic of pre-emptive strike ("See! I knew this was gonna get yer goat!") mocks any sane response.

Blowjobs in the White House established the post-Clinton Era threshold for impeachment; President Bush and Vice President Cheney have so repeatedly trumped that level of abhorrent abuse of power, without yet facing any consequences approaching the various witch hunts that characterized Clinton's final term, that the current confrontation mounting between Senate subcommittees finally asserting check-and-balance powers against the Bush/Cheney Executive Branch is also approaching low comedy. Typically, it's the cover-ups rather than the abuses of power acting as lightning rods, and the apologists and conservative pundits 'defending' the Bush Administration in the face of such transparent (and increasingly self-contradictory, as in Cheney's gob-smacking 'executive power' pushme-pullyou lunacy last week) do so primarily by minimizing the scale of abuse: even treason and perjury, it seems, is now fair game. This stance is maintained via sarcasm, caricature and dismissal, keeping the dialogue at the level of junior high bathroom banter.

The blow-jobs have been relegated to the stalls, thank you very much; shadow governments, perjury, fraud, torture, incarceration sans due process or any adherence to international law, suspension and undermining of civil liberties, aggressive deception of the public and their representatives, blatant war profiteering, private armies, etc. (the list is truly mind-boggling) is the order of the day. Even the ongoing flagrant abuse of, lack of care for, and degradation of our all-volunteer military and the flood of veterans (another inevitability many, including yours truly, predicted from day one) is somehow tolerated, somehow tolerable. How can it be that 'Support Our Troops' somehow missed the uppermost chain of command, our own Commander in Chief?

The conceit that any of this is remotely justifiable or defensible behavior, particularly from a President, or somehow in accord with US law, The Bill of Rights and the Constitution -- indeed, somehow essential after 9/11 -- and that the legitimate expression of outrage against any of this is worth a cheap laugh at the outraged citizenry means that our reality simply cannot be rationally discussed any longer.

To ensure the impossibility of any rational assessment or dialogue, the utter trashing of journalism as having any validity or neutral role is essential, and that, indeed, has formulated much of the current dialogue in my own immediate circle of friends.

Sans any possible agreement as to what form of journalism, or what news source, can be considered "fair and unbiased," there is no possible agreement on what constitutes our shared reality.

Thus, as a country, we no longer share a common reality; we cannot even agree on a language with which to converse.

Should we embrace, even momentarily, the rhetoric of the Bible increasingly essential to 21st Century American politics, we can only agree on one thing: we are Babel.

If all sources are suspect (a 'reality' carefully reinforced and orchestrated by this Administration in its selling of the war in 2002-03), we are back in the magical Alice in Wonderland rabbit's hole of the Nixon and Watergate Era and immediate post-Vietnam War (as Gore Videl so succinctly put it):

If there is no truth, there is no reality.

Laugh away, merry pranksters.

Lest you think I'm bumming, folks, in the real world Marge and I had a great July 3rd and savored a blissful evening with friends in nearby Brownsville. Peter and Lucinda Money invited a group of friends together, including ourselves, James and Rachel Sturm (and their daughters Eva and Charlotte), and our visiting family -- son Bill, his wife Rivka and our grandchildren -- to join them high atop the hills overlooking Brownsville.

After sundown, we were gathered atop a firefly-dotted knoll with a perfect view of the fireworks, which were generous and at times spectacular. I toted folding chairs to the event, and sat in mine with my four-year-old grandson on my lap and enjoyed the show.

One can always acknowledge reality, and always enjoy life.

Happy 4th of July, one and all...

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