November 28, 2007


Every now and then, when I am in a particularly self-punishing mood and feel I deserve some suffering for my sins, real or imagined, I read comment threads on various blogs, where commenters are debating the merits and failings of a minor league blogger who goes by the name Arthur Silber. As I say, I only engage in this ill-advised practice on rare occasions; besides, my writing isn't discussed that much by anyone, so it's not as if the opportunity arises with any regularity.

One comment that I've seen more than a few times typically goes like this: "Silber has been amazingly prescient. Everything he's predicted has come true. Everything. I don't know how he does it." That's all very nice, and I also think it happens to be true. But when I first saw this sort of remark a year or so ago, I would usually get very angry. I wanted to shout, or at least add a comment of my own, all in capital letters: "SO WHY WON'T YOU LISTEN TO ME NOW?" The primary subject about which I would have such thoughts is the one that ought to concern everyone, the only subject that matters now in terms of what it could mean for the future of the world, and of the United States: the probability of an attack on Iran.

Did you hear that? An attack on Iran.

Do you understand what I'm saying? A LIKELY ATTACK ON IRAN.

Never mind. The point is that even commenters who offer this kind of praise for my musings will not listen to me now, despite what they themselves admit is a track record of 100% accuracy, or as close to 100% accuracy as anyone is likely to come. For such commenters always go on to add: "Oh, but I don't read him regularly. I can't. He's just too damned depressing."

Please note that they do not contend that I'm wrong or inaccurate in what I see coming down the road. They acknowledge that I've been right before, and that I'm probably right now. But they would prefer not to think about it. It's just too depressing, doncha know. Of course, this is an entirely valid and useful approach to politics, and to life in general. When the deadly boulder topples over the edge of the cliff and is headed toward a landing directly on top of where you're standing below, it's always most advisable to close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears, and say over and over and over again: "It's not happening! There's no boulder! It will be fine! NOTHING'S WRONG!! IT'S NOT HAPPENING!!!!"

Those of us who survive what may be coming will do our best to scoop up your pitifully splattered remains, and give you a decent burial. Never let it be said that we are disrespectful, or vindictive in even the smallest degree. We shall honor your memory, just as it deserves to be honored.

Many people consider it bad form to say, "I told you so." But I have, in detail, on many different subjects, most importantly in connection with trying to prevent terrible future events. Have I mentioned the likelihood of AN ATTACK ON IRAN? Forget it. Oh, you already have. Good for you! Anyway, only a few people listen to me -- I'm such a downer -- so what the hell.

For many months, I have been saying that this Democratic Congress would never, ever impeach anyone in the Bush administration. I said it in "Blinded by the Story":
But for the reasons set forth above (and a full case would fill many volumes), the Democrats are not going to impeach any of these criminals, barring events entirely unforeseeable at present. And they will not for one overwhelmingly significant and determinative reason: always with regard to the underlying principles, and frequently with regard to the specifics, the Democrats are implicated in every single crime with which they would charge the members of the administration. The Republicans' crimes are their crimes.
I said it in "From the Department of Not Going to Happen":
Of course, if the Democrats had any convictions that were genuinely opposed to the corporatist, authoritarian, warfare state, they would begin impeachment proceedings against both Bush and Cheney immediately upon Congress's return in September (and they would have begun them months ago) -- because impeachment is deserved 1,000 times over in both cases, and because such proceedings might make an attack on Iran less likely. That would also assume that the Washington Democrats had some strategic smarts.

Democrats with deeply held convictions that impelled them to principled action that was not guaranteed to be successful, and clever about the implementation of a plan -- one that didn't directly concern an election -- that demanded their careful attention for more than a week or two? Excuse me for a moment.

Sorry. I had to collapse to the floor in helpless laughter for a few minutes, and then slowly pull myself back up so I could get to the keyboard.
I said it again recently, in "Get Out the Razor":
So impeachment WON'T hurt the Democrats politically. Not even in terms of 2008. Why, it might HELP them -- and help them to an overwhelming victory. Not incidentally, it would also signal to the world that there are at least some people in our national life who give a damn about the Constitution, about the law (including international law), about moral law, about the value of human life, about civilization, about decency. It might save us from being unceremoniously heaved into the filthiest of trash heaps, where we deservedly belong.

More and more Democrats themselves admit that impeachment is the unquestionably appropriate remedy, and fully DESERVED. It won't hurt them politically. So why won't they do it?

One more time -- first, what I said that is excerpted above:
[Impeachment] is the one method the Democrats will categorically, absolutely not utilize -- because the Democrats are a crucial, inextricable part of the identical authoritarian-corporatist system that has led us to these horrors. They have all worked toward this end over many decades, Democrats and Republicans alike, and now the horrors manifest themselves explicitly, without apology, even with the sickening boastfulness of the mass murderer who is proud of what he has done, and who vehemently believes he is right.
Or as I put it in an earlier essay:

Try to grasp this finally, before it is too late: the Democrats may differ from the Republicans on matters of detail, or emphasis, or style. But with regard to the fundamental political principles involved, everything that has happened over the last six years -- just as is the case with everything that has happened over the last one hundred years -- is what the Democrats want, too.

This should not be a difficult point to understand. The historical record is compelling in its clarity, and overpowering in its length and volume. A corporatist, authoritarian state is what the ruling elites want, and it is precisely what serves their interests, Republican and Democrat alike. They know it; they count on your inability or refusal to see it.
That's why they won't do it. That's why impeachment is "off the table." Try, please try for crap's sake, to understand this. I am weary of explaining it.

But I will keep explaining it, until at least 15 of you get it. At the current rate, I expect that to take until 2018.

Even now, I'm an optimist. Go figure.
And I've said it in a number of other posts.

In the latest installment of my "Final Descent" series, I mentioned an illuminating conversation between Jonathan Turley and Randi Rhodes, on Rhodes' radio show. The topic on that occasion was the increasingly widespread use of a specific form of police intimidation typical of a more and more tyrannical state. When the police approach or question you, even if you have done absolutely nothing criminal and nothing wrong at all, if you do anything that the police may later construe as "resisting arrest," they will arrest you for resisting arrest -- even if there had been nothing to arrest you for in the first instance. Oh, my, you are thinking. Why that means the police could arrest anyone -- and everyone! Exactly. The state and the numerous representatives who execute its authority understand that; it's time more of you did.

Rhodes invited Turley to be her guest again today. Their discussion began with the government's systematic abuse of the state secrets privilege: how the government uses the privilege to shield itself from the exposure of any and all of its many criminal acts. Invoke the state secrets privilege, and the case is stopped dead in its tracks. Eventually, when the privilege is invoked a sufficient number of times and on enough points critical to a specific case, the lawsuit goes away entirely.

They then turned to impeachment, and why it is not going to happen -- and exactly how the Democrats are doing everything in their power to make certain it doesn't happen. Rhodes said she wanted Turley to explain his views, because Turley's insights had helped to make clear what Rhodes herself had not been able to understand. Rhodes said she hadn't understood at all why the Democrats wouldn't pursue hearings and investigations more aggressively, why they keep talking about retroactive immunity for the telecom companies (see "It's Called the Ruling Class Because It Rules," for a discussion of that and related subjects), and in general why the Democrats act like a pathetic, horribly abused dog that is regularly beaten almost to death. (If you'd been reading my blog, Randi, you would have understood it months ago! No, on this point I am not remotely humble.) For all the good they've done on any subject of importance, the Democrats might as well have taken the last year off. That could only have been an improvement. They have turned themselves into almost non-existent blobs of putrefying flesh, without the excuse of being non-existent or dead.

So if you didn't believe it when I said it, listen up. Here is what Turley had to say. The Democrats will never pursue hearings or investigations of the Bush administration beyond a certain point the Democrats consider "safe," they will not object to the administration derailing any case of moment by invoking the state secrets privilege, they keep telecom immunity alive, and the Democrats act in countless other ways to bury and cover up the crimes of the Bush gang, because there is one eventuality they fear more than any other: if there were ever to be a finding -- by a court, in Congressional committee, or anywhere else -- that the Bush administration, including the president himself, in fact ordered criminal acts, then they would have to begin impeachment hearings. It is inconceivable that even this repellent Congress could ignore, for example, a court determination that Bush had ordered torture -- which, as Turley pointed out, would constitute a war crime as defined by U.S. courts. The same would be true of any finding that the administration, perhaps including the president himself, had committed a crime by ordering illegal domestic surveillance.

Turley additionally noted that this is why the Democrats went out of their way to "save" the administration on the Mukasey nomination. The Democrats, or at least key Democratic leaders, didn't want Mukasey to say that water boarding constitutes torture. That would mean that administration officials had committed a war crime -- again, as defined by U.S. courts. They would have to begin impeachment hearings, once the meaning of the admission sank in. So the Democrats made certain that the question could be avoided, and that Mukasey was confirmed by a comfortable margin (see, "There Is No 'Lesser' Evil Now").

The broader point that Turley went on to make is the one I've made repeatedly, in the essays linked above and in others as well. "These are not principled people in this city," Turley correctly noted. He said he was sorry to have to say it, but it's the inescapable truth. Turley said that, with regard to the most critical dynamics in play, party designations don't matter much at all: "They don't believe in principle. They believe in power."

Turley thus made precisely the same point that I made in an article I wrote just before the 2006 elections:
Ah, but the Democrats will investigate the Bush administration's endless crimes. The investigations will restore honesty, decency and "true" American values to government. All the universes will be saved! Do people actually believe this nonsense? All such investigations will be exactly like all other government investigations of itself. People seem congenitally incapable of grasping that all politicians are now part of the same corrupt system, which aims only to protect itself and its existing prerogatives, as it simultaneously seeks to expand them. (The exceptions in the political class are so few that they don't matter.) In the end, all such investigations and committee hearings will conclude just as the 9/11 investigation concluded (and any other investigation you care to name): some criticisms will be made, general fault will be found but no one in particular will be condemned in terms that might cause distress, and some new guidelines and regulations will be proposed and enacted. Neither party wants to judge the other too harshly or cause irreparable harm: they don't want to, because they count on the same consideration in return. Both parties are happy to accede to this deal, for it is precisely how their system continues on its merry course, guaranteeing their lives of immense comfort and privilege, together with their hold on power. Many of the rest of us, both here and abroad, will be screwed, maimed or dead -- and just when exactly did that concern the governing class?
Do you understand now? Do you finally get it? I truly am weary of explaining facts that should be obvious to a not very bright, woefully underachieving six-year-old -- particularly when I'm dealing with adults who are resolutely determined to render themselves deaf, dumb and blind in perpetuity.

There is still a chance -- now a very dim and remote one, I grant you -- to prevent an attack on Iran. Here's that detailed program again, with a more recent version of part of it in the concluding part of this essay.

Oh, that's right. You don't want to hear about any of that. It's just too goddamned depressing.

God, most Americans are abysmally pathetic. I don't know why I even bother any longer.