May 03, 2008

The Nightmare Made Real: Torture, Murder and Endless Horror Institutionalized and Normalized -- by Democrats

I didn't want to write this post. It gives me no pleasure of any kind finally to have to make certain judgments, and to recognize that it is almost impossible that there will ever be any reason to revise or amend them. I have been very harsh in my evaluation of the Democrats and those who ceaselessly work for Democratic electoral victory -- as two examples: here, before the 2006 elections, and here, just the other day. Nonetheless, I still had clung to an exceedingly slim thread of hope -- a hope that at least a few of the Democrats and/or their supporters would choose to act on behalf of the sanctity of human life, of civilization, of the most basic sense of decency. That hope is now gone, probably forever.

You desperately need to understand this: the next President of the United States, no matter who it is, will enter office knowing that he or she can systematically and regularly authorize torture, order mass murder, direct the United States military to engage in one campaign of criminal conquest and genocide after another, oversee uncountable acts of inhumanity and barbarity -- and he or she will never be challenged or called to account in any manner whatsoever. It may have taken the Bush administration two terms to bring us to the point where such evils are committed and even boasted about in broad daylight, while almost no one even notices -- but this will be where the next President starts.

And for this monstrous, unforgivable fact, you can thank the Democrats and those who whore themselves for the Democrats' success in our disgustingly meaningless elections.

My thoughts on this issue coalesced as I read Chris Floyd's recent essay. Floyd writes:
We've examined various aspects of America's Torture State many times at this site (most recently here), but in his latest column, Ted Rall pulls it all together and provides a succinct and powerful bill of indictment (excerpts below), drawing the only conclusion that anyone not corrupted or cowed into servility can possibly draw: George W. Bush and his chief advisers should be arrested and tried on charges of torture and murder.

Anyone who actually believed in democracy and the rule of law -- anyone who actually believed that the constitutional republic of the United States was worth preserving and strengthening -- anyone who had even a vestigial sense of morality or the most flickering commitment to the idea of justice -- would already be calling for the prosecution of Bush and his minions for these capital crimes. This goes double for anyone in public life, holding public office, with a national platform to speak from, and institutional tools at their disposal for investigating these crimes.

So where are these voices in the citadel of power calling for justice to be done? They are silent. In both houses of Congress, in both major parties, they are silent. On the campaign trail, preening before the public as wise and virtuous leaders worthy to lead a nation, they are silent.

It is clear -- clear beyond all doubt or dispute -- that our public officials do not believe in democracy and law. They don't want to preserve the constitutional republic. They have no sense of morality or the slightest commitment to justice. If they did, they would already be taking action, standing up, leading the nation out of this blood-drenched cesspit.
Floyd notes that none of those who will be our next President believes "in law, or justice, or the republic." Not Hillary Clinton or John McCain, and certainly not Barack Obama, who is "changing the very nature of politics" -- but who believes "impeachment should be reserved for 'exceptional circumstances.' And outright violations of United States law against torture and murder are not, in Obama's eyes, exceptional circumstances." Anyone who continues to believe that Obama is notably, uniquely "idealistic" and "different" in some fundamental way from all politicians who have come before is viciously, dangerously, nauseatingly self-deluded.

In "The Barren, Deadly Wasteland that Is Now Our Life," I wrote:
[T]he Democrats say that they now oppose the invasion and occupation of Iraq. But they consistently and adamantly refuse to recognize the criminal nature of what the U.S. has done. At worst, they will say that the invasion of Iraq was a monumental "blunder," and that the invasion and occupation have been executed "incompetently." They cannot and will not say that we have committed a crime of historic proportions. According to the Democrats, if we had committed the crime efficiently, all would be well. In addition, despite all their pathetic mewling that they can't, they just can't end the criminal occupation of Iraq, the Democrats could do exactly that within months. They won't -- while they continue to insist that this "blunder" is profoundly damaging our country. In a similar manner, the Democrats say they oppose an authoritarian executive branch, and that they oppose the incipient dictatorship at home. Despite these protestations, they permitted the Military Commissions Act to pass -- and they have provided no indication whatsoever that they propose to repeal it. The Democrats helped pass the FISA bill several months ago -- an act that significantly increases the government's surveillance powers. At every opportunity, the Democrats either fail to mount any serious opposition or they actively support the further means to a more oppressive government. (In fact, and as I have explained in detail - see "Blinded by the Story" and "Cui Bono?" -- the Republicans and Democrats do not disagree about fundamentals; they both work toward worldwide American hegemony in foreign policy, and toward a corporatist-authoritarian state at home.)

So which is worse? Those who support evil, but insist they believe it is good? Or those who support evil while claiming, at least some of the time, that they actually know it is evil? I didn't write that post in the form I originally planned for only one reason: given the nature of the evil involved -- the complete destruction of liberty domestically and an unending series of murderous, ungraspably destructive wars abroad -- I consider distinctions of this kind ultimately to be morally insignificant to the point of invisibility. The only fact that matters is that Republicans and Democrats -- two or three honorable exceptions aside -- all act to destroy liberty and to further criminal war abroad. But in a psychological sense, I probably would have to say the Democrats (and certain of their apologists) are worse: to say you recognize evil to any extent at all, yet to fail to oppose it or, which is still more reprehensible, to act for its furtherance, consigns one to the lowest rung of Hell.
You may now remove the "probably" from the last sentence of that excerpt. There is no question in my mind that the Democrats and their whore apologists -- including their supporters and apologists among the progressive bloggers -- are worse, and much more sickening. To repeatedly and loudly insist that you view certain policies and behaviors as evil, while you simultaneously do nothing of any significance to oppose them or slow them down or, still worse, act to further them, requires a lethal, murderous dishonesty that should be deeply sickening to any semi-decent human being.

Others sometimes note (as I do, too, usually with much bitter regret) that my record of predictions is amazingly accurate, not that this fact matters a damn to anyone. I now provide you with a few further predictions. Let us assume that the Democrats win the White House and also establish significant majorities in both houses of Congress. I tell you now that we will still be in Iraq in five years, and even ten (and more); I tell you that it is almost certain the next President will order an attack on Iran, if Bush does not before he leaves office; I tell you that the Military Commissions Act will not be repealed, which means that the basic blueprint for a dictatorship -- one which employs torture as a legitimized instrument of the state -- will remain the law of the land. For several years, and many times a day now during campaign season, the Democrats and their supporters tell everyone who will listen that they are different from the evil Republicans -- that the Democrats will end the occupation of Iraq -- that the Democrats will restore the rule of law and the blessed innocence of our constitutional republic (which assumes that such innocence ever existed, which it emphatically did not). All of it is a series of monstrous lies. With regard to the most fundamental policies, the Democrats will change absolutely nothing. Indeed, most Democrats support all these policies to varying degrees.

Ted Rall writes:
George W. Bush has publicly confessed that he ordered torture, thus violating the Convention Against Torture. He, Cheney, Rumseld, Rice and the other Principals must therefore be arrested and, unlike the thousands of detainees kidnapped by the U.S. since 9/11, arraigned and placed on trial.

Because the torture ordered by Bush and his cabinet directly resulted in death, they must additionally be charged with several counts of murder. Fifteen U.S. soldiers have been charged with the murders of two detainees at the U.S. airbase at Bagram, Afghanistan in 2002. They were following orders issued by their Commander-in-Chief and his Principals.


If George W. Bush were an ordinary citizen, there can be little doubt that he would face a long prison sentence for the scores of acts of torture he authorized both specifically and generally. Four of the seven white hillbillies charged with the kidnap-torture of a black woman in Logan County, West Virginia are now in jail for at least the next ten years.

If Bush weren't president, he would face murder charges. The maximum sentence in a federal murder case is death.

If Bush and his co-conspirators are not above the law, if the United States remains a nation where all citizens are equal, they must be arrested and indicted. But by whom?


[L]eaving the presidency in the hands of an self-admitted torture killer is unacceptable. Congress could ask a U.S. Marshal to arrest Bush as part of impeachment charges. But the ultimate outcome — removing him from office a few months before the end of his term — seems woefully inadequate given the nature of the charges. In any case, Democrats have already said that impeachment is "off the table."

Bush could be extradited to one of the countries where the torture and murders were committed — such as Afghanistan or Cuba. But he could claim immunity as a head of state.

There is, however, a person who could begin holding Bush and the others accountable for their crimes.

She is Cathy L. Lanier, the 39-year-old chief of D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department. Chief Lanier, take note: you have probable cause to arrest a self-confessed serial torturer and mass murderer within the borders of the District of Columbia. He resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Go get him.
It is the judgment of the Democrats -- and it is the judgment of Barack Obama -- that none of these acts merit impeachment. None of these acts is "exceptional." Thus, the next President will take office knowing that he or she can repeatedly commit and order torture, murder and genocide, proclaim those acts before the world, and nothing at all will happen to him. He will never be called to account. The next President will take office knowing that he is not just above the law, but entirely outside it: the law has nothing whatsoever to do with him. For this, you can thank the Democrats and their refusal to act in any manner against these criminals.

Because most people still do not understand what I was talking about, I repeat once more the "dare" that I discussed in, "Cui Bono? -- and Bush's Monstrous, Deadly Dare":
It is true that the style of the Bush administration is notably crude and aggressive. But if genuine, widespread opposition to the administration's policies had existed, Bush would never have been able to enact his program in the first place -- and the Democratic Congress would not ratify and sanctify his crimes, as they have done and continue to do. When one appreciates the historic continuity which gave rise to this abominable administration and without which this administration would not have been possible, and when one considers the particular style in which Bush, Cheney and the rest present their program, it is as if they are saying -- both to the nominal "opposition" party and to all Americans:
We're doing what this government has done for over a hundred years. We start wars of aggression to establish American dominance around the world. We began that policy in the 1890s, and we've never stopped. Sometimes we do it through covert operations, and by toppling regimes that won't do as we demand. Sometimes we simply invade and bomb them.

And we've used torture as a standard means of warfare for decades. We just used to hide it better, and we had better PR about how we weren't "really like that." Some of you even said you wanted torture to be brought out "into the open." So we did that.

Beginning with Woodrow Wilson and even before that, the ruling class has wanted a powerful police state here at home. We never kept it a secret, but we made it go down more easily with flowery talk and nice phrases.

We decided to do away with all the camouflage. We recognized what the actual aims had been all along and we agreed with them, so we decided to bring it all out into the open. We didn't want to waste time with all those nice speeches that make people feel better about themselves. Oh, sure, we still do that to some extent. We have to, because you're not willing to face the truth about what we've been doing around the world for 60 years and more, and what we do today.

But we stripped away a lot of the delusions. We knew no one would stop us -- because this is what you've wanted all along, and it's what you want now. You like making the rest of the world do what we tell them. You enjoy it. And whenever you have the slightest excuse for it, real or imagined, wide scale murder doesn't bother you in the least.

You like it. It's what you want. If it isn't, why don't you stop us? You could, you know. If enough of you made your objections known in ways that mattered, we'd have to stop. We're not worried, because we know you won't.

But go ahead. Try to stop us. Try to stop this war and the wars to come, and the mass slaughter, and the growing authoritarianism. Aren't you going to at least try? Aren't you?

Go ahead. We dare you.
In "The Barren, Deadly Wasteland Further Considered, and the New Normal," I wrote about this dare:
The Bush administration has announced to the world, and to all Americans, that this is what the United States now stands for: a vicious determination to dominate the world, criminal, genocidal wars of aggression, torture, and an increasingly brutal and brutalizing authoritarian state at home. That is what we stand for.

And who says otherwise? The Democrats could -- and the most forceful means of doing so, the only method that is appropriate to this historic moment, the method that is absolutely required if we are to turn away from this catastrophic, murderous course, is impeachment. That 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.

So the dare goes unanswered. These horrors are what the United States now stands for.
Saying that they believe them to be necessary and even good, the Republicans commit endless horrors day after day, and year after year. The Democrats and their abjectly awful supporters constantly proclaim their moral superiority and their condemnation of these same horrors. Yet they do nothing to stop them; in many instances, they actively abet them and widen their scope.

It is unspeakably evil to inflict a long, excruciatingly painful death on any human being, and particularly on one who has done nothing to deserve punishment. But how much more evil is it to tell the person who suffers unbearable agony that there is a way out, that he has a choice, that he can still escape, that he can still live, that his pain will be relieved -- when you know that all of it is a lie, and when you will make certain that he suffers for a still longer period of time, and that he will suffer in ways he has never dreamt of? Yet this is what the Democrats and their inhuman supporters do repeatedly, blood-drenched day after murderous day. In our political system today, you have only this choice: you may support monsters who tell you they are monsters in advance, or you may support monsters who insist they are not monsters and are opposed to everything the monsters do and represent -- while they act just as the monsters do. The first will torture you until you lose your mind, and then they will murder you -- as they told you they would. The second will torture you until you lose your mind, and then they will murder you -- and until your last moment of consciousness, they will demand that you thank them for giving you a "choice."

They are all monsters, but the second kind of monster adds another layer of immense dishonesty -- and an unspeakable degree of sadism.

And still, most Americans who vote will vote for one of the monsters. Most Americans will do nothing to stop this evil. In various ways, most Americans support it.

Why? In God's name, why do you do it?