October 30, 2006

An Election Conceived in Nausea: Why Next Tuesday Matters Not

I confess to feeling a considerable degree of amusement as I watch Democrats and their devoted supporters salivate, drool and otherwise soil themselves in anticipation of their electoral victories. I also confess that, given events of the last several months, I couldn't care less.

My amusement arises chiefly from the central, laughably obvious fact that all these fervent Believers cannot acknowledge. Our liberal evangelists offer their holy hosannas to the notion that the Democrats will "save us" -- "save," that is, the United States, humanity, the globe, and the universe, along with however many parallel worlds there may be. They cannot admit that they will have won absolutely nothing in the affirmative sense, assuming they take the House and/or Senate. The Republicans will simply have lost. More than deservedly, to be sure...but still.

If the Democrats come out of next Tuesday with anything approaching a mandate, it will be one founded in disgust and revulsion at the barbarity and destructiveness of the Bush administration. Since we are talking politics, a victory based solely on singularly repellent negatives will hardly be a cause for concern. When people are after power, they aren't choosy about how they get it. Disgust and nausea are as good a route to power as any.

Some months ago, I tended to the conviction that Bush and his criminal gang are so ungraspably godawful that they had to be stopped, and that the Democrats were the only means of achieving that end. Upon further reflection, and given the Democrats' recent performance, I don't think that any longer. The Democrats have proven themselves to be entirely worthless. They will not stop or even significantly slow down the Bush administration on any issue that matters. If you still believe that voting for Democrats is an infinitesimal hedge against encroaching disaster, I offer my genuine sympathies. I've been there, and was until fairly recently. And hope is a hard thing to give up. I still have some hope, but it is very fragile -- and it is most definitely not founded on anything the Democrats might do.

I will confine my proof to three points of overriding significance. Point One: even though they had several years to prepare for the battle, the Democrats offered only last-minute opposition to the Military Commissions Act. Their campaign against this abomination -- what Jim Bovard accurately calls "the torture/dictatorship law" -- was completely ineffectual. This law guts the basis of our now-dead constitutional republic in as fundamental a manner as possible, and the Democrats and their supporters barely even mention it any longer. Assuming they have majorities in both houses, will the Democrats repeal this vomitous legislation? No, they will not. Their eyes are upon 2008. God forbid that their opponents will be able to accuse them of being "soft" on terrorists, or of depriving the executive branch of the "tools" it allegedly needs to fight our enemies.

I'm sure some will tell me that the Democrats are being "smart" politically. They can't talk about repealing the Military Commisions Act now, but all will be well once they're back in control. If I had any money, I'd bet a very large sum that this delusional belief is complete crap. We'll find out soon enough. If I'm wrong, I will apologize profusely for my cynicism. In fact, I think I am merely being realistic. The Democrats have given no one any reason at all to believe they will seek to eradicate this atrocity from the books. Given the fact that this legislation has already vanished from public discussion entirely, it doesn't even appear that the Democrats begin to appreciate its momentous importance.

Point Two: we will still be in Iraq in two years, and probably in five, and even ten. The Democrats will do nothing to speed up our exit from this immoral and illegitimate invasion and occupation. Howard Dean announced as much yesterday. (It helps that Rahm Emanuel made sure that only prowar Democrats were running in the first place.) And take a look at the Kerry-Feingold Amendment. In touting this amendment -- which garnered all of 13 Senatorial votes, contemplate the blinding glory of it! -- Kerry's website proclaims:
It is essential to fight to set a date to withdraw American forces.

That’s why this June with Russ Feingold, we fought for an up or down vote on the Kerry-Feingold amendment to withdraw US combat forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007. We made it clear that our soldiers have done their job. It is time for Iraqis to do their job – it’s time for Iraqis to stand up for Iraq. It’s time for Iraqis to want democracy for themselves as much as we want it for them.
Click here to read our plan.
I have commented before on the absolutely nauseating paternalism, condescension and arrogance conveyed by statements such as this one: "It's time for Iraqis to want democracy for themselves as much as we want it for them." I cannot express how truly sickening this is -- although I tried to do so in my analysis of Kerry's similarly repellent NY Times article.

Oh, but they propose "set[ting] a date to withdraw American forces," and "withdraw[ing] US combat forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007." Except that they don't. Since we're killing time here, let's saunter along to that link Kerry so thoughtfully provides, to the excerpts from this universe-saving amendment. I'm not exaggerating. The summary says:
Purpose: To require the redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Iraq in order to further a political solution in Iraq, encourage the people of Iraq to provide for their own security, and achieve victory in the war on terror.

Read the two key provisions:
(1) SCHEDULE FOR REDEPLOYMENT. -- For purposes of strengthening the national security of the United States, the President shall redeploy, commencing immediately, United States forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007, in accordance with a schedule coordinated with the Government of Iraq, leaving only the minimal number of forces that are critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces, conducting targeted and specialized counterterrorism operations, and protecting United States facilities and personnel.


(3) MAINTENANCE OF OVER-THE-HORIZON TROOP PRESENCE. -- The President should maintain an over-the-horizon troop presence to prosecute the war on terror and protect regional security interests.
As I wrote about Kerry's identical proposals in the Times:
Of course, Kerry isn't proposing that we withdraw all American combat forces -- none of which, I repeat, are there for any legitimate reason. Oh, no: "Only troops essential to finishing the job of training Iraqi forces should remain." And: "To increase the pressure on Iraq's leaders, we must redeploy American forces to garrisoned status. Troops should be used for security backup, training and emergency response..."

That's a handy loophole -- one big enough to drive a decades-long occupation through, even if it is "only" an occupation confined to those "enduring bases" we're spending so much money on. In this manner, Iraq will remain our staging platform for our neverending efforts to control the future of the Middle East, just as we have attempted to do ever since World War I.
That last point is confirmed by the language in the amendment -- by the "over-the-horizon troop presence" to "protect regional security interests." The Middle East is not for the peoples who actually live there, you see. It's there for our "regional security interests." Militant, neverending, destructive interventionism, thy name is Republicrat.

But maybe, just maybe you desperately hope, the Democrats will threaten to cut off funding for this immoral, misbegotten war and occupation. You have to be kidding. That would require courage and conviction -- and the ability to make a principled argument, to deflect the predictable and contemptibly dishonest charge that the Democrats would thereby be refusing to "support the troops." There may have been a Robert La Follette in a distant time fading in memory; there is no national politician of comparable stature and courage today, or anyone even beginning to approach those qualities. We are in Iraq for a long, long time to come, and the Democrats will do nothing to shorten the nightmare.

Point Three: the Democrats do nothing but ensure the inevitability of an attack on Iran. See here, and the essays linked at the end of this post. I will not repeat those arguments again. They only depress me further, and you are tired of hearing them.

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?

And then, in a year or two or five, and as on every other similar occasion, inventive ways will be found to circumvent the brand spanking new guidelines and regulations -- and the corruption and dishonesty will continue pretty much as before, via new routes and avenues. It's all a charade, by means of which politicians, the major media, and "serious" commentators (and bloggers) can convince themselves of their own virtue, that this time they really mean it, and that everything will be different now. An interesting question is how many times people can fall for such complete bullshit, and still be regarded as serious, credible or intelligent to any degree at all.

It helps to perpetuate the charade -- one that encompasses every aspect of domestic and foreign policy -- that most people know nothing of history, either our own or that of other countries. It's as if none of it ever happened before. For most of these people, it's as if nothing ever happened before. No wonder they so easily believe that this time will be different. For them, there are no other times at all. Everything is new to them, even and especially their own iniquity.

So vote if you wish to. It won't make a damned bit of difference, not on a single issue of any consequence. There is one thing you might do, though, and I'll get to that fairly soon (in a separate post). But voting is most assuredly not it.

And what will the Democrats do, when they are so comfortably perched in their cushy chairs? They won't challenge the enshrinement of torture or the law guaranteeing a coming dictatorship, they will not end the murderous occupation of Iraq, and they only hasten an attack on Iran...but on Day One they will enact new rules to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation." See my points above about new and creative ways around new regulations, ensuring the continuation of government corruption with barely a pause. If you still believe this insulting claptrap, I'll talk to you about some mind-bendingly great -- and unbelievably cheap! -- land I happen to have.

Here are some of the other momentous issues the Democrats will quickly address:
Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.
On one hand, dictatorship and torture, murder and more war -- on the other, minimum wage, student loans, lower drug prices.

A very, very tough call, I grant you.

Let's rephrase the old cliche, to make it fully accurate. When faced with dictatorship, torture, and endless war and death, the Democrats will rearrange the atoms, to be found in the molecules, which make up the imperceptible pieces of dust, that rest upon the cushions, that sit on the deck chairs of the Titanic.

Knock yourselves out. Do I sound very, very angry? You have no idea. Do I sound deeply bitter? You cannot begin to imagine.

I know a few of you can, and I'm very glad of that. But not nearly enough.

Not anything close to nearly enough.