November 23, 2009

Odds, and One Regrettable Usual End

This morning, I looked over the articles I've published between mid-October and today. I will be immodest and say that the output is...not bad. It includes nine or ten essays that I would call "major," by which I mean they deal with issues that won't be out of date in a week or a month, but will continue to have value in coming years (recognizing that others may well have a very different assessment). Among my personal favorites in this group are this piece and a related follow-up. I thought the third section in the latter article was of special value, especially my discussion of the three major factors that in my view led the U.S. finally to abandon Vietnam. I think those identifications are original; at least, I've never seen those elements put together in that manner. I think that particular combination has considerable explanatory power. Except for the reaction from one trusted friend, it appears no one else agrees on that point or, if others do, I haven't heard about it.

I also like this essay quite a lot (and I'll be continuing that series very soon), and this one (that, too, will have one or possibly two follow-up pieces, also to be completed shortly; they're both outlined in detail).

In addition to these "major" posts, there are fifteen or so other entries (more than a few of which I also think offer some observations of more than passing interest). So, all in all, not a poor showing. And then there is the latest article. With regard to that essay, I will be more forthright: in my not unconsidered opinion, several of the identifications I offer are of singular importance. And I would have thought that one of the very probable results of a trial of the 9/11 co-conspirators -- that the appellate process finally "will provide a blueprint for the government, giving them the prize they've been after all this time—a legal way both to torture and to prosecute" (in David Feige's words) -- would easily have been recognized by more than a few people as a signal moment in the debasement and corruption of our political-judicial system.

I was gratified to see that Antiwar featured that essay as its Spotlight article over this past weekend (you'll see it toward the bottom of that page when it first appears on your screen) -- but other than that, my article seems, as usual, headed directly toward the memory hole. You may choose to disbelieve me when I say that my concern about the extent to which my offerings are regularly ignored is about considerably more than satisfying the demands of my ego. Yes, we all like to be noticed, especially when we work very hard to create something which we believe is worthy of recognition to at least some degree. But with regard to much (in fact, almost all) of my writing, my primary focus is not on the fact that I've said it -- but on what it is that has been said, and said by anyone.

Thus, for example, when I read that David Feige article, I was struck very forcefully by the argument he had obviously put together with great care and knowledge. And I repeat still another time the point that both Feige and I placed at the climax of our arguments: that the government will have a blueprint for "a legal way both to torture and to prosecute." This is a critical development along the road to a hell on earth. That issue was the climax in Feige's article and mine because there is nowhere to go after that -- except down, down into a world of indescribable barbarity and cruelty.

But it appears very few others agree with this perspective. Another aspect of the problem is still worse. Just this morning, I saw this post by one of Atrios's regular guest bloggers. It captures perfectly what seems to be the liberal-progressive consensus about the KSM trial: that it will not be a show trial, and that it even represents a "good" development. If anyone seriously believes it won't be a show trial, I suggest they read my post again. If they still continue in their belief, they're too ignorant and/or far too corrupt to be writing about politics, or at least to be writing about politics and to be regarded as at all legitimate by any semi-intelligent reader.

Moreover, it may be (as Feige says) that a KSM trial is better than any of the available alternatives. Please note, however, that that does not mean that a KSM trial is "good" in any respect. In fact, it is terrible and exceedingly dangerous, for all the reasons discussed in my post and in Feige's article. And that was the very point of my post: once you have corrupted the foundations of our judicial system, there is no "good" solution in the manner people typically suggest. The only genuine solution is to start the arduous, demanding process of unwinding all the damage that has been done, including the repeal of all the damnable legislation of the last decade (and longer), as well as new executive orders to countermand all the destructive earlier ones, and so on, endlessly. It's taken us many decades to reach this point; it will take at least that long to get back on solid, civilized ground. But that is the very process that no one in Washington is interested in (save for the usual two or three exceptions, who can't significantly affect the direction of events in any case).

Here's a piece of confirming evidence about the liberal-progressive consensus view of the KSM trial: this post. The critical point of summation in that entry is: "the trial is actually routine." And the writer concludes by saying: "If there's a strong case that terror trials are a bad idea, conservatives seem unable to make it." That's a very revealing formulation: note that the writer apparently feels no obligation or responsibility to determine on his own, independently if there may be any particular dangers involved, not even necessarily in "terror trials" per se, but with regard to this particular trial given the specific context in which it will occur -- and in light of what is more than likely to happen once a conviction is appealed (the focus of Feige's article). No, for this writer, as for most progressives (and most conservatives on "the other side"), the primary and often the sole concern is debunking whatever claims the opposition might make. As for what the truth itself might be -- the truth entirely apart from what one "side" or the other might claim -- why, we don't need no friggin' truth! And thus you have our politics today: a nauseating cesspool of assertions without facts, argument or history, positions adopted only to delegitimize the opposition, and strategies used to acquire, maintain and expand the power of one's own group and for no other purpose at all, despite the ceaseless propaganda both "sides" throw up and out 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Writers who offer the kinds of observations about the KSM trial such as those discussed above apparently have no understanding of even one of the issues discussed in my show trial essay and the Feige article, including the all-important climactic point. But beyond this, the actual concern and purpose of this approach could be summarized as follows:
Obama/Democrats/liberals/progressives/"us" = Good, intelligent, knowledgeable

Scarborough (or whoever the specific target of the moment may be)/Republicans/conservatives/"them" = Bad, ignorant/stupid (and very frequently "crazy," although that often encountered element is mercifully omitted on this occasion)
Us = Good, Them = Bad. I think there might be a term that designates the constellation of issues gathered together in such a perspective. I wonder what it might be... (And, yes, I will be returning to that series as well, hopefully very soon.)

Having gone through this exercise for just this one example, but emphasizing again that it is an example of special significance, I've caused myself to appreciate once more why my own writing and approach will never find popularity among more than a comparatively very small number of people. Our politics today is devoted almost exclusively to warring groups fighting over power, and concerned with acquiring and maintaining power by any and all means; not coincidentally, it happens to be power on a massive scale, power which could overwhelm every aspect of our lives as it lays waste to entire regions of the world. And for the most part, they are interested in nothing else whatsoever. By stark contrast, I'm not interested in power in even the smallest degree, in this or any other world -- and I dream of a very different world altogether.

But you can write all this off as self-serving, self-important bombast. To judge from my email, a number of people do. And very unfortunately, I have to make my standard plea once again. I decided I'd better do it now, since my usual low readership (when not aided by a link or two from "big" sites) will be even lower during this holiday week. But the first of a new month is almost here, and I'm essentially in the position I was when I wrote this. My situation today isn't quite as dire; readers were kind in response to that post, so I have about 2/3 of what I need for December rent. But I still need that last third, plus money for a few other very basic bills (electricity, phone, internet) and food. (I have lots of cat food; they come first, and they are well provided for, to the extent I am able. The cats are wonderful, bless their magnificent souls.)

Several weeks ago, I briefly thought I would use some of the donations that had come in to go to a doctor and have some tests done, get prescriptions filled, and so on. But then I had second thoughts: no, I concluded, better not. Before I know it, another month will have passed, and I'll almost certainly be unable to pay another round of bills. And, indeed, here I am. If I had gone to a doctor, I might well be completely broke at this point. I probably would have been broke almost immediately after that visit. So I'm still without the heart meds and any kind of medical care. I felt not too bad for a week or two. I never feel "good" any longer; that stopped several years ago. I realized a year or two ago that I didn't even remember what it was like to feel "good." Unsurprisingly, that realization depressed me more than a little. I've since gotten used to it, and I try to ignore it most of the time. When I feel "not too bad," that's a good day for me now. But feeling that way ended about a week ago. Now I feel pretty lousy almost all the time. I have no idea what that means and, as I noted in that earlier post, I probably won't know what it means until I have to make the next 911 call.

So, once again, I would be deeply grateful for whatever help you might be able and choose to provide. I know these times aren't at all easy for most people, and I'm not expecting miracles. I'm just trying to get by; that's miracle enough these days. And there still is a lot of writing I'd like to do. As I indicated, I have between five and ten essays in various stages of completion right now, and I have lots more lined up, whenever I'm able to get to them. So on we try to go, as best we can.

As always, many thanks for your consideration.