September 17, 2010

the occasional mind burp

One reason I've been blogging even less than Dmitry Orlov now does is that I find the whole process a kind of bummer. There just isn't much new to say anymore. The economy is depressed, we continue to fight the same pointless wars, the repeal of the U.S. Constitution appears irreversible, and there are only so many ways you can write about all that before it simply becomes irritating. I watched Barack Obama hold one of his rare press conferences last Friday, and that confirmed me in my Weltmude. Obama doesn't seem that interested in what's going on either. I can see why his handlers have decided to keep him away from these press dog & pony shows. He's awful at the process of speaking "off the cuff," less interesting than Bush because with W you had the thrilling prospect of a strange new English word made up on the spot. Obama never says "strategery," for example. When Obama ventures into "explaining" unconstitutional practices, of course, some tension comes into the dialogue, because he doesn't make any sense. In making his case for military commissions, for example, he stated that the Justice Department "knows" some of the prisoners are guilty because they've "got the goods on them," but they're not sure they can get a conviction in an "Article III court," fancy talk for an ordinary federal court. So they'll try them in a "better" forum, where conviction is easier. It's probably just the force of old legal habit with me, but see, I thought the whole idea of due process was that you don't "know" anything until you prove it under the laws of evidence and the trier of fact agrees with you. And the rules of evidence don't permit confessions under torture, hearsay without foundation, secret informants and various other shortcuts used in military tribunals because the evidence is considered inherently unreliable. To use an old formulation, "it's not fair." Plus, since about 3/4ths of the detainees who have managed to challenge their incarceration through habeas corpus petitions are found, essentially, held without credible evidence, how certain are you, Mr. President, that you actually "know" any such thing?

Doesn't matter, I suppose. So please stop the press conferences altogether, because they're very dispiriting affairs. The description of the economy as "not there yet" (the White House Team decided on that form of "candor," I guess) is sure true enough. If 40 million people are below the poverty line, if the same number are on food stamps, if the real unemployment rate is 20%, if tax revenues are falling through the floor while federal spending skyrockets -- yeah, I'd say we're not there yet. The plan was to get there, I suppose, by November 2nd, but that isn't going to happen. Anyone for a nice cup of Tea?

Speaking of which: man, are the Democrats blowing that one. Ganging up and making fun of Tea Party candidates because they seem so "lower middle class," such as Christine O'Donnell: Earth to Democratic National Headquarters - that's the whole point, morons. True, her college graduation was delayed because she couldn't pay her student loans, she lost a house in foreclosure, she says things associated with Fundamentalist Christianity. Do you think, therefore, she's some sort of modern American rarity? Word: she's not. She is part of a movement that will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls, so laugh while you can. As Glenn Greenwald so articulately says, the criticisms of such candidates are not based on outlandish positions which we've never heard before. Everything Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell and Sarah Palin say is within the Republican platform. It's just the way they say it - it's raw, unadorned, not couched in Beltway pieties. Joe Biden says that the Eastern European nation of Georgia should become part of NATO, thus bringing itself under the mandatory protection of the United States in the event of Russian invasion (again). Thus threatening the world with nuclear war. Sarah Palin says that we should go to war with Russia if they invade Georgia again. One is acceptable, one is "outside the mainstream." They're both lunatic ideas, and they both arrive at the same place.

The Democrats, having completely blown their chance to get somewhere between November, 2008 and November, 2010, face a very uncertain future. As strange as things have been, they're about to get stranger yet. There may even be things to write about.

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