Saturday, September 30, 2006

Interim report

Illness this week, from which I am now completely but slowly recovering, will make it impossible for me to do the week's events justice, but with hits running at over 1000 a week I wanted to check in with my readers, and also very quickly to summarize what may well be a pivotal moment in our history.

We are now past the point, it seems to me, where this Administration can go down in history as anything but a disaster on a wide variety of fronts. Just this week we have had the repudiation of almost 800 years of Anglo-American history, as the Bush Administration has attempted indefinitely to eliminate habeas corpus for anyone accused of aiding terrorists. (Senator Arlen Spector pointed out that we are not in the midst of a rebellion or invasion--see last week's post--but voted for the bill anway.) We also, after many months, have the release of irrefutable evidence that Jack Abramoff was in constant contact with the highest levels of the White House, starting with Karl Rove. Representative Foley of Florida, who in the past has sponsored legislation against child sexual predators, has resigned after the release of an instant messaging session he had with a former capitol hill page--an episode which once again raises the question of exactly how much Republican homophobia actually reflects guilt over its purveyors' own impulses. And Bob Woodward's book will apparently show how determinedly the President, Vice President and Secretary of Defense have ignored all real information about what has been happening in Iraq for the last three years. Certainly much of this will penetrate into public consciousnes in the next five weeks, and I think there is a good chance--but far from a certainty--that the Democrats will win at least one house of Congress. Then they can at least introduce legislation to restore the U.S. Constitution, even if they cannot force the President to sign it.

We clearly remain in danger, however, of having the Iraq disaster actually benefit the right wing. President Bush's complete refusal to re-evaluate policy in Iraq--which I do not expect to change no matter what happens--means that no withdrawal will take place until after he is out of office. Conservative Republicans will then be able to attempt the same kind of public relations coup that German General Erich Ludendorff pulled off in 1918-19. Having realized in September 1918 that he had lost the war, Ludendorff demanded the appointment of a centrist government to ask President Wilson for an armistice. When he realized what the terms would be he spoke out against accepting them, forcing his dismissal. When the German Emperor refused to give up his throne, as Wilson had more or less demanded, revolution broke out in Germany and a new leftish (though not leftist) government accepted the terms. It never recovered from doing so--Ludendorff accused it of stabbing Germany in the back, and Hitler picked up the same legend. It is already happening here--and not for the first time.

I was appalled to read that Henry Kissinger has been urging the President to stay the course. Recently released taped conversations from the fall of 1972 show that Kissinger assured President Nixon that if South Vietnam fell within a couple of years after a peace agreement, he could simply blame the incompetence of the South Vietnamese. But when South Vietnam did fall in 1975, Kissinger decided to blame the American people and the Congress instead, and he has been doing so ever since. It does not seem to be going too far to say that this has become a cornerstone of Republican strategy. Launch a foreign adventure. If it works, celebrate it. If it is obviously failing, blame the Democrats who are pointing out the truth.

I shall post at greater length sometime this week.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Kaiser,

I read your posts on a regular basis, but seldom comment, mostly because I am not sure what I would add.

Today I simply wish to say that I believe what is going on not only signals a tragic point in our nation's history, but even more alarmingly, a turn in the electorate.

We, as a nation, put this administration in place - twice. We alone share responsibility for what is before us. This is the real issue, in my opinion.

The electorate in this country has either abandoned it's duty to participate, or, in the case of about fifty percent, succumbed to the effects of a "dumbing" agent in our environment. What else can explain the overall stupidity that surrounds us?

Democracy's get the government they deserve, and unless those of us with a few remaining active brain cells step forward and cry out, we will be witnessing the decline and fall of the American system.


Matthew E said...

Best wishes for your health.

justanoldveteran said...

I have little respect for either Republican or Democrats. We have the best Congress that money can buy.

But your comment, "... once again raises the question of exactly how much Republican homophobia actually reflects guilt over its purveyors' own impulses." is unfair, unjustified, and logically flawed.

Foley is not responsible for the Republicans or Democrats, homophobic or otherways, nor are the members of Congress, individually or as a body, responsible for Foley's actions, whatever they might have been.

I agree with phaedrous that we are at "a tragic point in our nation's history", but it is for reasons far beyond and independent of Foley. Thank you.

serial catowner said...

With apologies to 'justanoldveteran', when Republicans in Congress decided to cover up Foley's actions, and not inform Democrats of the situation, they became enablers of Foley and his continued abuse of the public trust.

Frankly, anybody's health should have been stunned by the events of the past week. How do we describe the repeal of the most basic principle of Anglo-Saxon law, and not, we might add, to empower an Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt, but instead to enable arguably the worst President in the history of the country to continue his career of lies and half-truths.

I find it hard to blame the electorate, who have been spon-fed their dialy dose of pabulum by a media well aware that discussing importnt issues could result in an interest in politics quite unhealthy for the millionaires who own the media.

It does, however, seem plain that days in which the world looked to us for inspiration in government are over, and the days in which we must look to the world for instructive lessons are well commenced.

Roger Albin said...

I don't think the stab in the back problem is likely. A major reason that it arose in post-war Germany is that German government control of the press allowed it to present the war as largely successful. Not entirely untruthful, either, as the Germans did knock Russia out of the war. Failure on the Western Front in 1918 was a shock to much of the German population. Even with all the difficulties of reporting about Iraq, its clear that few Americans view the war as successful.

Victor Berry said...

Phaedrous is correct. At most, only 50% of the electorate choose to participate in selecting our government representatives.

And most of those who do vote have little or no rationale for discriminating one candidate from another. These "impressionistic" voters simply go by how they "feel" or what their peers say.

When no one recognizes that "a permanent Republican majority" is the same thing as totalitarianism, then it's no surprise that American democracy is doomed by the lack of an educated electorate.

However, the USA is not the only democracy in danger of extinction. England and France have passed laws recently to restrict the rights of their citizenry, too.

It appears Osama bin Laden has won and authoritarianism will become the government of choice for planet Earth.

Anonymous said...

My dear chaps, do you really think that public participation in a 2-party system would have any bearing on the Security State and the elites that allow such things to endure? The public could vote until their fingers fell off - it wouldn't change a thing. The US political system is not y2k compliant.