Saturday, April 26, 2008

Out of It

In case you haven't noticed, I haven't exactly been prolific here lately. Maybe once a week or so I'll post some little tidbit or another that I've run across while surfing the Internet, but for the most part I've been out of it. I've been suffering from writer's block -- a strange combination of apathy, Bush Fatigue Syndrome and plain old-fashioned fatigue. My fellow Blue Voicers have been quite understanding about the whole thing, but it makes me feel a little guilty that I'm not pulling my weight around here.

After working eight hours a day (and into the night -- I work second shift) , I'm not often up for something as mentally strenuous as coming up with a post or two for this blog. By the time I go through my email, scan the news headlines, surf the web a little or watch a little TV, and find an appropriate Quote of the Day to post here (I've taken over that duty for a while), I'm not too motivated to do much of anything else. Before I can get sufficiently motivated, it's time to go to bed for a few hours of sleep, then it's up again to start all over again.

Bush Fatigue Syndrome? Don't tell me you haven't experienced it yet. It's that exasperated feeling that we've entered some alternative version of America in which anything goes and usually does. It's that feeling you get when you hear of the latest outrage perpetrated by Bush and Company and aren't the slightest bit surprised. In fact, you were kind of expecting it.

A couple of weeks ago, the big outrage for a few days was the Yoo memo. Remember that? This was a memo written by John C. Yoo from the Legal Counsel's office that, in a roundabout way, described how, in time of war, the president could pretty much do whatever the hell he wanted to do without interference from Congress or anybody else. In fact, according to Yoo, "Any effort by Congress to regulate the interrogation of battlefield detainees would violate the Constitution's sole vesting of the Commander-in-Chief authority in the President." Nothing really that surprising there. BushCo has continually pushed the envelope on the issue of executive privilege ever since we entered the Era of Perpetual War. That's just one of the benefits of conducting a war on a concept, like terrorism, instead of your more traditional sorts of enemies. But the most shocking thing about the Yoo Memo was the in-your-face deliberations about what was acceptable behavior when it came to dealing with detainees at Guantanamo Bay and other fun spots. Could the president order someone's eyes poked out? How about throwing acid on them? Drugging them? What were the limits? Were there any limits at all? "Our previous opinions make clear that customary international law is not federal law and that the president is free to override it at his discretion...Finally, even if the criminal prohibitions outlined above applied, and an interrogation method might violate those prohibitions, necessity or self-defense could provide justifications for any criminal liability." Sigh...

Shortly after the release of the Yoo Memo, we discovered that Vice President Dick Cheney and the highest ranking members of the Bush Administration -- Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet and John Ashcroft -- had quite a few meetings in the White House Situation Room in which they discussed the same thing: What were the limits? Were there any limits? The most shocking thing about this revelation was that Ashcroft was the most reasonable person in the room, asking at one point, "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly." Sigh...

A day or two later, in a rare press conference, Bush acknowledged that, yes, he knew what was going on. Was well aware of the meetings and what went on there. Wanna make something of it? Sigh...

Add to that two ongoing wars, domestic surveillance, the deteriorating environment, the imploding economy, the skyrocketing gas and food prices, etc., etc., etc. and all I want to do is just count down the days until the next Inauguration Day (eight months, 25 days), when someone...anyone new takes office and our long national nightmare is finally over. Which brings me to the apathy...

Way back in olden days, back when they first started counting votes in Iowa and New Hampshire and other quaint outposts of rural America, I was excited about the political process, and especially excited about the opportunity to elect a new president. I was excited about John Edwards, but there were a few other contenders who looked promising. The Republican Party contenders were a myriad collection of loons and crooks who, for the most part, made George W. Bush look halfway ethical and sane by comparison. John McCain quickly emerged from this pack of reprobates to win the nomination -- not exactly a case of the cream rising to the top.

The Democratic Party has a rare gift for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, for finding new ways to lose elections they should have won. I'm afraid that they've found a new way this year: the front-loaded primary season. Instead of everyone being patient and waiting their turn, various states played havoc with the primary calender in an effort to move to the head of the line. In two cases, Michigan and Florida, the states ignored party rules and threats to move their primaries up. It will eventually be up to some party rules committee to determine how or if the states will have delegates at the national convention. The Democrats also have the superdelegate, the party insider whose vote is worth much more than your ordinary human delegate. All this has conspired to give us a race between the original front-runner, Hillary Clinton, and the charismatic upstart that we know next to nothing about, Barack Obama. Everyone else was gone before we ever really had a chance to see if they had any new ideas about anything. Neither Clinton nor Obama is anywhere near where my ideal candidate would be on almost any issue, but I've never experienced a presidential election that was anything but a choice between the lesser of two evils. Just give me a nominee and I'll try to get behind him...or her. But, at this point, I'd be happy with anyone, even McCain, just so long as we can get Bush back home to Crawford and consigned to the dustbin of history as quickly as possible.

For a while I was actually kind of excited about having two nominees battling it out in the marketplace of ideas. But it turns out the ideas were whether Obama's pastor loves America and why Obama doesn't love America enough to wear a flag pin. Now it's gotten to the point where David Letterman is joking, "The Democratic presidential race is dragging on and on and on, but the Democrats are trying to put a good face on this. They say now absolutely they will have a nominee by McCain’s second year in office. So they’re ready to go." Sigh...Wake me when it's over.

But I'm trying to shake out of it, trying to clear the cobwebs from my mind. I'm going to try to start posting on a more regular basis. But even if you don't see me, I'm still around, trying to make some sense out of things that shouldn't make sense to anyone with two brain cells to rub together. Thank you for your patience and understanding in these trying times.

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posted at 2:14:00 PM by Duane Tate

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