War: October 2006 Archives

NOTE: After I had completed a political post last night I accidentally deleted it - irretrievably. I didn't think then that I would try to reconstruct it, but the subject keeps knawing on me and it definitely couldn't be much more timely than it is this week, and perhaps specifically tonight.

Nast Tweed ballotfraud.jpg
(one way, or another, they're gonna get ya )

It's a very scary story, but it has two parts. The first has to be familiar to anyone who hasn't been living in a cave. It's the second part that surpasses anything you'll find outside in the Halloween darkness tonight. The story is briefly recounted in The New Yorker this week in a piece by Hendrik Hertzberg. Sadly we are already acquainted with the impressive litany of plagues which have visited us since Bush was selected President in 2000, but Hertzberg's prose is a frightening reminder:

That the record is appalling is by now beyond serious dispute. It includes an unending deficit - this year, it’s $260 billion - that has already added $1.5 trillion to the national debt; the subcontracting of environmental, energy, labor, and health-care policymaking to corporate interests; repeated efforts to suppress scientific truth; a set of economic and fiscal policies that have slowed growth, spurred inequality, replenished the ranks of the poor and uninsured, and exacerbated the insecurities of the middle class; and, on Capitol Hill, a festival of bribery, some prosecutable (such as the felonies that have put one prominent Republican member of Congress in prison, while another awaits sentencing), some not (such as the reported two-million-dollar salary conferred upon a Republican congressman who became the pharmaceutical industry’s top lobbyist immediately after shepherding into law a bill forbidding the government to negotiate prices for prescription drugs).

In 2002 and 2004, the ruling party avoided retribution for offenses like these by exploiting the fear of terrorism. What is different this time is that the overwhelming failure of the Administration’s Iraq gamble is now apparent to all. This war of choice has pointlessly drained American military strength, undermined what had originally appeared to be success in Afghanistan, handed the Iranian mullahs a strategic victory, immunized the North Korean regime from a forceful response to its nuclear defiance, and compromised American leadership of the democratic world.

The fact that these horrors are finally recognized by an overwhelming majority of Americans, and just before midterm elections, should finally give us hope for emerging from the the dark and frightened society to which we have been reduced, but such a denouement is actually far from certain. Even if we could forget the role of dirty tricks, the continuing possibility of an October or November surprise, and the effect of an expected psychological, physical or electronic manipulation of the polls, we aren't out of the woods yet. Unfortunately we are struggling within a fundamentally undemocratic system and there's nothing we can do about it, no matter how many of us wish to throw out the fools and, indeed, the real goblins and demons.
In a normal democracy, given the state of public opinion and the record of the incumbent government, it would be taken for granted that come next Tuesday the ruling party would be turned out. But, for reasons that have less to do with the wizardry of Karl Rove than with the structural biases of America’s electoral machinery, Democrats enter every race carrying a bag of sand. The Senate’s fifty-five Republicans represent fewer Americans than do its forty-five Democrats. On the House side, Democratic candidates have won a higher proportion of the average district vote than Republicans in four of the five biennial elections since 1994, but - thanks to a combination of gerrymandering and demographics - Republicans remain in the majority.
I'm not holding my breath.

[Thomas Nast image from Wikipedia]

about terror far more real than that imagined by hysterical post-9/11 SubTalk warnings

[altered poster sighted on the C train this afternoon]

Atomic Bomb.gif

North Korea threatens war against U.S. [AP]

Oh great. It seems the Republicans have somehow managed to persuade Kim Jong-il to save their hold on Congress. Get ready to be whipped up over another war just weeks before the election. I used to think only Trey Parker and Matt Stone could come up with the kind of scenarios we now regularly watch unfolding from the White House.

On a serious note, could the evidence for this administration's repeated foreign policy failures be any more clear? Five years ago North Korea's nuclear program was under lock and key and its main nuclear center was watched 24 hours a day by UN cameras. Bush has refused to talk to North Korea since he took office.

[image from solarvoyager]

I find it absolutely incomprehensible that in the end, after all the horrors of the last twelve years of Republican Congresses, the last six with a totally disastrous Republican administration, we might see the Republican ascendancy overturned because my fellow Americans are upset about another sex scandal.

I am amazed every time I open my laptop or newspaper, or listen to the radio, and find the story still continues. A middle-aged man who works in downtown Washington flirted with a "child" who was in fact of legal age in our nation's capitol at the time he was the object of the older and more powerful man's unwelcome attentions and poor judgment. Okay, it was several children, but it is for this that the Republicans must apparently now pay, not for their lies or their incredible venality, not for the deaths of tens or even hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East or elsewhere, or for our fall (rise?) to the status of rogue terrorist nation, and not for the destruction of our ancient liberties or for the cynical incitement and manipulation of the fears of ordinary people all across the land.

Incidently, the idea of maturity or specifically the practical or legal "age of consent" is more a game of numbers than a science. Peter Tatchell, who has an argument with the laws of his own country, Britain, points out:

Already, 20 European countries have ages of consent lower than 16. The minimum age is effectively 12 in the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Malta. It's 14 in Slovenia, Iceland, Montenegro, Serbia, Italy, San Marino, Albania and, in certain circumstances, Germany. All these laws apply equally to hetero and homo sex.

Adam McEwen Dresden (Phosphorbrandbombe) 2006 phosphorescent paint and chewing gum on canvas 90" x 70" [installation view]

Adam McEwen Dresden 2006 acrylic and chewing gum on canvas 90" x 130" [installation view]

[detail of above]

I'm not even going to start addressing this show in writing myself. I could go on forever about the subjects which inspired Adam McEwen's "8:00 for 8:30", installed at Niclole Klagsbrun this month, historical crimes of necessity with which I am probably too much engaged. I'm going to turn the task over to João Ribas, writing in The New York Sun because he pulls together their different strings with intelligence and sensitivilty while never losing sight of the art which holds them together in this very smart exhibition. An excerpt:

The ability to deal out inhumanity with equanimity is at the core of British-born artist Adam McEwen's second solo show,"8 for 8:30," at Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery. A timely meditation on the cold rationality of the military-industrial complex, Mr. McEwen's shrewdly political show asks more questions than it tries to answer.

Yet by looking at the horror of the Allied bombings of Nazi Germany, and the post-war American boom that was its euphoric aftermath, the show makes the case that the link between profit and obliteration applies today more than ever. First raze, then rebuild, and as Kurt Vonnegut likes to say, so it goes.

This page is an archive of entries in the War category from October 2006.

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