Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Heard some disturbing things this morning.

One was President Bush's speech before the UN. The rhetorical strategy of tying everything he said to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights was perfectly appropriate, even if his administration-long ignoring of and opposition to both civil and human rights makes it all ring a bit hollow. But the constant "the UN musts" are bound to fall on deaf ears when his administration has been contemptuously dismissive of not just the UN (hello, John Bolton), but any and every multilateral effort throughout his terms. Even as he is saying this, he is refusing to participate in the world discussion on global warming, and having his own, pretend-international, pretend-conference, on pretend-global-warming. That the UN must intervene here or there rings hollow coming from someone who has been supremely arrogantly unconcerned about international opinion, international cooperation (except in the form of "agreeing with me"), and multilateral operations. How can a statement that we need to do it "for the kids," as he argued at several points, be heard as anything but patently hypocritical coming in the very week in which he vetoes universal children's health care in his own country? And the "we're all in this together against terrorists" is just sad coming from someone who *had* everyone together against terrorists in the fall of 2001 and the invasion of Afghanistan (against which we did well, except that we should have declared proper war), and squandered and squashed that good will in a political and economic rich-guys-club lark-cum-obsession in Iraq. He is a divider at home; "we" is not a word in his vocabulary that has extensional content.

Which leads to point two.

Why is the only guy who's likely to even appreciate, let alone do anything about, anything even remotely close to my own quirky views on reasonable censorship (like .xxx for porn sites), abortion (parental notification (not, probably, consent) for minors, first trimester only, mandatory abortion / pregnancy support counseling, strengthened paternity laws), assisted suicide (that would be a no), and strengthening marriage laws (like Louisiana's experiment with covenant marriage), also the guy who has
1. taken a country with a surplus and a roaring economy and created a monster deficit; created huge new bureaucracies; and priming the economy for recession and relative global decline;
2. taken a country with huge bureaucracies at least in theory concerned with helping people or defending their rights, and slashed those bureaucracies (student loans and grants, children's health insurance, legal aid for the poor, indigent health care), and created instead monster bureaucracies (homeland security) concerned with managing (not eliminating) fear, invading privacy, and denying basic civil rights;
3. taken a united country fighting over the right to claim the middle ground and, following up on Newt and company, who started this social disease, turned it into a country which is psychologically sharply divided, doesn't believe in the persuasive power of reason, sees compromise as pointless and treacherous, is contemptuous of other views, denies any kind of accountability, and is essentially lawless in its faux "law and order" stance;
4. taken the world's best military, wasted it totally in Iraq, and employed mercenaries for the first time in any significant numbers since, oh, the British employed the Hessians--oh, yeah; the British weren't on our side then; so, since ever;
5. appointed justices who might well hem in roe vs. wade, but who also, and for Cheney and Rove et al, much more importantly, support invasion of privacy, denial of basic human, never mind guaranteed civil, rights, the imperial presidency, and big business uber alles;
6. taken a country everyone wanted to come to and so acted as to give credence and plausibility to people offering other options, some of them having to do with 'we also can deny people's rights in our own way'--Putin and China and Chavez--and others on out towards nutcake (hamas's victory, al-qaeda, ayatollic Iran);
5. taken his vaunted I'm the decider role seriously enough that he has been no thinker, no listener, no persuader, no consensus-builder, no converser, no learner, but just a decider, and thus a divider par excellance.

Which, alas, brings up point three, the Ahmadinejad talk at Columbia. That leftists or intellectual conservatives or academics sought to maintain their cred (as...what? tough guys? "patriots"?) by insulting Ahmadinejad just shows how thoroughly Rove / de Lay have won. As Jon Stewart pointed out recently in a piece called The Scorn Supremacy, to learn nothing from the Bush debacle but how to be as contemptuous of him and his as he and his are of absolutely everyone else is not to have learned very much, or much very helpful. The only way out is through respect for one another, however undeserved, not contempt, which is so easy.

So...pray for *all* those--very much including Bush--in any kind of authority.


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