Sunday, January 09, 2005

When Reality Trumps Fiction

I just can't seem to get off this Bizarro World kick that I'm on. Frank Rich brings the bizarroness of it all into a little more perspective with a great column in this morning's NYT.

Go read. We'll talk later.

Ok, I've had my first morning cup 'o joe, and though I'm going to be offline for most of the day, I decided to quickly update my Bizzaro World post that was originally written back in September. With yesterday's news of ressurecting the Central American "death squad" model in Iraq, coupled with Frank Rich's column, and a taste of Richard Clarke's upcoming Atlantic Monthly article (courtesy of PW at Prairie Weather), I'm feeling very uneasy today, and this particular post seems to fit the mood.

There are times when I feel like someone must have spiked the national water supply with a dose of really bad acid. You come home at night, turn on the news, and another 20 Iraqis have died from a car bomb attack or 8 American soldiers get blown up in a Bradley fighting vehicle by a roadside bomb, yet an Army general crows about soldiers "getting better at bomb detection". 200+ people get blown up in a school and two airplanes get blown out of the sky in Russia, and our government tells their's that they should "consider the Chechen rebel's grievances". A quiet genocide of an entire race of people is taking place in Sudan while the world stands by and watches, and U.S. Secretary of State stands mute. We see pictures of naked men stacked in a pyramid in a dark foreign jail corridor, or forced to masturbate with a West Virginny girl smiling and pointing with a Marlboro hanging out of her mouth, or hooded and caped with electrodes connected to testicles and nipples.

And we grimace and change the channel.

The average American worker is much worse off economically than they were four years ago, and 45,000,000 Americans fly without the net of healthcare coverage. The U.S. government gets in bed with drug manufacturers, sticks the taxpayer with a tab of $500,000,000,000 ($100 Billion of that hidden from lawmakers by a bureaucratic aparatchik under orders from the Bush administration). Not one person goes to jail.

3000 lives are lost on American soil in a single day to terrorist ambitions, and the President of the United States spends SEVEN FULL MINUTES during the attack flipping through a kids book with a goofy grin on his face. The cover-up of the My Pet Goat story is more robust than the fact finding on the attack itself. And the guy who shows us this bizarroness in a movie is vilified more than POTUS. Not one single person in the government, a government that is chartered first and foremost with protecting its citizens, is fired in the wake of the events of 9/11/01. And even at the beginning of 2005, not one single person sits in a jail cell, anywhere in the world, convicted or awaiting trial for the crime.

A war hero running for President is crucified on the cross of public opinion, and a military deserter is hailed as the Caesar who will lead the nation to righteous victory against the godless brown skinned sandmonkeys.

Yet here we sit as a nation, blindly accepting the bizarre circumstances that the past four years have brought, simply because fully half of the electorate in the country can't get past the indiscretion of Bill Clinton's dick.

Many years ago, I was told that an alcoholic has to hit rock bottom before they realize that they're as low as they can go. Some addicts survive bottoming out, some don't. For those that make it, the bounce off the bottom might hurt like hell, but in many cases it's the only way someone in those circumstances can start going up again.

We're at that point as a nation that's drunk on it's own power and short history.

A thousand years from now, I believe our heirs will look back at the past dawn of a new millennium, and see the next 50 or 100 years as a turning point in the history of the human race. They'll chuckle when they read that the ruling oiligarchy (sic) of the most powerful nation on the planet was beholden to a religious sect that plied its trade (and made their personal fortunes) in advancing the belief that the prophecies in the Book of Revelations would be fulfilled during their lifetimes.

In the big scheme of things, and maybe even in the short run, it probably doesn't make a damn bit of difference who's running the imperial show -- at least as long as we continue to maintain the status quo. One thousand years from now, will it make a difference who America chose as its leader on November 2, 2004? While I'd like to think so, probably not.

Still, I remained selfishly a supporter of John Kerry during his presidential run, partly because I'm a 50 year old Democrat, but mostly because I felt Kerry was the best immediate chance I have of seeing 55 without experiencing some serious mushroom clouding at various locations on the planet. Yet there are nights when I think that there has to be a globally defining event that drives the human race to reconsider the stewardship of itself, and it doesn't make a damn bit of difference who's in charge when the shit hits the fan.

Sometimes, as I sit in quiet contemplation late at night, I think about the next quantum leap that the human race must take to survive to the next millennium. It's hard to imagine how we make such a leap, though there's certainly no lack of philosophically progressive vision on how to get there from here.

What we progressives are lacking in our common quest for a path out of Bizarro World is a true leader who will step forward and unblur the lines of differences between true progressives, "vichy liberals", and those who would lead us back to the dark ages. As winter gives way to spring over the next few months, I think such a leader will begin to emerge from the background, driven into the open by events and circumstance rather than opportunism.

We can only hope that the emergence of such a leader occurs as a result of organic political development rather than a catastrophic step-change in world history.

It's kind of funny how the concept of "hope" is such an exclusively human attribute, isn't it? In this time of bizarroness, cling to it.

Because it's all we've got right now.