The River

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I’m not cynical about dessert

John Kerry's seeming inability to articulate a coherent position on Iraq, his unwillingness to distance himself from Bush when the increasingly unpopular disaster of a war there should be a clear political winner for Kerry, may be a manifestation of the systematic problem in American politics which allows thugs like the neocons to force a war through all the checks and balances which are supposed to protect the American political system. -- xymphora

Here’s a Daily Howler column about how the right, and the rightist media, get away with branding Kerry as the most liberal member of the Senate, based on his voting record, when, in fact, there are about 10 active Senators who have a more liberal record. Somerby wonders why the DNC and lefty media personalities are letting them get away with it. Why don’t they point out that he’s not that liberal.

Hello? Why aren’t they saying “although they have their facts wrong, we appreciate the compliment.”

And it’s not like this is some sterling insight. The right-wing knows it can get away with these lies because no one will stand up to them, no one will say, “yes, I’m a liberal, can we move on to something substantive now?” Somerby illustrates my point when he pulls out this snippet from Fox’s Hannity and Colmes show:

SEAN HANNITY (7/30/04): According to the National Journal, based on the voting records and they examined the voting records of every senator, they determined in 2003 John Kerry had the most liberal voting record. John Kerry is doing everything he can do at this convention to appear not to be a liberal. My question to you is, you want to be a proud liberal. Why won’t John Kerry do the same thing?

Can you imagine Bush or Cheney responding to an accusation of being the most conservative administration of recent times with anything less than “thank you”? I can’t, but the charge would never be made in the first place. Liberalism is demonized, conservatism is elevated.

Presidential politics is a strange and ugly world. We think we’re hiring people to take care of national interests – clean water, infrastructure, public spaces, people-centered policies, etc. – and what we get, at the top end of the power hierarchy, are merciless killers and exploiters of people and resources. Of course, you look back to what was done to native Americans and you think, “twas ever thus.”

But America is growing ever more dangerously militarized, ever more tilted to the right.

So, this political season, we can support someone who made his bones a few decades ago and thinks he knows a thing or two about brutal empires, or someone who made his bones ordering 9-11s of several orders of magnitude greater for a couple of countries full of brown people and oil. One “inspires” with “we can do better.” The other has no concept beyond brutality, and smirks about it.

The discourse is so debased, the leaders so false, the media so fatuous, that there is no real alternative, no real democracy. Anytime I venture into commentary on this political season, I feel I need a shower and a day at the beach, followed, of course, by another shower.

Yet I venture to comment anyway. I’m not sure why I do it.

But I can tell you this. I think everyone is born liberal, and that conservatism is brought about through fear and hatred, manufactured dissatisfaction and scapegoating. I see today’s brand of conservatism as a prison for your soul. To see it in full flower in the Bush administration – and in the gleeful chest-beating by media sycophants -- is to see a corruption so unholy that it deserves the label so bandied about these days: evil.

People, I am not a radical, I am not a left-wing loon. I don’t hate or fear people caught in this global power trip (on my better days, anyway). I’m just telling you how it is.

Obviously, I don’t see Kerry as much of an alternative. I don’t buy the argument that Kerry is playing the warmonger to get elected. The program has long been exploitation. The program has long been war.

But that is to be expected. Let’s be pragmatic, we’ve gone so far in the “war on terror” rabbit hole that we aren’t going to get out without more militarism, more war, more turmoil. It is the way the world’s only superpower has decided to sort out the coming global oil/resource crisis. That it is sold to the masses as a war of good (the US of A) versus evil (Muslims/Terrorists/Liberals) should tell us how bad the situation is.

The whole left-right, democrat-republican dichotomy is far too limiting. I’m not “left” or “right.” Does it serve humanity? That’s all I care about. Only Dennis Kucinich stands out as a leader with a humane vision, and in his treatment in the media we can see how much currency that has in our country.

The ridicule of his candidacy and the widespread demonization of liberals, now sinking to hate speech of singular depravity, is so woven into the mainstream culture that it actually feels dangerous to put a Kucinich bumper sticker on your car.

Although there are alternatives -- a good church here and there, maybe a good book if you should be so intrepid as to explore, certainly some good music, documentaries, art films, plays, co-ops, blogs -- the culture in general is toxic, particularly the political culture. Voting for Kerry is such a feeble gesture, a damned if you do, damned if you don’t proposition.

Look, all things considered, my life is good, my wife is wonderful, my kids are amazing, my friends are cool. But wide-angle view? It doesn’t look good. My wife just finished reading “Dark Age Ahead.” She says I should read it next. The title alone should tell you something.


Where I differ is in thinking that Fascism is a reaction to modernity and post modernity as well as economic malaise. The death of certainty left a vacuum. Our depressions now make a revolutionary, anti-human doctrine popular. It can be spread like wildfire with radio and TV. -- Harry at scratchings

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