Plus all the usual work and worry.
But I'm still here listening and observing. Observing, with increasing trepidation, the epidemological news out of Mexico and now across the globe. We've already proved that 2008 can be like 1929. Are we getting set to see if 2009 can be like 1918?Brrrr...And listening to the news from the domestic political front as well.
Despite the hysterical repetition of the lie ("We do not torture!") from the former Liar-in-Chief so many times that any discussion of the "enhanced interrogation of our helpless prisoners that occurred between 2001 and 2009 took on the surreal dimensions of discussing cell division with a three-year-old, it not appears exceptionally clear that we tortured our captives.
There's a couple of ways to look at this.
There is the way that old Tom Paine looked at it:
"But where says some is the King of America? I’ll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve as monarchy, that in America the law is King. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other.Or you can take the approach that that well known Islamofascist Teddy Roosevelt took:
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor."Or...you can look at it the way that the Beltway Pundits; the Official Spokesworms for our Governing Classes would like you to look at it (this is Jon Meacham from Newsweek:
"And to pursue criminal charges against officials at the highest levels—including the former president and the former vice president—would set a terrible precedent. . . . That is not to say presidents and vice presidents are always above the law; there could be instances in which such a prosecution is appropriate, but based on what we know, this is not such a case."Did you get that? Our Leaders aren't ALWAYS above the law, just sometimes, like when they need to waterboard you 183 frikkin' times. Because you're an eeeeevil terrorist.Or because he...SAYS...you're an evil terrorist.
It's this simple: torture is against the law. It's against the law because torture and the culture torture foments is a toxin, lethal to the rule of law and to open government. It is the Star Chamber. Not for nothing did our Founders forbid "cruel and unusual punishments" - not because they thought that Americans were noble and that criminals needed to be kissed and caressed. It was BECAUSE they understood the evil that men do is corrosive, and in certain dark ways beautiful and attractive in the way that power and strength are always beautiful and attrative, like a shining curlique of blood against a sheet-white pavement.
If we do not, if we CANnot, pursue and punish those who broke the law, regardless of their "reasons", then we are no longer a nation of laws.
And from there, it becomes harder and harder to turn away.
While my Republican friends will deny and demur, you can take it from me or you can read this powerful essay from The Minstrel Boy over at Group News Blog.
Either way, from this LP/OP it seems like the falcon is listening less and less these dark days.
What do you think?
Update 4/28 p.m.: As always, a little more, a little less...
On the "good news" side, the Ninth Circuit panel came down hard on the Bush/Obama Department of "Justice" for trying to put the entire government outside the law. Judge Hawkins' opinion pretty much sums it up: the U.S. government stated that the entire "subject matter" of rendition and torture was so secret that to merely discuss it was dangerous to the public good. This, as I've said, is the logic of the Star Chamber; we are condeming you for reasons that we cannot tell you because if we did you would know how we gained the "evidence" to condemn you and might be able to evade condemnation. As Hawkins says, this would "cordon off all secret government actions from judicial scrutiny, immunizing the CIA and its partners from the demands and limits of the law"
On the other hand, the "conversion" of Sen. Arlen Specter (once-R-now-D-PA) seems to represent everything that is dysfunctional about our federal legislative branch. Specter, who was pretty much Bush's rubber love doll throughout the past 8 years, is being challenged in his primary by an even bigger right-wing nutjob. Rather than wait for the nutjob to win and then bitchslap him with an actual Democrat, the Senate D's are welcoming Specter in the same way they have nestled down with Lieberman; Ried is on record as saying that "Specter is with us until we need him to be with us". This says to me:
1. Specter has no political morals; he is a whore that will bend like Gumby into whatever position it takes to stay in power. And
2. The Democratic Party STILL doesn't believe that it should be genuinely, openly liberal. They're rather take a hard-right Democrat they believe can win an election than stand for THEIR principles and run someone firmly in the middle of their own supposed ideology.
How the hell are we supposed to care if it's this obvious than they don't..?
One the subject of the possible flu pandemic, Meghan reminds me in the comments that we don't have any hard evidence that this flu will be either especially infectious or especially lethal. True. One problem that we have that our grandparents didn't is information overload. We're now bombed by news that isn't really "news" but a newslet, a tiny fragment of a much larger issue that was jammed unto the wires or the air to make morning newstime. Combine that with the news organs' now-endemic inability to perform analysis or discriminate signal from noise and we are buried under an avalanche of information; some critical, some useful, much completely worthless.
But I would argue that this potential pandemic may be significant for the time it arrives; in the midst of the worst economic crash since the 1930's. This disease may not HAVE to be lethal to be...lethal. If governments - and there is some evidence that this may be happening in Mexico already - act to close down the movement of humans and goods (a reasonable precaution in the case of a highly communicable, potentially high-mortality disease) the effect will be to increase the downward pressure on the global economy. ISTM that finding a balance between trade and public health may be very, very difficult. I don't know how I would do it - hopefully the people working at the CDC and the US Public Health Service and the Commerce/Tansportation/Border Patrol executive levels are smarter than me.