Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Relapse Nation



There's an old TV movie I barely remember, title and plot long ago erased from memory. But one scene still flickers: the protagonist somehow has time traveling ability, and he goes back to the early days of the Johnson administration to show LBJ film of how the yet-to-be expanded Vietnam war would turn out, primarily for the US (I don't recall much concern for the Vietnamese). How the guy got in to to see the president I cannot say, but he does, and after showing LBJ future events, the big Texan drawls about how he'll have to double the escalation he has planned, since it's clear what he originally had in mind won't do the job.

The time traveler is floored. He wants to stop the war before it really starts. But LBJ will not go down as the first US president to lose a war, and considers using nukes to insure that America wins in Southeast Asia.

In other words, antiwar future guy made things much, much worse.

I thought about that scene the other day, and wondered if such a time traveling tactic would work on Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. After ten seconds of serious consideration, I realized that, no, it wouldn't make a dent. If anything, it would probably turn Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and maybe Syria, into glowing piles of rubble.

Then I thought about showing some 9/11 footage to Rudolph Giuliani a week before it happened, but then nixed that idea even sooner, since Rudy's career was reborn the day the Towers fell. The man would probably salivate awaiting those planes, quietly marking his calendar, prepping for his biggest stage.

Cruel portrayal? Just look at Giuliani's shameless exploitation of that dreadful day in actual time, then tell me about cynicism.

Today marks six years into the New Madness, with, I suppose, 94 more to go. At least. Warmongers from all sides worship this day, as well they should, for it gave the green light to mass murder, torture, theft, ceaseless misery, as well as the political/religious cover needed to keep the sick flames alive.

Friends say the cracks are showing, that the people are seeing more and more through the lies and chaos and are turning against the larger narrative. How I wish this was so. Apart from weariness with the Iraq debacle, faith in America's unique and unprecedented decency and goodness remains among the many, for without that faith, what do the powerless have left to imagine? And we are powerless -- powerless to stop the major players from launching fresh wars, from pushing more and more of us into debt, from turning what's left of this country into a banana republic strip mall with just enough distractions to make us feel, if not free, then somewhat amused until the next round of bills arrive, when the cycle renews itself, and round and round we go, again and again and again.

Of course, if we the people really wanted to, we could collectively pressure those who rule us into some kind of political concession, or at least irritate them enough to get their attention. But this isn't going to happen. Not anytime soon, anyway. So we stand slack-jawed, watching in slow motion the continuing carnage, listening passively to the lies spouted to justify it all, hands over hearts, misting up as Old Glory flutters above, pretending that we're not connected to the larger insanity.

There are those who worry that the ├╝ber-nationalism expressed right after the 9/11 attacks is ebbing with each successive anniversary. If you have any remaining doubt about the utter apolitical nature of this country, read this shit and be rid of the delusion. Of all the things to come away with after six years -- will 9/11 be remembered in 2525. We have been well and truly played, and played big. No wonder the imperial mouthpieces in both parties have no fear of spewing their bullshit in public. Who's going to seriously retort? Jesus, some well-aimed rotting fruit would be a breath of fresh air.

So long as a majority of Americans believe in and keep alive the national myths that hold us in check, we're fucked, and we'll be continually fucked as war expands, debt piles up, elections are bought in advance when not simply stolen, and those who can cash in on the madness will have the most breathing room while the rest are left to scramble, eat fast food, drink cheap beer, and watch "reality" on TV.

Again, this can be changed if we want it to be changed. But Peace Is Patriotic bumperstickers won't cut it, friends. Time to Move On past that useless, tired crap.