Monday, September 26, 2005

The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

I read yesterday in a San Antonio newspaper about private charter companies hired by the US Navy to fly terror suspects out of the arresting countries to places where torture is allowed. Governmental officials in the countries from whence these flights originated are furious, and who can blame them? Can we imagine what we would think if, say, jailed Chicago mobsters were kidnapped away from our justice system because Russia thought we were going to be too soft on them?

Yet again we find our government trying to work outside the frameworks of law and accepted practice and diplomacy, trying to conceal its nature as a regime that fights terror with torture and pre-emptive warfare, and that will engage in any practice or tactic which advances a secret set of priorities and goals. Secret, I say, because I simply don’t believe the American public endorses the behavior one sees again and again from this administration. I think W has had his agenda firmly in mind from the outset, and his version of political skill is to sugar coat and prettify things enough to get them paraded under the noses of the people whose votes would be withdrawn if they really grasped what he was up to. Just once--only once!--I’d like to read about something other than shit flowing downhill from this particular group of rich white guys.

After the election of 2004 I remember being aghast at Bush’s almost immediate statement that “I won political capital with this election, and I intend to spend it.” The electoral victory had been a scant 34 votes, and the popular vote had been very close in a divisive and contentious election. If Kerry had been elected by the same margin, conservatives would have fumed at any notion of a mandate, and I honestly believe Kerry would have made an I-didn’t-win-by-much-so-let’s-find-the-common-ground speech. But here was W plowing ahead with an agenda that was largely not spoken of.

Like these flights.

Discouraging as this is, one can’t really claim to be surprised given the administration’s track record from the first four years. But what is surprising, and the more depressing for it, is the failure of the supposed “liberal media” to follow up on these things with, say, the same zeal they approached Clinton’s Oval Office blow job. I found this article about these secret flights buried inside the local San Antonio paper, and it took me forever to find it again on the web today. Is this really so trivial a matter? Can our media really not distinguish between personal moral foibles (something reasonably of concern to, say, a person’s spouse) and a seemingly complete breakdown of governmental ethics and accountability? Do our expectations and demands of our news media, to say nothing of our elected representatives, really fail to extend beyond what is titillating and tabloid-worthy?

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