The Year In U.S. Politics: New Lows and Scattered Saving Graces
Ooooh to writh under the blinding glare of his piercing eye, to bear the stinging lash of his sassy tongue. It smarts to be pinned down so and held in the vise-like critique of Terry Sawyer, but 2004 revealed so many deserving people... Ah, but the sparks that fly from this year in review also light up the darkness, giving us glimmers of hope. Not all is lost. Read on.
1. Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib - Native Americans will be the first to tell you that we don't come a liberatin' without a little ass rape. We collectively turned a blind eye at the President's sanctioning of torture and the story remains unresolved because it's ongoing. Tossing innocent Muslims in Constitutional black holes, murdering people in captivity or snapping fluorescent lights off into their anuses, we mute the news that makes our skin crawl and then bat our pretty little eyes at the "irrationality" of America hatred. Who doesn't like to be attacked by dogs and have cigarettes extinguished on their faces? It must be some strange aversion they get from their silly religion. Rush Limbaugh compared it to frat boys frolicking and the rest of the AM thug huddle shrugged and whistled the Star Spangled Banner, their favorite accompaniment to willful blindness. But show a captured American soldier on TV and they'll instantly rediscover the Geneva Conventions that, moments earlier, they kicked under the bed with a flick of the foot. Torture concerns most Americans very little as long as Desperate Housewives doesn't get cancelled and ceramic mangers adorn the courthouse lawns.
2. The Re-Election of President Bush - Even after George "itchy trigger finger" Bush essentially deceived the country into fighting a wholly tangential quagmire to the fight against international Islamic terrorism that drained our resources, muddied the hunt for Al Qaeda, and dissipated any remnants of good will toward our country in the international community, the American public said: more, porridge, sir. Despite the karmic justice of it all, I shake my head at how easy it is to lead Americans in lumbering fat masses off a cliff. No matter how many defecting Administration officials divulged the scheming White House ways, scores of adoring lamb chops stared in cultic glee while the President cleared brush and talked about having Jesus in his heart. Perhaps only the most cynical among us wonder if Jesus is actually trapped there, being attacked by German Shepherds, starved, and denied access to an attorney.
3. Michelle Malkin - Another in a long, despicable line of Trojan minorities, sent in for the cheap contradictory feint of having a person of color advocate racist policies or, in the case of spike titted misogynist, Ann Coulter, an ice Barbie sent to put a leggy sneer on the cause of setting womankind back 50 years. Malkin, of Asian ethnicity herself, decided that what America needed more than ever was a protracted defense of the policy of caging Japanese Americans for their potential subversion during WWII. Long considered one of the most shameful chapters in our history, Malkin, like most conservatives, has decided that there's no atrocity that a little fear monger race baiting can't gloss over. Worse than just attempting to erase a past wrongdoing, Malkin's real aim seems to be massaging the country into another worry-free crime against humanity, as indicated by the title of her book: In Defense of Internment: The Case For 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror. Maybe she's onto to something. So let's find out by sticking her in a veal pen for the Blessed Virgin, our Flag, and 'merikka. Just in case she's a spy.
4. The Swift Boat Veterans - Even if it unsettles your lunch, one can't help but marvel at the sheer audacity of the Right. One would think that given the President's "dog ate my homework" service in the National Guard, that John Kerry's in harm's way heroism would remain one of the sacrosanct issues in the campaign. Along comes The Swift Boat Veterans, a group underwritten by Bush funder, Bob J. Perry, consisting of a ragtag pack of wingnuts intent on derailing John Kerry's Presidential bid by discrediting his military service. This despite the fact that they were not on the same boat and their brand spanking new statements conflicted with both the official military record and their previous statements. But since the cloacae outlets of right-wing media don't do actual reporting so much as they pipeline propaganda from their Party taskmasters, the story gained enough traction and energy to tarnish the Kerry campaign who were so appalled that they mistakenly believed that the Swifties could be dealt with through huffy disdain. Somewhere Karl Rove takes an apple bite of puppy skull and laughs from the bottom of his belted beach ball. Emerging victorious from the political sewer, the Swifties have been publicly pondering their next mission. Assuming there are no other fellow veterans to kick in the mud, one could hope that they turn their energies to refurbishing America's lighthouses or working to decrease the number of urinary tract infections in our country's nursing homes.
5. Dan Rather's Scalping - Poor CBS news made the mistake of publishing false records that most probably accurately reflected George Bush's less than stellar ducking out of his National Guard duties. Sensing blood in the water, Conservatives piled on in feral packs, shredding Rather's credibility like Bambi flesh stripped by a piranha swarm. Of course, the conservative's own network churns out deception on a daily basis, but hypocrisy isn't just every Republican's birthright, it's the only alternative to silence. Rather denied that his retirement had anything to do with his public flogging, but we all secretly knew that the Right won another battle against the free media. All hail the blogosphere! It gave conservative corporate dominance of the media a grassroots toupee.
6. Zell Miller - (Insert Deliverance Banjo) The Republicans found theyselves a Dimmycrat to support the reelection of everyone's favorite Connecticut Cowboy. Zell rambled on at the Republican National Convention like he'd just polished off two shots of lysergic moonshine. Though he'd long ago sloughed off any residual liberalism, the fact that he had the nominal title, "Democrat", allowed him to throw the sucker punches that everyone would have if that hadn't been worried about bullshit spatters on their cufflinks.
7. New York Times Apologizes For War Pom Poms - We're so sorry, the Times said, for well, not doing any real reporting in the lead up to the war against Iraq, instead providing the President with a slip and slide free ride on rigged rationales for war. Thousands of people have died as a result, but at least a few editors at the Times have incredulously slapped their foreheads, done their rings around the rosary, and chalked that one up to the paper being one great big Goofy Gus. That the media establishment found itself in a patriotism potato sack race with the toxic propagandists at Fox News should show you just how difficult it is to remain a free country permanently in the grip of amorphous fear during a war with no foreseeable end. Critics experienced vilification and questions about their loyalty to our Father Leader, though I'm guessing many of them still await their apologies for being right about nearly everything.
8. Alan Keyes - Even Republicans jumped this capsized inner tube of a candidacy. Keyes couldn't open his mouth without sounding like his synapses were having their own version of the OK Corral. Abortion is like terrorism, Jesus hates Barack Obama, Keyes is the ugly, unpolished face of the theocratic Right and without a slickening leg-up from PR Specialists, the citizens of Illinois fled this hateful helium leak in droves. Keyes clearly should have spent more time clearing brush out from a newly purchased farmhouse and sounding uneducated and insane, a combination that appears to have a much higher success rate.
9. Michael Powell - Making the world safe from scarring flashes of areole, Michael Powell showed us again why conservative values are like the people worried about table manners during a genocide. While the FCC, under his staining tenure, did everything it could to consolidate rapacious media monopolies, it initiated a diversionary war against America vulgarity at the behest of the theocratic Right. But "the children" they cried, as Michael Poppins dove in to nanny us all away from impure thoughts, since not everyone in America has the good sense to welt up their naughty bits for being in moist service to the Dark Underlord. By all means, let Sinclair Media illegally use their television stations to champion George Bush and let the bodies of brown people pile up overseas, but rise in Valkryrie fury at the sight of dropped towel. I'd pull my dick out right now if I'd thought it'd do any good.
10. Gay Marriage Terror - Sodom and Gomorrah had better PR in the Bible than gays and lesbians got during this election. The orphaning ambivalence John Kerry gave the issue of gay rights allowed Republicans free reign to conjure the apocalypse from an empty ashtray. How exactly would gay people's wedding nuptials affect heterosexual religious fundamentalists? Well, no one said, exactly, but I'm guessing this is based on the horror movie theory of keeping the audience enrapt in fear by letting their imaginations draw the shape and form of the monster.
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If I could imitate the voice of Gandalf here I would, because even in the darkest of times, there are lit matches of reason and hope, people unafraid to thwap Goliath in the nuts and hock a loogey into the eyes of the powerful forces that eat freedom like stoners burrowing to the bottom of a Dorrito bag. In the interests of ending this year-end wrap-up with a pinprick of optimism, I'd like to highlight a few of the year's finest people and one organization that makes me dot the corner of my eyes with a tissue.
1. Barack Obama - It's nice to see that in at least one part of the country, when Americans were given a stark choice between conservative "values" and a stellar representative of their liberal counterpart, it was, as it should be, a no brainer. Obama transcended the hem hawing negativity that can sometimes tie liberal tennies together, and burst into the national conscience with a comet trail vision of a better life for everyone. Inclusivity, the true triumph of liberalism, may again one day define our national sense of greatness and this just might be the man to resurrect it. Surely conservatives will find some scummy way to snap at the man's pant legs, but they do at their own peril.
2. Michael Moore - You can bet the family pets that when conservatives get into a stoning circle for their all-too-frequent reenactments of the last scene in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, that some truth must have strafed bone. For all his lapses in conspiratorial excess, Moore remains one of the few people willing to waddle into conservative demonization with a week's worth of dog-eared stubble framing his impish grin. Did I forget to mention that he's probably also holding a chili dog in one hand and a milkshake in the other? Despite attempts to turn Moore into some out-of-touch Hollywood intellectual, he remains one of the only public persons willing to address and give a rat's ass about the plight of the working poor, a group that Republicans would just as soon eat shit and die, a fact they like to gloss over by diverting these poor suckers with the emotional lynching of homos. Here's to many more years, my brother, I hope you outlive every single one of the bastards maligning you and make Molotov cocktail documentaries until the day you die.
3. James Wolcott - A scrapper of the best sort, the arrival of James Wolcott's blog was the perfect companion comfort to the Rorschach archery of one of the years best and most dangerously hilarious political reads: Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants: The Looting of the News in a Time of Terror. If we could genetically engineer liberals with this kind of slashing wit and incendiary intelligence, conservatism would just be this horrible story we told our children before tucking them in.
4. Media Matters.org - I know most people don't trust others who've once served the cause of Evil, but I'm willing to forgive and forget for anyone who wishes to leave Conservatism behind with Tex Avery puffs of escape smoke dotting their trail. David Brock used to malign liberal women for sport and Santa bags of cash for the open sewer called The American Spectator. Now he's devoted his time to tracking right-wing misinformation in the media, including the arduous task of transcribing the lies and distortion of talk radio, an undertaking that would probably make Sisyphus stop bitching about the boulder. It's the start of the sort of infrastructural trench warfare that we're going to need to get the country out from Republican clutches. If you've got coin to spare, click on the site, and part with it joyfully.