There’s been a sense of dispiritedness in most of my favourite blogs this past weekend. I’ve shared it. Despite several times in the past few years pointing out signs of incipient fascist tendencies in the Bush administration, I always wondered whether I was slipping into hyperbole.
I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that I would be writing that the USA has not only legalised torture (while hypocritically denying that coercive interrogation is torture) but also permanently suspended habeas corpus for anyone it cares to define as an “enemy combatant”. Of course the only definition of “enemy combatant” is a catch-all description that means essentially whoever the White House wants to be an enemy combatant. Indefinite secret detention and show trials here we come.
(And how far behind will Australia be, when our Attorney General waffles on the new US law and explicitly claims that sleep deprivation is not torture?)
Yet what has most conservatives in the USA up in arms about the GOP? Good old ubiquitous cronyism in a scandal involving a Congressman sending sexually explicit IMs and emails to teenage Capitol male pages. As my friend Terry put it, the perfect example of being able to live down anything but “a dead girl or a live boy”.
The failures of military intervention in Afghanistan (where Taliban insurgents are about to be invited back into the government) and Iraq, the fiddling while New Orleans drowned, the atrocities of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamao, the continual crony financial scandals: none of them have generated as much grassroots conservative outrage as this sex scandal. Which is just how those creeping into dictatorship want it to be.
Coturnix, a US citizen who lived in Yugoslavia as it disintegrated from a prosperous democracy into a group of authoritarian hardman-led territories fighting a civil war along sectarian and ethnic lines, sees far too many of the same signs in his excellent post We are now officially living in a dictatorship. Read all his paired links to get the full flavour of his argument.
Coturnix notes that Glenn Greenwald is more optimistic. I hope Greenwald’s right about it still being possible to impede and reverse the ravages of BushCo as long as American voters don’t give up hope and refuse to sink into fearful apathy, I really do.