Comments: Thank You, Intertubes

THE INTERNET IS THE NEW THIRD POLITICAL PARTY AND THE BLOGOSPHERE IS ITS POLITBUREAU. All that's needed is Internet Candidates for office.

Posted by Mike Meyer at April 25, 2009 07:10 PM

"I'm still essentially alive."

Good to hear. Is that the same as "more or less"?

Posted by bobbyp at April 25, 2009 09:53 PM

By the way, Donald Johnson-- go get yourself a blog, already. Sheesh. I know *I'd* read you, and I doubt I'm the only one.

Posted by Quin at April 26, 2009 03:09 AM

I've invited Donald Johnson to blog at my group blog Dead Horse, but I think the invite got chewed up by somebody's internet dog. C'est la vie- but it's still a good invite Donald.

Posted by Jonathan Versen at April 26, 2009 05:03 AM
"In any case, there's no question the internet will have a deeply chilling effect on the Cheneys of the future. During every meeting in which they organize their criminal conspiracies, someone will say: 'What would this look like if it ends up online?'"

"Boy, yeah. I hadn't thought about that. It would look bad. Do you think the next president and vice-president from the 'opposition party' would actually be forced to prosecute us for this if it what they already knew to be true was leaked and published online?" Count Cheney asked his co-conspirators.

They thought about it for five seconds. Then they all burst out laughing for a good ten minutes before returning to the business at hand.

Posted by Steve in Los Angeles at April 26, 2009 05:04 AM

what do you mean essentially?
cryogenically frozen?

Posted by anon at April 26, 2009 05:14 AM

what do you mean essentially?
cryogenically frozen?

Posted by anon at April 26, 2009 05:14 AM

what do you mean essentially?
cryogenically frozen?

Posted by anon at April 26, 2009 05:15 AM

This is all wrong, I agree with Steve in LA. It has little to with the internet; it's Bushies' audacity, their idealism, that brought it all about.

They could keep torturing, murdering, and raping just fine, but they wanted and insisted on making the point that torturing, murdering, and raping is what a decent and high-minded individual must do in this situation. Like Jeanne d'Arc, they are being persecuted for their idealistic vision.

Posted by abb1 at April 26, 2009 06:33 AM

I'm not sure we'd be a fascist state without the beautiful, beautiful tubes.

I'm not sure we can't become one even with those beautiful tubes.

BTW, Mr Schwarz, your essential continued life is a very good thing.

Posted by Phillip Allen at April 26, 2009 08:48 AM

Yeah, keep on keepin' on!
and go listen again, again, again:

Ah, I'm sick and tired of hearing things
from uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritic politicians
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth
(gor, hope I can get away with this...)

Posted by Woodyeofalb at April 26, 2009 09:14 AM

Agree about Donald Johnson. His comments at several blogs are frequently among the most insightful.

Posted by Save the Oocytes at April 26, 2009 12:49 PM

Its honest and VIGILANT CITIENS that keep government within the law, not macnines. The Net is just a tool and can be used either way, but for now its the right tool at the right time. (just in the nick-of-time)

Posted by Mike Meyer at April 26, 2009 01:11 PM

Okay, thanks to everyone who said nice things about my comments, but no more compliments. I linked to this post back at ObiWi and everyone will think it's for purposes of self-aggrandizement, when that's only partly true.

Posted by Donald Johnson at April 26, 2009 01:16 PM

We've had a fascist state since WWII.

By the way, the weather is hot in New Jersey. I advise against vacationing here.

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at April 26, 2009 02:58 PM

We've had a fascist state since WWII.

Even if one concedes your point, can't there be varying degrees of oppression and criminality by the state? Could a particular tool (like the internet) help to push things in the direction of less criminality and oppression, even though it doesn't, by itself, create democracy where we now have fascism?

The comparison our host is making, I think, isn't between our current situation and some democratic ideal, but between our current situation and how much worse things could be if we didn't have a means of communication which is outside corporate control. And if you can't imagine things could be very much worse, then you have no imagination at all.

Posted by SteveB at April 26, 2009 06:28 PM

We've had a fascist state since World War I, which set off a Red Scare and a wave of government repression against labor, people of color, foreigners, and socialists. Not that socialists, foreigners, people of color, and labor ever did well in the US. Before World War I, there was Jim Crow, more red scares and anti-labor violence... how far back do you want to go to find American fascism, Bob?

Posted by Duncan at April 26, 2009 06:30 PM

Not so much the "whole net" just the blogs, where the politics are discused and most obvious.

Posted by Mike Meyer at April 26, 2009 06:42 PM

Duncan: Ask The American Indian for a timeline on American Torture and Oppression.

Posted by Mike Meyer at April 26, 2009 06:47 PM

I think I’m going to go with the recently resurrected Arthur Silber on this one folks.

Posted by Coldtype at April 27, 2009 01:14 AM

An additional thought, regarding the polls on torture prosecutions--- even if the poll question specifies persons in a leadership position, I wonder how many people just roll their eyes and assume that if there were prosecutions they'd just hang to dry a couple of low-level functionaries and be done with it, further insulating the rottenness at the top with the phoney-baloney argument,

"hey, we had an investigation, we caught the 'bad guys' and jailed them-- so what's the problem?"

It's not exactly an unreasonable concern.


Posted by Jonathan Versen at April 27, 2009 01:50 AM

let's not use the term "fascism" too lightly now.. while there are certainly a lot of fascistic elements about the American right and the Republicans, including their recent institutionalizing of torture, there is obviously a long ways to go before the you can call America a fascist state. When the Republicans and the American right have their own armed and uniformed militia, and start to kill Democrats, liberals and lefties in the streets, and the Republicans declare themselves the only legitimate political party, with Sarah Palin as their Ms Fuhrer, then we can start calling the US a fascist state.

Posted by hv at April 27, 2009 08:17 AM

btw, Coldtype, thanks for the tip on Arthur's resurrection. I was starting to get worried about him.

Posted by hv at April 27, 2009 10:12 AM

I'm pretty sure I agree more with abb1 here, that mostly this is a product of the outrageously brazen nature of the Bush/Cheney Admin.

Of course, discussions on the brazen nature are more rapidly disseminated, and made more e-public, by virtue of the InterWebTubez.

But I think the brazen-ness is the real key here. The brazen-ness was evident to many Americans as of November 2006, when many lined up to vote (ineffectual) Donkeys into majority power in the Con-Artist-Gress. What I'm waiting for is a more wholesale observation by a majority of Donklebots to the effect that their saintly, noble Donkle is a fraud like the Rethuggish Elephants that the libwools and pwoggies love to hate.

Posted by micah pyre at April 27, 2009 12:49 PM

hv's comments focused on Republicans are the type that remind me we have a lot of sorely deluded people in America, and this reminder suggests that hopes for real significant changes in policy and government are futile as long as such perspectives are scattered around America and offered for un-thinking adoption by gullible Donklebots.

Posted by micah pyre at April 27, 2009 12:53 PM

jesus.. I'm not even American, and I assure you, I hate the Democrats are much as you do or else I would be reading DailyKos and Digby instead of you lefties here, but let's be realistic here: if fascism comes to America, it is going to be through the American far-right and the Republican party. And they're the ones who have the guns, remember.

Posted by hv at April 27, 2009 01:30 PM

Who? What? Huh?

Who the hell is this hv who's trying to rewrite the dictionary right here in front of me?

Posted by tim at April 27, 2009 02:29 PM

PS watch those tubes, some crazy shit out there

Posted by tim at April 27, 2009 03:08 PM

I read Arthur Silber's post and while on the big picture he's right as usual, I disagree that we shouldn't try to prosecute at least some of the torturers. It's true that in the unlikely event that some highranking people are found guilty, they will be portrayed as bad apples (like Nixon, say) and then we will hear hymns about how the System worked, glory hallelujah amen. But on the plus side, nearly all the mainstream pundits and politicians from Obama on down are opposed to torture trials, so they evidently fear what sort of message they could send. That kind of opposition is an endorsement. On the negative side, the NYT editorial page wants accountability, so that lends some support to what Arthur is saying. But most of the beautiful people who rule this great land of ours are horrified by the thought of a war crimes trial for Dick Cheney, so it must be a good thing.

Posted by Donald Johnson at April 27, 2009 03:34 PM

It's true that in the unlikely event that some highranking people are found guilty, they will be portrayed as bad apples

In the unlikely event that some highranking people are found guilty, after their convictions are overturned on appeal, they are more likely be portrayed as serious and respectable public servants, like Caspar Weinberger, Elliott Abrams, or martyrs and heroes, like lt. colonel North.

Posted by abb1 at April 27, 2009 04:39 PM

ARREST and JUDGE&JURY TRY the torturers, ALL of them.

Posted by Mike Meyer at April 27, 2009 05:18 PM

Abb1--

I revise my prediction. Mainstream libs will think the Bushies were bad apples,and conservatives will think they were martyrs, a heroes, etc...

Posted by Donald Johnson at April 27, 2009 10:28 PM

Donald Johnson, I suggest re-reading Silber's Part 1 and then reading Part 2 of the recent series. I think you've misunderstood him if you assume there's value in prosecuting some torture. He's absolutely correct -- it creates a new tabula rasa from which the new myth will be offered and repeated.

Namely, that we have fixed torture, and it's time to move forward.

That's what the Obamessiah is providing -- a quick excuse, a sweeping of dirt under the national rug.

And Silber's seeing it long-term, as he should.

Posted by blue ox babe at April 28, 2009 01:24 PM

Blue ox--

Yeah, I'm not sure--I did read Arthur and he makes sense and maybe he's completely right--I don't know. Sometimes, though, good things have happened in this country without managing to overturn the whole power structure. There's the civil rights era, for instance and that was worth doing, even though it's also used as Proof of How Wonderful We Are and How We Eventually Lived Up to Our True Values and how we no longer have to worry about racial justice issues because that was all taken care of already and hey, look, we even have a black President, blah, blah, blah.

Arthur is right in saying that successful torture prosecutions would be used to "prove" that the system works, justice prevailed, and now we can go back to thinking that our country is darn near perfect. OTOH it might somewhat decrease the chances of someone being tortured by our government in the future. And there must be something the ruling class doesn't like about the prospect of torture trials or they wouldn't all be telling us to just move on and stop thinking vengefully.

So I'm not sure how it all balances out in the end, but if there is a chance of making some Washington types sweat a little for their crimes, it seems a little better than just letting them get away with it altogether. And you know that if they do get away with it, it won't be because millions of people read Arthur's essays and realized his analysis was fundamentally correct-it'll be because the Washington insiders got their way and we all moved on just like they want us to.

Posted by Donald Johnson at April 28, 2009 10:27 PM

Wait a minute, let me see if I understand this. Arthur Silber is in effect agreeing with Barack Obama that there is no point in prosecuting the torturers? (I started to read Silber's post, but didn't get far; it's nice to have someone in the blogosphere who makes me seem concise and direct by comparison, but that wasn't enough to get me through it.)

Well, that makes sense. So there's no point in doing anything -- reversing the gag-rule on abortions, permitting stem-cell research, reinstating safety and health regulation, voting for Obama -- because the Republicans will just re-reverse such actions the next time they get into power.

Posted by Duncan at April 29, 2009 10:08 AM

gee, Duncan. more partisanship from you? I'm so shocked.

maybe if you got your e-head out of the e-sand and realized that partisan attacks on Bush/Cheney do not advance the nation, and do not cure the problem of using torture.

maybe you should read Silber, instead of just superimposing "Duncan"-thought on Silber's essay without taking a careful read of Silber's argument.

probably you imagine yourself well-informed and objective. I can only shake my head in disgust at your arrogance.

are you a lawyer, Duncan? do you have a lawyer's long-term assessment skills?

I doubt it.

Posted by blue ox babe at April 29, 2009 11:26 AM

Donald Johnson,

Just read Silber's essays, if you would.

To me your recent comment seems to be extrapolating nonsensical things from points that do not exist in Silber's argument.

It's quite simple. The problems are solved by attacking their root cause, not by putting a bandaid on a gaping wound. A real advancement would be to have a full-blown exposee of the torture program -- which would include exposing the complicity of, the positive assistance offered by, the Democrats that good old Duncan wants to believe are saintly and noble and pure and unlike his hated "Rethugs."

Of course we can't have such a thing. So a theatre of partisan puke, what Duncan wants -- it's pointless. It is but the circus of bread & circus. It is distraction, it is a sacrificed pawn on a national chess gameboard.

Much like everything else "positive" that Obama has done since winning the election in 2008.

Silber is arguing for repair, not theatre.

Duncan is arguing for theatre.

Which one do you think helps America more, long-term?

Theatre?

or

Repair?

Posted by blue ox babe at April 29, 2009 11:32 AM

I've been reading Arthur for years, blue ox. Evidently that didn't get through, cuz I was so busy extrapolating points and doing what not.

My point, independent of what Arthur says (just to make clear that I'm not, you know, extrapolating) is that we've never had anything remotely resembling a just and decent society, but sometimes things happen that take us a step in the right direction even if people in the Establishment then take that step and offer it as proof that our country is perfect already and getting better by the minute. I think it might be good if we had torture trials for Bush and Cheney because it would establish a precedent. A serious investigation that took us all the way to the White House would also expose Democratic complicity. But even without the exposure of Democrats, I think Barack Obama is opposed to a serious investigation because nobody who makes it to the White House is likely to have too much of a conscience left and Obama might well be thinking that if they start trying Presidents for war crimes, he'll have to think twice the next time he blows up some villagers in Pakistan. There are also people like David Brooks, David Broder, Tom Friedman and others, all useful barometers of Beltway thinking, who seem horrified at the thought of a war crimes trial for high ranking US officials. Since they fear it, they must not be confident of their ability to spin the results in a positive way for the establishment.

Arthur's point (or one of them) is that there are lots of mainstream liberals who think that Bush's crimes came out of nowhere and that he has stained the national honor and left doo-doo spots on the furniture. That's true--I see such liberals at more mainstream blogs. And yes, such people will think that once Bush and Co. are prosecuted, we've regained our soul and can go back to being perfect and wonderful and can bomb and imperialize the rest of the world with a clear conscience. My words, not Arthur's. And I think that's true--that is how mainstream liberals would see it. (Tom Friedman thought the mere election of Barack Obama should have been enough for all that.) People like this think the US has been some sort of beacon for human rights and then Bush came along and ruined everything, whereas the truth is his war crimes were not particularly large by the standards of US foreign policy, although he was more openly arrogant about it all. (His real sin.) I still think that having an American President in prison for war crimes would be a step in the right direction, even if many people would think that this is all that needs to be done.

Posted by Donald Johnson at April 29, 2009 12:43 PM

I still think that having an American President in prison for war crimes would be a step in the right direction, even if many people would think that this is all that needs to be done.

American President in prison for war-crimes? What are you smoking, dude, and can I have some of it?

No American President, or even senior government officials, are ever going to be tried for war-crimes by institutions within the American state itself. It would have to come from without, and after an American defeat in a war. Otherwise, that's just wishful thinking.

However, unlike Arthur, I still think one should push for investigations into torture because as you say, the establishment is so against it, which indicates that they aren't sure they can control the process. As I said at Chris Floyd's blog, human affairs are unpredictable. All it would take is one decent and persistent individual, or one unexpected revelation that slips out in spite of some Blue-ribbon, bipartisan committee to do their usual cover-up job, and things could start to unravel quickly, and lead to greater, unpredictable ripples that could have fatal consequences for the American power-structure.

Yes, the chances for that happening are slim.. but they're not nil. We have to exploit all cracks in the system in the hopes of widening and weaking the huge, technocratic, mass-murdering sociopathic engine that is the American Imperium.

Silber is arguing for repair, not theatre.

Duncan is arguing for theatre.

Which one do you think helps America more, long-term?

Yeah, well how do you think repairs will happen unless we chip away at the little cracks that are available, such as pushing for torture investigations?

Could anyone have predicted the Soviet Empire would crumble the way it did through the combination of internal rot with determinatino of people like Gorbachev to exploit the tiny cracks that were available to them at the time and introduce reforms and in effect, creating pockets of disorder that led to the crumbling of the whole, rotten edifice?

This is chaos theory: small changes here at the right time, and at the right place, can lead to huge, unpredictable ripples of effect.

Posted by hv at April 29, 2009 03:14 PM

"American President in prison for war-crimes? What are you smoking, dude, and can I have some of it? "

I originally had "unlikely as that is" in my post, but took it out since it seemed obvious. And anyway, from the rest of your post it appears you're smoking the same stuff. It's unlikely that anything really dramatic will come from an attempt at bringing Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld to justice, but something good might come out of the effort.

Posted by Donald Johnson at April 29, 2009 04:00 PM

I didn't mean that something dramatic as the collapse of empire will occur because of one investigation.. what I was trying to say is that it's by exploiting the little opportunities and chipping away at small cracks in the edifice that allow for the possibility of eventually leading to the collapse of the entire structure.

Posted by hv at April 29, 2009 05:33 PM

"the Democrats that good old Duncan wants to believe are saintly and noble and pure and unlike his hated 'Rethugs.'"

Giggle. Smirk. He don't know me vewwy well, do he? I don't believe I've ever referred to the Republicans as 'Rethugs', and the notion that I want to believe that the Democrats are saintly and noble and pure ... oh, gracious me. The same goes for the idea that I want "theatre." And then I'm accused of imposing my own preconceptions on Arthur Silber, by people who are fantasizing wildly about me.

Actually, though, Silber doesn't seem to object to theatre. He praised Leon Fleisher for showing his horror at George W. Bush's policies by wearing a peace symbol around his neck and a purple ribbon on his lapel when he attended a White House reception on the afternoon of the gala of Kennedy Center Honors. The Bush junta trembled, or something.

Posted by Duncan at April 29, 2009 10:35 PM