Rage against the machine

20 03 2013

*Update* Check out Conor Friedersdorf’s review of anti-anti-war commentary.

I don’t even remember why I was against the war.

It’s easy, now, after the lies and mess and blood and money and vengeance and torture and horror and exodus, to say What a monstrous disaster.

Did I see all of this coming? I don’t know. I was skeptical, fearful of the what-ifs, but did I foresee the monster we would become, the disaster we would inflict on ourselves and the people of Iraq?

I doubt it. I doubt it.

I don’t feel vindicated for having been right. I didn’t have to argue myself into skepticism, didn’t have to fight my way past the shiny objects dangled in front of the American people in order to arrive at the summit of wisdom.

There was no summit, and I claim no wisdom. Is it really that hard to be skeptical of unnecessary war?

This is why I rage and despair in equal measure at those pundits who say “I was wrong, but I could have been right, so. . . .” They couldn’t be bothered to perform the most basic act of citizenship: to think, to think beyond one’s desires and sorrows and glee—and you betcher ass there was glee at the prospect of war—about what we were, truly about to do. Could they not be bothered to wonder at their own anticipation?

I am ungenerous in my interpretation of the commentators who supported the war, ungenerous in my reception to their ex post facto “soul-searching”; I read their apologies as justifications.

This is unfair (at least to John Cole), but I don’t care. They lost nothing by being wrong, suffered no consequences for whooping it up as the Congress and the Bush administration led us into destruction. They are sorry only that the destruction was inglorious, rather than shockingly awesome.

Again, this is unfair, I know, I know.

And it puts too much on the sideliners, not enough on the Congress and the Bush administration. I vent my rage at the pundits because I despair of influencing the politicians.

Once a president decides to go to war, that’s it, we’re going to war.

Pundits make the pitch easier; protesters are, if not ignored, a useful foil. But, truly, nothing any of us says, matters. We don’t matter, except, perhaps, to ourselves.

If a president wants war, war is what we get.

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Rage against the machine

28 10 2012

Tina Fey said that if she had “to listen to another grey-faced man with a two-dollar haircut explain to me what rape is, I’m going to lose my mind.”

Don’t do it, Tina, don’t lose your mind, or you’ll end up JUST LIKE THEM.

This isn’t funny, not in the least—although I did laugh, a bitter, bitter little laugh.

Y’know that overused phrase, there are no words?

THERE ARE NO WORDS.

Only rage, ice cold rage.

~~~

This version of the chart from Brainwrap at ElectaBlog (h/t Dan Savage, The Slog); original chart by connecticutie at Daily Kos.





Mayan campaign mashup 2012: Keepin’ it cool

13 08 2012

Fist, stick, knife, gun: I’ve been approaching this campaign as if it were gang warfare—and it is, of the metaphorical sort.

Total up the blows, the blood, the chipped teeth and broken bones; politics as smashmouth. It is unfortunate, as I mentioned to someone who recoiled from my cold analysis, but the evidence leaves little room for any other conclusion.

There is another reason for my phlegmatic response to outrageous behavior: I really do find it outrageous, and only by turning off my emotional reaction to the bullshit and the lies that I can get through the day without hurling my computer out the window.

For example: Romney and Ryan argue that they can “save the American dream” and that Obama is “trying to change America … into something we might not recognize.”

Pure boilerplate, nothing out of the ordinary for a presidential campaign, designed both to run down the other guys and fire up your own side. It isn’t and won’t be the worst thing said during this election season.

The analyst observing this cage-match from the catwalk merely takes note of the theme: the country’s going off track and we’re the men to get it back on track—again, nothin’ new, there.

But the citizen, the partisan, reacts to this boilerplate with her own boiling rage. What the fuck are they talking about, save the American dream? The fuck they know about anyone else’s dreams? And Obama trying to change this country into something we don’t recognize? The fuck these motherfucking motherfuckers saying about the goddamned president of the goddamned country? This pomaded pair calling the rest of us traitors? Motherfucking mother. . . .!

You see how it is.

There are some political matters on which I can genuinely modulate my response, allow room for both emotion and reason, but when it comes to the depravity underlying presidential campaigns I have to choose between the fanatic screaming LIES! or the dispassionate amoralist jotting down points for this side or that.

The bloodlessness I bring to this campaign isn’t entirely affected—there is a kind of satisfying. . . calm to the Machiavellian perspective—but it is willed. I cannot see through the turbulence of my partisanship, so I use cynicism to tamp it down and grant me clarity. That, to me, is a reasonable decision.

Yet if I am unbothered by the amorality of the choice itself, I do admit that my willingness to make it marks a kind of resignation on my part. I don’t know how things could get better, don’t know that I could have any role in making them better, so instead of trying to find a way through this, I set myself above it all.

Or below, as the case may be.