The Bush/Cheney regime dressed up Bill Clinton's program of extraordinary rendition in the old garb of cowboy counter-terrorism made iconic by the stoic leading men of Hollywood's American West. The explosive blowback that occurred upon the release of the infamous Abu Ghraib photos -- itself reminecent of frontier scalping expeditions -- was easily integrated into the spectacle of a protracted ethico-political debate over torture rather than a project to expose the underlying strategic logic of security politics, which mobilize both terror and counterterror in spectacular wars. Liberal crocodile tears are now revealed to be the sham they have always been by the fact that no state in the union will accept the denizens of Gitmo and the C.I.A. secret prison network. America says: "Not in my backyard!"
The Bush/Cheney Regime's Strategy: Tie the Leviathan's left-handed, perfumed and fluffy stick behind it's back and strike an epic pose with the right.
The Obama Regime's Strategy: Affect stoicism without swagger; bedazzle everyone with the fluffy, perfumed stick so they won't see you putting red tape over the sword handle (for a better grip, no doubt).
GDP shrank in Q2 of 2009 at a less-than-expected rate of 1%. The stimulus is working right? Green shoots? Wrong. As "reported" by the WSJ blog, Spending on defense accelerated at an annualized rate of 13.3%, up from a 4.3% contraction in Q1 2009. All the while, Obama "took the heat" for axing some spectacular weapons programs, like the F-22, appearing "weak on defense." As the Afghanistan/Iraq/Pakistan conflict worsens, we should expect US defense spending to grow as we borrow more and more money from China to fund a new series of opium wars. But what picture does the Congressional Budget Office paint for us?
The graph to the left is from NYTimes page on the budget. What we observe is a spectacularly optimistic picture of the future. As US outlays of money reach the highest percentage of GDP in recent history -- the history of late capitalism in a long downturn -- average State revenues have declined to the lowest percentage of GDP. As if by magic, the lines correct after 2009. This budgetary audacity is put forth as the rising tide of unemployment sinks more mortgages. Just this month, we experienced the highest percentage of the nation's mortgages in delinquency (13%) since we've kept numbers. Where will this magical lift in State coffers come from and how will the roller coaster ride of defense spending end?
More barbarism? Perhaps. On the brighter side, our economy may collapse before that is accomplished. Continuing with the fluffy spectacular disco stick strategy, the Obama regime has been busy appearing "hard" on C.I.A. counter-terror nastiness with inquiries and reports from the Justice Department, while Administration Officials stated they have created a task force to extraordinarily render people to other countries, more humanely! The twist is that we will transparently render people with an interdepartmental agency to other countries where we will hand them off for interrogation, though the C.I.A will still retain de facto control over the program. So the process will be transparent until we're no longer in control of it. Brilliant! And we can imagine a few bad apples like Lyndie England emerging out of such an inquiry. Will Obama's fancy new whitehouse.gov write an iPhone App for us to track the location of detainees wherever they are in the world on board Obama's Terror Airlines? If only. Will they let Maurene Dowd on board to interview them in their goggles, gags, orange flight suits and sensory deprivation ear mufflers? That could prove to be an innovative form of torture. Obama's graphic design wizards could come up with a new O graphic for Terror Airlines, so we citizen watchdogs could spot the planes on tarmacs around the globe. Perhaps we could give the detainees laptops for live blogging (or tweeting?) from interrogation rooms?
After Algeria and the wars in Indo-China, democracies have increasingly pioneered inventive new "clean" torture techniques, torture that leaves no marks. Waterboarding is nothing new, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. What use are such assurances about transparent interrogations and bureaucratic red tape when there are no longer any marks to see? How can a rendering program, operating on the tactical level to make humans invisible, be rendered transparent?
Rally Against Police Beating at SFSU
4 days ago