I've been a little under the weather, but also at a loss as far as what to write about, since what has captured much of my free mental space for the last eight years has shifted. In 2000, after the (still) unbelievable success of legal arguments not to count votes, I joined the ACLU. After 9/11, I started studying Arabic as a kind of rebellion against the demonization of Arabic-speaking people by the neocons and religious right. I wanted to be able to read their magazines and newspapers, and to have conversations with real people, and not just get the Western opinion and propaganda (this has since become a very long-term goal, as Arabic is unbelievably difficult). In 2003, I hoped and prayed that diplomacy would be chosen - that the inspectors would be allowed to finish their work - only to despair. In 2004, I found the book "The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11" by Dr. David Ray Griffin, suggesting in a very convincing manner other explanations than the official story and I became and will remain interested in this issue until a proper investigation is undertaken. The 2004 election result was a shock, since it was not in line with the exit polls or with polls in the run-up to the election. Further research produced information that electronic result flipping had likely occurred. I agonized nearly every day for approximately eight years about the erosion of democracy in America and, time after time, I watched Democrats in Congress cave in to every demand of the "administration" - it seemed inexplicable, as though the resident had some magic potion that turned everyone into obedient zombies.
I didn't follow everything in detail. It was all so much - too much - the warrantless wiretapping, Abu Ghraib, extraordinary renditions, Guantanemo, authorities no longer needing court oversight, probable cause, knowledge or permission of residents to conduct warrantless searches of private residences, the threat of indefinite incarceration at the whim of some goverment official. Even within the last weeks before the inauguration, further icky things were approved, like the dumping of millions of gallons of toxic waste from cruise ships one mile offshore of the eastern USA coastline.
Fortunately, about half way through these long dark years, I found some websites that became my daily dose of sanity: Glenn Greenwald, The Brad Blog, and The Existentialist Cowboy. Glenn Greenwald has the ability to explain legal matters in a way that is captivating and understandable and spoke eloquently and forcefully against the legal arguments used by Bush&Co to justify their lawbreaking. He is still speaking out about legal issues in a very understandable way, and it is worth subscribing to Salon to read his column without all the ads. Brad Friedman has been working tirelessly to inform public officials and anyone who will listen of the dangers inherent in the use of electronic voting machines - a true modern day hero of democracy who will go down in history as such. And Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy, raging against all of the atrocities, not only of the last eight years, but also of more distant times, showing connections between so many seemingly unrelated persons and events, and frequently putting into words frustrations that I had felt but could not voice - like a good thunderstorm to clear the air, he cleared my mind and helped me to see so many things.
I'm glad for and relieved about the regime change and believe that at least the intentions are more in line now with what the founding fathers had in mind, but I'm kind of wondering what Obama thinks about bipartisanship now that ALL of the Republicans and 11 Democrats in the House voted against his economic recovery package. Bipartisanship died even before Bill Clinton. The only "bipartisanship" has been Democrats going to the dark side. I wonder if he will somehow be able to revive this long-dead horse.