There's been so much going on that I've wanted to blog about, but the pace of political and other events has been so relentless that there's no way I can keep up. As I sat reading stories this morning, I had NPR (WNYC) on the background, and heard Queens DA Richard Brown's press conference announcing the indictments of three of the officers who fired 50 rounds into Sean Bell's car in Queens last fall. Then I heard Reverend Al Sharpton express disappointment that all of the officers who fired into Bell's car, killing the prospective groom and wounding his two friends, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, all three of whom were unarmed, were not indicted. He also demanded that the case not be moved from Queens. Facing the most serious charges, of first and second degree manslaughter and reckless endangerment, are Detective Michael Oliver, who fired 31 shots, and Detective Gescard Isnora, who fired 11. Detective Marc Cooper, fired 4 times, and faces only a reckless endangerment charge, while the other officers were not charged. Isnora and Cooper are both Black, and Oliver is White, facts that underlined for me that despite all the changes between the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations there's still a disturbing line of continuity, and more broadly, across the country and world, the essential vector of power continues to move asymmetrically between the police and other agents of the state, and poor and working class people of color, especially Black men. When this tragedy first occurred I heard apologists for the police offer excuses for why they would have fired into the car (and into a nearby train station, etc.), but no one has credibly explained the 50 rounds (just think of that--FIFTY bullets, which could only mean you wanted to kill whoever or whatever you were facing dead as the deadest thing you could imagine), and they can't, because it defies reason. It also reminds me that no matter how far the crime rate or levels drop, I feel we never can fully let our guards up; poor and working class people, and especially Black people, will continue to be targets, because really no one places any value on our lives and existence, including far too many of us.
When I first began this blog, I decided that I would post a bit less frequently than many blogs on overtly political topics--not the political aspects of the world, but on politics per se. But I realized pretty quickly that doing so wasn't feasible, and that I had to sound off now and again. The runaway train of failed ideology, incompetence, and scandal that is the Bush Administration never ceases to provide fodder. Today it's the Attorney General purge scandal--AG-gate? I can't keep up--in which blogs like Greg Marshall's Talking Points Memo systematically uncovered how W, Karl Rove, Harriet Miers (Lord, remember when W proposed foisting this creature upon the Supreme Court, as deft a move as possible to get his two extreme right-wing picks confirmed), Alberto Gonzales, Kyle Sampson, Senator Pete Dominici, Congresspeople Heather Wilson, and many more, worked to purge non-loyalists from the AG roles beginning in 2005, ultimately settling on 8 AGs, after which Alberto, a complete idiot, began lying about it publicly, and later under sworn oath before Congress. As economist and NY Times columnist Paul Krugman and others have noted, the fired AGs probably represent only the tip of iceberg. He noted that before the 2006 election, a Bush pioneer and New Jersey AG, trumpeted an investigation of Senator Bob Menendez (to whom the stench of scandals of many types has long clung), only to drop all pretense, including any investigation whatsoever, after the election, which Menendez won handily. My general approach with the W Gang is that everything we see is only the tip of the iceberg, and what they're really up to is considerably worse and more destructive, meaning that whoever takes office after they leave will spend at least a full year simply trying to uncover the extent of the damage. With this current imbroglio, I am much more interested in seeing Karl Rove testify before Pat Leahy and other Democratic committees than in Gonzales's canning, though it is sure to come, and he is truly a disaster. But in the W scheme of things, which is to say, after 9/11, the Afghan and Iraqi Wars, Hurricane Katrina, Jack Abramoff, and so on, does "disaster" apropos of the W criminal syndicate really have any meaning any more?
Speaking of Iraq, today marks the 5th anniversary of the start of the Afghan War and the subsequent debacle I tend to call Iraqmire. This morning I listened (briefly) to W plead and babble about what essentially amounts to staying his course, which is to say, committing more troops from the US's broken Army and billions more borrowed dollars, which China is underwriting, to continue his folly. The Democrats in Congress are dithering; the progressives want out, the centrists do too but are afraid to go that far, and the Blue Dogs sort of want to act like moderate Republicans, despite the fact that a polled majority of Americans think the policy's a failure and favor troop withdrawals ranging from a timetable to immediately. We keep being told that were we to withdraw troops the country would be primed for Al Qaeda and so forth, but my take is that the sectarian bloodbath would continue unabated for a good while, especially in Baghdad, Anbar, and cities in the north like Kirkuk and Mosul, and then nationalists, Shiite and Sunni, with the complicity of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria, as well as other nations like Russia and China, would establish some sort of political equilibrium that would eventually quell the violence. Terrorist pockets would exist, but this is what W's folly released from the vault; there's no going back. The surrounding countries would find it immediately to their interest to insure that the mass exodus of Iraqis slowed, and that the violence didn't spill over the borders. The rubicon has been crossed in terms of Shiite rule, especially with Iran now comparatively so powerful, but Saudi Arabia and Syria (and Kuwait, Egypt, etc.) would not allow the wholesale extermination of Sunnis. As for the Kurds, who run a de facto independent country right now, they would take up their quarrel with Turkey. But all of this is going to happen anyways, whether US troops are there or not. I've never heard W or Rice or any of their gang articulate anything even vaguely coherent or convincing about the state of things over there, what the real aftermath of US troop pullouts might be, and why the troops are there now and what they hope for them to accomplish. So why are they still there? Beyond the "investment" Rice brayed about a few months ago and helping to ensure the passage of the "Oil Law"? Why don't the Democrats find the spine to force W's hand?
Below's an image that a Cave Canem poet, Curtis Crisler, forwarded to the group listserve. It's a composite of some of the 3,200+ US soldiers who've died in this conflict, their faces forming what's I think of as a quasi-death mask for the dreams and practice of proto-fascism that have flourished under the self-styled Decider. The next one could form W's face in more of a Munchian scream, though as we all know, we'd never see that in public. There will be no penance extensive enough, even if he and his gang began tomorrow....