Wednesday, November 08, 2006

MojoWire Tinfoil Hate Theatre

Glenn Greenwald addresses people like me, who have nearly lost all hope in the basic integrity of American democracy. He says...
Chronic defeatists and conspiracy theorists — well-intentioned though they may be — need to re-evaluate their defeatism and conspiracy theories in light of this rather compelling evidence which undermines them (a refusal to re-evaluate one's beliefs in light of conflicting evidence is a defining attribute of the Bush movement that shouldn't be replicated).

Karl Rove isn't all-powerful; he is a rejected loser. Republicans don't possess the power to dictate the outcome of elections with secret Diebold software. They can't magically produce Osama bin Laden the day before the election. They don't have the power to snap their fingers and hypnotize zombified Americans by exploiting a New Jersey court ruling on civil unions, or a John Kerry comment, or moronic buzzphrases and slogans designed to hide the truth (Americans heard all about how Democrats would bring their "San Francisco values" and their love of The Terrorists to Washington, and that moved nobody). It simply isn't the case that we are doomed and destined to lose at the hands of all-powerful, evil forces.
And I'll give him his due. He's right. I've been defeatist, and I've been forced to reƫvaluate my defeatism and conspiracy theory. Now for most of those conspiracy theories, I've never subscribed to them. (I'm still very suspicious of black-box voting, and I don't consider that to be a "conspiracy theory" because the professional organization with which I'm associated, the Association for Computing Machinery, has published peer-reviewed journal articles about the problems that have me most concerned. Problems that Greenwald and others dismiss blithely, ignorantly, and I contend, at our peril.)

That said, I have one nagging little conspiracy theory that keeps me from being completely convinced that I'm looking at proof that Everything Is All Right Now.

When the Military Times editorial calling for Rumsfeld's resignation made the news over the weekend, I wrote my fellow MojoWire editors privately to express my misgivings about predicting GOP retention of both houses of Congress. That single event seemed to signal to me that the military brass had privately brandished an extremely frightening set of teeth and claws to the civilian leadership of the Bush Administration, going all the way up to the President, making it clear that the midterm election had better not come up with official results that wildly diverge from independent exit polling numbers or there will be very serious Hell To Pay as a consequence.

My fellow editors didn't respond to my crazy tinfoil hat theorizing, so I still don't know what they think about that.

Today, when the President announced in a total surprise that Robert Gates would be taking over the Pentagon, despite his earlier lies about how Rumsfeld has his complete confidence and would be serving for the rest of the President's term, I grew even more suspicious that we might be witnessing the results of separate turfs in the executive branch having a very ugly showdown with real weapons drawn behind closed doors.

Unlike Mr. Greenwald, I have no doubt whatsoever that the GOP could have engineered enough electronic vote fraud to retain control of both houses in yesterday's elections, just be diddling with the Diebold software. They only thing I can imagine might have stopped them is not the basic mechanics of American democracy, but rather a literal gun to the head. In fact, I think I'm surprised even that might have been enough.

Mr. Greenwald is right. All the hurdles and problems can be overcome. They just were overcome. However, I'm not yet convinced that they were overcome by fair play. In any event, if movement conservatives really do end up getting their shit dialed back to the 1940's in the next two years, then ultimately I won't care much whether it was democracy or the careful hand of patriotic spooks doing the same thing to our falangists that they did to other country's right-wing jackholes all through the Cold War. My worry is about how I imagine we might just have been traded from one pack of pseudo-fascist gangsters to another, one with smarter and more devious leaders, and for purposes that are far, far from wholesome.

So here's where I am in the reĆ«valuation process... I'm saying, let's see if we can make some progress rolling back the Imperial Presidency and getting an Open Society up and running in America again. If we can do that, then I'll believe I've seen the proof that American democracy still works. Until then, stop blowing smoke up my skirt— you're just pissing me off. We've got a long row to hoe before we can feel good that American democracy still works. We can start by treating our black-box vote tabulation systems like the serious threat they are. I'm looking at you, Mr. Greenwald.

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