Year Zero

Used to be, there on the lefty blogs, you’d encounter people who wanted to imprison, torture, and execute members of BushCo. These penalties were to be exacted to punish members of BushCo for imprisoning, torturing, and executing people in the War on Terra. I don’t know how many times I was subjected to the Old Testament disconnect of someone wanting to authorize the waterboarding of Darth Cheney because Darth Cheney had authorized waterboarding.

Then, for a time, there came calls to place in adjoining prison cells in The Hague George II and Barack Obama. The theory here was that the latter has aided and abetted the former by declining to imprison, torture, and execute him. The people proposing this punishment don’t know the law from a leachfield. But then they don’t feel that they have to. For they’ve read Queeg Green-wald. Failing to understand that Greenwald’s take on the law is as extreme as John Yoo’s.

While there stills sounds occasionally the tocsin for brutalizing BushCo principals and Obama “enablers” for Operation Iraqi Fiefdom or for torture, the vengeful focus, I notice, has shifted now more towards bankers. It is understood, somehow, that people on Wall Street are Liars, and Thieves, and they have Robbed us. The Outrage is occasioned by financial matters that are extremely complex, ones that are not understood by any of those calling for the most extreme of penalties. But it isn’t understanding that is important. Vengeance is all.

And so today I come across someone who, in setting the conditions that must be met in order to secure his vote for Barack Obama in 2012, led off with a demand that “at least 1000 Wall Street executives and senior management go to jail (the number jailed during the much smaller S&L crisis).”

Here, this person is indistinguishable from BushCo. Like BushCo in the War on Terra, he marshals no evidence against those that he would cage. No, he will cage them simply because he believes they are Bad. He is actually worse than BushCo, because he has settled upon an arbitrary number of people who must be caged. Both this person, and BushCo, lie on a continuum that culminates in the Khmer Rouge.

These are not people motivated by justice or compassion. They are instead akin to those Hunter S. Thompson identified as among those most addicted to the televised Watergate hearings: “millions of closet Hell’s Angels whose sole interest in watching the hearings was the spectacle of seeing once-powerful men brought weeping to their knees.”

Just as Howard Kurtz noted, correctly, in regards to the clamoring for the heads of BushCo officials, after BushCo had left office: “I have rarely seen the kind of passion that now surrounds the torture debate, even more, it seems, than when it was going on.” So too do these putative lefties now, belatedly, want to rumble down the street the tumbrils, packing aboard them various and sundry Wall Streeters, motivated most by the desire to see these people suffer, for offenses they can no more lucidly articulate than can a teabagger.

Just being a “Wall Street exeuctive[] [or] senior management”: that is enough. As being involved in some manner in the War on Terra apparatus: that is enough. As, for the Khmer Rouge, simply wearing glasses, that was enough.

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3 Responses to “Year Zero”


  1. 1 possum October 30, 2010 at 3:06 am

    Our society today seems driven by black and white choices without regard to law or to common sense. Many people are suffering these days and any scapegoat will suffice in their minds to alleviate some measure of their personal trauma. No one seems to consider what might happen if the shoe were on the other foot. “Vengeance is all.”

    Somewhere in humankind’s past we lost our ability to think in rational ways. Or maybe the competitive nature that allowed our rise to the top of the food chain did not provide any such measure in the first place. Who knows? In any event our process today is much too stark and harsh is far too many ways.

    Perhaps my dealing in allied medicine and the always gray issues of day to day practice change my approach. Clients always want a black and white diagnosis but nature often fails to offer any such contrast. The same holds true with people.

    Why paint large swaths of our society with the brush of black when some of those people may be gray or even white? I am no defender of Wall Street and their practices but I suspect there are many in the business who are not as terrible as some. I keep hoping civility and reason will one day hold sway in our world but the process is moving pretty slow.

    • 2 bluenred October 30, 2010 at 7:05 am

      Good morning, Mr. Possum.

      That’s a good point, about people wanting definitive black-and-white diagnoses in medicine. I am guilty of that myself, when accompanying to the stethoscope-people both humans and animals. On the other hand, I myself am the one declining to offer answers black-and-white—to legal clients, who want such assuredness every bit as much as I want it when I’m running a pet or a person by a sawbones.

      I’m no Wall Street apologist, either. But I will not ride with those who airily announce that they want 1000 such people caged, without offering either charges or evidence. That’s BushCo-think.

      • 3 possum November 1, 2010 at 3:53 am

        Jailing an arbitrary 1000 is as wrong-headed as one can get. Some including ranking politicians deserve jail time. The deserving are least likely to be the ones punished in this mess even less likely to get caught by any arbitrary jailing.


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