A Hole In The Head

From the Skeptic’s Dictionary entry on “trepanation” :

Trepanation is the process of cutting a hole in the skull. According to John Verano, a professor of anthropology at Tulane University, trepanation is the oldest surgical practice and is still performed ceremonially by some African tribes. A trepanned skull found in France was dated at about 5,000 BCE. About 1,000 trepanned skulls from Peru and Bolivia date from 500 BCE to the 16th century.

Bart Huges (b. 1934), a medical school graduate who has never practiced medicine except for a bit of self-surgery, believes that trepanation is the way to higher consciousness. He says that he wanted to be a psychiatrist but failed the obstetrics exam and so never went into practice. In 1965, after years of experimentation with LSD, cannabis, and other drugs, Dr. Huges realized that the way to enlightenment was by boring a hole in his skull. He used an electric drill, a scalpel, and a hypodermic needle (to administer a local anesthetic). The operation took him 45 minutes. How does it feel to be enlightened? “I feel like I did when I was 14,” says Huges.
. . .
In the past, trepanation was used either to relieve pressure on the brain caused by disease or trauma, or to release evil spirits. The former is still an accepted medical procedure. The latter has died out in those parts of the world where scientific understanding has replaced belief in invading demons.

I bring this up as a roundabout way of saying that I’d rather drill a hole in my head that write another damn post about the corruption of George W. Bush…but I’m a political blogger and writing about this crap is my lot in life, so I’d better get used to writing the same post over and over until 2008.

Can there be any doubt that George Bush as one of the most corrupt and dishonest political figures in our nation’s history? He’s a man whose arrogance and incompetence have led to a string of scandals that combine the worst aspects of Teapot Dome, the Pentagon Papers, Tammany Hall, the Whiskey Ring, Watergate, and more. Misleading the public about the Iraq war, the use of torture as an interrogation tactic, spying on American citizens, looking the other way while war profiteers raid our treasury, diverting war funds without Congressional approval, blah, blah, blah. You’ve seen variations of this lists everywhere, yet corruption has become so normal at this point that the Bush’s latest misdeed, selectively and secretly “declassifying” a national intelligence estimate to provide to a single Administration-friendly reporter (aka. “leaking”), feels like more of the same. Just this morning the President admitted to another impeachable offense, yet it’s hard to muster the energy to write about this without outrage overload kicking in.

With the ever-growing mountain of evidence showing George Bush’s serial betrayal of the public’s trust, is is any wonder that the President’s best defenses are to parse the letter of the law in a way we used to call “Clintonian”, insist that everything’s on the level because his lawyers said it’s okay (that didn’t work for Enron either), or to shrug aside his lawbreaking as mere technicalities that are justifiable because the President’s only concern is to “keep the American people safe”. The only people who believe this crap now are full-fledged members of the Bush personality cult. It doesn’t matter what the President says or does because he’s the kinda guy you’d wanna grab a beer with. If my drinking buddy says it’s okay, I believe him. Or as they say in Jonestown “Have you tried the Kool-Aid? It’s delicious!”

Needless to say, this probably isn’t going to get any better. The lack of oversight in Congress will leave as big a stain on the Legislative branch as Bush Jr. is leaving on the Executive. Again and again we’ve sat there dumbfounded as the GOP (and for a brief period in 2001-2002, Democratic) Senate and House have, in the words of Firedoglake, rubber-stamped everything the President has asked for. At a certain point, you’d think a sense of professional pride would have kicked in among our 535 representatives in Washington that would compel them to defend, if not the interests of the American people, the interests in their own branch of government enough to have them uphold their constitutional duty to act as a check on executive power, but I guess the quid pro quo that came with a veto-less presidency is enough to buy their silence with an endless supply of government handouts. I know it’s fashionable to decry the death of “real” conservatism, but that simple complaint overlooks the fact that honor, responsibility, and honesty were all collateral damage in this war between moneyed interests and the American people.

The obvious question, though, is “What the hell do we do now?” The obvious answer is to “throw the bums out”, but replacing the corrupt Republicans with well-trained Democratic lapdogs didn’t work out so well last time. Since our two-party system makes the “lesser of two evils” vote our most attractive option, I’m willing to take the gamble again, but I’m still hoping that the opposition party steps up to the plate and offers a compelling alternative to our current partisan malaise. I’m not impressed with the occasional poll-driven barnburner speech that contradicts the political jockeying that’s happening behind the scenes, nor am I impressed with the press releases released under a politician’s byline that are turned into blog posts or fundraising emails. As a passionate member of the Democratic base, I’m begging you guys to stop kissing my ass. I’ve got a finely-tuned bullshit detector and I can smell you coming from a mile away. If you want to earn my respect, try taking a principled stand on something. The American people are begging for a politician with the guts to say “I don’t care if it’s popular, this is the right thing to do and I’d rather go down in flames on principle than sell my soul for job security”, but you guys are too busy listening to consultants and looking at poll numbers to see the forest for the trees.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get some anesthetic, a scalpel, and a power drill. Let me know when it’s election day.