Monday, July 13, 2009

Morphing on: a note to readers

Entries on Runes this year have morphed from the mostly political into the exclusively cultural, with an emphasis on literature, blues and, lately, African and Indian music.

This shift is partly due to the fact that a major focus in the past, the torture regime under the Bush/Cheney administration, has finally emerged as a national controversy that might yet lead to the appointment of a special prosecutor and eventual legal action. Various bloggers and columnists have pursued this goal for years without getting much attention, but the recent Red Cross Torture Report and a related article (and here) by Mark Danner in the New York Review of Books helped to belatedly expand public awareness of the issue.

While I'm certainly not saying that work by progressives in this area has been completed, the issue has developed a momentum of its own — for now. The tension between the ethical obligation to prosecute war crimes and the desire to move on might yet be resolved in favor of the latter. The scope of the planned investigation already seems too narrow, since it seems to accept as legitimate any "interrogation techniques" condoned by the torture memos of Jay Bybee, John Yoo and the White House Office of Legal Counsel.

Meanwhile, Hilzoy of Obsidian Wings, one of my favorite bloggers, is retiring. As she explains it:
"The main reason I started blogging, besides the fact that I thought it would be fun, was that starting sometime in 2002, I thought that my country had gone insane. It wasn't just the insane policies, although that was part of it. It was the sheer level of invective: the way that people who held what seemed to me to be perfectly reasonable views, e.g. that invading Iraq might not be such a smart move, were routinely being described as al Qaeda sympathizers who hated America and all it stood for and wanted us all to die.

"I thought: we've gone mad. And I have to do something -- not because I thought that I personally could have any appreciable effect on this, but because it felt like what Katherine called an all hands on deck moment."
All this rings true for me, too. Hilzoy will be missed, though I'm not quite ready to follow her (and Sarah Palin's) lead by shutting down this forum. In keeping with the eclectic nature of Runes, more entries on political topics seem inevitable. For now, though, it's great fun sifting through my bookshelves, photo collection and YouTube for items that might otherwise be overlooked. If nothing else, Runes can always function as a kind of personal archive, journal and storage locker.

PHOTO: From a men's room at Goldman Sachs, which just reported record profits of $3.44 billion. GS is the largest remaining investment bank on Wall Street.

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