Sunday, May 15, 2005

Attention K-Mart Shoppers: Pick Up Your Collective Illusions At The Door


Inside the Rethug Funhouse all the Distortions look Normal ... Water Cooler Talk about Plato's Retreat and Dubya's UN Nominee ... The Bizarre Emergence of a Vague and Scaled Down version of Doom ... Not even Ehrlichman would have Stooped this Low ... The Sharks finally have turned on one other ... Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls

"Look, John Cornyn is a good friend, and we look forward to analyzing and working with legislation that will make -- it would hope -- put a free press's mind at ease that you're not being denied information you shouldn't see."
- Close enough for Dubya these days ... Washington, D.C., April 14, 2005

"A good conspiracy is unprovable. I mean, if you can prove it, it means they screwed up somewhere along the line."
- Jerry Fletcher, from Conspiracy Theory, 1997

It has been a fascinating tale, no doubt ... and perhaps the most significant thing about it is that it has made absolutely no sense at all, not even to a delusional person willing to make that giant leap of faith and accept it as God's Humble plan. But you were warned, Sparky, and so were many others. Way down here at the bottom of the neo-conservative barrel, swimming around in the dark and sticky goop like a pack of seagulls in the aftermath of an oil spill, an indifferent American electorate is beginning to sum up the very cost of all the poisonous rhetoric and political malfeasance conducted in the name of the "Old Fashioned American Way" ... but somehow, with Iraq spinning into a reality TV version of Assault on Precinct 13 and the military missing its recruitment targets at the range of 41%, at least a dozen or so right wing legislators (read GOP targeted seats in 2006 and presidential hopefuls for 2008) are stepping back from comment as the Pentagon is considering a new round of job cuts and closure of more than 150 military installations nationwide, for some reason, while talking points pinheads like Norm Coleman make a poorly timed appearance on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" to chatter about the "post 9/11 world" in virtual absentia, saying all the right words but doing nothing about it.

Incredible as it may seem, the dollar signs on the Pentagon's downsizing - or "right-sizing," depending on what version of the creative semantics cookbook you read from - are yet another codephrase like "the DEA in an early morning raid seized a huge shipment of cocaine with an estimated street value of 25 million" ... while the less impressed ask ourselves, "Get a load of that street and what are the property values?" Street Value has almost no bearing in the real world nor does the size of the Pentagon budget, of course, and while the head honchos in the basement actuarian cubbyholes say they are cutting $30b US from the military's budget over the next six years, the certainty of the matter is that many of these program cuts will be planted deeper into the bottom line once Congress steps to the plate and the usual bureaucratic meanderings take hold.

There is a critical notion beyond this points-on-a-curve diatribe, however, that even the rational mind could settle beyond any reasonable doubt. To paraphrase Jerry Fletcher one more time, "Love gives you wings and it can make you fly, but don't even call it love ... call it 'Geronimo' because, when you're in love, you'll jump from the top of the Empire State building screaming 'Geronimo' and you won't care." And neither does half of the American people, in fact; they are wrapped up in a version of love for an America subjugated to themselves, while stuck in the middle of a disturbing co-dependent relationship between who the country truthfully represents and what its creators clearly designed us to be. And we all tend to love for the very wrong reasons, from time to time, which explains the skyrocketing US divorce rate and the level of venom that has decended upon our politics and civil discourse. In the end, "We the people" and our perverse political world are about as misplaced as Jerry Fletcher at all corners of the plausability and righteousness spectra - from which we have become nothing more than a roving cabal of lunchbox blunders filled with lives of half-mad stupidity and malignant ineptitude on most every level of our intellectual and emotional well-being.

What the political wizards and barstool pundits will say about this dilemna is that we got what we rightly deserved - for many reasons, but mainly because we just so happened to surrender our way of life and our ideals to vicious pimps and thugs and thieves when we should have been more closely involved. The End of the American Century is unfortunate, but if the players in power had to do it all over again, they would have done it more quickly.

That is the key point of the matter. It's just a low-rent version of the old Nixon axiom: "When you've got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow" - wafting through the rafters of corporations like WalMart shifting its responsibility of providing fundamental benefits to the local taxbase and romancing our organized media with absurd and distracting tales of humanity gone deranged while billions are skimmed off the top and out the backdoors of the US Treasury like the Mafia did with union pension funds and Las Vegas casino counting chambers in the 1970s.

And, Sparky, don't think for a second that this absolves you of responsibility. To a larger degree, we have all bought into the ornery and spiteful gameplan.

This is the essence of what some intelligent minds have called "The Absent Democracy" in practice: neither truly opting out of the political system entirely, nor working within it for real and demonstrative change ... and by always counting on the simple ideals that both the freaks in power are more greedy than smart and that their semi-entrenched constituencies are one step removed from your column if only your candidate could appeal to an otherwise barren world of demiurgic rapture. By the conclusion of the last campaign, I became convinced, despite my inner barometer clanging "the fix is already in and we better watch our flank in Ohio," that the people would rise up and declare enough nation building and let's now begin to define new priorities for a new and challenging time. Not the media, or the special interests or the politicians - but the people would define our shared possibilities, as a common entity who know what's best for themselves, as inscribed in the faded and fragile parchments honoring our establishment and which admonishes us to constantly observe their creation or risk losing it all.

But in November of 2004 we spent too little time for this kind of inspiring talk or priority building. We took the easy way out of the barfight and let someone else throw the punches and take a few lumps along the way. The main punching bag soon became John Kerry - and to a lesser degree, Tom Daschle - but the real loser was the American people who couldn't get past the pseudo-psychic maze of denial and sodomy and religious outrage and drummed up color charts at every juncture which, when looking back at it, seemed more in line with vengeance than politics. Needless to say, the average voter was dragged into the abusive exercise and discovered that the media was there to flail them constantly with gibberish and a steady dose of cruel and convulsive assaults on everything but the direction into which the country was headed. Which is not to say that the strategy wasn't effective, but as a long term mandate to control the national agenda history tells us that it has delivered some truly disastrous results like the "House Un-American Activities Committee" and "The Contract With America," just to name two.

Anyone who thinks that Dubya, now apparently retired in place at The Big House, is telling the truth probably has a very good working relationship with the Tooth Fairy and believes that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. As for the current list of party pimps and spinmeisters, they have cleverly parlayed his quaint little persona into a fascinating and frequently hilarious tale of self-delusion and arrogance and infomercial-style salesmanship. And through the snickers and open-jawed stares from the rest of us, they clearly have executed an ingenious burlesque on lowbrow media distortion in the New Century, of which Karl Rove was clearly the ring leader and Donald Segretti of his time.

The bad movie will eventually end in two short years, right about that time when the clock strikes 2007 and a New Congress begins, and no one will barely notice Dubya looking as polluted and batshit as Howard Hughes at the end. Many of us will assume that this appearance has something to do with liquor or garden variety uppers and downers, but as Karl Rove types out the last of his speeches, which jump around like a starving flea in a dog kennel, the true believers among the preznut's unhinged flock will finally realize that Dubya has been on a destination much crazier than anyone ever imagined. Not only was he the catalyst for "No Child Left Behind," which did exactly that in reverse, he cut the wealthiest people a check several times because he could, beat the drums on a notion of "activist judges" when any good constitutional lawyer will tell you that's exactly what their role is on the country's federal bench, and then spread "democracy" at the barrel of a gun once his people realized that there were no weapons of mass destruction to be found, stored and recycled for the next Dictator du-jour. Too bad Dubya wasn't as entranced with "Catcher in The Rye" as Jerry Fletcher - because then we would have understood why he was so conflicted, and why he has lowered his nation into paranoid episodes so freakish that it makes Richard Lewis seem as calm as Bing Crosby. And who can blame Dubya for thinking that the world is out to get him at last? When not busy with his work killing foreigners for no other reason than their being foreign - while coincidentally sitting on a pile of petroleum - he is destroying the rest of us along with them.


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