Rats leaving the sinking ship? Ari, the Minister of Lies... Er, I mean the White House press secretary resigned this week. No overwhelming reason given, but his credibility had been getting weak anyway--too many reports of reporters breaking into laughter when he wasn't even pretending to be telling a joke. Also, Whitman, secretary of dismantling the environment decided to leave, again without any particular reason given. One or two other fairly major figures. Whitman was supposed to be one of the least objectionable Bushies. Must be getting lonely for semi-token Powell, the secretary of dismantling international diplomacy.
Several candidates for the fatal torpedoes, actually. Two economic disasters in progress. One is the dollar, which seems to be losing out badly against the Euro. Perhaps the insiders know it's really on the verge of collapse? The other is the tax cuts for the rich they just rammed through Congress. Still, that one should be a rather slow torpedo, even though the economy is still reeling from the earlier tax cuts. However, I think the big torpedo may be political corruption. Don't forget that's what finally nailed Nixon's coffin. Turns out that they ordered the Texas DPS to erase all records related to the chase after the Texas Democrats last week, and it's already stinking to high heaven. It would be funny if Dubya got dragged down in such a piddling little whirlpool.
Hmm... That's not good, but worth noting. The times on the blog entries can't actually be relied on. Not a substantive change, but I realized that I missed bolding one of the references to the movie in the previous entry, but making that change didn't change the date of the entry.
Not really much news to report or comment on just now. More terrorist attacks. More SARS worries, this time in Japan. I'm increasingly worried about a terrorist attack using SARS, and I'm not the only one. Iraq continues to fester. The first round of commanders/rulers/whatever of the Iraq occupation have already been replaced, and in yesterday's paper there was a bit about the difficult decisions facing our new ruler of Iraq. He has to decide how much democracy to permit. I suppose that should be classified as an amazing black joke. As if the Bushies have any conception of what democracy actually is.
Actually, that reminds me of the funniest recent story, where a bunch of Texas Democrats lammed out of the state to block some partisan Republican gerrymandering. Without a quorum, the Texas legislature was effectively shut down. Dubya's legacy and orchestrated by his staunch supporters. So much for the Bushies' claims of bipartisan leadership. (Yet again.) However, even this joke turns ugly. Turns out they used the Homeland Security Agency to help track down the missing legislators. They didn't actually have the power to arrest them outside of Texas--yet--but the "promise" was that the HSA was not going to be used for domestic political purposes. Yo-ho-ho. Power corrupts. No joke.
First we have a minor joke. As usual these days, not very funny. Not even newsworthy, since continuous hypocrisy is the new standard state of the Union. One of the leading conservative "political philosophers" is a fellow named William Bennett. His big best seller was called The Book of Virtues, though he's written others, such as The Children's Book of Virtues. Recently outed as a big-time gambler to the tune of $8 million in losses. Needless to say, gambling didn't make the list of virtues. So how many people would have bought that book if they had actually known they were just funding his gambling addiction? Now for the punchline. He was Secretary of Education under Reagan, personally responsible for creating a whole new generation of conservative voters. Makes it rather hard to have much hope for America's future.
Now for the big one, possibly to be filed under "be careful what you wish for" or "remember Ed Wood". Dubya recently launched his reelection campaign as the hero of the Iraqi liberation/occupation/whatever. This was done with a staged photo-op and speech aboard the aircraft carrier Lincoln. It's sort of okay, since they were way out there somewhere, much too far away to worry about hearing ol' Abe spinning in his grave. However, it mostly reminds me of ol' Ed Wood and Plan 9 from Outer Space.
Required background is to know that Plan 9 from Outer Space is regarded by many people as the worst movie ever made. A cult classic--but it wasn't intended that way. Ed Wood was the director back in 1959, and he was just as serious about it as any of his other movies. He actually made many movies, and all of them were regarded as bad, but this one was the worst. One of his most famous quotes was made at the premiere of Plan 9 from Outer Space: "This is it! THIS is the one I'll be remembered for!" He was right, you know. But not the way he meant it. Ed Wood is more famous now than he ever was when he was alive, but it's sort of a good thing he died rather than finding out why.
From all reports, Ed Wood really and sincerely believed he was creating great works of art. Most reports say Dubya thinks he's doing okay as resident of the White House in spite of leading America to economic disaster and new depths of perpetual fear. (And let's not forget the international isolation and even hostility.) However, this new militaristic image is a new thing, and should backfire disastrously for two reasons: 1) America is not a military dictatorship, and 2) Dubya is personally a military embarrassment.
When they wrote the Constitution they wanted to make it very clear that the American military serves the civilian government and NOT vice versa. They very deliberately and quite explicitly made a civilian "commander in chief" of the armed services. Yes, most presidents have served in the military, and many of them were even high ranking officers, but no real president has ever gotten confused about who's in charge, and to the best of my knowledge, no real president has ever appeared in a military uniform the way Dubya was prancing around in his military flight suit. This is the sort of propagandistic imagery you expect from an impoverished banana republic after the latest coup.
As for Dubya's OWN military service, that's NOT something they want the voters to think too much about, though this escapade is quite likely to bring it to the voters' attention. The very best angle is to say Dubya chose to avoid any risk of service in Vietnam, even though he supported that war, and Dubya's military record is all downhill from there. There were LONG waiting lists for national guard service, but Dubya instantly bypassed them. Everyone knows he evaded the draft using his father's influence. Anyone who ever hoped to be a military pilot (even including me) has to be rather offended that Dubya also got that posh billet, in spite of having the lowest possible qualifications. Then it gets into the messy stuff and the reasons why Dubya's personal military records remain sealed, even though all other public figures release their military service records as a matter of course. Most of the available evidence suggests that after receiving all that expensive flight training at public expense, Dubya just blew off the last part of his military commitment. Rather than make a politically awkward issue of his dereliction of duty, they simply swept it all under the rug, and pretended he was penalized by having his service extended a few months--as a name listed in a paper reserve unit in Colorado. There are still lots of questions that could be answered if his records were made public, but that seems very unlikely. Me, I'd like to know whether he was removed from flight status for incompetence as a pilot, fear of drug testing during his "young and irresponsible" days, or for other reasons.
So Dubya's handlers want this to be the image he's remembered for? Well, let's not forget Ed Wood's hope of being remembered for Plan 9 from Outer Space. Just didn't turn out the way he wanted it to. Ed Wood didn't intend to be remembered as the worst movie director of all time. Dubya's track record of worsts is already rather impressive.
Back in the logical paradox arena, this one is so bad we practically have to pray Dubya was lying. The one that's been getting coverage so far is the paradox of claiming we have solid proof of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, but it wasn't solid enough so we could actually find anything. At least in that case, we already know the Bushies were lying, and each day that goes by just makes it more likely that any evidence which does appear was faked--and there have already been too many attempts to use fake evidence for the Bushies to have any credibility to spare.
However, the new news is probably worse. Turns out that some of the leftover nuclear sites in Iraq have been looted and some of the nuclear material may have been taken. Some of this goes back to the days when Saddam was our friend and we were helping him "modernize" his country with American nuclear technology. The Israelis nipped most of that in the bud with their little bombing raid. However, if Dubya was actually telling the truth about Al Qaeda having organized connections with and operations in Iraq, then we know who has it now and what they're going to do with it. Unfortunately, there is no solid evidence here. The negative evidence is that Dubya didn't bother to give any detectable priority to securing these well-known and very dangerous sites, but what does that mean? Dubya knew that the Al Qaeda thing was a bogeyman? In that case he was just lying about a danger that didn't exist. Or maybe he actually hopes that Al Qaeda gets some of this stuff so he can justify more "defensive" power for himself? Lordy, who's minding the store?!
Lots of news items worthy of note, but mostly continuing to suffer from information malnutrition. Need a catchier description of that national malady. Mostly the news is tripe, but sometimes there are important hints revealed, sometimes just by the form of the misdirection.
The latest case in point is the political game playing with "homeland" security, which is supposed to be something we're all in favor of. The story was played for maximum headline coverage about how they were going to cut the number of airline security people. That's just another indirect subsidy where all of the taxpayers provide crucial security services for the airlines, with the primary beneficiaries being the same rich folks who do most of the flying. Can you imagine where ticket prices would be if the airlines actually had to absorb all of those costs, too?
This latest beauty was orchestrated by Dubya's appointee who heads the appropriate agency. The apparent point was to blame Congress for not coming up with more money. Even though the GOP has ostensible control of both houses of Congress, there's still a tiny risk of a couple of GOP defectors, so sometimes they have to compromise a tiny bit, and that's just unacceptable. After all, the airlines donated lots of money to Dubya and deserve to get "fair value" in return. Among the MANY other factors that weren't mentioned in considering the overall financial woes of the airline industry were declining tourism due to worries about SARS and massive federal deficits that are making it harder and harder to come up with money for anything, even though Dubya continues to press for more tax cuts for the wealthy (to make things worse for the rest of us serfs). The entire presentation was so twisted that I was amazed they could print it without putting all of it in italics. And of course they'll revive the story in a major way just as soon as there's another successful terrorist attack.