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August 31, 2005

Government By Babes

The LA Times throws a roundhouse of an editorial at John Bolton's first weeks fucking up the UN on the job. The consensus? Getting things done means gumming things up. The way to reduce bureaucracy is to paralyze it in proposed amendments. The way to encourage reform is to derail the process.

Now if that don't just tug on your mustache hairs!

But Bolton's small fries, always has been. Appointing that walrus Ambassador to the United Nations was the Bush administration symbolically ascending to the top of Mt. International Community and pushing a shopping cart full of crap down it. What falls out is what they put in. Blaming Bolton is like condemning the shopping cart. It was the kids who loaded it up with arrogance, hypocrisy, self-contradiction, incompetence, ineffectiveness, and ignorance before sending it careening down the incline. They deserve the blame. But will they get it?

No. They never do. The Bush administration is the Enron of political organizations. A teetering pile of plausible deniability, front politicians, and diversions. Rove keeps George's hands clean, Cheney gets the rap of plutocratic grand vizier, Rumsfeld gets the blame for Iraq, Bolton is a loose cannon someone must've accidentally wheeled into the UN, DeLay is the theocrat, and so on and so forth. The bucks stop nowhere, they just twirl and dance in the wind, a bit of inadvertent political performance art. And there's George, an oasis of ignorance in a maelstrom of incompetence. Past administrations have dodged accountability, this one's made it into a zen art.

Republicans run on an ethic of honesty and responsibility, moral values and macho heuristics. But like most tough teenagers, they travel in posses and pick fights in packs. "Who hit you?" "I don't know, there were a lot of guys!" But Karl says it wasn't him, and Don says he didn't do it, and Dick claims he was at his grandmother's, and everyone agrees George has been a pacifist since time immemorial...

But Kerry's still beat, the government's still broke, Iraq is still fucked, the corporations are still served, the UN's still broke, the theocrats still believe, and the country is still a mess. Only problem? There's no one to blame. Bush was clearly mountain biking that day and Gingrich says it's liberal judges and DeLay says it's liberal congressmen and Rush blames the liberal media and it's all very confusing, I think I'll watch Friends.

Republicans have created government by static. They've learned that simply throwing enough crap into the media stream will cloud the water, and if people can't see anything, they'll stop looking. So blame is diffuse, stonewalls are everywhere, and everyone makes sure the figurehead looks innocent, and ignorant, as a newborn babe.

And so he does. And so he does...

August 31, 2005 in Bush Administration | Permalink


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Interesting questions for answers later:

- Is our situation sort of like the stages of dealing with impending death (anger, denial, etc), and where are we in the potential stages? Clearly, half of the country though BushCo was good for go in Nov 2004, less than a year ago. The polls may indicate some buyer remorse now. Does this mean anything of substance?

- Will the obscurantism that BushCo promotes be successful in keeping the Repub boat afloat through 06, and 08 - with Jeb (for example) carrying the banner forward to destruction.

Their machine works so well that I'm half tempted to say they will get away with it and prevail into the future.

Some other choices seem possible: 1) a major voter revolt that gives the Dems significant power to halt or reverse BushCo direction; 2) some marginal changes in Congress that temper (but don't stop) the ability of Delay/Frist/Rove to move their agenda; 3) slim majorities are given to a weak Dem party that has so little backbone that no accountability for the past is exacted, and very little reform for the future comes to be.

I have complete dismay that the Dem party is so silent or ineffective on so many issues that it is hard to see the people giving us the ability to make a change of direction possible. The polls also support this view.

I am not hopeful on the outcome, but I hope we fight like hell. There is no other choice to fighting but acceptance of a grim future that is even worse than what BushCo has already wrought.

Are enough people going to be 'madder than hell and won't put up with it anymore'?

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Aug 31, 2005 3:16:34 AM

I have complete dismay that the Dem party is so silent or ineffective on so many issues that it is hard to see the people giving us the ability to make a change of direction possible. The polls also support this view.

This is a very interesting statement. It seems that your own party doesn't agree with you on these issues. So how does this make your views anywhere near mainstream?

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 31, 2005 7:46:36 AM

I think a nap may be in order - I'm kind of lost in the metaphor of roads and pavement and Enron-like corporate structures.

"No one to blame" is certainly part of the problem, but play that game long enough and you simply drive more and more people to the opposite conclusion - Everyone's to blame. It's DeLay, It's Rove, It's Cheney... and ultimately it's Bush.

I tend to think the Presidential term limit stunts the natural political path - Reagan would probably have lost a third election n Iran Contra alone, Clinton was likely doomed by impeachment and Bush would be highly vulnerable on Iraq in 2008. Compare it to Britain where Thatcher/Major led the Tories to a natural exhaustion that continues to keep them out of power.

I don't want to sound overconfident, and tea leaf reading is for frauds and charlatans, but there's every reason to expect that the mid-year elections will go dreadfully for the GOP and that 2008 won't be any sort of walk in the park. At some point, in our governing system, someone is indeed accountable. And the economy being a mess, Iraq being a disaster, and this Administration doing many bthings badly and few things well adds up. It would add up better if Bush was still his party's standard bearer in 2008. But somebody will be blamed. And it's going to be impossible to lay all that blame solely with Democrats.

Posted by: weboy | Aug 31, 2005 7:50:07 AM

Is this Erza or did a guest poster forget to leave their name?

I haven't seen you this fired up since...well, never. I like it.

Posted by: Greg | Aug 31, 2005 8:48:35 AM

if george bush believes in signs and wonders....
we have received our message.
the world trade center incinerated into two columns of smoke...
and now, a flood has come....
one of biblical proportions.
cities smothering under water.
levees broken...
the bridge in iraq broken...
alliances with other nations broken...
our energy policy...broken
our national guard not here to assist in the disaster...
and our strategic oil reserves opened.
a legacy of filthy black oil.
"He has loosed his fateful lightning,
with His terrible swift sword...."
did we really think
the gods would not meet us
down the road?
cities destroyed
like a giant smashing toys....
driving merrily, avariciously
in our suvs....
we have crossed over
the Great Divide.

Posted by: jacqueline | Aug 31, 2005 9:00:25 AM

"who is in charge here," asked the Angel....

bridge in iraq...broken
energy policy...broken
national guard in louisiana...broken
homeland security in light of disaster...broken
ties with other countries...broken
medical care in u.s.....broken
foreign policy...broken

Posted by: jacqueline | Aug 31, 2005 9:47:44 AM

The overriding issue right now is New Orleans.

And, frankly, this is precisely where the comparison comes to play. It is, admittedly, a difficult situation. But let's recap what we know:

1) Lack of coordination concerning a natural disaster. Yes, some of this has to do with the effects of the catasrophe. But isn't this *precisely* the situation envisioned by the Dept. of Homeland Security -- a breakdown in infrastructure, poor health conditions, needs for evacuations, etc... After all, shouldn't we planning for the effect of a dirty bomb or a similar disaster in every major metropolis? At this point, it is simply inexcusable for there to be a lack of coordination that we've seen in the last week.

2) Not enough National Guard. Say what you will -- but the delay in deployment and the delay in resources can in part be pointed at the Iraq war. We don't have the resources -- there are people literally on the interstate WAITING TO BE TOLD WHAT TO DO. And -- honestly, from what I've heard from the Mayor on CNN, the fact that we couldn't clear up the committments of qualified National Guard folks can be laid at the Admin. Remember, a lot of the folks in the National Guard have expertise in public works and policing -- but, as we know, that is also needed in Iraq now.

3) Lack of any kind of focus from the Admin. Let's review. I'm not going to launch a cheap shot about his vacation. But he spends his national address prior to the hurricane in part on Iraq. Then, his first public action after the hurricane's effects were known was a speech.... comparing Iraq to WWII.

This is simply unacceptable.

Posted by: Chris R | Aug 31, 2005 10:33:07 AM

I am pretty sure the last election has thrown the left into delusion. I read all these elaborate descriptions of the president and his advisors. The president is a king hiding behind his jewell encrusted thrown in Crawford, the president and his advisors are a band of thieves trying to come up with a new scam or they are a band of bumbling idiots trying cover up a fuck up.

Yet you(the left) look at people like Clinton, Albright, Berglar, Christopher, etc. as a group of honorable leaders.

What color is the sky in your world?

Posted by: Captain Toke | Aug 31, 2005 10:44:11 AM

It's a little gray here.

I don't think the descriptions need to be "elaborate" - and there's certainly a lot of bad feeling on both sides - and some Dems can be pretty mean-spirited, as can many conservatives (or is "Berglar" a typo?).

I think this Administration is, as Ezra might be arguing, pretty smart about its PR. But it has to be, in part, because they've been highly reactive rather than proactive. At almost any turn of events, they seem caught behind the story rather than ahead of it; surprised by details they could reasonaly be expected to be aware of; and to lurch, often, into attacking the nearest critic when challenged. And because of a successful strategy of polarization, many people who are at least somewhat troubled by some of the Administration's actions still fall back into the rationalization that the other side is at best very wrong, and at worst something like "treasonous," "delusional," or, whatever word it is that Fred Jones is using today for homosexuals.

You may be right, Toke, some dems may be delusional. But some Republicans are in pretty heavy denial to not see the problems looming in the next couple of election cycles. What color is your sky?

Posted by: weboy | Aug 31, 2005 10:58:36 AM

how does this make your views anywhere near mainstream?

aye, foul mephisto, whisper those doubts into the ear, to keep us all mired in confusion and inertia. 'you are not mainstream', 'you can do nothing', 'you are helpless before us, submit'.

when confronted with the devil, always ask him this: what, i wonder, are your goals in this matter, exactly?

Posted by: the shreeking ape | Aug 31, 2005 11:04:40 AM

Sorry for semi-spamming but this quote from Gore, from a 2000 Rolling Stone interview, is I think worth reading to put the Bushies in perspective:

RS "Let me ask you to fast forward to 2008. Your administration is ending. What do you hope you have accomplished, and set in motion, by that time? What will be the big things that you'll like to have done?"

Gore: Well, I would hope to see - I mean, first of all, my hubris alarm goes off when I get a question like that, and I want to couch my answers in all the appropriate qualifiers. But if I'm priveleged to serve the American people as President, I would hope, at the end of my time - however many years - that I would have been able to . . .see this country lead the world to embark on the path of solving this problem of global warming. I would hope to bring about truly revolutionary improvements in our public school system. I would hope to revolutionize the way our self-government operates, by cutting out as much of the nonsense as possible. I'd want to see no American dying of colon cancer, lung cancer or prostate cancer, and I'd want to see a sharp drop in mortality from other cancers. I'd want to see a cure for diabetes and HIV-AIDS. I want to use the human genome, and the attendant revolution in genetics, to bring about the same kind of transformation in health care that we've seen in the information sciences."

I think Gore's quote is relevant because it highlights that the Bushies were given so much, and had such a great opportunity to do things for the American people, and they've simply squandered it all, because of pride, hubris, intellectual insecurity, envy & resentment of the Clinton-Gore administration, greed and small-mindedness. What's wrong with the Bush administration is not so much the direct damage that they've done. I believe they were negligent pre-9/11, but it's possible that 9/11 could not have been prevented. The screwups in Iraq are horrific , but they are many time less horrific than screwups in Vietnam or Korea (Iraq is most comparable historically to the Spanish-American war).

What's wrong with the Bushies is not that they've done so much bad, but that they've failed to do so much good, despite presiding over an era where American wealth, power & technology is unprecedented. When you think about all the advantages that the Bushies have had, the lack of progress over the past 5 years is stunning & sobering.

Posted by: roublen vesseau | Aug 31, 2005 12:03:44 PM

I don't want to sound overconfident, and tea leaf reading is for frauds and charlatans, but there's every reason to expect that the mid-year elections will go dreadfully for the GOP and that 2008 won't be any sort of walk in the park. At some point, in our governing system, someone is indeed accountable. And the economy being a mess, Iraq being a disaster, and this Administration doing many bthings badly and few things well adds up. It would add up better if Bush was still his party's standard bearer in 2008. But somebody will be blamed. And it's going to be impossible to lay all that blame solely with Democrats.

I'll buy your tea-leaf reading, but I have two big disagreements with your prognosis:

First, even if the Dems do score big gains in '06, I have zero confidence that they'd know what to do with their win. In particular, I don't believe they have the balls or the brains to launch the scorching investigations that are so long overdue in Washington.

Second, when the shit really comes down in the tail end of this decade, who would you prefer to be taking the blame: A hapless Dem, practically custom-made for scapegoating, or a Republican who was actively collaborated in creating the overlapping fiascos? The Dems are hopeless; we need to work on a successor party. On the other hand, the GOP is well-poised to pull another Harding-Coolidge-Hoover play, and discredit itself for a generation.

Posted by: sglover | Aug 31, 2005 12:08:49 PM

Excellent post.

Posted by: Quiddity | Aug 31, 2005 12:53:37 PM

Sorry, but if the Administration spins the story of New Orleans to make themselves look vaguely competent, then it's tragic.

Because in everything from cutting levee restoration and improvement funds to cutting FEMA to a lack of leadership in forcing real emergency preparedness under the new "homeland security" agency to sending our national Guard to Iraq (and not having the 25k troops to send to New Orleans like his daddy sent to Florida after Andrew), George Bush's POLICIES have made this disaster worse than it needed to be.

(I will not even mention his disgusting politics, like going on and on about the Iraqi constitution as he declared Katrina's zone a pre-disaster area, going to Arizona to eat cake as Katrina slammed into Mississippi, and playing guitar with a country star in California as the flood waters were rising in New Orleans.)

If Democrats let him get away without being accountable, the real danger isn't that we'll lose the next election. The real danger is that he will continue these reckless, short-sighted and disastrous policies, and future


25,000 additional National Guard Troops to FL for Andrew, none for Katrina

2004 budget cuts cuts whose result was: "For the first time in 37 years, federal budget cuts have all but stopped major work on the New Orleans area's east bank hurricane levees..." (the same east bank levees that failed)

Incompetent leadership makes the response ineffective: mayor Nagin: "Way too many fricking ... cooks in the kitchen...It's probably been pushed back another four weeks as a result of this...That four weeks is going to stop all commerce in the city of New Orleans." http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WEATHER/08/31/katrina.levees/

Posted by: theorajones | Aug 31, 2005 12:54:44 PM

Good post, Ezra

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 31, 2005 5:45:08 PM

I guess the president didn't call up theorajones and let her in on all of the massive help he ordered.

Imagine that!!

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 31, 2005 7:16:17 PM

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