Notes on Political Venality, Pomposity and Associated Stupidity.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Electing a War President

Today I heard a clip of our fearless leader on the radio. I actually listened this time. (I was in traffic and couldn't quickly change the station) What I heard couldn't have made more sense.

Yes. I was listening to GWB. What he said was (paraphrasing now, 'cause I'm too lazy to search for the exact words) that the Palestinian people would certainly not vote to elect a president who would lead them into war. They would be too smart to do that. They would not want a "war president."

Of course you know where I'm going. If our Pres thinks the Palestinians don't want a war president, what makes him think we do? Perhaps it's because he knows that, as long as our wars are played out on brutal battlefields halfway around the world, they can be used as potent political weapons, without much fear that the great "American public" will get too concerned. After all, there's a new mall going up just down the street and Johnny needs a new pair of shoes...

It's clear that once the "cold war" was won, American political leaders needed a new war, and they got it (or welcomed it or created it, depending on who you believe) with the "war on terror." This is a war that will never end. And as far a Bushco is concerned, that's just perfect. Societies constantly exposed to low levels of wartime propaganda are controlled by the people who push that crap, the same way that junkies are under the thumb of dealers.

Bush loves war. Cheney loves war. Rumsfeld loves war. Rices loves war. Without it, they'd already be footnotes in history.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Bush Business Administration

A direct line connects corporate America with the current administration -- and I'm not talking about the flow of money via wire transfer. What I am talking about is the corporate mindset, particularly as it has been promulgated over the past thirty years or so.

In the days before we added the "neo" to conservative, folks of that ilk thought that bringing fiscal restraint and business-like approaches to government might help. And they were, in many cases, correct. Government does have a tendency to grow like kudzu. One small law, creating say the Nebraska Corn Improvement Zone (no such organization really exists...or does it?) could, over the course of a decade or so, become large and unwieldy, full of patronage positions and thoroughly unresponsive to its initial charter. That sort of conservatism I can applaud.

But, as we all know, those simple days are over. And so, when today's conservatives talk about bringing business principals to the government table they aren't usually talking about small government or the tracking of expenditures. What they want to do is bring the absolute worst part of American business into the government realm; the top down, exucutive as king model.

It is this we see every day with CEO George W. Bush. It's a very basic equation; If I like your idea, you get to stay and tell me more stuff I like. If I don't like what you have to say, please clean out your desk. It's my way or the highway. Donald Trump with Secret Service protection. You're fired.

And we shouldn't be surprised that this approach is lauded. Hell, the bookstores are chock a block with arrogant tomes from hundreds of big business blowhards, all touting some "system" or "approach." All telling us "how I did it!" Perhaps their poster child was Jack Welch, a brittle little creep whose only real genius was self promotion.

But while the "top down" approach has, at least publically, been dismissed as old-fashioned, most workers can tell you the truth; in the end, the boss still makes all the decisions. And usually, they listen more to their wives and kids and golfing buds than they do to their employees.

I have no trouble with the top down approach in theory. Someone ultimately DOES have to make a decision. But what bothers me is an approach that pretends to be this yet isn't. For, if you pretend to take people's views and ideas into the mix, but always reject the ones you personally don't like, you end up with a dysfunctional system. People stop bringing you new ideas. People only tell you what you want to hear. Good people move on, wanting no part of your game. And that's where we are in the current GWB Business Administration.

We have a government that acts like General Motors (or perhaps more accurately, Enron), anxious to run-up executive salaries, ignore the needs and wants of its employees and basically govern by fiat from the board room.

So the next time you hear some politco swooning over "running government like a business," ask them this; "Are you going to run it like the CEO...or like the guy on the line in Duluth?" If he says CEO, just say CULATER.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Follow That Squirrel!

If you're old enough to remember Alexander Haig's famous bon mot, "I'm in charge here," you'll recognize what can happen in the midst of a perceived national "incident." Lines of power get crossed and sparks fly as a result. The strong personalities jump to the fore and weak ones hang back. Neither are particularly wrong - just different.

However, this week, when our nation was under the threat, or perceived threat of hostile intent, we find our Commander-In-Chief, the one with flight suit and "Top Gun" thumbs up, biking in the Maryland countryside. Nothing wrong with that. Good to know that he's staying in shape, just in case he has to run the 440 hurdles for Prep U.

What's unthinkable, however, and what really happened, was that no one told The President, the Commander-in-Chief of These United States, that any of this was happening. No one called to say, "Hey, Wifey and all of Capitol Hill are being evacuated, 'cause a plane has breached the high-security airspace around the White House. It might be a dork who doesn't have his IFR rating or a drunken dolt or a terroriest intent on dropping a small nuclear device. We just don't know, Mr. President."

Nope. Nobody called. In fact, it seems like contacting the Supreme Allied Moron was the last thing on their minds. He was safely downshifting and charging up a hill after an errant chipmunk.

But, as Presidential mouthpiece McClellan pointed out repeatedly to the press, the "protocols were followed." Great, Scott. Clearly, the protocols put into place after 9/11 have this caveat; whatever you do, don't bother Dubya with anything important. Put Cheney in his concrete bunker...but let Faux Prez ride it out in the sylvan splendor of the Maryland woods.

For my part, I'm pretty happy about this. If 9/11 taught us anything it was that Dubya could neither fathom the deep allegorical content of "My Pet Goat," nor could he be trusted to act like a real leader. In some ways, ANYONE else would be a better choice when the real bullets fly or the bombs drop...