Thursday, October 16, 2003

A plague of Jerry’s

You know, I want proof that Paul Bremer’s nickname was ever actually “Jerry.” I think Bush just got the name wrong, couldn’t admit that they ever gets anything wrong, and his handlers told Bremer that his name was now Jerry.

There’s been some complaint from librarians about a doll modeled on one, that puts its finger to its mouth and goes shush. Librarians deplore that stereotype. Yesterday I was driven out of the periodicals and microfilm section of the public library because of loud conversation. By two librarians. Mostly, skilled librarians have been replaced by unskilled machines. I went to the library in the first place because one machine phoned me to tell me I had something overdue; I went in to find the item on the shelf and show it to a human after another machine had failed to register it when I returned it two weeks before. I only had to rant at them for a couple of minutes before they wiped out that charge, plus another one from July when the same thing happened, and another one where I was charged because the person who had checked out a magazine before me had dropped it in a bathtub (I presume). Still, there’s a certain sense of shame when one is charged with a library crime, isn’t there, even when one didn’t actually commit it, I presume because it’s the first responsibility we’re given outside of the home. I’ve been reading a discard--every so often my library tosses several hundred books in the parking lot and you can just take them, including hard-covers from as recently as last year--with one of those see-through wrapper things only libraries use, and I feel guilty every time I underline something. I hope you’re not waiting for this paragraph to have a point.

Mark Hertsgaard has a good piece in Salon which says that Bush needs to admit that he might have been wrong, or his presidency is in trouble. He’s right that Bush’s method of governing has become visibly brittle and inflexible. He is so committed to the idea that the world will react to his initiatives in exactly the way he expects it to, that there is no Plan B, and he starts floundering. The arrogance with which he exercises power makes him very vulnerable to looking bad when the least little thing goes wrong, and the things that have been going wrong are not the least nor are they little.

Another problem that will become more visible when Bush shifts completely into campaign mode is that he has no popular surrogates to campaign for him. There are creepy, cranky old men (Cheney, Rumsfeld), tone-deaf zealots (Rice, Ashcroft), discredited fig-leafs (Powell), and no one else the average voter has even heard of, because Bush likes to take all the credit. Bush pretty much only speaks to military audiences or Republican fundraisers, and the lesser lights don’t dare appear in events open to the public. Cheney had to go to the Heritage Foundation to find a congenial audience that wouldn’t care that everything he told it about Iraq has been controverted. Laura Bush has begun to campaign for him, really for the first time, because there is simply no one else, and I haven’t seen any indications that she’s America’s sweetheart either. So it’s just Shrub, circumventing the “filter” of people who might contradict him by giving interviews to very local tv stations, the last resort of a politician afraid of too-tough questioning by Larry King.

And he’s raising money, $84 million so far, to put his face on tv right between Will & Grace, Regis & Kelly, etc. Christ, $84 million, that’s $50m beyond shitloads, $30m beyond obscene and $10m past unholy.

Actually, it’s also an insult to democracy for a sitting president to think (possibly correctly) that he needs that much money. It does not cost $84m, plus what they can raise in the next year, to run on one’s record. Is there something to tell us we don’t already know?

Speaking of expensive mis-communication, the Bush budget includes $100m for Iraqi media, to be dispersed by Rumsfeld and DOD. Rummy with a $100 million megaphone. Shudder. The call for private bids actually uses the phrase “fair and balanced.”

Independent headline: “Three Americans Killed in Diplomatic Convoy Blast.” I just don’t see what’s so diplomatic about a convoy blast.

The German who taught his dog to do the Hitler salute has had the charge against him dropped. (Daily Telegraph headline: In Paw Taste)

Several R. Senators just returned from Iraq, reporting on how swimmingly everything is going. D. Senators like Chris Dodd, who wanted to go, were told there were no facilities.

California R’s have decided to try to change the reapportionment process here. In the reverse of R policy in Texas, they want to remove it from the legislature and give it to judges. Subtle, aren’t they? Actually, despite strong D control of the legislature, the R’s have nothing to complain about from the last redistricting, either at the state lege or congressional levels. The voters do, since every seat was drawn as a safe seat for whichever party held it. They have removed the risk from the electoral process; also the politics, issues, interest, democracy. Of course when Californians do get interested in elections, look what happens.

Governor Terminator seems to plan to rule by threatening the legislature with the wrath of the people, by taking every point of disagreement to the ballot in the form of ballot initiatives. A limit to the size of the budget, for example, and massive bond indebtedness to pay for his refusal to consider raising taxes to pay for the existing spending. Well, we could hardly expect him to be bound by legislators operating in a representative democratic system, now could we? I’d make a witty comparison between The Arnold and Napoleon III, but maybe this ain’t the audience.

Here’s a major shocker, in an AP headline: “Halliburton Allegedly Overcharges in Iraq.” Say it ain’t so. Next you’ll be telling me that the Azerbaijani dictator’s son was only elected to replace him by a fraudulent election. This is for gas, for which the army pays Halliburton California prices, which are $1 a gallon more than the average Middle Eastern price. It was a no-bid contract.

Bill Hemmer, whoever that is, was hosting a CNN program and suggested that Bush might be right that the situation in Iraq was improving, but it didn’t get coverage because reporters were scared away by all the shooting and bombs going off. Evidently, this was not said in irony.

Someone else I hadn’t heard of, deputy undersecretary of defense General William “Jerry” Boykin (I swear I read this article after writing my above comments about “Jerry” Bremer), who is in charge of tracking down Osama and Saddam and such, is an evangelical who speaks a lot at churches about how the US is at war with Satan, how Muslims hate us because we’re a Christian nation, how God chose Bush to be president, etc etc. A quick google search shows that except for a brief mention in a Nation article, this wingnut just snuck in under the radar.

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