What's All This Then?

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

There are days when I wonder if the ghost of Lewis Carroll has taken over the United States and we’ve all passed through a looking glass into a fantasy world where black is white, night is day and truth is anything the Bush administration says is truth. Or maybe truthiness. I had to give a tip of the hat to Steven Colbert at some time on this blog.

What am I talking about?

I remember so vividly in my early days in Chicago reading stories about "mob bosses" in my daily newspaper. People were named, often along with their nicknames and the kind of criminal activity in which they were engaged. And I remember being both puzzled and angry. How could this be, I asked myself? It was all reported and discussed so openly. If these people are gangsters and everyone knows what kind of crimes they commit and it’s reported in the newspapers as routinely as the stock market results, why aren’t they in jail?

I had the same reaction to the reporting and portrayal of race relations in those days. Long before the civil rights movement. People in the south being beaten and killed and not allowed to vote and made to ride in the backs of buses and eat and drink apart from other people because of the color of their skins The papers reported these things freely. Movies were made about them. And I had to ask myself, how could this be? How could such crimes be committed and nothing done about them except to make movies about them and write about them in newspapers?

And now here we are decades later and in the words of that world famous philosopher, Lawrence Peter (Yogi) Berra, it’s deja vu all over again. The lies, deceptions and incompetence of the Bush administration are proven, written about, broadcast about, joked about, condemned - and nothing happens. The President and his Vice-President shrug their shoulders and keep lying , deceiving and exhibiting increasing levels of incompetence. And I ask as I asked myself as a newcomer to the US decades ago, how can this be??

Republican majorities in the House and Senate of course prevent anything major from changing this unhappy situation, such as impeaching the President - or even something relatively minor, such as the chief executive asking for the resignations of Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice. Rumsfeld will never be asked to leave no matter who calls for his resignation. Bush will continue to ignore those calls, including from respected members of his own party - thinking of his childish stubbornness as resolve. And Rice is joined at the President’s hip - like a second wife - an extended member of his family. She could stumble us into wars on three fronts with friendly nations and Mr. Bush would say she’s doing a heck of a job. His thus far single effort to appease members of his own party calling for some personnel changes is little more than window dressing - replacing Andrew Card with Joshua Bolten - someone with virtually the same "insider" status. Not exactly the same kind of bold move made by Ronald Reagan when he hired Howard Baker to be his chief of staff.

And as for the antics of Dick Cheney, words almost escape me. Some who have known him throughout his political career, say that they don’t recognize today’s Dick Cheney. I’ve only been able to "know" him from a distance, but I don’t think I have any trouble recognizing what he is today. A man without honor or conscience. A coward during the Vietnam era, he has the audacity to accuse honorable Americans of being nothing short of traitors because they disagree with him and his administration's misguided and dishonorable policies. This is a man who parlayed his stint as Secretary of Defense under Bush senior into the chairmanship of Haliburton, from which he became a multimillionaire and from which he became even richer after he left to return to government "service."

Imagine that. You oversee the United States Department of Defense - to which a company named Haliburton is a major supplier, and when you quit your defense department job - Haliburton is waiting for you with open arms and millions of dollars. And here we are engaged in a war of his and his bosses choice and the self same Haliburton is reaping millions of dollars in no-bid contracts to supply our troops and "re-build" Iraq. How’s that for honorable quid pro quo? And doesn’t that give Mr. Cheney the right to vilify those who disagree with him? To brand then as traitors? To accuse them of giving aid and comfort to the "enemy?"

It’s all so bizarre. No matter how many books are written by White House insiders that reveal the thinking and plans of the President and his cohorts that have landed us where we are today; no matter how many official documents are uncovered that confirm those revelations - nothing happens. Except that it gets worse. And this morning I heard someone call into a radio talk show and declare that history will recognize Bush as a genius!!

And speaking of the bizarre, I have to make note of a brief moment that I spent a few days ago watching Sean Hannity "interview" Newt Gingrich. Normally, I would have switched on by the station, but at the moment my remote rested on the Fox channel, Hannity was bringing up this ridiculous complaint that Bush, Cheney and the right wing ranters and ravers of radio and television keep bringing up - that the media* doesn’t report all of the good news out of Iraq . Gingrich responded that the reporters weren’t necessarily as much to blame as their editors. And went on to give an example of a reporter who had visited a school that we had helped to re-build and filed a story about it - only to have his editor reject it as not being newsworthy.

What is so bizarre is that Gingrich is a highly intelligent man who said this with a straight face and with sincerity in his voice. As if, in the world according to Bush, the mundane and the routine should be items of "news" to be given equal time in newscasts and equal space in newspapers - as mass executions, roadside bombing, abductions and the deaths of American fighting men and women.

I said I was wondering if the ghost of Lewis Carroll had taken over the United States - but it’s more like the world of Bush and his cohorts - a work of fiction by a combination of authors - maybe Orwell and Huxley along with Carroll. A Brave New 1984 World of Looking Glasses , reflecting black as white, bad as good - and, in the words of our illustrious leader - (paragraph eight) "I just want you to know that when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace."

(* Common usage has made "media" a singular noun - so who am I to argue?)