“My bad feelings about the younger Bush and his band of triumphalist Babbits…” -June 24, 2003

As I was buying a gallon of milk for $1.99 at the Mobil gas station
convenience store, I thought back to the days when George Bush's
father was campaigning to keep his sinecure. He was apparently embarrassed
by some pesky reporter who had inquired about what the price of
milk was —this also might have been about the time that the
elder Bush discovered the ubiquitous retailing appliance, the price
scanner. This comes to mind because my bad feelings about the younger
Bush and his band of triumphalist Babbits has lead me to examine
some of the ur-reasons that prop up the political name game currently
running amok in my adopted country.

What has finally tipped me over the edge was reading that the Bushists
were going to raise a half a million dollars a day each and every
day until Election Day 2004. That would be about a quarter of a
billion dollars. Needless to say this stinks badly. That alone is
a stab in the heart of democracy, but consider that Murdoch's flying
monkeys (thank you, Keith Olbermann) will be having an unabated
feeding frenzy ripping the entrails out of any opposition to the
Bush theocracy.

Much is troubling in public political discourse today, and surely
one insidious factor is the use of totalitarian techniques to define
and direct that discourse. I knew that an even lower low had been
reached when I read that President Bush was now creating a new pariah
category, 'revisionist historians'. His use of the notion of revisionist
history was so beyond any evidence to date of George Bush having
any acquaintance with a world of ideas, that I shudder at what might
come next.

I have a sense that there are many people waiting for some sort
of (Paddy) Chayefskyian moment, as when in the film Network
Howard Beale (Peter Finch) coalesces a powerful submerged national
sentiment and makes a mantra out of "I'm mad as hell and I'm
not going to take it anymore."

Weapons of Mass Destruction? Tax cuts. High Unemployment. Global
warming? The International Criminal Court. Slaughters in Central
Africa. Skanky machinations in Venezuela. The Patriot Act. Crony
corporations rebuilding Iraq. Continuing the idiocy of a mesozoic
Cuba policy. Being mean to Helen Thomas. A glorious taxpayer-funded
campaign spot performed live for a narcoleptic press. Insisting
on making this a Christian nation—I cannot go on and expect
to be productive for the rest of the day.

Okay, so here's the thing. My greatest fear is that a political
party that is willing to spend a quarter of a billion dollars to
secure the seemingly most powerful office in the known universe
(and can easily raise that small fortune) is not doing it to give
bread to the poor. More likely we are in for a prolonged season
of circus.

I am still mulling over the vaguely fascistic bumper sticker I
saw on a late model sedan driven by a white haired couple, "Fear
this!" next to an American flag. Am I the only person that
sees this as both a flag waved in the face of the US's enemies and
a warning to its own citizens?

And finally, I don't see that whatever the ideological bent of
my observations (well, the truth is that I would monogram it 'progressive
skepticism') their assailability is not a matter of dogma. Maybe.

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My desk top, Robert Birnbaum © 2003

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