5/30/2016

#166 Grow a Funny Bone, Get Liberated

Americans have long had sophisticated humor about their politicians, except for conservatives who are humorless. From Tom Paine to Mark Twain to Jon Stewart, this country has a long, beautiful history of being able to see the failures and comedy in our political mismanagement. Jolly old England is reasonably quick witted, politically. Their tabloids are jammed with slapstick observations of the Royals. Most of western Europe, the Germans in the last half of the last century, and, occasionally, Italians spawn a fair quantity of capable comedians and cartoonists. The Dutch, Swiss, and Swedes are hilarious. The rest of the world, not so much. Honestly, I don't know much about Japanese political humor, but you'd think a cartoon or two would have crossed the boarders and I can't remember ever seeing a single snatch of Japanese political humor. Koreans, Arabs, Chinese, Russians, most of South America, and Africa are dry wells, if you are looking for something to laugh about.

Humor is an absolute requirement for a country to have a chance in hell of a democratic government. The mark of every third world country suffering a political tyrant is a country filled with humorless people. I realize this could be a chicken-and-egg situation, but I am going out on a limb here in declaring that I think the egg came first. The chickens are an aftereffect of a nation going egg-less.

One advantage (?) of the uncontrolled, irrational immigration the US has experienced in the last decade is that we've all had the opportunity to get to know a fair number of folks from those "countries without humor." And, mostly, I've discovered that they don't get the joke, even when they are removed from the dull, humorless environment from which they came. So, I'm beginning to doubt the problem is "nurture" and suspect the root of the obstruction is in their "nature." Possibly, everyone with a sense of humor and revolution have been bred and murdered out of those cultures. Probably, the same tendency that draws these populations to superstitions and genocide could be linked to an absence of humor and rational thought.

Let's face it, North Korea's Kim Yung Ding Dong wouldn't get through a day in office, at the lowest level, in the US without taking some comedic heat for his asexual appearance, girlyman voice, insane pronouncements, and over-inflated opinion of himself. Of course, our conservatives would love him and praise him as he jabbered monkey-talk and spilled food on himself, but the sentient portion of the country would be howling in the isles every time he opened his mouth. All of which points out the obvious, these humorless countries are all insanely conservative. The terrible truth is that conservatives have no sense of humor. Examples of conservatives trying to demonstrate humor are frightening, terrible, and not funny. Rush humiliating 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton for her lack of teenage sex appeal, for example. Wild Man Watergate Boy Gordon Liddy's only funny routine is putting out cigarettes on his forehead. (Or was that David Crosby? I can't tell one bald redneck from the other.) Oliver North is consistently unintentionally funny, but couldn't tell a joke if he used Robin Williams as a translator. The sad fact of conservatism is that, at best, conservatives only laugh at other's misfortune, but they rarely even manage that unless someone explains the joke to them. If it weren't for slapstick, conservatives would have no cause to flex their jowls in an upward direction. That goes for Ann Coulter's strangely plastic-surgeon-tweaked jowls, too.

A few conservatives recognize this as a critical intellectual failure, so they attempt to imitate folks they've identified as "funny." Usually, the only point of humor reference conservatives have is Bob Hope, who had a full-time team of liberal comedy writers attempting to trowel comedic makeup over Hope's total lack of funniness. Dennis Miller went from occasionally funny to relentlessly boring the moment he decided to go for the cash and think conservatively. A stroke wouldn't have stripped off more IQ points than did Miller's political conversion. Any rational IQ test would include a "sense of humor test," but many academics are as impaired as political conservatives. This, of course, explains the core curriculum of all business management programs. You might see this as some sort of conspiracy, but you'd be over-estimating conservative intelligence. They do these dumb things, without a chuckle, because they are simply not clever enough to see the joke or a solution to the real problems.

It's a long-standing truth that conservatives are not artistic. Conservative attempts at art, movies, music, and architecture are painful reminders of this fact. Country western music is as close as conservatives get to creativity and C&W is just obsolete R&R performed by folks who failed to attract attention as R&R'ers. Fundamentalists, of all sorts, are universally devoid of humor. Can you imagine the Ayatollah or Billy Graham laughing?  Me either. How about Chairman Mao, Adolph Hitler, Stalin, British Royalty, Rush Limbaugh or George Bush? (Smirking or sneering does not count.) Nope, me either. The more conservative they get, the less funny they become. 

Not all liberals are endowed with cleverness, either. However, the word "liberal" has received something of a distorted image by modern politics. Teddy Kennedy, the neocon's posterboy for liberalism, is actually pretty funny when he wants to be. Ralph Nader possess the driest sense of humor I've ever experienced. However, more radical liberal types appear to be obeying some version of quantum mechanics and have swung so far left that they are coming around the other side and turning into radical conservatives, humor-wise.

Today, I want to add another conservative and anti-liberty characteristic to the common knowledge; a lack of humor. Even more important, any nation that wants to foster creativity, liberty, and prosperity has to put a fair effort into being funny. The evidence points to the possibility that you can't be free without being funny.

December 2006

5/25/2016

#165 What do We Deserve?

All Rights Reserved © 2006 Thomas W. Day

"We get the government we deserve." I think that may be one of the least obvious, most true statements about government of any type, any size, and at any time in history. The best periods of government in American history all occurred during brief times when the public was so disappointed by the performance of the usual suspects that they rose from their lethargy and took back power for those who should never be allowed to possess it. In geopolitical time, those high points barely warrant a blink of an eye compared to the eons of droning, corrupt, self-serving governments that have cursed humanity since the first caveman decided to tell other cavemen who was boss.

Looking at politics under the lens of "what does the public deserve" does, maybe, a disservice to places like Mexico and most of South and Central America, most of Africa, the Arab nations, most of Asia and East Europe. At the core, obviously, many parents in those countries raised or failed to raise the little rat bastards who torture, destroy, and terrorize those countries. If their offspring turn out to be the knife that kills the parent, it's tough to generate a lot of sympathy for the "victim." You grew it, you own it.

Tough love, I know, but it comes back to haunt us. Much of the world's misery is generated by American robber baron corporations that use US military power and the threat of that power to manipulate foreign governments, smaller nations' natural resources, and the world's monetary system. We grew it, now we own it. Those corporations have grown beyond the boundaries of the United States and show no more loyalty to our flag than they do the flags of the countries they've invaded in the past. Should that really be surprising to anyone? In 1968, Chicago discovered that cops on the take don't take orders. Throughout the 1960s until today, we should have learned that a CIA/FBI on the take is equally insensitive to management. Now, we're beginning to see that corporations that manipulate, to their financial and power advantage, all of the worst aspects of our culture are insensitive to the culture that they supposedly serve. Well, duh. You lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

Which brings us to our present dilemma. Our government, from local to federal is a contaminated, corrupt mess. The bits that aren't owned and operated by international corporations are owned and operated by local gangsters. Even the smallest cities are poorly managed by special interests that don't care one whit about the safety, security, financial stability, or future of the communities they pretend to serve. And we, apparently, love them for it.

My hometown, Dodge City, Kansas, once hired a City Manager from some damned place because he had magical business credentials and could, supposedly, bring new business to that dying community. Within a couple of years, he attracted a collection of packing plants and associated service vendors for that industry, which drew a few thousand illegal laborers to the town, driving wages into the dust, ruining neighborhoods, and decimating the town's already weak education system. After the City Manager's "work was done," he promptly left town with yet another credit to his resume. The town has yet to, and probably will never, recover.

My current home, Little Canada, Minnesota, presents less opportunity for industry, being a fully-developed bedroom suburb of St. Paul. That hasn't slowed up the march of political opportunism, though. Like most eastern cities, we have a supremely expensive, astoundingly unproductive city government. With too many employees doing too little work, all hired or appointed by a crony-system that is old, well-entrenched, and regularly re-elected by local voters. For some reason, the majority of voters like the current system, even though they don't know anything about how it operates. We're a mirror of national politics, which does nothing to explain either local or national politics.

In a fit of irrational community loyalty, my wife ran for City Council in the last election. She campaigned by going door-to-door, talking to our neighbors, engaging in the local televised debate, and taking every opportunity to talk about how our little city's quality of life could be improved. She campaigned on city efficiency, managing the city's resources and development, opening the city's financial decisions to public examination, protecting our small group of lakes and waterways, She placed campaign signs on our neighbors' lawns, with local businesses, and handed out fliers until she felt she'd contacted everyone who might care about the community and vote that concern.

Her opponents controlled the debate, placed their campaign signs, illegally, on public property, in front of a few bars and liquor stores and their own homes, took the local vote for granted and, correctly, assumed that the voters would be as uninvolved, uninformed, and dysfunctional as they had been in the past. One of the incumbents had been seriously ill with disabling cancer and died soon after the election, before taking office. Our little city's experiment in democracy ran aground almost immediately, as the existing office holders disingenuously praised the deceased council member's dedication to the city's welfare (something I never witnessed in dozens of council meetings I observed over the years). While waving that distracting flag with one hand, they worked quickly to subvert democratic principle so they could appoint another of their cronies to the council. Public comment was discounted, logic and fairness ignored, and it appears that we'll continue down the corrupt path our city has trod in the past, because that's what conservatives do.

The problem is normal people don't want to associate with the kind of people who work in government, run for , political office, or own the people who squat in those jobs. One trip to a city council meeting is enough to keep the typical citizen from venturing into that boring, degenerate environment for years. A short conversation with a city manager, a council member, state legislator, or governor will drive most of us into an hour-long hand washing frenzy. Government and business share this quality, the closer you get to the top, the scummier your associations become. At some point, freedom and liberty have to be defended by those who expect the rewards of those precious qualities. If we don't take back our governments from the scumbags who will use it against us, we'll deserve the government we get.

December 2006

5/16/2016

#164 Who Won?

All Rights Reserved © 2006 Thomas W. Day

The election is over. Republicans lost the U.S. House and won a microscopic (1 vote) advantage in the Senate. The American public spoke and their voice was heard. Yeah, right. A single "accidental death," like Paul Wellstone's, could allow a nutty Republicrat governor to appoint an equally crazy Republicrat replacement, putting Cheany in the deciding vote position in the Senate. All that energy into one of the most stunning electoral repudiations of government in US history and it can all be overturned by one of the old farts in the Senate acting naturally and dying.

It's true that the public spoke with their feet and votes. It's true that the nation's anti-war sentiment is pretty damn strong and that a few Demolicans managed to identify that movement and march at a safe distance behind the voting public. In the end, even before the polls closed Pelosi and crew were backing off of their promises and rearranging their priorities. Power corrupts and political parties are all about power. It's going to take a lot more than an election to fix the mess the Republicrats have made in the world. In fact, I suspect it's beyond fixing.

A few years back, Michael Moore produced a film called "Bowling for Columbine." The film obviously had an agenda and Michael pursued it relentlessly until he discovered, near the end, that his original premise was disproved by Canada and Switzerland; two countries with possibly more heavily armed civilian populations than the U.S. He ended the film, honestly and sadly, without a conclusion.

He gave me a lot to think about, though. My conclusion, as usual, is that every institution (government is the ultimate institution, size-wise) is led and inspired top-down. Since the early years of the 1800's, the United States government has been a violently corrupt institution; invading neighbors to steal territory, devastating Native American populations out of greed and general viciousness, and beginning the tradition of destabilizing other countries' governments so our robber barons can take advantage of their natural resources without interference. The 1800s turned our for-and-by-the-people government into a corporate tool for the hostile takeover of anything not bolted down and well-defended. We'll whip out the guns and cannons and bombers for practically any justification imaginable. Is it any wonder that neighbors resort to trading bullets over property disputes, marital arguments, or parking space? It's a national tradition.

As individuals, we might be tired of sending our children to foreign wars of corporate interest. As a nation, we're perfectly happy to toss kids into flames if someone convinces us that it will make a Bush, Rockefeller, or Halliburton a little richer. In fact, there are whole regions of the United States that specialize in producing cannon fodder; Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, Mississippi, and most of rural America, for example. It takes, literally, minimal motivation for parents of these states to decide to send their boys and girls into the breach. They have been conditioned, since the Civil War, to toss their kids into the hands of politicians and corporations anytime the words "patriotism," "national security," or "threat to the economy" are mentioned. I am going to be hard-pressed to imagine that anything in this last election will alter that national mindset.

War is such a vicious, terrible, evil option that it's hard to imagine why a nation would select a foolish, slimy, amoral scumbag like Bush or Chaney to a position where they might be able to sacrifice nature or youth to their whims. It's a critical human fault that puts serious doubt on any "intelligent design" fantasy.

I don't see this election as a solution to any of the country's worst problems. A single Demolican defection on any vote will maintain the status quo. A single assassination would return the country to 2000's Republicrat corruption. Do you really think that Chaney and the Oil Barons wouldn't kill anyone to keep the oil money flowing unimpeded? We're a long way from out of the frying pan and the fire is still burning under the pan.

November 2006

5/09/2016

#163 The Really Good Die Young and Unnoticed (2006)

[This is the last of the Rat reprints. All of the stuff I wrote after 2006 went to the blog and the website, simultaneously. This essay was also posted to the blog when I first wrote it, but I think Dr. Jeevan Paul deserves all the notice he can get. He is missed and was an American hero. If I'm still alive in 2016, I'm sure I'll still miss him. If I'm not, this will be the last thing I intended to post on this blog. Either way, we all win.]
All Rights Reserved © 2006 Thomas W. Day
NPR's Prairie Home Companion fans will be disappointed to here that, regardless of what NPR's Garrison Keillor says, Saint Paul is an armpit of a city, compared to Minneapolis, St. Cloud, Rochester, or any other city in Minnesota. Like every state in our nutty nation, the state capitol is the state's official embarrassment; the most corrupt, the most degenerate, the most poorly managed, and the one place in the state that most adversely affects the state's average IQ. Think Topeka, Kansas or Albany, New York or even Sacramento, California and you'll know what I'm talking about. Austin, Texas is an exception, but that city is surrounded by an armpit of a state. You could be forgiven in thinking that we've decided to put all of the worst people we know in a common location so that, if we ever decided to be a rational nation, it would be easy to identify where most of the problems reside. I stumbled into more evidence of our national capitol perversion this week when I decided to see a doctor for a ailment that has been persecuting me for the past month.
To build a little background, I spent a decade in medical devices during the 1990s and the most valuable thing I learned from that experience is that Ted Sturgeon's rule ("90% of everything is crap") more than applies to medicine. In fact, Sturgeon is optimistic. Most of the physicians I met were mediocre talents, barely involved in their profession, disconnected to the pain and suffering of their victims, and almost as principled as Enron executives (or any other company's executives, for that matter). From that experience and my history of minimal medical difficulties, I hoped to avoid contact with doctors whenever possible.
clip_image002At the end of that miserable career path, I found myself exactly where I'd hoped never to be: looking for a competent doctor. Our of necessity and through a referral from someone who's opinion I valued, I met Dr. Jeevan Paul in August of 2001. I was in terrible shape and had been in and out of a dozen doctors' offices since May, with no result other than continued degeneration of my condition and increased frustration. Dr. Paul gave me a complete physical, his complete attention and empathy, and identified the source of and several possible solutions for my problem in a single visit. Unfortunately, my corporate insurance did not include his clinic, so I was forced to return to the other 90%, armed with the information Dr. Paul had provided. The cost of the tests he'd performed was high, since the laboratories he used were the usual suspects of medical practice. So, he helped me negotiate with my insurance company and, eventually, they paid for a portion of the lab costs. He stayed in touch with me for several months, through e-mail, to follow-up on the treatment I received from my insurance provider.
Like most Americans, I've been uninsured or underinsured for the last four years, so my contact with doctors has been limited to desperate times only. Once freed from my medical problems, I haven't had much cause to hang out with doctors, even the one I actually liked and trusted; Dr. Jeevan Paul. A couple of months ago, I decided to get back in touch and discovered that Dr. Paul died in 2005. He was thirty-seven years old. Typically, his brief memorial, buried in the back pages of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, requested that any memorials be sent to his favorite "hobby"; Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders).
Since I last saw Dr. Paul, he had moved to a different facility and a new specialty; chronic pain. He was active in the Minnesota Medical Association and constantly worked to provide medical services to low income patients and other disadvantaged citizens who are typically unprotected by our current profit-driven medical system. He posthumously received an award from a Minnesota physician's organization which described Dr. Paul in this simple statement, "Increasing access to care for underserved communities was the cause closest to Dr. Paul's heart, said Dr. Tooker. A general internist, Dr. Paul spent most of his career working at a community health center in St. Paul, where he worked to break down barriers to care for low-income patients."
Now, back to my original premise, the one that stated my opinion of St. Paul's low status as a city. Dr. Paul was active in local and state politics. He regularly participated in a physicians' outreach program that annually attempted to inform our state legislators of critical issues regarding the state's health care systems. I doubt that anyone in the state did more to promote community, compassion, or sacrifice than did Dr. Jeevan Paul.
In recognition of his life and death, the St. Paul Pioneer Press didn't even bother to post a notice of his passing. No mention was made in the state legislature of the loss of this great man. If it weren't for the Minneapolis Tribune's brief mention in the obituary column.
Maybe this makes sense to you. Maybe you really believe that the piddling activities of professional athletes warrants a seven page section of the newspaper? Maybe you think movie reviews are critical to the progress and outcome of civilization. Maybe you think government is wisely spending its time jabbering about gay marriage, abortion, finding more ways to reduce the tax burden of the wealthy, and slipping more corporate tax loopholes? I, on the other hand, think all this crap is wall-to-wall signs of a decadent society that has no moral guidelines, no purpose, and is so intently concentrated on greed and corruption that we won't even have Nero entertaining us with a violin solo when the walls crumble down on our heads.
October 2006

5/02/2016

#162 Appeasing Nazis (2006)

All Rights Reserved © 2006 Thomas W. Day

 

rummyDefense Secretary and neocon wildman Donny Rumsfeld, a man whose bleary, boozy appearance always inspires the endearing nickname "Rummy," recently went into a hysterical rant comparing his critics to "Nazi appeasers" who are interfering in his pursuit of "a new type of fascism." Sam Kinison must be laughing, somewhere.

These days, any attempt to report an administration speech comes off as rightwing propaganda, these characters are so far off the political charts that they are coming around the other side and beginning to sound leftist. My source of information, a Los Angeles Times article (by Julian E. Barnes), was so badly written that I thought, for a few seconds, that Rummy had grown a conscience and swapped sides. The Times, a paper that once was so disregarded that it was barely considered to be more than a rightwing real estate promotion rag, has returned to its roots. Barnes works his ass off to make Rummy sound almost sentient, while reducing contradicting opinions to background noise. Still, even with careful editing, Rummy is pretty funny.

Let's face it, anyone who knows squat about history has long since connected the dots between the 1936 Nazi political takeover of Germany and the 2000 neocon overthrow of the United States democracy. But, no, when he presented his newest, most hilarious argument, Rummy was hiding in that great bastion of nationalism, the American Legion convention. An audience sense of history was noticeably missing.1 Rummy went into a semi-literate rant about the people who were interfering with his dissection of the Constitution and his illegal Iraq oil takeover attempt. There weren't nearly as many laughs as Rummy would have received if he'd have picked a more conscious crowd, like a college campus. I expect he was disappointed. He went to a lot of work to assemble the best neocon comedic writers and this was some of their best work. Hardly anyone laughed, assuming Barnes and the Times accurately reported the event.

I laughed a lot, when I read the Times' article. I particularly loved this convoluted and typically-Rummy argument, "If we abandon the Iraqi people before their government is strong enough to secure the country, they we will show reformers across the region that America cannot be trusted to keep its word. We will embolden extremist enemies of moderation and of democratic reform." Has anyone ever seen any sign that Rummy supports moderation or democratic reform in this country? Did I miss Rummy's anguished performance when the 2000 Supreme Court disrespected more than 50 million votes, the majority, and politically "appointed" Rummy's boss; "Queen of America?" This is sarcasm, right? It has to be. When was the last time one of the monosyllabic neocons used the word "embolden?" Aren't conservatives terrified of people who are emboldened? When has a reformer ever looked to this administration for any inspiration? Reformers all over South America are looking to the north in fear, especially those who have oil resources. But no political leader with an ounce of good toward his citizens will would ever expect assistance from the Bush Presidency. We don't even expect assistance from our government. Our elections are so fraudulent that "trust" is a word that has vanished from the American political vocabulary. And does abandoning "the Iraqi people" mean that we'd quit shooting them for entertainment? There is so much irony in this pair of sentences that I think Mark Twain would be intimidated by the comedic genius of Rummy's writers.

Rummy tipped his whiskey jar and continued with, "I recount that history because, once again, we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism." Really? The Bushies are doing something new? What did I miss? It doesn't look new to me. 2000 was the same kind of turn-around year for the United States that Germany suffered in 1932 when the Nazi Party wrestled power from the Weimar Democracy in the heat of the world economic depression. Hitler's 1932 "victory" was no less legitimate or more creative than was George Bush's in 2000. The United States has made a slow turn in the exact Nazi German direction that led to WWII. But "new?" I see nothing new in fascism. Fascism is an economic system that attempts to reach corporate and elite goals through force, repression, and fear. Sounds like the Republican Party platform to me. The fact that working class folks keep voting Republican is the funniest, saddest proof that humans are a sincerely, chronically, pathologically stupid species. But that's nothing new, either.

He had to have had them rolling in the isles, but Rummy kept delivering punch lines. Like this one, "Can we truly afford to believe that, somehow or someway, vicious extremists could be appeased?" No, we can't, but we will. I have never believed that the brown shirt extremists who forced the end of the 2000 presidential election recount with violence and a politically corrupt Supreme Court overthrow of democracy can be appeased. I thought they should have been arrested, tried, and executed for treason; including the five members of the Court. Honestly, I can't imagine this country returning to democratic principles without a civil war and I have very little faith that the docile citizens of this country care enough about freedom, liberty, or democracy to go to war for it.  Still, appeasing the Bush Administration is a moral crime and I agree with Rummy, we should all be opposing them with every ounce of our existence. That was what he was talking about, wasn't it? Maybe he was still stuffing his contradictions into a paradox burrito. Irony is so subtle. Of course, when Rummy tosses off a phrase like "moral confusion," we know there's a punch line here somewhere. Morals? Republicans? Where would the two ever meet?

One after another, Rummy kept the one-liners coming, "Can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America--not the enemy--is the real source of the world's troubles?" I read that and thought, "No, we can't, but I don't remember ever leaving that view." Reagan really kicked it up a notch or ten, but since the end of WWII, the United States has destabilized nations and continents, continuously, for the profit of a few rich corporate criminals. I don't know how anyone with the slightest knowledge of world history can avoid pointing, like a compass swinging north, a finger at the United States when a discussion of "the world's troubles" begins. Still, at some clinging basic core, America (including Canada and Mexico and South America) are the hope of much of the world. Bush and Rummy, however, do not represent America (including the United States) at its best. They are us at our worst, our most destabilizing, our most class-controlled, our most short-sighted, and our most violently greedy. That's not that funny, now that I reconsider it. I guess I can see why the reporter didn't mention laughs at this point in Rummy's speech.

As background noise, Rummy (and Condi and Georgie and the rest) keep talking about "victory" in Iraq. This has to be a joke, right? How can an occupying force ever hope for "victory" in an invasion? Historically, the best imperialist occupation forces have ever managed is "balance." Balance usually means the occupier gains as much, in assets or trade, as they lose in moral character, national focus, and actual lives sacrificed so that the ruling class, who does gain from the occupation, can make their profits. That's "victory" when it comes to invading another nation in the hopes of controlling their resources. Oil, in this case and in case you've forgotten why we're in Iraq. With this history lesson in mind, I can't help but wonder when the Native Americans will reclaim this country. "Winning" isn't even an option, but it's pretty funny to think that anyone can take this argument seriously.

Democrats are making a mistake in calling for Rummy's resignation. Rummy isn't the problem, he's a symptom. He's distracting entertainment. When you are attempting to cure a disease, the last thing you want to do is hide symptoms unless the symptoms are all the damage the disease can cause. This disease is the entire conservative movement. Their irrational, superstitious view of the world is colored by rosy prism-shaped glasses that obscure anything resembling reality. They can overthrow the Constitution and the democracy and call it "national security." They can hand over the nation's assets to a tiny, inbred group of wealthy corporate traitors and call it "capitalism." They can destroy the nation's public education system and imagine, somehow, that unlimited immigration of unskilled, uneducated menial laborers and superstition-based charter schools will make up for the national brain trust that has been squandered during the last two decades.

I say let Rummy stand up and say what's on his little booze-soaked, hallucination-blurred mind. Let's ask him what he thinks, on every opportunity and on every subject, and be sure the cameras are rolling. For as little as Rummy seems to comprehend, he's nearly infinitely more conscious than his boss and, if he's the best Bush can offer up, we should be considering that very carefully. Of course, this is all part of Carl Rove's slavish devotion to maintaining Machiavelli's illusion of the "Prince." The goal is to make the Prince sound reasonable, a tough task for Bush, while his representatives act as vicious attack dogs chasing away opponents. The act is growing old and predictable. Maybe Machiavellian government has exceeded it's comedic limits? Maybe Rove is exceeding his abilities in trying to work both Rummy and Bush at the same time: all those hours with both hands up a pair of puppet's butts is probably tiring.

Rummy gives it his best, though. My favorite, and last, Rummy quote is ". . . but some seem not to have learned history's lessons." Exactly what I said in 2003 when I compared the administration's rush to invade and occupy Iraq, except that I was comparing Iraq to Vietnam. Using Rummy's Nazi lesson, I think it's clear how little this country learned from the "Great War" and the political and economic events that caused it.

That's not funny.

1On Labor Day Weekend, let's not forget that the American Legion and the state militias (the National Guard) first saw significant use in modern times as strike-breaking goons. Celebrated in Woody Guthrie's "You Can't Scare Me I'm Working for the Union" and other famous lore, these guys hide behind nationalism while performing the menial labor for their corporate Republican owners. Sad, but a nasty piece of American history. Some things never change, some barely change.

September 2006