January 4th, 2006


Too Much!

It's a cold, gray, wet, dreary day in the Big Town, the kind of day I always associate with Seattle or London or other places I've never been. Or with the endless oppressive steel-and-concrete hours of Soviet-era Russia. (This analogy courtesy of the James Lileks Foundation, which reminds you that African cabbies are surly ingrates and the Mexican restaurant at the zoo is subpar.)


thaitea kindly gifted me with the '06 Writer's Market yesterday, and aside from time spent talking to my gal ninafarina, the entire night was devoted to poring over the thing, prepping for future work, catching up on new developments since I let my subscription to WM lapse a number of years ago, and bemoaning the fact that there are about 600 freelancer-driven national magazines in America devoted to flyfishing and about 20,000 devoted to Jesus (and probably at least 75 devoted to Jesus-based flyfishing), and two devoted to humor. At any rate, it's a swell gift, and one that's going to be extremely well-used over the coming year.


Not many of you are religious, I know, but if you're of an inclination, you might want to pray the holy rosary that Abraham Jackoff sings like a goddamn canary. God is routinely asked to take sides in American politics, but it's usually for the benefit of the right, and this would be a good time for him to show the Democrats some love by having this worm turn a full 180. The conservative noisemakers have been oddly silent about this potentially devastating string of events; perhaps it's because they've got an ace in the hole (AG Alice Fisher, perhaps? The woman running the Abramoff investigation is a nakedly partisan Republican), or perhaps it's because they just don't have an answer for this one. Their one attempt at boomeranging it -- the claim that Abramoff suborned Democrats as well as Republicans -- has been pretty thoroughly debunked, and I have to wonder if they're just crossing their fingers and hoping Jackoff takes a bullet for the boys, or at least doesn't tell all he knows.

For a long time, I've thought that while the Iraq war represents the most egregious arrogance, ideological blindness and bad judgment on the part of the Bush administration, it's not an issue that has a lot of potential as a vote-changer. It's too polarizing: for the most part, you're either for the war or you aren't, and most people are, however inexplicably. It can also be framed, no matter how badly the war is planned, no matter how much we fuck up, as a good-faith effort to help the people of Iraq, so there's an irreducible number of people who are willing to believe that no matter what a botch-job it turned into, we were right to do it. (And the increasingly plain evidence that people are all too willing to give up the freedoms we're supposed to be protecting from the terrorists in order to protect us from the terrorists shows what a dead end that argument is.) Where progressive elements really stand a chance against the Bush machine isn't on Iraq, or on the frangible economy, or even on the blinkered cronyism of the White House: it's on the fact that this is the most flagrantly corrupt government perhaps ever, and certainly since the days of the Ohio Gang under President Harding. So single-minded are they in their pursuit of electoral victory at all costs, so willing are they to fatten their backers in private industry at the cost of public welfare, so quick are they to get in bed with any shitbag crook who signs a big enough check, that it was only a matter of time before someone (and goodie for us, a particularly reprehesible someone like Jack Abramoff) got nailed and decided to turn states. The one area in which the GOP is spectacularly vulnerable is that of ethics, because they have staked the health of their party on selling influence to anyone with deep enough pockets so long as it enriches private industry. This is a inexpressably vital moment that must be exploited by the Democrats. If they take advantage of it, it could be a turning point; if they don't, it could be a burial rite.


By the way, a lot of lefty blogs have picked up on this, but the elegance of the metaphor is still quite fresh and appealing to me: with all the swell rhetoric about neo-fascism and Hitler II and all that other helpful stuff from people like me, a much better metaphor for the Bush administration is the Corleone family. I'll leave it to people more clever than me to complete the analogy, but George W. nicely combines the stupidity and shortness of Sonny with the paranoia and isolation of Michael; the pervasive atmosphere where anyone who dares question you is an enemy to be removed is everywhere, and Colin Powell must identify quite strongly with the Tom Hagen of Godfather Part II. Condi Rice is the fully transformed viper-woman Connie of Godfather Part III, still fooling everyone into thinking she's the loyal but tragic Connie of II; and Dick Cheney, of course, is Hyman Roth, the ultimate schemer, dying of the same heart attack for the last 20 years. The Corleones don't care about national glory; they care about profit. And they don't send Jews to death camps; they just quietly, efficiently and finally remove obstacles. And finally, they don't run the country; oh, no, it's the people who run the country. They just sit back and collect the money, and occasionally testify before Congress about how patriotic they are. It's an offer we could have refused, but we didn't -- twice now.


Hey, why not another quote of the day? I'm a loser, baby. So why don't you kill me?

"Neither 'fascism' nor 'racism' will do us the favour of returning in such a way that we can recognise them easily. If vigilance was only a game of recognising something already well-known, then it would only be a question of remembering. Vigilance would be reduced to a social game using reminiscence and identification by recognition, a consoling illusion of an immobile history peopled with events which accord with our expectations or our fears." (Pierre-Andre Taguieff)

HEY, BE FUNNY! You ain't funny.