Monday, December 26, 2005

Smoke and Mirrors and -- oh yeah, more Smoke

My mother, of blessed memory, used to say, "You can't pee on my back and make me think it's raining." My new take on this old piece of wisdom is, "Don't blow smoke up my butt and then bill me for a colonoscopy." Doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but in this age of "Smoke and Mirrors" it seems more appropriate. This year I've been tempted to call the Whitehouse switchboard and ask, "Just what part of 'bend over' am I not understanding here?" But for all I know, I'm already on more than one of their secret lists. Do I really need to be on another?

Thinking about the Gregorian year ending this weekend and what we, as a nation, have managed to accomplish. We are now spying on Quakers and folks who don't wear fur. We are no closer to the truth on Plame-gate than we were a year ago. We are watching the Apartheid Wall expand across the Occupied Territories of the West Bank while we talk of a new wall separating us from our cousins to the south. We continue to put faith in the "trust me" administration and avoid words like "impeachment" and "unindicted coconspirator" lest we be called un-American. We await election results from the third Iraqi election this year and believe that this time -- for sure -- we will be able to hand sovereignty back to the people from whom we took it nearly three years ago. We are counting our dead but not counting their dead -- admitting to "30,000 more or less" as though we were guessing at how many jellybeans are in the jar. We continue to wave red flags at the Iranians on a weekly basis but are shocked -- just shocked, I tell you -- when they wave a red flag back at us. We are still debating a Patriot Act that has nothing whatsoever to do with patriotism while watching absolute power corrupt absolutely.

Personally, I am thinking of a number between one and 100,000 and two naked emperors -- George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon (which is not an image I want stuck in my head for more than a nanosecond) -- while passively watching the administration and the media add new words and phrases to our collective vocabulary as a nation, such as permanent vegetative state, Qur'an abuse, stress positions, extraordinary rendition, Bridges to Nowhere, Minutemen, Gitmoize, unlawful insurgency (a true oxymoron), punditry, evil doers, cut and run, girly men, nuclear option, public scatology, blame game, talking points, Intelligent Design, wardrobe malfunction, recess appointment, donor fatigue, neo-Caliphate and the truly offensive phrase of the month: Islamofascism -- would anyone dare to say or print Judeofascism? -- I seriously doubt it.

One year and forty-nine weeks ago (1/19/04), Dick Cheney told USA Today in an interview that he was not worried about his image as the administration's Machiavelli, skilled in the quiet arts of persuading his "Prince" to pursue questionable policies, and adding, remarkably, "Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole? It's a nice way to operate, actually."

Not much has changed since then. Cheney is operating a bit more out in the open since the 2004 election. And I've noticed that we now have a new alphabet soup on the shelf. Anyone my age will remember when the accepted abbreviations consisted of MD, PhD, CPA, H2O and AT&T and we all knew exactly what each of those letters stood for. Now CPA has a whole new meaning and we have added FISA, FOIA, NSA, CIA, FBI, WMD, FEMA, DHS, ACLU, ADL, ADC, CAIR, AIPAC, RNC, DNC, GOP, ANWR, OPEC, CAFTA, NAFTA, WTO, IMF, WHO, IAEA, AEI, DOD, GAO (which changed its name earlier this year but is still abbreviated as GAO) and, of course, the ubiquitous K Street.

Lurking somewhere amid the smoke, mirrors and alphabet soup there has to be a tipping point. If not, next year at this time we'll still be shoveling shit and hoping for a pony.

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