I wasn’t going to post anything about Paris Hilton. As far as I know she is not a great actress, a gifted mathematician, a capable programmer, nor talented song writer. She is famous for being rich and famous as far as I can tell. Then I came across this essay by Joan Walsh at Salon. The likes of Ann Coulter, Geraldo Rivera and Greta Van Susteren decided along with among many others that the Hilton jail saga was the most pressing issue of the last week, Looking at Paris Hilton, seeing George W. Bush
Clearly, this country is having a scapegoat moment — and maybe that’s not a bad thing. In the cases of Pace and Libby it’s possible to see how one can be a bad guy and a fall guy all at the same time. Both deserve their comeuppance, as does he “rules are for public school bitches” scofflaw Hilton. But it all made me think about the guy who’s both a symbol and a cause of the debauched political culture we’re protesting with our scapegoat-mania. You know who I mean: Another airhead heir, an infamous party animal who got a DUI and walked away, who stumbled through “The Simple Life” in the oilfields of Texas and the executive suites of Major League Baseball, only to run our country off the road: President George W. Bush. I made the connection, maybe belatedly, when I saw what Bush irony and former Commerce Secretary Donald Evans told the New York Times Saturday, about how he knew Bush would not give up on his doomed immigration reform plan. Evans “recalled how, when they were young oil men in Texas, Mr. Bush was typically undaunted by ‘dry holes’ that did not yield oil.” Now, let’s be clear: Bush was a master of the dry hole. Both his businesses, Arbusto and Harken Oil, specialized in them. He was “undaunted” by them because his daddy’s rich friends bailed him out of business trouble time and again, buying him a piece of the Texas Rangers that turned into a fortune, and ultimately the governor’s mansion and the White House.
Bush’s personal and business failures have been brought up multiple times before and remind us of the all smoke no substance conservative platitudes about merit. How being a decent hard working guy is what tot Bush where he is and if you follow his lead you will too. Sure if you have a family fortune to cushion your fall you can fail so many times you begin to look like the human equivalent of The Roadrunner. Bush or Hilton’s story for that matter isn’t anything new. Since just about day one there were citizens that while not called Lord or lady were accorded treatment as befitting royalty. I doubt it, but maybe we’re turning a corner. We’re a society that has a record of rewarding innovation and talent along with mediocrity, but the whole idea from the start by having a president rather then a king was emblematic of our national ideals, ideals of egalitarianism. Sure money and connections may always get you into those exclusive clubs, but when it comes time to face justice or get a crucial position in our government it was never supposed to about how much you had in the bank or who your father was.
Iraq is lost. A pile of rubble that will take years and billions to rebuild is a loss. Bush has not spread a single democracy, killed or captured Bin Laden, our economy despite stock market surges is resting on the rickety pilings of the largest debt in modern history. Bush isn’t leaving a legacy in two years, he’s leaving a nightmare that will take a generation to clean up. Bush hasn’t just knee capped himself, he has dealt a fairly severe wound to conservatism. That nation has seen conservatives in charge of every branch of government and are less then impressed. What to do? They could wrap another war in the flag to get people to rally round. It is a simple formula that has worked before and the GOP candidates are running for president in 2008 on 9-11, mushroom clouds and torture. Neocon Little Ahmadinejads
According to the Iranian scenario, the timeline for hostilities has already been fixed between Washington and Jerusalem – and so has the plan of action. The US will strike Iran first, after which Israel will use the opportunity to go for Syria, targeting its air force, missile bases and deployments, as well as Hizballah’s missile and weapons stocks which Iran replenished this year.
This would be another war based not on defending America, but dubious intelligence about what Iran is doing or might do. The morality of engaging Iran in a war aside, how would this actually serve America’s interest. To say that Iran is a threat to America is to say that elephants should fear mice. Let’s back up for a moment, wasn’t part of the rationale for kicking out the weapons inspectors and opting for an invasion of Iraq supposed to scare the bejesus out of Iran and any other Middle-East Muslims and show them who was boss. Now the plan is, one supposes that ah ha, Iraq wasn’t enough. To really scare them we’ll attack Iran and have Israel attack Syria. Another name for this plan could be called the crazy man plan, the one that keeps banging his head against the proverbial wall hoping for a different result each time.
Meanwhile, those who embrace the cliché that Paul was a spunky and shallow tunesmith—that McCartney composed nostalgia-trip music while Lennon wrote visionary drug anthems—should listen again to Sgt. Pepper’s. Sure, “Lucy in the Sky” has the trippy spiraling keyboard figure and acid-washed words, but McCartney’s eerie little domestic miniature “Fixing a Hole” is more convincingly psychedelic, with the syntactic ambiguities of its lyric mirroring the fractured flitting of an altered consciousness: “I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in/ And stops my mind from wandering/ Where it will go.” (Is the hole in the roof? Or in his mind?)
When I first became aware of the war of the Lennonites and McCathyites I think I leaned slightly toward Lennon because it was more like one of “us”, liked but not the most popular, he was the under appreciated working man’s musician. Though at some point the pendulum for credit swung a little too far in John’s direction.
Harry and Tonto (1974) has been shown on AMC a few times lately. Worth a look. An aging man and his cat, a bitter sweet slice of life, a character study and road picture all in one. Art Carney was a far better actor then that flat character he played on the Honeymooners.