But this writer believes that it indicates something more like a cornered and extremely dangerous animal. One can almost time this version of the "October Surprise" by the amount of commitment they bring to damage control as the government unravels: it is apparently not thought necessary to be subtle about it these days. And there is an additional factor most of us have not addressed, that is adding to their desperation, and makes this situation very, very dangerous. Their behavior is not reassuring: it is as if we are being delayed just long enough for something that will render the long and growing list of charges moot. And there is a lot of evidence for what that something could very well be.
News item: USAID's former mission director tries to give the US credit for the lowering of diseases in Haiti when President Aristide was in office (links and excerpts from this and related stories below). The refutations of this claim, should anyone care to look for them, are substantial and damning, and they reveal that USAID did precisely the opposite while Aristide was in office.
USAID also claims to have revitalized fertilizer distribution in Malawi, causing a bumper-crop of corn and saving millions of lives. However, the Associated Press reported in the NY Times that this was done by the Malawian government over strenuous American and World Bank objections.
Whenever caught out on the wrong side of an issue, which is to say, having failed spectacularly at some nefarious international scheme to disempower and disenfranchise large groups of people for the purpose of bolstering "Free Trade," the administration immediately claims credit for the very thing they have obstructed and sabotaged for years.
Instead of quality control and corrective measures, we are being marketed to death as our public agencies are being smothered in their beds, like FEMA.
The troubling history of the wanton destruction of US Government institutions that were created over many administrations by smart, foresighted people to address real public needs, started back in the "Reagan Era." These government entities are being systematically destroyed or converted to reverse the role they had been designed to fulfill. This is all in the name of "getting government off our backs." Whose backs? Why, corporate entities, of course. Not citizens. Not people.
Administration cronies are carefully placed in top positions for which they have scant qualifications, unless we want the agencies they head disabled. Often these cronies are recruited from the very industries their agency is supposed to regulate and oversee for the public good. These foxes set about guarding our chickenhouse by kicking the props out from under effective programs, terminating key personnel that haven't already quit in disgust or protest, and setting policies against one another to cancel their effectiveness. Then Katrina came to New Orleans and revealed the impact: agencies that had been poised and ready for the call to action were totally crippled, their funds gutted, their skeleton staffs buried under meaningless protocols, their communications hopelessly tangled in mismatching technologies, and their leadership hopelessly clueless about what was happening and what needed so desperately to be done.
The administration response to the "Nine-Eleven" events exemplified this very pattern, did anyone care to look. However, we made a Commission, so we aren't really allowed to look. It would be disrespectful of the dead. We've already officially "looked." The Giuliani Story is considered solid enough for a serious candidacy despite the well-understood reality of that man's rather mediocre conduct in that awful time. The administration had been forewarned well in advance, but consistent with the template, they had fragmented and disrupted and disabled the very agencies that were designed to handle such matters. So when, for example, an agent at the FBI brought forward alarming evidence of a real terror plot, she ran into a buzz-saw of malfeasance.
The damage-control process has become routine, and stripped down to its essentials constitutes the template for policy across the board. It works this way: the Executive does whatever The Decider's current impulse might be (in his regular personal conversations with the Almighty Himself, for all we know. If He's not in some Undisclosed Location, that is), and the full might of the US Government, assisted enthusiastically by the major media, then swings into action to spin any story that happens to escape suppression, to make the latest fiasco seem to align with some rational purpose. It matters little how tenuous or patently impossible, as long as some story is released purporting to deny the obviously undeniable. To state brazenly, with a little smirk of condescension, that war is peace, truth is lies, slavery is freedom, all that Orwellian doublespeak, is now considered sufficient cover for policies that are clearly counter-productive, not to say criminal or insane.
Nothing new here. But wait, there is: a new brazenness, a new in-your-face style of lying we haven't seen before, since Nixon, no, even more brazen machinations. They tell us down is up (take the economy for instance); and dare us to gainsay it. And nobody calls their bluff, even though, given Bush's polling numbers, nobody is fooled anymore.
How have we come to such a pretty pass? The answer lies in the curious fact that ordinary administration lying, always a growth industry, has suffered a rather sudden and portentious environmental change.
The administration's problem is that what they like to call their "base," the assorted fatcats, bagmen, televangelists and fear-mongering bigots who have always been ready with a million or two, or a block of xenophobic voters, or an offshore sweatshop scam, or a replacement State's Attorney, or a private, unaccountable, mercenary army of over 100,000, or a new definition of "quaint," this once-reliable bottom course of their pyramid scheme is now fragmented and disoriented. After years of the classically abusive treatment that is the default Cheney/Bush relationship style, the so-called bedrock is crumbling away. These people have been played off against each other, set up, taken for granted, taken to the cleaners, sacrificed on occasion to law enforcement when even Congress can't ignore the feeding frenzy, and generally reamed out for all they're worth. This has formed a kind of greenhouse gas, warming the political atmosphere to the point where their skepticism has finally begun to thaw. The Ponzi payoffs are falling behind. Something ugly is emerging from the miasma.
This may now have reached critical mass, requiring sub-spins for each broken-off and drifting ice floe of "conservative" opinion. As long as each focus-grouped, polled and processed market segment buys the demographically-matched computer generated pandering, the overall picture is not important. They don't even care that any idiot can see through the latest line of bull, as long as enough of these jacked-up lunatics keep yelling support. This works, up to a point, because each component of this meltdown, isolated on its own self-limiting bit of drift ice, only reads or watches the tripe that is directed at them, whilst hollering abuse at the rest.
And the reason for that increasingly clumsy, short-term handling of their own supporters is technology. It is simply that the administration has become addicted to database marketing. They managed to tap the Internet, put a splitter on the pipe, routing the whole thing through their computers. They got so much information flushing into their various little repositories that they can't keep up. Once that happens the typical data junkie must start reacting to immediate crises without time to analyze, quantify, flow-chart, graph, power-point, fact-check, update or re-index. We should have noticed something when Senators began to find their names on no-fly lists. So simple a mistake could only indicate information constipation. Implementation before disign never works very well. Who knew? Nobody they listened to. Their communication skills have not improved.
One wonk was quoted recently about "drinking from a fire-hose." He was trying to reassure us that our privacy is in no great danger from the now utterly unrestrained electronic snooping that is creating so many new jobs over at DHS. But the truth is that they are flying blind in a state of white-knuckle panic. It is something like what would happen if you could hit the "rewind" button on your life and tried to keep up with it all while continuing to live it. There is a little problem of multiple branching consequences and feedback loops. The computer doesn't live that can't be clogged by a simple recursive loop in a program. Just about now, the administration's screens are all going blue.