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This Is Something Getting Old Very Fast: A Review of Saul Landau's A Bush & Botox World (Counterpunch/AK 2007)

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Ron Jacobs
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If one considers a face without wrinkles to be better-looking than one with them, than they might consider using Botox to remove any wrinkles they might have on their face. For those who know, Botox is a poison that is injected into a person's face, thereby puffing out the flesh to remove wrinkles and other lines humans usually get as they age. The ultimate result is that people look younger than they are, all thanks to the fact that they are poisoning themselves.

Saul Landau's recent book, A Bush and Botox World, suggests that today's United States is injecting its body politic with the political and social equivalent of Botox. In other words, this country is not what those who run it would like us to think it is. The fact that it presents itself to the world as a just and democratic society that values human rights is just so much Botox in the face of the aged Empire that the US has become. Like Botox, the public relations lies not only cover up the ugliness of Washington's wars and rapaciousness, they are composed of poison that add their own element to the death the United States is creeping towards.

These essays have appeared in other forums, including Counterpunch, but like many such collections, they have a much greater effect when collected and presented in a book form. Landau's humor and incisive views of history and today come through quite clearly. From the hypocrisy of the US government on "terrorists" in the East and anti-Castro "freedom fighters" who blow up airliners on their way to Cuba to the insanity and death of the Vietnam war, Landau's incisive pen is there to tell. As it is when it comes to Iraq and the amoral wasteland that the United States has become.

Essayists abound in the world of the World Wide Web. Every topic possible is considered by this surplus of scribes. Britney Spears and baseball; Jesus' death and the Bhagvad Ghita; right-wing politics and leftist lessons--they are all there. Saul Landau stands near or on the top of this plethora of pundits. BA Bush and Botox World is a collection of works that not only entertain and inform, they make the reader think about the continuity of change and the steadfastness of the opposition to that change. Jesus and GIs; Cuba and Iraq. The emptiness of corporate media and the need for a renewal of conscious thought. Questions about the United States of 2007 and poetry that reflects on a moment in Istanbul. There's an essay on the nature of George Bush's religion and a film review of Paradise Now that ponders that film's portrayal of religiously-inspired suicide bombers.

Landau shows little mercy for those who have brought us to this sorry state and he asks why we aren't doing more to change it. Like the camera lens of his films, his words take a subject and lend it his particularly informed and nuanced vision. Like Gore Vidal writes in the foreword to this book, Landau is one of "a handful of American writers and filmmakers...who have brought us ...the true glimpses of certain aspects of certain aspects of those nations constantly demonized by our masters....Read Saul Landau."

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Ron Jacobs is a writer, library worker and anti-imperialist. He is the author of The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up. His collection of essays and other musings titled Tripping Through the American (more...)
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