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BushCo: Change of State? or Escalate?

There's an expression in politics: "When about to be exposed, escalate your atrocities!"

Rove (PhD, Magnum Cum Laude, Machiavelli Community College), arguably one of the most brilliant political tacticians in history, understands this, and wields it like a surgeon with his scalpel. But, like any zealot who believes in his invincibility, he got carried away by the hubris that inheres in wielding great power, and he has shot himself in his achilles heel. So now we're going to get to see just how great Rove is, whether his particular brand of evil brilliance is up for its greatest challenge. Sadly, I believe we will be unlucky enough to witness the masterpiece of a political artist at his peak.

As I've hinted elsewhere recently there are certainly plans afoot to bomb somewhere soon, whether Syria, Iran, or Lichtenstein; or perhaps unleash Project BioShield — it doesn't matter. Rove (qua BushCo) needs another distraction, and they need it soon. The next few weeks are going to be very interesting as various steaming piles all hit the fan together — Plamegate indictments; 2000 soldier deaths milestone reached; <40% popularity; Bush drinking again; avian flu; Syria in the sights; the Miers nomination, etc. It feels to me like a tremendous crescendo in a complex symphony's coda, all the themes finally coming together into one enormous, drawn-out cadence. The tension is palpable. The world's at the edge of its seat.

Operative Nobody and I have had a series of discussions recently about what's happening right now with BushCo. He has a different take on things than I do. For him, Bush, as the obvious pawn of the cabal of financial and business interests running the country, was the vehicle through which they would finally achieve their dream of transforming Murka into a corporatists's paradise — protecting them from onerous lawsuits, reverse robin-hoodism as official economic policy, privatization of all things public, etc.

Legally committing such crimes against the public requires the removal of legislative safeguards against despotism — great inequities in wealth necessitate great increases in social control: with increased economic disparities come increased police powers. The goal, as the great pedagogist Henry Giroux puts it, is "the elimination of democracy and the concentration of power and control in the hands of a single party and the ruling corporate elite." Thus this corporate cabal emboldens and supports BushCo to enact their regressive legislations as far as they're able to...until the inevitable uproar when people figure out what's going on. When the tide turns the public will blame BushCo for their plight, at which time the legislation's already passed; thus Bush, et al, become the fall guys.

He believes (and hopes, — as do we (ie, sentient beings) all) that the pressure of all these mounting scandals will continue to take such a toll on Bush that eventually he'll snap in some spectacular way in some public venue ("drunken press conferences, public apoplexy with expletives, incoherent rambling with or without drool, maybe even physical violence"), and thus be thoroughly humiliated and disgraced before the world. The more spectacular the snappage, the better for the cabal since it will serve as a lightning rod to focus attention on him rather than the institutional changes promulgated under his "leadership".

The world has a collective sigh of relief at his downfall. But now the way is paved for the cabal's next puppet. Newt Puppett will rescind some of the more heinous doctrines, like pre-emptive war and outsourced "rendering", so as to look progressive; but the economic and political structures of corporate and police control will remain in place. After a few quiet years, once the public is complacent again, Newt Puppett will gradually and quietly enact the last few steps required to complete their despotic agenda, the finalization of a uniquely American "friendly fascism".

To this I say, no matter how much we may relish the universal schadenfreude of seeing the adage proved that bigger falls harder — and it is delightful, I must admit, to envision Bush snapping so publicly! — I think this is wishful thinking.

I don't think the puppet masters are unleashing Bush for a glorious downfall, for the puppet masters are BushCo. Yes, Bush is their puppet and fallguy. But he's the frontman to the "cabal" itself, the very people who have been at the heart of the financial/military/energy/intelligence network that's been running the country since WWII. They are the so-called "Shadow Government", having moved from their subterranean boardrooms into the White House. BushCo is beholden to no one but themselves — they are, essentially, their own cronies.

And they're not the sort to go down without a fight. In fact, now that they're cornered, I believe we're in for some really spectacular political shenanigans that will make Watergate and Iran/Contra look like shoplifting candy from Wallmart.

I think Operative Nobody is partially right. I think so long as BushCo benefitted their benefactors everything was copacetic. But when an unstable force is unleashed there comes a time when the realization hits that perhaps it's more dangerous than you counted on: it's not as malleable or humorous as you thought, especially when it starts thrashing near your home.

But by then it's too late: The container is broken; the force is unleashed.

I've discussed elsewhere Kissinger's notion that once a "revolutionary power" seizes power they do not willingly cede it. BushCo ain't leaving. These are people who have no respect for democracy, and certainly no respect for the law. (The law, after all, is for citizens. BushCo has already made it clear that they are above the law.) They are, indeed, cornered. And now we're going to see what they're made of. I don't know what they have up their sleeve, but I expect it will entail a sizable body count. Something's got to give, and it's not going to be BushCo.

The scholarly name for what I expect to happen — whether involving Syria or some other convenient victim du jour — is "diversionary theory" (more here). Simply put:

The general argument is that presidents have incentive to treat an external use of force as a "scapegoat" during times of domestic distress such as high unemployment, inflation, scandal or other domestic turmoil...

As obvious as such a principle seems, there's a growing body of scholarly literature about it, most of it confirming the theory. (But then professors are expected to create high-falutin' sounding theories to explain the obvious, which they then publish in journals no one reads except more professors seeking to fill up their cvs and bibliographies. But that's a whole 'nuther story.)

How could Rove (and BushCo) possibly get away with such a transparent stunt? Because Murkans are as mentally incurious and psychologically reactive as their educational system is designed to make 'em. What can one expect given a historical memory no longer than an infomercial for Chromatrim Diet Gum; or given the curiosity and inquisitiveness of a nation exemplified by a "president" who hasn't a read a book since Go, Dog. Go!; how else to account for this pathetic example provided by Russ Baker:

Last year, on a flight to Texas, I chatted with my seatmate, a seemingly well-informed software salesman, reasonably affluent, college-educated, moderate, who volunteered that he increasingly didn't trust Bush. He saw me clutching a copy of the book, "Bush's Brain," about Rove. "Who," he asked, "is that?"

If he and most Americans barely knew who Rove was then, imagine their interest in his fate, and those of even lesser visibility, as the drums of war sound again.

Mr. Baker, who obviously pays attention, reaches the same conclusion I do about Syria providing a great distraction.

You know, as much as us BushCo-haters hate to admit it, BushCo couldn't possibly hoodwink Murkans as easily as they do if they didn't understand them so well. Any good salesman knows how to read their customer, and they are specialists in bilking the credulous of their safety and future. And BushCo is nothing if not a giant PR phenomenon, selling their noxious snakeoil with such transparent obviousness that those of us in the "reality-based community" are continually baffled and disgusted by the great numbers who buy it. When not slashing social services or torturing heathens, BushCo prefers the excuse and the hardsell to actually doing anything, thinking that image trumps substance — which it usually does, hence their success. Thus, for example, with Katrina, they put far more effort and heart into their public relations damage control afterwards than in rescuing people during; or they start up pathetic propaganda mills like the OSI, or send Karen Hughes to Oprah the towelheads. The problem, for them, is always one of image and salesmanship: If someone's not buying the product it's got to be because it's not being sold properly. The actual product has no bearing on the matter.

But now the fourth estate — after having criminally forsaken their duty since BushCo's appointment — has finally taken some tenuous pokes at BushCo, and the public mood has shifted as a result. BushCo isn't having their customary free pass, and it's irking them.

And now that they're cornered we're going to see just how preternaturally vicious they can be. Delay provides us with a few hints of what's to come.

It's all coming to a head now — all the years of lies and secrecy. The countless criminal scandal-seeds they have sown since their assumption of power are now blossoming. Something's got to give. And I strongly doubt it's going to be BushCo.

Boy, I sure do hope I'm wrong in all this! I would dearly love to see Rove, Libby — and Cheney himself! — in orange jumpsuits cleaning highway garbage (in Iraq!). (No — I would far prefer to see them in a dock at the ICC!) I would love to see Bush tear some reporter (or, better yet, a slain soldier's forlorn mom!) a new asshole in a drunken rage on CNN and disgrace himself so thoroughly that, for one brief moment, he sees himself clearly for what he is — for perhaps the first time in his life.

Instead, all I can think about is an increasingly neurotic, rage-filled Bush, his besotted finger poised above a red button...