Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Unknown Knowns and Other Rumsfeldians

Cluster ACO 3341 at 300 million light years

“…the night sky is like a time machine. Because light travels at a finite speed, the stars we see at night are seen as they once were, not as they are today...Light from the distant galaxies may be hundreds of millions to billions of light years away. As a result, they represent “fossil” light, some emitted even before the rise of the dinosaurs.” --Michio Kaku, Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos

President Bush is a pretty upbeat guy: he jogs and keeps in shape, parties with the best of them, flies on that big airplane to give speeches all over the country about how we’re winning the war in Iraq, all the time smiling and winking and waving as if the world were his oyster. At this point, as it is in the second term of any presidency, the world very well could be his oyster.

The big political topic these days is whether Bush is a lame-duck president—yet. The general talk is that this president has done what he’s going to do, and what’s left is to keep the party and its power from imploding completely. Today’s latest survey results confirm this:

President Bush is once again facing the lowest job approval rating of his presidency, the lowest percentage of Americans who believe the country is headed in the right direction, and an electorate that greatly prefers a Democratic-controlled Congress over a Republican-controlled one.

Yet the poll also shows something else that goes beyond the November midterm elections: A strong majority believes Bush is experiencing a long-term setback from which he’s unlikely to recover. “He’s losing his grip on governance,” says Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican Bill McInturff. “It’s now a sense that we’ve seen the best that he’s going to produce as president of the United States.”
--NBC/WSJ poll, 3/15/06

So what’s this upbeat happy guy up to? He’s putting out a strategy document designed to conform with the going policies of the Bush doctrine, but like the ancient light from distant stars, it doesn’t have anything to do with today’s reality.

President Bush plans to issue a new national security strategy today reaffirming his doctrine of preemptive war against terrorists and hostile states with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, despite the troubled experience in Iraq…

"...we do not rule out use of force before attacks occur, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack," the document continues. "When the consequences of an attack with WMD are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idly by as grave dangers materialize."

Such language could be seen as provocative at a time when the United States and its European allies have brought Iran before the U.N. Security Council to answer allegations that it is secretly developing nuclear weapons. At a news conference in January, Bush described an Iran with nuclear arms as a "grave threat to the security of the world."--Washington Post 3/15/06

As my mother used to say when the kids would stay up too late and eat too much sugar-filled cookies and ice cream, bouncing off the walls, “I can see where this is headed.” Bush may not be an over-energized toddler getting punchy as the night wears long, but he sure acts out of touch with what is happening all around him. His Iraq venture is a proven disaster, his domestic programs are nonexistent, save for a few bones tossed to his ultra-rich friends with the tax cuts, and his ability to dredge up support for the big congressional race about to take place is shaky at best.

If presidents didn’t worry about their “place in history,” this guy would be one happy feller—he’s accomplished the political ultimate, two terms as number one in the free world, and he’s young enough to bask for years in the glory that ex-presidents bask in. Plus he’s way up there among the super rich of whom he’s helped to continue to line the pockets. The thing is, presidents invariably worry about their “place in history,” and that is why I wonder why this guy seems so upbeat all the time.

The answer may be that Bush lives in a state of denial. As Molly Ivins points out in her column on whether Bush is an isolationist or an internationalist (neither of which she thinks he’s any good at):

The senior Bush adviser famously quoted by Ron Suskind explained, "We are an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality." --Molly Ivins, 3/14/06

Ivins makes it clear that the harebrained unthoughtful approach to foreign policy headed by George W is only leading us all closer to a huge calamity:

Having offended Pakistan, our critical ally, Bush then returned triumphantly to -- ta-da! -- send exactly the wrong message to Iran. Just in time, showing the Iranians that if they persist in developing nuclear weapons, they, too, will eventually be rewarded like India. Naturally, this in turn strengthens the hard-liners in Tehran and undercuts the pro-Western reformers. What were they thinking? Does anybody here know how to play this game?--Molly Ivins, 3/14/06

I’ve been looking for a good quote on games to sum up the extremely precarious situation in which our happy-go-lucky Chief Executive has put us. But Ivins is using the word "game" as a euphemism for what’s really happening due to George W’s disconnect: as the starlight from time gone by hits us in our reality on earth, we humans could be in real trouble any minute, unless someone, or many, in charge, see the light, and get a grip.

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