The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
The Morning Mendacity
Friday, April 22nd, 2005
The Nossiter Net is cast  to snare some of  the riper rascalities of the day.  Comments?  editor@nossiter.net
``An energy bill wouldn't change the price at the pump today. I know that and you know that'' President Bush admitted in a speech this week.*  Mr. Bush was referring to the way his $8 billion energy bill, just approved by the House, won’t reduce our wastage of fuel and dependence on imported oil, both of which contribute to record gas prices.  It also won’t do anything to reduce the poisoning of our own air, water, and soil.  (Digression:  if birds have enough brains not to soil their nests, what does that make us?)  Our security is compromised because we’re in oily thrall to malevolent regimes like the Saudis.   Our economy is threatened by the inflationary effects of soaring fuel prices.  And our environment is polluted through indifference and profligacy.

Faced with this mammoth environmental, economic, and security problem, Mr. Bush crafts legislation that, by his own admission, won’t fix it.  Indeed, by handing the coal and oil producers tax breaks and incentives to do business as usual, the energy bill will make our problems worse.  When Mr. Bush’s roof leaks, does he repair it by drilling holes through the ceiling?

We have a pay-as-you-go Social Security System, where each dollar paid in by today’s worker is paid out to today’s retiree.  An aging population will eventually lead to an excess of retirees over workers, and thereby to greater amounts paid out than taken in.  Faced with this inexorable economic logic, Mr. Bush’s proposed Social Security reforms not only fail to rectify the problem, but worsen it.  The government’s own analysts admit that under the administration scheme, benefits to retirees will be cut, and the costs of operating the system will rise.  And rise dramatically:  the White House says the initial price tag will be around $700 billion.**  Less prejudiced sources estimate costs in the trillions.  A problem, and a Bush plan to make the problem worse.  When Mr. Bush has a flat tire, does he slash his remaining tires to keep it company?

Jefferson’s dream of a well-educated citizenry is farther from reality than ever.  The world’s richest country ranks 24th out of 29 industrialized nations in math literacy and problem solving, according to Education Week.***  A third of U.S. high school students drop-out.  Many who do graduate from public schools fail to achieve rudimentary literacy levels.  And the solution offered by the Bush administration, the No Child Left Behind Act, not only fails to fix the problems, but so compounds them that school districts in Michigan, Vermont, and Texas are suing the government over NCLB.  Utah’s Republican legislature voted to turn away $76 million in Federal dollars rather than comply with an act that arbitrarily closes schools. Connecticut and other states plan similar actions.  Another problem, another Bush Administration “solution” that makes the problem worse.  When Mr. Bush’s arthritic knees act up, does he cut off his own legs?

We associate governments intent on harming their own citizens with countries like North Korea, or Iran, not the United States of America.  But that kind of thinking is out of date and naïve.  It betrays us as members of the reality-based, as opposed to the faith-based, community, as one White House official memorably expressed it to writer Ron Suskind.  It fails to account for the dominance of the fundamentalist religious zealots in the Bush Administration.

Bill Moyers, in a notable article in the New York Review of Books (nybooks.com), points out that if you expect the world to end imminently, why should you care about the environment, or the fate of retirees fifty years hence?  By then we’ll all either be strumming harps under cloudless skies or roasting over slow fires for all eternity.  And if everything worth knowing is in the bible, why would education matter? Who, as a government official once put it to the 12/12/04 NY Times Week in Review, needs math?

If that sounds far-fetched, extravagant, scarcely believable, consider this:  We are killing tens of thousands and spending hundreds of billions on a war in Iraq that has no apparent justification.  No WMD, no connection to 9/11 – you’ve heard all that before.  But Moyers has found our real reason for being in Mesopotamia and, no surprise, it’s in the bible.  From the Revelation of St. John the Divine, 9:14

Loose the four angels which are bound in the great         river Euphra'tes.
And the four angels were loosed…  for to slay the          third part of men.****

With the invasion of Iraq, the end, in a literal sense, is nigh.  The Apocalypse commences when four angels are freed from that storied river running through the heart of Iraq.  Since Saddam wouldn’t oblige, Mr. Bush had to undertake the job himself.  Now does it all make sense?


*http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/politics/politics-energy-congress.html
**http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12231-2005Feb9.html
***http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2005/01/05/16worldtests.h24.html
****http://www.bartleby.com/108/66/9.html.


©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2005
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