If an e-mail arrives at the White House, but no one opens it, has it made any noise? In this instance, yes, but the sound waves — call them shock waves, if you like — were for so long confined to the Administration’s corridors that, by the time they reached open air, they were frail and flimsy echoes of their origins.
So all right, I’m caught up in a metaphor and, not unlike the noise of an unopened e-mail, breaking free much too late. (And does a metaphor about a metaphor become a metametaphor? Don’t answer.)
The story to which I am about to allude is important for two reasons: what it says about this Administration’s subjugation of scientific research to the short-term benefits of its corporate underwriters; and what it says about this Administration’s re-formulation of the federal government’s entire infrastructure.
The story. Last year, the Supreme Court directed the Environmental Protection Agency to “determine whether greenhouse gases represent a danger to health or to environment.” Dutifully, the E.P.A. studied the matter, and concluded that, yes, greenhouse gases are pollutants, and must therefore be controlled.
From here on, the story gets just the tiniest bit… strange. What happened, according to the available records, was
- The E.P.A. assembled its findings in an official document
- The E.P.A. e-mailed the document to the White House
- The White House told the E.P.A. it would not open the message.
Now — six months later — the E.P.A. has written, and will release, another version of the report which the Supreme Court ordered it to prepare. This version does not say that greenhouse gases are pollutants. In fact, it offers no conclusions. What it does is review the issues which would be involved if those gases were declared to be pollutants.
Over the past five days, the officials said, the White House successfully put pressure on the E.P.A. to eliminate large sections of the original analysis that supported regulation, including a finding that tough regulation of motor vehicle emissions could produce $500 billion to $2 trillion in economic benefits over the next 32 years. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
Both documents, as prepared by the E.P.A., “showed that the Clean Air Act can work for certain sectors of the economy, to reduce greenhouse gases,” one of the senior E.P.A. officials said. “That’s not what the administration wants to show. They want to show that the Clean Air Act can’t work.”
We are, my friends, in la-la land. The Grand and Exalted Potus — who sounds like a character Doctor Seuss would have discarded — receives a message which contains news he does not like. In the good old days, the protocol was to kill the messenger. Today, e-messengers being incredibly hard to kill, Potus simply directs his minions not to open the message.
Hey presto, and the information no longer exists. I mean, it exists, but it has no legal existence. I mean, it’s legal, but it’s not an approved part of the system.
I don’t like it, therefore it didn’t happen.
Are we talking simple denial here, or is it something deviouser? (Deviouser and deviouser, as Alice might have said.)
We are talking basic Cheney-neo-Rove-con-Bush strategy. Take over full control of the government — and therefore the country — regardless of the consequences or the opposition. As we are in control, we can, for instance, help our corporate constituents, who do not like the implications of all those greenhouse gas studies.
On the model of Stalin, who rationalized that “If there is a person, then there is a problem. If there is no person, then there is no problem,” Bush can simply say, “If there is a document, then there is a problem. If there is no document, then there is no problem.”
The malaise goes deeper than you might think, deeper surely than the Democrats have yet realized. Because for the past eight years, the GOPs have been stacking the entire deck, the complete array of offices and appointments, with loyal drudges. With the faithful. With dumbly obedient slugs — and not a few wily spiders — many thousands of whom are there to stay until they die of old age or inanition. With the brain-weary, the brain-washed, and the brain-empty.
You think I jest, or perhaps I exaggerate. I refer you to “making eye babies,” a post by hilzoy which suggests the depths to which the neo-cons plumbed in their effort to take over the country.