November 11, 2003

You see reverberation in your latest incarnation

Gary Indiana on Kindegarden Governor Schwarzenegger:

"In May 2003, Congressman Darrell Issa of San Diego started his own recall effort, with a view to becoming governor himself, bankrolling the petition drive with $1.3 million of his own money, or at least what he claimed was his own money. What had begun as a quixotic canard then became a surrealist juggernaut, culminating in the ousting of Governor Gray Davis and the risible election of Arnold Schwarzenegger, action figure, as the custodian of the world's fifth largest economy.

"Like Schwarzenegger, Congressman Issa has a piquant history. In the early 1980s, his car-alarm company, which did work for a much larger firm, Joey Adkins's A.C. Custom Electronics, lent Adkins $60,000, then called in the loan. Issa went to court, and wrested possession of Adkins's firm. Three weeks after Issa quadrupled the insurance on parts and equipment in the building, the electronics facility burned to the ground.

"In 1973, Issa pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered firearm, which he tended to brandish at his employees, purportedly in jest. He was arrested twice for grand theft auto. In his unsuccessful 1998 run for the Senate, he claimed that he had been a member of Nixon's security detail during the 1971 World Series. Nixon did not attend the 1971 World Series. After a 2001 trip to the Middle East, Issa, an Arab-American, announced that Hezbollah is not a terrorist organisation.

"It was quite forgotten by both the candidates and the press that the energy crisis was caused by deregulation and the leasing of the state's electricity to Enron and other now convicted Texas fraudmeisters, a disaster locked into place by Davis's Republican predecessor, Pete Wilson, whose advisers are now clustering around Schwarzenegger like flies in a privy. Davis hardly helped, renewing the corrupt contracts and allowing Texas corporations to sell California's energy back to California at an obscene mark-up. Last year, however, when the full effects of this wholesale looting became evident, Lieutenant Governor Bustamante, with Davis's blessing, filed a suit against Enron and the other power companies, under the Unfair Business Practices Act, to recover the $9 billion the companies had squeezed from the state. With Schwarzenegger in the Governor's Mansion, this unsettled lawsuit may become moot.

"Schwarzenegger, as it happens, held a secret meeting on 17 May 2001 with Kenneth Lay of Enron and the convicted stock-swindler Mike Milken. What deals were struck remains a mystery. Governor-elect Schwarzenegger's current plan is to continue the ruinous deregulation process, though he also wants 50 per cent of new homes to be equipped with solar heating panels. This kind of qualifier used to be called throwing peanuts to the monkeys, though some benefit may come out of it when the number of new homes outstrips the number of old homes - say, in 2030.
"One can only surmise that the 'hatred' of Gray Davis (who was, after all, California's governor 'in the last few years'), the inflated deficit figures and the economic fear-mongering that so much of the nation's press whipped up to add 'substantive issues' to a special election that was really about celebrity worship and circus acts were simply the latest tweaks in a media oligarchy's implacable manipulation of consciousness, indifferent to its deleterious effect on the remnants of the American democratic system. It's a significant advance in the melding of politics and entertainment: a photogenic straw man gets inserted into office and a cabal of shadowy advisers dictate policy and carry out the dirty work. This formula was polished during Ronald Reagan's first Presidential term, and until recently it had much of America hypnotised by the glove-puppet posturings of George W. Bush. Whether it will work with Arnold Schwarzenegger depends largely on how much egregious puppetry a conniving narcissist is willing to abide. There have been plentiful signs that Schwarzenegger has a few maverick ideas of his own, and it's too soon to assume they're all bad ones."


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