Saturday, February 19, 2005


If the Bush administration’s embrace of both unilateralism and third world deficit financing really does signal the twilight of the American era – and if projections of the budget deficits to come are accurate, it is hard to see post Bush America as anything more than a much bleaker place – one wonders what happens after the hegemon self destructs?

There’s a story in Fortune this week by Vivienne Walt about the deals being made between the Iranian government and China’s businesses that might be a small indicator. A little background music, maestro.

The U.S., pursuing its cordon sanitaire around Iran, long ago set itself up for a Persian Gulf policy that was completely at odds with reality. Of course, the Bush people, exemplary nitwits, have been the enthusiastic gravediggers of that policy, going from an unnecessary invasion to a war crime studded occupation to the current narcotized superfluity as patrons of the coming Iraq Islamic Republic. Always trust these people to turn stupid policies into disastrous ones, paid for by more borrowing. We would be more up in arms at this site about, say, the asset stripping going under the name of “social security reform” if it weren’t for the thought that every dollar borrowed to put into the pockets of the super-rich is another dollar that won’t go towards the WMD of hegemony.

Having successfully rendered the U.S. more vulnerable to the attacks of the intact Al Qaeda, and committing the U.S. to a failing policy in which another thousand or so American kids will be pointlessly slaughter, while they themselves are encouraged to pointlessly slaughter, the Bush people have been feeling their oats lately, which is why the beady eye has been cast on Iran. Yet as the world knows, the U.S. can’t afford to invade Iran, since it has neither the manpower nor the money. It can come up with both. However, to come up with both would mean alienating the Snopes set, who solidly support Bush only to the extent that he provides inspiring occasions for Snopesian national anthem singing and tax cuts to disguise the coming encroachment on inkind benefits. To actually snatch Snopesian kids and have them die pointlessly in advancing on Teheran might actually interrupt the wet dream, thus sharpening the Snopesian eyesight for the rip off of any hope for their own retirement, and the increasing costs of keeping the old folks in chicken wings and arthritis pills.

Here’s the key graf from the Fortune article:

“Under the gas agreement reached last October, China will import more than 270 million tons of natural gas over the next 30 years from Iran's South Pars field in the Persian Gulf, the largest natural-gas reserve on the planet, which Iran shares with its tiny neighbor Qatar. That will bring Iran about $70 billion in hard currency. And that's just the start. The two-part deal also gives Sinopec a half-share in one of Iran's most important new discoveries, the Yadavaran field, an energy-rich area in southwest Iran, allowing the company to explore for oil over the next few decades. With the field's oil reserves estimated at about 17 billion barrels, China's operations could be worth another $100 billion.”

Interestingly, the market opened up by China has interested India, as well. Feelers are out from India to Iran. We have no doubt that, as these deals congeal into infrastructure, it becomes much more risky for the U.S. to bomb the place.

One of the monuments of the Bush era – its elevation of hypocrisy to the golden rule – is embodied in no Southern entrepreneur so much as Richard Scrushy, erstwhile head of HealthSouth. For amusement’s sake, we urge our readers to take a gander at the NYT article about him. Scrushy is a piece of work – cut from the same cloth, actually, as his fellow entrepreneur, Bush, but without the family connections that made it possible for the latter to climb unscathed out of the hole of petty corporate crime. Scrushy, our readers will remember, provided much amusement for LI in the first denuding wave of corporate melt-downs back in 2002.

Here are three grafs which somehow give off a whiff of Karl Rove:

“Mr. Scrushy, 52, began attending Guiding Light not long before his indictment in 2003 on charges of overseeing a $2.7 billion conspiracy to defraud shareholders of HealthSouth, a chain of rehabilitation hospitals he started two decades ago. A spokesman for Mr. Scrushy said Mr. Scrushy had given money to Guiding Light, but he declined to specify how much. "He has always supported the churches he attends," the spokesman, Charlie Russell, said.
It is not uncommon, of course, for someone in the public eye who has fallen from grace to migrate to a house of prayer. But Mr. Scrushy's new emphasis on his ties to Birmingham's large black population and his churchgoing ways have many people in this city asking, is it all part of his defense strategy? About 70 percent of Birmingham is African-American, and of the 18 jurors and alternates at his trial, 11 are African-American.

The danger is that Mr. Scrushy's very public moves could backfire, especially considering that inside the courtroom his lawyers are following a different, and decidedly uncharitable, strategy. His legal team has been aggressively seeking to tarnish the reputations of Mr. Scrushy's former employees who are testifying against him. In fact, in late January, one lawyer, Jim Parkman, of Dothan, Ala., accused a former HealthSouth executive of being a heavy-drinking philanderer.”

The article goes on:

“These actions have astounded some former associates of Mr. Scrushy, who was known around Birmingham for the conspicuous display of his wealth before his problems with the law. According to a list of assets drawn up by federal prosecutors, Mr. Scrushy owns two Cessna jets; a Lamborghini Murcielago and a Rolls Royce Corniche; three Miros, two Chagalls and a Picasso; and several multimillion-dollar homes.

"In all my visits to the executive suite at HealthSouth, I never saw a black person there, not among the executives, the doctors or the secretaries," said Paul Finebaum, a radio talk-show host and former business associate of Mr. Scrushy. "The first time I heard religion and Richard Scrushy mentioned in the same sentence was when I read about him going to Guiding Light Church. I think he must be running out of options."

Somehow, we love it…

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