You find out you can always lose a little more...."
-- B. Dylan, "Trying to Get to Heaven"
Looks like America has hit the trifecta of disaster in the past week: first the storm, then the flood and now the death of rightwing hatchet man William Rehnquist. Like the destruction in the Delta, Rehnquist's long-expected but still-untimely death is a disaster whose malign effects will reverberate far into the future.
Rehnquist's death gives Bush another opening on the Supreme Court -- another youngish rightwing hatchet man (or hatchet woman) to poison the system for decades to come -- and the opportunity to name the Chief Justice. It is the cruelest irony: in the very week that the gross criminal incompetence of the Bush Faction has been exposed for the whole nation to see -- the consequences of their exaltation of cronyism and ideological crankery above everything else, including the lives of their own people -- the Bushists now get to cement this wicked mindset into the Supreme Court for generations to come.
Will a Court led by judges appointed by this pathetic little cretin -- this liar, this betrayer, this prancing, strutting little ass -- uphold any measures that might be taken to alleviate the kind of brutal racial and economic barriers that were exposed by the abandonment of New Orleans? Not bloody likely. Of course, with the Bush Faction in charge of Congress -- and the Democratic "opposition" bought and sold by the same corporate bosses who gorge the Faction -- it's not likely that any substantial effort to grapple with American society's murderous inequalities and corrosive imbalance will take place anyway. At the very most, the Democrats might exert all their feeble strength and manage -- possibly -- to postpone a vote on the latest tax cuts for the rich (including the Pamper Paris Hilton Act, or the gutting of all estate taxes which is now Bush's top priority) for, oh, a few weeks. Or maybe they won't even manage that.
But even if the murder of New Orleans were to prompt a great wave of public revulsion, and sweep a new generation of genuinely public-minded public officials into office, their best efforts will be constantly undercut, hollowed out and shot down by the Bush Court, which will be working its deadly mischief long after the strutting cretin has left the national scene.
In ordinary times, this latest event would be matter of private grief for the Rehnquist family -- and, to be frank, public relief that Rehnquist's long and destructive career on the Supreme Court is finally over. I don't wish to speak ill of the dead -- I'd have been very glad if Bill Rehnquist had lived a long and happy life as a prosperous pig farmer or faceless bureaucrat or deep-sea explorer or any other private citizen minding his own business. But instead he chose a career as a vicious apparatchik for the most malevolent forces of the American Establishment. He served them all too well -- and for that, he deserves the dishonor that will cling to his name in history's cold, appraising eye.
But his death at this moment -- at this possible turning of the tide away from the manifold crimes and incompetencies of the Bush Regime -- is a genuine disaster for the Republic.
"I'm going down the river,
Down to New Orleans.
They tell me everything is going to be all right:
I don't know what 'all right' even means...."
-- "Trying to Get to Heaven"