Veedmeyer the Optimist

(Reprinted from the Archives: June of 2004 Midnight Movie)
The economy is on a roll, thanks to the Bush economic plan. The secret weapon of the plan is Melvin Veedmeyer, also known as V.O., for "Veedmeyer the Optimist." It was V.O. who put together the combination of ingredients which have heated up the American economy.

He was in San Francisco for a meeting of "B.O.," which stands for "Bush Optimists." He immediately agreed to the interview, and even complained that nobody ever asks for interviews with him even though he is the major strategist for the Bush economic recovery. The interview was conducted at Yerba Buena gardens, where I found him wearing some kind of special issue glasses and staring intently at passersby.

"Dr. Veedmeyer," I began, "you have been quoted in the Texas Review of Booklets as describing money as the rocket fuel which is propelling the economic recovery in the United States. Can you comment on that?"

"First of all we lowered interest rates to about a quarter of what they were under Clinton," he said. "When we got down in the four percent range the housing refinance market took off like a rocket. There were some in the administration who wanted to just make American money free here in America, the way it is in Iraq, but I held out for at least a symbolic rate."

"Isn't it disingenuous to suggest that economic growth with four percent interest rates is supposed to impress somebody?" I asked. "Under Clinton we had to have high rates to cool down the economy."

"That's right, Dan. But think about that phrase, 'Under Clinton,' and you remember the trauma the nation suffered to learn that a man that old was chasing after young women. At least we don't have that spectacle."

"I'm not so sure about that. If Condoleeza Rice's accidentally calling George Bush her husband wasn't a Freudian slip, I've never heard one."

"She's not that young."

"That aside, how can you compare private sexual behavior, which doesn't affect anybody without prurient interest in it, with trashing the economy and going to war, which affects everybody?"

"If it wasn't for the war the economy would really tank, Dan. I don't know if you realize it, but we can't even keep up with the demand for ammunition. And tank treads ... they don't even last a month in that desert. When you look at the numbers, this war is creating demand for a huge number of products, and as the President of General Motors once pointed out, 'The business of America is business.' I might paraphrase that as 'The business of war business is war business.'"

"Let's get back to this idea of free money, or low cost money, being the rocket fuel that makes the economy grow. Isn't that like saying that if I borrow a billion dollars which I don't have to secure, and can pay back or not, at my whim, and don't have to pay interest on it, I can live well?"

"Yes, exactly right. But the hell of it is you'll need another billion before you know it. Amazing how fast you can go through a billion."

"But, ... don't you find a logical problem with that model?"

"Hell no. What's money anyway, really? It used to be worth its weight in gold, but Nixon changed that and let it float free of any grounding to that which is non-corrosive and thus symbolic of true value. Now it's just money, symbolic of ... well never mind that ... the point is, how could we pay executives hundreds of millions of dollars a year in money that was worth its weight in gold? It would be a scandal."

"But if money isn't worth anything ..."

"Please. I didn't say it isn't worth anything. I said it isn't tied to gold anymore."

"What is it tied to?"

"It's tied to other money. You see, there was a time when people thought money came from labor. Now we know it actually comes from interest. And the reason we know this is that social scientists, in carefully controlled experiments, have discovered that people with the most interest in money get most of it. George Bush and Dick Cheney have an unparalleled interest in money, and under their leadership money has blossomed like wildflowers after the rains. We're shipping hundred dollar bills off to Iraq on pallets and handing it out like chocolate bars."

"I don't know if I understand the theory behind what you're saying, but it doesn't seem to me quite fair to borrow half a trillion dollars, slash interest rates by three fourths, and then crow like you're a genius if you get some sputtering economic growth out of it. Especially since anything you grow you already owe for the foreseeable future. And when you had a chance to balance the budget, you gave all the money that had been saved to your richest friends."

Veedmeyer didn't immediately reply. Instead he took a small black device from his coat pocket; something that looked like a remote. He pointed it toward me and pressed the red button. My muscle tone immediately went haywire and I felt a paralysis spread through my body as a mechanical voice repeated, "Pessimist. Pessimist."

"That's one way to look at it," he said, "but that will get you punished. I've worked for the Bush administration long enough to know that there's no point in being a pessimist. They'll hurt you." He turned toward me and I saw my reflection in the amber lens of the military green goggles he was wearing. "I can look right through your clothes with these," he said.

Although he had only pressed the button for a moment it took me awhile to compose myself, especially considering that I couldn't decide if he was joking about the goggles. I always assumed it was just a silly superstition among Iraqis that the soldiers had x-ray vision goggles. But considering the increasing discrepancy between the public relations spin and the later revisions to match reality, everything is now in doubt. There is no credibility left for anything the government says. Bill Clinton might have told a lie to protect himself, but this administration has made lying a bedrock policy. I said the only thing that I could think of to say.

"Can I look through them?"

"Ha!" Veedmeyer said. "Now you want to join the team and be a team player. But I can't take these off because you would see my eyes and that's a no-no. Lucky for you I have another pair." He rummaged in the briefcase he'd brought along and pulled out another pair of the glasses.

They fit over my head with an elastic strap to hold them in place. But I couldn't see anything except a darkened version of what I was seeing before. "They're just sunglasses?" I asked.

"You have to activate them,' Veedmeyer answered, and he reached over and touched the hard molded plastic shell beside the right lens. It was at that moment a large Russian woman was walking by, and I was shocked to realize she was stark naked.

"Oh my god."

"Ha! You can swear they got no clothes on, eh?"

I pulled the glasses up to compare the two world views. Without them on, people were normally dressed. When I pulled them back down, their clothing disappeared and I could see more -- in most cases -- than I cared to see.

"If you want to understand the Bush policies you have to wear the glasses," Veedmeyer explained.

"Before these were invented, everybody was on equal footing. But once I can strip other people naked, while I've got my clothes on, I have what the White House calls 'Leverage.'"

"You can delve into the most privately held secrets of other people without their knowing it, and never show your own eyes, secretly stripping away their privacy, making yourself more and more powerful. What a mad, ingenious scheme."

"Sure. We got the technology, from weapons to microphones to digital fingerprints."

"I understand the Spanish are contradicting FBI claims that they originally thought that print was a match to the guy in Oregon."

"It was a match because the guy was an admitted Muslim. The FBI policy under Bush is that if there are a hundred match-up points for a print, being a Muslim can counterbalance up to fifty mismatches. You think they'd have found it a match if the guy was some Baptist from Mississippi?"

"I was wondering about that ..."

"They were being optimistic. Is there something wrong with that?"

I was momentarily distracted by a group of young teenagers passing by. "Can we get arrested for this?" I asked.

"No. At least I can't. Maybe you can if you're looking where you ought not to look, pervert."

"How do you know where I'm looking."

"Where else would you be looking?"

"But you only look where it's right and proper to look?"

"That's right. Haven't you heard our defense of the Patriot Act?"

"I have. But the point of this interview was the economy."

"You don't worry. If this economy doesn't get moving with a war and free money, we'll start selling these glasses. That'll heat it up."

"Won't you get flak from your conservative, Bible Belt Base for marketing something like this?"

"Naw. We'll just tell them it's a way to check their kids to make sure they don't have drugs on them."

"You people really do know your base."

"Base is our Nature, Dan."

Posted: Thu - April 12, 2007 at 10:26 AM