play it again uncle sam

OPINION | EDITORIAL American officials advising president George Bush would have us believe the Pacific Islands are a soft spot for money laundering operations by organised criminals and terrorists. Well, um, no. America itself churns more money through offshore banks in a day than the Pacific Islands can dream of for a year. SIDESHOW This week's pronouncement from BINL, the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, makes the usual simpering suggestions and finger wagging scolds. In reality, however, BINL comments amount to little more than a sideshow. Their continued scrutiny of wayward islands offshore may cast credit on business-as-usual at the bureau. But it cannot help but evoke images of the band playing on as the entire, vast, right-wing conspiracy, a quasi-military, self-elected junta tears itself open against the chill, hard iceberg of popular opinion. Play it again Uncle Sam? CONTEMPT Let's be blunt. It is not about how much contempt the Bush administration is held in around the rest of the world, fast being joined by a home audience. No, the real damage lies in the fact that the America faces the prospect of another backlash against the right. Maybe as much as the assassination of Martin Luther King, when America was coloured Democrat red from sea to shining sea, with just the lone star state, Texas, to fly the Republican flag, kinda. However big the loss, one fact reminds. Democrat domination of both US houses led to deep and bitter disillusionment among revolutionary youth around the world. SAME, SAME Stages are being set the world over for exactly the same thing to happen all over again. Utter rout of the Republican right will lead to a sweeping and triumphant return of the left under Obama or Clinton, or maybe both. And that is when America will rediscover the parliamentary truism that any government is only as strong as its opposition. KIWIS New Zealanders know that already. They've watched a gamine prime minister morph slowly into a heavy breathing Darth Vader, lifting opposition leaders off their feet and strangling them slowly in front of their trembling colleagues. Don Brash may have spiked in the polls with his racist drivel in Orewa, but even rednecks are tired of the same old Maori bashing - it was the good doctor gone by lunchtime, not the country's anti-nuclear policy. JOHN KEY National 2.0 features an amicable, smiley newcomer, just 45, who had the good grace to look awkward chaperoning a 12 year old Maori girl around parliament. John Key may implode spectacularly like his predecessors. He's certainly the most interesting so far, fronting up to residents of a street he had dissed as being backward. The girl had no idea who he was, or what parliament was about. So Key took her to Wellington. COMPELLING Her look of disconnection from his earnest efforts and wide eyed expression of complete overload made for excruciating if compelling viewing, one of the realest moments in politics for a long time. This was not just a photo op too good to miss. Things really are changing. Don's brash departure and John's fresh arrival is key to understanding a seismic shift about to take place across the conservative spectrum. Just as Labour crabbed sideways to occupy middle economies previously espoused by National, so too is National sliding nonchalantly left, positioning itself closer to emerging global warming consensus, eyes out on stalks in being in new, unfamiliar territory. VACUUM Similarly, in the United States, Republicans are already being sucked left by the vacuum opening up under their watered-down version of Rogernomics, named Reaganomics. Tariff and subsidy protection for their farmers will collapse as the US is forced to confront corruption of natural resources on a global scale. Free trade will become a reality, but not by sending 400 ton ships through the sky, spewing gases into the upper atmospheres. EMPTY DRUM Against this background, continued Bush-style posturing will only seem increasingly desperate, no matter how loudly he and other flunkies bang their kettle drums. Republicans have been fed enough rope to hang themselves several times over in recent years, and that thudding sound will be the old right wing falling through a political trapdoor, voter noose tight around the neck of their thrashing corpse. In the past, all this has meant is more-of-the-same but better under the Democrats, big business switching sides for awhile to maintain the illusion that voting matters. This time, however, voters are once again unplugging from the military industrial matrix in revolutionary numbers.