Banana Peels

... And the award for best exploitative photojournalism goes to ... this photo.

It appeared Monday on the front page of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The caption reads: "Panorama Towers is shown in Las Vegas on Sunday as a commercial airliner flies in the distance." The excuse for running the photo was an FAA warning that the city's building boom could complicate Southern Nevada flight traffic 10 years from now. Uh-huh...

... And speaking of appearances ...

The term Banana Republic has appeared many times on my blog. It refers of course to the U.S. of A. The first time was five years ago -- on Nov. 17, 2003 -- in an item about the unfinished business of the 9/11 commission, like so:

Track the progression from last week's headlines: 9/11 Panel May Reject Offer of Limited Access to Briefings (Nov. 7), Panel Reaches Deal on Access to 9/11 Papers (Nov. 11), Deal on 9/11 Briefings Lets White House Edit Papers (Nov. 13). ... Why shouldn't the maximum leader of a developing banana republic be entitled to sanitize the records?

The next reference appeared two months later -- on Feb. 8, 2004 -- in an item describing Tim Russert's truly lousy interview of the Bullshitter-in-Chief as "one more confirmation that the United States is being turned into a Banana Republic."

Many such references followed, as I say. But why bring them up now? Because yesterday Paul Krugman posted an item on his blog headlined "OK, we are a banana republic" -- and, no joke, I trust his judgment. His friend's remark was the lovely kicker: "We've become a banana republic with nukes." It could have gone with the photo.