Archive for August 2004
I must have missed a meeting. Junior In April:
One of the interesting things people ask me, now that we are asking questions, is, ‘Can you ever win the war on terror?’ Of course you can.
Junior on July 14:
I have a clear vision and a strategy to win the war on terror.
But between July 14 and last Saturday, something must have changed:
I don’t think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world.
Scott McClellan rushed in to explain that what Junior was really doing ‘was speaking about winning the war “in the conventional sense” and that his comments underscored the reality that ridding the world of terrorists would take decades.’
“I don’t think you can expect that there will ever be a formal surrender or a treaty signed like we have in wars past,” Mr. McClellan said. “That’s what he was talking about. It requires a generational commitment to win this war on terrorism.”
Not with a pitchfork and a backhoe could you pry that out of Junior’s statement without doing violence to the language, but never mind. Has something happened since July 14 that has shaken Bush’s fabled unshakable, unchangeable mind? Did the truth slip out accidentally (the only way you ever get it from this Administration)? Or has there been a sea-change in their policy that, as usual, they didn’t bother to let us in on?
Question #1: What happened since July 14?
Well, the second cock-up over al Sadr. Eric Martin at Total Information Awareness uses Eric Alterman to connect the dots.
And how does the current administration fare by this standard? Not well, alas. Although the press has been loathe to admit as much, the American military has in essence given up on several strategic objectives in Iraq, pulling troops out of what may have been a winnable fight. Take the siege of Fallujah by 1,200 Marines in April. After fighting street by street with insurgents for about two weeks (at the cost of 36 American lives) the United States halted the siege on the condition that the militants hand over their heavy weapons – which they failed to do. The Marines waited outside the city for another two weeks before pulling out, handing a victory to the insurgents and leaving the city in the hands of religious extremists.
The failure in Fallujah was monumental, and one that continues to imperil the Iraq mission as a whole. Fallujah has become the central planning location for the Sunni led faction of the insurgency. Without Fallujah, there will be no stability, just a continuation of the suicide bomb attacks and assassinations that have so plagued the progress of stability.I suppose it’s at least possible that something of the reality of the situation in Fallujah finally penetrated Junior’s stubborn, C-average brain and that’s he’s beginning to realize–a little late–that it’s easier to start wars than it is to control their aftermath. With any luck, maybe it’s dawning on him that this is one of those complicated problems for which there are no simple, soundbite solutions. Possible, but I ain’t holding my breath.
Question #2: Did the truth slip out accidentally?
More likely. He did the interview on his own, and that’s always dangerous. He forgets what he is or isn’t supposed to say, and if Little Dick isn’t there to remind him, he forgets what he was trying to say and he gets confused.
Question #3: Has there been a sea-change in their policy?
Yes–and No. ‘Yes’ politically; ‘No’ every other way.
I think what we’re seeing here are the first tentative steps toward what they will be saying after the election if Junior wins. The Republicans win when they run on ‘security’ and ‘stength’. They love to run on a ‘war platform’, even though this is only the second time in the past hundred years that they’ve actually had to run the war itself, so it was inevitable that they would come to the conclusion that a perpetual war means perpetual power for them.
The second Bush Admin will begin to talk about how long the WOT is going to last and get us used to the idea that we may never win it, adding, of course, that we don’t even have a chance of winning it unless the Pubs stay in. If they don’t cancel elections altogether because they’re ‘too dangerous in wartime’, they’ll run forever on the Forever War. We will always be in danger (they’ll see to that by keeping the global pot boiling over persuing policies, as they are now, that are guaranteed to produce even more terrorists) and we will therefore always need them to protect us.
It’s a good strategy, worthy of Machiavelli and George Orwell. It may work.
Of course, it may also blow up in their faces.
The results of this poll are very interesting. Half of New Yorkers think that the government had foreknowledge of the 9-11 attacks and consciously failed to act. Note that this is a poll of residents of New York state total, not just New York City. A separate poll mentioned in this article notes that 63% of Canadians agree. For the record, I also agree, at least if “foreknowledge” is interpreted to mean general rather than specific foreknowledge.
I guess this means that I’m a “conspiracy theorist” because, as far as I can tell, the operational definition of “conspiracy theorist” these days is “one who does not accept pronouncements coming from the administration (and transmitted through the mainstream media) as articles of faith”.
At least that’s what I think it is. Not much activity here the last few weeks. Partly I think it’s the heat and humidity–no AC and sitting at the computer is a trial even with a fan going full blast and aimed straight at me. Usually I like heat (I waaaay prefer it to being cold) but for some reason this summer it’s been getting to me. No energy. No oomph. I did my first post for LitBlogs yesterday in a week and I haven’t written a new story for Snake Tales in over a month even though there are notes for three of them, including the next chapter in the ‘bush wars’ saga, in my word processor.
But another part of the problem is systemic: I find I don’t have much to say that’s new and I can’t see repeating myself endlessly just because the Bushies do. How many times can you debunk the Swift Boat Vets’ lies? In how many different ways can you say that Abu Ghraib happened from the top down? I go through the papers every day and it’s the same old shit, day after day after day. I read it and I think, ‘I said that already–three times’, and find I don’t have the energy to say it a fourth. And you probably wouldn’t have the energy to read it.
So where do we go from here? Personally I’ve spent more of what little energy I have these days on Trenches. I’ve changed the name slightly–to Dispatch from the Trenches–and re-designed the site so it’s more focused on what I really want to get at–the impulse to selfishness and greed behind the conservative agenda. That agenda deliberately plays to all our worst instincts and praises them as our best; it wants us to Look Out For #1, to believe we are not Our Brother’s Keeper, and to build a society based on ‘ownership’–as in if you don’t ‘own’ something, you don’t count. I want to start aiming directly at that profoundly abusive and destructive concept. I know it’s tilting at windmills but where I come from that’s what windmills are for–tilting at.
I’ll likely get back to normal when a) the Republican Liars’ Festival is over (I mean, come on–they’re trotting out the last of the moderates that they otherwise keep locked in closets, and trying to pretend the GOP isn’t run by radicals; the whole damn convention is a lie, that’s gotta be a first), b) when I’ve got something to say that I haven’t said 40 times already, and c) when the weather gets cooler.
In the meantime, check out some of the blogs on the sidebar and see what they have to say. For example, John has a terrific post up at archy about Rove and the SBV attack:
We should not feel good about beating back the Swifties. Rove has a score of these attacks in the wings. Many writers have described the Rove method as “if you throw enough mud, some is bound to stick.” That is a naive oversimplification. The Rove method assumes that as a foundation and adds, “if mud doesn’t stick, try dung, then pudding, then paint, then gravy, then bile, then library glue, then baby poop, mud again, warm tar, herbed bread crumbs, cheese sauce, Silly Puddy ™, that stuff that collects in the trap of your kitchen sink, toe jam, more pudding…” You get the idea.The attack has just begun. We need to brace ourselves for the next assault.
(Note: John? It’s ‘Silly Putty’.)
There are people out there who have things to say that are worth reading. eRobin is doing stellar work at Fact-esque deconstructing the NYT; Bert’s ThatColoredFellasweblog has been re-invigorated recently with a lot of new posts, some excellent political commentary, and a fleet of new commenters; Tim Dunlop at The Road to Surfdom is in the thick of not one but two elections, ours and the Australian; Karlo has a great post up at Swerve Left about Bush’s time in the National Guard; and and Digby at Hullabaloo is, as usual, all over the political ramifications of yet another Bush ‘mis-statement’.
[Bush has] now simultaneously admitted that he screwed up big time on the single most important issue a president ever faces, while also saying that he has no intention of trying to figure out what went wrong. That is the worst of all possible worlds. It’s best not to have to admit screwing up something as important as war planning but if you do you simply have to make the case that [you] learned from the experience and you won’t do it again. He didn’t do that. Iraq is a massive failure and the president has just opened the door to his own culpability on that.
I may be dry as toast at the moment, but others’ juices are flowing strong.
Mark Fiore: The Political Attack
Drat those pesky troublemakers! We keep coming up with cappa stories about stuff and they keep dragging in facts! Who needs ‘facts’? They just get in the way.
A Bush administration report suggests that evidence of global warming has begun to affect animal and plant populations in visible ways, and that rising temperatures in North America are due in part to human activity.The report to Congress, issued Wednesday, goes further than previous statements by President Bush. He has said more scientific research is needed before he imposes new restrictions on greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
In 2001, after the release of a National Academy of Sciences report on global warming, Bush said the concentration of greenhouse gases has increased, in large part, because of human activity, but he emphasized that other factors could have influenced warming. Referring to the NAS report, he said, “We do not know how much effect natural fluctuations may have had on warming.”
He’s right, you know. ‘Natural fluctuations’ are entirely and completely unpredictable. You can’t know about things like that. Who do you think they are, scientists? Oh, wait….
We’ll just have to bide our time until the ocean washes over NYC and NJ drops into the sea. Then we’ll be sure–that it happened, not that global warming was the reason. With the oil and gas industries at stake, we can pretend there’s no such thing as ‘global warming’ for millenia, and as long as they keep paying us, we WILL!
Several administration officials characterized the study as a routine annual summary of scientific research on global warming. John H. Marburger, the president’s science adviser, said the report has “no implications for policy.””There is no discordance between this report and the president’s position on climate,” Marburger said.
But environmentalists and conservatives said the report reveals contradictions within the administration’s stance on global warming.
Jeremy Symons, who heads the National Wildlife Federation’s global warming program, characterized the study as “nothing new in terms of the science of global warming, but this is definitely new in terms of the administration’s position.”
Those darn scientists thought it was a routine report because everything in it has been known to the scientific community for years. They forgot Cardinal Science Rules #1 (‘NO science is to be considered valid if doing so directly affects the oil industry or any other corporate product in an adverse way’) and #2 (‘ALL “science” must be cleared by the political section; any scientific conclusions deemed harmful to the Would-Be-Emperor’s re-election effort or in contradiction of fundamentalist Xtian fantasies are to be destroyed’).
No worries. Karl will make sure this never happens again.
August 26, 2004
It Takes Real Courage to Desert Your Post and Then Attack a Wounded Vet
Dear Mr. Bush,
I know you and I have had our differences in the past, and I realize I am the one who started this whole mess about “who did what” during Vietnam when I brought up that “deserter” nonsense back in January. But I have to hand it to you on what you have uncovered about John Kerry and his record in Vietnam. Kerry has tried to pass himself off as a war hero, but thanks to you and your friends, we now know the truth.
First of all, thank you for pointing out to all of us that Mr. Kerry was never struck by a BULLET. It was only SHRAPNEL that entered his body! I did not know that! Hell, what’s the big deal about a bunch of large, sharp, metal shards ripping open your flesh? That happens to all of us! In my opinion, if you want a purple heart, you’d better be hit with a bullet — with your name on it!
Secondly, thank you for sending Bob Dole out there and letting us know that Mr. Kerry, though wounded three times, actually “never spilled blood.” When you are in the debates with Kerry, turn to him and say, “Dammit, Mr. Kerry, next time you want a purple heart, you better spill some American red blood! And I don’t mean a few specks like those on O.J.’s socks — we want to see a good pint or two of blood for each medal. In fact, I would have preferred that you had bled profusely, a big geyser of blood spewing out of your neck or something!” Then throw this one at him: “Senator Kerry, over 58,000 brave Americans gave their lives in Vietnam — but YOU didn’t. You only got WOUNDED! What do you have to say for yourself???” Lay that one on him and he won’t know what to do.
And thanks, also, Mr. Bush, for exposing the fact that Mr. Kerry might have actually WOUNDED HIMSELF in order to get those shiny medals. Of course he did! How could the Viet Cong have hit him — he was on a SWIFT boat! He was going too fast to be hit by enemy fire. He tried to blow himself up three different times just so he could go home and run for president someday. It’s all so easy to see, now, what he was up to.
What would we do without you, Mr. Bush? Criticize you as we might, when it comes to pointing out other men’s military records, there is no one who can touch your prowess. In 2000, you let out the rumor that your opponent John McCain might be “nuts” from the 5 years he spent in a POW camp. Then, in the 2002 elections, your team compared triple-amputee Sen. Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden, and that cost him the election. And now you are having the same impact on war hero John Kerry. Since you (oops, I mean “The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth!”) started running those ads, Kerry’s polls numbers have dropped (with veterans, he has lost 18 points in the last few weeks).
Some people have said “Who are you, Mr. Bush, to attack these brave men considering you yourself have never seen combat — in fact, you actively sought to avoid it.” What your critics fail to understand is that even though your dad got you into a unit that would never be sent to Vietnam — and even though you didn’t show up for Guard duty for at least a year — at least you were still IN FAVOR of the Vietnam War! Cowards like Clinton felt it was more important to be consistent (he opposed the war, thus he refused to go) than to be patriotic and two-faced.
The reason that I think you know so much about other men’s war wounds is because, during your time you in the Texas Air National Guard, you suffered so many of them yourself. Consider the paper cut you received on September 22, 1972, while stationed in Alabama, working on a Senate campaign for your dad’s friend (when you were supposed to be on the Guard base). A campaign brochure appeared from nowhere, ambushing your right index finger, and blood trickled out onto your brand new argyle sweater.
Then there was the incident with the Crazy Glue when your fraternity brothers visited you one weekend at the base and glued your lips together while you were “passed out.” Though initially considered “friendly fire,” it was later ruled that you suffered severe post traumatic stress disorder from the assault and required certain medicinal attention — which, it seems, was provided by those same fraternity brethren.
But nothing matched your heroism when, on July 2, 1969, you sustained a massive head injury when enemy combatants from another Guard unit dropped a keg of Coors on your head during a reconnaissance mission at a nearby all-girls college. Fortunately, the cool, smooth fluids that poured out of the keg were exactly what was needed to revive you.
That you never got a purple heart for any of these incidents is a shame. I can fully appreciate your anger at Senator Kerry for the three he received. I mean, Kerry was a man of privilege, he could have gotten out just like you. Instead, he thinks he’s going to gain points with the American people bragging about how he was getting shot at every day in the Mekong Delta. Ha! Is that the best he can do? Hell, I hear gunfire every night outside my apartment window! If he thinks he is going to impress anyone with the fact that he volunteered to go when he could have spent the Vietnam years on the family yacht, he should think again. That only shows how stupid he was! True-blue Americans want a president who knows how to pull strings and work the system and get away with doing as little work as possible!
So, to make it up to you, I have written some new ads you can use on TV. People will soon tire of the swift boat veterans and you are going to need some fresh, punchier material. Feel free to use any of these:
ANNOUNCER: “When the bullets were flying all around him in Vietnam, what did John Kerry do? He said he leaned over the boat and ‘pulled a man out of the river.’ But, as we all know, men don’t live in the river — fish do. John Kerry knows how to tell a big fish tale. What he won’t tell you is that when the enemy was shooting at him, he ducked. Do you want a president who will duck? Vote Bush.”
ANNOUNCER: “Mr. Kerry’s biggest supporter, Sen. Max Cleland, claims to have lost two legs and an arm in Vietnam. But he still has one arm! How did that happen? One word: Cowardice. When duty called, he was unwilling to give his last limb. Is that the type of selfishness you want hanging out in the White House? We think not. Vote for the man who would be willing to give America his right frontal lobe. Vote Bush.”
Hope these help, Mr. Bush. And remember, when the American death toll in Iraq hits 1,000 during the Republican convention, be sure to question whether those who died really did indeed “die” — or were they just trying to get their face on CNN’s nightly tribute to fallen heroes? The sixteen who’ve died so far this week were probably working hand in hand with the Kerry campaign to ruin your good time in New York. Stay consistent, sir, and always, ALWAYS question the veracity of anyone who risks their life for this country. It’s the least they deserve.
The Daily Show has it right:
STEWART: Here’s what puzzles me most, Rob. John Kerry’s record in Vietnam is pretty much right there in the official records of the US military, and haven’t been disputed for 35 years?
CORDDRY: That’s right, Jon, and that’s certainly the spin you’ll be hearing coming from the Kerry campaign over the next few days.
STEWART: Th-that’s not a spin thing, that’s a fact. That’s established.
CORDDRY: Exactly, Jon, and that established, incontravertible fact is one side of the story.
STEWART: But that should be — isn’t that the end of the story? I mean, you’ve seen the records, haven’t you? What’s your opinion?
CORDDRY: I’m sorry, my *opinion*? No, I don’t have ‘o-pin-i-ons’. I’m a reporter, Jon, and my job is to spend half the time repeating what one side says, and half the time repeating the other. Little thing called ‘objectivity’ — might wanna look it up some day.
STEWART: Doesn’t objectivity mean objectively weighing the evidence, and calling out what’s credible and what isn’t?
CORDDRY: Whoa-ho! Well, well, well — sounds like someone wants the media to act as a filter! [high-pitched, effeminate] ‘Ooh, this allegation is spurious! Upon investigation this claim lacks any basis in reality! Mmm, mmm, mmm.’ Listen buddy: not my job to stand between the people talking to me and the people listening to me.
STEWART: So, basically, you’re saying that this back-and-forth is never going to end.
CORDDRY: No, Jon — in fact a new group has emerged, this one composed of former Bush colleages, challenging the president’s activities during the Vietnam era. That group: Drunken Stateside Sons of Privilege for Plausible Deniability. They’ve apparently got some things to say about a certain Halloween party in ’71 that involved trashcan punch and a sodomized piñata. Jon — they just want to set the record straight. That’s all they’re out for.
STEWART: Well, thank you Rob, good luck out there. We’ll be right back.
(Thanks to Atrios.)
Mark Kleiman has succinctly summarized Bush’s response to demands that he condemn the ads: “I’ll ask my friends to stop lying about John Kerry, if he’ll ask his friends to stop telling the truth about me.”