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Saturday, July 02, 2005
BRAGGING AT THE FORT, PART 4 (the end)
or, INCURIOUS GEORGE'S FABULOUS IRAQ FANTASY
OK: I know this is stultifying. But this phenomenal mountain of lies, distortions and equivocations is the entire rationale for the war. Significantly, Osama bin Laden has been invoked twice to justify Iraq. And the endless drumbeat of patriotic fervor -- the flags, the Civil War, the nobility of troops, the troops in the maroon berets, and all the rest of it were staged to convince Americans -- appealing almost exclusively to the emotions and carefully avoiding rationality -- because Americans believe, nearly two to one, that this war has been woefully mismangled by Beorge Gush and his happy homilies.
One strategic point needs be made here. There are three major "factions" in Iraq: Kurds, Shia, and Sunni.
The Kurds are a split people, with a significant portion of their population in Turkey -- and the Turks adamantly insist that there will be NO Kurdistan. (The Kurds feel differently, of course.) That's their "angle."
The Shia are MOST sympathetic to Iran, the only major Shia Muslim nation on Earth. The sacred Shia shrines are all in Iraq, and the schism with the Sunni followed fairly quickly after the founding of Islam (in 622 AD, by the European reckoning). An analogy might be the schism between Catholics and Protestants -- the basis of the Thirty Years' War, among others. Or, consider the Northern Ireland "troubles" as a response to such a religious schism. The Shia have, even though a majority, been dominated by the minority Baathist/Sunni for a good long time.
And, finally, the Sunni represent the vast majority of Islam, but they are a minority in Iraq. As a result, they are most closely in sympathy with the Saudis, of whose leading Militant exponent is ... Osama bin Laden. Sunnis, while a minority, also represent the majority of Saddam Hussein's former Baathist power base. (Just remember, should it go horribly wrong, it is entirely possible that Saddam might RETURN to power. Stranger things have happened.)
Now, given that, which group has been least represented in the "democratic process" and the new government? Right: the Sunnis. And who might love to help them? Hmmm.
So, when Gush talks about uniting the Iraqis into a secular, pluralistic democracy, recognize the almost insuperable problems that his frankly Quixotic vision entails.
Ask yourself: was this the result of a deep understanding of what we were wading into? No. According to witnesses, George W. was only told of the different factions within Iraq during the SuperBowl prior to the March 2003 invasion!
So, was there a "vision" or are they playing C.Y.A. "spin" at a level almost without precedent in human history? This is an exercise in criticism, so read critically ....
We conclude the Festival of Mendacity:
BUSH: The other critical element of our strategy is to help ensure that the hopes Iraqis expressed at the polls in January are translated into a secure democracy. The Iraqi people are emerging from decades of tyranny and oppression.
[Right. And they just want a government ... like OURS! Funny how the question is continually begged: What do the Iraqis want? Why, they want exactly what Bush wants. Isn't that an ASTONISHING coincidence?]
Under the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Shia and Kurds were brutally oppressed, and the vast majority of Sunni Arabs were also denied their basic rights, while senior regime officials enjoyed the privileges of unchecked power.
[We've got a good ten years of anti-Saddam propaganda that we can't casually discard. Let's talk about how awful he was in killing tens of thousands of Iraqis to contrast it with OUR killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. "Enjoyed the privileges of unchecked power" is just bad advertising. What if the audience applied it to, say, Bush? Let's ignore any embarrassing parallels and move on. OK? OK.]
The challenge facing Iraqis today is to put this past behind them, and come together to build a new Iraq that includes all of its people.
[It is the challenge of ALL peoples in all times. Merely stating that "it's a challenge" doesn't do anything to solve it. Nor, implicitly, is it fair for Bush to claim HIS dream of Iraq as THEIR dream for Iraq. And yet, that's what this is: his (whomever you consider "he" to be) vision of a future Iraq.]
They're doing that by building the institutions of a free society, a society based on freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and equal justice under law.
[Again, gee whiz: How come this sounds so much like ... the Norman Rockwell version of the USA? And, isn't invoking the hoary cliches of American politics and magically imposing them on Iraq a conditioning technique as opposed to rational policy defense? This is an almost purely emotional argument, if you look closely.]
The Iraqis have held free elections and established a Transitional National Assembly. The next step is to write a good constitution that enshrines these freedoms in permanent law.
[The next step in Incurious George's Fabulous Iraq Fantasy, you mean.]
The Assembly plans to expand its constitutional drafting committee to include more Sunni Arabs. Many Sunnis who opposed the January elections are now taking part in the democratic process, and that is essential to Iraq's future.
[As I've noted before and will again: self-government is NOT a given, and requires a society-wide committment to democratic institutions, including local governments. How can we guarantee that the Shias and Sunnis can ever resolve their differences? Or, that the "Arab" component can get over their ethnic differences with the Kurds? Not only is it NOT a given, one can't prove that it CAN be done, until it actually HAS been done. Have we managed this in the United States?]
After a constitution is written, the Iraqi people will have a chance to vote on it. If approved, Iraqis will go to the polls again, to elect a new government under their new, permanent constitution. By taking these critical steps and meeting their deadlines, Iraqis will bind their multiethnic society together in a democracy that respects the will of the majority and protects minority rights.
["Or, George Washington Does Baghdad." How come they're adopting OUR model of government? Is that what they want? Really? How do we know that all Iraqis demand a "constitution"? And how do we know that their "multiethnic" society WANTS to be together. After all, it was created by British politicians and mapmakers. There is no inherent "Iraq." Bush is begging the question again.]
As Iraqis grow confident that the democratic progress they are making is real and permanent, more will join the political process.
[This is speculation; a story: But certainly NOT reality. It is HIS policy daydream, but he pretends that it is real. Understand that this is Bush's "vision." What the Iraqis want, they will ultimately have. But it will almost certainly NOT be this. Because Bush has no fundamental understanding of their culture or history. He imagines that these are merely Americans in burnooses. Let's continue, though ....]
And as Iraqis see that their military can protect them, more will step forward with vital intelligence to help defeat the enemies of a free Iraq. The combination of political and military reform will lay a solid foundation for a free and stable Iraq.
As Iraqis make progress toward a free society, the effects are being felt beyond Iraq's borders. Before our coalition liberated Iraq, Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons. Today the leader of Libya has given up his chemical and nuclear weapons programs.
[Bush is taking credit for something that does not necessarily follow. This is the new "domino theory." As Iraq falls to US-style democracy, the neighboring nations will fall. It's Southeast Asia in reverse: during Vietnam, it was claimed that if Vietnam fell to "Communism" then all the other countries would fall to Communism. Didn't happen. Nationalism turned out to be stronger than Communism, as Vietnam instantly had wars with China and Cambodia, their supposed Commie "brethren." But here comes the old, discredited argument ... again.]
Across the broader Middle East, people are claiming their freedom. In the last few months, we've witnessed elections in the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon.
[Yes, and Bush carefully fails to note that Hezbollah won hugely in the Lebanon election. This was, for the Bushies, the worst case scenario. But now he turns it into a "virtue." Why? Well, it WAS an election.]
These elections are inspiring democratic reformers in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
["Inspiring democratic reformers" is a meaningless bray. I can just as justifiably and rightly say that this blog is "inspiring Bush impeachers," and I would be as right -- and as effective as Bush's 'inspirational' message states. It would just be difficult to say with a straight face.]
Our strategy to defend ourselves and spread freedom is working.
[Actually it's not. Terrorist attacks worldwide were up, so Condi Rice 86'ed the report. A huge majority of Americans believe -- rightly -- that we're NOT safer now. We're probably LESS SAFE. Resources to protect the "homeland" have been diverted to the Iraq Misadventure. Bin Laden has benefited from a recruiting windfall. And Bush has slowly but surely managed to enrage the entire Islamic world. So: this is a bald-faced lie.]
The rise of freedom in this vital region will eliminate the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder, and make our nation safer.
["Ideologies of murder" went out with the Thuggee, George. Whatever those who are in this believe, they AREN'T the caricature you portray. The rest is another science fiction story. Kind of like: "If we all love one another, wars will end." Well, of course. But is that a political reality? Nothing could be further from the truth. Except, perhaps, what Incurious George just claimed.]
We have more work to do, and there will be tough moments that test America's resolve. We're fighting against men with blind hatred -- and armed with lethal weapons -- who are capable of any atrocity. They wear no uniform; they respect no laws of warfare or morality. They take innocent lives to create chaos for the cameras.
[The "Straw Man" again.]
They are trying to shake our will in Iraq, just as they tried to shake our will on September the 11th, 2001.
[He is deliberately confusing the trauma of 9/11 with his war in Iraq. This is his old, discredited lying trick, but he must think we're really, REALLY stoooopid. Sadly, some are.]
They will fail. The terrorists do not understand America.
[Er, WHAT terrorists? Do you mean the insurgents or Osama's boys? Actually, this is more blurring of the line. We attack a secular, sovereign nation, and claim that it's to stop religious, non-governmental guerillas. Why? Because they're all "A-rabs." They're all "Mooooslims." This is a textbook example of what is called "racist."]
The American people do not falter under threat, and we will not allow our future to be determined by car bombers and assassins.
[The enemy is a 'Freddy Krueger': nameless, faceless, featureless, could be anyone, anytime, anywhere. But we're ready for Freddie ...]
America and our friends are in a conflict that demands much of us. It demands the courage of our fighting men and women, it demands the steadfastness of our allies, and it demands the perseverance of our citizens. We accept these burdens, because we know what is at stake.
[Brave, inspiring and hollow rhetoric. With no rational appeal whatsoever, Incurious George wraps himself in the flag.]
We fight today because Iraq now carries the hope of freedom in a vital region of the world, and the rise of democracy will be the ultimate triumph over radicalism and terror.
[No. But it would be a policy victory that might obscure the fact that this is an illegal war, and is a textbook example of a "war crime," as defined by the US Code, chapter 18, and by our rationale at the Nuremberg Trials.]
And we fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens, and Iraq is where they are making their stand.
[This is a bald-faced and shameful lie.]
So we'll fight them there, we'll fight them across the world, and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won. (Applause.)
[ABC's network reporter Terry Moran reported that a White House advance team member started clapping to cajole the soldiers into applauding, which they did .... ]
America has done difficult work before. From our desperate fight for independence to the darkest days of a Civil War, to the hard-fought battles against tyranny in the 20th century, there were many chances to lose our heart, our nerve, or our way.
[This is the ultimate obscenity: Using the blood of dead patriots to justify one's own (criminal) policies. This is another example of coupling two unrelated events in an emotional appeal. The Civil War, the World Wars are NOT equal to The Iraq Misadventure. And it is shameful to suggest that they are.]
But Americans have always held firm, because we have always believed in certain truths.
[Talking about "truths" in the context of this festival of mendacity is astonishingly bad salesmanship. One would think that the LAST thing Mad King George would want, in this context, is an appeal to "truth."]
We know that if evil is not confronted, it gains in strength and audacity, and returns to strike us again.
["Evil" is a very dangerous word in political context. He is now blending secular government with religious morality. Not that this is new, but there is no prohibition in our government against "evil" -- else how do you explain the rise of the Bushes? What is prohibited is "unlawful" behavior. And, of course, this is a "slam dunk" argument. I mean, who can be in favor of "evil"? And, if we are fighting "evil" doesn't that, then, make us "good"? Another lie from the Dauphin of Lies.]
We know that when the work is hard, the proper response is not retreat, it is courage.
[I can cite a thousand examples that overturn this homily: Grant retreating at Cold Harbor is one. Of course, "courage" is not the opposite of "retreat." This is a false dichotomy: if we withdraw, we're COWARDS! is the implication. And, remaining is "courageous." This, from a draft dodger who couldn't even complete his "country club" tour in the Air Guard. Mr. "Courage" himself. Feh.]
And we know that this great ideal of human freedom entrusted to us in a special way, and that the ideal of liberty is worth defending.
[We're defending an ideal. Not an idea, I note. An "ideal." We are fighting an emotion "terror" and we're defending an "ideal." Which is why the practical matters of massive monetary transfers and resource issues being, at best, murky, and at probable, corrupt, are NOT being addressed.]
In this time of testing, our troops can know: The American people are behind you.
[Yes. And that's why we don't think that their deaths accomplish anything, and that's why we want them home, we want their VA benefits restored, we want MORE VA facilities, and not FEWER, and we want National Guardsmen given the same combat benefits as regular army troops. A bullet shouldn't be treated differently, based on your service grade! Too bad BUSH isn't behind them.]
Next week, our nation has an opportunity to make sure that support is felt by every soldier, sailor, airman, Coast Guardsman, and Marine at every outpost across the world.
["Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel."]
This Fourth of July, I ask you to find a way to thank the men and women defending our freedom -- by flying the flag, sending a letter to our troops in the field, or helping the military family down the street. The Department of Defense has set up a website -- AmericaSupportsYou.mil.
[It's a holiday! It's a website! The Fourth of July is about ... George Bush's illegal war!]
You can go there to learn about private efforts in your own community. At this time when we celebrate our freedom, let us stand with the men and women who defend us all.
[Waving flag. Supporting troops.]
To the soldiers in this hall, and our servicemen and women across the globe: I thank you for your courage under fire and your service to our nation. I thank our military families -- the burden of war falls especially hard on you.
[Not that he cares, of course. He doesn't even attend the funerals. He merely says that he "thinks about it every day." Actions speak louder than words, Mr. Bush.]
In this war, we have lost good men and women who left our shores to defend freedom and did not live to make the journey home.
[No: They left our shores for your war, Mr. Bush. Their deaths weren't to "defend freedom." They were at your orders, and their blood is your responsibility. Which this statement carefully shucks.]
I've met with families grieving the loss of loved ones who were taken from us too soon. I've been inspired by their strength in the face of such great loss.
[Not, conveniently, inspired to admit that this war has been an utter boondoggle, has bankrupted our country, made us less safe, and has shown an increasing rate of casualties without a corresponding increase in progress.]
We pray for the families. And the best way to honor the lives that have been given in this struggle is to complete the mission.
[Exploiting the tragedy of the death of loved ones. Waving flag. Supporting troops. Of course 'meeting with families' does NOT replace the VA cuts, and the lack of benefits to Reservists, protection for foreclosures on the homes of serving Guardsmen, etc. etc.]
I thank those of you who have re-enlisted in an hour when your country needs you. And to those watching tonight who are considering a military career, there is no higher calling than service in our Armed Forces. We live in freedom because every generation has produced patriots willing to serve a cause greater than themselves.
[There are few obscenities more egregious than the use of highfalutin' idealism to justify low and discredited ends. Sadly, those who die, and those who lose their loved ones have a vested interest in INVESTING in the comforting lies that we are in Iraq "defending freedom" and "serving a cause greater than themselves."]
Those who serve today are taking their rightful place among the greatest generations that have worn our nation's uniform.
[No. They're right up there with our Philippine Garrison troops after the Spanish War, our troops in the Mexican War, or our troops in the Vietnam War. You don't get to equivalence them with the World War II generation, Mr. Gush.]
When the history of this period is written, the liberation of Afghanistan and the liberation of Iraq will be remembered as great turning points in the story of freedom.
[Which is a lie made up out of whole cloth. Still, note the Evangelistic Appeal: 'Come forward and embrace the true faith. Join our Noble Cause. (Help us meet our recruiting quotas.)']
After September the 11th, 2001, I told the American people that the road ahead would be difficult, and that we would prevail. Well, it has been difficult -- and we are prevailing.
["I kept my promise!" Er ... to what? NOT let another 9-11 happen on your watch? That life would now be difficult? That's a GOOD thing? It's rather a Rorschach sort of statement: it means whatever you want it to mean.]
Our enemies are brutal, but they are no match for the United States of America, and they are no match for the men and women of the United States military.
[Go team. Fight! Fight! Fight! Hey: He DID used to be a cheerleader at Yale. The training shows.]
May God bless you all. (Applause.)
[Oh yeah. Don't forget God. After all: "Gott mit uns."]
Well, we've hit "Iraq," "terrorist" and "September 11th 2001" like bumpers on a pinball machine. We've been assaulted with patriotic images. We've been appealed to at the reptile brain -- not at the rational level, because the claims made are dream logic. The "terrorists" have an "ideology," they are "bad and evil." And they hate us, which means, by inference, we DON'T have an ideology, we are "good and true," and we hate them.
Somehow, the "terrorists" have been mixed up with the "insurgents" and "Al Qaeda" is suddenly the "insurgency" by the "terrorists." This was not accidental. It was not the result of confusion on the speechwriters' part. It was a deliberate and calculated effort to deceive. Got that?
But we already knew, rationally, that this was simply not true. The entire focus of this speech, its pomp and ceremony, its invocation of patriotic fervor and conjuration of how "safe" we're being kept is to appeal to our base instincts: fear versus comfort. "Terror" (and I thought that people being killed was the thing we were trying to stop) versus safety.
Let me say that again: Bush himself has stated that there was no relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and, therefore no connection between Iraq and September 11th, 2001. Got that?
When I captioned the photo in part one "Baby Bush Bunting" (it might have been "Bush Baby Bunting"), there was a point. We protect the baby. We have the special cribs, the baby padding and the baby bunting. And that is a strong, primal urge.
Wasn't that what this was all about?
Let me add this: 9-11 was ALL of America's tragedy. It wasn't BUSH's tragedy. He does not own it (although he is responsible FOR it happening -- it was on HIS "watch," as he almost acknowledges). And his unending exploitation of September 11th is not merely vile, it is, in this case, exactly criminal. He has USED it to justify this war, and continues to use it, even though we all know that it did NOT -- and, by implication DOES NOT -- justify this war.
[Were Bush's actions the right actions following 9/11, would Manhattan Island -- where the Trade Center Towers came down, Ground Zero -- would they have voted seven and eight to one AGAINST Bush in the 2004 election? There seems a fundamental disconnect at work here.]
Looks like we're back to Vietnam. So, here, to take this out on a humorous (and not a note of Grand Guignol) ...
Top Ten Reasons that Vietnam is back:Next stop? Iran.
Friday, July 01, 2005
IT COULD BE BORK BARREL POLITICS
or, NIXON'S REVENGE IS NEARLY COMPLETE
A frightening thought occurs: No one has campaigned so long, or so happily as Robert Bork. To shove him back down the Democrats' throats would, undoubtedly be sweet revenge for the NeoCons, and would make the Hyper-Right base happy.
Bork is the only person in history, to my knowledge, to make a successful career of books and speechifying, based on his rejection by the Senate as unqualified to hold the office.
At least G. Gordon Liddy was a successful burglar -- with one notable exception -- before he turned his Watergaiety into a career as a Right Wing pundit.
Bork's only other claim to fame was that, as Solicitor General, he was the highest-rankling member of Nixon's Justice Department who DIDN'T resign, and therefore was the person who fired the Special Watergate Prosecutor, Archibald Cox, during the infamous "Saturday Night Massacre" of Watergate.
But surely they wouldn't .... they, they COULDN'T!
BRAGGING AT THE FORT, PART 3 (of 4)
or, OUR BLOGORRHEA VEHEMENTLY DENIED
Merriam-Webster Online Defines: logorrheaIt might be a fair cop to suggest that the author is addicted to blogorrhea. But ...
It's important to take this major speech, and look at it in its entirety. Why? Because we are watching an unjustified merger of "anger" terms for the specific purpose of continuing a WRONG war: wrong place, wrong time, for the wrong reasons. And guess what? That's ... wrong.
BREAKING NEWS: Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has resigned. While the praise will roll in by virtue of her genitalia, I prefer to cede her full equality and judge her service on the court based on her decisions: the simple fact is that O'Connor was the architect of the worst decision of the court since Dred Scott, Bush v. Gore, and for that she will, finally, be remembered. The rest of her legacy will ultimately be overshadowed by that hideous decision.
PREDICTION: Bush will dip into the "Republican Tokenism" bag, and, in order of preference, he will nominate either a) a hispanic woman; b) a black woman; or c) a woman. It doesn't really matter whether she's qualified. What matters is that she's safely "conservative." It's too important to these people to NOT come up with a "first" stunt, which is, when you think about it, sexist AND racist. But should we be surprised?
"The daughter of a sharecropper" perhaps?
So let's continue our look at the "speech," proper.
Posted 8:02 P.M. EDT 6-28-05
The official White House transcript
NOTE: I will be commenting on it [in brackets] as we go.
In Focus: Renewal in Iraq (6-28-05) PART 3 of 4
[Remember, we've just defined WHAT the war is against ("terror") and WHO the "terrorists" are ... ]
These are savage acts of violence, but they have not brought the terrorists any closer to achieving their strategic objectives. The terrorists -- both foreign and Iraqi -- failed to stop the transfer of sovereignty. They failed to break our Coalition and force a mass withdrawal by our allies. They failed to incite an Iraqi civil war. They failed to prevent free elections. They failed to stop the formation of a democratic Iraqi government that represents all of Iraq's diverse population. And they failed to stop Iraqis from signing up in large number with the police forces and the army to defend their new democracy.
[And, they're losers]
The lesson of this experience is clear: The terrorists can kill the innocent, but they cannot stop the advance of freedom.
[Ah. One abstract sentiment trumps another: the "advance of freedom" versus "terror" and "hate." Got it. Just not a lot of specificity here.]
The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September the 11th, if we abandon the Iraqi people to men like Zarqawi, and if we yield the future of the Middle East to men like Bin Laden. For the sake of our nation's security, this will not happen on my watch.
[So, here he is promising not to forget "the lessons of September the 11th" which means .... what? Even these "lessons" are ill-defined here. This is the WHY: Why are we fighting this war? Because we've learned lessons, should pre-emptively strike ANYONE we think is getting ready to strike us, and that the people who attacked on 9-11 are who we are fighting in Iraq. We now move to the "facts" in the speech.]
A little over a year ago, I spoke to the nation and described our coalition's goals in Iraq. I said that America's mission in Iraq is to defeat an enemy and give strength to a friend -- a free, representative government that is an ally in the war on terror, and a beacon of hope in a part of the world that is desperate for reform.
[And, it MUST logically follow, that we will CREATE this well-defined "friend" country; because this "friend" regime has never existed in Iraq in the history of the world. Such is NOT a given, but here, rhetorically, it is.]
I outlined the steps we would take to achieve this goal: We would hand authority over to a sovereign Iraqi government. We would help Iraqis hold free elections by January 2005. We would continue helping Iraqis rebuild their nation's infrastructure and economy. We would encourage more international support for Iraq's democratic transition, and we would enable Iraqis to take increasing responsibility for their own security and stability.
[Yes, but the Iraqi forces trained so far are woefully inadequate, electricity is still subject to long blackouts throughout the entire nation, and there are remaining problems with clean water, raw sewage in the rivers, and supplies. Iraqis are hard-pressed to figure out when "sovereignty" changed anything. Over and over, they report no fundamental change: witness the inability of the Iraqi police to investigate the shooting of an unarmed school teacher. Her auto contained a purse and a Koran. But US troops are not under any Iraqi laws. This is sovereignty?]
In the past year, we have made significant progress. One year ago today, we restored sovereignty to the Iraqi people. In January 2005, more than 8 million Iraqi men and women voted in elections that were free and fair, and took time on -- and took place on time. We continued our efforts to help them rebuild their country. Rebuilding a country after three decades of tyranny is hard, and rebuilding while at war is even harder. Our progress has been uneven, but progress is being made.
We're improving roads and schools and health clinics. We're working to improve basic services like sanitation, electricity, and water. And together with our allies, we'll help the new Iraqi government deliver a better life for its citizens.
[Gee: wouldn't it have been nice to do those things HERE in the USA? Doesn't it sound like the "New Deal" for the Iraqis? But note that "improving" and "working to improve" are, in actuality admissions of failure? Had there been significant success, THAT would be what Incurious George would be trumpeting. The words cover up the truth, but its outline can still be discerned behind them. We ARE improving; we are WORKING to improve; and we WILL improve. But not, significantly, we HAVE improved.]
In the past year, the international community has stepped forward with vital assistance. Some 30 nations have troops in Iraq, and many others are contributing non-military assistance. The United Nations is in Iraq to help Iraqis write a constitution and conduct their next elections. Thus far, some 40 countries and three international organizations have pledged about $34 billion in assistance for Iraqi reconstruction. More than 80 countries and international organizations recently came together in Brussels to coordinate their efforts to help Iraqis provide for their security and rebuild their country. And next month, donor countries will meet in Jordan to support Iraqi reconstruction.
[The fallacy of Appeal to popular opinion, e.g. everybody thinks that the Earth is flat, ergo, it must be flat. 80 nations are "with" us -- albeit, usually in a token capacity -- therefore what we are doing MUST be right.]
Whatever our differences in the past, the world understands that success in Iraq is critical to the security of our nations. As German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder said at the White House yesterday, "There can be no question a stable and democratic Iraq is in the vested interest of not just Germany, but also Europe."
["See? I'm right!" Funny how we've now quoted Osama bin Laden, and Schroder, who we were MAD at for not agreeing with us about invading, remember? THEN, his opinion didn't matter. NOW, if he agrees with Bush, then Schroder's statements MUST be correct! This is intellectually dishonest. Like Chirac in France! Gee. Come to think of it, don't we owe them both an APOLOGY? I mean, they were right, after all. Or like Amnesty International: when they bolstered our case for war, we quoted them; when they criticized our torture of prisoners at Gitmo, et al, we SMEARED them. So, they're only right when they agree with us? By DEFINITION?]
Finally, we have continued our efforts to equip and train Iraqi security forces. We made gains in both the number and quality of those forces. Today Iraq has more than 160,000 security forces trained and equipped for a variety of missions.
[This figure is disputed by virtually all observers as being perhaps one zero off: x0,000 NOT x00,000.]
Iraqi forces have fought bravely, helping to capture terrorists and insurgents in Najaf and Samarra, Fallujah and Mosul.
[er, didn't you pretty much DESTROY Fallujah? In order to save it?]
And in the past month, Iraqi forces have led a major anti-terrorist campaign in Baghdad called Operation Lightning, which has led to the capture of hundreds of suspected insurgents. Like free people everywhere, Iraqis want to be defended by their own countrymen, and we are helping Iraqis assume those duties.
[Wait a minute! A slick morph just took place. Suddenly the Iraqis, as a "free people" just want what any "free people" want, freedom from "insurgents." Huh? The Iraqis have YET to construct a free society, or a real "nation." Whence this monolithic, stereotype that justifies our invasion and continued presence?]
The progress in the past year has been significant, and we have a clear path forward.
[But what that "progress" has been is left entirely nebulous. He said so. Must be true.]
To complete the mission, we will continue to hunt down the terrorists and insurgents. To complete the mission, we will prevent al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists from turning Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban, a safe haven from which they could launch attacks on America and our friends.
[This is simply science fiction: The idea that Iraq would turn otherwise into a "safe haven" and some massive terrorist state doesn't gibe with any 'reality.' This is called the "Straw Man" fallacy, in classical logic.]
And the best way to complete the mission is to help Iraqis build a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself.
[al Qaeda, Taliban, Iraq, Afghanistan, attacks on America, Iraqis, freedom, mission, terrorists: these "ideas" have been loaded by the speechwriters into the rhetorical blender, and they have pressed emotional "puree."]
So our strategy going forward has both a military track and a political track. The principal task of our military is to find and defeat the terrorists, and that is why we are on the offense. And as we pursue the terrorists, our military is helping to train Iraqi security forces so that they can defend their people and fight the enemy on their own. Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.
["The principal task of our military is to find and defeat the terrorists, and that is why we are on the offense." So, if we were hunkered down inside our garrisons, then we'd be on defense? I'm confused, because the latter case is what's being reported these days. It's too dangerous to go out. Even the "green zone" in Baghdad isn't safe. But we're on offense? Good to know that. Sort of like the Russian "hedgehog" positions were on "offense" against the Finnish guerilla ski patrols -- the "Belaja smert" or "white death" of the 1940 invasion of Finland by Stalin's Russia -- right? -- "During the battles, Russian soldiers being turned around by Finnish gunfire, were seen running, incoherently screaming "Belaja smert" (= "White Death"). The war had now been drawing attention abroad, and volunteers were arriving from several countries." http://www.snipercountry.com/BVT_Reviews/ValkoinenKuolema.asp]
We've made progress, but we have a lot of -- a lot more work to do.
[Translation: I don't have a darned thing I can report. But trust me.]
Today Iraqi security forces are at different levels of readiness.
[And now, the DOUBLETALK:]
Some are capable of taking on the terrorists and insurgents by themselves. A large number can plan and execute anti-terrorist operations with coalition support. The rest are forming and not yet ready to participate fully in security operations. Our task is to make the Iraqi units fully capable and independent. We're building up Iraqi security forces as quickly as possible, so they can assume the lead in defeating the terrorists and insurgents.
[Or, they aren't exactly ready at all ... What they DON'T say is at least as significant as what they DO say.]
Our coalition is devoting considerable resources and manpower to this critical task. Thousands of coalition troops are involved in the training and equipping of Iraqi security forces.
["Devoting considerable resources" isn't the same as actually accomplishing anything. The number of trained Iraqis remains surprisingly small.]
NATO is establishing a military academy near Baghdad to train the next generation of Iraqi military leaders, and 17 nations are contributing troops to the NATO training mission. Iraqi army and police are being trained by personnel from Italy, Germany, Ukraine, Turkey, Poland, Romania, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Today, dozens of nations are working toward a common objective: an Iraq that can defend itself, defeat its enemies, and secure its freedom.
[Another bunch of countries in the Coalition. Another plug for the product. We're doing swell. Just swell. But what if they decide WE are its enemies? Hmmm.]
To further prepare Iraqi forces to fight the enemy on their own, we are taking three new steps: First, we are partnering coalition units with Iraqi units. These coalition-Iraqi teams are conducting operations together in the field. These combined operations are giving Iraqis a chance to experience how the most professional armed forces in the world operate in combat.
[So, it's like "Big Brothers of America" meets "Cops," then. We're trainin' them Iraqis. Just hangin' around with us is good for 'em. Right?]
Second, we are embedding coalition "transition teams" inside Iraqi units.
These teams are made up of coalition officers and non-commissioned officers who live, work, and fight together with their Iraqi comrades. Under U.S. command, they are providing battlefield advice and assistance to Iraqi forces during combat operations. Between battles, they are assisting the Iraqis with important skills, such as urban combat, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance techniques.
[only $29.95! but, IF YOU ACT NOW, we'll throw in, free of charge ...]
Third, we're working with the Iraqi Ministries of Interior and Defense to improve their capabilities to coordinate anti-terrorist operations. We're helping them develop command and control structures.
[In other words, we're training them to be Americans.]
We're also providing them with civilian and military leadership training, so Iraq's new leaders can effectively manage their forces in the fight against terror.
[Glowing reports from the front. Hoorah!]
The new Iraqi security forces are proving their courage every day. More than 2,000 members of Iraqi security forces have given their lives in the line of duty.
[To be fair, most of them have been standing near bombs. It has been a passive, and not, as implied, an active duty.]
Thousands more have stepped forward, and are now training to serve their nation. With each engagement, Iraqi soldiers grow more battle-hardened, and their officers grow more experienced. We've learned that Iraqis are courageous and that they need additional skills.
[Yes. Without us, they were merely courageous and well-meaning. Now, we're teaching them virtue and competence. This is, if you think about it, patronizing as hell.]
And that is why a major part of our mission is to train them so they can do the fighting, and then our troops can come home.
[There it is: "Iraqification." Not as snazzy as "Vietnamization," but good nonetheless. I seem to recall that soon after Nixon announced "Vietnamization" we invaded Cambodia. Sure am glad that there's NO CHANCE of us invading Iran. Nosirree. Just can't possibly happen. Uh-uh. No way.]
I recognize that Americans want our troops to come home as quickly as possible. So do I.
[Thus, denying that anyone disagrees with him.]
Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done.
[Yes. We invaded their country, but now, conveniently, they NEED us there to "finish" the job. Right. This is called "Wishful Thinking." Let's not mention the patronizing tone.]
It would send the wrong message to our troops, who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy, who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out.
[Well, that's the argument, all right. But what if the only thing FEEDING the "enemy" is our presence? How can he, with certitude state this? "Because I say so." Me? I think we shouldn't throw good blood after bad. But then, I'm not entranced with an open-ended warfare situation.]
We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed, and not a day longer.
[But we're committed to the war, remember? This is a strange case of being FOR the war and AGAINST the war, at the same time! First, what we are doing is RIGHT and NOBLE and we CAN'T TURN BACK NOW. Now, the war will be over AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! Which is it? I'm confused.]
Some Americans ask me, if completing the mission is so important, why don't you send more troops?
[A fair question. But watch how he twists the facts to obtain the "answer" that gibes with Administration policy.]
If our commanders on the ground say we need more troops, I will send them. But our commanders tell me they have the number of troops they need to do their job. Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight. And sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever, when we are, in fact, working for the day when Iraq can defend itself and we can leave. As we determine the right force level, our troops can know that I will continue to be guided by the advice that matters: the sober judgment of our military leaders.
[A bunch of flapdoodle. As Stormin' Norman said: Someday I hope that I have enough time to DIAGRAM that sentence. The Brass told the Bushies before the war that they needed a LOT more troops on the ground. And were FIRED for so saying. NOW they agree with Bush? Gee. Wonder why? But he seems to imply that the MILITARY commanders are running this war. A strong case is to be made for just the opposite.]
All right. Let's stop here, and conclude tomorrow. The whole piece came in at 6570 words, and I have a feeling that we would all be happier if it were broken into 'bite-sized' chunks.
Thank goodness I don't have blogorrhea. (I'd need a prescription for Blimmodium-B.)
Associate Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has resigned. This is the only fact of the story. Now, watch the mindless media soap opera of speculation in the daze that follows.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
BRAGGING AT THE FORT, PART 2
or, VOX NIELSEN; VOX DEI
A couple of quick notes before we analyze the speech that the President gave at Fort Bragg on Tuesday.
First, from CNN:
U.S. Army reaches Afghan crash site Chopper went down near Afghan-Pakistani borderUh, guys? The first casualty of war is the truth; conversely the WORST error of war is not knowing the truth. People wonder why McClellan failed to attack Lee when his troop numbers were sometimes nearly double what Lee had at hand. Well, Alan Pinkerton, his chief of spies -- who would later found the detective industry and the US Intelligence Community, in a sense -- kept giving McClellan lousy information. When McClellan had 80,000 men Pinkerton was telling him that Lee had 100,000 even 150,000 men.
So it isn't surprising that McClellan balked at going after a numerically superior enemy in defensive positions. The actual numbers of Lee's army at the time, it should be noted was 50,000 to 65,000. Bad information and wishful thinking are the scourge of armies.
The Afghans shot down a modified Chinook helicopter containing about 18 Navy Special Operations forces. T'weren't no CRAY-USH -- to use the argot of our Southern brethren. It was a helicopter brought down by the Afghans, who may well be the world's foremost experts in shooting down helicopters. They had a lot of practice against the Soviets in the 1980s. (Remember, WE gave them stinger missiles so they could shoot down Russian helicopters. And they got pretty good at it in other ways, too.)
But the Pentagon and the news media (and undoubtedly the White House, who juggles the casualty numbers to keep themselves from feeling guilt, perhaps) are AFRAID of admitting that the Afghans (herein carefully cast as "Taliban" -- which, in future, will be the term for any and all Afghans who would like our army OUT of Afghanistan now, for whatever reasons) that the primitive Afghans bagged a US helicopter. We have not yet been bloodied in these two wars. History suggests that we WILL get bloodied. We'll actually lose a battle, because, for all our high-tech and high-falutin' there ARE other people in the world who can wage successful war against High Tech Superiority. Just ask the Vietnamese.
A US Commander in Iraq, the CNN Radio informs me, is saying that the "insurgents" are now using bigger bombs, which proves, quoth he, that they don't have many suicide bombers left, and have to use their remaining bombers judiciously. This proves, he suggests, that they are losing strength and we are, therefore, in the sunset of the insurgency.
Let's see: a US helicopter is brought down by groundfire in Afghanistan. But it's a crash.
The insurgents are using fewer, LARGER bombs, proving that they're weakening.
Oh, and watch how the new President of Iran will be Saddamized by the media. Remember: He was one a them hostage takers. He wants to spread his revolution around the world. Remember, quoth the media: He's a HARD-LINER.
(Ever notice that any time we're against a party, a politician, a foreign luminary, they are issued either a "dominated by hard-liners" or a "hardliner" tag which is then repeated, mantra-like in each and every news story you see thereafter?)
We are rattling the sabers for the Iranian war, the "getback" for the humiliation back in 1979, when they sold "Ayatollah Cockamamie" posters with a superimposed rifle-sight over a line-art version of Khomeni. The original "Yellow Ribbon" event.
So, gee, if the IRANIAN PRESIDENT is a BAD GUY, and IRAN has WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION (you know, really bad things), and we DO have military bases on both Iranian borders, what might we do next? After all, I'm sure that the Iranians have a long history of human rights abuses.
In that happy context, let's look at the "speech," proper.
Posted 8:02 P.M. EDT 6-28-05
The official White House transcript
NOTE: I will be commenting on it [in brackets] as we go.
In Focus: Renewal in Iraq (6-28-05)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Please be seated. Good evening. I'm pleased to visit Fort Bragg, "Home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces." It's an honor to speak before you tonight.
My greatest responsibility as President is to protect the American people. And that's your calling, as well. I thank you for your service, your courage and your sacrifice. I thank your families, who support you in your vital work. The soldiers and families of Fort Bragg have contributed mightily to our efforts to secure or country and promote peace. America is grateful, and so is your Commander-in-Chief.
[This is mildly insulting, when you think about it. We are supposed to watch "our" president giving a speech -- NOT to us, but to airborne troops. Well, this is already a lie. Bush used a little technique throughout called, talk to stage right, talk to stage left, and then, on the punchline, talk directly into the camera.
[If you've ever seen it (say, in watching a TV taping) up close and personal, it looks, well, ODD. The person speaking directly into the camera is in a room filled with live people, but he's taking directly to an inanimate object. Kind of like someone striking up a conversation with a vase in the middle of a Tupperware party.
[So, clearly, he isn't giving this speech to the "troops." It's only a conceit. He's giving the speech to US, and pretending to be talking to the audience. They're just there for the Tonight Show ambience, albeit a somber, almost funereal ambience.
[It is the old rhetorical dodge of thea public prayer that's supposed to "Thank the Heavenly Father," but actually is the Praying Person preaching to those who are now stuck with listening through the (often interminable): "Lord, you know that teenagers who have sex are damned to hell, like little Jimmy, and we pray that .... "]
The troops here and across the world are fighting a global war on terror.
[A direct appeal to authority -- as a classical fallacy -- but all the more effective for stating it without stating it explicitly: America is at War. I am leading the War. This is what the War is all about. More critically, the concept of a "global war on terror" is just exactly precisely a CONCEPT. It is like declaring a global war on dust, which, at least would have the advantage of being against a tangible thing, and not a sentiment.
[Besides, isn't "making war on terror," a lot like a having bake sale to stop obesity?
[Now, having carefully undefined the parameters of what he's talking about, which is to say, anything that he might say it is (remember, a lot of it is SECRET, and they can't tell us what it was about, but TRUST US, we're winning. Again, a classic blunder of war: have a clearly defined mission. Now, listen to George:]
The war reached our shores on September the 11th, 2001. The terrorists who attacked us -- and the terrorists we face -- murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent.
[Again, we're fighting against sentiments and beliefs ascribed to out ill-defined "enemy." First, the concept of war, and then the concept of "enemy" -- both are blurred here.]
Their aim is to remake the Middle East in their own grim image of tyranny and oppression -- by toppling governments, by driving us out of the region, and by exporting terror.
[e.g. they're bad guys and evil people.]
To achieve these aims, they have continued to kill -- in Madrid, Istanbul, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Bali, and elsewhere. The terrorists believe that free societies are essentially corrupt and decadent, and with a few hard blows they can force us to retreat. They are mistaken.
[Well, assuming that you actually understand the mentality of your "opponents" -- whomever they might conveniently be. Past history does not suggest such psychological acumen, though.]
After September the 11th, I made a commitment to the American people: This nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will defend our freedom. We will take the fight to the enemy.
['I thought Timmy was going to hit me. So I hit him first to stop him' does not pass the Mommy test. No Mother ever born would accept this plea in lieu of 'time out'.]
Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war. Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, in Washington, and Pennsylvania.
[But we kind of established that there WERE no Al Qaedas in Iraq prior to our invasion, didn't we? I mean they're religious fanatics, and Saddam's regime, whatever its real and imagined evils, was most definitely a secular government, and enemies of Al Qaeda. To the extent that they are in Iraq, they are there because of our actions.]
There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home.
[Er, wouldn't better anti-hijacking measures have done as good a job as this entire Two-Part Episode has done? Many note that the resources diverted to Iraq have made it nearly impossible to fund DOMESTIC anti-terrorist programs, like beefing up fire departments and first responders; or checking containers coming in?]
The commander in charge of coalition operations in Iraq -- who is also senior commander at this base -- General John Vines, put it well the other day. He said: "We either deal with terrorism and this extremism abroad, or we deal with it when it comes to us."
[In other words, he said your words which you then have attributed to him before his troops. Again, talking to us by pretending to talk to them: THEIR commander agrees with me, therefore THEY agree with me, and you wouldn't be supporting the TROOPS if you disagreed with THEM. Slick.]
Our mission in Iraq is clear. We're hunting down the terrorists.
[What?!?!?! Again, a reality built on fiat (or, it's true because I SAY it's true) and not on facts.]
We're helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror. We're advancing freedom in the broader Middle East. We are removing a source of violence and instability, and laying the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren.
[Pretty outrageous claims for their product. If ALPO had Ed McMahon making these kinds of claims on the old Johnny Carson TONIGHT SHOW, the FCC would have tossed old Ed in jail for fraud. It's just slogans.]
The work in Iraq is difficult and it is dangerous. Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed.
[Er, WHAT violence and bloodshed? Our media almost NEVER shows scenes of violence and bloodshed. Mostly it shows scenes of ambulances, along with a couple "Iraqi in the street" interviews. Heck, we don't even show the COFFINS!]
Every picture is horrifying, and the suffering is real. Amid all this violence, I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it, and it is vital to the future security of our country. And tonight I will explain the reasons why.
[Oooh, we're starting the speech now. Shut off the microwave and hand me the remote.]
Some of the violence you see in Iraq is being carried out by ruthless killers who are converging on Iraq to fight the advance of peace and freedom.
[Again by fiat. And the implication that "some" is a significant "some" or that this is the character of the "enemy": "insurgents."]
Our military reports that we have killed or captured hundreds of foreign fighters in Iraq who have come from Saudi Arabia and Syria, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and others. They are making common cause with criminal elements, Iraqi insurgents, and remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime who want to restore the old order.
[Kind of like our "Coalition of the Willing" now that I think about it. But, evidently some Iraqis are involved as well, but, clearly, they are all little Saddamites. And, even though we're practicing it right now, we're actually against it. Saddamy, we mean. We're anti-Saddamists.]
They fight because they know that the survival of their hateful ideology is at stake. They know that as freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty, as well. And when the Middle East grows in democracy and prosperity and hope, the terrorists will lose their sponsors, lose their recruits, and lose their hopes for turning that region into a base for attacks on America and our allies around the world.
[Turning that REGION? What? The Middle East? Wasn't it ALREADY a base for attacks? I thought the real base was in Europe. Shows what I know.]
Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate. Hear the words of Osama Bin Laden: "This Third World War is raging" in Iraq. "The whole world is watching this war." He says it will end in "victory and glory, or misery and humiliation."
[Well, Osama has always been so credible in the past. There can be no doubt that this alleged quote from Osama bin Laden (Osama bin Hidin: he ONLY shows up for presidential elections and Bush war speeches nowadays) is sufficient reason for continuing all wars.]
The terrorists know that the outcome will leave them emboldened, or defeated. So they are waging a campaign of murder and destruction. And there is no limit to the innocent lives they are willing to take.
["Emboldened or defeated"? I thought it was "victory or defeat". Must have played on the wrong Little League team. We emboldened ourselves into the playoffs, but then were defeated in the first round. Speaking of innocent lives, I am curious as to how many innocent Iraqis died in this "liberation." 100,000? What limit did we set? just out of natural curiousity, I guess.]
We see the nature of the enemy in terrorists who exploded car bombs along a busy shopping street in Baghdad, including one outside a mosque.
[As opposed to what? Destroying Fallujah? That was OK, though? It's only bad when THEY do it? AH! But then, they're all foreign terrorists, right? Got it.]
We see the nature of the enemy in terrorists who sent a suicide bomber to a teaching hospital in Mosul. We see the nature of the enemy in terrorists who behead civilian hostages and broadcast their atrocities for the world to see.
[Killing people is bad. We all agree on that one. Let's stop. And if we can't stop ALL the killing, at least WE can stop killing people, right? We CAN, right? Right?]
These are savage acts of violence, but they have not brought the terrorists any closer to achieving their strategic objectives.
[Er, you mean you KNOW what their strategy is? I mean unless you know their strategy, you can't know their strategic objectives, right? Or are you just lying again? You know: making it up?]
The terrorists -- both foreign and Iraqi -- failed to stop the transfer of sovereignty.
[According to the Iraqis that was the strangest thing: nobody has been able, to this day, to tell that anything actually changed or happened. But it was reported in all the papers, so it MUST be true. "Let freedom reign." Well, freedom HAS been raining bombs on Iraq from 1990 until the very present day. Wow! Fifteen years, freedom's been raining on Iraq for a GOOD long time.]
They failed to break our Coalition and force a mass withdrawal by our allies. They failed to incite an Iraqi civil war. They failed to prevent free elections. They failed to stop the formation of a democratic Iraqi government that represents all of Iraq's diverse population. And they failed to stop Iraqis from signing up in large number with the police forces and the army to defend their new democracy.
[Face it: they're a bunch of failures. Losers. I mean, we shouldn't even be worried about them. Of course, we need to remain terrified of the terrorists (notice that the term 'insurgent' has only been used ONCE so far?
[That's right: we're playing "cowboys and terrorists." "Terrorism" is the new "Communism." Now, John LeCarre, Tom Clancy, Howard Hunt, and the whole spy novel genre has a clearly defined enemy to write novels about defeating. "Insurgent" was always too anonymous a word to inject real hatred of the enemy into.]
Again, I note the approach of day and become silent. I told you it was long -- it was a long speech. But it truly defines this administration, and we'll finish up tomorrow with ...
Tomorrow: Part 3.
But a little addendum on Incurious George's speechifying and handshake opportunity:
From Media Life Magazine www.medialifemagazine.com, Wednesday, June 29:
Bush's Iraq speech tanks with public
As they say, box office wasn't exactly boffo. And after all the effort they put into the staging, it seems a shame that America tuned out on this important speech about the war. But, as they say on Madison Avenue: Vox Nielsen; Vox Dei. "The Voice of the Nielsens is the Voice of God."
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
BRAGGING AT THE FORT, PART 1
or, INCURIOUS GEORGE AND THE MEN IN THE MAROON HATS
Imagine for a minute that you're my son, or someone like him. You went into ROTC -- as a way of paying for your peacetime college education -- in August of 2001, and then, on September 11, "things changed."
You spent four years, training and wondering whether you'd be going, or if it would be over. You've had your entire undergraduate degree overshadowed by war, and now, having been commissioned as a green second looie, you've been sent to a "basic training" course, just to make sure you're Regular Army, and not some college kid in a uniform.
And, as you are either finishing your training, or graduating, you are ordered into your dress greens, with your phony black beret (courtesy of our Military Drag Queen administration, and a real pisser to the green berets, since any tenderfoot now can swagger just like them).
The purported "President" of the United States is going to give you a speech on your next duty assignment. You have been ordered to provide photo-fodder before you are assigned as cannon-fodder. You WILL applaud. You can be court-martialed for booing or NOT giving your CinC full, appropriate attention.
Perhaps you feel a little used; or, perhaps you have been thoroughly indoctrinated, propagandized and fired up about "the mission." But you are sweltering in the June evening, and there, on a "virtual" stage that is comprised of a computer-screen tiling, you get to watch Incurious George face-fucking the TV cameras. When so ordered, you applaud.
[Even my 98-year-old father-in-law noticed the weird applause. "Usually," he told us, "Applause ripples through a crowd like a wave. But this: they all started applauding at exactly the same time. Strange." My wife wondered if there had been "APPLAUSE" signs, like they have at THE TONIGHT SHOW set. It's an old Hollywood TeeVee trick, but I'm sure that the answer is classified as a military secret.]
The tableau was a sort of virtual Nineteenth-Century political stage, brought up-to-date with plasma-screen projection: bunting, columns, ribbonlike swaths. The background consisted of the seal of the U.S. Army. Next to it inside, an "antiqued" US flag, vertical, with a curved "fold" so that it would give the appearance of a stage curtain. Now, they flipped the "tile" (but not the flag -- that would be TOO obvious) and put it on the other side, and, voila! an implied stage curtain using the flag as curtain/bunting. Then, between the curtains, the same motif, shrunk, checker-boarded decontrasted and brightened like a webpage background tile, to act as Mad King George's upstage set.
Oh, those maroon berets in front? (Get them black hats to the back of the bus, guys!)
It is, therefore, entirely possible that we might have been watching a company of airborne Quartermasters! ("I'm sorry, you have to fill out a requisition B-47a(c) request before I can issue you a parachute! There is nothing in Circular MBV-2002-Rev. 7 that allows a waiver just because an aircraft is on fire. And no, I don't have one I can loan out; you'll have to supply your own pen.")
Posted 8:02 P.M. EDT
The official White House transcript
NOTE: I will be commenting on it [in brackets] as we go.
In Focus: Renewal in Iraq
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Please be seated. Good evening. I'm pleased to visit Fort Bragg, "Home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces." It's an honor to speak before you
[Error: It was supposed to have been 'I'm pleased to brag at this fort'] ...
My greatest responsibility as President is to protect the American people. And that's your
calling, as well. I thank you for your service, your courage and your sacrifice. I thank your families, who support you in your vital work. The soldiers and families of Fort Bragg have contributed mightily to our efforts to secure our country and promote peace. America is grateful, and so is your Commander-in-Chief.
[Yeah. Make sure that the whole patriotic orgy of bunting wet dreams is wrapped in a wet burrito of noble purpose, support the troops and golly, who could dare criticize my patriotism? The troops are under strict orders to applaud here, and, when cued, did. Hoo-ahh.]
OK. This is longish, so let's pick up the rest of the actual speech tomorrow in PART 2!
Monday, June 27, 2005
COOKING THE BOOKS
or, TALK JOCK MOCK SHOCK
It's taken me a good chunk of the day to get around to doing this, because I don't like to write mad, and I don't care to merely cast aspersions -- are you listening Ann Coulter? -- but prefer to simply engage the issue.
What I'm talking about is the "Morning Show" that KOPT puts on, with two registered Republicans (to be fair, one and maybe both have changed registrations) who used to be a morning tandem with a country station here in town.
I know: you're thinking, "But isn't KOPT 'Oregon's Progressive Talk'?" Well, sometimes.
Last week, Liz was in Mexico, and Dave, aided and abetted by his Friday co-host, managed to raise a firestorm by boorishly and jingoistically defending the Iraq war, and presenting what were, in essence, Administration talking points. I know that by the afternoon, the collective rage was still palpable, and more than one caller wanted to talk to the Afternoon Show host, Nancy Stapp, about how outraged they were at hearing what was, in essence, Rush Limbaugh on Air America.
I appreciate Nancy's position, and I appreciate that I'm not about to slander her co-workers. In fact, I was willing to let it go entirely; even called in before 7 AM this morning about the "eminent public domain" case the Supremes just decided.
But in the last half-hour, Dave truly outdid himself. Refusing to back down, he pronounced that 1700 deaths wasn't really all that big a deal, and that the war was noble, that we were fighting against those people who flew the planes into the skyscrapers (neglecting, as per usual, to mention the Pentagon) and stated -- to a Vietnam combat veteran, a corpsman -- that only "one half of one percent"
of the insurgents were Iraqis.
Where had this information come from?
Dave didn't say. It was, to him, an immutable fact, unnecessary to back up, as self-evident as the dawn. Thus it had been on Friday, and thus it was today, except that on Friday, he'd claimed that ALL the 'insurgents' were non-Iraqis.
Today, at least, he claimed that he reads three newspapers (he didn't elaborate, but I took from his assertion that at least one of them is the WEEKLY WORLD NEWS) and watched TV.
In other words, he's highly informed about topics of the day.
Well, sir, as a literary critic of twenty-nine years, and a former college debater, a philosophy major and as a social critic, in print, since 1973, I am going to take exception to the gentleman's self-characterization. Then, I am going to discuss his quaint grasp of the facts. But don't worry, this really isn't about Dave, per se. It's about misinformation.
Let's begin with Proposition 1: That Dave is "well-informed."
I will merely note that I have long have had great difficulty listening to the entire program. Why? Because Dave is the sort of fellow who not only doesn't know what he's talking about, generally, but who is not at all interested in finding out. Over and over again over the course of the past months, the twin subjects of Watergate and Vietnam have come up. Each time, he explains how he was too young to remember either, and then proceeds to bull ahead with whatever point he had decided upon.
This makes debate or reasoning difficult. You see, Dave is -- despite his protestations to the contrary -- an ideologue. He has opinions without facts. If he hasn't an opinion, he will immediately adopt one, and defend it -- mostly by cutting off anyone who disagrees, or else, by simply restating his new-found "opinion" at the end of the "dialog."
Until recently, this has merely been an annoyance. Liz spends her mornings keeping Dave at bay, and he attempts to win us all with standard deejay "charisma" stunts. In other words, he doesn't get flappable, always thanks you politely for whatever you had to say, and then proceeds to ignore whatever was in the way of his incuriousity.
Let's face it, kids: after a couple months of listening to Vietnam and Watergate, even a half-educated hippopotamus would hie himself from his mud-wallow and pick up a couple of books at the library to EDUCATE himself on the matter, rather than face the continuing embarrassment of discoursing unintelligibly on the subject.
Reading three newspapers (in this blighted age of mass media propaganda and awful news) and watching TeeVee doesn't cut it. The argument is too cut and dried to elaborate on further. But, worse, continuing to claim ignorance on a subject that continues to come up on a regular basis is fundamentally lazy and dishonest.
If a bartender, continually asked to mix Ramos Gin Fizzes protested months later that he didn't know how to make them, a disgruntled patron would undoubtedly either take her business elsewhere, else summarily insert the Mixology Guide where the sun don't shine, in hopes that the ignorant bartender might find it close to where he generally stores his head.
If you are going to be a talk-show host on an issues-oriented radio show, there is simply no excuse for not doing one's homework. In this day of the internet, there is no excuse for not at least taking a moment to read up on a range of articles, if only to keep an audience from concluding that one was a purblind nitwit.
A little understanding of the process of argumentation might come in handy too. "Does so!" "Does not!" is a fit technique only for schoolyard pre-fights and Monty Python routines. ("I've come for an argument.")
Because an argument IS a connected series of propositions. Etcetera. I commend the "argument" bit to Dave as a primer for understanding what to do and what NOT to do.
But perhaps Monty Python was before his time, as well.
No, what I truly objected to this morning was NOT his absurd proposition that only "one half of one percent" of the insurgents are Iraqis. Nor was I entirely outraged that he seems to think that if my son is killed in Iraq that's acceptable.
What I truly objected to was his witless statement that "the other side HAS to be heard" on this Iraq matter. That is, HIS opinion that what we're doing is right, noble, correct and not about Iraqis. Go team. Rah. Rah. Rah.
Because there are three other stations in town that give the "other side" of the issue virtually 24-hours a day, seven days a week. They have been screaming their vile Limbaugh filth without challenge, and without letup ever since the fat addict took up the Goebbels seat as Minister of Propaganda for the NeoCons in 1986.
And to have the audacity, the clueless temerity and the utterly ignorant egotism to claim that the SOLE liberal radio voice in the South Willamette Valley needs "fair and balanced" ideation only suggests that Dave has been fast asleep underneath an oak tree since 1986, and thinks the "Fairness Doctrine" of the 1932 communications law WASN'T murdered by the Reagan Administration.
We have returned to partisan news, as was true from the Antebellum until the early years of the Twentieth Century, but Dave seems to think that the Iraq War Cheerleaders are under-represented on Air America.
Look: the Hate Jockeys of Hate Radio, the Savages, the Hannitys, the O'Reillys don't ALLOW dissent. They don't even TAKE calls that disagree with their pre-fabricated bumper-sticker talking points.
The fact that we do sometimes distresses me. Why should we be "civil" in the face of such utter incivility?
But Dave seems to think that boys are under-represented in the girls' restroom, and so he stakes out his stall, oblivious to the gasps of disbelief.
His endless, mindless interrupting, his utter incuriousity, his incivility and refusal to actually back up any of his opinions with FACTS ("I don't see what the big deal about them looking at your credit information or your library books is. I don't have anything to hide.") or reasoning is a mere annoyance.
But to NOT snap that you're the only person at the funeral wearing high-water pants, white socks, penny loafers, and a "Budweiser" t-shirt is just incredible.
Mere glad-handing doesn't cover the astonishing faux pas. And chit-chatting about the weather does nothing to emend the wounding of common courtesy.
Does the other side "deserve" to be heard? Not on this station. Try any of the other zillion Right Wing stations that agree with you, Dave. Tolerance is only due the tolerant. And moderation does not require an audience to suffer fools gladly. Indeed, as that audience leeches away to the potty humor of Bob & Tom, so, sadly, will the advertising. And thus will the problem take care of itself.
And, alas the sole "progressive" voice of our local commercial airwaves will be silenced in the process. (Still, for three hours every morning, it's silenced anyway, sad to say. I've been quiet about this for months now, but I'm not going to be quiet any longer. I just won't diss him on his own microphone in his own studio. THAT is my concession to polity.)
Here: some facts.
Well, not actually. The Pentagon has been cooking the books since day one. If you don't die on the battlefield, you're not counted. If you die on the way to the hospital, you're not counted. If you die during treatment, you're not counted. You KLCC listeners might recall that I asked Congressman DeFazio what the actual numbers of dead and wounded were, at the 2003 City Club luncheon at the Eugene Celebration. He replied that the Administration was making it very difficult to get accurate numbers.
Latest "official" numbers?
(Dead only) US: 1742 UK: 89 Other: 99 Total: 1930 Average per day: 2.32 Nnumber of days: 831.
Official DoD wounded as of 6-10? 12855. (Remember, many are maimed for life).
That's an "official" US count of 14,597 casualties. And sometimes there are, as the Australian song goes, "worse things than dying."
(Let's just forget the 100,000 plus Iraqi dead. Dave did.)
Latest independent estimate of ACTUAL US casualties in this war? From http://tbrnews.org/Archives/a1682.htm
The Bush Butcher's Bill: Officially, 40 US Military Deaths in Iraq from 1 through 11 May, 2005 - Official Total of 1,791 US Dead to date (and rising)Now, admittedly, this information comes from a source that is precisely the opposite of Bush's Pro-War Huzzahs, but clearly the casualty counts are higher, and almost undoubtedly MUCH higher than the Pentagon is admitting, else why are the statistics so jealously guarded?
You don't cover up "successes." And you don't trumpet failures.
As to Dave's contention that "one half of one percent" of the insurgents are Iraqis, he unconsciously (or consciously) echoes Dick Cheney's assessment that "nearly all" of the suicide bombers are foreigners because "Iraqis aren't interested in suicide." (From a recent interview).
Given Cheney's assessment that the Iraqis would welcome us "with flowers" and cheering, I don't think I need to delve more deeply into the "Undisclosed location" Veep's deep insights into Iraqi psychology.
But here's the Iraq (puppet?) government's Intelligence Chief's assessment of the insurgency:
From the [London] Times Online ("The best of the Times and the Sunday Times in real time"):
January 04, 2005
Hmm. Sounds like they might actually be, in large part, Iraqis. But listen to this parallel report (which I think is by the same reporter via the TIMES's News Service):
via The Turkish Press:
BAGHDAD, Jan 3 (AFP) - Iraq's insurgency counts more than 200,000 active fighters and sympathisers, the country's national intelligence chief told AFP, in the bleakest assessment to date of the armed revolt waged by Sunni Muslims.So, I would say that a) the official US casualty count, of more than 14,500 acknowledged, is already a frightening number on the face of it, and, given that the sober actual number is upwards of 25,000 with over 6,000 dead included, the war is not merely "1700 killed" per Dave's assessment.
And b) the insurgents clearly contain a large Iraqi component, no matter WHAT Dave (and Cheney and Rumsfeld, seemingly) claim.
In other words, he's just been dead wrong, chivvying and harassing the natural constituency of the radio station.
And, frankly, that's just plain dumb.
Now, how long did it take for me to research this? Oh, about twenty minutes. It wasn't difficult to find some hard facts. I could have gotten more, but you "get" that educating one's self isn't that difficult -- if one is so inclined.
So, I am not angry anymore. But I will not accept the concept that "the other side" should be given equal time when we have not been afforded it over the last decade and more.
Don't cry "foul" when you haven't bothered to be fair.
Addendum 6-28: I woke up this morning with the analogy that I'd been grasping for through the 3400 words of this longish blog entry: In commercial radio you are dealing with demographics -- they are the engine that drives the genre. So I wonder if anyone in radio would feel that it were appropriate for, say, a country music deejay to suddenly play a rap record, "because the other side deserves to be heard." That's my essential point.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
WE ARE VALID
Added RSS/ATOM feed this afternoon, and after the requisite long time of noodling, the validator finally came back with VALIDATED!
REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED AT TORA BORAhart williams
or, TOLD YOU SO
First, recall that I predicted this would happen:
Tuesday, May 10, 2005Well, it's really starting to happen now. Afghanistan has been the site of increasing violence, firefights and battles. Last week, two of our Chinook helicopters were hit, one spy plane crashed. Do we actually know what's happening? I doubt it. Would they tell us if they did? I doubt it still further.
So, tonight, after the KOPT afternoon with Nancy, and with my esteemed and venerable friend Mac, I had to attend a dinner of mostly older, mostly conservative folks that I am affiliated with through my wife.
And one had returned from Afghanistan. He had been asked to speak about his year of deployment, and, to a Ma and Pa middle-American crowd, he gave his little speech.
I do not consider him a bad American soldier. He's probably a good American soldier (logistics, evidently). And that's why his speech was so horrifying.
His speech was the sort of laconic almost flag-waving speech you'd expect. We're doing important work there, helping them poor Afghans with their democracy.
But he did start out with a valid observation: that Afghanistan is a fiction. There are endless tribes, over a dozen languages, and differing cultures all hodge-podged into an irregular circle drawn on the maps and entitled "Afghanistan."
He pointed out his American astonishment at the incongruities of Afghan life: A fellow in a wooden ox-cart, drawn by a mule, filled with computers that he was taking into town to sell. A 12th Century villager walking along talking on a cel phone.
But this is Jose Ortega y Gasset's observation about Africans taking aspirin and driving motor-cars (as I quoted a couple days ago) brought up to date.
There were the usual rah-rah references to how great it was that we "civilized" Americans were bringing these primitive Afghan savages into the present time. And I had to wonder how many London dinners heard exactly the same speech, with slight variations of accent and specifics during the Nineteenth Century, when the British Empire occupied Afghanistan not once, but twice.
And the speaker told a story about the US troops celebrating the Fourth of July. An Afghan asked him what we were celebrating, and the speaker replied that we were celebrating our independence from Great Britain.
"Oh," said the Afghan, "We have two holidays for that!" And, quoth the speaker, the Afghan was his good buddy thereafter.
The speaker even noted that the British had gone into Afghanistan and "many" soldiers hadn't made it back.
He was referring to Lord Elfinstone's expedition to re-install the exiled King of Afghanistan, Shah Shujah, in the 1840s. He took an army of 16,500 British troops into Kabul, successfully installed the deposed and now puppet-King, and for a couple of years, the British had a fine old time, installing "civilization" among the Afghans.
Why they even installed tennis courts and cricket fields! (None of this was included in the speaker's speech -- I merely provide it as historical background for the interested reader.)
And when the Afghans struck, the British were utterly out of position, and, after surrendering, had to agree to leave Afghanistan.
The Afghans picked them off as they retreated, without supplies, through the harsh Afghan winter. Some soldiers didn't make it back. Actually, exactly 16,499 didn't make it back. Only one survived, a doctor, who told the tale of the worst British defeat of the Nineteenth Century.
So, what is horrifying here is NOT that he glossed over what should be a sobering tale and a warning about the hubris of the technologically superior (remember, the British were as superior to the Afghans and their ancient muskets as we are to their stinger missiles and their AK-47s). What is horrifying is that he had no awareness of what he was saying. It never occurred to him that now WE were the British, and, were we not VERY VERY careful, we might share their fate.
Nope. He was a typical American, untutored in history, unaware that there is any other way of thinking than the way that he thought.
He is not, I will emphasize here, a bad man, or a stupid man, or even a man for whom we should feel contempt. I thank him for his service. If it was wrong-headed, or misguided, it was not his fault, nor that of any of our soldiers. We should reserve our contempt for those whose policies put them in harm's way. That was the mistake of Vietnam: blaming the soldiers for the madness of the politicians. The soldiers did the most honorable job they could of carrying out a dishonorable policy, and no dishonor should have devolved upon them. But it did.
And let's not make that mistake again.
Don't buy, by the by, the phony propaganda that opposing our DUAL war means that we don't support the troops. I support the troops: I want them home as soon as possible, and I want those who ordered them into wrongful battle tried and hung in the village square, as a warning to other murderous, treasonous politicians who would spend the blood of patriotic soldiers merely to further their political and egotistical ambitions. That strikes me as the best way to support the troops -- rather than purchasing "made in China" magnetic yellow ribbons to affix to the back of one's SUV.
And ever note the irony that, as New York AND the Pentagon in Washington were both struck and only New York was remembered, we have invaded and occupied both Afghanistan and Iraq and only Iraq is remembered? An odd parallel. But again, as I predicted months ago, Afghanistan is heating up. What's ACTUALLY happening is anybody's guess. I can say, without fear of contradiction, that my government lies to me on a regular basis about what's happening in our endless foreign adventures, and I have to rely, like everyone else around the world, on Al Jazerra for the facts.
[A sad commentary on the only nation in the world with a First Amendment guaranteeing free speech and freedom of the press, don't you think?]
But the truly horrifying portion of the speech was delivered with a casual and uncomprehending innocence that only drove the whole morass into a stark contrast of simple American homilies and unquestioned faith versus Afghan culture.
He began with a story about how the Afghans claimed to have no word for "cowardice." When he had pressed the point in conversation, asking whether there had ever been a moment when someone had acted with less than utter bravery, the Afghan unflinchingly and casually replied that, yes, of course there had been. But the party in question had ended up dead -- which, I took, they DID have a word for. Thus, "cowardice" was a redundant and meaningless term.
If you've seen "The Wind and the Lion" with Sean Connery, Candice Bergen and Brian Keith, you will have an idea of what I'm about to talk about. If you haven't, then rent it. I am not in the business of movie criticism -- too many subliterates are already in that game.
Nope. Our Afghan veteran proceeded to tell a funny story about teaching the Afghans how to issue operational orders. And he recalled a story a Colonel had told him about an Afghan commander who had, after planning an assault on an unfriendly warlord's position, yelled down the hill: "We are coming down the hill at 6 AM tomorrow morning to stomp you into mud!"
The Colonel was appalled. He explained to the Afghan Commander that we kept operational information secret, so that we could attack by surprise. Why was the Afghan telling his enemy WHEN he was attacking?
The Afghan replied simply: "What? And let him think that I'm afraid of him?"
We are dealing with a pure warrior culture, kiddies. We have sent our K-Mart managers and our tire salesmen over to carry our bulky high-tech gear into battle against pure warriors, men who want to look you in the eye when they kill you, whether with an impossibly ancient musket, or even a scimitar. It is an ancient ethos of war, hearkening back to the days of the Trojan War and before, when it was mano a mano and slipping in fields muddied by an effusion of blood was a constant consideration in one's battle technique.
And they must think we're pussies, with our mirrored sunglasses, and our shameful sneak attacks. To them: we're craven cowards, attacking at night, or from the air, not showing our eyes, not allowing a "fair" fight.
And I could not help but think of the contempt that they must hold us in.
Sitting at my table was a young woman, an emigre from the former Soviet Union in 1990, who came from Latvia. Under her breath she whispered that "we heard this in Russia," meaning that this whole spiel was exactly the same thing that the Soviets were telling their people during their long, bloody defeat in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
But, of course, we're MUCH better than the British, or the Soviets. Why, our reservists have left their jobs managing Taco Bells to help bring these barbarian Afghans into the Twenty-First Century.
And I am sure that they are most appreciative of our efforts.
Still, don't be surprised to see Hamid Karzai's head on a pike within a year or so. And, next to it, one of our "warrior" commanders.
His decapitated head will be wearing a look of utter astonishment.
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