Tuesday, December 20, 2005
As some may have noticed, I have been laying off George W. Bush of late. My attention has been diverted by more pleasant circumstances such as the World Champion White Sox and the First Place Bears. These indulgences are merely guilty pleasures and should never be confused with any softening of my disdain for the policies set forth by the current presidential administration. The president’s recent address that supposedly outlined his “Victory Plan for Iraq” (but was really pointless drivel more akin to yet another round of cheerleading) serves as an excellent summary of Mr. Bush’s failed intellect and cynical deceit. I’ll present examples to outline how this hollow fart of a man has obfuscated, lied and dissembled about the Iraq war to the detriment of our soldiers, our treasury and our diplomatic reputation around the world, but realize that this is only a sampling and hardly an exhaustive critique of Bush’s obtuse rationale for war.
"This [Iraqi] election will not mean the end of violence. But it is the beginning of something new: constitutional democracy at the heart of the Middle East. And this vote --6,000 miles away, in a vital region of the world--means that America has an ally of growing strength in the fight against terror."
This represents failed reasoning. I have no doubt Bush believes this, but then Bush believes a lot of things that are either unknowable, or just plain wrong. How can he possibly know that an Iraqi democracy will be our ally? The Shi’ite majority could align with Iran to form an anti-American theocracy, and such a sectarian government could act to destabilize Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and other oil producing nations whose anti-American majorities are ruled by heavy-handed lackeys of the Western corporatocracy. Bush’s rhetoric may work among certain voters at home, but just hoping doesn’t make it so. This is a dangerous assumption, not unlike the failed reasoning that the US soldiers would be greeted as liberators in 2003, or that Iraqi oil money would pay for the re-construction of Iraq after the war, or that WMD stockpiles would be found, or that Iraq was complicit in 9-11... What’s one more canard for old times’ sake?
The war “has caused sorrow for our whole Nation--and it has led some to ask if we are creating more problems than we are solving. That is an important question, and the answer depends on your view of the war on terror. If you think the terrorists would become peaceful if only America would stop provoking them, then it might make sense to leave them alone."
This represents a profoundly disingenuous statement. Who ever said al Qaeda would “become peaceful”? Answer: nobody. Instead, the question is whether the Iraq occupation has a) diverted our attention from stopping al Qaeda and global terrorism and b) helped bin Laden and Zarqawi to recruit new soldiers from the millions of disillusioned moderate Muslims worldwide. Such propaganda is evidence that he expects the American people to scrub their brains of all rationality. If Bush wants to really decrease terrorism and increase safety, he must stop making shit up and start leveling with himself and the American people about the causes for the increase in Muslim terrorism over the last four decades, and he must realize that disillusionment of the disenfranchised has some pattern that can be directly linked back to the actions of their oppressors.
"My conviction comes down to this: We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them. And we will defeat the terrorists by capturing and killing them abroad, removing their safe havens, and strengthening new allies like Iraq and Afghanistan in the fight we share…America, our Coalition, and Iraqi leaders are working toward the same goal--a democratic Iraq that can defend itself--that will never again be a safe haven for terrorists--and that will serve as a model of freedom for the Middle East."
There is so much wrong with these three sentences, that they could be used as sole evidence for Mr. Bush’s commission to a state hospital for the criminally insane, and also for his excommunication from almost any Christian congregation (except, of course, Pat Robertson’s and Jerry Falwell’s).
I’ll take the second two sentences first: Iraq was not a “safe haven” for terrorists, and certainly not al Qaeda—at least not until we showed up to destabilize the region. Any number of reports including the 9-11 Commission, the Deulfer Report and the UN has stated that Iraq did not serve as a training area or “safe haven” for al Qaeda and Iraq was not involved in any aggression toward the US. More al Qaeda operatives resided in Jeb Bush’s Florida than in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. For Bush to continue this connection is documentary proof that his brain is broke.
His first statement should be even more disturbing to any god-fearing Christian or really any US citizen who feels that our president should adopt some semblance of a moral code. To repeat what Bush stated, "My conviction comes down to this: We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them. And we will defeat the terrorists by capturing and killing them abroad…” Now, I may not hold Jesus in the deified regard that George W. Bush and the Christian Right do, but I do have a passing relationship with His teachings, and I am pretty sure this statement is inconsistent with the Gospels. In fact, Bush’s “conviction” is in complete contradiction to anything that Jesus may have directed his disciples to do; the early Church had a name for people such as Bush: they called them the Anti-Christ, but I won’t go there today. A more modern understanding of the psychology of violent acts (and I’m sure my more erudite brother who holds a doctorate in psychology could provide a better discussion) submits that violence tends to beget violence, respect tends to beget respect, and killing others does not serve to further a positive agenda.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Luke 6:31, for you home-gamers.*) Not that Jesus invented this concept, but Bush has said that His version is sufficient, and I won’t pick nits. Bush has called Jesus the philosopher who has had the greatest influence on his life, yet Bush doesn’t seem to comprehend the very kernel of Christian teaching. Christ’s succinct message notwithstanding, I’m afraid the memo hasn’t reached Mr. Bush that a significant minority of 1.1 billion Muslims would like to “do unto us” that which Bush and US policy has been doing unto them for the last few decades.
"At this time last year, there were only a handful of Iraqi army and police battalions ready for combat. Now, there are more than 125 Iraqi combat battalions fighting the enemy--more than 50 are taking the lead--and we have transferred more than a dozen military bases to Iraqi control."
At this time last year, the administration had been predicting an imminent end to the violence with the rise of the “purple finger”, but a look at the stats shows that the violence has only increased and shifted toward softer civilian targets outside the even more fortified “Green Zone.” At this time last year, the insurgency was in its “last throes”, according to Dick Cheney. To believe the Bush administration’s cheerleading now would only be a sign of feeble-mindedness on the part of the listener.
"It is also important for every American to understand the consequences of pulling out of Iraq before our work is done....We would hand Iraq over to enemies who have pledged to attack us....To retreat before victory would be an act of recklessness and dishonor--and I will not allow it."
As David Corn of the The Nation magazine has put it, “If the United States pulled out everything tomorrow, that would not ‘hand Iraq over’ to al Qaeda and other jihadists (who may number only 1000 or so). The Iranian-backed Shiites (and their militias) would hardly roll over. And whatever accommodation reached between the Sunni insurgents and the foreign fighters would probably go poof. Whether withdrawal is the right policy or not, it is a scare tactic to depict disengagement as leading inexorably to an Iraq run by al Qaeda.”
"We remember the words of the Christmas carol, written during the Civil War: 'God is not dead, nor (does) He sleep; the Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail, with peace on Earth, goodwill to men.”
Again, I’ll quote David Corn: “Justifiably or not, many folks around the world see the war in Iraq as a war on Islam. Given this sad reality, is it wise to be quoting a Christmas carol to defend and promote the war?” Mr. Bush continues to live in the fantasy world that his interpretation of God’s intent will hold some influence around the world. I realize that many Americans’ beliefs may be in lock-step with Bush’s, but to allude to our violent actions as Right and prescribed by God is to exhibit profound insensitivity toward the religious beliefs of perhaps the only people in the world whose religious beliefs are more irrational and heartfelt than Bush’s. Please, tell Mr. Bush to stop this; he’s not helping.
In conclusion, Bush’s series of speeches hardly outlined any “Plan for Victory,” instead they contained the same worn out cheerleading that has served as a military plan for the past three years. To continue to make predictions about a war, when all his previous predictions have been shown to be completely wrong, seems like a sign of insanity to me. Will they be true this time? Mr. Bush, even your supporters have stopped defending you, so please stop talking.
My input represents only a quick perusal of a few pertinent statements that caught my attention. Bush’s rhetoric is usually so full of inaccuracies that most of his outright lies are lost in the sheer volume of bullshit, and I do not pretend to even scratch the surface. Paying close attention to the president’s activities is dangerous to one’s positive outlook, and I admit that for my own mental health, I must divert myself from our continued international nightmare known as George W. Bush.
(And, ummm, oh yeah… Go Bears.)
*Personally, I prefer the Confucian version, "Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you" (Analects 15:23). While it’s slightly different than the newer Christian version, this statement more accurately portrays proper ethical behavior in complex social situations. Regardless of one’s flavor of social justice, stick with it and live it.
Friday, December 16, 2005
The top ten best quotes of the year (OK, I couldn't edit it down past 15).
14) "You are the best governor ever." --Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, writing to Texas Gov. George Bush in 1997 on his 51st birthday, adding that she found him "cool" and that he and his wife, Laura, were "the greatest" and telling him: "Keep up the great work.
13) "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." --George W. Bush,
12) "I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." --Bill Bennett, former Education Secretary and author of "The Book of Virtues," Sept. 28, 2005 (Source)
11) "I am not going to give you a number for it because it's not my business to do intelligent work." --Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, asked to estimate the number of Iraqi insurgents while testifying before Congress, Feb. 16, 2005 (Source) (Read more Rumsfeldisms)
10) "Get some devastation in the back." --Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, to a staff photographer as he posed for a photo op while visiting tsunami-ravaged Sri Lanka, Jan. 6, 2005 (Source)
9) "I was trying to escape. Obviously, it didn't work." --President Bush, after being thwarted by locked doors when he tried to exit a news conference in Beijing in the face of hostile questioning from reporters, Nov. 20, 2005 (Source) (Read more about Bush's door gaffe)
8) "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." --Vice President Dick Cheney, on the Iraq insurgency, June 20, 2005 (Source) (Read more stupid Cheney quotes)
7) "I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office. She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli." --Sen. Bill Frist, diagnosing Terri Schiavo's condition during a speech on the Senate floor, March 17, 2005 (Source)
6) "You work three jobs? … Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." --President Bush, to a divorced mother of three in Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005 (Source) (Listen to audio clip)
5) "Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well." --FEMA Director Michael Brown, Sept. 1, 2005 (Source)
4) "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." --President Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown, while touring hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, Sept. 2, 2005 (Source) (Listen to audio clip)
3) "What didn't go right?" --President Bush, as quoted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, after she urged him to fire FEMA Director Michael Brown "because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right" in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, Sept. 6, 2005 (Source)
2) "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?" --House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX), to three young hurricane evacuees from New Orleans at the Astrodome in Houston, Sept. 9, 2005 (Source)
1) "What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle) – this is working very well for them." --Former First Lady Barbara Bush, on the hurricane evacuees at the Astrodome in Houston, Sept. 5, 2005 (Source)