Archive for the 'Skrull and Brones: The Best of.' Category
I did not know then but I do know now that the man was lying through his teeth — propping up a corporate myth on the backs of a supposedly great Commercial Holiday for the sake of the bottom line.
But then again, the man reeked like a used car salesman. He also sold us the line about “New Coke” being a clever marketing ploy, a throwaway product to resell Old Coke to the public.
When I was a child, my dad dressed up as Santa Clause. I knew it was my dad, but I went through the motions anyway. I begged him for a Cabbage Patch Kid. I whined and cojoled him, threatening to rip off his beard if he didn’t deliver my Precious Cabbage Patch Kid. The next year I did the same thing only this time for a Transformer.
Coca Cola has destroyed that image of my childhood. They claimed to own that childhood, taking it away from where it belongs: the makers of those Cabbage Patch Kids, the Transformers, and those Saturday Morning cartoon tv commercials that told me I wanted them. I bought into into the Coke myth. And then they sold me out.
A pox on their house!
May Pepsi Cola Eat them alive!
Imagine you stand in between an on-coming bullet and the president of the United States of America. If you stay right where you are, you are dead. If you move to avoid the bullet, the president is dead.
So what do you do? Naturally, you move out of the bullet’s way. Your life is simply more valuable to you than the president’s life is. No hard feelings nessasarily, even though you don’t particularly like the president. It’s not even an entirely selfish act… if it had been a family member or a friend, you would have stayed there and taken the bullet. In a political vein, it’s hard to decipher: you don’t really know what you would have done if it had been a president you thought better of.
Let’s say that the entire mental debate is available on camera footage, for endless dissemination of close ups and slow motion replay. Nothing spectacular here — the footage shows that you caught sight of the bullet, turned your head and looked at the president, grimmaced, and stepped out of the way. All in a split second.
The president’s supporters… will not accept you stepping aside to protect your life. After all, they would have jumped right to the bullet to protect the man they see as the “Best Hope for America”, and don’t understand anyone who doesn’t consider him the “Best Hope for America”. To them, you are more guilty than the assassin him/her/themself. So, death threats come rolling in. Their media partisans spew venom at you on talk radio and newspaper columns and whatnot. And since the president is dead and receiving a funeral goodwill honeymoon, where everyone’s gushing about his new found greatness, and a generic “good citizenship dictates that you save the life of our president” ethos enters the public domain… you have no defenders.
Recall the last episode of Seinfeld and the “Good Samaritan” Laws that inspired it. Seinfeld and company stood by videotaping and laughing as a fat man was mugged. And, as it turned out, they were legally required to have helped the man out –legally required to a certain level of morality.
Imagine in the bowels of the law that you are legally obligated to save the president’s life in such a circumstance as described above.
What’s that mean? I don’t know. My thought experiment has reached a dead end.
From Dennis Eichhorn’s “Real Stuff”, we have this story that opesn with a large panel showing Muhammad Ali raping Dennis. Frightened expression on Eichhorn’s face. He wakes up thinking, “What a weird dream.” Shoot to his office-job, where his coworkers are discussing their weird dreams. “You think that’s weird, last night I dreamt I was butt-fucked by Muhammad Ali!” The co-workers fall into awkward slence, and then say “Well, back to work.” Dennis is left mulling over the meaning of his dream. “Maybe I’m a latent homosexual?”
The next day we see Dennis Eichhorn at a party, talking with a black woman he doesn’t know. She snaps at him in so many words, “You white men have had it easy for so long… but you’re about to have your day. Trust me!” and leaves laughing.
Eichhorn is puzzled for a couple of panels, and then the punchline: “Oh! Now I get it!”
The second story comes from an early 1960s Archie comic. Mr. Weatherbee and Mrs. Grundy are walking around, watching various students give inspiring Kennedy-esque speeches before crowds of students, running for student president. Weatherbee can’t hide how impressed he is: “They seem to have matured overnight! My children — they’ve arrived!” We see Jughead lurking in the background, lackadasically crunching on an apple. He’s running too. Weatherbee shows nothing but scorn to Jughead, who’s not doing anything to win the campaign. We then see Weatherbee talking with candidate Archie on how impressed he is on everyone’s new-found maturity, and Archie jumps right into a stump speech “Yes. It is high-time my generation grabs the world from your generation’s faltering hands. I look forward to generations yet unborn who will look back and comment ‘THERE Was a Man!” Weatherbee smiles, leaving saying “I wish they could all be President!” Before noting Jughead again “Except him…” and asks Jughead, “Are you still running for president?” Jughead says something like “Golly gee, yes, sir.” “How do you expect to win if you don’t even give any speeches?” To wit, Jughead responds “I was just about to do that”, and runs into the intercom room and announces over the loudspeaker “Free Coffee and Donuts at the coffee shop! My Treat!” Next panel, crowds of students are running over Weatherbee to the coffee shop, and we flash to the next day with Weatherbee talking to Archie. “I can’t believe you all lost to Jughead.” Archie: “He was just too clever an opponent, and he was the only one with campaign funds.” Weatherbee: “He practically bought the vote. How’d he get all that money?” “From us…” And the punchline, “We paid him to write those campaign speeches.”
So, in summary, what happened in this election was a hybrid of those two stories. As it always seems to be, actually.
Perhaps Kerry has tended to remain a non-entity, with all eyes focused on Bush. Reportedly, Oregon Democratic GOTV headquarters all stay on the topic of Bush — the grassroots is more afire against Bush than they are on Kerry. (The true believing Kerry haters will come out in full force after a potential Kerry victory, trust me… you see it with the Vietnam service nonsense.)
At first squemish sight, the “Anybody But Bush” Syndrome that has inflicted Academic Leftists (that’s the Zinn — Chomsky — Parienti axis I’ve referenced before), the Nixon-era Republicans, and various Radio Shock Jocks, looks like it has the probilitiy of being Trickster’s Bet of Native American folk tales fame, or the Anti-Christ Syndrome… you beg for anything, and get the worst or you see a Saviour that turns out to be anything but.
Consider it this way: Imagine an election pitting George W Bush with Adolf Hitler. I would have to place myself firmly in the “Anybody But Hitler” camp. Granted, we can have arguments over who made the worst foreign policy blunder: Hitler invading Russia or various tactical mistakes made in the Bush Adventure into Iraq, but I still would have to say “At least Bush isn’t in the process of systematically exterminating 6 million Jews and 3 million assorted other people.”
The other side of the coin came from a Bill Maher question to Ralph Nader. “If Kerry were running against Hitler, would you support Kerry?” Answer: “Yes.” The lesson here being that for Nader, Bush isn’t quite bad enough to register guilt in his possible spoil role.
During the fight for the primaries, my attitude — looking at the Democratic field — was “Anybody But Lieberman for title of Anybody But Bush.” Lieberman offers nothing, the other woeful candidate — Sharpton — was not a serious contender to even register — and the other candidates tended to offer something — some more than others.
Kerry does have some things going for him. Stare at his career and you will be able to pick out the moments that he stood out, and you will be able to pick out the moments where he clearly made politically-calculated moves, and some standard policy decisions that make him the eleventh most liberal Senator in the Current Senate (not much higher, not much lower.)
It may be a bit of an indictment of the electoral system that Kerry didn’t seem to think that pointing out his moments would do him much good amongst the body politic (and sadly, he may be right.) When a newsmagazine asked Bob Shrum the question, in an interview, of why Kerry didn’t focus any attention on Kerry’s work in breaking up the BCCI, Bob Shrum answered that it’s too complicated, would take too much effort to expalin, and in the end voters would be left wondering “Why would you want to break up the BBC?” Perhaps this sheds light on why Shrum is 0 for 7 in presidential elections: I think it can be boiled down to “I broke up the terrorists’ favourite bank.” [To wit, Bush would have to wait a couple weeks to see that it registered in the polls, and think of a way to — like Bush and Tora Bora — suggest that that’s absurd.]
There might also be an indictment of the news media there. Instead of covering political strategies and why items aren’t being used or are being used in the campaign, perhaps this news magazine could have done a story about this moment in Kerry’s career? On their own initiative, you know…
Kerry used his investigation into Iran Contra during the primaries, though only when his back was against the wall and a light clicked in his head that he’s trying to woo Democratic votes here. Apparently, fondness for Reagan — who single-handedly defeated Communism dontchaknow, and a need to reach moderate Republicans and “Reagan Democrats” throws this out of use.
It is difficult to see how he could work his work settling the various issues concerning pows in Vietnam and normalizing relations with that nation. Likely the public considers it irrelevant. But, it’s good to namedrop his partner in that little crime, John McCain. (That’s why a group of Vietnam Veterans during the 2000 primary hated McCain and were willing to smear him for Bush, btw.)
Should a President Kerry provide inspired leadership in the “War on Terror”ism, it will be with a firm foundation that echos his investigative background in the Senate. That’s a good thing. Should a President Kerry provide uninspired leadership, it’ll still be better than what Bush has given us.
During Kerry’s initial post-nomination slide in the polls, Slate or Salon or some such Internet source ran a piece pondering whether the nomination of Kerry was the latest in a long line of Democratic candidates that the body politic just finds too boring, bland, or wooden to imagine having to listen to. Norman Mailer said that McGovern was great, but damned is he boring to listen to. Mondale was a terrible public speaker. And Dukakis and Gore round out the list.
This begs a question. If we end up with a matter of style over substance… um… Bush? “Too many OB-GYNs are unable to practice their LOVE“??? A march toward a “free-ance pe-ance” Iraq ???
In the end, I’m left staring at Kerry and asking: “No. Really. Why Not??”
What I know is that Judith Miller was nothing but a propaganda outlet. The games played on Internet Message Board, and in the end they tend to become stupid games. I phrased it as “Ahmad Chalabi gives Judith Miller a ‘story’. Judith Miller writes in for the Sunday edition of the New York Times. Dick Cheney quotes the story on Sunday’s ‘Meet the Press’.” The opposing side chimes in “It’s not as simple as that. That’s not how intelligence, even cooked intelligence, works.”
Months later, I’m sitting here thinking “You know what? Never mind the minituae of a Tom Clancy Novel, Sometimes it really is that simple.” [As for Ahmad Chalabi, I am given a William Safire editorial from the Wall Street Journal. The CIA is a sinister organization that threw the precious Chalabi down for the count.)
The details of the Sarin Gas story, I am assured from the “expert” who worked with chemical weapons, tells us that it marks some very sinister schtuff and hiding and the deception and the death and the whatnot. Begging the question: Who Do I believe? Him or Every Goddamned Expert on the Planet??? (For his part, William Safire chimes in with an editorial that marks David Kay as lumped in with the Liberals and the Ostrich-with-necks in the sand Foreign Gummints because “he can’t go back on his credibility.” I start to hate William Safire.)
When we get around the Dalfour Report, Dick Cheney informs us that the “real story” is that the Oil-For-Food Program had corruption in it. It’s all a dull roar, as far as I can make out. Fox News will hype it up. Dick Cheney did say that Fox News is his preferred news service: it delivers the news the way he wants it to be delivered.
Pre-War I toss up a sacarstic post responding to the Great French Boycott of 2002/03. Something along the lines of “Seeing as it’s the governments of ‘Old Europe’, the population of ‘Old Europe’, the population of ‘New Europe’, and not the governments of ‘New Europe’ that back the War in Iraq, the trick is to find a way to adminster the Boycott in such a way that it punishes the people of Old and New Europe, the governments of Old Europe, but not the governments of New Europe.” I believe I threw in some Kobe Teeth lyrics for good measure (SIC). The response puzzled me. Sarcastic ramblings on Dialectical Materialism and the Dictatorship of the Proleteriat. Tensions were running high, and it’s not being called a Communist per se that puzzled me… it just seemed like a non-sequitur. In hindsight, the recent poll showing Bush Supporters believing crap that nobody’s even telling them sheds light on the mystery. Bush Supporters believe the World was in support of the War in Iraq — for reasons that elude me. (I can sympathize with “who cares what the world thinks?” streak, but … why isn’t it in play there?)
More stuff later. Maybe.
Al Gore lives on my street,
Three-twenty-something, Lynwood Boulevard.
And, he doesn’t know me
but I voted for him. Yeah, I punched the card!
I don’t know how he lives with knowing,
That even though he won the popular vote
He still lives on my street, right down the street
One time, I had a bike
And I was a kid, and someone stole it from me
And still I’m mad about that,
Carrying anger, I just can’t let it be.
I need to be more forgiving, I know it,
‘Cause even with the popular vote,
Al Gore lives on my street, right down the street,
Life isn’t fair, don’t tell me, I know it
‘Cause even with the popular vote,
Al Gore lives on my street, right down the street from me [repeats]
President Gore lives on my street, right down the street from me.
— Robert Oral of “Monkey Bowl“
#1: Here’s Colin Powell in March of 2001, stating the current Conventional Wisdom of US Intelligence: “[Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq.”
#2: Here’s George W Bush’s 2002 State of the Union Speech, which will forever be known as the “Axis of Evil” speech. It is here that the W Administration formerly launched the Iraq War project.
Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens — leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections — then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.
Leave aside the “kicked out the inspectors” — common misrepresentation — when confronted, Clinton-Bush officials haved called the “misrepresentation”ness a “technicality”. And leave aside the sentence that marks the fallback rationale for the war … the decade old mass graves and the torture of the Hussein regime. Let’s even allow the meaning of the first sentence and the implied meaning to fall by the wayside.
The only sentence that matters here is: The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. Really, this is not too unreasonable.
#3: The Office of Special Plans. And, yes. Enter here Ahmad Chablabi as numero uno… on a two-front assault — one front with the gummint, the other front with the media. (Let’s pretend they’re not the same thing.)
#4: The 2003 State of the Union Speech. Here, things get interesting. At times he can pass the list off to the UN, in one infamous example he can pass it off to the British, and other times he’s holding the bag.
Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard, and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents also could kill untold thousands. He has not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them. U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them, despite Iraq’s recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them. From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents, and can be moved from place to place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon, and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.
The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary, he is deceiving. From intelligence sources, we know, for instance, that thousands of Iraqi security personnel are at work hiding documents and materials from the UN inspectors – sanitizing inspection sites, and monitoring the inspectors themselves. Iraqi officials accompany the inspectors in order to intimidate witnesses. Iraq is blocking U-2 surveillance flights requested by the United Nations. Iraqi intelligence officers are posing as the scientists inspectors are supposed to interview. Real scientists have been coached by Iraqi officials on what to say. And intelligence sources indicate that Saddam Hussein has ordered that scientists who cooperate with UN inspectors in disarming Iraq will be killed, along with their families.
Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks, to build and keep weapons of mass destruction – but why? The only possible explanation, the only possible use he could have for those weapons, is to dominate, intimidate, or attack. With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East, and create deadly havoc in the region. And this Congress and the American people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody, reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaida. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.
#5: Colin Powell’s UN Speech. Colin Powell sells his soul, and in retrospect we have to say that that’s what happened. Perhaps this is a case of office politics at work: if it weren’t for him, the presentation would come out even further from the reality on the ground. This fact check looks rather conservative these days.
#6: Now, we get to the anticlimax as we skiddadle to the 2004 State of the Union Speech.
Already the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations. Had we failed to act, the dictator’s weapons of mass destruction programs would continue to this day.
Yes, I remember rolling on the floor laughing when he actually used the phrase “DOZENS OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION RELATED PROGRAM ACTIVITIES.”
(An important aside is this phrase: Had we failed to act, Security Council resolutions on Iraq would have been revealed as empty threats. We had weapons inspectors on the ground, because we acted, and then … the US told them to go because they weren’t uncovering anything. If some things had broken down, we’d have ended up at the Kerry position — one I disagree with, but would be more understandable.) The rest on Iraq involves the, you know, cutting out tongues and such.
#7: Things really deflate with W’s Convention speech.
Everything he had to say about the central purpose of the war:
In Saddam Hussein, we saw a threat. Members of both political parties, including my opponent and his running mate, saw the threat, and voted to authorize the use of force. We went to the United Nations Security Council, which passed a unanimous resolution demanding the dictator disarm, or face serious consequences. Leaders in the Middle East urged him to comply. After more than a decade of diplomacy, we gave Saddam Hussein another chance, a final chance, to meet his responsibilities to the civilized world. He again refused, and I faced the kind of decision that comes only to the Oval Office a decision no president would ask for, but must be prepared to make. Do I forget the lessons of Sept. 11th and take the word of a madman, or do I take action to defend our country? Faced with that choice, I will defend America every time.
The rest I deem meaningless until that day comes our policy toward Uzbekistan changes. Otherwise: a lie, more dishonest than the discrepency in the official version of events with the reality of what happened when the inspection program broke down in 1998. I have a haunting feeling that the official lie will become standard history. Like it or not, the dictator of Iraq, the brutal tyrant, complied. There were inspectors on the ground. Which brings us to the quiet and desperate crescendo, the haunting question there is no answer to: what would have happened if, at the end of the day, Hans Blix had delivered the same report that David Kay eventually ended up delivering? It’s an eerie question, and one where the US would have held steadforth to discredit the Blix/Kay Report and other UN Members would have thought “Well then. Let’s lift the sanctions! Jolly good!” This… is not… acceptable… is it?
Never mind, though. My point? My agnosticity over the central question of which the war was based on came from the discreprency between points #1 and #2 and points #4 and #5, with a full awareness of the meaning of points #3. The cognitive dissonance that I felt watching the bash of hot air amongst a bipartisan grouping of politicos and talking head figures moving along with the conventional wisdom… while, added pieces that were even then obviously false were added to the mix. Today, we have a contigency of Americans who don’t believe David Kay, and believe everything in Points #4 and #5 (and the hot air muddled water that was brought up between those points by the Dick Cheneys [ “mushroom cloud” ] and — even more hilariously the Oliver Norths of the world) has been moved to Syria: cognitive dissonance to the max.
In the realm of the Democratic contenders in the primary, the only ones who bothered questioning the conventional wisdom were, with all due respect to the former and less respect to the latter, two candidates considered on the fringe: David Kucinich and Al Sharpton. The only candidate who made a respectable showing for himself when questioned on the matter was Howard Dean, who shrugged and said “while some Clinton people advised me on the matters.” In the realm of the Republican party — we have backbenchers such as Ron Paul. A cynic would say that the fact that the frontbencher Doug Bereuter made his mea culpa on the war after retiring shows the facade of Democracy, and the lack of power supposed powerful figures actually have…
Striking back after weeks of silence, President Nixon dismissed with calculated contempt today Senator George McGovern’s charge that the administration was the most corrupt and deceitful in history.
Mr. Nixon, who appeared before a news conference in his Oval Office this morning, addressed the corruption issue in measured and at times almost inaudible tones that seemed deliberately designed to contrast with what he suggested was the shrill and irrespsonsible campaign tactics of his opponent.
“I think the responsible members of the Democratic party will be turned off by this kind of campaigning.” he said, “and I would suggest that responsible members of the press, following the single standard to which they are deeply devoted, will also be turned off by it.”
The news conference was Mr. Nixon’s first since Aug. 19, when he met newsmen in California. Whether by coincidence or by design, both news conferences have come on days when Mr. McGovern, the Democratic Presidential nominee, has been making major campaign statements, first on taxes and welfare, and today, on foreign policy.
Ron Paul, the Libertarian in Congress — albeit with the “R” Republican after his name — apparently gave a floor speech at the time of Iraqi War Resolution about the “myth” that “war makes good politics” — saying that in the long-term wars tend to destroy candidates and politicians, so if you’re voting cynically for that reason — think long and hard.
The classic example is probably Woodrow Wilson. In his case, he brought US approval into the war mostly through a sheer propaganda manipulation assualt and crushing of dissent, and not surprisingly when the costs of war became apparent to the temporily mollified public — he was given the boot. The Party didn’t bother re-nominating him. For my purposes here, saying that yes — Americans have “changed horses in mid-stream”: While it’s true that you can’t say Americans opted to “change horses” in the middle of the World War — Americans certainly rejected his post-war Reconstruction efforts on where he wanted to put America in the world.
Harry Truman was the last president not bound by the twenty-second Amendment. And, out of loyalty — particularly because of his upset victory four years earlier, he would have won the Democratic nomination. But, he knew he would be cooked against Eisenhower, so he didn’t run. Public opinion on the Korean War was souring greatly. Eisenhower went on to suspend hostilities in Korea, which matched public opinion well enough.
Lyndon Johnson saw the writing on the wall when Eugene McCarthy won some early primaries. The Vietnam War made him a public disgrace. Thus, he dropped out of the race — Bobby Kennedy followed by Hubert Humphrey filled his place. And Richard Nixon was elected — as a convuluted dove-hawk hybrid.
Besides which, if you want to put “The War on Terror” as analogious with “The Cold War”: In addition to Truman and Johnson, we changed horses mid-stream when we booted Nixon (though not at the ballot box), Ford, and Carter.
So, we change horses in mid-stream all the time. I’d like to hope that the horse we’re likely to jump onto mid-stream in 2004 is going in a different direction than the horse we’re on … I guess we shall see.