Friday, April 30, 2004

A Defeat? The U.S. Marines are pulling back from Fallujah. We fought there against Sunni insurgents. We're giving control to Saddam Hussein's former Baathist generals, despite our stated intentions of "regime change." The Baathist generals are also Sunni, and they previously fought against the U.S.

I'm wondering: Is this more of a defeat than the press is letting on? Did we just "lose" in Fallujah?

If this is a victory, then someone please explain.

- Marc

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Bush Explains Joint Appearance With Cheney: From the official transcript of Bush's comments today to reporters:

I think it was important for them to see our body language.

Insert ventriloquist joke here.

- Marc
Anti-War Numbers "Too Large" for Central Park: From MSNBC, via an alert Daily Kos diarist:

An anti-war group planning a massive demonstration at the start of the Republican National Convention has been denied a permit to use Central Park because the crowd would be too large.

Perhaps they should allow the protesters to preempt the RNC. Surely the turnout for the actual convention would be smaller; let them meet in a smoke-filled room somewhere or something.

- Marc
Well Done, Son: Bush had big news in his Rose Garden speech today. Remember his 9/11 testimony this morning? "I answered every question."

I did that on a multiple-choice test once. My Mom was so proud.

Update: After detailing some of the questions, Bush said: "I told you I wasn't going to get into details about what they asked me, and then I just fell into your trap."

Now there's a man with nothing to hide.

- Marc
Why I Love John Edwards: ABC's Noted Now reports:

EDWARDS VISITS IMUS, IN STUDIO: "I want you to notice that I'm here by myself. Unlike somebody else who is going to be talking later this morning."

Edwards also appears still to be in the veepstakes, according to Noted Now. Excellent.

- Marc
Marc, You Ignorant Slut

Soul-seek update:

Toward the end of this New Yorker Jon Lee Anderson account of the Najaf standoff, complete with his typically unparelleled access to major-league players, a CPA-sympathetic Shiite cleric by the name of Ayad Jamaluddin says:

“Iraqis are sick, you know, and what they need is a psychiatrist,” he said. “For thirty-five years, Saddam Hussein didn’t allow Iraqis to think. The Iraqi people are missing something: they are missing a soul.

As of Thursday, April 29, 2004, the only person that we know for sure actually has a soul is Vlad Putin.


Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Failure Is Victory: Today Bush said more attacks by Iraqi insurgents signal victory is close at hand. Trouble is, Bush's administration has been saying this for more than a year. And we still haven't won. Is it time for a strategy to win that doesn't involve losing?

A Brief History of the Bush "Failure Is Victory" Doctrine

This is the behavior of desperate men. Iraqi authorities know their days are numbered. And while the Iraqi regime is on the way out, it's important to know that it can still be brutal, particularly in the moments before it finally succumbs. This campaign could well grow more dangerous in the coming days and weeks as coalition forces close on Baghdad and the regime is faced with its certain death.
(Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, March 25, 2003)

I think these people are the last remnants of a dying cause.
(Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, on "dead-enders," June 18, 2003)

Every sign of progress in Iraq adds to the desperation of the terrorists and the remnants of Saddam's brutal regime.
(George W. Bush, Aug. 19, 2003)

This progress makes the remaining terrorists even more desperate and willing to lash out.
(George W. Bush, Aug. 23, 2003)

The more progress we make in Iraq, the more desperate the terrorists will become.
(George W. Bush, Aug. 26, 2003)

You have some remnants -- you have remnants of a regime that we removed, that was an oppressive regime, that is desperate -- more and more desperate every single day, because of the progress we are making on many fronts in Afghanistan.
(Press Secretary Scott McClellan, Sept. 17, 2003)

The more progress we make, the more desperate the holdouts of Saddam Hussein's regime and foreign terrorists become.
(Press Secretary Scott McClellan, Oct. 14, 2003)

The more progress we make on the ground, the more free the Iraqis become, the more electricity that's available, the more jobs are available, the more kids that are going to school, the more desperate these killers become.
(George W. Bush, Oct. 27, 2003)

The more progress we make, the more desperate they tend to become.
(Press Secretary Scott McClellan, Nov. 10, 2003)

As democracy takes hold in Iraq, the enemies of freedom will do all in their power to spread violence and fear.
(George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, Jan. 20, 2004)

The closer we come to passing sovereignty, the more likely it is that foreign fighters, disgruntled Baathists or friends of the Shia cleric will try to stop progress.
(George W. Bush, April 28, 2004)

That's not including the doctrine of Morrissey, circa 1994: "The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get." (Apologies to Spencer Ackerman for stealing his joke before he could use it.)

Updates: Added State of the Union address and remarks from Rumsfeld. Thanks to Ackerman for the tip.

- Marc

P.S. For more Bush remarks about desperation, see Billmon's similar item on the recycled talking points.
Mission to Mars: Today Bush declared that increased violence in Iraq is actually a sign that we are winning:

The closer we come to passing sovereignty, the more likely it is that foreign fighters, disgruntled Baathists or friends of the Shia cleric will try to stop progress.

Why Bill Clinton didn't realize this when we were in Somalia, I can't imagine.

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Failure is progress. Who needs a drink?

Well, wait a tick. First Bush must dodge a question about holding hands with Dick Cheney. I really can't make this up:

Q Yes, thank you, Mr. President. What does Vice President Cheney bring to your 9/11 testimony that you couldn't provide alone? And don't you owe history and the 9/11 families a transcript or a recording?

PRESIDENT BUSH: What he's asking about is a meeting I'm going to have tomorrow morning, talking with this 9/11 Commission about -- my attitude and the attitude of the Vice President about our country, our security, what happened on that particular date, what happened leading up to that. And I look forward to the discussion. I look forward to giving the commissioners a chance to question both of us. And it's a -- it will be an ample -- it will be a good opportunity for people to help write a report that hopefully will help future Presidents deal with terrorist threats to the country.

So... what does Vice President Cheney bring to the testimony again? Bush doesn't say. Can it really take this long to think of a decent lie?

Update: Meanwhile, new fighting erupts in Fallujah. More good news -- we must be about to win!

- Marc
Children by the Millions Sing for Alex Chilton: Music fans, The New Republic has an article for you. TNR's Spencer Ackerman assured me in an e-mail last week that his workplace "is a repository of encyclopedic knowledge about indie rock." Now I must believe him.

Alex Abramovich's choice article includes ingenious passages such as the one below, which sees Alex Chilton amid the commercial failure of his seminal 1970s pop group, Big Star:

By then a dozen hero-worshiping bands had claimed his indifference for their own, and turned it into a pose again--a stand-in for the indie-rock strategy of self-sabotage as preemptive strike (against, among other things, the very market forces Big Star had unsuccessfully courted). That Chilton himself had never chosen to promote aesthetics of beautiful failure was a central irony of his career. But perhaps because Chilton really was ambivalent, and always had been, his career wasn't really made up of choices.

I'm in love. What's that song?

- Marc
Republican Jujitsu Training Pays Off

An article in the NYT refers to the fact that some protesters may be nefariously planning to infiltrate the GOP convention in New York in an effort to disrupt the proceedings or something. The final quote is:

"Those sort of things would harm the city," Mr. Sheekey [president of the New York City Host Committee] said. "Those wouldn't be anti-R.N.C. protests. Those would be people protesting New York City."

How does one arrive at this ludicrous conclusion? And what does it even mean? Protesting New York in what way? The Republicans of New York? The physical boundaries? The rats? The abortionists? If one even raises an eyebrow, does that mean that the terrorists have already won?


P.S. By the way, if your only hope is to use Ed Koch to entice volunteers, the terrorists have already won.
Scooping Bob Somerby: No doubt the Daily Howler will soon cover Jodi Wilgoren's NYT piece today, but we at Whopundit want to take first crack.

At first blush this piece is ALMOST the sort of fawning coverage that makes up Elisabeth Bumiller's "White House Letters." Almost. Observe this troubling paragraph:

Mr. Kerry is comfortable being catered to. He has his moods and his myriad personal needs. A social loner, he is happy with an aide half his age.

As the Howler's Somerby would note, these are approved press corps scripts. "Kerry is comfortable being catered to" is a step away from "Kerry is a privileged SOB"; of course, Dear Leader Bush is always in command. "He has his moods" is a far cry from the Times' odes to Bush's affability. And "social loner"? Shouldn't this be sourced? What kind of "social loner" runs for President? Please. It's merely another subtle hint that Wilgoren thinks voters might "like" Bush more, his policies of global quagmire and domestic repression be damned.

We look forward to Somerby's treatment of these troubling press corps trivia.

Update: We called it! Somerby tackles Wilgoren today, and notices some devious copy editor's clever contribution:

And so you really have to laugh at Wilgoren's profile this morning. In the headline, we see the first spin-point—Nicholson is described as Kerry's "butler!"

- Marc
Man Bites Dog: Republicans raise taxes. The Moonie Times has the story from Virginia:

The Republican-controlled General Assembly yesterday passed the largest state tax increase in decades and voted to freeze the state's popular car-tax-relief program.

Don't they know that if they raise taxes, the terrorists have won?

- Marc

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Racial Pandering: I know everybody does it, but aren't most politicians less obvious than Bush was today?

First, Jess, thanks for leading this august group. He's Tejano. Nothing better to be in the presence of a Tejano.

Bush then goes on to praise this august Tejano's "perfect English." And that's long before he brings up No Child Left Behind and "soft bigotry."

- Marc
Why Let Facts Get in the Way of a Good Smear

Can we put this phony Kerry-medal controversy to bed already? It's way past its bedtime, and it's getting cranky.

To quote Marc: "Fucking Republicans."

Let Them Eat Greenhouse Gas: As we reported last week, President Bush posed as an environmentalist for Earth Day and Florida voters. David Brooks bemoaned the President's "inability" to effect change on global warming, even as we found quotes indicating the Bush believes more "sound science" is needed before we will know how to deal with the problem -- unwillingness, not "inability."

Now Bush's partner in the Iraq war, Tony Blair, speaks out:

Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday that the threat of climate change was the most pressing long term issue facing the world and reaffirmed Britain's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

"We have to act and we have to act now," said Blair, at the launch of a new organization that aims to speed up cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

But we thought the most pressing issue was Iraqi WMD?

- Marc

Nattering Nabob: Hey kids! Do you like getting talked down to by a smug faux-populist? Read David Brooks' column today. Observe:

[F]or the past 10 days, all of Washington has been kibitzing over the contents of Bob Woodward's latest opus, which largely concerns events that happened between 2001 and 2003. Did President Bush eye somebody else's dinner mint at a meeting? Was Colin Powell in the loop on Iraq? When did Bush ask the Pentagon to draw up war plans?

This is crazy. This is like pausing during the second day of Gettysburg to debate the wisdom of the Missouri Compromise. We're in the midst of the pivotal battle of the Iraq war and le tout Washington decides not to let itself get distracted by the ephemera of current events.

In other words, as Fritz observes here at Whopundit HQ, Brooksy's point is: "Shut yer pie hole!"

Now read on, as I stretch Brooks' elastic logic to the breaking point.

On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested breaking into Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel. On Nov. 7, 1972, Richard Nixon was re-elected with 60 percent of the vote.

On January 27, 1973, our noble Nixon negotiated a cease-fire, ending the U.S. role in the Vietnam War.
But the nattering nabobs of negativity would not leave our harried hero alone. In late fall 1973 -- when that Watergate funny business was in the distant past, and the nation was concerned with more pressing issues -- Nixon was forced to declare, "I am not a crook."

Why would people not just let him do his important work? It was a vital time in American history, as Congress worked that month to pass the Military Procurement Authorization bill and inexplicably overrode Dear Leader's War Powers Act.

Still, all of Washington was kibitzing over some break-in. Sort of like questioning the Missouri Compromise during Gettysburg. Sort of like changing horses in midstream.

Finally, on Aug. 8, 1974, Nixon resigned.

My point, Brooksy? Let me refer to the film The Lion King. Rafiki hits Simba across the head. "Ouch," Simba shouts. Rafiki, playfully mocking the Brooks viewpoint, says, "What does it matter? It's in the past!"

Simba: "Yeah. But it still hurts."

Bush's reprehensible secret war in Iraq -- specifically the $700 million he allegedly procured without congressional authorization -- still hurts the United States, as any violation of the Constitution would.

To Brooksy, we say: Shut yer pie hole. Unless you want to have a rap battle.

- Marc
It's Just Jokes, People

What a funny dude, that David Brooks is. From today's column:

So how is Washington responding during this pivotal time? Well, for about three weeks the political class was obsessed by Richard Clarke and the hearings of the 9/11 commission, and, therefore, events that occurred between 1992 and 2001. Najaf was exploding, and Condoleezza Rice had to spend the week preparing for testimony about what may or may not have taken place during the presidential transition.

He's right you know. Why won't people stop paying attention to how we got in this mess (sexed up facts, dodgy dossiers, misappropriated funds) and just focus on the mess itself? You nosy bastards.

And keep out of the energy policy planning, too, you meddlesome kids.


Monday, April 26, 2004

Shooter McGavin update: Just as the Happy Gilmore villain below really didn't have the best interests of Portland in mind, so President Bush deceived listeners in his speech at Rookery Bay. The AP reports:

At the same time President Bush is declaring his commitment to conservation, environmentalists say his administration is approving development proposals that endanger sensitive areas such as southwest Florida's Rookery Bay, where the president traveled last week to defend his record.

"I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast," Bush later confessed.

- Marc

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Sir Daniel: New York Times "public editor" Daniel Okrent's column today, "Paper of Record? No Way, No Reason, No Thanks," was strange for many reasons.

A conversation with my girlfriend exposed the strangest. "Do you remember that basketball player, Charles Barkley?" she mused.

The New York Times is the Charles Barkley of journalism. Except Charles Barkley was paid for being a great basketball player, not a great role model. We read the New York Times because we expect great journalism. If Okrent thinks it's not his paper's job to strive for this, then some sad day he and his colleagues may find their paper has no job at all.

- Marc
A Tale of Two Villains: "It's great to be here at the Rookery Bay Reserve. What a special place. I like to call it a little slice of heaven."
- President Bush, speaking Friday

"I tell you the real winner is the city of Portland. Every time I come here it gets harder to leave. I think you guys must put something in the water."
- Shooter McGavin, villain from Adam Sandler comedy Happy Gilmore

And both bad guys wear self-satisfied smirks. Uncanny!

- Marc
Bushworld War I: Every once in a while, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd knocks one out of the park. In today's installment, she lists the many insane contradictions between Bush's view of reality, "Bushworld," and the real thing. It's all must-read stuff, but here's my favorite one-liner:

In Bushworld, it's perfectly natural for the president and vice president to appear before the 9/11 commission like the Olsen twins.

As the Olsen twins said on the show that made them famous, "You got it, dude."

- Marc


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