Saturday, May 08, 2004

The Two Faces of Donald Rumsfeld:

These events occurred on my watch. As secretary of defense, I am accountable for them and I take full responsibility. - Rumsfeld's statements before the Senate Armed Services Committee

The key question for me is the one you posed, and that is whether or not I can be effective. - the same testimony, on what it would take for Rumsfeld to resign

Honor and integrity? Taking responsiblity for something means accepting the consequences. No one is questioning whether or not Rumsfeld has the ability and know-how to be "effective" -- he has been particularly effective in fomenting a disastrous war. We are questioning whether or not he was responsible for atrocities. He says he was. If he's serious, he will step down. Otherwise, he's not really taking "full responsibility" at all. As Republicans will recall, even Bill Clinton apologized after he got caught.

- Marc
A Crisis of Dunces: I've been trying to stop howling every time David Brooks makes a reactionary statement in the guise of a moderate -- after all, who is David Brooks and why would 99 percent of Americans care? But when he types sentences like this, that's tough:

We still face a world of threats, but we're much less confident about our own power.

Who is the "we" in this sentence, oh wise one? Perhaps it's the editorial "we." The royal "we"? In any case, as Bush has fired no high-ranking cabinet members over 9/11, WMD or the latest atrocities, it doesn't seem the man is suffering any "crisis of confidence." Perhaps we lowly peons who question David Brooks columns are upset about the direction of the war, but we're still confident about what an America free of neocon hegemonists can do.

I guess the only people who have lost confidence are the David Brooks of the world, the ones who believed President Bush in one outlandish claim after another, and only now are asking, "Wait, what was that?"

Never fear: Brooks restores his own confidence, as usual, by the end of this phony column. Let's see what Dr. Brooksy prescribes: "To shore up public confidence, the U.S. has to make it clear that it is considering fresh approaches."

Note that Brooks doesn't necessarily want the U.S. to actually try fresh approaches. Merely to convince onlookers that it is considering them.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Brooksy, when is our rap battle? Or are you really just another of those Agent Smiths from the Matrix? I know kung fu.

- Marc

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

The juxtaposition is not kind

This has not yet reached a level where it's a sweeping indictment, but I'm sure witnessing a story about mistreated Iraqi prisoners running concurrently with a story about the medical treatment for an American prisoner is not going to win us many hearts and minds in Iraq.

Iraqi Editor Mad as Hell: Via, the AP reports that at least one U.S.-funded Howard Beale is tired of being our Pravda (he thought the job listing was for "Prada"):

The head of a US-funded Iraqi newspaper quit and said yesterday he was taking almost his entire staff with him because of American interference in the publication.

In a front-page editorial of the Al-Sabah newspaper, editor-in-chief Ismail Zayer said he and his staff were "celebrating the end of a nightmare we have suffered from for months. . . . We want independence. They [the Americans] refuse."

What was Bush saying the other day about free societies? Apparently we're just not willing to help Iraq become one, unless they parrot everything we want them to say. On second thought, that sounds like the U.S. media...

- Marc
Attack of George Will: Conservative columnist George Will has some choice words for the Bush administration:

Being steadfast in defense of carefully considered convictions is a virtue. Being blankly incapable of distinguishing cherished hopes from disappointing facts, or of reassessing comforting doctrines in face of contrary evidence, is a crippling political vice.

They're hittin' ya from all sides now, aren't they, Dubya?

- Marc

Monday, May 03, 2004

On De-De-Baathification:

From today's NYT:

Still, many Iraqis, Shiites mainly, see no ground for forgiveness toward members of Mr. Hussein's regime so soon after the fall of a system that sent hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to miserable deaths.

One of the most bitter reactions came from Ahmad Chalabi, a secular Shiite and the most prominent of the Iraqi exiles who returned after Mr. Hussein's fall, who was appointed by Mr. Bremer in December to oversee de-Baathification.

Mr. Chalabi drew an analogy with postwar Germany. "This is like allowing Nazis into the German government immediately after World War II," Mr. Chalabi said in a Reuters report last week after Mr. Bremer made a national address in which he told Iraqis about the changes regarding the teachers and army officers.

Is it fair to organize one's opinions about Iraq in direct opposition to Ahmed Chalabi? Is it OK to simply assume that he is always up to no-good? I don't know, but I don't really know of when he was not up to no-good.

Love Is Like a Bottle of Gin: Sorry for the paucity of updates this weekend. My girlfriend and I just moved to New York City. In the mean time, please peruse my review of the Magnetic Fields' latest on

Whether Merritt mimics greats like Cole Porter and Johnny Cash or pours his soul forth more directly, the result is the same: Catchy, hyper-melodic tunes accompanying sharp-as-a-tack lyrics about heartbreak and lovesickness.

- Marc

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