Thursday, January 11, 2007


So Bush faced the nation last night. But instead of surging leadership I witnessed a rather beaten-down looking man trying to peddle off yet another serving of warmed-over meatloaf as filet mignon. While on the one hand it was refreshing to see the Chief Executive avoiding his usual rootin'-tootin' cowboy routine, devoid of the standard "Bring em on" bravado, I can't say it was anything but disconcerting to watch that pale & haggard wretch trying once again to fire up the war machine.

And, as always, the choice of words, the rhetorical style, the particular invocations tell us as much as anything else what it's all about. To wit:
"Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me."
It should be no surprise that a man who never met a buck he couldn't pass would embrace the use of the passive voice so willingly. The "moderates" in the mainstream media will, of course, embrace Bush's supposed contrition and accountability, but I ain't seeing it, and I ain't buying. He didn't say, "I made mistakes for which I take responsibility." No.

Instead, he pretty much said that "mistakes occurred" -- as with storms or floods or other natural phenomena that fall from the heavens -- for which he, as C-in-C, must bear ultimate responsibility. As with any boss who publicly takes credit or blame, this is something of a welcome improvement, but it's not the sort of accountabilty I want to see. Especially when one considers that it was Bush who drove this runaway wagon for the last four years, and the responsibility is truly his.
"The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success."
As always, a wonderful sounding statement of confidence in the mission. Until we stop to ask: "What mission?" "What success?" "What goal?" I can't even posit an answer, because I don't know. And if Georgie knows, he's not sharing it with us. A new strategy, backed by expenditures in dollars and young American lives. But no indication of what it is those expenditures are intended to bring about.

Not to seem to veer into snark, I also have to point out that in a speech of fewer than 20 minutes, Bush used the word "security" six times, "terror" or "terrorists" nine times, and in a flourish right in the middle of the speech, "Al Qaeda" a whopping eleven times. The latter -- as out of place in this speech as it was in the we're-off-to-war rhetoric regarding a nation with no known pre-2002 ties -- came mostly in one burst:
"We will continue to pursue al Qaeda and foreign fighters. Al Qaeda is still active in Iraq. Its home base is Anbar Province. Al Qaeda has helped make Anbar the most violent area of Iraq outside the capital. A captured al Qaeda document describes the terrorists' plan to infiltrate and seize control of the province. This would bring al Qaeda closer to its goals of taking down Iraq's democracy, building a radical Islamic empire, and launching new attacks on the United States at home and abroad. Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing leaders, and they are protecting the local population. Recently, local tribal leaders have begun to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda."
Our leader seems to be shifting the gears of the Fear Machine, strangely dormant the past couple months, from idle into drive. And to where did the President steer this gas-guzzler? Literally, to Iran and Syria. Perhaps 10-15 seconds later:
"Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."
Ahhhh, now it all begins to make some sense. Perhaps the real reason, along with the following, why we're increasing troop strength, and why there's no reason to believe that Bush, Cheney, or their GOP buddies in Congress have the slightest intention of leaving the quagmire:
"The Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs."
In an example of Bush uncharacteristically burying a kernel of truth within the lies, I believe we can take this statement at face value: Iraqi money spent to create jobs to reconstruct the nation we've destroyed. And from what nations (hint: The US & Saudi Arabia) do you think The Contractors for these massive projects will come?

Contracts, and the potential rebuilding of destroyed portions of Iran & Syria. I think we have the real goals right there. And all he asks for, in order to bring about this "goal," are 21,000 young Americans' lives.

* * *

So, what can be done? I remain far more hopeful than usual that Congress -- because the voters guarantee their jobs -- will step in and oppose the latest plan. Republicans, such as Sam Brownback and Norm Coleman actually stated their opposition before the speech, and the Democrats are drawing a far-firmer line in the sand than we're accustomed to. I found Senator Durbin's "It's time for the Iraqis to clean up their own mess" rhetoric a tad disasteful -- as if the Iraqis are responsible for the mess their nation is in -- but I really liked the aggressive tone he struck in opposition to Bush's plan.

And to hear Barack Obama last night on television was to hear a normally circumspect politician speak openly about the possibility of cutting off future appropriations if Bush goes ahead with his new strategy. Maybe, just maybe, the Democrats and a few Republicans (more pragmatic than brave, but I'll take it) will move beyond the non-binding resolution that's sure to pass in the coming weeks. Maybe they'll actually do something to start the process of stopping the war machine from lurching on, devouring American lives as it continues into Syria & Iran, killing, maiming, and destroying as it goes.

Maybe we can stop the madness of a war that grows increasingly insane as it progresses. I'm slightly more optimistic than I've been in quite some time. Even if the President refuses to hear the voices of the Americans who spoke to him two months ago, perhaps the proxies we sent to Washington listened.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done Mike.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

Good job.

It will be interesting to see if Congress will actually cut funding. You know what the reaction will be from Faux and the Repubs.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Comandante Agí said...

Yep. This is the Democrats' big test. Will they cut funding and end this mad door-to-door salesman's death extravaganza? We will stay tuned...

11:38 AM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

Twelfth verse, same as the first!

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Thanks Mort, Ed.

You know what the reaction will be from Faux and the Repubs.

I actually turned on Fox for a few minutes last night (after feeling very good watching the unlikely trio of Keith, Chris & Joe rip Bush to shreds). I was hoping to catch one of Fox's semi-human anchors, to hear how they were post-morteming.

But all they had was jackass Hannity interviewing Giuliani. After watching them stroke each other for about 30 seconds, I gagged, nearly choked on my own vomit, and returned to MSNBC.

Will they cut funding and end this mad door-to-door salesman's death extravaganza?

If they don't cut funding, the Death Extravaganza's heading to Iran and/or Syria.

Twelfth verse, same as the first!

Sounds like Townshend channeling Willy Shakes. Thank god one never had to witness Bush, and the other probably didn't see the speech transcripts as he trolled for kiddie porn.

I know that was a low blow, but I'm pretty confident Pete's not visiting the Nabe anytime soon.

(Don't tell him I said that.)

12:08 PM  
Anonymous waitingforthealiens said...

For all the lip service I have given in support of the endangered “informed opinion,” I couldn’t bring myself to listen to the address. I knew I would just be yelling the invective that I normally reserve for particularly aggressive and/or inconsiderate Houston drivers—you fucking idiot. In fact, I got to yell it at the radio this morning.

Did he even acknowledge the Iraq Study Group recommendations?

This is just more of the same. Why would anybody think 20,000 more soldiers is going to deliver the critical mass necessary to secure the situation enough for the politics to start working? It might have worked four years ago, but politics, like nature abhors a vacuum. The players have had time to choose up sides. I anticipate a rumble.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

I know that was a low blow, but I'm pretty confident Pete's not visiting the Nabe anytime soon.

You never know. A couple weeks ago, I trashed a song by bluesman J.J. Cale in the Friday Random Ten, and one of his band members posted a reply in the comments. These internet tubes go a long way.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I saw that. I was pretty shocked & followed some of those links he left.

Seemed like a guy grasping for past glory a bit, but he had an impressive resume.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Did he even acknowledge the Iraq Study Group recommendations?

Despite making no attempt whatsoever to follow its suggestions, he did mention it, crediting Baker & Hamilton by name.

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OT - Good news! The dems are really on top of it. Stem cell research money passed appropriations. Woo hoo! That Pelosi is a tiger I tell ya! Bahaha!!

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Pete Townshend said...


If I wasn't so bloody ripped on Remy Martin, I'm come down to your neighborhood and windmill your ass.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Don't do it, Pete!

Wow, I'm such a blog celebrity. Rock n' roll legends visit me & threaten me with bodily harm.


6:16 PM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

If Remy Martin is the name of an underage girl, then that's got to be the real Pete Townsend.

1:24 AM  
Anonymous waitingforthealiens said...

It's a little late, but if you can check out George Packer's December 18, 2006 article in The New Yorker regarding global insurgencies.

Have a pleasant weekend.

5:24 PM  

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