Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Listening to the State of Disunion

In the last blog I called the Bushbucker an ersatz existentialist. Listening to the state of disunion speech, I realize that's being kind. The Bushbucker--hard to call him a man--is delusional. He doesn't live in a bubble; he is a bubble. A bubble brain. Just consider zero-emission coal-fired power plants--this from a president who has eviscerated the clean air act. He wants to improve batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles, to improve hydrogen fuel-cell powered and ethanol-fueled vehicles--this from a man who has killed any attempt to control fossil fuel emissions or improve gas mileage, while vast unspoiled acres of land in Alaska and the Rockies for oil exploitation. He wants to devote more money to math and science--this from a man who embraces (un)intelligent design. He wants to reform health care by passing medical savings accounts that will benefit only the wealthiest Americans. He wants to support personal responsibility--this from a man who has never taken responsibility for anything in his life. I could go on, but it is too depressing, especially since I just heard the cheering and storm-troop foot-stomping for ascension of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. They are said to be brilliant men. They are both believed by their supporters to be ideologues who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, and it will be surprising if they do not.

I haven't even gotten to the war on "terriors," the tragedy in Iraq and fiasco in New Orleans. Part of the problem is that Bushebucker's rushing the speech because he doesn't understand what he's talking about; moreover, he believes, as Louis XIV said, "L'Etat c'est Moi." He is the state, and he is defeating terriors. I've quoted Stephen Stills before but here goes again, from "Southern Cross":

So we cheated and we lied and we tested,
And we never failed to fail. It was the eaiest thing to do.

Indeed, only cheating here has far worse consequences. The man can't tell the truth because the man doesn't know the truth.

Monday, January 30, 2006

That Messy Business--Democracy

To the surprise of nearly every Western pundit, it seems, with the exception of Juan Cole and a few others who actually watch, listen, and learn, Hamas cleaned up in the Palestinian parliamentary election. The U.S. alone threw millions of dollars into the campaign to shore up the corrupt Fatah regime--how much of that went to the election rather than numbered accounts in safe foreign banks--and now says it won't give aid to or deal with a "terrorist organization sworn to the destruction of Israel." The New York Times has the basics. Someone better talk to the new Palestinian government; it represents the will of the people--a prime example of the democracy the Bushbucker wants to impose on the world. It also is clearly a referendum on the corrupt Fatah leadership, the murderous Bushbucker conquest of Iraq and its support for Fatah (kiss of death), and of Israel. That should only surprise people who don't live in reality based world. It's pretty fundamental: you dispossess, brutalize, kill, and oppress people, treat them like subhumans, and they will hate you and swear to kill you.

Along those lines, since the Bushbuckers claim to be great at fighting terrorism--after 9/11--I went back and read the report of the 9/11 Commission on that August 6, 2001, briefing, the history lesson entitled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US." It's excerpted on pages 261 and 262 of the .pdf file, in a chapter called "The System Was Blinking Red." The only way to read this material is that the security and intelligence apparatus knew something was coming down, and they knew it could be here, although they expected it to be abroad. They told the Bushbucker, not just to brief him but also because the President has to steer all the departments. By the Bushbucker's own self-serving account he thought it "heartening that 70 active investigations were under way." (260) If his advisers had gone on to tell him that "there was a cell in the United States, he would have moved to take care of it. That never happened." (260)

This account makes no sense on its face. In the straightforward-just-the-facts narrrative of the commission, it makes less sense. It was clear something big was coming down here or abroad. Heightened vigilance was required, but the Bushbucker who knew little and understood less did nothing. It's not that this August 6 briefing existed without context--there was doubtless much richer context than we know--it's that the Bushbucker exists without context or perspective--he is, after all always erasing his past, like an ersatz existentialist. You end up with "bushbucking," seen again with Katrina--responsibility ducking blame shifting.

There was no forestalling Katrina, of course, and there doubtless was no stopping what happened on 9/11/2001--I don't believe in "what ifs.' But I do believe in learning the truth, insofar as it can be learned, and in both these cases, we are a long way from that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bushbucking Katrina

With these Bushbuckers the pattern of dereliction of duty is so clear, it is painful to contemplate. The latest example is news that the White House was warned days in advance in detail of Katrina's potential for destroying New Orleans--and did nothing. Joby Warrick of the Washington Post tells it all in today's edition--a FEMA presentation two days before the storm hit, anticipating a breach of the levees, and a Department of Homeland Security National Infrastructure Simulation and Assessment Center pre-storm assessment of damage that was delivered to the White House shortly after 1 a.m., August 29, the day the storm hit New Orleans and the Gulf coast. Both were spot on in terms of the catastrophe. FEMA laid the ground work for more evacuation and quicker response. The NISAC white paper should have set in train emergency response teams. But nothing was done, and after the fact, the Bushy, who had been vacationing, lied repeatedly in saying that no one could have anticipated the devastation.

That sounds familiar, doesn't it? Bushy is on vacation when a dire warning is issued to him and his minions of an impending catastrophe. The warning is ignored. The event occurs much as predicted. The Bushy is temporarily paralyzed with fear and incompetence. Then he presents himself as a great leader while proclaiming that no one knew or could have anticipated the tragedy. Choose the year: 2001 or 2004.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Clear as Mud

Today's Diogenes Award--presented sporadically to the person or persons who shines the light of truth on the myths, urban legends, and lies of people in power, which are too often picked up and amplifiied by an uncritical press--goes to the Washington Post's Walter Pincus for his report on a USAID assessment of the security situation in Iraq. In essence, it outlines the complex, multi-faceted nature of the violence there--not just the "insurgency" but also the internecine conflicts between Sunnis and Shiites, religious fanatics and secularists, among others. It is beyond a mess, and no one wants the U.S. there, except as cover for their perfidy or as an enemy to organize against.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The "Truth"

The Bushies are constant--one has to grant them that--absent even a minor "truth" to muster in support of their policies, they lie and absent any readily available falsehoods or urban legends to invoke, they manufacture their own. In that regard they are what I've taken to calling "21st century people," defined as those for whom no amount of fame or fortune or power or adulation is enough. They are insatiable ids wanting what they want for no reason other than they want it. If they don't want something, they ignore it or destroy it, only to proclaim that same thing, when it jumps up and bites them, the biggest baddest newest evil or threat or trophy or you name it.

Bushy himself likes to operate through surrogates and so last week, unable to counter Congressman John P. Murtha's scathing critique of his war of aggression in Iraq, Bushy unloosed a slime campaign against him, like the one employed against John Kerry prior to the 2004 election. Howard Kurtz and Shailaigh Murray report the story in the January 14 Washington Post, citing a piece in Cybercast News Service from January 13, challenging the validity of Murtha's purple hearts. It's ironic that the Bushies, who like to repeat that old shibboleth that American troops returning from Vietnam were spat upon by anitwar protestors, are themselves major slimers of Vietnam veterans, engaging in direct, heavy handed character assassination of military heroes. Soldiers are dishonored, as John Kerry forgot to remember when he was being slimed, when they are sent to kill and die for a lie--in the case of Iraq multiple lies.

While the Dog is chewing on lies, he'll weigh in with the observation that the lies and hypocrisy emanating from the upper reaches of government both contribute to and feed upon the coarsening of public discourse and common decency--respect for other people--or even individual responsibility--for anything other than getting what Id wants--that mars America today. Witness the case of James Frey, whose mega-bestselling memoir, A Million Little Lies, contains enough falsehoods, according to The Smoking Gun, that it should probably be called fiction. Yet Frey and his defenders, including Oprah Winfrey, steadfastly maintain that the story of addiction and crime--and redemption--he tells is emotionally true, and that's all that matters. They really seem to be saying that it fits their notions of the degradation of drug and alcohol abuse, crime and prison and, thus, it must be true. They, like Bushy, prefer a nonreality based world, where truth is what you make it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dog Clone, or the Mystery of Hwang Woo Suk

The University of Seoul investigatory committee released its report on Hwang Woo Suk today on his in February 2004 that he had successfully cloned a human embryo and his August 2005 unveiling of Snuppy, the "cloned Afghan. " The '04 paper was a fabrication, but Snuppy is for real, apparently. It's early and the reports are incomplete, but the ccommittee seems not to have been quite unitedd on that one. The committee will have to explain the poor dog can be a clone with question mark, but the caveat, born less of scientific uncertainty, I suspect, than of deep, justified human skepticism that anything Hwang does can be honest. They are liable to remain that way until someone else clones another dog using Hwang's technique. But Hwang's supporters will proclaim that the world rushed to judgment and that he has now been vindicated, redeemed---and from what he has said to date to the media, Hwang might well be in the forefront of this effort. Their argument will be that the techniques are the same for cloning dogs and people.

Putting the best face forward, the committee has given Hwang ambivalent endorsement for one-third of his spectacular scientific firsts. It is half a redemption, a redemption interruptus, as it were, that leaves Hwang an enigma wrapped in paradox, cloaked in the fog of ambiguity that many Americans find unsettling. Why do such a thing? In many way it's easier to understand the person who would fabricate everything, at least for me, than the one who, having achieved something remarkable, decides to start taking short cuts, to cheat, especially since, once exposed, the fraud colors everything that person produces, forever.

Saying that, I remind myself that reality is invariably stranger than fiction--and more complicated and messy. Reality doesn't follow a simple, straightforward narrative line--that's something people impose. I'm not very fond of simple "narratives" myself, although, like everyone else, I latch onto them. It's easier to make someone like Hwang a brilliant scientist or a charlatan, than to recognize him as both of those and much more--and, on top of that, a product of several cultures that are in combination, if not individually, mysterious to us--those of South Korea, western science in general, and international reproductive medicine, to name three. Then there is the question of why so many people swallowed his fabrications.

He's thoroughly 21st century, let's say, to pigeon hole him--so ambitious that no amount of fame, glory, or money was enough. But to begin to get at such a character and how he was able to rocket through what by self-profession is an inherently skeptical discipline--science--we have to reject the contemporary American and British obsession with "traditional" narrative, with simple story telling, and turn to the masters of modernism for inspiration. They understood that in the age of relativity and quantum mechanics and psychoanalysis, in a world already made smaller by communication and travel, in which time and space collapsed on themselves, "reality" could only be partly captured through multiple perspectives., multiple narratives that coalesce in a particular time and place, each woven of multiple other narratives. The need to find a way in writing to "clarify," as opposed to "simplify," has never been greater, but the forces being exerted against that approach have also never been greater--by lazy critics and readers and pandering, celebrity and bottom-line obsessed publishers.

(I'm jetting off for a few days; forgive the typos.)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Lies on Lies

In a speech to the Heritage Foundation later today Vice President Dick Cheney proclaims that the Bushbucker-in-Chief's program of illegal NSA spying on Americans on these shores--his bypassing of the law might have allowed the Bushies to thwart at least the 9/11/2001 attack on the Pentagon, according to an advance report on the Washington Post website.*

Apparently, Cheney neglects to report that the Bushbucker-in-Chief and the Bushbucker-in-Waiting (Cheney) had in hand nearly everything but flight numbers and the precise date, yet they did not act on that information. Cheney never lets a little thing like the truth hinder the accumulation and exercise of power.

So here's the test for the Bushies: Open the redacted and classified files, not to mention the ones sequestered under "executive privilege," so we can judge the merits of your arguments and the depths of your incompetence.

* A Glossary of a sort: The dog is a bit idiosyncratic, as reader doubtless noted, nowhere more than in naming, so to straighten things out:

Bushbucker-in-Chief = the Bush, the Bushy, Bush, George W. Bush, POTUS,

Bushbucker-in-Waiting = the dark lord = cheney, in all his n=incarnations

Bushbuckers = Bushies, the Bushies = followers of the Bush.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Deja Vu All Over Again (updated)

Why exactly was this Bushbucker bypass of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Constitution so necessary? Was NSA's warrantless spying kept secret in order to prevent the terriors from finding out they could be listened to and read--big surprise--or to keep the American people and even high ranking government officials and the Congress, who by rights should have known, in the dark? That's done, of course, so that no one will object, as the number 2 official in the Justice Department did in 1994, while serving as acting attorney general, according to a report in the January 1. 2006, New York Times by Eric Lichtblau and James Risen. They are the reporters who first exposed this secret program, and they deserve all praise and gratitude they get, but if the Bushies have their way, Lichtblau and Risen will be put in a position of betraying their sources or going to jail. That's shades of Judith Miller, only Lichtblau and Risen truly would be protecting whistleblowers who exposed govenment malfeasance.

Called to account, the Bushbucker-in-Chief has obfuscated and attacked, because, it appears, the truth would show that the program's purpose was to collect as much information about as many people as possible and to distribute it to the alphabet soup of black budget agencies that are supposed to keep our democracy safe from the dark lords of oppression, who kidnap people off the street, hold them in secret indefinitely without charges or trial, and torture them. Those are the autocrats who hold themselves above the law and public accountability, who are the antithesis of democratically elected leaders. Walter Pincus exposes the data sharing in the January 1 Washington Post.

For his part, the Bushy is quoted in a Washington Post report from Texas, where he is bushbucking, as saying on Sunday, January 1, that the NSA program applies only to incoming calls placed from the phone of an al Qaeda member. "'This a limited program designed to prevent attacks on the United States of America, and, I repeat, limited,'" Lisa Rein quotes him as saying. Simply revealing its existence did "'great harm to the United States,'" he said, and because he said, we are to believe. The White House press office later corrected the Bushbucker-in-Chief, according to Rein, saying that the NSA, in fact, monitors incoming and outgoing calls.

Lichtblau reports on the Bushy's defense and the White House correction in today's New York Times, while observing that the spying is and was much more extensive than the Bushbucker-in-Chief claimed.

Let K'ung Futzu comment: "If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success." (Analects, III, 5. Project Gutenberg Etext The Chinese Classics (Confucian Analects) trans. James Legge. )

"Therefore a superior considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires, is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect." (Analects, III, 7)

The Bushy may well believe that he is speaking "in accordance with the truth of things." I qualify the statement because I can't tell whether he is delusional, wilfully ignorant--meaning he refuses to learn the details of his own policies--or so arrogant that he believes he can break the law, violate his oath of office, and lie with impunity. Maybe all three come into play. Certainly no one has ever called him to account, and it's unlikely this ethically challenged Republican Congress will do so.