Running Scared has an item speculating that the “Mission Accomplished” banner will be on display at the George W. Bush Presidential Library. I think it’s a good idea. It really encapsulates Bush’s presidency, it’s a moment in history. It got me thinking.
Here’s my list of things that should also go into Bush’s Presidential Library:
The Presidential Briefing that warned that an attack was “imminent”.
The dress that this little girl was wearing.
Monday link dump…
- Cheney: Waterboarding should have been an option for underbomber – “I was a big supporter of waterboarding. I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques,” he said. Of course, for years the CIA has maintained that torture does not produce actionable intel. And, of course, the public practice of torture (they went public with this remember) is more PR than anything. I am of the opinion that Cheney understands that torture does not create actionable intel. But, the propaganda value is simply too great in his view. This is the discussion we should be having…
- Cheney Struggles To Explain Terror Contradictions – Dick Cheney has never been one for consistency of message, nor of adhering to the established facts. It’s unfortunate that he now feels comfortable undermining a sitting president (no matter his political affiliation) in order to secure his own personal legacy and save his ass.
- Biden: Cheney ‘not entitled to re-write history’ – See above.
- A Terrorist Tried In Federal Court: The Case Of Aafia Siddiqui – When we examine the facts, it becomes clear that the GOP is using terrorism as political fodder. So, facts such as this get brushed under the carpet. It’s bad for the coutnry and it’s bad politics. But, they are a party in decline after all…I am for trying terrorists in civilian courts. So is the Pentagon.
- Critical Mass: Dem Agenda Opens Right-Wing Doors – Mandatory reading…
The term “moral clarity” gets tossed around a lot in political rhetoric, especially from the conservative side, but it’s pretty difficult to find it actually being practiced. It’s as if the very definition of morality has been turned on its head to mean what Bush (and his followers) want it to mean, rather than adhering to any actual definition of morality. And, if the definition is not actually clear, how can it be acted upon?
“Moral clarity” has been used for too long as a propaganda tool by the right, to the point where it has become unrecognizable and meaningless. The gap between rhetoric and action is just too deep and wide, and that gap is at the root of nearly every issue we face from the economy to terrorism. Without true moral clarity, you can’t “win hearts and minds” as the saying goes. And, without hearts and minds, you’re dead in the water.
It’s a contradiction that liberals have been harping on for years (and I’ve written about it as well calling the Bush Admin out for choosing PR over policy for starters) and it is an important discussion the nation needs to engage with great intensity if we are going to reestablish our footing and our vision on a wide range of issues.
True moral clarity requires strong leadership, bipartisan engagement and a defined vision that allows an actionable response. The Bush White House has shown none of these attributes the past 8 years.
The brutal truth is that the outgoing president has never been a man of moral clarity in regard to policy and its implementation. Rather, he has been a steadfast apologist, proffered an eliminationist perspective and practiced the skirting of Constitutional law and human rights to secure political power, enforce American hegemony around the world and conservative “values” at home. It’s universally seen as a failure to some degree because of this very moral contradiction. Not surprisingly, the President shows not one iota of understanding of this fact. In his farewell address last night, George W. Bush, said the following:
As we address these challenges – and others we cannot foresee tonight – America must maintain our moral clarity. I have often spoken to you about good and evil. This has made some uncomfortable. But good and evil are present in this world, and between the two there can be no compromise. Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere. Freeing people from oppression and despair is eternally right. This nation must continue to speak out for justice and truth. We must always be willing to act in their defense and to advance the cause of peace. (emphasis added)
There’s a basic moral contradiction in Bush’s statement above: Is it moral to create the circumstances (invading Iraq under false pretense) where innocent Iraqi’s are murdered in order to advance the American ideology of freedom and democracy? Further, is it moral to kill some Iraqi’s to free the rest from oppression and despair? Or are those an exception to Bush’s moral clarity?
Over at Washington Monthly, Steve Benen notices the same hypocrisy at work in a later very similar statement from the address when the President said:
Like all who have held this office before me, I have experienced setbacks. There are things I would do differently if given the chance. Yet I’ve always acted with the best interests of our country in mind. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right.”
When reflecting on his two terms, in other words, Bush’s argument is that he didn’t deliberately fail. He acted with the nation’s best interests in mind? He did what he thought was right? Well, of course he did. What president goes around trying to undermine the country, making decisions he hopes are wrong?
The president, in this sense, set the bar as low as it can go. When parents tell a little-leaguer, “It doesn’t matter if you succeed, just do your very best,” it’s the right way to offer support to a child. Similarly, Bush seems to think having the right intentions, as he perceives them, should count, regardless of the results. He’s effectively asking the nation, “How about an ‘A’ for effort?”
I’ve heard quite a few Bush defenders of late quibble with the notion that his presidency should be considered an abject failure. But how much debate can there really be when Bush’s pitch to Americans can be boiled down to, “I gave it my best shot”?
Not much of course.
Now we have to find the path of true clarity. Rather than getting lost in moral ambiguity, apologia and eliminationism, we need to embrace non-partisan good old hard work and the power of intelligent ideas and programs that we know through experience actually work.
And, as far as morality is concerned, we need to disengage from the old tribalist and nationalist jingoism and patriotic threat mongering that has defined the past two terms. The problems before us are dire and serious. The time for partisan politics as usual is long gone.
And, for starters, how do we actually apply moral clarity in a world of such profound violence and atrocities?Read More
The Jakeneck Archives. An oldie but goodie from June 12, 2003:
The problem with public relations spin, deception and lying is it will come back to haunt. You’d think that the Bush White House would have learned that lesson from the Clinton experience. But, no.
In the spirit of “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.“, the current administration has worked assiduously at priming the public relations pump, spreading the word, insisting that the once over and now continuing war against Iraq is not about oil. The sound bite rhetoric is familiar to us all: “This is not about oil. This is about a tyrant, a dictator, who is developing weapons of mass destruction to use against the Arab populations.”
The problem is twofold: 1) the intelligence used in the failed attempt to convince the world that Iraq had viable WMD’s is suspect, the search effort is slowing down, and all of this is creating great trouble for British Prime Minister Tony Blair. 2) The truth is hard to ignore. Statistics are brutal in their logic. The economic/oil situation is not a constant one at all. It is in flux. And, at risk.
The fact that it was always about oil is becoming much more clear. Especially since members of the Bush administration and advisors own words regarding Iraq and Hussein don’t shy away from mentioning oil as a primary concern. As stated in a “Letter to the President” dated January 26, 1998, signed by Elliott Abrams, Richard L. Armitage, William J. Bennett, William Kristol, Richard Perle, Peter W. Rodman, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and several others: “It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard.” (Italics mine.)
That seems pretty clear doesn’t it? But, the massive PR push the past few years had a very specific task- to convince the populace both in the US and abroad that the war was over more palatable issues- terrorism, human rights, spreading democracy. Things that make us feel good about invading another country. Anything except oil. Because, there is always the great possibility that, as stated in “The Trouble with Powell“: “the American people do not want their young dying for $ 1.50 a gallon oil.” But, deception is deception. And, it would appear at this juncture that it may have gotten out of control. And, investigations on the WMD problem are coming. Even if the Bush White House and Republicans don’t want it.
Which begs the question: Would they investigate the possibility of cooked Intel if the WMD’s were wearing a blue dress? That old double standard is a drag, isn’t it?
Yes it is.Read More
Russia is a state that is unfortunately using the one tool that it has always used, that will make it – that – when it wishes to deliver a message, and that’s its military power. That’s not the way to deal in the 21st century.
Now that you’ve closed your mouth to stop your chin from hitting the ground…. An intelligent adult is left with only one of two conclusions: either Sec. Rice is an idiot or she’s so audaciously arrogant to think that we are idiots. Either way, it’s pathetic to a degree that just makes me cringe. They are such complete amateurs. It’s embarrassing.
And, Iraq and Afghanistan rage on…. because extremists are in power here as they are in Russia.
Lest we forget that the current president called the Russian leader “Putty Put” and looked into his soul and trusted him. What a clown.
This paragraph from Cursor is pretty historical:
Iraqis put the brakes on negotiations for a status of forces agreement, with Prime Minister Maliki even floating the idea that ‘Iraq might ask the U.S. to leave,’ and the shadow of ‘America’s Ziggurats‘ looming ever larger in the background.
So, this is where we’re at: The Bush Administration and their supporters claim that we are winning in Iraq, yet we still can’t leave. The issue that creates this paradox for them is simple: empire. They set it up like it was going to be a cakewalk, it wasn’t, so they played up the “we’re winning” game even during the darkest of times when an average of 100 Iraqi’s were dying a day, and now that things have settled down, they can claim it’s working, but that means it’s over, right? Not really. It was never about winning or losing, it was about occupying Iraq for the long term.
It’s about the oil and the structure of power in the Middle East. The neo-con world view depends upon a permanent US military presence in the Middle East to replace the one we lost when we capitulated to the demands of Osama bin Laden and exited Saudi Arabia.
From Cooperative Research History Commons:
The withdrawal of US troops from Saudi Arabia has been bin Laden’s most persistent demand since the troops entered the country in 1990. For instance, in his 1996 fatwa (see August 1996), he said, “The latest and greatest of these aggressions incurred by Muslims since the death of the Prophet… is the occupation of the land of the two Holy Places… by the armies of the American Crusaders and their allies.” [Daily Telegraph, 4/30/2003] One senior US military official says the decision to leave was made partly to help relieve internal political pressure on the royal family: “The Saudis will be happy when we leave. But they’re concerned that it not look as if it’s precipitous, because it will look like bin Laden won.” [Washington Post, 4/30/2003] One unnamed senior Saudi prince who participated in high-level debates about the withdrawal says, “We are fighting for our lives, and we are going to do what is necessary to save our behinds.” [New York Times, 4/30/2003]
The Iraqi’s are either finally understanding that it’s not about freedom, it’s about empire, or they are finally getting the courage up to fight back.
You remember that old saying about how lies always catch up and bite you in the ass?Read More
Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, Matt Drudge has had “Scott the Snitch” on his propaganda site all day, an attempt to paint former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, who has a new book coming out that is not kind to his former employer, as a turncoat. It’s rather interesting for a couple of reasons.
The word “snitch” is a pejorative that means “informant”, and in it’s most popular usage is associated with criminals and mobsters who break with their masters and turn. So, in a sense, Drudge is implying that the White House is mob like. It’s an appellation that isn’t really used in any other context other than refering to informing on others where a crime has been committed to denigrate that person. The appropriate term here would be “whistle blower”. But that doesn’t serve Drudge nor his masters.
And, of course, the White House are following the party attack line, calling McClellan “disgruntled“, or “out of the loop” or insert ad hominem here. No doubt he’ll be “insane” by the end of the media cycle. Look for the Freepers and extremist wing nut blogs to fill that hole with bile.
Keep in mind, the only news here is that it’s a former loyalist saying that the Bush White House chose propaganda over policy. We’ve heard this accusation before. The propaganda over policy issue, and why is was implemented, was a topic on this blog nearly FOUR YEARS AGO, and the facts bare this out. It was an attempt to polarize the public with fear and solidify and maintain power in that manner.
Ultimately, history will tell the story of whether George W. Bush was simply over his head, or a willing puppet who stood by playing golf and spouting propaganda while Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld implemented disastrous policy. Personally, I think Dubya is an ideological tool of Cheney. Not smart enough to engage policy in any meaningful manner, he simply agrees with whatever Dick says and catapults the propaganda like a good doggy.
Not a bad job if you can get it. Alas, the real world is a bit more serious than this piss ant approach to to governing and policy. And, we will pay the price for the insipid, emotional playground politics of this White House.Read More
Remember those words above, spoken by George W. Bush, on May 1, 2003.
What does his paid lap dog PR person have to say about the “mission accomplished” debacle?
“President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific and said `mission accomplished’ for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said Wednesday. “And we have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner. And I recognize that the media is going to play this up again tomorrow, as they do every single year.”
Ah, yes. The banner was not specific enough. Of course, the preznit still said: “in the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” So, I guess it’s safe to assume that the preznit’s PR dupe is either an idiot or a liar or both.
Well, let’s look at the specific facts and see how accomplished this mission has been. (Courtesy of Iraq Campaign)
The Cost of War Since ‘Mission Accomplished’— May 1, 2003 — April 24, 2008
US TROOPS KILLED IN IRAQ ————————- 139 ————- 4,051
(as of 4/21/08)
US TROOPS WOUNDED IN IRAQ ——————–524 ————- 29,780
(as of 4/15/08)
IRAQI CIVILIANS KILLED IN THE WAR ———– N/A ———— 150,000
(World Health Organization)
RAQI CIVILIANS FORCED FROM THEIR HOMES —N/A ——- 4.7 mil
US TROOPS DEPLOYED IN IRAQ —————– 150,000 —–155,000
(Brookings Institute, Iraq Index)
FOREIGN TROOPS IN
“COALITION OF THE WILLING” —————— 23,000 —– 9,852
(Brookings Institute, Iraq Index)
COST OF IRAQ WAR TO THE AVERAGE
AMERICAN FAMILY ——————————– N/A ——– $16,500
(Congressional Joint Economic Committee Report)
AMERICANS WHO APPROVE OF BUSH’S
HANDLING OF THE IRAQ WAR —————-72% ———— 33%
The New York Times has come out with a really good article with supporting video that looks at how the Pentagon manipulates news and information to their advantage, and did so during the revolt of several generals. This is a continuation of a a pretty important issue that I’ve written about in the past:
“The BBC has a report on the “Information Operations Roadmap” which…
…calls for a far-reaching overhaul of the military’s ability to conduct information operations and electronic warfare. And, in some detail, it makes recommendations for how the US armed forces should think about this new, virtual warfare.
The concept of ‘information dominance’ is the key to understanding US and UK propaganda strategy and a central component of the US aim of ‘total spectrum dominance’. It redefines our notions of spin and propaganda and the role of the media in capitalist society. To say that it is about total propaganda control is to force the English language into contortions that the term propaganda simply cannot handle. Information dominance is not about the success of propaganda in the conventional sense with which we are all familiar. It is not about all those phrases ‘winning hearts and minds’, about truth being ‘the first casualty’ about ‘media manipulation’ about ‘opinion control’ or about ‘information war’. Or, to be more exact – it is about these things but none of them can quite stretch to accommodate the integrated conception of media and communication encapsulated in the phrase information dominance. […]
Traditional conceptions of propaganda involve crafting the message and distributing it via government media or independent news media. Current conceptions of information war go much further and incorporate the gathering, processing and deployment of information including via computers, intelligence and military information (command and control) systems. The key preoccupation for the military is ‘interoperability’ where information systems talk to and work with each other. Interoperability is a result of the computer revolution which has led to the ‘Revolution in Military Affairs’. Now propaganda and psychological operations are simply part of a larger information armoury.
Such is the state of affairs in a country run by the war business. Truth is the first casualty.Read More
The simple fact of the matter is: we are better than torture. We are, or at least we once were… The country that held the moral high ground during the Nuremburg trials would not condone torture of enemies. Torture was the tactic of savages, of the evil Japanese Empire, the Nazi’s, the Soviets, the Red Army, the Khymer Rouge…
Not the USA.
Robert Greenwald has a new video, which is directly below.
This shall not stand. Our failure of a president supports torture. We do not. Write to your local press or nearest media outlet and let them know.
Then, get thee over to Condi Must Go and sign the petition.
There is obviously something to this… Not like it’s a state secret that the US needs and wants Iraqi oil. It really says a great deal about conservatives and others who have never really been able to readily admit that the entire reason the US is even involved in the Middle East or Iraq or Afghanistan is oil.
Personally, I’d have a lot more respect for all the keyboard commando’s and the chicken hawks if they simply admitted this fact outright. But, they do not, as if doing so will cross some line in the sand where only real and evil fascists go, a line they’ve already crossed anyway.
This is why they spend so much time trying to convince the world that it’s the other side that are the fascists. Sad.
And, lest we forget, Cheney’s planning to invade Iraq prior to 9/11 is one of the numerous points listed in Bruce Fein’s well thought out article on impeachment of the Administration for violations on a number of levels.Read More