Copyright © 2006 Frank Lynch.
Me: Frank Lynch
These are my mundane daily ramblings.
Damned do-gooders. You know, war would be a helluva lot more efficient if we didn't have people like the Red Cross and the ACLU always nosing about. And better music would be pretty cool, too. I think the main problem with these damned do-gooders is, you just never know where they're going to turn up. Can't they wear some brand on their forehead or something?
The following is from David Hackett-Fischer's splendid book Washington's Crossing, following GW's victory at Trenton, pertaining to the vanquished Tories and soldiers of the British and Hessian forces (page 276):
So far, so good. Nothing Commie here, really... excepting when you think about the treatment some of our troops are supposed to have given to youths in Abu Ghraib. But what the hell, they don't love Jesus. Next paragraph:
So: "the world changed on September 11," and our Pharoah (thanks, Bob, I still love that reference!) decided that we were confronted with unprecedented times: why, people threatened our very existence! Let's round 'em up! Lock 'em away for eternity!!
Is there reason to believe that the times confronting our
nation when it was struggling for life were any less critical
than what we've encountered after September 11? Karl Rove may
spout all he wants about Democrats having a different view of
what it takes to protect this country, and yes, he's correct:
Rove and Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rice see a world where
we should put aside all humanity while we battle the aluminum
tubes under our beds (this just in: my tubes are penny whistles,
you stupes, so hands off); and in the meantime we need a country
that can really rally to a genuine cause. Iraq was not a genuine
cause, no way no how. Osama Bin Laden? No argument. Let's go
after him. And by the way, let's not lose our souls along the
I remain ambivalent about the sensibility of a company controlled by the UAE having any involvement in ports operations. Ambivalent because on the one hand I don't put British companies on a pedestal, yet on the other hand the royal family of the UAE has been known to be tight with Osama Bin Laden. But even without knowing the details of the merits of the deal, at this point there's no question but that the procedures surrounding the deal are whack. It's now clear that not only did the Department of Homeland Security have problems with it, but now also the Coast Guard. Forgive me for not knowing all the fine print, but if the Coast Guard has problems, there's room to question the pace with which this deal went through, circumventing the normal 45 day review. (Will Bush claim that the Patriot Act somehow gave him these Executive Powers? Or it's allowed under Article II? Stay tuned...)
It does seem oddly reminiscent of the rush to judgment Bush insisted on with his 2003 "time is running out" rhetoric; he's dug his heels in, but the story that he was out of the loop hasn't shown its cracks yet, and I can't help but wonder if the ten-minute time out hasn't been carefully sculpted to allow Bush his exegis.
How many times has this been foisted on us? How many more times will it be foisted on us? If it's a decent, safe deal, then put it out in sunshine. But time and again, the Bush Administration has shown that it fears nothing more than sunshine, nature's greatest disinfectant. Maybe they're vampires?
Time for an honest question to the hawks: what did you REALLY expect? Candies and sweets, greeted as liberators. That was the line; and when the operation launched, that stalwart moralist James Lileks complained that the music being played was too somber:
Unbelievable: NPR's top of the hour theme is somber, downbeat, with a few disconsolate snare drums - music to lose by! Is it too much to ask of these people to play something that doesn't sound like the music you'd use for the sinking of a f--king aircraft carrier? *$#%*(#$%$#5 (Italics his.)
(I can't repeat that paragraph often enough, and I hope Lileks thinks really hard about it every day he reads the news. Music, the man wanted. DAMN but it was so cool with those Reagan-era videos of the fighters taking out Kaddafi's palaces, why can't killing always be so sweet? Huh James?)
Oh, shock: some of us understood the gravity of war, that it wasn't all candies and sweets, and we didn't need to have served to understand that people were going to get killed, needlessly, because Bush was too impatient to even give the inspectors another damned month.
And what's happened since? Well, I don't need to repeat how vastly different the outcome has been from the expectations of the hawks... But now it's curious how the goalposts are being moved again. On Fox, they're talking about how really kewl civil war can be, and it's not just Fox, even over at the Los Angeles Times they talk about accepting civil war as perhaps not so bad after all.
I don't think I have to spend a lot of time talking about the issue of relativity here: the argument seems to accept that a bunch of people who don't believe in Jesus are going to die and go to hell, but since they're not like us, that's OK. And the sooner the better, so Bush can move on to whatever his short attention span wants to fixate on next. Frivolous asbestos suits on Mars or something.
The standard for evaluating what happens in Iraq should not be the worst case scenario. The standard should be what was promised, how we got there, why we got there. We didn't go to Iraq to unleash long-standing feuds and initiate civil wars. We went there for all sorts of reasons (all sorts retroactively, anyway...), but no one has added "promoting an atmosphere where two sects investigate the opportunities associated with mutually assured destruction" to that burgeoning list.
But the reality is too embarrassing, and now the hawks want to say that it's someone else's reality, not theirs. As if to say, like, "If I'd been in that huddle, calling the play, well, then I'd show you some real yardage gains." Bill Kristol was on Fox, claiming that the U.S. hasn't been making a serious effort to succeed in Iraq, and that's why we haven't met his expectations. Sure: Kristol has this weird idea that troops grow on trees, and we really had these clones which could have been deployed to really whack Saddam to his tastes. Doesn't he have a clue? Sure, Rumsfeld didn't want to staff the war at the levels that Colin Powell thought appropriate, but did Kristol ever, once come out against Rumsfeld when it might have been constructive? Huh, Bill?
The rats are abandoning ship as quick as they possibly can.
Doubtless they want to sound thoughtful three years after the
fact; back then they were nothing but the backstage two-bit
stand-ins in a Busby Berkeley movie: "Hey, let's put on a
Now isn't that conVEEENient? All of a sudden, the White House was able to find the emails that federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald complained had been mysteriously wiped away, limiting his ability to investigate the Plame leak case. What was the impetus? Scooter Libby needed them. The initial requests of the Justice Department apparently weren't sufficient to pry them loose, and oddly it would seem that when the White House got advance warning they were going to be put on notice to preserve everything, that doesn't seem to have been the case.
But when Libby, former staffer for both Cheney and Bush starts to invoke the squealing pig sounds, all of a sudden the WH digs deep and finds them. All of a sudden.
Makes you wonder how much they really found, and how pristine
they are now. (Or have they been carefully quarantined until now,
until they could be given their nihil obstat?)
Uncovering all the leakers. Following on the heels of the effort to uncover who leaked CIA agent Valerie Plame's name to the press, the right has tried to distract us all from a blatant political action by rounding up those who leaked Bush's warrantless domestic wiretapping program to the New York Times. And in doing so, as you know, they're blurring the distinction between an effort to save face (in the Plame case) with an effort to blow the whistle on what was seen as an illegal, perhaps unconstitutional program (the wiretapping).
Well, the GOP probably should have stopped while it was
behind, and not gone into the territory of pursuing all leakers
without discrimination. Because by setting a standard of "what
goes around, comes around," the spotlight for leaks is now on President
Bush. It seems Bob Woodward's books wouldn't have been
written without the President's impetus to his cabinet to tell
all to Woodward, even classified information. As Murray
Waas collates the pieces, Michael Scheuer (the "Anonymous" who
wrote the book Imperial Hubris) wrote that officials who
spoke to Woodward for his book Bush At War "gave an untold
measure of aid and comfort to the enemy."
Mediocrity is rife. So: here we were a few years ago, arguing that our security was being shortchanged in so many ways while tax cuts were being passed on to the rich, and the chief symptom was port security, and we loathed what a small percentage of the cargo was being checked. And now that the (insert the noun of your choice) has decided that we should change our subcontractors on the ports from a British firm ("Great British," was how the Scrambler in Chief put it) to a firm controlled by the ruling family of the United Arab Emirates, everyone is up in arms. Many on the left, many on the right.
And rightly so: as Atrios has re-reported, the UAE Royal Family was snuggling up to OBL when we were considering bombing OBL; yeah, one of the points at LGF might be "who cares about them, why didn't we blow 'em all away?," but Atrios's point is that if this family was snuggling up to OBL, do we want them controlling our ports?
Now, without getting into the important issues associated with what will be controlled by who, I do agree the deal smells. Procedures weren't followed, and Bush wasn't in the loop. That's enough to raise a stench right there.
But then there's this: when Bush tried to reframe the argument to suggest that we're prejudiced, he actually might have had a decent point. In a weird way. If the prior company was a British company, does that make them special? After all, shoe-bomber Richard Reid got on a flight where he might have been stopped by British security. And then there was the innocent South American who was gunned down in the Tubes by the British Police because they thought he was a threat: some stories say he wasn't a threat when he was gunned down, as he was under control.
So, if we expect lax security from a company controlled by the UAE, why would we expect it would be any worse than what we've already seen from the UK? After all, there have been plenty of scandals associated with how the Brits have treated prisoners in Iraq, too: it's not just our own troops.
A couple ironies scream out here, of course.
One is that when Bush wanted to invade Iraq in 2002/03, he cloaked himself in Blair's support, seeking an air of legitimacy, that famous "Coalition of the Willing." (If I recall correctly, that coalition consisted of the U.S., the U.K., Spain, and a private Social Club somewhere in Queens. Whoops, I forgot Poland.) Now all of a sudden the standards of a "Great British" company are no longer superior.
Secondly, Bush's question is not whether a company will meet
expectations, but "why shouldn't it?" Bush has moved the bar:
instead of offering an argument that the UAE government is
reliable, he's basically said "it's up to you to prove it's not
so." He's really shown a tin ear here, because while it may be
wrong to hold a UAE-controlled company to higher standards, he
doesn't seem to understand why people would. Argue it all he
wants, but he needs to provide better arguments than mere
Oh, and for rounders, here's my pic of them from April of
2005, and for good measure Ab and I are in
this shot of their 2004 performance at the Bowery Ballroom.
(Guiding you to us isn't easy, but Ab is in what looks like teal
in the bottom center right center, and I'm directly above her,
A sign of hope? British historian David Irving no longer denies the Holocaust, although he prefers to refer to it as "the tragedy." He admits the existence of the gas chambers and that millions died in them.
This is a step forward, although the curious point is that because this comes in the context of a trial for a speech he gave in 1989, the point of contrast is to how his views have changed since 1989. But I don't know if 1989 is the appropriate point of comparison. Last year a Holocaust scholar at Emory University, Deborah Lipstadt, was going to give a speech that would be aired on C-SPAN about her book on Holocaust denial; C-SPAN felt an odd need "balance" history by putting David Irving on equal footing; Lipstadt opted against giving Irving a platform and declined the C-SPAN airing. Was Irving still an active Holocaust denier last year? Are the statements he made today in Austria merely designed to win him leniency from the court?
Anyway, I ask if this is a sign of hope because it would be
interesting if the rank and file of the GOP was to wake up and
see where their leaders have taken the country. I know there are
plenty of people who still fail to see that invading Iraq was an
immoral act, as was re-electing George Bush, that war's
perpetrator. People need to examine their world views broadly,
and accept the implications of their actions.