Friday, November 17, 2006

The chimp and the tiger


Simultaneous news stories report that Britain and the Netherlands used torture techniques in the interrogation of Iraqi prisoners. In the case of the British military, which called the torture “conditioning,” the reports say that there were specific orders from high up, while a Dutch defense ministry spokesmodel claims that that was not the case with their torturers, and that although the incidents, which took place three years ago, were reported to the military police, the defense minister may, or on the other hand may not, even have been informed: “It happened a long time ago and you cannot remember everything.”

Those are words George W. Bush lives by every day, but especially so when visiting Vietnam, which he says “shows how hopeful the world can be and how people can reconcile and move beyond past difficulties for the common good.” Carpet bombing, Agent Orange, My Lai, you know, difficulties. He says his impression of Vietnam is, “it’s very hopeful” and “like a young tiger” (a hopeful young tiger, presumably), and that “In our drive through this beautiful city we were pleased to see thousands of your citizens with smiles on their faces. And we’re so grateful.” That it’s not 1969.


Speaking of grateful, he put a positive spin on John McCain’s 5½ years as a prisoner of war: “And one of the most poignant moments of the drive in was passing the lake where John McCain got pulled out of the lake. And he’s a friend of ours; he suffered a lot as a result of his imprisonment, and yet, we passed the place where he was, literally, saved, in one way, by the people pulling him out.” I hope McCain at least sent them a thank you note.

He also explained for the Australian press the meaning of the mid-term elections: “The elections mean that the American people want to know whether or not we have a plan for success”. How does that actually work, how do you vote for a question? Is Congress now dominated by the “Hey, Just Out of Curiosity, Do We Have, Like, a Plan for Success?” party?

And he praised Australia’s evil prime minister John Howard: “That’s why I’m so proud to have a partner like John Howard who understands it’s difficult to get the job done.”

To change the subject slightly, I went to the market and noticed that there are now something like 5,000 varieties of apple. When I grew up there were, I don’t know, red ones and green ones. They’ve succeeded in making apples complicated and confusing, and that’s just not right.

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