Showing posts with label Pakistan's Generalissimo Musharraf. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pakistan's Generalissimo Musharraf. Show all posts

Friday, April 19, 2013

Simple answers to stupid questions


Former Pakistani dictator Musharraf is finally arrested. He puts out a video in which he asks, “Why I am being stopped from pursuing politics in Pakistan. Is it because I brought progress to Pakistan and added to its security?”

No. No it isn’t.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

That’s pathetic


Condi Rice, on CNN, on the Russian threat to nuke Poland if it goes ahead with the Star Wars deal: “That’s pathetic.”

Rice with evil but adorable twin president of Poland Kaczynski

WHAT CONDI IS BEGINNING TO WONDER: “I’m beginning to wonder if the Russian President is ever going to keep his word, or can he keep his word, or what is going on there?”

WHAT IS EMBARRASSING NOW: “He’s the Russian President. He’s the Russian President and he ought to keep his word. But I think what is embarrassing now is the Russian President continuing to make representations that don’t turn out to be true.” Yes, imagine what it would be like to have a president like that.

She praised soon-to-be-former president Musharraf as having “pull[ed] Pakistan away from the brink of extremism.” He also “helped to smooth the path to civilian democratic rule in Pakistan.” Sort of like praising O.J. Simpson for helping to look for the real killer.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It is possible I might have committed mistakes


Condi on the Russo-Georgian War: “what has Russia demonstrated? It has demonstrated that it can use its overwhelming regional military power to beat up on a small neighbor. That’s what it demonstrated. It can attack Georgian civilians, it can block Georgian highways, it can bomb Georgian ports, and it can say very nasty things about a democratically elected Georgian Government. That’s what it has demonstrated.” You make it sound like a bad thing.

Musharraf’s resignation speech:

ALL? THAT WAS REALLY ALL THE HONESTY AND INTEGRITY YOU HAD? “I am going with the satisfaction that whatever I could do for this nation, for the people, I did it with all my honesty and integrity.”

MMM, COULD BE: “It is possible I might have committed mistakes”.

CHANNELING JOHN MCCAIN: “Some elements have given preface to their own interests rather than the nation.”

The hour-long speech included a long listing of his many accomplishments for Pakistan, such as increased hotel occupancy. He denied that anything that sucks about Pakistan had anything to do with his nine years of dictatorship: “They said that during the last nine years our economic problems and electricity shortages were due to our policies. It is absolutely wrong and deception for the country.” There were three blackouts in Karachi during the speech.

He also repeatedly claimed that none of the charges would stick, because “because I never did anything for myself.” In other words, he wasn’t corrupt, just power-mad. So that’s all right, then.



Monday, August 18, 2008

This is not the time for individual bravado


Must-read of the day: the state of women in Afghanistan, where the majority of women in prisons committed the crime of being raped and where 57% of brides are under the age of 16, the majority of them forced. “Afghanistan is the only country in the world with a higher suicide rate among women than men.”

Musharraf resigns because “This is not the time for individual bravado.” See, and you thought this was the time for individual bravado. Now you know better.



Saturday, December 29, 2007

Politicizing this tragedy


Bush on New Year’s: “This weekend is a good time to give thanks for our blessings -- and to resolve to do better in the coming year.” Bush could spend all of 2008 lighting his farts and still do better than in any other year of his life.

Speaking of setting the bar unbelievably low, I’ve got another entry in the game of Gotcha against Huckabee: yesterday on McNeil-Lehrer I heard him refer to Benazir Bhutto as a candidate to be president of Pakistan.

But then Hillary Clinton, asked by Wolf Blitzer whether Musharraf should resign, said, “If President Musharraf wishes to stand for election, then he should abide by the same rules that every other candidate will have to follow.” Er, Hills, he was “re-elected” in October, until 2012. That’s kind of what all that fuss was about, with the fired supreme court justices and the state of emergency, remember?

Blitzer asked Hillary about Obama’s questioning of her judgment and thus her credentials for dealing with crises like this (and by the way, Obama gives the impression of reflexively opposing anything Hillary says, as when he argued against her call for an international investigation of the Bhutto assassination, saying, “It is important to us to not give the idea that Pakistan is unable to handle its own affairs.”). She said Obama is “politicizing this tragedy,” whereas she of course is “focused on extending my sympathy to Benazir Bhutto’s family.” Through a CNN-O-Gram.
Let me express my sorrow that Benazir is dead,
By speaking live on satellite with a talking head.
Let’s see, what rhymes with Blitzer...?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

You say potato


Musharraf is not just firing judges who won’t take an oath of allegiance to him, he is taking away their pensions.

Warsaw prosecutors have ended a 17-month criminal libel investigation of a German newspaper that called President Kaczynski a potato, citing “a lack of evidence.”

Did that story remind all of you of the caricatures of King Louis Philippe as a pear, or was that just me?

And as filler for an uninspired blogger, a New York magazine competition, from 2/24/92, calling for a familiar quotation (1), and the silent reaction (2) of a listener or reader.
1. “Tomorrow and tomorrow...”
2. Is that from “Annie Hall”?

1. “I was a child and she was a child/ In this kingdom by the sea/ But we loved with a love that was more than love...”
2. Nobody doesn’t like Annabel Lee.

1. “I shot an arrow into the air,/ It fell to earth, I knew not where.”
2. Dial 911, I’ll try to work his hat off.

1. “Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Rico?”
2. Coming soon, “Little Caesar II.”

1. “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.”
2. Quick – where’s the “Kick me” placard?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Command shtick


General Musharraf of Pakistan is a general no longer. He said, “I am bidding farewell to the army after having been in uniform for 46 years,” adding that it had gotten just a little bit gamey.


We’ve had many cheap laughs about the imagery of Mush taking off his uniform. Here’s another one: “Although I am taking off the uniform the army will always be in heart.”

It’s not just the uniform he’s giving up, but evidently also something called the “command stick,” which he can be seen fondling here:


That’s what we need, a command stick. Give Bush a command stick to play with and it’ll keep him out of trouble all day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Worth it to try


Riots in Paris, again. Says the secretary of the police union, “Our colleagues will not allow themselves to be fired upon indefinitely without responding.”

Here’s the thing about our perceptions of the French: no matter how francophilic you are, your immediate response to that quote was, “By surrendering?”

The Virginia Republican Party convinced the state Board of Elections to require voters in the presidential primary to sign this pledge: “I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for president.” That is just so wrong in so many ways. For a start, you cannot “pledge” to “intend” something. And the state has no right to require us to make any statement about what we will do in the privacy of the polling booth, to sign our name to what some people will believe is a legally binding document (because what’s the point of requiring you to sign something in an official setting that isn’t a legally binding document?). And it suggests that the basic unit of a democracy is not the individual citizen but the political party.

But at least Virginia isn’t under martial law – yet. In an interview with AP, which annoyingly hasn’t made a transcript available, George Bush said that General Musharraf “ought to lift the emergency law... It’s hard for me to envision a free and fair election under emergency law.” As opposed to the elections held in an Iraq under military occupation and civil war.

Bush also said that the quest for Israeli-Palestinian peace is “worth it to try” and that the Annapolis Conference was “the beginning of an outline of a vision.” Or possibly an outline of a vision of a beginning. Or a vision of an outline of a beginning of a dream of a sketch of the start of a... Say, George, do you think we might be past the beginning of an outline of a vision stage if you’d done anything about this, say, seven years ago? What am I saying? if George had tried to solve the Middle East problem seven years ago, the earth would be a smoldering irregular ball of charcoal now.

Now, though, he’s completely committed to making peace: “I work the phones, I listen, I encourage, I have meetings. I do a lot of things.”


“The danger,” he said, “is for the Palestinians that unless there’s a vision described, that people can aspire to, hopeful, it is conceivable that we could lose an entire generation - or a lot of a generation - to radicals and extremists.” Or they could be bombed by the Israeli Air Force, that’s also kind of a danger for the Palestinians.

(Update: more on this interview in my next post.)


Extremists and extremism, by the way, were his words for the day, appearing seven times in his statement at the Conference: “we must not cede victory to the extremists” “the extremists are seeking to impose a dark vision on the Palestinian people” “if Palestinian reformers cannot deliver on this hopeful vision, then the forces of extremism and terror will be strengthened, a generation of Palestinians could be lost to the extremists” “The day is coming when the terrorists and extremists who threaten the Israeli and Palestinian people will be marginalized and eventually defeated.” (Isn’t that two days?)


I’ve forgotten which blog had the video, maybe someone could post the link in comments, but Bush totally screwed up Abbas’s first name. I never knew “Mahmoud” had so many syllables.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We didn’t necessarily agree with his decision


Hillary’s new ad says the Republicans are attacking her “because they know that there’s one candidate with the strength and experience to get us out of Iraq.” Er, exactly what experience does she have that would get us out of Iraq?

Speaking of experience, former sweaty White House press secretary Scott McClellan has a memoir coming out next year called “What Happened.” Which is odd, since there was never a day as press sec that he looked like he had any idea what was happening. Maybe his publisher decided to leave off the question mark.

Bush was gently interviewed by Charles Gibson of ABC. Bush talked about General Musharraf, and how wonderful and democratic and honest and just plain dreamy he is: “he’s been a loyal ally in fighting terrorists. ... so far I’ve found him to be a man of his word.”

Asked if there is a line Mush could cross that would lose him this fulsome support, Bush said, “Well, he hasn’t crossed the line. As a matter of fact, I don’t think that, uh, he will cross any lines.” You’ll notice he didn’t say where the line(s) are. Bush went on, “And he made a decision, we didn’t necessarily agree with his decision, to impose emergency rule, and I, my, hopefully he’ll get, get rid of the rule.” He’s backing away even from his weak protests of last week. He’s not demanding Musharraf lift military rule, but expresses hope that he might. Indeed, Bush doesn’t disagree with, much less denounce, the imposition of martial law, he just “didn’t necessarily agree” with it.

And he just can’t stop praising the military ruler as a Jeffersonian democrat: “I think he truly is somebody who believes in democracy.” In the way Buffy the Vampire Slayer believes in vampires. Great democrat, or the greatest democrat?: “he has done more for democracy in Pakistan than, than any modern leader has, and one of the reasons you’re seeing the blowback that you’re getting in Pakistan is because of the reforms that, that President Musharraf has put in place.” See, the massive unpopularity of and opposition to his rule is actually a sign of what a great democrat he is.

“Today I thought was a pretty good signal that he released thousands of people from jail.” You know what would have been a better signal? Not putting thousands of people in jail in the first place.

(Biden responded to the interview, “If the president sees Musharraf as a democrat, he must be wearing the same glasses he had on when he looked in Vladimir Putin’s soul.” I wonder if optometrists have an eye chart for soul-reading? “Just read the highest line you can.” “Uh, good soul, good soul, Islamofascist, good soul, that one is just black so it must be Cheney, good soul...”)

Gibson asked Bush whether presidential politics is now preventing him accomplishing anything for the remainder of his term. Bush thought “we may get some health-care reform done. But you’re right, it’s, uh, you know, and we’re not gonna raise taxes.”

Speaking of things Bush might accomplish with the remainder of his term, he claims he didn’t actually threaten to start World War III if Iran develops nuclear weapons: “I said, if you want to avoid World War III. And the reason I said that is because I take the words of their leader very seriously when, for example, he says he wants to destroy Israel. And you know, an attack on Israel, as far as I’m concerned, would draw the United States into a very serious conflagration in the Middle East. At least it would under my presidency.”

Thursday, November 15, 2007

In my heart, I am not a dictator


Musharraf explains: “In my heart, I am not a dictator... The day when there is no turmoil in Pakistan, I will step down.” See, and you thought he intended never to step down.

And in an interview with the NYT (MP3), he says he put Benazir Bhutto under house arrest because of threats to her by a “foreign intelligence agency.” So that’s okay, then. And he accuses her of being “confrontational” and creating “negative vibes.”

Speaking of negative vibes, an email from the Fred Thompson campaign attacks the Massachusetts health-care plan as socialized medicine at its worst. For example, did you know that small business owners will be “fined $295 per employee who isn’t enrolled in Romney’s government-mandated health care plan”? Even worse: a mere $50 co-pay for abortions.

The LAPD has dropped its plan to “reach out to the Muslim community” by drawing up a map of where they all live. The LAPD, whose racial and ethnic sensitivity is of course legendary, had not expected there to be any opposition to the mapping plan.

Bush told Fox Business that his tax cuts on the rich made the tax code more progressive.

Asked if the surge in Iraq is working, Bush said that it is, “and it’s measurable.” He also made his usual not-at-all-sexist reference to the “Iraqi mom,” who “wants to raise her child in peace, and that, if given the chance -- given what looks like a secure future -- that people will make the necessary changes to live in a -- coexist with somebody else that may be, you know, an adversary, in a peaceful way.”

Bush says Musharraf “has got Pakistan on the road to democracy” and “I do believe he understands the importance of democracy.” Also, the importance of proper vibes.

Bush, asked if he had restored a sense of dignity to the office of the presidency, said, “History is going to have to judge.” He added, “I go to work every day in the Oval Office.”

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A course that could lead back to a path of democracy


On ABC this morning, Condi continued to oh so gently scold Musharraf. Actually, scold is far too strong a word. She prefers “counsel” and “encourage.” “Obviously, we are also encouraging that the state of emergency has got to be lifted and lifted as soon as possible.” As soon as possible? That phrase suggests that there is some reason why it is not possible right now, this very instant, and there is no such reason.

George Stephanopoulos pointed out to her that if and when Musharraf is sworn in again as president (he may be delaying this in order not to have to fulfill his promise to step down as army chief), it will be by a purged and supine Supreme Court (insert obligatory Bush v. Gore reference here). Condi responded, “George, this is not a perfect situation.” Oh dear, that puts us in our place for wanting utopia and the rule of, you know, law.

Pakistan, she continues, “is a country that has come a long way from 1999 and the military coup.” Who was behind that coup again, Condi? The “long way” Pakistan has come from the coup of 1999 to the coup of 2007 shows that “the road to democratic development is not smooth and even. ... But if the suggestion is that we somehow now abandon a course that could lead back to a path of democracy for Pakistan, I think that would be mistaken at this point.” Not actual democracy, of course, asking for that would be more of that airy-fairy, head-in-the-clouds perfectionism that adults like Condi are too pragmatic to deal in, but “a path of democracy,” or to be more specific a “course” that “could” lead to “a path of democracy” (Never ask Condi for directions; she’s all “turn left at the tree with the funny branch” and “go right at the empty lot where the Arbie’s used to be”). Because it’s all about the path, the journey, you see, not the destination; it’s very Zen, really, if arbitrary arrests, censorship and abrogation of the rule of law are Zen. And if you kids keep kicking the back of the seat, Gen. Musharraf is going to turn this car right around!

By the way, 3 British reporters were expelled from Pakistan because of an editorial in the Daily Telegraph about the coup which included an expletive – click here to find out which expletive – if you dare! (Second paragraph, first sentence, last word.) Musharraf wants an apology because the word “infringed norms of behaviour.” Mush is very big on the norms of behavior.

The discussion on This Week turned to whether Bush now has the authority to go to war with Iran. Condi: “Look, George, I’m not going to get into a constitutional argument about the President’s authorities. That stands on its own: the President’s authority to use whatever means he needs to use in order to secure the country.” Which of course is exactly what Musharraf claims justifies his seizure of near-absolute power. Funny, that.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I felt I was pretty multilateral


George Bush the Elder, 83 years old, made a spectacular entrance today at the re-dedication of his presidential museum, being sodomized in free fall in mid-air high above College Station, Texas, before the chute opened, if you know what I mean.


Meanwhile, his son was hosting German Chancellor Angela Merkel at his Crawford ranch, now that they’ve gotten that Sarkozy smell out. Today they held a joint press conference, photographed here by the AP in the style of a Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom cameraman sneaking up on a couple of gazelles.


At one point, Bush used the only word of German he knows, “Jawohl,” to put her at her ease.

He said that they had “meaningful, strategic discussions.” For example, “The Chancellor and I had a series of discussions on important subjects, starting with a dinner we had last night.” It is unclear if he meant that he had a discussion at dinner, or a discussion about dinner, especially, as we shall see, given how he ended the presser.

He said, “We discussed Iran and our deep desire to solve this important issue diplomatically.” Iran is not an “issue,” it’s a country. Iran is not yet one of those place-names that stand for something else, like Hiroshima, Columbine, Vietnam, or Intercourse, Pennsylvania.


He explained that General Musharraf is an entirely trustworthy fellow: “I take a person for his word until otherwise.” And Mush has indeed given his word, which has always meant so much in the past: “I do want to remind you that he has declared that he’ll take off his uniform, and he has declared there will be elections, which are positive steps.” Naked elections are your answer for everything, aren’t they?


Bush thinks he has detected the source of the problem: “We also believe that suspension of the emergency decree will make it easier for the democracy to flourish.” Ya think?

He explained why “the democracy” in Pakistan isn’t a big deal: “I vowed to the American people we’d keep the pressure on [Al Qaida]. I fully understand we need cooperation to do so, and one country that we need cooperation from is Pakistan. That cooperation has been made easier by the fact that al Qaeda has tried to kill leaders in Pakistan several times.”

Indeed, he thinks the only thing Pakistanis care about is fightin’ Al Qaida: “He [Musharraf] fully understands the dangers of al Qaeda. Benazir Bhutto fully understands the dangers of al Qaeda. By far, the vast majority of people in Pakistan... understand the dangers of al Qaeda.” “And so I believe that we will continue to have good collaboration with the leadership in Pakistan.” Collaboration. What a fine choice of word.

A reporter asked Bush if he is behaving less unilaterally in foreign policy these days: “I felt I was pretty multilateral the first four years of my administration.” I do not think that word means what George thinks it means.

He explained why you may want to pass up that Craigslist job posting: “I want to remind you that if you’re the chief operating officer of al Qaeda, you haven’t had a good experience.” I mean, double-entry bookkeeping is just a joke to those people.

As is always the case when George and Angela get together, things turned a little creepy. And as always, Bush gets in the last word:
PRESIDENT BUSH: I’m now going to go feed the Chancellor a hamburger. (Laughter.) Right here, Crawford, Texas. No, well, I mean back over there. Thank you all.

CHANCELLOR MERKEL: Obviously, for me, as a person who originally came from Hamburg --

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes.

CHANCELLOR MERKEL: -- it’s even more important.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Hamburger.


God for Harry, England and a packet of crisps


Interesting analysis by the BBC’s Mohammed Hanif of Musharraf’s meandering televised speech last week.

The London Times op-ed editor asks for a new motto for Britain, in six words or less. Some of the replies so far (there are serious ones too, but sod that for a packet of crisps) (I think I just inadvertently coined my own entry):
  • “Sorry, is this the queue?”
  • “Full service will soon resume.”
  • “Yeah, but no, but, yeah.”
  • “No, please, after you, honestly.”
  • “That’s really most awfully kind.”
  • “At least we’re not French.”
  • “At least we’re not American.”
  • “Americans who missed the boat.”
  • “Yer’ve got to larf, aintcha?”
  • “Hanging on in quiet desperation.”
  • “Britain: it sucks a bit.”
  • “Once mighty empire, slightly used.”
  • “Mind the gap.”
  • “Is Princess Di still dead?”
  • “Bond. James Bond.”
  • “Fancy a cup of tea?”
  • “Come for the Weather, Stay for the Dentistry (and the cooking).”
  • “Lie back and think of England.”
  • “The game is afoot, Watson!”
  • “Don’t mention the war.”
  • “I have a cunning plan.”
The last 4 I just made up.

Update: checking back a day later, I find only one new one worth mentioning: “An island in a teacup.”
And I have two more of my own:
“Mrs Peel – we’re needed.”
“Ying tong iddle i po.”


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Bush meets Sarkozy: Which basically said, we want to help you survive


Bush was also interviewed by French television.

Asked if Franco-American relations have been changed by Sarkozy replacing Chirac, he explained very carefully, and with OTHER WORDS, that despite both of them being, you know, French and shit, they’re actually different people: “In the sense that every individual matters. In other words, I’ve dealt with a lot of foreign leaders, and some -- and each person brings their own set of personalities and values.” Thank you for that deep psychological insight into the human condition, George.

Sarkozy, he said, is “like me, he wants to solve problems: Here is a problem; let’s go solve it.”

“And I can’t thank President Sarkozy enough for sending the foreign minister to Baghdad, which basically said, we want to help you survive.”

Asked about the imminence of war with Iran: “I don’t know where you’re getting all these rumors -- there must be some weird things going on in Europe these days”. In Europe? Mais non!

But what happens, he is asked, “if the sanctions and the threats do not work”. “I’m not so sure I agree with your hypothesis, that ‘if they don’t work.’ I’m the kind of guy that says, let’s make sure they do work.”

Asked if removing the counter-weight of a strong Iraq didn’t vastly increase Iran’s power, he took a deep hit off his crack-pipe and said, “I think that, ultimately, they’re going to feel pressure about the type of government they have when their people look across the border and see a flourishing, free society.”

Later in the day, he held a press conference with Sarkozy.

He said that he’d finally talked to Musharraf. “And my message was that we believe strongly in elections, and that you ought to have elections soon, and you need to take off your uniform.” As Eli of LeftI points out, he evidently didn’t suggest that Musharraf end martial law, restore the Constitution, the Supreme Court, freedom of the press, release political prisoners, etc etc. Just the naked elections.

Asked by a French reporter about the Iraqi quagmire, Bush once again pulled out his trusty crack-pipe, inhaled deeply, and replied, “I don’t -- you know, ‘quagmire’ is an interesting word.” Adding, “and have you ever looked at your hands, I mean really looked at them?” Okay, what he really said, which is significantly more batshit out-of-his-head-loco, was, “If you lived in Iraq and had lived under a tyranny, you’d be saying, god, I love freedom -- because that’s what’s happened.”

He denied that his threats against Iran are responsible for the price of oil, insisting, “I believe oil prices are going up because the demand for oil outstrips the supply for oil.” He’s an MBA, you know.

Addressing the Iranians, he explained that he was just looking for someone to talk to who isn’t, you know, crazy: “we will work together to try to find if there’s not rational people inside your government who are tired of isolation and who believe there’s a better way forward.”

MAYBE A LITTLE TOO COMFORTABLE: “And so when you ask, am I comfortable with the Sarkozy government sending messages -- you bet I’m comfortable.”

What message is Sarkozy sending here?



Monday, November 05, 2007

We would hope he wouldn’t have declared the emergency powers he declared


Today Bush met with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

Bush’s word of the day was “people”: “In order to chase down people [PKK] who murder people [non-PKK, I assume] you need good intelligence.” “people [PKK] who are using murder as a weapon to achieve political objectives”. “he has constantly talked to my government about seeing if we can’t work together to get these people [Turkish soldiers captured by the PKK] released. And the point I bring up is that there is at least one effective measure for people in Turkey [I believe “Turks” is the word you’re looking for, George] to see that when we work together we can accomplish important objectives.” “We need to know where people [PKK, the hidden ones] are hiding.” “I’ve assured the Prime Minister that we’re working very carefully and closely with people in the Kurdish part of Iraq [Kurds?] to help deal with the movement of these people [PKK, the moving ones]”.

Bush also made good use of the word hypothetical to avoid answering questions. How would he react to a Turkish incursion into Iraq? “I don’t like to answer hypothetical questions.” And if Musharraf refuses to do what Bush asks (but not in person; Bush still hasn’t talked to Mush), will he cut US aid to Pakistan? “Once again, it’s a hypothetical question.”

Why does he so hate to talk hypothetically? He’s just not very good with verb tenses. “Previous to his decision we made it clear that these emergency measures were -- would undermine democracy.” “As I said earlier in my statement, that we made it clear to the President that we would hope he wouldn’t have declared the emergency powers he declared.” Phfew.


Y’ALL HURRY BACK NOW: “Now that he’s made that decision, I hope now that he hurry back to elections.” As I said, not so good with the verb tenses.

He does offer one great prospect for the Pakistani people: naked elections: “we expect there to be elections as soon as possible, and that the President should remove his military uniform.”

Here’s as close as he came to answering the question about cutting aid to Pakistan: “I certainly hope he does take my advice... And so that’s -- all we can do is continue to work with the President, as well as others in the Pak government, to make it abundantly clear the position of the United States. And then obviously we’ll deal with it if something other than that happens.”

Much of the talk with Erdogan was of course about the PKK. Bush repeatedly talked about the need to share intelligence, which... oh, insert your own joke here, it’s just too easy.

Erdogan doubtless recognized all this intel joke as a stall. “But what we did talk about is to make sure that there is good enough intelligence so that we can help deal with a common problem... And we need to know, in any of these actions, who they are and where they are, in order to make any strategy effective. And therefore, step one is to make sure that our intelligence-sharing is good. The problem oftentimes is that faulty intelligence means that we can’t solve the problem.” So what do we need, oh pointy-haired Dilbert boss? “Good, sound intelligence delivered on a real-time basis, using modern technology”.

NO, REALLY, HIS ACTUAL JOB TITLE IS “NUMBER MAN”: “I have set up a tripartite arrangement, for his number two man in the military to stay in touch with our number man and General Petraeus.”

He also discussed with Erdogan some of the other issues there am between the US and Turkey: “We understand there’s transit issues in airports; we understand that there is issues with money.”

They have to be dealt with


Pakistan’s irony information minister, justifying the crackdown on anti-coup protesters: “If people take the law into their [own] hands, obviously, they have to be dealt with”.


Actually, a minister of irony would be a great idea.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Of truffles, waterboarding and the dastardly Pakistani military


My favorite new crime: highway truffle robbery. Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, riding through the land...

Arlen Specter will also vote for Mukasey. No surprise there, huh? Says Mukasey assured him privately that if there were a law against waterboarding, Bush would have to abide by it. So clearly that law should be passed – and signed into law – before the confirmation process goes any further.

State Dept Legal Advisor John Bellinger also refuses to rule out waterboarding. Indeed, it’s okay by him if foreign secret services use it on Americans.

Pakistan’s military has usually defended its coups as necessary to fight corruption or chaos or corruption of their precious bodily fluids or whatever, but Mush’s latest coup is clearly about nothing other than his own personal grip on power. The reputation of the military cannot but suffer from being associated with it. Yet I haven’t heard of any dissent at all within the military’s ranks, any reluctance to follow Musharraf’s orders.

By the way, I’ve created a new label for posts about Musharraf, dating back to 1999. Somewhere along the way, the usual spelling of his name gained an R.

Condi and the action that was taken (updated)


Condi speaks to the press again. It’s kind of fun just for the awkward verbal contortions.

For example, she hasn’t decided exactly what to call that thing Musharraf did – coup? martial law? – so she does as generic as she can, “the action that was taken”: “we don’t support the action that was taken because it was extra-constitutional”. Literally: Musharraf issued an entirely new constitution, an “extra” constitution if you will, and then fired the seven Supreme Court justices who refused to ratify it.

She repeatedly refers to a “democratic path” or a “constitutional path,” which is a way of suggesting that something democratic has been occurring in Pakistan while ignoring the absence of any actual, you know, democracy, and of obscuring the fact that any political processes, far from being democratic, have been entirely the result of the will of Pakistan’s military ruler. She is wistful about her illusions: “Because if you get back on a constitutional path, then you can imagine the continued process towards elections, and so, that’s what we’ve been concentrating on.” All she wants is just to be able to imagine continued progress towards phantasmagorical elections.

But of course none of this will affect American support of the Musharraf regime because of our alliterative “continuing counterterrorism concerns.” Indeed, she can’t picture anyone in the US not likewise prioritizing those c.c.c.’s over democracy or the human rights of Pakistanis: “But I would be very surprised if anyone wants the President to ignore or set aside our concerns about terrorism and protecting the American people.”

Here is the key cowardly quote (if I too may alliterate), in which Condi cannot bring herself to criticize Mush personally for his actions:
Q: Are you disappointed in him?

RICE: I’m disappointed at this decision, sure.

(Update: just to show her language was not casually chosen, she repeated it in a Fox interview:
Q: Do we still support President Musharraf?

RICE: Well, clearly, we don’t support the actions he has taken. ...


Q: But you can’t say whether we still support Musharraf at this point?

RICE: Well, I don’t want to personalize this. This is about an action that has been taken. And the action is not supportable.
Not personalize this? Isn’t a coup by a military ruler just a little bit, you know, personal?)


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Coup in Pakistan


Gen. Musharraf of Pakistan has once again suspended the constitution, arrested his opponents (except for Benazir Bhutto, who made a triumphal return to Pakistan after years of exile a few days ago and then, evidently, just left again; she is now supposedly on her way back), fired (and arrested) most of the Supreme Court, shut down opposition radio & tv stations, telephones, etc etc. But he did it in order to “preserve the democratic transition I initiated 8 years ago.” So that’s all right, then.

(Pardon the paucity of links, by the way; I’m cutting & pasting from all over. My favorite headline, though, from the Times of India: “Mush Blames Terror, Judiciary for Emergency.”)

“Pakistan is on the verge of destabilization!” he warned. Which makes the interesting assumption that a coup is the opposite of destabilization.

He said that “Pakistan’s sovereignty is in danger unless timely action is taken.” Which makes the interesting assumption etcetera.

He said he literally had no other choice. “Inaction at this moment is suicide for Pakistan and I cannot allow this country to commit suicide.”

He said he’s like Lincoln, who “usurped rights to preserve the union.” Yes, he’s just like Abraham Lincoln.

The last 3½ minutes of his 45-minute televised address were in English:



He asked for patience from the international community because “we are learning democracy.”

Mush discussed this step with his advisors on Wednesday, according to the WaPo, so the US knew in advance, since some of those advisors are certainly on the CIA payroll and the NSA listens to their phone conversations.

But Condi refused to say whether Musharraf (with whom she’s spoken several times this week) had warned her he’d be doing this, although it’s pretty clear that he did, which makes the US complicit. She said, “I’m not going to characterize how the conversations went, but we were clear that we did not support it. We were clear that we didn’t support it because it would take Pakistan away from a path of civilian rule, the democratic path -- by the way, a path that President Musharraf himself has done a lot to prepare [Ed.: hah!], and that it was absolutely essential that those elections be held.” In other words, if he holds Potemkin parliamentary elections, we’ll pretend they’re democratic, which they cannot be under these circumstances. Condi says she had told him in one of those conversations, “even if something happens, that we would expect the democratic elections to take place.” Coup + elections = good enough for us.

Indeed, this entire crisis came about because Musharraf insisted on running for president without giving up his position as army chief, in violation of the Constitution, as the Supreme Court was about to rule (Mush accused it of “creating hurdles for democracy”). The source of his authority lies solely in his monopoly of military power, not from the vaguely democratic-appearing processes he cobbled together to give him the title of president.

Condi also warned the Pakistani people not to resist the coup, or at least that’s how I interpret this sentence, in a CNN interview: “There really should not be violence, there should not be activity that will disturb calm, because it’s a difficult time for Pakistan.”

Pentagon spokesmodel Geoff Morrell says that “At this point, the declaration does not impact our military support for Pakistan’s efforts in the war on terror,” adding that Pakistan is “a very important ally in the war on terror”.

Bush has said nothing in public, either before the coup or since, and if he’s talked to Musharraf in the last few days, as Condi has done several times (and Adm. Fallon of CentCom met with him in person Friday), no one is mentioning the fact. Funny, that.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Democracy means majority


An email from Fred Thompson’s campaign manager says that during today’s debate, the first one Freddy is showing up for (the topic is economic policy, be still my beating heart; I can barely wait to find out if anyone will come out in favor of cutting taxes), “Fred will look Presidential and be substantive.” Is there something wrong about a campaign that needs to insist that its candidate “looks presidential”?

Man, I am tired of debates. Pakistan has the right idea: instead of 16 presidential candidates, or however many we have these days, just one. And no vote of the actual, you know, people. Says Generalissimo Musharraf, “Democracy means majority, whether there is opposition or no opposition.” So much more succinct than the Federalist Papers.