Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Some people just simply don’t want to be confronted with choice

The Czech manufacturer of semtex explosives has decided not to sue Madonna for damaging their good (trademarked) name by calling her company Semtex Girls Ltd.

Bush held another staged event to try to convince people to join his Medicare drug plan. Kept talking about how many choices people had now, although he admits “Some people just simply don’t want to be confronted with choice.” But he loves him some choice. For example, the audience members were all chosen by the local Republican party and chamber of commerce.

As someone who uses a fair number of quotes in my blog, I’ve noticed the tendency of news organizations to “clean up” quotations – eliminate awkward constructions, combine sentences, insert clarifying words that were never actually spoken, etc – often while retaining the use of quotation marks. This is why I so often seek out a transcript when I see a “quote” I want to use in a news article. Eli at Left I on the News has caught AP turning these words from Rumsfeld today about Iran – “It’s a country that has indicated an interest in having weapons of mass destruction” – into “‘It is a country that has indicated’ a desire to obtain nuclear technology.” First, they totally uncontracted that contraction, second, in deciding to turn his bombastic lie into an accurate statement, they missed that he did not technically lie, but used language intended to mislead. Rumsfeld’s very deliberate choice of the phrase “weapons of mass destruction” wasn’t just intended to be emotive. He intended it to be understood as asserting that the Iranian government had actually said it wanted nukes, which it does but isn’t so stupid as to say in public, but if heaven forfend he were actually challenged, he could say that by golly gosh golly he meant that Iran has used chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War and therefore can’t be trusted with nukes. The care that went into this mislead (Rummy not normally being the most careful of speakers) shows the importance the Bushies put on demonizing Iran, almost... as if... they’re planning... something...

During that briefing, Rummy was flanked by General Peter Pace, who is supposed to be the sane one but who kept referring to himself by name: “Pete Pace believes...”, “As far as Pete Pace is concerned...” (Notice that he’s good enough friends with himself to call himself Pete just as Robert Dole always called himself Bob.)

La commedia è finita, but how was it that Prodi only just barely managed to defeat the buffoon? Jonathan Freedland suggests in the Guardian that the recent trend of razor-thin victories in Germany, the US etc show that electorates strongly dislike the free-market, globalization-loving attacks on social welfare programs but that the oppositions have failed to provide a meaningful alternative.

Berlusconi controls most of the Italian media and is a monumentally sore loser, so good luck to Prodi, he’ll need it.

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