Sunday, December 31, 2006

Whatever happened to the “Whatever Happened to” Awards?

Two years ago, at the end of 2004, I initiated my annual “Whatever Happened To...?” Awards, in which I noted people and stories that had disappeared without proper follow-up. It was a good idea. It was too much work. So last year and this year I opted instead just to run a post of the best pictures of the year. Much easier to look at some photographs than to read through a year’s worth of my old posts (this one is #685 for 2006). Without doing the work, all I can think of off the top of my head is whatever happened to that Afghan guy they wanted to execute but settled for driving out of the country for converting to Christianity? And where is Scott McClellan today? Telling lies in a puddle of flop-sweat in the private sector, no doubt.

Were there any stories or intriguing hints of stories this year that you wanted to know more about? Tell us in the comments section. Oh, and “if O.J. did it, how did he do it?” doesn’t count.

Dave Barry has his usual hilarious summary of the year’s events.

No healing without pardon, or, indeed, trousers

From the Observer: “Ambulance service officials have renewed their pleas for revellers not to misuse the 999 system after an apparently drunk man asked emergency operators to help him find his trousers.”

And in 1974, wasn’t the entire United States, metaphorically speaking, a drunk pantsless man crying out for help? Dick Cheney said this at Gerald Ford’s funeral: “It was this man, Gerald R. Ford, who led our republic safely though a crisis that could have turned to catastrophe. Gerald Ford was almost alone in understanding that there can be no healing without pardon.” Hopefully, Cheney will spend the rest of his life repeating those words (which I believe he first addressed to Harry Whittington after shooting him in the face), in increasingly desperate tones, from increasingly smaller prison cells with increasingly larger bunkmates, all named Bubba.

When jokes are made about prison life, there is always a bunkmate named Bubba.

Even if it’s a women’s prison.

Especially if it’s a women’s prison.

Of course what Cheney especially likes about the Nixon pardon is that Nixon was never made to enumerate the crimes for which he was pardoned. The other thing he and other Republicans like about the “Ford healed the nation” trope is that in it, the only significant actors are Republican politicians, while Democrats and indeed the American citizenry are reduced to spectators, just as now they insist that only Republicans are qualified to clean up the mess that they themselves have made in Iraq.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Milestone, in pictures

What pisses me off the most about the semi-legal lynching of Saddam Hussein is that they’ve actually managed to make me a little bit sorry for the bastard.

This is not what justice looks like:

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Friday, December 29, 2006


I’ve already had my first two hits from people looking for pictures of Saddam’s execution.

Bush issues a statement which must have been written beforehand because the execution took place around 9:00 Texas time, so he’d already gone to bed. The statement uses the term “fair trial” three times, says that Saddam received “the kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime” – funny, under our kind of justice the result is the exact same one, a dead body – and claims that “Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq, but it is an important milestone on Iraq’s course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain, and defend itself, and be an ally in the War on Terror.”

The, um, milestone, was witnessed by various members of the Iraqi regime, probably all Shiite, who literally danced around the body afterwards.

A metaphor alert is issued for the central Texas region

Bush’s three-hour-a-day consideration of how to come to closure on a New Way Forward (TM) in Iraq was interrupted by a tornado warning issued for the central Texas region. He drove with Laura and the dogs to the ranch’s tornado shelter, but did not go inside.

According to Iraqi PM Maliki, “Those who reject the execution of Saddam are undermining the dignity of Iraq’s martyrs.” Well we wouldn’t want that. In fact, “Our respect for human rights requires us to execute him.” So to sum up, nothing says dignity and respect for human rights like a good old fashioned hanging.

Speaking of dignity and respect for human rights, here are some fresh London Review of Books personal ads, in case you’re looking for a date for New Year’s.
Ball-breaking irrational F (52). Very probably just like your mother. Box no. 24/0

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Amateur roadkill/wild mushroom chef living the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall dream (F, 34) is fairly certain it will be a stray cat and another night of unwanted psychedelic flashes. Thanks for nothing River Cottage. Also the A405. Box no. 24/05

Just as chugging on a bottle of White Lightning on a park bench will make you nauseous and diminish the respect of your peers, yet taking just a glass of cold cider on a barmy summer evening will quench your thirst and take you back to heady days frolicking in West Country apple orchards, so it is with this ad. Man, 37. Refreshing in small sips where the delicate nuances of Somerset burst through full and flavoursome, but anything bigger and you’ll end up puking over your own shoes and smelling of wee. Box no. 01/02

When eventually calming down after a heated argument involving smashed plates, thrown cutlery, insults directed at your circus side-show of a family, and emotionally destructive sex, you should know now that I’m very unlikely to participate in that ‘no, really, I’m sorry, it was my fault’ charade. You accept all of the blame all of the time or you grow gills to breathe in the stale, bitter soup of my angry and eternal silence. Cuddly F, 36, brown hair, green eyes, degree in geology. Box no. 01/05

When I inevitably read this ad again in a ‘laugh-out loud’ follow-up volume of ‘hilarious’, ‘quirky’ and ‘endearing’ lonely hearts ads, it will be like opening a time-capsule of despair on the emptiest period of my pathetic existence. Unless you write now and agree to marry me. No pressure from ‘winning’, ‘charming’, ‘best loo-read’ F, 38. Box no. 24/06
That’s a reference to the book of collected LRB personals, my copy of which Amazon still hasn’t delivered.

Also, stop calling me Lou.

Carpe diem

Hugo Chavez announces that he will shut down the opposition tv station, which he calls “coup-ist” (Chavez was for coups before he was against them). Again I ask, will the American left stop hero-worshipping this guy?

Holy Joe Lieberman has an op-ed piece in the called “Why We Need More Troops in Iraq” in the WaPo, which describes him as “an Independent Democratic senator.” He doesn’t say who the “we” is who needs troops. He also doesn’t mention his previous predictions that the number of troops would be reduced by now. Maybe it’s me, but I think when you completely reverse your position, you need to explain why if you’re to have any credibility. Instead, he continues to treat his hopes as facts, asserting, for example, that “an increase that will at last allow us to establish security throughout the Iraqi capital,” without explaining how that would work.

Joe fetishizes “security,” a word he uses seven times. Establishing security, he says, “will open possibilities for compromise and cooperation on the Iraqi political front.” Yes, everyone wants to be bipartisan centrist compromisers, given the chance. Remember the line in Full Metal Jacket: “inside every gook there’s an American waiting to come out”? Lieberman thinks inside every Iraqi there’s a Joe Lieberman waiting to come out, given enough, you know, security.

During his recent trip to the region, he says, “I saw firsthand evidence in Iraq of the development of a multiethnic, moderate coalition against the extremists of al-Qaeda and against the Mahdi Army”. He doesn’t say what that firsthand evidence was; I suppose we just have to take his word for it. I’m guessing he met one guy who told him what he wanted to hear, since that’s the standard of evidence elsewhere in the piece: he mentions “one moderate Palestinian leader” who told him that the US should stay in Iraq, and one American colonel who followed him out of a meeting and told him privately that the soldiers under him really want to “finish this fight” and know they can win it. So it must be true. If Joe threw in a cab driver, it could be a Tom Friedman article.

The real winners if we don’t surge, he says repeatedly, are Iran and Al Qaida, which he implies are on the same side, which is the pro-civil war side, I guess. Matt Browner-Hamlin (who has a good take-down on Joementum’s article I saw half-way through writing this; I’ve tried to avoid overlap) points out that Joe forgets about the Sunnis altogether.

It wouldn’t be a Joe Lieberman essay if he didn’t impugn the motives and strength of characters of people who disagree with him: “In Iraq today we have a responsibility to do what is strategically and morally right for our nation over the long term -- not what appears easier in the short term. ... Rather than engaging in hand-wringing, carping or calls for withdrawal, we must summon the vision, will and courage to take the difficult and decisive steps needed for success and, yes, victory in Iraq.” Joe likes to talk a lot about his ability to get along with people, but he means other warmongering neo-cons; everyone else is carping and taking the easy way out, and lacks vision, will and courage. But really, if we’re talking about carping...

Separated at birth?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Coming to closure on a way forward in Iraq

Spike Lee has announced he will make a biopic about James Brown. Wouldn’t it have been more fun if he made one about Gerald Ford? Wouldn’t you like to see what a Spike Lee movie about Gerald Ford would be like? I know I would.

So I’ve finished Bob Harris’s Prisoner of Trebekistan, and you should definitely have bought a copy for everyone on your Christmas list. I’d have mentioned that sooner, but I was mysteriously at the top of the list for the book at my public library for two months, waiting for every librarian there to read it first. So don’t buy it for any librarian on your list, they’ve already read it. It’s even better than you’d expect it to be from reading his blog.

Tuesday is the national day of mourning for Gerald Ford. Bush wants the American people “to assemble on that day in their respective places of worship, there to pay homage to the memory of President Ford.” So be sure to do that.

Bush and his “national security team” assembled today in Crawford for three whole hours of work. As Bush explained, “It’s an important part of coming to closure on a way forward in Iraq”. I think the way forward in Iraq is already closed. Not only can’t he come up with a timetable for getting out of Iraq, he can’t come up with a timetable for giving a speech about Iraq. But he says he’s “making good progress toward coming up with a plan that we think will help us achieve our objective.”

He explained that “The key to success in Iraq is to have a government that’s willing to deal with the elements there that are trying to prevent this young democracy from succeeding.” By “deal with,” he means kill. Of course, that sentence was a clever paraphrase of Thomas Jefferson, who famously said, “for a young democracy to ƒucceed, it must cruƒh its enemies, with the aƒsistance of a ƒurge of ƒoldiers from a foreign occupying army.” Jefferson also famously said, “And fuck Joe Biden.” (Not to be confused with “And ƒuck Joe Biden.”)

Speaking of fucking Joe Biden, Bush says he and members of his cabinet will “talk to Congress.” Note the preposition: to, not with. “I fully understand it’s important to have both Republicans and Democrats understanding the importance of this mission.” Isn’t that a great sentence? All that understanding, all that importance.

“People always ask me about a New Year’s resolution -- my resolution is, is that [the troops]’ll be safe and that we’ll come closer to our objective, that we’ll be able to help this young democracy survive and thrive”. And jive, don’t forget jive.

Don’t they all look cheery and Christmasy?

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Closure compadres    2

Closure compadres    3

Closure compadres    4

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Closure compadres    5

Closure compadres    6

Closure compadres    7

Closure compadres    8

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald Ford died for your sins

Says Saddam Hussein, “I sacrifice myself.” Like they gave him a choice? “If God wills it, he will place me among the true men and martyrs.” Curiously, these were also Gerald Ford’s last words.

Everyone is going on about Ford’s role in giving Indonesia permission to invade East Timor, which is true as far as it goes, although I tend to think the entire world was silently complicit in that one, and for many years. But for some reason, no one is talking about his covert support of UNITA in Angola, some of the most evil bastards on the planet during the Welcome Back Kotter Years. (And by the way, let’s a give big hand to the Portuguese, whose massively incompetent colonialism created both situations, and Guinea-Bissau, which they left with the lowest life expectancy in the world and not a single college graduate in the whole country).

And while everyone’s mentioning that Ford’s administration included Cheney and Rumsfeld, they’re mostly forgetting his director of central intelligence, one George Herbert Walker Bush.

Still the best Republican president of my lifetime.

Which doesn’t say much for Republican presidents.

Or my lifetime.

He was indeed a Ford, not a Lincoln

So goodbye to Gerald Ford, the best Republican president of my lifetime. His long national lifetime is over. He whipped inflation now (or not). That’s all I seem to have to say about him; somehow a presidency about which there’s not much to say seems... restful. Down, Liberty!

P.S. On second thought, I would like to give Ford credit for the custom of presidential debates, unbroken since 1976, when he was the first sitting president to agree to participate in debates. And then promptly freed Poland (younger readers may need to look that up, as well as the Liberty reference).

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Japan has resumed its Christmas tradition of secretive executions (whatever happened to a lump of coal in a stocking?). Without advanced warning, four men were taken from their cells and hanged by the wrinkly neck (two of them were in their seventies) until dead.

It’s a slow news day even over at the Pentagon website, where the big scoop is “Medics Clear Rats From Saddam Hussein’s Bunker.” Evidently after Saddam was removed from power, hundreds of rats took over. No, there’s no metaphor here. US Special Forces used the underground bunker complex until last January, and rather brilliantly left behind a lot of food. The rats thrived, and now the remaining food can’t be removed without a great swarm of rats streaming out of the bunker. Really, there is absolutely no metaphor to see here, move along. “The body count of the dead rats did lead [Lt. Col. Van] Sherwood to believe the problem had been solved and shouldn’t happen again.” Honestly, I don’t know why you people persist in seeing metaphors where there are simply no metaphors to see.

Speaking of hanging and rats, I see I’m not the only one suspicious that the timing of Saddam’s execution is being coordinated with Bush’s announcement of his New Way Forward (TM). The execution warrant has to be signed by the president and both vice presidents. The Sunni veep, according to the AP, was only given the job last April on the condition that he would sign the warrant.

A boy and his dog:

Monday, December 25, 2006

Basra PD blues

In September 2005 the British military attacked a police station in Basra, using tanks to demolish a wall, in order to release two disguised British soldiers who had, when stopped by the local police, shot two of them. There were a lot of accusations made about the Basra police’s connections to insurgents, no explanation (well, many explanations, all contradictory) about exactly what the soldiers were doing, and that was it (I posted several times about all of this that September).

Today the British sent 1,000 troops and a bulldozer and explosives to that same police station (or “torture HQ” or even “Gestapo HQ,” as the London Times luridly phrases it – elsewhere, in full British-imperialist-condescensing-harrumph-harrumph mode, the paper says this about the 2005 events: “This time the British forces would stand for no nonsense”). They were there to hand out pink slips to the serious crimes unit of the Basra police force (you will already have noticed that “serious crimes unit” has a more ambiguous meaning in Iraq than it might have elsewhere; the British have announced that a Major Crimes Unit will be created to replace the Serious Crimes Unit, and if that doesn’t make everything all right, I don’t know what will). They claimed they were rescuing 127 prisoners in danger of less-than-judicial execution (not counting the prisoners who escaped during the operation). We will never know the whole truth about this either. Possibly this was a good thing.


Here’s what tells you that the British have no real control over events in Basra: the only way they had to prevent the police station being used again by death squads slash “rogue police,” rather than by the forthcoming Major Crimes Unit, was to blow it up. So this show of force ended with a tacit admission of weakness.

Today’s must-read: this Empire Burlesque post. Longish, but packed with goodies.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christ’s message fulfilled

Schizophrenic highlights from Bush’s weekly radio address: “At this special time of year, we give thanks for Christ’s message of love and hope. Christmas reminds us that we have a duty to others, and we see that sense of duty fulfilled in the men and women who wear our Nation’s uniform. ... victory in Iraq... I urge every American to find some way to thank our military this Christmas season. ... At this special time of year, we reflect on the miraculous life that began in a humble manger 2,000 years ago. That single life changed the world, and continues to change hearts today.”

Today was the day Secretary of War Robert
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went to Camp David to brief President
on his surprise visit to Iraq. Here is the official photograph, in which George puts on his best “attentive and thoughtful” expression, and Gates and the alliterative Peter Pace wonder why they couldn’t have done this indoors instead of out in the woods in the middle of winter.

Gates, Bush, Pace 12.23.06

Feel free to provide your own captions, perhaps using one or all of these elements: does an Iraq policy crap in the woods, if an Iraq policy falls in a forest, Dick Cheney with a shotgun...

A particularly good new batch of “Get Your War On”s (or is the plural Gets Your War On?).


Robert Fisk says of the line that “we’re not winning, we’re not losing” in Iraq, “Pity about the Iraqis.”

Friday, December 22, 2006

I think that they do have some concrete plans in mind

Secretary of War Robert
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, according to the Pentagon website, will report back to Bush on what he has learned in Iraq, where he “largely spent the three days [more like 48 hours, Pentagon website, let’s not exaggerate] in meetings with U.S. generals and diplomats, and with high-ranking members of the Iraqi government, including President Jalal Talibani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. U.S. leaders with whom Gates met included Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad; Army Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command; and Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr.” Wow, that really shows Gates’s commitment to hearing fresh ideas from people whose voices are so rarely heard in the corridors of power, who are not associated in any way with the previous clusterfuck.

Gates says Americans should get a sense of perspective, because after all those years of war and Baathist rule (and sanctions, he had the nerve to say), “having people act on their own initiative, having people take responsibility for their actions, these are new things in Iraq, perhaps in the whole history of the country.” In fact, he added, they’re so demoralized that I can talk this condescendingly about them, and they don’t even tell me to go fuck myself.

But he does say that they’re committed to doing stuff. Or at least talking about doing stuff. For example, when asked by a reporter if the Iraqis were going to crack down on Shiite militias, Gates said, “What I heard from all of the Iraqis that I talked to was the conviction that they have to break down -- that they have to crack down on all lawbreakers across the board and that no group was exempted from that.” When asked a follow-up about whether they had actually committed to any actual, real-life, concrete steps, he said, “I think that they do have some concrete plans in mind”. Good enough for me.

He said he’d really like to have left the Green Zone and visited Mosul, but bad weather prevented it. Yeah, that’s the ticket, bad weather...

Compare and contrast

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, 1996, asked if 500,000 deaths of Iraqi children as a result of sanctions was acceptable: “we think the price is worth it.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 2006, on whether the costs and death toll of the Iraq war have been acceptable: “this is a country that is worth the investment”.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Developing the capabilities and inaudible of the Iraqi armed forces

I’ve been waiting all day for the transcript of the press conference held by Secretary of War Robert
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and his Iraqi counterpart, Abdul Qadir Muhammed Jasim, because my life is hollow and empty. When it was finally posted, though, it turned out that Gates wouldn’t speak beyond airy generalities (“I especially emphasized to the prime minister the steadfastness of American support and our enduring presence in the Persian Gulf”), but Qadir...
A lot of issues were discussed about the possibility to develop the capabilities and -- (inaudible) -- of the Iraqi armed forces and (inaudible) the security situation and the new situation on the Iraqi field in general and in the capital, Baghdad, especially the development of the terrorist operations and the -- (inaudible) -- and they’re focusing in a very -- (inaudible) -- way on the (inaudible) of civilians -- (inaudible). And -- (inaudible) -- engaging the military forces and the -- (inaudible) -- for the -- (inaudible) -- and the gathering of -- (inaudible) -- and markets and wedding parties and schools and the churches and the educational institutions and -- (inaudible).

(Inaudible) -- Jihad, they target just yesterday a convoy of the pilgrims -- (inaudible). (Inaudible) -- operations in addition to the force -- (inaudible) -- for some outlaws, whether they are -- (inaudible) -- by or it is done by threats or by -- (inaudible) -- on secure areas.
Questions by Iraqi reporters are simply untranslated in the transcript, because in our fourth year of steadfast American support and enduring presence in the Persian Gulf, we still don’t have anyone who understands whatever language it is the simple natives speak.
Q (In Arabic.)

SEC. GATES: I’m not sure I understood your question.

Q (In Arabic.)
Gates said he was much more impressed by the Iraqi officials than he was when he visited with the Iraqi Study Group in September, although he thinks that visit may simply have been too short and “perhaps we didn’t have the opportunity to explore in the kind of depth I have today with Iraqi officials”. This week’s visit will last an entire day and a half, which is surely time to learn everything there is to know about Iraq.

Whichever reporter started off a question “Secretary Gates, this morning you met with a small but representative group of senior enlisted U.S. soldiers” needs to be drummed out of the press corpse.

I think we need to just keep doing what we’re doing

Secretary of War Robert
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had breakfast (the most important meal of the quagmire) with some of the troops, who he described as “representative of those who are serving our country here”. Unlike the generals, they all supported a “surge” in troop levels, saying, “We’ll never finish all these scrambled eggs by ourselves.”

One such totally representative soldier was Spc. Jason Glenn of the 101st Military Intelligence Battalion, who said, “Sir, I think we need to just keep doing what we’re doing,” thus proving the old line (by this blog’s patron saint) that military intelligence is a contradiction in terms.

Sez the Pentagon website, “Other soldiers offered different pieces of advice to Gates. One told him to keep an open mind, while another urged him to seek answers from people on the ground.” This level of gritty candor was reciprocated: “He gave soldiers a glimpse into his goals for Iraq. ‘We’re trying to put together a package of new ways of doing things that will lead to more progress,’ he said.” Ooo, a package. But they can’t open it until Surgemas.

Here are some of those representative troops. See if you can guess which one’s nickname is “Bookworm.”

Gates in Iraq

The first Marines have finally been charged in the Haditha Massacre (there is now a label for my Haditha posts in the right-hand column).

Wherein is found an icky picture. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Batshit Crazy Dictator of Turkmenistan Saparmurad Niyazov has died. The B.C.D. has long been a favorite of this blog, and you can click on the label at the bottom of this post to find out why.

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I suspect B.C.D. Niyazov would have enjoyed the handover ceremony in Najaf yesterday. This rabbit maybe not so much.

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Hey, a record number of dead bodies were found in Baghdad yesterday, so don’t complain to me about the poor bunny rabbit. Also, I used the most tasteful of the pictures of this part of the ceremony, which also featured lip-synching and the biting off of frogs’ heads. And there was this display.

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The original caption reads, “Iraqi army soldiers simulate a self defence combat routine”. I thought they were supposed to be standing up so we could stand down.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bush press conference: you can do better than to have somebody try to rewrite history

Bush gave a press conference this morning, a dull affair called for no obvious reason, a placeholder for the delayed new way forward (TM), any questions about which were deemed “dangerous hypotheticals.” He used the phrase “an Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself” no fewer than four times (although he left out sustain itself one of those times).

Asked about Sistani’s position, Bush dismissed him: “he lives a secluded life”. Is that so, Bubble Boy?

Bush press conf 12.20.06   1

Switch grass, he mentioned switch grass again! Oh switch grass, how we’ve missed you.

He said over and over, the “Iranian people can do better,” as in, “My message to the Iranian people is you can do better than to have somebody try to rewrite history.”

Asked if this was a time of painful realization, whether he questioned any of his decisions, he said no. This has been another edition of simple answers from simple presidents to simple questions from simple reporters.

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The Miami Herald has a story about a Haitian teenager who had a 16-pound tumor on her face (ew!), which was just removed in Florida, allowing her to speak for the first time in 6 years. Her first words were “Thank you.” It truly is a Christmas miracle: a teenager who says thank you.

is in Iraq for what the Pentagon website actually calls a surprise visit....

... so what do you think? Instead of a nickname, I could do different pictures of gates in place of his name. Actually, that sounds like I’d be doing a lot of work to give Gates the illusion of being interesting, which is more than he’s ever done (as Groucho said to Margaret Dumont), so maybe not.

AP says “His trip so soon after taking office underscored the Bush administration’s effort to be seen as energetically seeking a new path in the conflict,” failing to mention that he delayed taking office so he could attend Texas A&M’s commencement ceremonies. It also, rather oddly, informs us that “It is Gates’ first trip to Iraq as defense secretary.”

He went with the alliterative Peter Pace John Abizaid (oops) who seems to have a backpack or a parachute or something.

Gates & Pace

There was sex and all kinds of issues

Talking Points Memo quotes the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which quotes the president of Yeshiva University, who was at the menorah-lighting ceremony at the White House yesterday, quoting Bush that “Terrorists can’t be God-believing people.” Also, at the event he talked to everyone who would listen about the need to confront Iran.

Iraq today: guards at a Baghdad bank decided that a funeral procession was fraudulent, part of an attempt to rob the bank, and shot it up. They were wrong.

The WaPo says Maliki would only go along with a “surge” if it was combined with a purge, that is if the American forces attacked Sunnis rather than Shiites in Baghdad. According to Maliki, this would result in reduced activity by Shiite militias, because American troops and the Iraqi army would make them redundant by killing Sunnis for them. The logic is impeccable, you have to admit.

Back to the WaPo interview with Bush I started talking about in the previous post, this time with a complete transcript. The big news, evidently, is his admission that we’re not winning in Iraq, or more specifically, and attributing the formulation to the alliterative Peter Pace, “We’re not winning, we’re not losing.” So he’s 50% correct, which is a 50-point improvement, so well done, George.

He denies that the election was about the American people wanting to leave Iraq: “There’s not a lot of people saying, ‘Get out now.’ Most Americans are saying, ‘We want to achieve the objective.’” Are they saying that? Let’s make a completely fair, totally objective test of that, with a poll of the readers of this blog. Remember, if you’re not American, you can’t vote.

Do you want to achieve the objective?
No free polls

So what was the election about, in Bush’s view? Well, “people are not satisfied with the progress being made in Iraq,” the fucking ingrates. Also, “look, you’ve got a guy using earmarks to enrich himself; there was sex and all kinds of issues”. He also says that “people are sick and tired of the needless partisanship in Washington.” Which is funny, because in 2000 he said people voted for him (a uniter, not a divider) because they hated partisanship, and now they voted for the opposition party for the same exact reason. Huh.

He said he wants to work with Democrats on Social Security, which he rather worryingly called an entitlement.

Asked whether the idea of invading Iraq was “not so great,” Bush said, “I’ve never really asked that question.” No kidding.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Bush was interviewed by WaPo reporters today (why just excerpts, WaPo?), and before they could even ask a question, he volunteered “I want to share one thought I had with you, and I’m inclined to believe that we do need to increase our troops”. He means overall, and permanently, not necessarily a “surge” in Iraq, but I think we know where this is headed. He says the military is not “broken,” as Colin Powell said, because the generals haven’t told him that it is; they also say, when asked to evaluate themselves, that their biggest flaw is that they care too much. Sheesh, what does he expect them to say?

Evidently, they don’t say it’s broken but they do say it’s “stressed.”

Shrub says, “we need to reset our military. There’s no question the military has been used a lot.” Reset? What does that mean? Like turning it off and turning it on again?

On Iraq itself, “I’m going to take my time to make sure that the policy, when it comes out, the American people will see that we are -- have got a new way forward to achieve an important objective, which is a country that can govern, sustain and defend itself,” adding, “Not Iraq, you understand, just a country. Possibly Sweden.”

He uses some variation of that phrase about showing/reassuring the American people three times in a short period of time. I’d say this was a sign of insecurity except it’s always been like this. Within a week or two of 9/11/01, they were talking more about reassuring the American people that air travel was safe than about actually making air travel safe.

By the way, have we completely abandoned the color-coded alert system?

I will show the authority of the government

American media have finally caught up to the firing of the governor in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, a week late. The spin they’re accepting is that it was because of increased opium production and not a direct order from the Americans, pissed at local peace deals with the Taliban, which the new governor says will not be repeated: “I will show the authority of the government.” Whose government, he did not say.

Although American government-produced propaganda is by law supposed to be aimed at foreigners and never at Americans, Radio Martí and TV Martí will buy time on stations in Florida.

Tony Blair, in the UAE, says there is a “battle between people of moderation, whether they are Muslim or Jew or any other religion, and people of extremism”. Try to work the phrase “people of enthusiasm” into a conversation today.

Contest: Name That Defense Secretary!

Secretary of Quagmires Robert Gates said at his swearing-in yesterday that losing in Iraq will be “a calamity that would haunt our nation”. It is this blog’s belief and policy that the faceless bureaucrats replacing more, shall we say, colorful Bushites, require nicknames to give them the illusion of personality. Since Gates probably considers “Bob” to be a little jaunty, a little daring, a little racy, if you will, it seems to be up to us. I nominate “Calamity Bob,” but then I thought that calling the press secretary “Tony Insert-Snow-Related-Pun-Here” as a running non-gag would never get old, so surely one of you can do better.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The people’s house

Nothing says awkward quite so much as Hanukkah at the White House (except maybe Kwanzaa at the White House). Bush says that this menorah is “a symbol that the White House is the people’s house, and it belongs to Americans of all faiths,” although he added that he hoped they wouldn’t “Jew it up too much.”

Chimpy Hanukkah   1

Chimpy Hanukkah   2

Chimpy Hanukkah   3

Earlier in the day he stuck the Indian ambassador next to a big ol’ Christmas tree, to show him whose God was boss.

Chimpy Xmas  1

Although, to be fair, you can’t actually go more than five feet in the White House before running into a Christmas tree or a Christmas wreath or some other form of Christmas decoration.

Chimpy Xmas  2

Nobody should have a veto on progress

Bush, at the swearing-in ceremony for Robert Gates says he “will be an outstanding Secretary of the Defense” and that Rumsfeld was “a superb leader at the Department of Defense.” Is outstanding better or worse than superb?

Tony Blair was in Palestine today, pretending that support for only one element of government, President Abbas, is support for democracy, and backed his unconstitutional plan to call new elections. Blair said, “nobody should have a veto on progress”. He meant Hamas, not Israel.

Then he moved on to Israel, where he held his hand over a candle flame, G. Gordon Liddy style, to prove how tough he is.

2006 in pictures

Tony Blair, who has made a surprise Christmas visit to British troops in Basra every year since the war started, made a surprise Christmas visit to British troops in Basra. It was quite a surprise. He signed an armored personnel carrier; he wrote, “Good luck! Tony Blair.”

Let’s move on from Blair looking kinda goofy to my annual selection of the best pictures posted on “Whatever It Is, I’m Against It” this year. I’ve looked through all the photos of 2006 and... shit have I over-indulged in “Bush looking goofy” pics. I know Bush looking goofy is the well that never runs dry, but... damn.

Condi & Siniora    4

There isn’t really a lot of overlap between my pics and those in the Republican National Committee 2007 calendar, although for June they have this snap

of Bush with a “snowflake” baby, similar to one I ran, and for October they feature one of my old themes, “Bush leaning on a black woman.”

My promise to you for 2007: wherever there’s a picture of Bush tripping, or being strangled by an old lady, or pinching Angela Merkel’s butt, wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, wherever there’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there.