Wednesday, July 18, 2007


News Story That Makes Us Feel All Conflicted of The Day: “A new prosthesis under development will give servicemember amputees more flexibility and...” wait for it... “help them better perform their military jobs if they choose to stay on active duty.”

Usually when I think about commenting on a David Brooks column, I take a deep breath and decide that life is too short. Tuesday, however, he wrote about that Bush meeting with right-wing journalists. Brooks quotes Bush as saying that his belief in the inevitable progress of freedom and democracy is a “theological perspective.” You know, gift from the Almighty, that kind of thing. The rest of the column is about how Bush believes in leaders. “When Bush is asked about military strategy, he talks about the leadership qualities of his top generals. ... When Bush talks about world affairs more generally, he talks about national leaders.” Brooks, being a nitwit, doesn’t perceive any contradiction between Bush’s talk about democracy and his upholding of the führerprinzip.

The most interesting sentence in the column is “Bush said he will get General Petraeus’s views unfiltered by the Pentagon establishment.” He probably used that word too, since during the meeting he also talked about promoting the good news about Iraq, “tangible evidence that even the filter can’t filter out”. He still hasn’t learned a thing about the need to get multiple points of view, and still automatically discards any analysis that comes from an institution rather than an individual.

Today, Bush visited a company that makes underwater computer keyboards.

And just as this fabulous product gives people the choice of surfing the internet beneath the sea, Bush talked about giving people more choice in health insurance. He’s against it. Well, he’s against it if one of the choices is provided by the government. He opposes the proposed expansion of the S-CHIP program because it “would cause people to drop their private insurance in order to be involved with a government insurance plan.” Is it me, or is he saying that the possibility that people might prefer it is a reason it’s a bad idea? Also, “I believe government cannot provide affordable health care.” Which would astonish the citizens of every other advanced industrial country in the world, but again, it’s a voluntary program; if it’s not affordable, people won’t sign up for it. “I believe it would cause -- it would cause the quality of care to diminish. I believe there would be lines and rationing over time.”

A Bush line I didn’t catch in yesterday’s session with Ban-Ki-Moon until I heard it on the BBC: Al Qaida is weaker now than in 2001 “because we’ve been working with the world to keep the pressure on”. Evidently he doesn’t realize that the United States is, actually, part of the world. Which would explain a lot.

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