Friday, May 16, 2008

The Way the Media Work
Day 1: George Bush says two and two is five.

Day 2: Washington Post reports two and two is four is “a suddenly controversial concept.”

Day 3: Fox News decries Arabic numerals as anti-American.

Day 4: Hillary tells Fox that Brubeck’s Take Five is her favorite tune.

Day 5: ABC investigation implicates Lebanese accountant.

Day 6: Full page ads by mathematicians back two and two is four and defend freedom to add.

Day 7: Gail Collins of NY Times chides “extremists on both sides.”

The Way I Work
Two and two is four everyday--except on vacation when deux et deux font quatre.
War with Iran Cheat Sheet
Knowledgable people are saying Bush will attack Iran as a grand parting shot. The justification and/or provocation will be total bullshit. Nevertheless, the Democrats and the media will buy it. Facts to keep in mind:

* Iran’s faith-based regime, which intones death to America and Israel on a daily basis, has yet to attack another country after 30 years in power.

* In fact, Iran, nee Persia, has not attacked another country in 270 years.

* The U.S. has already attacked Iran twice. In 1953, a CIA coup overthrew the democratically-elected government and installed a brutal dictatorship. American companies, with the Brits as junior partners, took over Iran’s oil. The dictatorship and the oil companies were kicked out by the current regime in 1978. Washington armed and advised its then ally Saddam Hussein’s 1980 invasion of Iraq, providing components for the chemical weapons that Hussein used against the Iranians and his own people. The U.S. eventually sold weapons to both sides. A million Iranians and Iraqis died in the eight year war.

* The war will be about oil and dominance. The U.S. regards the Persian Gulf as it does the Long Island Sound. In particular, Washington and Wall Street do not accept that the people who live there have a right to their own oil. "Iran has legitimate aspirations that need to be respected," Henry Kissinger recently wrote in the Washington Post, “but those legitimate aspirations do not include control over the oil that the United States and other industrial countries need.”

* Iran is three times bigger than Iraq in area and population. It has a very large army equipped with modern weapons, including thousands of medium and short range missiles. So it can mount at least three times the war we now have in Iraq.

* Then again, the Iranians might respond minimally and allow the ensuing rocketing of oil prices, plunge into global depression, explosion of anger in the Islamic world, upshot in terrorism, and isolation of the U.S. by a disgusted world punish America instead.

* Seventy percent of the people in the region, including most Iranians, are Shiites. Iran supports various Shiite movements, some of them armed, throughout the Middle East. By the same token, Saudi Arabia supports armed Sunni movements, including those making the great majority of attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. The U.S. and Israel support Christian, Sunni and Shiite clients in the region, and also bankroll and advise various armed factions inside Iran that carry out terrorist attacks to destabilize the country.

* Iran denies it wants or is building nuclear weapons. An official US intelligence community report as of January 2008 and continuing reports by the UN’s nuclear inspection agency confirm Iraq’s denial.

* Any use of nuclear weapons against Iran or any other Muslim country by either the U.S. or Israel will guarantee that sooner or later a nuclear weapon will be used against Israel.

* The chances of Bush attacking Iran between now and January 20, 2009: seventy percent on the Peter Meter.
The Lie That Won't Die
was zipping up to the supermarket wednesday morn, listening to the irascible Imus mix it up with the lamia Mary Matalin. He was calling her on Bush’s latest whopper that he quit golfing back in 2003 out of respect for the troops he banana balled into the unplayable lie of Iraq. She said her former boss is a perfect truth teller. Imus said Bush bullshitted us into the war with Iraq. She responded that everyone agreed that Saddam had WMD and challenged Imus to name just one world leader or intelligence agency that had said otherwise. Unprepared, he couldn’t.

Yahoos never quit flogging this fabrication. They don’t know or don’t care about the memory drives and video discs crammed with au contraire info. Since it still comes up, and will no doubt be an issue as we warm up for war on Iran, here’s some of what was said about the weapons in Iraq before the war began back in March, 2003:

*Iraq is no threat--Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisior Condoleezza Rice, February/July 2001

* While suspicions remain, no evidence has been given that Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction or capabilities in this field. Inspections have just reached their full pace; they are functioning without hindrance; they have already produced results--French/German/Russian Memorandum to UN, 2/24/03

* How much, if any, is left of the Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and related proscribed items and programs? So far, UNMOVIC has not found any such weapons -- Hans Blix, Chief UN inspector, 2/14/03

* We have to date found no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear related activities in Iraq. However...a number of issues are still under investigation and we are not yet in a position to reach a conclusion about them--Mohammed ElBaradei, Head of IAEA, 2/14/03

* Are there nuclear arms in Iraq? I don't think so. Are there other weapons of mass destruction? That's probable. We have to find and destroy them. In its current situation, does Iraq—controlled and inspected as it is—pose a clear and present danger to the region? I don't believe so. Given that, I prefer to continue along the path laid out by the Security Council. Then we'll see--French president Jacques Chirac, Time, 2/24/03

* We reiterate our full support for the ongoing work of U.N. inspectors. They must be given the time and resources that the U.N. Security Council believes they need--European Union Declaration, 2/18/03

* UN arms inspectors are privately complaining about the quality of US intelligence and accusing the United States of sending them on wild-goose chases...The inspectors have become so frustrated trying to chase down unspecific or ambiguous US leads that they've begun to express that anger privately in no uncertain terms--CBS News, 2/18/03

* UN sources have told CBS News that American tips have lead to one dead end after another. And whatever intelligence has been provided has turned out to be circumstantial, outdated or just plain wrong--CBS News, 2/20/03

* The intelligence inspectors were receiving from the US was referred to as garbage after garbage after garbage... It took a long time for the US to hand over intelligence in the first place and when they did it has proved to be highly inaccurate... Intelligence is circumstantial, outdated or completely wrong. It's wasting our time and our resources...Frankly, we have better things to do than run around the country chasing bogus so-called evidence--unnamed UN weapons inspector to London Daily Mirror, 2/22/03.

* Joern Siljeholm, UN weapons inspector: We received much incomplete and poor intelligence information from the Americans, and our cooperation developed accordingly. Much of what has been claimed about WMDs has proven to be sheer nonsense. From what I have seen they are going to war on very little--Aftenposten of Norway, 6/10/03

* The intelligence community made all kinds of errors and handled things sloppily. Some of the old-timers in the community are appalled by how bad the analysis was, the official said. If you look at them side by side, CIA versus United Nations, the UN agencies come out ahead across the board. — The New Yorker, 10/20/03

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tony Soprano and Reverend Wright
One reason I loved The Sopranos is that it mirrored the real America. Tony and the family at home were America at home. Tony at work was America in the world. He lied and Carmela, AJ and Meadow denied. They had to. It was beyond pain for them to admit to each other that the family thrived on thievery and murder.
Gore Vidal has noted that the unforgivable sin in American politics is to give up the game. In Soprano terms that would mean Tony owning up to the fact that waste removal was not really his life’s calling.

It is giving up the game in USA 2008 to reveal any of the following:

* Our political economy is expressly designed, and constantly fine tuned, to make the rich richer and the ambitious rich while keeping everyone else in their place.

* Racism is a handy tool for accomplishing this.

* So is the two party system in which the Republicans serve business and the Democrats serve as usual.

* The biggest, most important, expensive and dangerous thing we do as a nation is to run a global empire along the lines of Tony’s business.

* We have to expect that those screwed by the empire will resist and strike back.

* Because of this resistance, reinforced by the rise of rival powers, our attenuated empire is crumbling. With their ability to exploit the world reduced, our rulers are compensating by exploiting us more--ergo two-bit wages and four buck gas.

* Free enterprise capitalism is a chimera. Our financial system collapsed yet again on the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day, the victim of its own rapacity and Washington’s indulgence. It was rushed to intensive care by the Fed, where it still lies in a coma, kept alive by constant transfusions of taxpayer dollars. Meanwhile the rest of the economy is allowed to sink, all of this embodying the perfect truth of the observation by Greens and other radicals that America has two economic systems: socialism for the rich and feudalism for the rest.

* Anyone of prominence (meaning having access to major media) who imparts the above truths becomes a target for figurative or actual destruction.

*Reverend Jeremiah Wright used his 15 minutes of fame to give up the game big time. In context, he exuberantly declaimed that God was more likely to damn than to bless the crimes of our empire, that retribution was to be expected, and that AIDS was a tool of social control. He later backtracked on the last point, saying he wouldn’t put the government past doing such a thing.

* The pastor’s slag of the empire contrasted with Obama’s call for a bigger military and greater foreign involvement. If he’s serious about pulling out of Iraq, one wonders what Obama plans to do with the additional 90,000 troops he wants to add to the army. Obama has growled at Pakistan, declared his backing for the isolated death squad democracy in Columbia, and has given the back of his hand to the growing integration movement sweeping the rest of Latin America. Would those fresh troops be tasked for Waziristan, Caracas or Buenos Aires?

* The last notable outbreak of game-giving was early in the primary season when Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel were swiftly relegated to the extremist fringe for mentioning that the country was, indeed, in the empire business and not very successful at it at the moment.

* Back in May 2005, British parliament member George Galloway voided the bowels of the U.S. Senate by telling it plain truths about the origins and corruptions of the Iraq war. Americans who caught the Galloway show gasped at this shocking glimpse of straight talk by a politician--even more amazing than if Queen Elizabeth abdicated in favor of Amy Winehouse. Imagine if this subversive Brit’s candor had caught on like Harry Potter? Oh, the horror!

* Wright’s 15 minutes have faded. Obama has publicly rid himself of the refractory rector. Though the right branch of media central is scrambling to keep the Wright stuff going, economically strapped voters are not much interested. They’re more concerned with expensive gas than with heeding anti-Wright gasbags.

Meanwhile, the game goes on. It’s like living in Las Vegas--with no one allowed to mention gambling or showbiz.