Do You See What I See?

Sometimes I feel like the little boy in the cortege at the end of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

Someone, tell me, how long will the Bush administration be granted the people’s credulity in the matter of its honesty and forthrightness?

In the beginning, the President and his then National Security Advisor professed “shock and awe” that Islamic terrorists bent on slaying the beast of American Imperialism would ever hijack planes and fly them into iconic symbols of our culture in a suicidal quest for the fruits of Allah’s great beyond.

Further investigation and public testimony revealed they had in fact been put on notice of precisely such a likelihood, and that the President and his advisors had been, at the time, more concerned with “clearing brush” and cultivating a folksy image than with protecting American lives and national security interests.

Immediately thereafter, the administration committed the nation to an unending war on terrorism, promising to capture, “Dead or Alive,” Osama bin Laden –alleged mastermind of the September 11th attacks.

After a flurry of bombing runs over an already desolate Afghanistan and a cursory rout of its chimeric tormentors, the Taliban, the President and his entire administrative apparatus began bleating and wailing about the imminent threat of Saddam Hussein and his massive stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. The world hadn’t been faced by such a dangerous man since Hitler, they cried; and managed to obtain nominal backing for an invasion of Iraq from Congress and a paltry, but vocal, international “coalition of the willing”.

Osama who?

Three years, over $150 Billion, 1500 American, and countless thousands of Iraqi lives later, we’ve found not enough WMD to make anyone even sneeze.

Oh, but Hussein is out, and the Iraqi people are free. They conducted robust democratic elections for the first time in fifty years last week. The shining light of freedom is “on the hunt” in the Middle East, which was really the plan all along.

Just today another report on the actual goings on at the FAA during the incipient months of the Bush administration revealed that, despite “dozens of intelligence reports that warned about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, some of which specifically discussed airline hijackings and suicide operations,” Bush administration officials were “more concerned with reducing airline congestion, lessening delays, and easing airlines’ financial woes than [in] deterring a terrorist attack.”

Taken a plane or checked the financial health of any of America’s air carriers lately?

Not only did the Bush administration fail to confront the 900lb gorilla in the room, they haven’t had a whole bunch of success in the fields they claimed to be tending, either.

Not surprisingly, the Bush administration kept the report and its findings from the public for five months before releasing a heavily redacted version that, even in its sanitized airing of the workings of the Bush approach to government, condemns our leader as incompetent at best.

The Bush administration’s marketing of its approach to Medicare was sold to the public at a cost of some $400 Billion two years ago. Murmurings of discontent were heard then amid protestations that the WMD would still be found, but the Administration won passage of its Medicare bill anyway.

Today the administration sputtered to explain the newly revised cost of handing $724 Billion of taxpayer money to pharmaceutical corporations to give America’s seniors a prescription drug “benefit” over the next ten years that leaves them worse off than they are now.

On Monday the Bush administration presented Congress with a $3+ Trillion budget it described as “lean” and “responsible,” that promised to trim our record deficit in half over the next four years.

Borrowing from the kit bag of his friends at Enron and MCI, the President presented a document that left off the books expense items such as the cost of tending the eternal flame of freedom in the Middle East, of making tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans permanent, and of making a multi billion dollar subsidy to Wall Street the centerpiece of his plan to “fix” Social Security.

The President’s budget foresees “lean” times for low-income, “at-risk” sectors of the domestic economy, slashing support for education, veterans’ health care (support the troops!), the environment, public health, and a host of “non-performing” domestic spending programs, while “responsibly” increasing “defense” spending by 8%.

Osama who?

The Bush administration has paid cash money to ostensibly real, though politically accommodating, journalists to promote its initiatives and policy positions as “news.”

In the scam to promote its political agenda, the Bush administration has also given to fake reporters from fake news organizations the favor of access and attention in its rare news conferences.

The Emperor’s naked abuse of power, privilege, and the public trust shames us all.

Comments

  1. Michael Herdegen - July 14, 2005 @ 7:35 am

    In the beginning, the President and his then National Security Advisor professed “shock and awe” that Islamic terrorists [...] would ever hijack planes and fly them into iconic symbols of our culture in a suicidal quest for the fruits of Allah’s great beyond.

    Further investigation and public testimony revealed they had in fact been put on notice of precisely such a likelihood…

    ABSOLUTELY incorrect.

    The President and his senior staff were told that al Qaeda might attempt to hijack some U.S. planes, at sometime in the future…

    More like Nostradamus than actionable information.

    Nobody, (with the exception of a lone novelist), predicted that the hijackers would intentionally fly the airplanes into buildings.

    Further, let’s say that the reports had specified how the attacks would occur.
    What do you think the reaction of the airlines and the travelling public would have been, prior to 9/11, if the FAA suddenly mandated increased security screenings, hour-long lines for same, random strip searches, and that everyone must remove their shoes before boarding ?

    The box-cutters used to hijack the planes were LEGAL to carry on, at the time. That’s why they were used.

    After a flurry of bombing runs over an already desolate Afghanistan and a cursory rout of its chimeric tormentors, the Taliban…

    That’s a pretty breezy glossing-over of the fact that such has never been done before, although attempted by the British in the 19th century and the Soviet Union in the 20th century, mighty Empires both.

    Just before the Afghanistan campaign, nay-sayers were claiming that Afghanistan would be a “quagmire”, and that the U.S. would take years, and tens of thousands of casualties, to beat the Taliban. That’s certainly what the Taliban thought.

    Saddam Hussein and his massive stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

    Every nation and international organization on Earth believed that Hussein had WMD, including France, Russia, and the UN, not to mention the U.S. administration before Bush’s.

    Hussein started a war of aggression with Iran in 1980, in a naked attempt to gain territory, and continued for eight years, killing over 300,000 Iranians, (20,000 with poisonous gasses), and wounding another million. After suffering possibly 200,000 Iraqi deaths, Hussein ended the war in 1988, with the borders in exactly the same place.

    Not content with that, he invaded Kuwait in 1990, in part to avoid paying back $ 14 billion that he’d borrowed from Kuwait to finance the Iranian war.

    Understandably, all of his neighbors, plus Israel, considered Saddam to be a loose cannon, and a definite threat.

    By the way, there was no chance of OPEC demanding to be paid in Euros, so the ’03 invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with that.
    OPEC decideds how much they’ll produce, but they don’t set prices.

    [C]hecked the financial health of any of America’s air carriers lately?

    Except for Southwest, which always makes money, and JetBlue, the nation’s air carriers are suffering.
    However, they were suffering BEFORE 9/11 – in ’00, they lost a combined $ 10 billion. Even if 9/11 had never occurred, there would have been airline failures and consolidation.

  2. lonbud - July 14, 2005 @ 2:43 pm

    Michael, Condi Rice was told by Clinton’s outgoing intelligence people that the gravest threat to America’s security would be found in proponents of radical Islam. She was handed a whole program and mechanisms for dealing with that threat and she proceeded to stuff it in a drawer. BushCo was simply not interested in doing anything to ascertain the nature of nor prevent the possibilities of Islamic terrorism because an ‘event‘ would help rally the people behind the administration’s true priority, an invasion of Iraq and hegemony over its stategic petroleum reserves.

    You are apparently under the mistaken impression that we have ‘won’ something in Afghanistan. US troops continue to die there, the country is ruled, as it has been for centuries, by territorial warlords, and the Taliban are still there. What exactly has been accomplished?

    Just because the entire world was ‘mistaken’ about Hussein’s WMD capabilities and he was in fact a brutal dictator, a bad credit risk, and a loose cannon does not, IMHO, justify an invasion.

    You are wrong about OPEC and the role currency exchange played in the US decision to invade Iraq. See this and this.

  3. Michael Herdegen - July 14, 2005 @ 4:08 pm

    BushCo was simply not interested in doing anything to ascertain the nature of nor prevent the possibilities of Islamic terrorism because an ‘event‘ would help rally the people behind the administration’s true priority, an invasion of Iraq and hegemony over its stategic petroleum reserves.

    Conspiracy theory.
    Canada has much larger petroleum reserves than Iraq, and it’s right next door. Why aren’t they chafing under the brutal, oil-mad American yoke ?

    Instead of allowing a bunch of amateurs to steal some planes and crash them willy-nilly, why didn’t the Secret Service kill an “Iraqi assassin” sent to kill the President ?
    Or, why not stage an anthrax attack, using U.S. Army bio-agents, and blame it on Iraq ?

    The problem with the “Bush was behind 9/11″ theories is that on the one hand, it must be stipulated that the planners were highly organized and ice-blooded, but on the other hand, they were willing to trust a bunch of crazies to actually cowboy up and attempt the mission, and not to mess it up. What if ALL of the airliners had crashed in empty fields ?

    One or the other of those premises is false, and we KNOW that the latter one actually happened, so…

    Yeah, the Taliban are still around Afghanistan…
    Hiding over the border in Pakistan, dashing in to do a hit-and-run mission, then running back as fast as they can.
    Does that sound as though they still rule any part of Afghan territory or society ?

    What we won in Afghanistan was the total disruption of al Qaeda’s safe haven and training ground.

  4. Michael Herdegen - July 14, 2005 @ 4:28 pm

    Come on, lonbud, did you even BOTHER to read the materials that you refered me to ?

    From http://www.rationalrevolution.net/war/opec_iraq_euro.htm :

    i>However, from today’s perspective, even after the UK joins the single currency, there would seem to be little incentive for London’s International Petroleum Exchange (IPE), where Brent is traded, to switch its Brent crude oil and gas oil contracts to euros, since both are traded internationally and the dollar is at the centre of a complex global oil trading and hedging system. [...]
    So what is the OPEC position on this critical questions? Can the Organization consider switching its crude oil pricing from dollars to euros? Or will a basket of currencies be used?

    Because crude oil contracts are currently traded in dollars, and the prices of OPEC crudes are determined by using complex formulas derived from marker crudes, such as Brent and WTI, there is not much the Organization can do unilaterally until, and unless, there is a switch of denomination in these markets. OPEC has no control over the quotations of these marker crudes, whereas, in the past the Organization did set the official selling prices. That has all changed with the introduction of market-related prices which saw the system change from a seller’s to a buyer’s market, or at least where market forces now dictate prices. Moreover, the entire infrastructure of the oil market has been based around the dollar, and that will be hard to displace. However, as previously mentioned, a lot depends on Britain and Norway in determining what their level of EU integration will be, and whether their marker crude, Brent, could be traded in euros.”

    In other words, “there was no chance of OPEC demanding to be paid in Euros, so the ‚Äò03 invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with that.
    OPEC decideds how much they‚Äôll produce, but they don‚Äôt set prices.”

    Hmmm, I wonder where I’ve read that before ?

    Note that the only OPEC member getting paid in Euros was Iraq, whose oil industry was theoretically controlled by the UN at that time.

  5. lonbud - July 14, 2005 @ 8:04 pm

    Thanks, Michael, for keeping me on my toes here, however, things are simply not quite as cut and dried as either you or I would make them out to be with our rhetoric.

    OPEC does in fact decide how much they will produce and they do not set prices. Iraq, on the other hand, DID switch the currency of exchange from Dollars to Euros, and making an example of them was a component of BushCo’s motivation for slapping Hussein down.

    While the calculations and markers that go into global petro-economic decision making are indeed complex, when the dollar is falling and the euro is appreciating, every oil exporting nation, OPEC member state or not, has an incentive to look at the calculation with a more discerning eye to see if maybe they are getting short-changed by dealing in Dollars. That’s a bad thing in the eyes of a US government that sees the world in simple terms of good and evil.

    I also beg to differ with your characterization of my criticism of BushCo’s handling of the pre-911 intelligence as a Conspiracy Theory. I never intimated that BushCo was somehow behind 911. My feeling is that it was more a case of intentional negligence rather than active orchestration. The difference is subtle, I know, but it is significant.

  6. Michael Herdegen - July 15, 2005 @ 1:56 am

    Yes, getting paid in Euros would be more attractive to OPEC.

    I just don’t believe that the U.S. government, or any G8 government, would go to war over their currency. We’ve already spent, what, $ 300 billion on the Iraqi adventure, with more to come, and thousands of lives…

    Meanwhile, if America really, REALLY wanted to stop OPEC from pricing oil in Euros, all we’d have to do is significantly raise the interest rates the U.S. Government is paying for T-Bills, and the U.S. dollar would shoot up against the Euro.

    Going to war to support a currency is just…

    Not rational. Ineffective. Expensive.

    The Bush administration absolutely was NOT paying any attention to Islamofascist terror.

    However, neither was the previoius administration.

    Richard Clarke was apparently exactly right about al Qaeda and bin Laden, but he was a Cassandra within the Clinton administration.
    To say that the Bush team got handed “a whole program and mechanisms for dealing with that threat” ignores the fact that Clinton had the same recommendations from the same people, and stuffed ‘em in the same drawer.

    It wasn’t like the Bush admin was far more negligent than its predecessor.
    EVERYONE fell down on that one, which is my main objection to your characterization of Bush as being responsible for 9/11. What about the guy who back-burnered Islamofascist terror for SEVEN YEARS previous to Bush’s election ?

    Also, you didn’t address my question: “What do you think the reaction of the airlines and the travelling public would have been, prior to 9/11, if the FAA suddenly mandated increased security screenings, hour-long lines for same, random strip searches, and that everyone must remove their shoes before boarding ?”

    We cannot claim that POST-9/11 security measures would have been socially acceptable PRE-9/11; some of them weren’t even LEGAL, at that time.

    It took 9/11 to wake us up. The WTC had previously been bombed; there had been many hundreds of lives lost in at least four other major al Qaeda bombing attacks between ’93 and ’01; and yet, America didn’t feel particularly threatened, and would not have allowed the Bush admin to act as though there were a war on, because the public didn’t BELIEVE that there was a war going on.

    You didn’t claim that Bush somehow plotted, or arranged for, 9/11.

    However, when you say: My feeling is that it was more a case of intentional negligence rather than active orchestration. The difference is subtle, I know, but it is significant , and: BushCo was simply not interested in doing anything to ascertain the nature of nor prevent the possibilities of Islamic terrorism because an ‚Äòevent‚Äò would help rally the people behind the administration‚Äôs true priority, an invasion of Iraq and hegemony over its stategic petroleum reserves, what you’re saying is that the Bush admin believed that such an event would take place, and was so sure that it would be large enough to rally support for a war that they were basing their entire ability to accomplish their “true priority” on this event occuring.

    Simply put, you’re saying that President Bush is a traitor.

    THAT is why it’s conspiracy theory.

    One either has to believe that the Bush team, after ascending to the highest seat of power in the world, was willing to essentially leave it up to fate as to whether or not their fondest desires would come true, OR, that they knew what was coming, and did nothing.

    Does the former sound anything like the Bush power clique, or for that matter, ANY Presidential team ?

    Believing the latter brings us back to: “they were willing to trust a bunch of crazies to actually cowboy up and attempt the mission, and not to mess it up”, PLUS being traitors worthy of hanging.

    Isn’t it more likely that they just weren’t paying any attention to al Qaeda, and that, rather than looking to create a cassus belli, they simply seized the opportunity to capitalize on what had happened, exploiting public sentiment for their own goals ?

  7. lonbud - July 15, 2005 @ 8:28 am

    I don’t believe the traveling public would have had too much problem with boxcutters being placed on the verboten list prior to 9/11.

    And I keep forgetting that this whole mess we’re in right now is Clinton’s fault.

    You can’t win a war on an abstract noun with bullets and bombs.

    The war, such as it is, will only ever be won with the power of ideas. The Enlightenment and the Age of Reason got us where we are today; why abandon them now and go back to startegies that tried and failed to reconcile our “way of life” with Islam centuries ago?

  8. Michael Herdegen - July 15, 2005 @ 4:13 pm

    Banning boxcutters wouldn’t have stopped the hijackers. They would just have used razor blades they stashed in a carry-on shaving kit, or any number of a thousand other dodges.

    The point is, we didn’t believe that what happened, could happen. Until we believed, we couldn’t stop ‘em.

    Clinton is no more to blame for 9/11 than Bush is. The point is, the reverse is also true: Bush is no more at fault for 9/11 than Clinton is.

    Islamofascist terror isn’t some situation that Bush cooked up to excuse his lust for world domination, and it could have been more effectively dealt with before Bush even became Governor of Texas.

    There’s no need for the West to reconcile our “way of life” with Islam.
    Islam will reconcile itself to the West, or die.

    That has nothing to do with warfare, it has to do with culture and government. Muslim societies, by and large, have pitifully inept governments, and dead-end societies.

    Consider what the Middle East would be like without oil. Would any Arab Islamic society or government have anything to offer the world, except for agricultural products ?
    Right now, more books are published annually in Hebrew, a language read by perhaps 20 million worldwide, than are annually published in Arabic, a language potentially read by maybe 250 million in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

    Consider also, the oil in the Middle East will someday be gone, or have a much, much lower value.

    What will Arab Muslims do then ?

    The only way up and out for Islamic peoples is to adopt Western culture.

  9. lonbud - July 16, 2005 @ 8:15 am

    We can’t stop ‘em now, Michael. The TSA lets guns and knives and all kinds of contraband get through the circus hoops and disrobing procedures in place today. Homeland Security is but the Federal Government’s latest bureaucratic farce of a boondoggle. And it hasn’t even sniffed at the problem of securing the power grid, the water supply, nuclear power plants, urban transportation systems; the list of our vulnerabilities goes on.

    Can anyone really, honestly, believe BushCo has made us safer?

    Safety is a state of mind and, in that respect, Osama bin Laden won the WOT on 9/11.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not rooting for the victory of Islamic Fundamentalism, and I daresay even if it were the goal of the so-called Islamofascists to overwhelm and transform Western societies, odds are they could never win because their way of life is so opposed to the true spirit of human nature, which is to be happy and free.

    That doesn’t mean Islam must adopt Western ways or die, just that religious fundamentalism –in any of its guises– will never turn back the Enlightenment.

  10. Michael Herdegen - July 16, 2005 @ 4:08 pm

    There is no inherent need for Islam to change or die, but, speaking specifically of Arab Muslim states, they have allowed a situation to develop that leaves them only those two choices.

    There are 350 million people living in the Persian Gulf states and Northern Africa. Of those, about 250 million live in nations that depend on oil export revenues for all or most of their national income.

    However, if that oil revenue stopped, there wouldn’t be any way for at least half of them to make a living. A couple million could go back to a nomadic goat-herding lifestyle, and many millions have skills, and could emmigrate…

    Although there are many scenarios that could explain why the oil revenues would stop, or decline by 80% or more, the basic truth is that we KNOW that they will stop, eventually. The leaders of the Persian Gulf nations are well aware of that, as well. It’s the House of Saud’s # 2 comcern.
    If it were to happen abruptly, 50 million people in the region, or more, would die.

    THAT is what I mean by convert, or die.

    They’ve allowed the population to swell far beyond the basic ability of their lands and non-oil economies to support, but also haven’t worked very hard to position replacement industries for when the oil runs out.

  11. lonbud - July 16, 2005 @ 6:53 pm

    Everything you say may be true, Michael, though I’m not sure it means the Arab muslim oil-dependent societies must embrace the West, or adopt Western values, as their only defense against extinction. What is abundantly clear is the thin veil of perception that separates the living from the dead in this existence.

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