Showing posts with label George W Bush. Show all posts
Showing posts with label George W Bush. Show all posts

Friday, January 18, 2013

Texans


A few years ago, I used to think of one of these Republican celebrities, George W Bush, as a dumb asshole. Today, I look upon his Texan mate Lance Armstrong as a clever but nasty asshole. I'm thinking above all of the despicable way in which he bullied the Irish girl Emma O'Reilly, his soigneuse (literally carer) in the US Postal team, seen here in Sestrières in 1999.


The Armstrong doping system seems to have hurt a lot of innocent and less innocent people. And it has hurt permanently the wonderful sport of competitive cycling.

POST SCRIPTUM: I'm puzzled by an interesting idea. Is it thinkable that all the chemical shit ingurgitated by Armstrong for a decade might be considered henceforth as a proven cure for testicular cancer? He appears to be in perfect health. Maybe regular dope, like Guinness, is good for you...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Nonsense cartoon

Apparently Mitt Romney believes the kind of frightening nonsense expressed in the following cartoon:


It's scary to think that such a believer could become the US president, with control over a vast nuclear arsenal. Sure, we were more or less broken in to such a situation through George W Bush, but I'm convinced that Mitt the Nitwit would be far worse. It's really weird that the citizens of a great nation such as the USA would be prepared to call upon a Mormon moron to lead them.

Meanwhile, Richard Dawkins has just tweeted an interesting observation:
Mormonism is no nuttier than ancient religions, but they have the excuse of being ancient, not 19th-century fabrications.
I often wonder whether there's any hope for the USA. For that matter, I often wonder whether there's any hope for the so-called civilized world. I believe there is, but in a distant future. For the moment, we're moving through a dark age, which is likely to last for a long time.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lest we forget

Now that George W Bush is leading the quiet life of a wealthy and distinguished retiree, we must not fail to recall constantly the extent and ongoing consequences of his acts.

The association named Iraq Body Count [click the banner to visit their web site] has been maintaining plausible statistics concerning violent civilian deaths in Iraq during and since the 2003 invasion. I have placed an IBC counter in the right-hand column of this blog.

Friday, April 17, 2009

American torturers

Now that Barack Obama has released explicit data concerning the use of torture by US authorities, I'm convinced that, sooner or later, the American torturers—including the highest-ranking individuals who were responsible for condoning these horrors—will be brought to justice and punished. It's unthinkable that this sordid affair will simply fade away. It's only a matter of time...

After all, certain nations are still actively pursuing criminals whose acts were committed during World War II. Why should civilized societies simply wipe the slate clean concerning well-documented acts of barbarity that date from a few years ago?

BREAKING NEWS: An article, this morning, in The New York Times echoes precisely my feelings in this domain. It states that "new revelations are fueling calls by lawmakers for an extensive inquiry into controversial Bush administration programs". John Conyers, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has evoked explicitly the idea of prosecuting senior Bush administration officials and lawyers at the Justice Department who condoned torture tactics. In any case, it's already becoming clear that, in years to come, George W Bush will be identified primarily—by students, journalists, historians and ordinary people throughout the world—as the US president who allowed officially the use of torture by interrogators. And Tony Blair and John Howard will be remembered mainly (if at all) as acolytes of this dumb US president.

Anecdote. To illustrate this blog article, I've selected the familiar photo of orange blobs of humanity planted like plaster dwarfs in a Guantanamo "garden". Last night, on the TV news, journalists illustrated their story on Obama's release of CIA data (designated in a prominent French daily as a "half measure") by a wide sampling of the stock of torture images. That's to say, French families and their kids, while finishing their evening meal, were treated to images of water torture, dogs snarling at inmates, the notorious female guard pointing jokingly at a mass of naked prisoners, the hooded man with outstretched arms in an electrified cloak, evoking a dead Christ taken down from the cross, etc.

The time has come to say things simply and clearly, so that our children will know and remember the truth. Bush authorized torture!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Getting the words right

It's amusing that Barack Obama decided to proclaim his oath of allegiance a second time, after the judge screwed it up the first time. And it's interesting to discover that there's no Bible in this repeat event.

Christians might say that God, through His extraordinary communication capabilities, was surely capable of untangling the initial screwed-up message, so there was no point in invoking Him the second time round. It's more likely, I think, that the absence of a Bible proves that, during the screwed-up swearing-in, the Bible was merely part of the decor, rather than an essential element in the act. In my view, this is fair enough, because the role of the book appears to be a rather symbolic do-it-yourself thing in the swearing-in ritual. Each president-to-be seems to have the right to bring along the particular version of the book that pleases him. What would happen, I wonder, if a Jew were to be elected president? Would he be able to bring along a Hebrew edition of the Torah, without any New Testament whatsoever?

On the other hand, this repeat performance of Obama's swearing-in underlines a highly significant aspect of the procedure: namely, the fundamental importance of the exact words pronounced by the future president in his oath. As everybody knows, these words are extracted from the US constitution, and nobody has the right to play around with them, inventing even a trivially modified form of the oath. I found it amusing that the words were screwed up the chief justice John Roberts, nominated in 2005 by a president who became the laughingstock of the planet because of his habit of screwing up words. It was almost as if Roberts had staged deliberately this embarrassing incident as a departure gift to Dubya, to make him feel less alone.

The fundamental nature and all-importance of human language is the subject of The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker, which I've been reading slowly over the last week or so.

It's a truly remarkable study of the subtleties of language. I find it a sobering book in that I simply never realized, up until now, the amazing complexity of English verbs, even though I tended to imagine naively that I surely understand, more or less, what they're all about. Often, when words are poorly arranged in a sentence, a native English speaker realizes that something's wrong, but we don't necessarily know why it sounds wrong, and how to fix it. We laugh when we hear of this sign in a bar in Norway: "Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar." But George W Bush spoke that kind of English regularly: "I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office." Talking of Bushspeak, Pinker mentions the former president in The Stuff of Thought: "In 2006 George W Bush signed into law the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, which increased the fines for indecent language tenfold and threatened repeat offenders with the loss of their license." Isn't it touching that somebody as badly-spoken as Dubya would be offended by indecent language!

I started this post by talking about Obama's swearing-in. Well, on the theme of swearing and oaths, Pinker's book happens to include one of the most colorful chapters you could ever imagine. The chapter title: The seven words you can't say on television. The great Woody Allen once explained his way of telling somebody to leave: "I told him to be fruitful and multiply, but not in those words." Now, inspired by Woody's words, I really can't end these rambling reflexions about screwed-up words without a few nice words of farewell to the departing president, who impressed countless observers in such a special way: "Be fruitful and multiply, Sir, and enjoy your retirement."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mission accomplished

Here's the bottom line, in a few approximate figures:

-- Deaths of US soldiers in Iraq = around 4,226

-- Unemployment in the USA = around 7 %

-- Disapproval rating in God's Own Country = around 67 %

In his most recent speeches, Bush has been striving to persuade people to retain a favorable impression of his eight years of havoc as the big boss of the USA.

When I try to imagine the aspect of George W Bush that annoys me most, I revert automatically to my love of science and my personal bias towards scientific logic. Students of my generation worshipped naively a process known as induction, which was a sophisticated scientific variation on the theme of generalization. We were led to believe that scientific laws arise almost spontaneously, whenever we happen to encounter the same kinds of events reoccurring in a similar fashion... such as the Sun rising every morning, and setting every evening. The general idea of induction is that, after following the Sun's movements for a certain number of days, you'll be led inexorably, almost automatically, towards a sound theory of the movement of our planet within the Solar System. Now, I don't know whether or not Bush has ever heard of induction, or whether his brain would be capable of analyzing such a philosophical concept. For argument's sake, let's imagine Bush for a moment as a turkey being fattened for Thanksgiving Day. Using induction (which, I repeat, is a false theory), George W Turkey would have included that God and Man are great benefactors of turkeys, which gravitate in perpetual Freedom (a term that Dubya loves, without necessarily knowing what it means) in a God-Given Cosmos of Turkey Lovers... Then, as the Thanksgiving Day axe was about to descend upon its neck, the presidential turkey would make a speech: "Knowing what I knowed, I did my best, and I trust that posterity will love me." Axe, slash, blood, feathers, crash... like a stratospheric goose in a jet engine over Manhattan. It's not impossible that Dubya will land safely and calmly. Americans, to my mind, are basically forgetful, often simply stupid (when they vote, for example). We'll see...

When Isaac Newton got hit on the head by an apple, he suddenly imagined (so the lovely legend goes) that an ubiquitous force was forever attempting to drag, not only apples, but everything in the Cosmos back towards our humble planet... and vice versa. I try to imagine George W Bush, in the place of Isaac Newton, getting hit on the head by an apple at his ranch in Texas. I see him exclaiming to his admiring wife: "Laura, with the help of God, I've given these apples their freedom! They're falling henceforth on my dull brain!" But we wouldn't have got a theory of the universe...

The following photo was taken in front of 10 Downing Street on 3 January 2009, after an anti-Israel demonstration:

As you can see, they're not apples. An observer might say that Bush is no longer connected directly with current events in Gaza. But the Old World seems to have retained already the image of a down-to-earth object, a male shoe, by which to remember the outgoing president. And this striking symbol is becoming a universal expression of opposition. But I'm exaggerating a little. While the missiles in question can certainly be described as down-to-earth, they weren't really striking. Dubya ducked. Neither an apple nor a shoe ever hit his brainless head.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Do-it-yourself posterity

In one of my favorite newspapers, The New York Times, an article by Frank Rich entitled A President Forgotten but Not Gone [display] sketches a brilliantly cruel portrait of George W Bush on the way out.

The time has come for Bush to start thinking about how he might be judged by posterity. Now, there's a French saying: You can never get better service than from yourself. In this spirit, the departing president has thought it appropriate and useful to publish a 52-page guide book on his legacy: a sort of How to Love and Admire Me in Ten Easy Steps.

[Click the photo to download the Bush legacy booklet.]

It's free, and it makes for pleasant reading. There are lots of illustrations, and I advise you to print it out on paper. Australian readers might take this piece of literature to the beach, and share it with friends. Here in chilly France, the best way of reading it, of course, is snuggled up in front of a log fire... but people will surely be disappointed to learn that there's no French translation of this opus.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dubya is departing

Certain individuals leave the scene rapidly, at the speed of gravity.

Others take their time, leaving wearily in dribs and drabs, with their tail between their legs like a scolded dog.

It must be strange for George W Bush to find so many nice folk—often former friends—having trouble hiding their joy abut his imminent departure. Yesterday, at the climate talks in Poland, Brice Lalonde of France told a joke:

A man drops in at the White House and asks to see Bush. "He doesn't live here any more," says the doorman. The next day, and the day after, the fellow returns to the White House and asks the same question, receiving the same answer. On the fourth day, the exasperated doorman says: "I've told you several times already. President Bush is no longer here." The visitor flashes a contented grin. "I know he has gone. But it makes me so happy to hear you say that."

BREAKING NEWS: In Baghdad, Bush got booted. In a surprisingly expert style, the president ducked two leather projectiles launched, one after the other, in an equally sporting fashion, by a 28-year-old Iraqi journalist named Muntader al-Zaidi.

Verbal message (in Arabic) accompanying the first shoe: "This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss, you dog!"

Verbal message accompanying the second shoe: "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!"

Monday, October 27, 2008

Final days of a man of sadness

Theoretically, George W Bush will of course continue to be the US president until the investiture of a new man—who, I hope, will be Barack Obama—next January. In a week's time, Bush will descend politically, however, from his present lame duck status to a dying duck level. After that, good riddance to bad rubbish. The world, at last, will be able to look forward to talking about this grotesque individual in the past tense.

He has been here. And I see no bravery.

[Click the photo to hear James Blunt's moving lament.]

The Bush years started at that 9/11 moment. Between the attack in Manhattan and the turmoil in Wall Street, seven years later, there was the bloody fiasco in Iraq and then, at home, the Katrina catastrophe. These Bush years will have been some of the darkest in US history.

The departing president will nevertheless be able to look back on certain rare moments of tenderness when special friends provided him with an illusion of endless love [display].

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Retirement preoccupations

What a delightful blog title and simple banner:

For readers who might not be aware of personal facts concerning George W Bush, Crawford is the Texan municipality where he owns a ranch. If I understand correctly, it's not absolutely certain that Bush will in fact retire there when his presidential mandate ends... on 20 January 2009.

Actual countdown clocks are now displayed on the web:
They stopped counting long ago!
Articles and blog posts are also starting to appear concerning the possible nature of Bush's historical legacy. Most specialists consider that he will not be considered as the worst president in US history, because the competition for that title is pretty tough in God's Own Country. But he stands a good chance of being thought of as "one of the worst", at least in the modern era. All I hope, when these historical "honors" are bestowed, is that some of the Bush infamy rubs off onto his old mates in the UK and Australia: Tony Blair and John Howard. I don't know whether these guys—along with Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld and all the others—ever lose sleep thinking about all the chaos and bloodshed for which they're directly responsible in Iraq. How do they remember their condoning torture ?

In the Dawkins book I'm reading [see my previous post], my Favorite Author brings up a fascinating topic concerning the planet Earth: collisions with large meteorites or comets. An awesome impact wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. It hit Mexico at a place now named Chicxulub, leaving a crater with a diameter of 180 kilometers.

Devastating collisions with heavenly bodies continue to be a threat. The big difference now is that earthlings should be able to foresee imminent dangers of this kind, and even deploy gigantic futuristic technology capable of saving our souls. Dawkins sees this as a potential challenge for determined statesmen such as Dubya and the late great Ronald Ray-Gun.

Politicians who invent external threats from foreign powers, in order to scare up economic or voter support for themselves, might find that a potentially colliding meteor answers their ignoble purpose just as well as an Evil Empire, an Axis of Evil, or the more nebulous abstraction 'Terror', with the added benefit of encouraging international co-operation rather than divisiveness. The technology itself is similar to the most advanced 'star wars' weapons systems, and to that of space exploration itself. The mass realisation that humanity as a whole shares common enemies could have incalculable benefits in drawing us together rather than, as at present, apart.

Indeed, it would be marvelous if George W Bush, once retired, were to spend his time and resources in transforming Crawford into a fabulous planetary fortress destined to detect and counterattack threats from the heavens. Everything's imaginable when you've got God on your side.

ADDENDUM

I'm not happy with the grammatical laxity in the above countdown clock. The word "quicker" is an adjective, not an adverb. I complained... and received the following friendly reply:

Hi William.

Thanks very much for the note. I am not kidding when I say this has been a running argument between me and my fiance for the last four years!!!!

I do realize that the text is grammatically incorrect, and for a short time we did have the proper wording in there. But it was just a bit too much of a mouthful, and as I'm sure you know, most Americans don't even know the difference. They prefer the vernacular over the grammatically correct.

Thank you very much for the note and we hope you enjoy the weekend!!!

All the best,

Vince and Merry

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Two heads of state

It's rare to see a photo of an encounter between the respective leaders of France and Australia.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd met up today at the NATO summit talks in Bucharest, Romania. Although Australia is not a member of NATO, the prime minister is attempting to persuade European nations to step up their participation in the conflict with the Taliban in Afghanistan. France was a founding member of NATO, but Charles de Gaulle decided to withdraw from the integrated military structure of the organization in 1966. France has nevertheless remained one of the five nations that finance three-quarters of the NATO budget.

France is, of course, one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. In that domain, Kevin Rudd was pleased to learn, from Sarkozy, that France will support Australia's candidacy for admission as an elected (temporary) member of the Security Council for the two-year period 2013-14. One has the impression that Rudd's Australia intends to play a more active role on the international scene, particularly in a European context.

In Bucharest, the French leader got back in contact with George W Bush. This encounter provided the US president with an opportunity for making yet another of those typically crazy declarations for which he is celebrated. In referring to Sarkozy's trip to America last November, Bush likened the Frenchman to... a reincarnation of Elvis Presley! Somebody should tell Bush that it's not Nicolas who sings, but rather his wife Carla. No, better still: Our French King of Bling should be persuaded into getting all dressed up and recording a karaoke version of one of the great hits of the King of Memphis, such as Love me tender or It's Now or Never. Such a video would make a delightful farewell gift for the US president when he leaves office.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Donkey's tail

Once upon a time, US presidents could be wise men. I'm delighted by this conversation between Abraham Lincoln and a colleague:

Abraham Lincoln: Sir, how many legs does this donkey have?

Colleague: Four, Mr Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln: And how many tails does it have?

Colleague: One, Mr Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln: Now, sir, let's suppose we were to call the tail a leg. How many legs would the donkey then have?

Colleague: Five, Mr Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln: No sir, for you cannot make a tail into a leg by simply calling it one.

If you test this tale about the donkey's tail among friends, you're likely to find out that the situation is not as clearcut as Abraham Lincoln (and I) believe it to be. Many people consider sincerely that, in certain cases, once it is said that X is Y, then X is indeed Y. In our modern societies, we're often required to see things in that way. For example, once a law court has concluded that an individual did in fact commit a certain crime, then everybody sees that decision, henceforth, as a statement of truth. In a more superficial domain, that of sport, once an umpire or a referee [I've never known the difference between these two terms] has determined that a ball is out, the players and spectators are required to consider, henceforth, that the ball was in fact out. In totalitarian societies, too, when a dictator says that something is the case, citizens are expected to act as if that something were indeed the case.

In the same way that somebody might wish to call a donkey's tail a fifth leg, individuals such as George W Bush, gifted with imagination rather than wisdom, are prepared to call an embryonic cell a potential human being. In my recent article entitled Red can be wrong [display], I evoked the invention of so-called reprogrammed pluripotent human cells, which should normally be able, in the near future, to replace embryonic stem cells in medical research. Kind observers have suggested that Bush, through his stubborn outlook on embryonic stem cells, should be credited retrospectively for creating the research context in which this invention was made... by force, as it were. To my mind, that's like thanking the donkey for the non-existence of its fifth leg.

Forgive me, Moshé, for making that silly comparison. I don't need to reassure you, my dear donkey, that you're far wiser than the current US president.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Thou art Petraeus

Upon this rock, George W Bush has decided to pursue his war in Iraq. But the gates of hell could well prevail against this bright and confident soldier, who has just been offered Bush's war on a silver plate, like the head of John the Baptist.

The great French statesman Georges Clemenceau [1841-1929] once said cynically that "war is too serious an affair to be placed in the hands of generals". Clearly, the US president has no such qualms about handing over the Iraq fiasco to David Petraeus. Meanwhile, some of Bush's supporters take pleasure in pointing out that the four-star general is a bright guy, with a doctorate in international relations from Princeton, who surely knows what must be done in Iraq. Ah, if only Bush had obtained a doctorate or two from a distinguished US university, everything would be going so much more smoothly today!

There's an amusing expression in French slang: filer le bébé, literally "to hand over the baby", particularly in contexts where the metaphorical baby has just dirtied its diapers, and needs to be cleaned up. In transferring the Iraq baby to Petraeus, Bush is no doubt warming up for the inevitable forthcoming moment when he'll be secretly delighted to hand over the whole shitty mess to the next US president.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Not so speedy, Gonzales

Attorney general Alberto Gonzales, old Texan friend and colleague of George W Bush, has finally resigned, after accusations of screwing up a congressional inquiry into the dismissal of eight US attorneys. Friendly rodents of all varieties would appear to be leaving a sinking ship...

Iraq and Vietnam

My post of 28 January 2007, Memories of Vietnam [display], evoked the tenebrous precedent of the USA's defeat in Vietnam.

Today, there's something distinctly indecent in the recent allusions to this defeat expressed by George W Bush: "One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid for by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like boat people, reeducation camps and killing fields." Then he asked rhetorically: "Will today's generation of Americans resist the deceptive allure of retreat?"

The aftermath of the US "withdrawal" [defeat] in Vietnam was indeed a ghastly mess. But Bush is cheating blatantly with both history and logic when he insinuates that it would be an error for the US to "retreat" for the second time, in today's bloody Iraqi quagmire. He seems to be saying that the only way of avoiding a repeat phenomenon in Iraq of "millions of innocent citizens" is for the US to "resist the deceptive allure of retreat". Now, this kind of pseudo-thinking is idiotically erroneous, to the point of being criminal, since there is no common measure to the dangerousness of the respective situations in Vietnam 1975 and Iraq 2007. I have the impression that Bush is a total moron in the historical and geopolitical domains. Comparing the potential consequences of his Iraq fiasco with the sad but relatively inconsequential [short-lived] US defeat in Vietnam is stupid, to say the least. But suggesting that the only way of avoiding similar negative consequences is to remain firm in Iraq is frankly grotesque. The truth of the matter, as everybody knows (except Bush), is that Iraq is an infinitely more lethal context than Vietnam.

Ever since Biblical times, the Middle East is potential Hell! Because of its territorial and religious conflicts, not to mention its oil, it's a constantly festering wound that could erupt at any instant into turmoil of planetary dimensions. Since Bush's invasion, Iraq has already discovered massive daily terrorism of the worst kind, which could rapidly infect other parts of this Old World.

Alas, the damage has been done [by Bush] and it is already too late to imagine that everything would revert to normal if US troops were to abandon Iraq overnight. As implied in my posts concerning the Baghdad visit of Bernard Kouchner, entitled French doctor in Iraq [display] and Kouchner on al-Maliki: He must be replaced [display], the leaders of the planet must enter into a subtle world of diplomacy, in the time-honored French traditions, to see what can be done about Iraq. The time of Texan cowboy politics is definitely over. And when the cowboy decides to see himself as a geopolitical historian, he must be diplomatically gagged... for the safety of the planet.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Brain removal

Karl Rove, referred to by critics of the US administration as "Bush's Brain", has decided to stop prancing for the president. The guru's resignation was announced soon after the Bush family picnic at Kennebunkport attended by a French vacationer named Nicolas Sarkozy (whose wife Cécilia didn't turn up, because she had a cold).

I've been wondering whether there might be some kind of causal relationship between these happenings. Maybe the Brain concluded that, if the wife of a foreign head of state can find a polite way of saying no to Dubya, then it was time for him to behave similarly. There are other conjectures. It's possible that the Brain was shocked to see his protégé behaving in a cool friendly fashion towards a Frenchman. Or maybe the vision of a French president saying he likes America was simply too much, convincing Karl Rove that he no longer understands anything whatsoever about politics.

In any case, the Brain's neurons have been been flickering alarmingly ever since 2003, when he earned notoriety by leaking the name of ex-CIA spy Valerie Plame. Sure, you might say that mere notoriety is better than a spell in jail, but it must have been a minor cerebral trauma for Rove to see his colleague Scooter Libby condemned in place of Dick Cheney and himself. More recently, there has been another nasty affair about Rove's involvement in the firing of federal judges who weren't sufficiently loyal to Dubya. And the backdrop to this fall from grace is of course the recent Republican electoral defeat.

The sole pertinent question is: Can George W Bush, deprived of his Brain, pursue his presidential mandate? What a silly question! Of course he can. Like weightlessness for seasoned astronauts, brainlessness is a state that Dubya knows well. The US president is an experienced idiot.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Woman who has paid the price

Cindy Sheehan's 24-year-old son Casey died in Iraq over three years ago. Since then, this lady has become known as an anti-war activist both in the USA and overseas. Her most-publicized action consisted of setting up a protest base, known as Camp Casey, near George Bush's famous ranch in Texas. Two months ago, Cindy Sheehan gave the impression that she was throwing in the sponge, and returning to her ordinary life as a mother. But her pause from militancy did not last long, since she has just announced a challenge to the Democratic speaker Nancy Pelosi. Basically, if Pelosi does not launch impeachment proceedings against Bush within the next fortnight, 50-year-old Sheehan threatens to move into the political arena by attempting to unseat Pelosi in next year's elections.

Cindy Sheehan considered that Bush should be impeached for two major reasons:

— He misled Americans with false justifications for attacking Iraq.

— He condoned the use of torture: a violation of the Geneva Convention.

The incident that brought Sheehan back into the activist arena was Bush's decision to commute the jail sentence imposed upon "Scooter" Libby, whose conviction had been linked to a mediocre affair resulting in the identity of a female CIA agent being leaked deliberately by the Bush administration to the press.

Retrospectively, we cannot compare the pain of a mother who lost her son in a senseless war with the professional harm endured by a woman who has lost her job as a spy. But there's a common denominator in many of the acts perpetrated by Bush and his men. To put it bluntly, they've hurt many people. Does the president himself realize this? Maybe. Be that as it may, Bush doesn't like the idea of his buddy Libby getting hurt by time in the pen. Whatever else we might say about the US president, we have to admit that he's kind to his friends.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Circular thinking

I've always been amused by a silly little joke about a road worker erecting a pile of rocks in the middle of a street and placing a red warning lamp on top.

Passerby [to road worker]: "Why have put that pile of rocks in the middle of the street?"

Road worker: "To support the flashing red lamp."

Passerby: "And why have you put a flashing red lamp in the middle of the street?"

Road worker: "To let people know there's a pile of rocks there."

George W Bush is reasoning in this absurd circular way about the situation in Iraq. He invaded the country because invalid intelligence (lies) caused him to believe that Osama bin Laden might be intent upon transforming Iraq into a terrorist haven enabling Al Qaeda to prepare attacks against the United States. Today, Bush acknowledges that Iraq has indeed been transformed into a terrorist haven, and he now argues that this is a justification for pursuing the war.

While it would be asking too much to suppose that the intellectual capacities of Dubya might enable him to recognize the existence of circular thinking, other smart observers see things this way. The New York Times quotes Richard A Clarke, former presidential security adviser, as saying: “One day, Bush tells us we are fighting in Iraq so that terrorists won’t come here [to the US]. Then he releases intelligence that says terrorists trained in Iraq are coming here. Which is it?” The New York Times also quotes Thomas Sanderson, terrorism specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as declaring: “We created the biggest terrorism training ground known, which is Iraq.

Meanwhile, at a press conference in London yesterday, Irene Khan, secretary general of Amnesty International, launched their 2007 report. Basing her speech upon a central theme that she called "the politics of fear", Irene Khan said:

"Five years after 9/11, new evidence came to light in 2006 of the way in which the US administration treated the world as one giant battlefield for its 'war on terror', kidnapping, arresting, arbitrarily detaining, torturing and transferring suspects from one secret prison to another across the world with impunity, in what the US termed 'extraordinary renditions'. Nothing more aptly portrayed the globalization of human rights violations than the US-led 'war on terror' and its program of 'extraordinary renditions' which implicated governments in countries as far apart as Italy and Pakistan, Germany and Kenya. Ill-conceived counter-terrorism strategies have done little to reduce the threat of violence or ensure justice for victims of terrorism but much to damage human rights and the rule of law globally."

Monday, May 21, 2007

Appalling legacy

In comparing George Bush and Tony Blair, a wag [no pun intended] said recently that Bush has done everything wrong, with one exception: his success in getting Blair to back him up over Iraq. Inversely, Blair has done everything right, with one exception: his decision to back up Bush over Iraq.

The name Chatham House might not mean much to you. You'll know what I'm talking about as soon as I point out that, up until September 2004, this London-based think tank was known as The Royal Institute of International Affairs. [Click the banner to visit their website.] Here's how they describe themselves:

Chatham House is one of the world's leading organizations for the analysis of international issues. It is membership-based and aims to help individuals and organizations to be at the forefront of developments in an ever-changing and increasingly complex world.

This organization has just published a 12-page report, Accepting Realities in Iraq, which describes the appalling legacy which Bush and Blair—and let's not forget Howard, too—have left there. [Click here to obtain a copy of this so-called briefing paper.]

The report reads like an exercise in conjugating the verb fail, and declining the concept of failure. A spine-chilling extract [page 2]:

It can be argued that Iraq is on the verge of being a failed state which faces the distinct possibility of collapse and fragmentation.

The report quotes [page 3] the words of Anthony Cordesman of the Washington-based think tank called CSIS [Center for Strategic and International Studies]:

It is more than possible that a failed president [Bush] and a failed administration will preside over a failed war for the second time since Vietnam.

Observers have been pointing out constantly that the Bush/Blair/Howard legacy in Iraq can only be described as civil war. The Chatham House paper is far more scathing [summary on page 1]:

There is not 'a' civil war in Iraq, but many civil wars and insurgencies involving a number of communities and organizations struggling for power.

How many more deaths and how much more destruction will it take until the diabolical and stubborn Bush/Blair/Howard trio wakes up to an obvious fact? They have only one option left: Get the fucking hell out of Iraq as soon as possible...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Jimmy Carter blasts Bush and Blair

Never before in recent political history has a former US president spoken so harshly about both the current president and the British prime minister. Jimmy Carter claims that the current presidency is "the worst in history". The 2002 Nobel laureate said that the Bush approach represented "the overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations". He added: "We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered."

Carter was particularly outspoken in his criticism of Tony Blair's relationship with Bush: "Abominable. Loyal, blind, apparently subservient." He explained: "I think that the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq has been a major tragedy for the world."