Archive for the 'Bush' Category

Bush, Turkey

bush, turkeyToday, our beloved leader issued his annual pardon of a pair of turkeys (after having them fully interrogated in Syria, of course). The web site of the Imperial Palace offers up some fascinating information on the history of this heart warming tradition, along with a breakdown of this year’s vote, which I’ve reprinted below.

Slate is offering an in-depth analysis of the race and its history.

Every Thanksgiving, the president actually pardons two turkeys – the official Thanksgiving Turkey, who poses for the cameras in the Rose Garden, as well as an alternate, who remains in an undisclosed secure location, ready to take over if the Thanksgiving Turkey is eaten by terrorists. The two turkeys then retire to the Elysian Fields of Disneyland, where they will serve as Grand Marshals for Disney’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and be free to volunteer as mascots for California congressman Duncan Hunter’s 2008 presidential campaign.

A few years ago, Bush aides launched an online contest to name the turkeys. That was back in the days when the Bush White House enjoyed elections.

The turkey naming contest has been more successful than other administration experiments in democracy, like Iraq. But like the administration itself, the contest may be fading away for lack of interest.

In 2004, nearly 20,000 people voted, lifting the names Biscuits and Gravy to a 27%-22% win over Patience and Fortitude. Last year, turnout dropped by a third, to a mere 12,726 voters, as Marshmallow and Yam beat Wattle and Snood by only 27%-26%. The Wattle and Snood campaign is still whining that with a shift of just 65 votes, Marshmallow would have been stuffed and the press would be writing about a Wattle comeback.

This is an election year, so turnout ought to be higher. But the choices in this year’s “Gobble the Vote” contest won’t help. Each year, the race attracts four types of candidates: Famous Founders (Lewis and Clark in ’03, Adams and Jefferson in ’04), enduring values (Stars and Stripes and Hope and Glory in ’03, Patience and Fortitude in ’04, Democracy and Freedom in ’05), turkey parts (Gobble and Peck in ’04, Wattle and Snood in ’05), and Thanksgiving favorites (Pumpkin and Cranberry in ’03, Biscuits and Gravy in ’04, Marshmallow and Yam in ’05).

The race usually comes down to a choice between food and values, and food almost always wins out. Stars and Stripes won on a values mantle in 2003, when the nation was still in shock from 9/11. But Pumpkin and Cranberry finished second that year, while Biscuits and Gravy and Marshmallow and Yam won the last two contests. Turkey parts nearly pulled an upset last year with Wattle and Snood – but without exit polls, we’ll never know how many voters thought those were Republican values, nor how many regions consider those parts prized holiday fare.

This year, the White House faces the same challenge in naming turkeys that it had defending them in the midterms: No values are on the ballot. The Founders have three candidates: Washington and Lincoln, Ben and Franklin, and Plymouth and Rock. The other two entries are Fusion candidates: the Food/Founder hybrid Corn and Copia and the Turkey-Parts/Food combo Flyer and Fryer.

Even lifelong political birdwatchers don’t know how to handicap this race. Washington and Lincoln, who dominate the nation’s currency, will have a tougher time with turkey voters, who have never given a Founder more than 10%. The same bias against historical figures will hurt Ben and Franklin, despite their namesake’s impeccable credentials as the father of Thanksgiving and champion of the turkey as the national bird.

For once, the Founders may have a contender in Plymouth and Rock. Unlike Lewis and Clark and all those ex-presidents, it actually reminds people of Thanksgiving. Of course, if Plymouth could carry the top of the ticket, Lee Iacocca would have won the presidency in 1988, and we could have avoided a pair named George and George W. Bush.

While nobody ever lost money betting against the Food candidates, this year’s entries are more kitschy than appetizing. Like Wattle and Snood, Corn and Copia will leave many voters scratching their heads – although a holiday built around birds stuffed with bread and drenched in cranberries is enduring proof that Americans will eat anything.

Flyer and Fryer is another candidacy built on confusion – two appealing ornithological concepts ill-suited to this particular species. If Corn and Copia sounds like a Bushism, Flyer and Fryer sounds like the Bush Doctrine. Maureen Dowd is drooling at the chance to write up the father-son symbolism of a Flyer and Fryer win, as World War II flying ace Bush 41 sups with third-degree-electoral-burn-victim Bush 43.

turkey votesAs you can see, Slate was way off in theorizing that Plymouth and Rock would win this year. As it turned out, the victory went to Flyer and Fryer. Personally, I think the fix was in. Somebody in the administration is looking to stick it to the boss and set things up to make sure those two would be the winners — not because of the MoDo concept mentioned in the article, but because of what happened today when Bush made the announcement. With his comical, artificial Texas accent, he was unable to properly say the names of the birds, and it came out “Flahr and Frahr”.

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Bush a Liar?

BushGlenn Greenwald comments at Crooks and Liars about the president’s casual admission of lying at a press conference yesterday.

At his Press Conference today, President Bush expressly admitted that he lied last week when he said that Donald Rumsfeld would remain Defense Secretary for the next two years (only to announce today that Rumsfeld is being replaced). When the President was asked about this discrepency, he simply admitted that “the reason why is I didn’t want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer.”

That the President would so brazenly lie is not, of course, surprising (although the lie was so glaring that even conservatives James Joyner and Byron York objected to it).

Well, sure he lied. He lies all the time. There’s a war going on. Remember how that got started?

If people want to call Bush on this particular lie because he so clearly copped to it, that’s fine, but let’s think about the consequences had he told the truth when he was asked about whether Rummy was going to keep his job.

Had Bush said something like, “Well, the Vahs Prizzidint is a-gonna be stayin on the job. Ah gots complete faith in Dick. But ahm the decider, and ah done decided that it’s tahm we got us a new secerturry a’ deefense. Rummy’s done a fahn job, but he and ah agrees that we needs us some new ahs on our War agin’ them thar Evil dooers,” the following would most likely have taken place:

  • The Left would have gone apeshit over this, saying he’d held off on making the announcement until just before the election in order to get a boost in the election. No doubt knew that the basiest of the base was a bit less zealous this time around, and they needed to draw a little more of the middle of the road vote. This would have been viewed as an attempt to do that.
  • The Right would have, with very few exceptions, grudgingly admitted that the time had come and this was the right thing to do.
  • Two or three moderate Republican senators who got tossed out in this election would have squeaked by, and they would have retained control of the Senate.

Would that really have been preferable? We all saw how Bush was jumped on when he announced that and were definitely staying on. It helped Democrats and hurt Republicans. It was a stupid thing for him to do. Look how angry the campaign staffs of numerous losing Repugs were, both when they first heard that Bush gave Rummy a big thumbs up, and again when he admitted it was a lie. Poor poor was completely screwed.

This is the best lie Bush has ever told.

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Rummy, We Hardly Knew Ye

RumsfeldNo, I take that back. We knew you far better than we ever could have wished to. So long, you arrogant, rude, mean-spirited, dishonest, authoritarian ass.

I don’t know much about this Gates character, and despite the fact that he appears to be a Texan (and call me prejudiced, but Texans worry me), I suggest the Senate, be it the outgoing one or the incoming, confirm this guy quickly — not just to send Rummy off ASAP, but to make sure Bushy doesn’t decide to offer the gig to Joe Lieberman, making himself look bipartisan while taking back a Senate seat for his side of the aisle.

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David FrumFormer Bush speech writer and all-around neo-con weenie David Frum wrote the following in his “diary” at the National Review Online under the heading ““:

Dear Diary…

A sensational but to-date unsubstantiated allegation has been hurled at a major American religious figure. On much of the left, the reaction is gleeful delight: See! He is no better than anybody else!

In my mind, however, this story highlights a widespread moral assumption that I have never been able to understand.

Consider the hypothetical case of two men. Both are inclined toward homosexuality. Both from time to time hire the services of male prostitutes. Both have occasionally succumbed to drug abuse.

One of them marries, raises a family, preaches Christian principles, and tries generally to encourage people to lead stable lives.

The other publicly reveals his homosexuality, vilifies traditional moral principles, and urges the legalization of drugs and prostitution.

Which man is leading the more moral life? It seems to me that the answer is the first one. Instead of suggesting that his bad acts overwhelm his good ones, could it not be said that the good influence of his preaching at least mitigates the bad effect of his misconduct? Instead of regarding hypocrisy as the ultimate sin, could it not be regarded as a kind of virtue – or at least as a mitigation of his offense?

After all, the first man may well see his family and church life as his “real” life; and regard his other life as an occasional uncontrollable deviation, sin, and error, which he condemns in his judgment and for which he sincerely seeks to atone by his prayer, preaching, and Christian works.

Yet it is the first man who will if exposed be held up to the execration of the media, while the second can become a noted public character – and can even hope to get away with presenting himself as an exemplar of ethics and morality.

How does this make moral sense?

Let me put it another way:

In every other avenue of life, we praise people who rise above selfish personal wishes to champion higher principles and the public good. We admire the white southerners who in the days of segregation spoke out for racial equality. We admire the leader of a distressed industry who refuses to ask for trade protections and government handouts. We admire the Arthur Vandenbergs and (someday) the Joe Liebermans who can reach past party feeling to support a president of the opposing party for the sake of the national interest.

If a religious leader has a personal inclination toward homosexuality — and nonetheless can look past his own inclination to defend the institution of marriage and to affirm its benefits for the raising of children — why should he likewise not be honored for his intellectual firmness and moral integrity?

“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.”

Oh, David, David David. Where did you find these two straw men you’re talking about? These are two extremes, neither of which accurately represents poor innocent Mr. . Why not talk about a man who, frightened by his feelings, marries, raises kids and does all he can to harm the lives of the people who are brave enough to admit to those feelings themselves? That’s what matters here, Dave. It would be sad to me if Haggard had married, raised kids, and just denied his true feelings (if they turn out to be true, of course). What makes this ugly (and, no, I am not “gleeful” over any of this matter) is that he has cowardly and hypocritically chosen to not just deny his feelings, but to promote the gay-bashing agenda. His whole professional life has apparently been an attempt to say, “Queer? Me? No way! Look how much I hate queers!”

Not all gay men hire prostitutes and use illicit drugs. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two straight men did that, by the way. If Haggard had learned to respect himself, maybe he’d have spent the past twenty or thirty years in a healthy relationship with a nice guy — a nice Christian boy. They could come live in the Glorious and get married, just like any loving couple. They could even open a church together if they really wanted to.

Ted HaggardBut if you’d rather talk about your two naughty boys as if they’re the only possibilities, fine. I’d say (surprise!) that bad boy #2 is the more moral of the two, assuming the “traditional moral principles” he vilifies are the ones that involve labeling him as sick or evil. He’s being honest with himself and about himself.

Bad boy #1, on the other hand, is the kind of hypocrite who makes millions of children hate themselves. He’s the cause of pain, suffering and suicide for people who aren’t quite as good as he is at lying to themselves and others.

You suggest that your closet case is encouraging people to “lead stable lives.” It’s becoming increasingly clear to people that a life of denying one’s true self is not stable, no matter how hard one tries. Moreover, if you want to imply that the life of a homosexual is unstable, maybe it would be a good idea to think about why that might be. Do you think it could have anything to do with living in a society that marks you as sick, a sinner, someone not deserving of the full rights enjoyed by others? How would you like it if your very identity were to be described by society at large as “deviation, sin, and error”?

You ask why #1 should “not be honored for his intellectual firmness and moral integrity.” (heh. you said “firmness”) I’ll tell you why. He’s not overcoming his desire to kill people. Being gay is not (at least according to the US Supreme Court) criminal. All he’s doing is perpetuating a collection of ugly myths and harming people, and when he makes use of his power, position and connections to try to codify that ugliness, he is hurting everyone. And the more he has to work to “overcome” those feelings, the more he has to prove to himself and others that he’s not one of those people, the more harm he’s going to do.

Finally, this suggestion absolutely astonishes me: “Instead of regarding hypocrisy as the ultimate sin, could it not be regarded as a kind of virtue — or at least as a mitigation of his offense?” Absofuckinglutely no! For one thing, hypocrisy need not be considered the “ultimate sin,” but let’s recognize that it’s not a good thing, no matter what one’s intentions are. But let’s think of this concept a little more broadly. This is the neo-con/Bushy apologist’s entire philosophy. Why are we in Iraq? We’ve gone through a series of excuses, none of which mean a lot, but they’re not the point. The people who took us there wanted to invade Iraq. It doesn’t matter what excuse they give us for doing it; they know better than we do, and lying to us is probably our fault rather than theirs. We aren’t smart enough to get the real reason, whatever it might be, so they simply had to lie to us.

Why are they taking away our rights? We don’t need to know the real reason. They’re protecting us. Sure, they’re insisting that they’re not spying on Americans, they’re not torturing anyone, they’re not shirking our international responsibilities. They have to lie to us. But they know best. They have to be hypocrites. It’s for our own good.

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That Olbermann Again

Keith OlbermannHe says it far more eloquently than I did.

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Now What?

habeas corpusSo, now that the United States has dropped Habeas Corpus, what exactly are we supposed to do?

I remember my first visit to Paris (so far, my only one) in early 1985. Reagan had just been inaugurated for his second term. I was taken to a party being given by a guy from Tunisia. The crowd was pretty evenly mixed between French, North Africans, and American students. Two-thirds of the people I met (just guess which two-thirds) asked me something to the effect of “How could you allow Reagan to be in power for another four years?” Telling them I voted for the other guy gave them no satisfaction. It didn’t help me either.

At the time, I thought Reagan was about as bad as things could get in the US. I think it’s safe to say I was wrong.

So, forty or fifty years from now, when your grandchildren ask you what you did when an American president signed a law that took away the basic protection of people to a fair trial, what are you going to be able to tell them? I voted against him twice. I argue with his supporters. I write about how I feel about this president when I’m not writing about TV commercials that piss me off. Is that enough?

Luckily, I’m not going to have grandchildren to ask me. I do, however, have an open invitation to visit a couple of friends in Paris.

But that doesn’t matter. I don’t really need other people to ask me. I’m sitting here asking myself what I’ll have to do in order to avoid being utterly ashamed of the place where I was born.

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The Good Guys

An invasion takes place, followed by a difficult occupation. The occupiers see themselves as being there to help. They don’t believe the people are prepared to live in peace and govern themselves, but want to help them get there.

There are wide cultural gaps between the two populations, not the least of which is based on their respective religions. Some of the occupiers see themselves as being on a mission to teach the people about their god.

The people, however, don’t see the occupying forces as anything more than an invading enemy. Some try to get by, but many join an insurgency that will do anything to make things difficult for the occupiers. They sabotage and destroy the invaders’ equipment, and even go to the extreme of killing innocent civilians in suicide bombings.

The occupiers, continuing to believe that their mission is worth completing, start rounding up people without charging them, detaining them for extended periods and sometimes torturing them in an effort to break the back of the insurgency. They convince some of the people to join a police force which they train, telling them that they’ll eventually be hailed as heroes by their people, but the police are viewed as collaborators by the people. The police have to hide their faces from the people they’re supposed to be protecting, and it doesn’t take long before it becomes their job to round people up, dragging them from their homes and taking them to detention.

The government remains in place, but it is no more than a puppet of the occupiers, forced to sign on to whatever policies the occupational authorities create.

The situation raises serious questions:

  • Is it anyone’s place to decide to “help” others against their will?
  • Do one’s beliefs in justice and democracy trump the beliefs of others?
  • Can a religion of peace be forced upon people?
  • Is it better to live in peace with invaders, or to fight against all odds to force them out?
  • If the invaders want to help you with technology and resources, does that make a difference?
  • Is it treason to try to make life under occupation as good as possible for everyone?
  • Are there objective definitions for the terms “terrorist” and “freedom fighter”?
  • What are the limits of fighting back — if killing your own people and creating chaos is all you can do to counter the occupying forces, are you as bad as they are?
  • And at what point must the invaders decide that their attempt to help has made matters worse? Do they create a totalitarian state in an effort to pacify the populace enough that they’ll then be able to help them?

It’s a TV show — a science fiction TV show about humans fighting robots, no less. And it’s dealing with complex issues of both the price and the meaning of freedom far better than any governments I know of. In fact, only one piece of rhetoric in tonight’s season premiere reminded me of the sort of thing Bushyboy says. The Chief and Tigh are arguing over the concept of suicide bombings. At the thought of bombing a public marketplace, the Chief says, “This is crazy. You know, we need to figure out whose side we’re on.” Tigh’s response is

Which side are we on? We’re on the side of the demons, Chief. We’re evil men in the gardens of paradise, sent by the forces of death to spread devastation and destruction wherever we go. I’m surprised you didn’t know that.

Sound familiar to the way the insurgency in a certain country is being described by the president of the country that invaded them? But Tigh is being sarcastic.

Number 6 of Battlestar Galactica
“As the New Caprica Police stand up,
our centurians will stand down.”

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No Freakin’ Fair!

BushEveryone has their personal favorite among the various dumb-ass things our has said. Some are fond of his “Ask Tony Blair!” scream at the debate. More recently, we had the wonderful “I’m the decider, and I decide what is best.” Others just love those big words he can’t get out quite right:

  • eckullectic
  • perpetuators
  • nukyular
  • clandessintly
  • terrist, which I actually hear as closer to “turst”

My absolute favorite, and I don’t really know why, is one in which he elides a sentence which, for most people, would be four or five words (one of them can be a contraction of two) into a single three-syllable word. It’s the one he uses when he wants you to know that he has positive feelings for a person. No, I’m not talking about peering into “Vladamer’s” heart and trusting that he believes in democracy. I mean the lovely, folksy, down-homey higoomayh. Just mouse over the word if you require a translation.

So I was so excited that Bush came out in support of Denny “Grand Slam Breakfast” Hastert, because I knew he was going to look straight in the cameras and give us a solemn, straight from the heart higoomayh. But he didn’t! Instead, we got stuck with “I know Denny Hastert, I meet with him a lot. He is a father, teacher, coach, who cares about the children of this country.” No fair!

Sure it was a dumb thing to say, but it wasn’t dumb enough.

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All New!

All NewHow does “all new” differ from simply “new”? On the eye of hell, there’s the occasional clip episode, in which the characters, stuck together in one place for one reason or another (snowed in, car broke down, nuclear holocaust) reminisce about all the fun ‘n’ special times they’ve had together. So they shoot a couple of scenes which serve to introduce clips from previous episodes. I suppose you could say that’s new, but not all new.

The problem is that those “new” episodes are clearly the minority, so it shouldn’t be necessary to tag anything new — really new — as “all new.” Besides, most of the time they’re not “all new.” How many “all new” episodes open with a quick reminder of what’s been going on so that the viewer can figure out what’s going on (it’s all so complicated!)? So what’s that? A not-new bit of the “all new” episode? Maybe they should call it “virtually all new” or “all new with the exception of a bit you can skip if you’re up to date on the story so far,” but they can’t really in good conscience call it “all new.”

Then again, these are the same people who will refer to a show as a “hit” before it’s had its premiere. How is that possible? Have they come up with their own definition of “hit,” kind of like the way the has seen fit to redefine “,” “war,” “patriot,” and “healthy forests.” Maybe if they like it, it’s a hit. “We really hit the nail on the head with , don’t you think?” “Oh, yes sir, ‘hit’ is the word.”

Car companies do the same thing. How many times have they announced the latest iteration of some model by telling us that they’ve “rebuilt it from the ground up, completely rethinking everything.” You have to wonder how many meetings they held before they decided it would have four wheels.

Is it really that big a deal for something to be new? Was the old version so god-awful that you won’t even consider looking at something unless you’re assured it’s new new new new? I’m reminded of that scene in in which Henry goes to dinner at Mary X’s house and meets her parents for the first time:

Mr. X: We’ve got chicken tonight. Strangest damn things. They’re man-made. Little damn things, smaller than my fist – but they’re new!…… I’m Bill.

Henry: Hello. I’m Henry.

Mrs. X: Henry’s at Lappell’s factory.

Mr. X: So, printin’s yer business, eh? Plumbin’s mine. Thirty years! I’ve watched this neighborhood change from pastures to the hell-hole it is now! I put every damn pipe in this town!

Mary X: Dad!..

Mrs. X: Bill…

Mr. X: People think pipes grow in their homes! Well they sure as hell don’t. Look at my knees! Look at my knees!

Mrs. X: Bill…

Mr. X: Are ya hungry?

Mrs. X: Bill…

And we know how well that worked out…

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Hugo A-Go-Go

Hugo A-Go-GoHugo ChavezSo, Venezuelan President came to the last week and did some speechifying. And it seems every single American, of every political stripe, is attacking him for what he said. Fine. He’s paranoid, self-important, hypocritical and over the top. He thinks he’s Fidel Jr. But does that mean we can’t say that we agree with a lot of what he says? Do we have to say that when you come to America you have to respect America, and respecting America requires respecting America’s leaders? Feh.

Here’s some of his speech. If you want, you can read the whole thing at .

The hegemonic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very survival of the human species. We continue to warn you about this danger and we appeal to the people of the United States and the world to halt this threat, which is like a sword hanging over our heads.

I don’t have to be crazy to agree with that, do I? The point can be taken from the perspective of economics, ecology, or war, and it’s perfectly valid.

Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world.

I think we could call a psychiatrist to analyze yesterday’s statement made by the president of the United States. As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums, to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world.

How can we not view Bush’s policy as imperialistic? He genuinely believes that, through the use of sheer military force, the United States can reshape the world. If this policy were permitted to continue (assuming it was possible) it wouldn’t surprise me if, in some cases, this turned out ok in some ways for the people whose nations got “fixed”. Remember the scene from Life of Brian?

They’ve bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had, and not just from us, from our fathers, and from our fathers’ fathers.

And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers.


And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers’ fathers.

Yeah. All right, Stan. Don’t labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?!

The aqueduct?


The aqueduct.

Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that’s true. Yeah.

And the sanitation.

Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like?

Yeah. All right. I’ll grant you the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done.

And the roads.

Well, yeah. Obviously the roads. I mean, the roads go without saying, don’t they? But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads–



Huh? Heh? Huh…



Yeah, yeah. All right. Fair enough.

And the wine.

Oh, yes. Yeah…

Yeah. Yeah, that’s something we’d really miss, Reg, if the Romans left. Huh.

Public baths.

And it’s safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.

Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let’s face it. They’re the only ones who could in a place like this.

Hehh, heh. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.

All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

Brought peace.

Oh. Peace? Shut up!

Whether the lives of the people are improved (no matter who decides that) is not the question. The fact that more people are dying and being tortured in Iraq now than before they were “freed” isn’t really the point. Even if Bush’s policies were successful, they’d still be imperialist.

As Chomsky says here, clearly and in depth, the American empire is doing all it can to consolidate its system of domination. And we cannot allow them to do that. We cannot allow world dictatorship to be consolidated.

The world parent’s statement — cynical, hypocritical, full of this imperial hypocrisy from the need they have to control everything.

They say they want to impose a democratic model. But that’s their democratic model. It’s the false democracy of elites, and, I would say, a very original democracy that’s imposed by weapons and bombs and firing weapons.

What a strange democracy. Aristotle might not recognize it or others who are at the root of democracy.

What type of democracy do you impose with marines and bombs?

The answer is the kind of democracy espoused by the signers of the :

  • Elliott Abrams
  • Gary Bauer
  • William J. Bennett
  • Jeb Bush
  • Dick Cheney
  • Eliot A. Cohen
  • Midge Decter
  • Paula Dobriansky
  • Steve Forbes
  • Aaron Friedberg
  • Francis Fukuyama
  • Frank Gaffney
  • Fred C. Ikle
  • Donald Kagan
  • Zalmay Khalilzad
  • I. Lewis Libby
  • Norman Podhoretz
  • Dan Quayle
  • Peter W. Rodman
  • Stephen P. Rosen
  • Henry S. Rowen
  • Donald Rumsfeld
  • Vin Weber
  • George Weigel
  • Paul Wolfowitz

In their Statement of Principles, they wrote

As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world’s preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?

The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of this century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.

Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:

  • we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;
  • we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;
  • we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;
  • we need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.

Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.

Back to Chavez…

The president of the United States, yesterday, said to us, right here, in this room, and I’m quoting, “Anywhere you look, you hear extremists telling you can escape from poverty and recover your dignity through violence, terror and martyrdom.”

Wherever he looks, he sees extremists. And you, my brother — he looks at your color, and he says, oh, there’s an extremist. Evo Morales, the worthy president of Bolivia, looks like an extremist to him.

The imperialists see extremists everywhere. It’s not that we are extremists. It’s that the world is waking up. It’s waking up all over. And people are standing up.

I have the feeling, dear world dictator, that you are going to live the rest of your days as a nightmare because the rest of us are standing up, all those who are rising up against American imperialism, who are shouting for equality, for respect, for the sovereignty of nations.

Yes, you can call us extremists, but we are rising up against the empire, against the model of domination.

The president then — and this he said himself, he said: “I have come to speak directly to the populations in the Middle East, to tell them that my country wants peace.”

That’s true. If we walk in the streets of the Bronx, if we walk around New York, Washington, San Diego, in any city, San Antonio, San Francisco, and we ask individuals, the citizens of the United States, what does this country want? Does it want peace? They’ll say yes.

But the government doesn’t want peace. The government of the United States doesn’t want peace. It wants to exploit its system of exploitation, of pillage, of hegemony through war.

It wants peace. But what’s happening in Iraq? What happened in Lebanon? In Palestine? What’s happening? What’s happened over the last 100 years in Latin America and in the world? And now threatening Venezuela — new threats against Venezuela, against Iran?

He spoke to the people of Lebanon. Many of you, he said, have seen how your homes and communities were caught in the crossfire. How cynical can you get? What a capacity to lie shamefacedly. The bombs in Beirut with millimetric precision?

This is crossfire? He’s thinking of a western, when people would shoot from the hip and somebody would be caught in the crossfire.

This is imperialist, fascist, assassin, genocidal, the empire and Israel firing on the people of Palestine and Lebanon. That is what happened. And now we hear, “We’re suffering because we see homes destroyed.’

The president of the United States came to talk to the peoples — to the peoples of the world. He came to say — I brought some documents with me, because this morning I was reading some statements, and I see that he talked to the people of Afghanistan, the people of Lebanon, the people of Iran. And he addressed all these peoples directly.

And you can wonder, just as the president of the United States addresses those peoples of the world, what would those peoples of the world tell him if they were given the floor? What would they have to say?

And I think I have some inkling of what the peoples of the south, the oppressed people think. They would say, “Yankee imperialist, go home.” I think that is what those people would say if they were given the microphone and if they could speak with one voice to the American imperialists.

Bush sees everything in black and white, and he’s forcing the rest of the world, most of whom understand that the world is a bit more complex than that, to deal with his world view. I saw Reza Aslan on the eye of hell a few days ago saying that when Bush says “You’re either with us or against us — with me or with the terrorists,” moderate muslims think, “Well, I’m sure not with you.”

Over and above all of this, Madam President, I think there are reasons to be optimistic. A poet would have said “helplessly optimistic,” because over and above the wars and the bombs and the aggressive and the preventive war and the destruction of entire peoples, one can see that a new era is dawning.

As Silvio Rodriguez says, the era is giving birth to a heart. There are alternative ways of thinking. There are young people who think differently. And this has already been seen within the space of a mere decade. It was shown that the end of history was a totally false assumption, and the same was shown about Pax Americana and the establishment of the capitalist neo-liberal world. It has been shown, this system, to generate mere poverty. Who believes in it now?

What we now have to do is define the future of the world. Dawn is breaking out all over. You can see it in Africa and Europe and Latin America and Oceanea. I want to emphasize that optimistic vision.

Sorry. This isn’t crazy talk. Bush is alienating everyone: our long-term allies, our allies of convenience, our traditional enemies, and our enemies of convenience. The whole world is not just losing faith in America; they’re losing patience.

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