....LMB: "The Pitter Patter of Little Softballs"....

September 23, 2003

Alright, time to comment on last night's Fox News interview with President Bush.

First of all, I think that this interview was a ploy. Bush never gives interviews or press conferences or interviews, because he's a verbal gimp. So he gives an interview to a sympathetic news outlet, and insists that it not air for several days. Till the weekend. Till a weekend evening. Till a weekend evening that happens to be the night before he gives a controversial speech to the UN... I figure the goal was to have the interview air outside of the usual weekday, business hours news cycle, forcing the media to talk about both the address and the interview simultaneously. You gotta admit, Bush's crew is savvy.

But the interview itself is some of the worst "journalism" I have ever seen. The first third of the interview is a fluff piece, questions about the president's family, his exercise routine, the White House putting green, Bush's religious faith, a discussion about the furnishings of the Oval Office, etc. There is nothing wrong with a news piece which gets inside the figure, which shows their private life and what makes them tick, but when that figure never answers questions publicly and when the nation faces such immense problems, spending so much time on the figure's tastes and hobbies is downright irresponsible.

At this point, interviewer Brit Hume finally gets into political Q & A. Pretty simple stuff, and Hume doesn't push real hard when Bush dodges or gets vague. Some highlights, coupled with by derisive indignation.

BUSH: That's an interesting question, because you know I'm a man of peace.

"Only a man of peace would start wars with two different countries inside of two years."

BUSH: And obviously I would hope that we wouldn't have combat. I also live in a real world of being the president during a war on terror.

I have to mention this every now and again, but no one should ever use the phrase "war on terror." It's obviously meant as a shortened form of "war on terrorism", but the two have very different meanings. Terrorism is military or political strategy involving an attack on civilians. Terror is an emotion. A "war on terror" makes as much sense as a "war on envy" or a "war on mild surprise." And of course, "war" isn't really the proper term either; "war" is more of a metaphor than an accurate description. Unfortunately, policy makers have been confusing the metaphor with the reality for some time now.

BUSH: So I guess I would rather fight them there than here. I know I would rather fight them there than here, and I know would rather fight them there than in other remote parts of the world, where it may be more difficult to find them.

HUME: Such as?

BUSH: Well, such as Yemen

Yemen shits its pants, changes its name to "Germany."

HUME: There are people who suggest that, look, you wouldn't have to be dealing with these people ["terrorists" in Iraq] at all if you hadn't gone into Iraq. That these, in some sense, are newly recruited or newly minted terrorists. What's your view of that?

BUSH: That's probably the same type of person that says that therapy would work in convincing terrorists not to kill innocent life.

And which type of person is that?

Oh yeah, the type of person who looks like me, but is made of straw.

I've said before that the Bush foreign policy doctrine is "destroy our enemies." And if you don't know what to do next, when your enemy destruction has created more enemies, just re-read Step 1.

It's ludicrous. In the Bush mind, the terrorists are our enemies and must be captured or killed. And if these actions (like bombing Baghdad or U.S. soldiers bursting into Iraqi homes and pointing guns at wives and mothers) anger anyone enough that they might join the ranks ot terrorists, then they must've been predisposed towards terrorism, and were would-be enemies anyway.

Also, this follows the Bush refrain that the folks attacking US troops in Iraq are "terrorists." The party line is that these attacks are solely by Al Qaeda infiltrators or Saddam loyalists, and no one else. I've seen an awful lot of evidence that these attackers are disgruntled Iraqi citizens who simply want the Americans to go home.

HUME: What is your theory about what Saddam Hussein did with his weapons of mass destruction?

BUSH: I think he hid them, I think he dispersed them.

Jesus Christ, you've had well over a year to come up with a good cover story and this is the best you can do? "He hid them"? Well, I guess it's a step up from "Saddam's dog ate them."

HUME: What do you say to the notion -- you're beginning to hear it more and more now -- that actually he got rid of them but he didn't want his neighbors to know that, you see, because he wanted to be able to continue to intimidate them? What do you say to that?

BUSH: I think, like I said, be patient. The truth will be out. I told David Kay to go find the truth and to bring back reports based upon his own timetable that are solid reports about what he has found. We're analyzing miles and miles of documentation, we're interviewing all kinds of people in Iraq. Some of the famous cards in the deck of cards, and just average citizens who are bringing information.

We've been there for about four months. And David is spending a great deal of time learning the truth. And the truth -- we'll find out the truth.

Apparently dropping several thousand bombs on foreigners is quite a stress-reliever. Back in March, the White House was just couldn't be patient with the UN weapons inspectors out to find "the truth." A few shocks and awes later, "it's cool, baby, take your time finding those germ and nukes."

HUME: You go to the U.N. to make a speech, and your speech of a year ago became famous. It was the speech in which you challenged the U.N. to do something about Iraq. Now you go back, different setting.

What's your message this time?

BUSH: My message is, is that although some of you didn't agree with the actions we took, now let's work together to rebuild Iraq, rebuild Afghanistan, fight AIDS and hunger, deal with slavery, like sex slavery, and deal with proliferation.

Wait, what? When exactly did ending sex slavery leap to the top of American foreign policy priorities? I'm pretty sure that this is the first time any Bush administration official has uttered a single syllable about this.

BUSH: The German people are essentially pacifists because of their -- many still remember the experience of World War II. And they may not have seen Saddam Hussein as evil a person as a lot of other people have.

Yes. The Germans didn't want to invade Iraq not because the American argument for war didn't make sense, but because their evil Nazi past made it seem like Saddam Hussein wasn't such a bad guy. They're pacifists, and they're evil.

BUSH: The French made a calculated decision to try to lead a lot of nations against what we were trying to do. And that created a lot of angst here in America. I heard from a lot of people who said, "Look, we've got relatives who died on French soil to help with their security. Why would they not only resist what many Americans thought was necessary with Saddam Hussein, but lead a coalition?"

The French refusal to kill Iraqis is causing the familes of dead WWII vets angst. France should obviously be America's bitch for all eternity because we happened to free them from Nazi rule in WWII. Their disobedience is an insult. We should obviously follow through with the reasonable plan to unbury US veterans from France.

BUSH: My attitude about all that is our goals and ambitions are noble.

"The ends justify the means."

BUSH: We believe in peace.

"And we'll bomb whoever it takes to get it."

BUSH: We strongly believe in freedom.

"Just ask John Ashcroft."

BUSH: Where we see suffering we will help.

"Unless our country, or one of our allies, are causing it. In which case, we probably won't help."

BUSH: Jacques Chirac is a -- he's a strong-willed soul that -- he and I have had some pretty frank discussions before about issues. I will continue to remind him, though -- and he needs to hear this clearly from me, which he will -- that America is a good nation, genuinely good.

Okay, I've had enough. First of all, being good doesn't make you right. But more importantly, the U.S. is not a good nation. There are many good people who live here, but ANY examination of U.S. foreign policy shows a long history of brutal, self-serving action. As always, I suggest and demand that you read Killing Hope by William Blum if you want to know more about this sort of thing.

HUME: The refrain you keep hearing from others is a larger role for the U.N. You have consistently spoken of a vital role...

BUSH: A vital role, right.

HUME: ... a vital role for the U.N. Would you be willing to grant a larger role to the U.N. in the political developments there to make way for a resolution?

BUSH: Well, for example -- I'm not so sure we have to, for starters. But secondly, I do think it would be helpful to get the United Nations in to help write a constitution. I mean, they're good at that. Or, perhaps when an election starts, they'll oversee the election. That would be deemed a larger role.

A "larger" and "vital" role for the UN in Iraq means that they can help draw up a constitution and monitor elections. That's it. But in the meantime, the U.S.-selected Iraqi interim government is making sweeping decisions that will dominate the future of the nation. The UN doesn't get to help build the house, but they can help decorate the walls once the U.S. is satisfied.

HUME: What do you say to Americans who might have thought that war was won and that we were on our way to our objectives there, who now see this drip, drip of American casualties and deaths, daily attacks, sabotage, and so on, and might very well wonder if that was anticipated? What about that?

BUSH: Yes. Well, I think in my speech on the Abraham Lincoln, if they looked at the words, I said it's still a dangerous place. I declared the end of major military actions. By that I meant, you know, tight movement armored divisions and massive airstrikes, that we wouldn't need, you know, the USS Abraham Lincoln deployed there.

Yes. That happens all the time in war, presidents stage elaborate, celebratory events to announce the end of the movement of armored divisions. Yet another Bush "we didn't lie, we just mislead you" event.

HUME: What are you going to do about him?

BUSH: With Arafat?

HUME: Yes.

BUSH: Just convince the Palestinians if they want a Palestinian state, at least with American support, get an interlocutor that is truly committed to fighting terror.

Um, did Bush just subtlely threaten the Palestinian people to get rid ofArafat?

BUSH: In America, we believe in getting rid of people through a peaceful, orderly process.

As we can clearly see from our treatment of the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Libya, death row inmates, etc.

HUME: On domestic issues, the economy, the complaint that's heard that this is a jobless recovery. And there is some validity to that. And there are a number of economists who have suggested that, in order for this economy, with the productivity that is now in it, to begin to create jobs in any number, you're going to need a lot faster growth rate than has been true in the past...

BUSH: First, there is a lag. There's an employment lag that generally accompanies a recovery. The economy gets going and after a while employment catches up. But this is an unusual marketplace in that, as you said, productivity is very high, which means growth has to be higher than productivity in order to add jobs. Or productivity has got to level off some and growth be robust.

I believe we're going to add jobs, because I believe this economy is strong.

So... productivity has to drop or growth has to increase for us to have more jobs. But we don't need to worry about either because the president isn't. Because he believes that we're going to get more jobs. Gotta love faith-based economics.

HUME: How soon do you expect that to start happening?

BUSH: Well, you know, I don't know. You ask these economists, they'll say, on the one hand here and the other hand here.

Jake bangs his head against table

BUSH: We've cut taxes, which has not only helped shallow a recession that we inherited, but has added momentum to growth. There are other things we can do. We need to make the tax cuts permanent.

We have some here in Washington saying, wait a minute, we don't need this tax relief plan. Well, any time there's uncertainty, it's hard for people to plan. And we need to make them permanent.

Good thinking. We'll make tax cuts for the rich permanent so that the American people can plan for the future-- plan to be poor.

BUSH: Now we have spent money, as you mentioned. My attitude is that when we put a youngster in harm's way, somebody who wears our nation's uniform in harm's way, he or she deserves the absolute best.

What a lying sack of shit. Every day I read reports about US soldiers being short on food, water, supplies, spare parts, etc. I've even read about soldiers' families having to pay for gun-cleaner because the soldiers are supplied with gun-cleaner that rusts their rifles. Possibly the best comprehensive article on this subject is here.

HUME: Is there a perception in the country, do you think, that we are a nation at war, or that we are a nation engaged in a long sort of twilight struggle with a evil or a problem that the world has been grappling with for a long time that we're only real kind of now getting on to, and regarded as a literal war is perhaps not as accurate as regarding it figuratively more like the war on poverty or the war on drugs, that sort of thing

"Twilight struggle with evil"? Who's writing Hume's questions?

BUSH: That's a great question. I believe it's a combination of both. First of all, a lot of Americans understand that we must never forget the lessons of September 11, 2001. And that is, there is an active enemy that has got the capacity to strike and kill.

This is amazing, and you see it again and again. In Bush's mind, this is the sole lesson of 9/11: that America has enemies that want to kill us. That's it.

BUSH: But there is a longer-term issue as well, and that is, how do you change attitudes? What is necessary to defeat that sentiment that causes people to be suiciders and just kill innocent people for the sake of religion or a fake religion? And my judgment on that is the best way to do it is to spread freedom.

I equate freedom and peace. And I believe America, given its position in the world, must use our power to promote freedom. And that's precisely what this administration is doing.

That's why the reconstruction of Iraq is essential for world peace. A free Iraq will be a significant dynamic in changing attitudes in the Middle East. A free Iraq will become a catalyst for a whole new thought process in a part of the world that has spawned terror.

And, so, yes, our Americans citizens, I think they're wise enough to realize there's still a threat, because it's only been two years since people flew our own airplanes into buildings killing thousands. And many Americans also understand what I know to be true: free societies are peaceful societies. And that's why I will continue to promote what I would call an active foreign policy.

I actually saw this segment on TV, and these thirty seconds already had me yelling. "What the fuck are you talking about?!" "Free societies are peaceful societies"?

HUME: How do you get your news?

BUSH: I get briefed by Andy Card and Condi in the morning. They come in and tell me. In all due respect, you've got a beautiful face and everything.

I glance at the headlines just to kind of a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves. But like Condoleezza, in her case, the national security adviser is getting her news directly from the participants on the world stage.

HUME: Has that been your practice since day one, or is that a practice that you've...

BUSH: Practice since day one.

HUME: Really?

BUSH: Yes. You know, look, I have great respect for the media. I mean, our society is a good, solid democracy because of a good, solid media. But I also understand that a lot of times there's opinions mixed in with news. And I...

HUME: I won't disagree with that, sir.

BUSH: I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news. And the best way to get the news is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world.

Bush does not read the news. He lets his staff filter his news. His staff is objective. Might explain a few things.

Fair, balanced, waste of time.

Posted by Jake at 04:25 PM | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Agreed.
Awesome Post!
I especially loved Bush's sentence:

"What is necessary to defeat that sentiment that causes people to be suiciders and just kill innocent people for the sake of religion or a fake religion?"

I'd really like to know what Bush's idea of a fake religion is. And if it's so fake, why are so many people killing themselves for it?

Posted by: Lindsey at September 23, 2003 09:32 PM

What language does Shrub speak anyway? Perhaps it's me but I find reading what he says to be somewhat like reading an instruction sheet from a toy manufactured in China. He's got the words down but how he strings them together is bizarre. Great post though, thanks!

Posted by: Mitch at September 25, 2003 05:12 AM

What language does Shrub speak anyway? Perhaps it's me but I find reading what he says to be somewhat like reading an instruction sheet from a toy manufactured in China. He's got the words down but how he strings them together is bizarre. Great post though, thanks!

Posted by: Mitch at September 25, 2003 05:16 AM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:

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