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March 27, 2003

Further stunning incompetence unfolds
Posted by Teresa at 12:06 AM *

In a move that is fundamentally as stupid, if less consequential, than opening a second front with Russia, those Dilbertian idiots we’ve got running the country have chosen this moment to be grossly offensive to Turkey and Canada, both of which have been our long-term close allies. This follows in the wake of the Bushies’ churlish behavior towards France, and what The Onion (which at the moment is brilliantly on form) has referred to as Operation Piss Off the Planet.

India and Pakistan have been firing off deeply alarming test missiles. North Korea’s just getting nuttier. The economy’s singing “My Heart Will Go On.” And the expectation that the Iraqis would give liberating US troops a rapturous welcome has been downgraded from “a disappointment” to “an embarrassment” to “a slot in the world history register of manifest follies.”

It’s time for the country to get serious. If all these blunders could magically be set right by Mr. Bush’s conducting a dalliance with a White House intern, what patriotic American could do anything but cheer him on in the attempt?

If you disagree with me on this, it’s because you simply aren’t serious about the United States.

Away with you, America-haters! This is what you get for deriving your political beliefs from radio-show panders and mountebanks.

Comments on Further stunning incompetence unfolds:
#1 ::: Karin ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 12:30 AM:

Hell, if this could all be set right by setting the Shrub up with an intern, I'd hand-deliver the intern myself. I'd even volunteer to *be* the intern.

*thinks about it.* Er, that may be overstating the case a bit. Hand-deliver, though. Definitely.

Has someone strapped turbo-boosters on the handbasket to hell, or what?

#2 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 12:59 AM:

Karin, if you volunteer, I'll deed you my share of the family A-Frame in the Adirondacks. Cold as hell, no running water, transmission-busting access road, black flies, but far, far from nosey press people, which would be a big plus!


Actually, I really don't think an intern would work. I suspect Bush really is a straight shootin' little cowboy.

I'm thinking . . . pretzels. Or finding his old coke head pals and milking them for stories about George, Back In The Day.

#3 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 02:01 AM:

George isn't most of the problem. (George is far from ideal, but; George the Third isn't most of the problem.)

The problem goes like this.

Capitalism is a neat collection of tools; you can do a whole lot with these tools, and -- like any other set of complex tools -- there's an ongoing argument about how to use them.

That's fine; that's true for anything interesting.

What's *not* fine is that corporate structures are *as implemented* (not inherently) entirely authoritarian.

Anyone who has ever applied for a bank loan or needed to convince their boss' boss of something is aware of this; information flow is unidirectional (up) and authority is unidirectional (down) and responsibility seldom accrues to decision makers.

People, quite naturally, prefer that their *whole life* reflect a single set of social rules; it's much, much simpler that way. They expect things to work in a certain way, and they react less warmly (at least) when they don't, and the basic plains ape social mechanisms abrade out the objections and the disagreements into a pattern of custom.

People have also come to believe -- largely due to a really long term propaganda campaign -- that the authoritarian structure *is the same thing* as capitalism.

So, somewhere, the connection has been made between 'support the authoritarian structure' and 'prosper'. (or 'eat, sleep out of the rain'.)

It's even true, for the most part, certainly for the entirety of the middle class.

So 'authoritarian' turns into 'good' by the single short step from 'it feeds me, it shelters me'; in a powerfully religious social context where 'good' and 'God' are frequently confused, a dreadful slow theogany takes place.

Instant fascism, just add stock.

The desire to further that, on the part of the corrupt, cynical, and despicable cabal driving the current administration's policy adgenda is a much larger part of the problem than George; that they wish to export this vision *as an inherently correct thing* as a sort of global crusade against, well, everybody -- start with the Muslim, but the socialists of Canada and Europe will be next -- and there are a whole lot of people who happen to believe them, because it is this authoritarian system to which they have adapted, from which they derive great benefit, and to which they give their emotional allegiance. (Not necessarily to any particular corporation, but to this imagination of corporations.)

Not really all that surprising; most of the models derive from authoritarian structures (Union Army, Catholic Church, Red Army) and the non-authoritarian models (warband) which are known to work are met with really considerable hostility by the folks with the investment in the authoritarian models.

Once the confusion between absolute, God-of-Abraham, Shaper and Creator of all things rightness and the authoritarian social structure as a present thing, as a form of human organization, takes place, every other form of human organization is (correctly from the precepts of that world view) seen as the enemy.

So, yeah, Turkey and Canada *are* on the enemies list; that particular set of social structures haven't taken over in either place. (The venue at which the American ambassador spoke is one of the places in which it *has*, in Canada; Bay Street businessmen, who really want that American style guiltless grasping plunder. But not all of them, and they have much less political power than a corresponding group in the US could have.)

But, anyway, that's the problem -- a belief that it is right to rank people into rigid enforced social hierarchies becoming, in the minds of about half the population of the foremost military power on earth, an uncontexted good.

George is small potatoes.

#4 ::: Johan A ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 03:12 AM:

This ties neatly in with the poll at : Would you perform it on George W. if it meant world peace?

#5 ::: James Veitch ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 03:21 AM:

A few people have offered to take care of Bush and/or Saddam if it would halt the war, and I'd certainly consider swiching if that's what it would take.
Just close your eyes and think of Earth.

#6 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 04:08 AM:

Well, 50 House Democrats have now signed a letter supporting Sheila Jackson Lee's motion to force Bush to get Congressional approval for the Iraq War (pondering the Hen House door, _now_, after the fox has begun his banquet).

Mostly, only children (like me) have attributed any significance to this effort, since she started her campaign in January. Real adults, like Tom Daschle, are trying to save face for the Democratic Party by letting us know that they're nicer and wiser supporters of Bush's agenda .

The most prominent personality I've noticed blinking at the Halliburton contract for post-war cleanup is the inconsistent news clown, John Stewart. (I did see a photo of Martin Sheen, today, protesting the war with a gag over his mouth.)

#7 ::: Jane Yolen ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 06:03 AM:

I had heard that Rep John Conyers wanted FAXES supporting an impeachment of Geo Bush. Whether this is true or not, I fired off a fax. The fax # given was: 313-226-2065.


#8 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 09:26 AM:

Would you perform it on George W. if it meant world peace?

Euwww. But, yes. Do I get to use a condom?

I've said before, and I'll say again, I'd do Clinton in a heartbeat. He's good looking, smart, smart, smart, was the most powerful man on the planet, and appears to have some sort of accomodation with his wife. You damn betcha. But for Dubya, it'd have to be something like world peace for it to be worth it.

#9 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 09:41 AM:

I make no apologies for this admin's churlishness, but I think there is a deeper reason why the Turks haven't been so cooperative:

"The French and German governments informed the Turkish opposition parties that if they voted to help the Coalition war effort, Turkey would be locked out of Europe for a generation. As one Turkish leader put it, "there were no promises, only threats.

"One can describe this behavior on the part of our erstwhile Old Europe allies only as a deliberate act of sabotage against America in time of war."

#10 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 10:27 AM:

John: Josh Marshall neatly eviscerates Mr. Ledeen's arguments here.

As I noted in my column in The Hill, the argument that Turkish Islamism is at fault is belied by the fact that the secularist, Kemalist deputies in the Turkish parliament voted against us by a far greater proportion than the 'Islamic' deputies. Ledeen says this happened because the French and the Germans threatened the Turks (i.e., the pro-Western secularists) with exclusion from the European Union if they went along with us. Ledeen lards the piece with several throwaway lines which are as meaningless as they are foolish. He says for instance that we'll eventually find out "that French actions constitute the diplomatic equivalent of chemical and biological warfare."

(What does this mean? If one wants a little shock value, shouldn't the insults at least make some logical sense?)

Now, I have a few responses to this. First, Ledeen doesn't proffer a lot of evidence for this claim, merely unnamed sources. But, frankly, I don't doubt that they did make such threats. Perhaps they did; perhaps they didn't. Yet, Occam's Razor would suggest that it may not have played that decisive a role. No one in Turkey supported our war in Iraq. No one. Given that the secularists are out of government and not particularly inclined to help the Erdogan government, I don't think they needed a lot of encouragement to vote this way. On the contrary, it makes perfect sense.

There's a second problem with Ledeen's argument. The Erdogan government has shown that it is also extremely eager for EU admittance. Why didn't the threat work better with them?

The long and the short of it is that one doesn't have to look too far past the Turkish borders to explain what happened.

But let's assume for a moment that the French and Germans did level this threat. And that it had some effect. Far from being exculpatory of Bush administration diplomacy, it's actually quite damning.

Here's why.

The centerpiece of the Bush administration's strategic doctrine has been that alliances and international institutions hinder our ability to secure our vital interests far more than they advance it. Thus, they argue, we should chart our own course and invite the 'willing' to follow us or get out of the way. The subtext of that strategy is that if this or that country doesn't like it, that's their problem, not ours.

Their opponents said, no. Our alliances help us shape international debates and catalyze our power rather than diminish it. What's more, even with all our power, our isolation is our problem too. If true, France's threat to the Turks is a textbook example of this fact.

France has never made peace with American dominance in Europe. What they've heretofore lacked was a constituency among the countries of Europe to work against that dominance. Now they have it. And France is a big player in ... well, what else to call it, an alliance, the EU, which Turkey would really like to become a part of. If no more than French perfidy were involved here, France's threat would carry little weight. France doesn't run the EU. On the contrary, if the Turks think that the French are now speaking for most of the populations of Europe, the threat could be quite real. As we noted here, opportunists will always arise to exploit an exploitable situation. But we created a situation ripe for exploitation.

It's sad and undignified for conservatives to trumpet the evidence of the administration's shortsightedness and incompetence as evidence of its insight. They're lost in a tangle of their own enthusiasm and self-deception. Unfortunately, we're all along for the ride.

#11 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 10:29 AM:

Sorry, all of the last post should have been italicized, as they are Mr. Marshall's words, not mine.

#12 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 10:53 AM:


Thanks for the pointer to Josh—and the clarification. I think Ledeen's piece must have just become available, as JM thought it wasn't online.

#13 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 12:38 PM:

Not only would I endorse GWB bonking an intern for world peace, I'd endorse his lying about it.

Why not? He's lied about everything else.


Somewhere in Patrick's comment section last week, someone posted to the effect that Iraqis in Baghdad were dancing in the streets in joy at the invasion.

This was while bombs were falling on the city, and had been for maybe two days.

I really wonder where people like that get their ideas. I read defenses of the US's wholly gratuitous invasion of Grenada that claimed the Grenadans were dancing in the streets.

I've never seen anyone dancing in the streets, except on portable stages during art and wine festivals. There's a famous photo of a soldier and a nurse kissing in Times Square on the news of the end of WW2, but I don't recall that anyone in the crowd looks like they're dancing. Maybe I've been missing one of the great joys of life: dancing in the streets. Especially around bombed-out buildings. Woo-hoo.

#14 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 01:21 PM:


I know what you're saying. It wasn't Baghdad, but last weekend on Fox I did see a short clip of a group of Iraqi men dancing. Just after the invasion began. It wasn't in the streets, it looked like it was around a camp fire.

Of course, the intriguing suggestion about this scenario is what mischief Mr. Clinton (by implication) would've been up to had Ms. Lewinski and other babes not been around during his White House tour.

#15 ::: Cassandra Phillips-Sears ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 02:34 PM:

Simon: you're right. Who on earth would be dancing in the street while bombs were falling and planes whizzing overhead?

And where would they get the electricity to power the boombox from?

#16 ::: Derryl Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 04:54 PM:

Frustrating as hell for us up here, to watch the idiots in our government who don't know the difference between friends and enemies, and moreso to listen to idiots like Celucci (and plenty of others; come by my blog for a very partial list) whine on and threaten Canada when we are still doing plenty to aid the war effort. Thanks to Celluci's poking his nose in, the Liberal caucus even discussed giving him the boot, which would be unprecedented. "Operation Piss Off the Planet" indeed.

#17 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 05:00 PM:

I won't say he's been a standout here, but he's kept his vowels.

Threatened Canada? I'll have to wrap my brain around that one. It's so stupid. So pointless. So likely to backfire.

#18 ::: kla. ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 05:10 PM:

Oh my god. It's South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut come to life. "Blame Canada."

First quoting the The Onion in a speech declaring war, now cribbing policy from South Park.

Is this all some bizzaro joke? Is this just some sort of freakazoid Candid Camera, played out on the nations of the world by Dick Cheney?

I think I'm going to go insane. Stomp on something Gojira-style, cry uncontrollably, then go insane.

#19 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 05:16 PM:

I saw the headline this morning and thought "Oh shit, another idiocy from the accidental governor." Celucci is the twit who couldn't keep his finances in shape on an income several times that of the average household (in this state -- Massachusetts incomes and expenses are higher than the U.S. average); he got elected only because (a) his boss left midterm to try for a different ambassadorship (Weld's nomination for Mexico was shut down by Helms on the grounds that Weld didn't toe the Republican line on drugs) and (b) the Democratic speaker of the house backstabbed the Democratic candidate (figuring a Republican governor would be no threat to the speaker's power in a state where both legislative houses have veto-proof Democratic majorities, but a Democratic governor might be).

It's not impossible he pulled this stunt all by himself....

#20 ::: Madeleine ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 05:53 PM:

Someone told me about an "Impeach Bush" site. I couldn't remember the exact name, so I googled it, with 29,700 results. Take yer pick. And buy a bumper sticker.

#21 ::: Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2003, 12:18 AM:

I keep expecting to hear Bush crow, "apres moi, le deluge."

Except, of course, that would mean he'd be speaking Freedom.

Then again, maybe he's subscribed to the 'show don't tell' paradigm.

#22 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2003, 06:50 AM:

Simon: to see people dancing in the streets, google on Love Parade in Berlin. The Hindustan Times of all publications had some photos, I see.

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