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Monday, September 13, 2004

September 10-13, 2004.

On the CBS forged document business - or The Battle Of The Rival Networks!

Marshall McLuhan and Edith Efron (The News Twisters) - together at last? How 'bout that? Is there any operatic name that could provide a better header for this entry?

Thrill as I talk myself into voting for Bush!-re-edited for my reading pleasure.

At this point in the Presidential campaign, with both conventions over, and since hearing that my planned default vote - the Libertarian Party - had a conspiracy theorists' rally for September 11, I'm in the position of having no choice but to vote for George Bush's foreign policies.

I don't like most of Bush's social policies. But to settle my vote that way is to avoid bigger issues. Our enemies don't even like the liberal social policies we have for right now. The wars Bush has involved us in have roots in failed diplomacy and in economic controversies that long predate his administration. He was left holding a lot of bags. But Bush's response indicates at the very least a leader who accepts authentic bad guys - the terrorists of Islamofascism - for who they are. Is this response working? Not necessarily. But it also ain't over yet.

At www.jameswolcott.com, the Vanity Fair editor writes:

"But the future has barely made a guest appearance during this election campaign. And not the recent past of no WMDs, Abu Ghraib, and the failure to capture Osama Bin Laden. But in a hazy three-decades-old flashback in which John Kerry is/isn't spending Christmas in Cambodia and George Bush is/isn't showing up for National Guard duty. The entire scuffle between Kerry and Bush's surrogates is stuck in the past and mired in the old, the political operatives and pundits picking through bureaucratic garbage for anything resembling forensic evidence of buried shame. To anyone under the age of forty, these controversies must seem as far-off as the quiz show scandal."

And concludes with this:

"But I also think that the future is what this election wants to avoid. The country now has such [a] short attention span that it can't/won't concentrate on the future, finds it too taxing, would rather back up into the future than face it honestly. Brian Eno, musician and pop theorist, once lamented that we are addicted to Short Now and the Small Here. We seem incapable of thinking longer than from the beginning of last week to the end of next: the Short Now. And our geopsychological space (especially for us city folk) is often no bigger than the size of our apartment: the Small Here. The purpose of the Long Now Project is to extend the reach of consciousness and responsibility to 10,000 years to ensure the planet is still around for our grandchildren's grandchildren's grandchildren's grand--well, you get the idea. Unfortunately, the political class in this country dwells in a Short Now as sharp and abbreviated as Chris Matthews' mood swings. The nihilism of the Sex Pistols' cry of "No future" has become giddy caw of cable news panels. Pete Peterson must wonder why he even bothers."

The main thing that stays with me here is how Wolcott referenced Brian Eno, a fave
musician of mine, in a brief reflection on the American attention span. As it happens, I've chosen to focus a good bit of my dwindling span on the War on Islamofascism, an awkward term I prefer to War on Terror. There is little in the writings and public statements of Osama bin Laden and almost every Muslim leader who claims to stake anything on jihad to contridict their plans to outlast the resolve of Western Civ almost by osmosis - their idealogy already being drizzled on future generations like water on sponges.

One reason why Bush has whatever edge he has with the polity is that in this Short Now, it's apparent that we can have both wars and our Small Here. Sooner or later, the balance will be upset. But someday soon, much of the Arabic world will conclude that their own balance of ideology and everyday has been knocked askew. Every now and then, you can find a voice piping up from a pair of brass balls in that world. It costs American citizens nothing to criticize this war or call its' prosecutors Nazis, if that nice. I hope this writer doesn't pay a price either.

A smaller matter: Bush is one of two presidents since the Kennedy administration to not violate - yet - any pledge to not raise taxes. Jimmy Carter being the only other I can think of.

What I don't get about Bush is why he isn't a little more generous in public to his predecessor Bill Clinton. The invasion of Iraq for regime change / WMD disposal / liberation has been national policy, straight out of Clinton's 1998 Iraq Liberation Act. Of course, Bush can certainly take credit for the war's budget, but people who accuse Bush of budget-busting and then Rumsfeld of trying to fund the war as if it were consignment - John Kerry is among those who says both - should read the $87 million budget Clinton and Congress agreed on. They just might chuckle in spite of themselves.

Also, Bush's speech in London last year was a lengthy elaboration of Clinton's HREF="www.debates.org/pages/trans92c.html"> statements to Bush The Elder during the 1992 debates. This excerpt from one of Clinton's replies gives an interesting perspective to today's arguments on Middle-East diplomacy. The bold emphasis is mine:

"Let's take Mr. Bush for the moment at his word -- he's right, we don't have any evidence at least that our government did tell Saddam Hussein he could have that part of Kuwait. And let's give him the credit he deserves for organizing Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield. It was a remarkable event.

But let's look at where I think the real mistake was made. In 1988 when the war between Iraq and Iran ended, we knew Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, we had dealt with him because he was against Iran -- the enemy of my enemy maybe is my friend.

All right, the war's over; we know he's dropping mustard gas on his own people, we know he's threatened to incinerate half of Israel. Several government departments -- several -- had information that he was converting our aid to military purposes and trying to develop weapons of mass destruction. But in late '89 the president signed a secret policy saying we were going to continue to try to improve relations with him, and we sent him some sort of communication on the eve of his invasion of Kuwait that we still wanted better relations.

So I think what was wrong -- I give credit where credit is due -- but the responsibility was in coddling Saddam Hussein when there was no reason to do it and when people at high levels in our government knew he was trying to do things that were outrageous."

ABB =....ADD?

John Kerry is not a choice for me. In fact, I'm still bemused by the support thrown to this guy by antiIraqwar factions even after he's already said he supported the war, voted for the authority to go to war, won't plan on an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, and has pretty much left Afghanistan unaddressed. So what if he also said he was against the war, didn't vote to go to war technically, isn't espectially bugged by assault weapons, etc. This is not what you would normally call an intellectually responsible vote.

As for Kerry's assertion that any attack would be met with great force - great idea. But we have a guy for that.

Why didn't that Anybody But Bush brio make Howard Dean the nominee? He was pissed enough by President Bush to fill entire arenas, he publicly entertained conspiracy theories a coupla times, he had more gall than forethought. Sometimes I got the feeling that he watched videos of protest gatherings, distilled the primary markers of personality traits and verbal habits into an average, and printed up flash cards to help him memorize these attributes until they were internalized to a rare force in wartime party politics. But I respected Dean. He projected courage in his convictions until just before the New Hampshire primary. Pre-primary polls (say that five times fast) having him all but winning the nomination. Had he won there might have maintained that fury all the way to the DNC. But no. John Kerry won. A vote like this, repeated throughout the Democratic primary season, is hard to view as anything other than a loss of courage among the voters. Dean would've been an honorable nominee.

As long as it was ABB why not the guilty pleasure, Dennis Kucinich? Oh, what could've been. Are you against this and all other wars in perpetuity? It's a date! You want to leave Iraq flat on its' butt yesterday? Dennis is timin' the CPA right now! Do you like to cap your appearances on "Meet The Press" with a bald stare and the statement "and look what he's [Bush] done to this country!!", then pause while Tim Russert says "what does that mean?" I mock Kucinich, but voted for
in the Georgia primary just because. Maybe I would've voted for him for president just for the hell of it. Just to see what could happen. OK, what would've happened is a thrown-away vote. But Kucinich, the New Age Ross Perot, would've made an courageous ABB candidate.
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