Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Through the Looking Glass

* 105 American soldiers killed in Iraq during October - 13 American soldiers killed so far in November

The way things are going in this country these days sometimes makes me feel as if I have slipped behind the looking glass where black is white and up is down. It reminds me of that commercial where the guy is talking to his psychiatrist about a dream and how much it disturbed him and the psychiatrist responds in a foreign language. I listen to the Bush administration and its spokepeople and echo the psychiatric patient when he says in utter confusion, "what?"

One hundred and five of our service people killed in Iraq in October and our esteemed Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, says that what keeps him "up at night" is the ability of our enemies to "manipulate the media." Really? That's what disturbs his sleep? Tens of thousands of our soldiers in harm's way, in danger of being killed or injured, and it is the way the media reports it that obsesses Rummy? I mean, how many ways are there to report the deaths of over 100 Americans? They are either dead or they aren't. There is no way to "spin" that terrible fact to make it sound not so bad.

Mr Rumsfeld said that we should "back off" and "relax". I guess he thinks some of us are just making too much about the war and the resulting casualties. We need to just go shopping or something and quit worrying our heads about it - just trust our leaders to handle it. Well, I was against the war from the beginning but if they had handled it with even a minimum level of competence, critics like me would have been silenced by now.

Evidently, our president agrees with Mr. Rumsfeld because Bush says he believes Rummy is "doing a fantastic job in Iraq, a statement from so deep in denial that it literally takes my breath away.

And speaking of "black is white", Vice-President Cheney also engaged in a bit of double-speak that left people scratching their heads. In an interview on a radio show, the host asked him, "would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?" Cheney allowed as to how "it is a no brainer for me."

I expect everyone on both sides of the torture argument knew that Cheney was talking about water-boarding but when it was reported that way, the administration and their supporters went nuts and acted as if Cheney had been violated. Words were put in Cheney's mouth, they declared. Tony Snow said Cheney was not referring to waterboarding and would never have made a misstatement of that kind. When asked what else "a dunking" could possibly mean, he declined to answer as did Cheney himself.

Now people can argue whether water-boarding is acceptable under extreme circumstances (although all civilized nations, including until recently the United States, calls waterboarding torture), but let's not play silly little words games. The radio host meant waterboarding; the Vice-president meant waterboarding. Talk about your media enthusiastically engaging in their own manipulation......

And talk of manipulative media brings us to Rush Limbaugh. I have hated Rush Limbaugh since early in the Clinton administration when he said about Chelsea Clinton, who was 12 at the time, that the White House didn't need to get a dog because they had Chelsea. I have hated him since he said all druggies should get the maximum penalty because addiction was no excuse, until it turned out he was a addicted to drugs himself and then he expected special treatment because after all, he is Rush. I have hated him for lies and cruelties too numerous to mention so his willingness to mock a man suffering from a horrifying terminal illness like Parkinson's really didn't surprise me. It just made me detest him that much more. Rush is mean and not even mean with a scalpel-sharp wit, which I can sometimes chuckle over even when I disagree, but mean in a thuggish, blunt instrument way.

What has always surprised me most about the Rush phenomena is how many people, even people I respect, have happily referred to themselves as "dittoheads", as Rush's devotees are called. To me, Dittohead connotes someone either unable or unwilling to think for themselves. The last thing in the world I'd want to be considered is a Dittohead of anyone, even someone I admire.

And now, the latest administration amazement is how they posted the means and methods of making a nuclear weapon on the freakin' internet! Oh, they didn't know they were doing it, of course. How is came about is that we "liberated" a kazillion pages of documents when we entered Iraq - documents, but no weapons of mass destruction. Republicans were anxious to prove that Saddam had WMD and they believed there might be proof of it in these documents but the problem was, they were in Arabic. We have about three people who can read Arabic in our military and foreign services because we fired the rest of them for being gay. So they came up with the bright idea of just posting them all on the internet in the hope that whoever was out there might translate them and let the administration know if there was any truly juicy stuff in there. And, guess what? There was - there were actual instructions on how to make a nuclear weapon (dating back to before the first gulf war). So who do you suppose might have read those Arabic documents posted on an official US government website? Probably not you or me. I can't read Arabic and even if I could, I probably wouldn't be sufficiently motivated to comb through a gargantuan mountain of material. But how about Arabic jihadists? Do you think they might possibly be interested enough to employ readers to see what all was there? Now the government has discovered its mistake and deleted it, years too late. We have no idea who might have gained this knowledge in the meantime but whoever it was, chances are good it wasn't friends of ours.

And these are the people who are out there, one day before an election, oh-so-earnestly telling us we must vote for them because only they can be trusted to keep us safe.

And who knows what will happen tomorrow, election day, because from behind the looking glass up is down and black is white.