a Tidal Wave of Lies
By Weldon Berger
This isn't something I'm comfortable saying in polite company,
but I sometimes experience a substantial twinge of sympathy
for people who unstintingly support George Bush. I suspect
there are moments when they feel like this
guy, only without the skills.
The feeling doesn't extend to Bush, though. His supporters
face the same risks as the rest of us, but the worst that
can happen to him is he might lose his job somewhere down
the road and have to return to his home planet in disgrace.
It's not only the Niger
fiasco and the general inflation of the nuclear thing,
or his remark that we went to war because Saddam "didn't let
the inspectors in;" there's the parroting of unsubstantiated
claims like Britain's 45-minutes-to-doom
scenario, and Rumsfeld's "bulletproof
evidence" of an Iraq-al Qaeda connection.
There's Judith Miller, the Ahmed Chalabi cheerleader who
moonlights as a New York Times reporter, writing two
months ago about the military's nonchalance in regard
to securing a site with radioactive materials (Drew said
he was not concerned that terrorists or elements of the deposed
government might try to steal the material to make a crude
nuclear bomb. He said exposure to the radioactive material
itself would be lethal to anyone who tried to move or steal
it. "It is a self-solving problem," he said.)
now about the general confusion reigning over the search
for evidence of banned weapons ("Because we arrived at
sites so late, so often," said Capt. J. Ryan Cutchin, the
leader of the team known as MET Bravo, "we may never know
what was there, and either walked or was taken away by looters
and Baathist elements under the guise of looting.").
Y'all remember, right, that we went into this to secure all
those hurtful things?
Then there's the pathological insistence on being right,
with its consequent cost to others. My guess as to why the
House story on the uranium claim went from being a mistake
to being "technically accurate" a week later is that Bush
threw a hissy fit at the notion he might have said something
that simply wasn't true.
And the rest of the gang isn't much better. Rumsfeld has
finally come round to admitting that the occupation will require
more troops, more time and more money than he or his posse
predicted, but there's still a hallucinatory optimism; maybe
we won't have to send more troops, maybe the Marshall Islands
will kick in a division, maybe we can get out of this without
having to go humble ourselves at the UN.
Saturday, not many hours before two more US soldiers were
killed, the new commander in Iraq said that the optimum troop
strength for asserting control in the country was around 160,000.
We have 148,000 troops; the Brits and a rag-tag assortment
of other countries, another 13,000. Add it up. This is optimum?
It just goes on and on, and of course it isn't limited to
the war. The blossoming deficit - and they're still lowballing
it; $500 billion is a good bet - the sordid games with VA
benefits and military death benefits, squeezing the 9/11 commission,
unfunded mandates for states with no money, the vicious little
bouquets thrown to the jingos and bigots... it's unrelenting,
it doesn't stop for a moment, behind every lie or meanness
is another and maybe even bigger one.
Ah, well. Now that the press has unaccountably awakened from
its long slumber, perhaps the meme that Bush is not the mack
daddy of war and other manly arts will take hold and people
will be willing to listen to alternative ideas on how to conduct
our national affairs, and if we're really, really lucky, a
Democratic candidate or two will be so kind as to recognize
the moment and offer some up.
The wave in the photo I linked to at the beginning of this
little rant looks to me to be about 40 or 50 feet; it's at
a spot called Jaws, about a half-mile off Maui's north shore.
The people who surf it do so with the assistance of a jet
ski - hanging onto a tow rope while the craft pulls them onto
the wave - because the waves are moving at about 30 mph and
even if the break wasn't so far off shore, it's hard to paddle
in to a wave moving that fast. They use boards with foot straps
on them to keep from falling off when they're being towed
and when they're plunging down the face of the wave.
It's an only marginally sane pastime. You wouldn't want to
wake up in the middle of a wave like that but if you did,
your best option would be to jump before it fell on you.
Weldon Berger is a freelance writer living and working
in Hawaii, where he has nearly mastered the art of bailing
out of the massive 1-foot swells at Waikiki. He can be reached
by email at firstname.lastname@example.org