Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki claimed this weekend that there is no civil war, nor will there ever be one, and that the security situation is improving. So news like this can't look good:
A suicide car bombing and clashes between Shiite militia and Iraqi security forces left at least 50 people dead Monday in a brutal contradiction of the prime minister's claim that bloodshed was decreasing.
The deaths followed bombings and shootings Sunday that killed more than 60 people across the country, from the northern city of Kirkuk to Baghdad and Basra in the south. The dead included eight American soldiers, one of the U.S. military's deadliest weekends in months.
Maybe Maliki needs some lessons from Baghdad Bob on how to spin disaster and make it look peachy.
Here is a teaser from my latest column in the Nevada Appeal:
Have you heard the tale of the frog that carries the scorpion across the river? The scorpion promises to not sting the frog if he will give him a ride. But halfway across, the scorpion stings the frog.
"Why did you sting me?" said the frog. "Now we will both drown!"
"I couldn't help it," replied the scorpion. "It's my nature."
I was reminded of this story while reading a column by E.J. Dionne Jr. in the Washington Post, questioning if the modern conservative movement is dead. Dionne contends that fiscal irresponsibility at home and military adventurism in Iraq has severely weakened the conservative movement, perhaps to the point of self-destruction.
And the more I read, the more I thought about that scorpion.
Dan Froomkin points out that you either love Bush or you hate him:
I came to the following conclusion a while ago: Bush has become such a divisive figure in American politics that when he speaks, there are some Americans who hear everything he says as the gospel -- and others who hear everything he says as (charitably) baloney. And there are remarkably few Americans in between.
Covering Bush, therefore, poses a particular challenge to traditional political reporters, who generally see their role as trying to play it down the middle. Because there may really be no middle anymore.
Bush really wouldn't be stupid enough to attack Iran, would he?
What you're basically saying is, "Bush would never be so much of a goddamned idiot as to..."
Now, I've said that to myself plenty of times, in the last five years. Many, many times. Not sure, looking back, that I can count them all. And every single time I've said "not even Bush would be so much of a goddamned idiot as to...", I've been very, very wrong. Really, spectacularly wrong. Like, ice cream and hot sauce wrong. The kind of wrong that comes with its own theme music and fireworks show.
So I ain't saying that no more. Someone else can have those words, because I'm done with 'em. Bush is officially enough of a goddamned idiot to do any random thing that comes into his fool head, and you, I and the new Dwarf Planet Pluto are largely just going to be the unwilling observers of it all.
The White House at this point has turned itself into an MTV game show: Bill Kristol could write a column telling Bush and Cheney to string copper wire between their nipple rings and do a Irish line dance in the middle of a giant microwave oven constructed by the props department, and by this date next month we'd be watching it on basic cable and listening to twenty pundits describe how it's going to really kick the terrorists' asses to have the president and veep line dancing half-naked inside that tactically brilliant oven.
This is starting to look like the makings of the perfect storm. Lending institutions are pushing more and more dangerous loans that aren't secured, which buyers can't pay back. Buyers in turn load up on debt and interest-only loans, hoping the rates don't rise and buying into the market at the top of the bubble. Meanwhile, interest rates rise as our nation's budget and trade deficit put pressure on the dollar. And with rates going up, that cools down the housing sales and refinancing that has fueled much of the economic growth for several years. Housing prices drop, which means more loans are left unsecured with no way to pay them back.
We all need to remember that, regardless of what Dick Cheney said, deficits do matter. They played with our economy like a game of Texas hold-em, and we just came up with an empty hand.
Caraway's smear of Bush illogical
Newspapers are losing circulation these days, often because their readers no longer see them as relevant to their lives. An example is the editorial by your "Net guy" a few days ago that starts with the successful prevention of the London airline bomb plot and ends up concluding that Bush is a clever warmonger exaggerating the terror threat to keep oil prices high.
The bombing of two U.S. embassies, the Khobar Towers, the USS Cole, the World Trade Center (twice) and a few thousand dead Americans are inconvenient events that get in the way of your editorialist's lunatic conspiracy theory. I doubt military families will appreciate the implication that American soldiers are stupid pawns killing and dying to enrich Chevron and Bush, not to mention the aid and comfort this screed provides our enemies.
So who's got the street cred in this case? Our warrior president has successfully prevented another 9/11 by proactively going after terrorists overseas, which is the point of this whole war on terror thing. Then we've got your homeboy, a lad who can string a couple of sentences together but has nothing sensible to say. He tries to inoculate himself by complaining that Bush critics are reflexively called disloyal, but calling the president of the United States a homicidal grifter is not what most of us think of as an honest policy difference. I just want to know how Bush went from vacant frat boy to cunning Machiavelli, in the estimation of the Lamontiac left.
Mr. Editor, if you're going to give the editorial space to outrageous smears of President Bush, you'll impress the New York Times. but you're liable to chase your Nevada readership onto the Web for the weather and the classifieds. Just ask your "Net guy"; he'll tell you.
Sales of previously owned homes plunged in July to the lowest level in 2 1/2 years and the inventory of unsold homes climbed to a new record high, fresh signs that the housing market has lost steam.
The crash of the housing market is like a slow-motion train wreck. You know it's happening, but you try not to believe all the signs around you.
I saw the same thing in 2000 in the stock market. I had the misfortune of taking a dot com job a week before the crash. My new co-workers told me how lucky I was because my stock options came in at $11 a share, while many of them were stuck at $40. The stock had nowhere to go but up, right?
Five months later the cut all our jobs. I later used my options papers to start a fire in my woodstove.
"We Republicans, during impeachment, were so outraged that Democrats would bitch and moan behind the scenes and talk about what a disgrace Bill Clinton was, but then when they went on the House floor and the Senate floor, would fiercely defend him. . . . We would all scratch our heads and say, 'How could they do that? How could they go out and circle the wagons and say something they didn't believe?'
"And yet here we have a Republican administration and a Republican Congress doing basically the exact same thing, where staying in power is more important than staying true to the values that put you in power in the first place. Again, there are more and more conservatives behind the scenes that are voicing concerns, but most of them are afraid to say anything publicly, because they know if they do they'll be branded as traitors to the cause."
"I think one of the biggest mistakes we made was underestimating the size of the task and the sacrifices that would be required," McCain said. "Stuff happens, mission accomplished, last throes, a few dead-enders. I'm just more familiar with those statements than anyone else because it grieves me so much that we had not told the American people how tough and difficult this task would be."
Thanks, John for pointing that out, now that it comes at a time when you can use it to prop up your campaign.
Did you hear about the 24 Iraqis who plotted to blow up a bunch of airplanes flying across the Atlantic Ocean?
Oh, that’s right. They weren’t Iraqis. They were Pakistanis.
Did you hear that Osama bin Laden is hiding in Iraq?
Whoa, check that. That would be Pakistan.
And did you know that Iraq has nuclear bombs and sold that technology to Iran and North Korea?
Oops, I meant Pakistan, not Iraq.
And how about Iraq supporting Islamic terrorism against its democratic neighbors?
Oh, that would be Pakistan, again.
And now there is a new warning that al Qaeda may attack Americans in India. And where would these attackers be coming from?
And so the central front on the war on terror is Pakistan, right?
No, that would be Iraq.
Why do I get the feeling that Abbott and Costello are running this war?