It is always black or white with Bush

This is an excerpt from the press conference Bush held this very morning, clipped from an Associated Press report.

On another foreign policy issue, Bush shot back at critics who suggest his diplomatic approach to North Korea is allowing the communist regime to expand its nuclear program. “If diplomacy is the wrong approach, I guess that means military. That’s how I view it as either diplomacy or military. I am for the diplomacy approach,” he said. “And for those who say we ought to be using our military to stop a problem, I would say that while all options are on the table, we’ve still got a ways to go to solve this diplomatically.”

This is a perfect example of two things:

  1. Bush believes the world is black or white. If it isn’t diplomacy, then it must be military. His administration is so intent on portraying its critics as extremist that they suggest that any opposition to the President’s plans is off the wall insane. In fact, there might be room for someone to suggest that Bush’s diplomacy might be replaced, not with military action, but with better diplomacy. No?

  2. Bush twists his statements to appear to hold a position he does not. “And for those who say we ought to be using our military to stop a problem” implies that his critics are suggesting this. In fact, the only people who might suggest attacking North Korea are the neocons in his own Administration! Was he deliberately calling them out in his speech? No, he was manipulating the American people into believing that he is a moderate man of peace. Tell that to the 1,000 plus dead Americans whose life would not have been in danger if we had never gone to war with Saddam.

Bush just infuriates me so.

George Bush Lied

I’ve just finished reading the Memorial Day editorial from the Minneapolis Star Tribune. You should read it, too.

[Update: The original Strib editorial is now behind their paid archive, but I posted the full text below.]

First off, kudos to a major news organization for having the will to do this, and on Memorial Day, to boot. I wish more people with positions of power and responsibility would do the same.

George Bush knowingly bent the truth to his own ends, but the American people don’t care. And for the life of me, I cannot figure out why they don’t care. Oh, wait no, they do care… about gas prices. Not about Bush’s aborted AIDS in Africa program. Not about innocent civilians dead around the world due to our direct action. Not about Bush’s administrators receiving accolades and medals while young Americans die overseas due to their incompetent (lack of) decision making. Not about America’s moral standing in the world crushed under the weight of sanctioned torture. No, we care about gas prices that are still among the lowest in the world.

Words fail me.

Update: Here is the text of the editorial (also as a text file):

Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN – startribune.com Last update: May 29, 2005 at 7:25 PM Editorial: Memorial Day/Praise bravery, seek forgiveness Published May 30, 2005 Nothing young Americans can do in life is more honorable than offering themselves for the defense of their nation. It requires great selflessness and sacrifice, and quite possibly the forfeiture of life itself. On Memorial Day 2005, we gather to remember all those who gave us that ultimate gift. Because they are so fresh in our minds, those who have died in Iraq make a special claim on our thoughts and our prayers. In exchange for our uniformed young people’s willingness to offer the gift of their lives, civilian Americans owe them something important: It is our duty to ensure that they never are called to make that sacrifice unless it is truly necessary for the security of the country. In the case of Iraq, the American public has failed them; we did not prevent the Bush administration from spending their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and those around him lied, and the rest of us let them. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes. Perhaps it happened because Americans, understandably, don’t expect untruths from those in power. But that works better as an explanation than as an excuse. The “smoking gun,” as some call it, surfaced on May 1 in the London Times. It is a highly classified document containing the minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting at 10 Downing Street in which Sir Richard Dearlove, head of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, reported to Prime Minister Tony Blair on talks he’d just held in Washington. His mission was to determine the Bush administration’s intentions toward Iraq. At a time when the White House was saying it had “no plans” for an invasion, the British document says Dearlove reported that there had been “a perceptible shift in attitude” in Washington. “Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The (National Security Council) had no patience with the U.N. route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.” It turns out that former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill were right. Both have been pilloried for writing that by summer 2002 Bush had already decided to invade. Walter Pincus, writing in the Washington Post on May 22, provides further evidence that the administration did, indeed, fix the intelligence on Iraq to fit a policy it had already embraced: invasion and regime change. Just four days before Bush’s State of the Union address in January 2003, Pincus writes, the National Security Council staff “put out a call for new intelligence to bolster claims” about Saddam Hussein’s WMD programs. The call went out because the NSC staff believed the case was weak. Moreover, Pincus says, “as the war approached, many U.S. intelligence analysts were internally questioning almost every major piece of prewar intelligence about Hussein’s alleged weapons programs.” But no one at high ranks in the administration would listen to them. On the day before Bush’s speech, the CIA’s Berlin station chief warned that the source for some of what Bush would say was untrustworthy. Bush said it anyway. He based part of his most important annual speech to the American people on a single, dubious, unnamed source. The source was later found to have fabricated his information. Also comes word, from the May 19 New York Times, that senior U.S. military leaders are not encouraged about prospects in Iraq. Yes, they think the United States can prevail, but as one said, it may take “many years.” As this bloody month of car bombs and American deaths — the most since January — comes to a close, as we gather in groups small and large to honor our war dead, let us all sing of their bravery and sacrifice. But let us also ask their forgiveness for sending them to a war that should never have happened. In the 1960s it was Vietnam. Today it is Iraq. Let us resolve to never, ever make this mistake again. Our young people are simply too precious. Copyright 2005 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

Republished here for educational purposes.

Sith

Tiffany and I went to see Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith Sunday, thanks to the magnanimity of Grandma. I was sort of ambivalent about going to see it, probably because the previous two movies (Episode I: Anakin the Golly Gee Boy and Episode II: Attack of the Wooden Lovers) were so awful. Witness my lack of interest: I didn’t know exactly when this movie opened, I hadn’t been following reviews much, I wasn’t obsessing over trailers. I did realize that I would be interested in seeing it in a theater, to get the full effect, and when Tiffany suggested we get Grandma to watch Aidan, I thought it was an inspired idea.

So we went to see it. And it was fine. Good even, towards the end. But I’m not one of those guys who can overlook bad acting and worse dialogue just because the action scenes are good, and the movie wraps up a story I’ve been following since I was eight.

I might see it again, though probably not in a theater. Heck, I might even try Episode II again, because the last (and only) time I saw it I couldn’t pay much attention to the plot for all the horrible speaking. But is Sith a tremendous movie? No.

The good:

  • Watching Ewan McGregor channel Sir Alec Guiness again. He’s so good at that.
  • Watching R2 break out the hammer, man. We knew the little droid had it in him.
  • The space battle at the beginning. The opening “shot” is spectacular. I say “shot” because it is all computer graphics, so it doesn’t quite have the same cachet as some of the memorable single-camera openings of classic film. But it is cool. I haven’t been so immersed in the sheer enormity and fury of a space battle like that since I played Rogue Leader on my GameCube.
  • The light saber fights, mostly. A lot of them are sort of pedestrian, and some of the wielders are clearly beyond their, um, skill level. Christopher Lee, bless him, looks like a wooden mummy when he’s “fighting”. And there are so many close ups and CG shots of the Emperor while he is fighting that I think Ian McDiarmid could have shot them sitting down. Of course, I’m sure the epic struggle between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi from _Episode IV: A New Hope_ will seem similarly staid next to some of the more recent duel stagings.

The bad:

  • Oh my God, the dialogue.
  • And what is with the five second scenes? Showing Anakin and Padme in a soulful embrace for five seconds does not make a love story.
  • Still no grasp of the scope of this Empire thing… it’s like somebody went loopy with Bryce and created all these funky planetscapes, and made them stand in for the variety and multitude of the Galaxy. Was that a purple and pink mushroom planet I saw go by?
  • Oh, and the dialogue.
  • The acting was pretty bad, too.

A couple of reviewers have noted that what this movie really made them want to do was watch the original trilogy again. And I echo that. I’ve added Eps. IV, V, and VI (the last one reluctantly) to my Netflix Queue. I especially want to see what Ben has to say to Luke when they first meet, now that I know the details. Also, I expect a lot of the cryptic stuff Yoda says in The Empire Strikes Back will make more sense to me.

In the end? Go see Sith, in the theater. It is worth your $10. Just don’t expect the world.

The littlest mistakes cost you (plus having Producers on your side helps)

Last night was the season ending episode of The Amazing Race on CBS. Amber and Rob did not win, they came in second behind Uchenna and Joyce. As with every final episode, it came down to the last leg, and the smallest little thing.

Rob and Amber looked like they had it sewn up. They booked the same flight as Uchenna and Joyce from San Juan to Miami, but then asked around (important AR rule: never take the first answer you get when you ask) and found a plane that was in the process of boarding, that they could get on as standby.

They raced to the plane and got on as the doors were closing. The walkway retracted, the passengers were in their seats, and then Uchenna and Joyce arrived, having found out the same information, but having found it out too late.

Or had they?

After the commercial break, it turns out the “pilot agreed” to let them on the plane. They trundled the gangway back out, opened the door, and let Uchenna and Joyce on the same plane as Rob and Amber. In the end, this made for a more exciting finale (Ron and Kelly, who missed that flight, were never really again in contention). Which leads me to believe that the show’s producers had a hand in reeling that plane back in.

The final sprint involved Rob and Amber back out front, but taking bad directions (Calle Ocho and 27th Avenue, they were told, while Uchenna and Joyce got correct directions to Calle Ocho and 11th Avenue) and ignoring the rule mentioned above: never take the first answer you get when you ask. In the end, that jaunt up Calle Ocho cost them $1 million. Or maybe it was the unprecedentedly nice American Airlines pilot (who should get a commission from Uchenna and Joyce).

That’s the game, I guess. My favorite team has still not made it to the top spot in The Amazing Race.