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 — 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.


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.