The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Monday, September 10, 2007

Black Monday

Some days the whole blogging thing just leaves ya feeling a little queasy. In the case of today, it's the frightening reminder that as insane as things have become in American politics and the media, maybe we've just seen the eighth of the iceberg that's breaking the surface.

ITEM! First, a look at the past via Vanity Fair's article on the MSM's all-out assault on Al Gore in 2000. To a slightly lesser degree repeated in 2004. And already happening again, in spite of the enormous costs. And it was no secret:

As Time magazine's Margaret Carlson admitted to Don Imus at the time, "You can actually disprove some of what Bush is saying if you really get into the weeds and get out your calculator, or look at his record in Texas. But it's really easy, and it's fun to disprove Al Gore. As sport, and as our enterprise, Gore coming up with another whopper is greatly entertaining to us."

What Carlson fails to do, as was so often the case, was acknowledge that those "whoppers" were complete fabrications and played a major role in landing a lunatic and his entire fascistic coterie in every branch of the government.

And I don't need to point out how the MSM is fawning over no-nonsense, tough-guy Republicans. In spite of the fact that all of them are running on the same platform-- more of the same insane bullshit that's wrecked the nation for the last six and a half years.

ITEM! On eve of 9/11 anniversary, General Petraeus to help BushCo run out the clock! For a while, even I thought critics of the war were being too cynical when they suggested that the real neo-con strategy in Iraq was to just keep it going until it wasn't their problem anymore. Boy, was I wrong. After all, the war's enablers have been dangling September, 2007, out there as the magical day of reckoning since the beginning of the year.

As Defense Secretary Robert Gates explained it back in January, the "surge" was going to be "a matter of months, not 18 months or two years."

As Cheney explained it in 2005: "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

And as Donald Rumsfeld explained it in 2003: "[The Iraq War] could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."

So you can forget today's testimony from Petraeus, because it has absolutely nothing to do with reality. From the NYT:

General Petraeus, whose long-awaited testimony before Congress will begin Monday, has informed President Bush that troop cuts may begin in mid-December, with the withdrawal of one of the 20 American combat brigades in Iraq, about 4,000 troops. By August, the American force in Iraq would be down to 15 combat brigades, the force level before Mr. Bush’s troop reinforcement plan.

The precise timing of such reductions, which would leave about 130,000 troops in Iraq, could vary, depending on conditions in the country. But the general has also said that it is too soon to present recommendations on reducing American forces below that level because the situation in Iraq is in flux. He has suggested that he wait until March to outline proposals on that question.

In short, "ask us in another six months." After all, the number of Americans and Iraqis killed in the really won't be that big, relatively speaking. And what's $200 billion when you've already spent three times that?

ITEM! One of my major GOP annoyances (but oh, there are so many!) is the issue of war profiteering in Iraq. American companies stolen billions of dollars in Iraqs. Which ultimately kills American troops. Yet no member of the GOP I can name has uttered word one in protest. Looks like it's time for that can't-do spirit to appear on the home front as well, courtesy of the same GOP that can do no wrong. Because when everything they touch turns to shit, it can only be Bill Clinton's fault.

Rep. Frank (D-Mass.), a smart progressive, chairs the House Financial Services Committee, the current name for the Banking Committee. But judging by Wednesday’s kickoff hearing in a series of inquiries into the deepening financial mess, Rep. Frank faces a tougher challenge than Pecora did.

This is because the Bush administration and most on Wall Street are still in deep denial of what is occurring in credit markets. The administration testimony suggested that the deniers dearly want to believe that the meltdown in sub-prime mortgages is a one-off, that the economy dodged a bullet, and hence only the most modest government response is required.

This kind of denial has superficial appeal because, unlike in 1933 when Pecora began his work, we haven’t yet had a full-blown crash. But if the government’s only response is to wait for the Fed to bail things out and to do a little tweaking of abuses around the edges, that crash will come.

As Frank put it, “I am not pleased that so many of us were surprised at how the sub-prime crisis spilled over into broader financial markets. I don’t want us to be surprised again.”

“We have had a test case,” he observed, “and in the mortgage market, sensible regulation worked better than its absence.”

ITEM! Here's a fun little piece of trivia. Did you know that Osama bin Laden, who owes his entire career in violent extremism to the Republican party, is widely considered to have been the mastermind of the terrorist attacks on America in September, 2001? But in spite of an ongoing career in home videos and international terrorist networking-- and more than $500 billion(!) of US taxpayers' money and six years' time devoted to bringing terrorists to justice-- he hasn't been caught? Astonishing, but true!