30 March 2006

Innocent Mix-Up

Howard Kaloogian, a Californian candidate for Congress, boldly charges that newspapers are misrepresenting the situation in Iraq--that things there are much more peaceful than represented. "...each day the news media finds [sic] any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it--in part because many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism." In proof he shows a picture of a peaceful street scene, complete with western tourists, billboards, and a taxi, captioned "We took this photo of downtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq. Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be." (House Candidate Draws Fire for Web Photo - Yahoo! News)

The trouble is, the picture that was supposed to be of Baghdad was actually taken in a suburb of Istanbul. This is somewhat akin to claiming that all is quiet on the streets of Paris and showing as proof a street scene taken in Helsinki.

The utter contempt this shows for the facts is breathtaking in its scope. The amazing thing is that the candidate thought he could get away with it.

It's not even a good fake--nothing is right about it for Iraq. The signs aren't even in Arabic script.

When it was called to the candidate's attention, did he apologize? Well, yes, sort of. "It was wrong," he is quoted as saying. "We're sorry." Who he's apologizing to and for what isn't clear however. He's not sorry about misleading the American people, apparently, since he reasserts his original claims the fake picture was intended to bolster. He's not apologizing for the hypocrisy of blaming news media for the lying that he himself was in fact doing.

In explanation of the lie he was caught in he says that "the military asked us to use our discretion and put things on the Internet that were nondescriptive ... (because) if we posted something that was easily identifiable, it could be a target." This somehow justifies claiming that Istanbul was somehow Baghdad? Does Kaloogian think that all foreign cities are one and the same? Or that his readers will think that? If the one is justified by military necessity in some manner, then why not simply take a picture of downtown San Francisco and label it Baghdad? The idiocy of this is beyond belief, and several light years past justification.

Or then there's his other explanation--the old I'm-not-lying-just-stupid defence so beloved by former president Ronald Reagan. It was just an "innocent mix-up"; that pictures from a stop in Istanbul got confused with those taken in Baghdad and apparently nobody in his self-described "Truth Tour" had the wit to tell the difference.

If he and his buddies are really that downright dumb, they should be listening to what their betters have to say rather than trying to instruct the American people from the depths of their vast ignorance.

And if he is as he appears to be--just another goddamn right-wing lying whore--then he should get the hell out of politics and take up something more in his line. Insurance fraud, perhaps.

02 March 2006

Dream Journal

I waited, uncomfortably, seated with suited men and one quandary in the form of a four-star general, for the briefing to start. I had left my laptop in the school lunchroom next door and had only my quill and parchment to rely on--and besides, what if somebody made off with it? There were state secrets hidden among the naked pictures of cavorting young nymphs...

Our President, Ronald Reagan, younger and more confident than ever I had before seen him, slid into the room with a subdued fanfare from an invisible orchestra. "I have" (quoth he) "good news with which to tintabulate your ear. The Wicked Witch is dead."

A gasp undulated about the room. "But how--how did you pull that one off?"

"It was nothing," said Reagan modestly, "I just appointed forty new senators to replace those who were missing."

"Who were missing," I repeated stupidly, struggling with my quill. In my mind I saw somebody making off with my unprotected laptop. How would I ever explain it to the authorities, never mind my mother?

"Yes, missing," said Our President, zeroing in on me. I tried unsuccessfully to blend into the background. "They disappeared late yesterday afternoon. I had to use my executive privileges to have them replaced."

"Your executive privileges?" We were now strolling down a long hallway, conversing.

"Yes. 'In the event that a senator disappear mysteriously the President is empowered to appoint one or more new senators to fit his shoes'--Article Seven, section five."

"But forty senators--people will talk," I exclaimed anxiously. Not at Gitmo, came an unspoken thought, for the president was no longer available to voice it, and I was walking home along a dirt path. Menacing low-flying aircraft buzzed like flies overhead while I balanced on a log crossing over a creek.

Our worst president? I thought back to the long line of presidents who had addressed us from that same podium. Who could forget old Hick'ry Jackson's courageous defiance of the Supreme Court: "Thurgood Marshall has made his decision--but how many divisions does he have?" Or James K. Polk, who launched a war on a pretext so flimsy you could embroider it and call it a negligee. Or Harding, who handed out federal oil leases as party favors. Oh yes, it had been a rare and wonderful experience.

I was walking up the sidewalk to the front door of my house. Inside my mother was cooking dinner on the typewriter. "Mom," I said, calling her by her name, "I've got to go back to school. I accidentally left my laptop in the cafeteria. And, uh, incidentally--democracy is dead."
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