Matt's Blog
...religion, politics, and other things you should never discuss at bars (but probably do anyways).
Saturday, June 21, 2003

Paul Krugman writes for the New York Times this story (June 3, 2003) on the Bush Administration's "standard operating procedure," which is - in a nut shell - deceiving the American people. Again, G.W. doing his best to uphold the "honor and the dignity" of the office to which he has been "elected."

Standard Operating Procedure (Krugman)

The mystery of Iraq's missing weapons of mass destruction has become a lot less mysterious. Recent reports in major British newspapers and three major American news magazines, based on leaks from angry intelligence officials,
back up the sources who told my colleague Nicholas Kristof that the Bush administration "grossly manipulated intelligence" about W.M.D.'s.

And anyone who talks about an "intelligence failure" is missing the point.

The problem lay not with intelligence professionals, but with the Bush and Blair administrations. They wanted a war, so they demanded reports supporting their case, while dismissing contrary evidence.

In Britain, the news media have not been shy about drawing the obvious implications, and the outrage has not been limited to war opponents. The Times of London was ardently pro-war; nonetheless, it ran an analysis under the
headline "Lie Another Day." The paper drew parallels between the selling of the war and other misleading claims: "The government is seen as having 'spun' the threat from Saddam's weapons just as it spins everything else."

Yet few have made the same argument in this country, even though "spin" is far too mild a word for what the Bush administration does, all the time. Suggestions that the public was manipulated into supporting an Iraq war gain
credibility from the fact that misrepresentation and deception are standard operating procedure for this administration, which - to an extent never before seen in U.S. history - systematically and brazenly distorts the facts.

Am I exaggerating? Even as George Bush stunned reporters by declaring that we have "found the weapons of mass destruction," the Republican National Committee declared that the latest tax cut benefits "everyone who pays
taxes."

That is simply a lie. You've heard about those eight million children denied any tax break by a last-minute switcheroo. In total, 50 million American households - including a majority of those with members over 65 - get nothing; another 20 million receive less than $100 each. And a great majority of those left behind do pay taxes.

And the bald-faced misrepresentation of an elitist tax cut offering little or nothing to most Americans is only the latest in a long string of blatant misstatements. Misleading the public has been a consistent strategy for the Bush team on issues ranging from tax policy and Social Security reform to energy and the environment. So why should we give the administration the benefit of the doubt on foreign policy?

It's long past time for this administration to be held accountable. Over the last two years we've become accustomed to the pattern. Each time the administration comes up with another whopper, partisan supporters - a group that includes a large segment of the news media - obediently insist that black is white and up is down. Meanwhile the "liberal" media report only that some people say that black is black and up is up. And some Democratic politicians offer the administration invaluable cover by making excuses and playing down the extent of the lies.

If this same lack of accountability extends to matters of war and peace, we're in very deep trouble. The British seem to understand this: Max Hastings, the veteran war correspondent - who supported Britain's participation in the war - writes that "the prime minister committed British troops and sacrificed British lives on the basis of a deceit, and it stinks."

It's no answer to say that Saddam was a murderous tyrant. I could point out that many of the neoconservatives who fomented this war were nonchalant, or worse, about mass murders by Central American death squads in the 1980's. But the important point is that this isn't about Saddam: it's about us. The public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat. If that claim was fraudulent, the selling of the war is arguably the worst scandal in American political history - worse than Watergate, worse than Iran-contra. Indeed, the idea that we were deceived into war makes many commentators so uncomfortable that they refuse to admit the possibility.

But here's the thought that should make those commentators really uncomfortable. Suppose that this administration did con us into war. And suppose that it is not held accountable for its deceptions, so Mr. Bush can fight what Mr. Hastings calls a "khaki election" next year. In that case, our political system has become utterly, and perhaps irrevocably, corrupted.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Gov. George W. Bush campaigned on a platform that he would restore honor and dignity to the White House. “I will swear to not only uphold the laws of the land, I will swear to uphold the honor and the dignity of the office to which I have been elected.” (New York Times, 11/1/99). But the president has certainly been questionable in how he has led an administration that is dedicated to the truth. The calls continue to grow for independent congressional investigations into the apparently false information on alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq released by the White House prior to the second Gulf War. Today the New York Times reports that the White House eliminated potentially environmental evidence on global warming from an EPA report. The paper writes:

The editing eliminated references to many studies concluding that warming is at least partly caused by rising concentrations of smokestack and tail-pipe emissions and could threaten health and ecosystems.

Among the deletions were conclusions about the likely human contribution to warming from a 2001 report on climate by the National Research Council that the White House had commissioned and that President Bush had endorsed in speeches that year. White House officials also deleted a reference to a 1999 study showing that global temperatures had risen sharply in the previous decade compared with the last 1,000 years. In its place, administration officials added a reference to a new study, partly financed by the American Petroleum Institute, questioning that conclusion.

Perhaps one of the most important questions to ask about all of this is: who made these decisions and has this happened before?
The changes were mainly made by the Council on Environmental Quality, although the Office of Management and Budget was also involved, several E.P.A. officials said. It is the second time in a year that the White House has sought to play down global warming in official documents.

Last September, an annual E.P.A. report on air pollution that for six years had contained a section on climate was released without one, and the decision to delete it was made by Bush administration appointees at the agency with White House approval.

Like the September report, the forthcoming report says the issues will be dealt with later by a climate research plan being prepared by the Bush administration.

The Office of Management and Budget!?! Pray tell: what does the CPA and the MBA from the Bob Jones School of Business know about toxins and their effect on the atmosphere? Aren't we gambling with something a little bit important here? It's widely believed that Bush's senior political advisor Karl Rove tends to be involved with making policy decisions at the highest level of government. Isn't this what Bush campaigned against? "Clinton takes a poll to decide what he wants for breakfast, but I won't." It has become clear that there are two separate tracks for Dubya: 1)what the president says, and 2)what the president does. You just can't trust George W. Bush.



God writes a lot of comedy...
the trouble is,
he's stuck with so
many bad actors
who don't know how
to play funny.

-Garrison Keillor


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