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Candide’s Latest: December 6, 2006

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Liars, Deceivers and Enablers
The Harder They Fall

Bullshit's measure

The UK Independent tallies up the way, one by one, the Iraq war’s fans have folded and reversed course—too late, obviously, for the few hundred thousand people who’ve died for their enthusiasm. And the list still doesn’t include the names of the three most liable criminals of the war: John Howard, Tony Blair, and George Bush. Here’s the way the others have presented to the confessional, in The Independent’s words:

Colin Powell: After telling the UN assembly in 2003 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, the former Secretary of State admitted in May 2004 the claims were "inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading".

Colonel Tim Collins: The UK Army colonel made a famous rousing speech to troops on the eve of battle. But in September 2005, he declared: "History might notice the invasion has arguably acted as the best recruiting sergeant for al-Qa'ida ever."

Paul Bremer: The former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq admitted in January 2006: "It [the invasion] was a much tougher job than I think I expected it to be... we really didn't see the insurgency coming."

Zalmay Khalilzad: Contradicting the usually upbeat rhetoric, the US ambassador in Iraq said in March: "We have opened a Pandora's box". And unless the violence abated, Iraq would "make Taliban Afghanistan look like child's play".

Jack Straw: The former foreign secretary, one of the cheerleaders for the war, said in September: "The current situation is dire. I think many mistakes were made after the military action - there is no question about it - by the United States administration."

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt: The British General admitted in an interview in October: "I don't say that the difficulties we are experiencing round the world are caused by our presence in Iraq but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates [them]."

Richard Perle: Regarded as one of the intellectual godfathers of the war, Perle changed his tack in November, admitting that "huge mistakes were made" in the invasion of Iraq. "The levels of brutality we've seen are truly horrifying," he added.

Ken Adelman: Last month, the noted neoconservative said: "The national security team... turned out to be among the most incompetent in the post-war era. Not only did each of them have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly."

Donald Rumsfeld: A memo from the hardline former defence secretary revealed this week that he had been looking for a change of tactics. "In my view, it is time for a major adjustment... what US forces are doing in Iraq is not working well enough..."

Robert Gates: Yesterday, Mr Rumsfeld's proposed successor was asked at a Senate hearing whether the US was winning the war in Iraq. "No, sir," he replied. And he warned that the situation could lead to a "regional conflagration".

Poetry of War
Bill Moyers At West Point

Bill Moyers delivered a lecture at West Point on Nov. 15 on “The Meaning of Freedom.” Along the way, he said: “People in power should be required to take classes in the poetry of war. As a presidential assistant during the early escalation of the war in Vietnam, I remember how the President blanched when the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said it would take one million fighting men and 10 years really to win in Vietnam, but even then the talk of war was about policy, strategy, numbers and budgets, not severed limbs and eviscerated bodies. That experience, and the experience 40 years later of watching another White House go to war, also relying on inadequate intelligence, exaggerated claims and premature judgments, keeping Congress in the dark while wooing a gullible press, cheered on by partisans, pundits, and editorial writers safely divorced from realities on the ground, ended any tolerance I might have had for those who advocate war from the loftiness of the pulpit, the safety of a laptop, the comfort of a think tank, or the glamour of a television studio. Watching one day on C-Span as one member of Congress after another took to the floor to praise our troops in Iraq, I was reminded that I could only name three members of Congress who have a son or daughter in the military. How often we hear the most vigorous argument for war from those who count on others of valor to fight it. As General William Tecumseh Sherman said after the Civil War: “It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation.” See the full lecture at CommonDreams…

Welcome No More
Land of the Rude, Home of the Brutes

From Australia’s The Age: “The worst welcome in the world! That's what travellers are saying about the United States because of the way they are being treated on arrival and departure. They blame arrogant and rude immigration officials for ruining the country's reputation as "the land of the free". The solution seems simple. Try to be nicer to people arriving at the border! A travel industry survey of more than 2000 visitors from around the globe reveals that the US is considered the worst country in the world in terms of visa and immigration procedures. The group behind the study, the Discover America Partnership, say Uncle Sam is now branded the world's unfriendliest country because "visitors are seen more as a threat than an opportunity". The Partnership is a lobby group that seeks to boost travel to the US. It says the survey results "help to explain the 17 percent decline in overseas travel to the US over the past five years and the 10 percent decline in business travel to the US over the past year".” See the rest…

Christianophobia in Australia

From The Age: “The decision to expel two Muslim students from a Melbourne school after they destroyed a Bible is an over-reaction according to a representative from a Christian schools body. Michelle Beech from the Australian Association of Christian Schools said the boys - in Year 7 and Year 9 at East Preston Islamic College - would have benefited from counselling and suspension rather than expulsion. […] The incident involved students from East Preston Islamic College and took place at a school camp last week, a News Limited newspaper reports today. The boys were expelled after one allegedly urinated on a Bible before they both tore pages from it and set the pages alight while at a school camp last week. Another male student involved in the late-night incident has been suspended.” The full story…

Orania Fruitloopia
South Africa’s Last White Ghetto

From South Africa’s Johannesburg Mail & Guardian: “Diehard Afrikaners living in South Africa's sole whites-only town, Orania, on Tuesday said the settlement of a land claim is a boost for their quest for self-sufficiency and independence. […] The dilapidated town in the northern Karoo desert region was bought by a private company from the government in December 1990, months after apartheid laws were scrapped and liberation icon Nelson Mandela released from prison. The compensation claim was filed by about 20 coloured families who were forced to move out of Orania by the Department Water Affairs and Forestry in order to make way for the new inhabitants. The 500-odd whites who now live there have carved out their own enclave with their own currency aimed at promoting "selfwerksaamheid", or self-reliance. Carel Boshoff, the septuagenarian son-in-law of the architect of apartheid, the late prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd, founded the "dorpie" (small town) with the hope that it would one day become a "Volkstaat" (people's state) -- an independent homeland for the Afrikaner.” The full story…

Bill O’Reilly Bullshit Moment

The Distorter

The foxy bully wants to mud-wrestle with Dan Rather for saying, on Bill Maher’s show, that Fox News gets “talking points from the White House.” O’Reilly’s response: “Well, Mr. Rather's assertions are nonsense, untrue, seriously dopey. I've been here from the beginning, and have never seen a White House "talking points." — And I don't know anyone else who's seen one either. I asked senior management if they have ever seen a White House talking points. No one had. So we called Dan Rather to ask for some ‘documentation.’ He's on the road, but said he'd come on “The Factor” next week to explain. Can't wait.” O’Reilly, remember, has had it in for things CBS ever since he failed to break through as a correspondent there. Remember this from Nicholas Lemann’s New Yorker profile of the Fear Factor earlier this year? “In the early eighties, he landed at CBS News, as a correspondent for the “Evening News.” It should have been his big break, but it didn’t work out. Although he had a happier time at another network, ABC, before joining the syndicated show “Inside Edition,” in 1989, and then Fox, the CBS episode has stayed with him. It hurt—it still hurts. No matter how big a star he becomes, he’s eternally the guy who was banished from the charmed circle.

Best of the Blogosphere
India Special

Dayanita Singh Chronicles Life in Saligao, India


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