Just Above Sunset Archives
July 27, 2003 Mail
In the last two weeks - Who is lying about what these days and what that means for America. Lots of pointed email bouncing between Hollywood, New York City, Paris and Atlanta.
It sort of started at a café in Paris.
On Thursday, 17 July at Café-Tabac La Corona (2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny - or - 30. Quai du Louvre Paris 1. Métro: Louvre-Rivoli, Pont-Neuf or Châtelet) my friend at his weekly meeting of folks who read his website and happen to be on the Right Bank any particular Thursday at 3:00 (15h00), was told, by a person who claimed to be a French teacher, and was quite certain, the our President Bush "cannot read, on account of dyslexia. He has aides to read to him we were told."
My friend asked, "Does anybody know anything about this? Before being sworn in, isn't some minimal intelligence test necessary?"
This my friend continued, is important, perhaps, "Because a President-Elect who cannot read might not understand the Oath of Office, and may have been lying when he swore to uphold the Constitution. (That he possibly couldn't have read, because he can't read.) If true, is this not dangerously close to perjury? "
My Wall Street attorney friend weighed in:
What got us into this online discussion? I commented on remarks by the President and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in a photo opportunity according to a White House Press Release July 14, 2003 2:11 P.M. EDT:
I found this kind of extraordinary. CNN got it flat-out wrong. I watched that stuff from the UN, about how the Blix fellow and his team were in Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction and coming back to New York every few weeks to talk about what they had and had not found. Now it seems that never happened. No UN inspectors ever went to Iraq. They were never allowed in. So the press has been irresponsible. Why did CNN and the rest fabricate this whole thing? Our government went to war precisely because Blix never made those trips CNN and the rest was reporting. He wasnt ever allowed in. Damn.
You see, I was just amazed at what the President said about why we went to war with Saddam - "We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in." The basic facts are wrong. Not an opinion with which I disagree here. The facts are wrong. This did not happen.
Josh Marshall in Talking Points : "You hear this stuff and you say to yourself: Well, you can kinda know what he meant, I guess. I find myself thinking that. But even that doesn't cut it."
The editors at Media Whores Online - "But the incident has been met with predictable silence from the mainstream media. [Bush] will be given a pass for the mind-boggling statement, simply because no one quite knows what to say about it, short of 'this guy is a complete idiot,' or 'this guy is a pathological liar.' But they're either too cowed by the right and regime to publicly observe such truths, too deeply in denial to accept them, or perhaps just too overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude and number of the lies now emanating from the Bush White House to continue to function as journalists in any capacity."
Couldn't one reporter ask, "Mr President, is it now the position of our government Mr Blix and his inspectors never actually went into Iraq last year and that what the world saw on television at the UN actually did not happen?"
Do we give him a pass because he says stupid things? Yeah, I suppose that is respectful and proper.
Well, my friends in the new business in Atlanta wrote:
Okay, fair enough. Let it rest. The president tired to make things simple and made them a little too simple. It happens. You try to reduce everything to its basic elements for your less than inquisitive audience so they "get it." I understand the impulse to make things simple.
I just dont like it.
It assumes folks are dumber than I think they are... or it could be the speaker explaining things in ways that make it possible for him to understand something irritatingly complicated.
Either prospect depresses me.
As for "outing" Bush on this particular item... well, were one a cynic one might be inclined to think Bush just doesn't understand much about anything, and doesn't much want to, and those who tell him what to say just had a bad day on that Monday. Perhaps they had gone to the local Starbucks and were just not paying attention. Leave your kid alone for an hour or two and the kid can get in trouble. Perle, Wolfowitz and Rove are generally better at handling him. But it was a Monday and perhaps they all got into work late. One is reminded of the old Art Linkletter show, "Kids Say the Darnest Things." They're just kids. And this statement does have that same "cute" aspect to it. Kind of endearing, actually. Makes you smile... or not.
Well I have this on line discussion group with folks from Paris to Atlanta to Montreal to New York City. We don't agree on a lot of things. That dispute passed.
But then I sent along a piece by Ernest Partridge in the Crisis Papers, an imaginary essay by an Oxford University historian at mid-21st century. It assumes a continuation of current political and economic trends set in motion by the Bush Administration. It was pretty depressing.
As seen from the year 2050
And then Partridge goes into detail. You could look it up.
My Wall Street Attorney friend was mighty depressed by it, and from Paris - "It might be a useful reminder to know exactly what is at stake with your USA republic. Somebody is going to have to fight to get the republic back, so you could start out with a knowledge of the original 'rules.' Also, comparing the Bill of Rights to the UN's 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights,' will do no harm."
So I passed along Ernest Partridge's companion piece 'A New Birth of Freedom' that explained, in his fantasy, how things worked out just fine, as imagined from the year 2005.
And so on and so forth.
One of my email friends took up the last contention
Of course that led back to what I wrote last week (July 13, 2003 - Reviews) about "The Digression on Madness" from Jonathan Swift's A Tale of a Tub (1704, revised 1710). In the "Digression" one will find a discussion implying that the world can be divided into "fools" or "knaves" - the only two options. It's quite funny, and nasty. And very cynical.
Well, I did call the second extrapolation bullshit in one of the posts, and I guess I'll stand by that. But I have a cynical view of peoples' ability to act sensibly and evaluate what's in front of them. If Hemingway one said, "Every great writer needs a foolproof, shockproof crap detector," then that seems the duty of every citizen and certainly the duty of the free press - to have one of those and make sure it's working.
But folks like to believe in magic bullets - from diet pills to the current political thinking from the administration on Iraq, that once we find and kill Saddam and his sons all the sniping and resistance in Iraq will stop immediately, folks will gladly show us where all the weapons of mass destruction really are, and where the nuclear bombs were being built, and peace and harmony will reign. Yep. As my late father used to mutter - "What is all this happy horseshit?"
Then the emails flew between NYC and Paris and Atlanta regarding Clinton lying about sex and the nature of perjury and whether America is a nation made up of only knaves who lie and fools who believe them.
But there is no room for that here. Send me a note (Contact "Just Above Sunset") if you want to join the discussion group. There are fourteen of us now. The more the merrier.
The Late, Great, American Republic: A Report from Mid-Century -- 2050 by Nigel Doowrite, as told to Ernest Partridge Co-Editor, "The Crisis Papers." July 7, 2003 http://www.crisispapers.org/Editorials/mid-century.htm
'A New Birth of Freedom'
Monday, July 21, 2003 By Ernest Partridge, http://www.crisispapers.org/Editorials/freedom.htm