Topic: NOW WHAT?
Just a few brief notes, as the day was given over to systems work. Setting up the old stuff on the new computer is getting increasingly Byzantine, or baroque, or whatever adjective you'd like. Tuesday was the eight critical new patches Microsoft released for Windows, and exploring what actually was recovered from the old hard drive and dumped on the new - everything but five years of archived email, and all the addresses and mailing lists. Drat. And today it was setting up the email system again, and a bit of reconstruction - and who knew POP3 and SMTP configurations could be some complex? And that patch to get Outlook to read the old address book in Hotmail was no fun at all. And new hardware arrived, a docking station with all sorts of gizmos - including a wireless keyboard and wireless mouse. It just seems wrong they're not connected to anything, and still work. No wires? That can't be right. But the docking station has good speakers, and the FM jazz station streaming live from Paris, TSF, sounds good - even the newscasts and weather reports where they talk so fast, and the silly commercials for this and that. The time differential is a little disconcerting - nine hours - and their midnight set, of Miles Davis and Toots Thielemans and French guys no one here knows, starts at three in the afternoon Hollywood time. Whatever.
The break today was running a few errands and taking a few photos up on Hollywood Boulevard. Those came out nicely, and are very odd - see five of them here.
But the day had its news, of sorts. The president, back from his five hour Baghdad visit, held a press conference and was crowing about it all, proud as punch, as they say. The narrative in the press was that everything was all better, the White House no longer on the defensive, and the left put in its place, and every Democrat holding his or her head in shame at their foolishness in doubting him. And on Rumsfeld's direct orders the press was tossed out of Guantánamo. No one will report from there now.
That last item generated a great deal of comment all over. But that's the world we live in.
Editor & Publisher broke the story here (Wednesday, June 14, 2006) -
See Donald Rumsfeld, July 18, 2005, here -
Bill Montgomery, looking at the two, says this - "That must be what he's afraid of."
On the other matter Montgomery adds this -
No, it isn't. Montgomery goes on to discuss how the trip was just a holding action, to stop the hemorrhaging on the war front, while the battle to convince everyone the economy is great will be the main Rove strategy for winning everyone's vote in November, even if those who are doing well are the top two percent of the heap. That'll be tricky, with a lot of pointing to averages in the data, not mean values. But most people think that average and mean values are the same thing. Thank goodness Americans do so badly in math, with our students ranked twenty-eighth in the industrialized world, tied with Latvia. Average wages are rising while eighty percent of all workers have seen their actual earnings decrease a few percentage points each year for the last six years. Point to the former. Hope folks don't pay attention to the latter. It might work. Convince people they're just confused, or among the rare and unusual unlucky chumps, and everyone one else is doing just fine.
But there's no more to do about Iraq, as Montgomery explains -
So that was it? Could be.
The other issue clouding things is, of course, is the four hundred sixty folks we hold at Guantánamo Bay. We hold them there because that is not in America, so their rights are what we say they are, not what any citizen, visa holder or visitor to, say, Cleveland, could claim. So they don't fall under our laws. And we say they don't fall under the Geneva Conventions, as they are not at all prisoners of war, but somehow a new sort of fighter - "enemy combatants." So they're not criminals - you can't try them, exactly, as there's no crime involved - and they're not prisoners of war, so you don't have to treat them as such, allowing communication with the outside world and monitoring by a neutral third party like International Red Cross. You don't even have to list them, and some outside Cuba are off the books, the famous "ghost detainees."
But it's an embarrassment. The UN and even our allies are calling for us to shut down the Cuba prison. Saying there just are no rules will not do. Most American have had no problem with the "there are no rules anymore" concept, but that's shifting. The three suicides didn't help, and may be where there's been a shift in public opinion in this country. A major spokeswoman in the new Karen Hughes "public diplomacy" department did say, on the BBC World Service, that the suicides were just a publicity stunt and good PR (discussed here), the man in charge of the Guantánamo facility said the suicides were an act of war against us - but the administration is backing away from all that. They know better. People are laughing, bitterly, but laughing just the same. That's very bad politically. It's worse than being wrong. When people just laugh you lose by a massive landslide. It's the kiss of death.
How to deal with that? In the Wednesday, June 14, press conference, the president said, again, that he'd really like to shut down Guantánamo. He seems to know the jig is up. But note how he explains why the facility should be closed - because reports of torture and suicide just give people an "excuse" to criticize the United States.
A reaction here -
Trapped. Hoist by his own petard, as here -
It blew up. Even if the suicides were, as originally claimed, not desperation at all, as we were treating everyone there just fine, but a very clever way to make George Bush look bad and influence the November election and make the House and Senate go Democratic and make Bill Frist and all the others lose their power to influence legislation on tax cuts and such, the damage had been done. It's over.
There are many things to fix in order that the president not spend his last two years dealing with a hostile congress that might actually want some answers. This should be interesting.
Now back to the systems work.