Who’s Smoking What?

Bush Administration

If anyone but Bill Kristol had written this op ed in yesterday’s Washington Post I would have assumed it to be satire. But it’s Kristol. He’s not kidding.

In Kristol’s world, everything George W. Bush touches turns to gold. His entire administration has been a glorious success, and all of his policies have been wise and well implemented. Although the Iraq War is unpopular, invading Iraq was the right thing to do, and someday everyone will appreciate this. After all, if we hadn’t invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein would still be alive!

I’m not going to quote the thing; you can read it yourself, if you like. But I say that what Kristol writes is not spin. Spin is, IMO, the use of disingenuous language (short of out-and-out lying) to portray something or someone in a deceptive way. But I think Kristol really believes what he writes. I think if Kristol were attempting to spin he’d have included a few loose connections to reality, just to demonstrate he knows what reality is. This piece is so utterly untethered to anything recognizable in our common time-space continuum it can only be called hallucinatory.

In his op ed column today (which I hope to blog about later) Paul Krugman wonders how America’s health care industry and its political supporters get away with lying to Americans about the state of U.S. health care. And the answer is, they get away with it because mass media allows them to get away with it. If you have the money and connections, you can get yourself on a cable TV show and look at the camera and say anything. You can get on CNN and tell people that argyle socks will cure cancer, and the moderator/host will blink a couple of times and say, Really? I didn’t know that.

I think most Americans do, eventually, sort truth from lies when the lies contradict their own experience. They figured out Social Security “privatization” was a scam, for example. They’ve known for a long time the economy is barely limping along in spite of White House spin to the contrary. They’re slower when foreign policy is involved, because they can’t see what’s going on with their own eyes. But I think if only Americans could get accurate information from mass news media, they’d be a lot smarter about foreign policy, as well.

That’s most Americans, notice. Some are too far gone to be salvaged.

If you haven’t already seen it, be sure to read “Ship of Fools” by Johann Hari in yesterday’s Independent. Hari joined a National Review cruise to report on what conservatives say to each other. Here’s just a snip:

Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan’s one-time nominee to the Supreme Court, mumbles from beneath low-hanging jowls: “The coverage of this war is unbelievable. Even Fox News is unbelievable. You’d think we’re the only ones dying. Enemy casualties aren’t covered. We’re doing an excellent job killing them.”

Then, with a judder, the panel runs momentarily aground. Rich Lowry, the preppy, handsome 38-year-old editor of National Review, says, “The American public isn’t concluding we’re losing in Iraq for any irrational reason. They’re looking at the cold, hard facts.” The Vista Lounge is, as one, perplexed. Lowry continues, “I wish it was true that, because we’re a superpower, we can’t lose. But it’s not.”

No one argues with him. They just look away, in the same manner that people avoid glancing at a crazy person yelling at a bus stop. Then they return to hyperbole and accusations of treachery against people like their editor. The ageing historian Bernard Lewis – who was deputed to stiffen Dick Cheney’s spine in the run-up to the war – declares, “The election in the US is being seen by [the bin Ladenists] as a victory on a par with the collapse of the Soviet Union. We should be prepared for whatever comes next.” This is why the guests paid up to $6,000. This is what they came for. They give him a wheezing, stooping ovation and break for coffee.

Maybe we should build theme parks for these people so they can live in their fantasies and leave the rest of us alone.

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  1. moonbat  •  Jul 16, 2007 @2:54 pm

    I’m sure that one of the laws of running a newspaper is that Controversy is Good. It often seems that otherwise sane editors sometimes run Nutjob pieces like this one to sell more papers and to make their lives interesting. But then again, the WaPo took that wrong right turn some time back and disappeared into the misty neocon fantasy fog, and so who really knows what they’re thinking.

    Kristol really is a True Believer, and this is not (just) Spin, and this is not a Test. I suppose it’s good he has the courage of his convictions to speak out, so the rest of us can look into his shallow mind and learn once again, how to rebutt a wingnut. It’s easy and it’s fun. The exercise also provides us with an opportunity to learn and wonder how such deluded “thinking” got to such a dominant place in the public discourse. And to realize one of the many ways a once great newspaper can stumble and fall, by abandoning truth and giving a megaphone to idiots.

    Kristol is easy to rebutt. And I wish I could send the following rebuttal to him directly, not that it would dissuade him. It’s those fish who have nibbled on his line, who were attracted to and yet struggled with what he and the neocons have said, who most need to hear a rebuttal. It certainly wouldn’t dissuade those who swallowed the neocon bait, hook line and sinker, like the ones on that fantasy cruise you mentioned (definitely an article worth reading). You simply cannot reach those people. Let them sail off into their dreamy never never land, their paranoia and self-righteousness reinforced.

    Let the rebuttal begin:

    Anyone can live well, for awhile, on their credit cards. The tax cuts are simply that, massively charging the present to the future (so that the future will be crippled to deal with their present, an openly stated goal of people like Grover Norquist).

    The subject of all the ways the young are being fleeced in this country is huge and a sleeper topic. This stealing from the future via the tax “cuts” is only one of the ways. It’s sad and touching to me, a baby boomer, who had what seems like almost a free ride by today’s standards, listen to young people who struggle to go to college. If you don’t invest in the future (instead of stealing from it), what will you have?

    If you skew the tax laws and all the laws in general to favor “the investing class” – presto, you will likely create a stock market boom, or at least very generous corporate profits. Kristol seems amazed by this stunning feat of “if A then B” logic. He never questions whether this is a good thing, it is axiomatic in his mind.

    Kristol never looks at the broader context of anything. He doesn’t see all the ways the middle and lower classes have been decimated, because after all, he’s a Republican and it’s not important. Nor does he look at those sharp pins, manuevering ever closer, ever searching for investment bubbles to pop, such as the housing market.

    It’s debatable whehther: he’s ignorant about the history of how manic markets inevitably crash, which his party, in their greed, always seeks to create. They always seems to glory in this, as Kristol is doing, at least before the bubble collapses. It’s debatable whether he’s ignorant of this history, or more likely, is very aware of this recurring aspect of market behavior, and sees nothing wrong with fleecing the suckers who get taken in. It’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity – a Republican mantra with many examples these last six years.

    The Iraq War – another opportunity to profit – what can you say about a criminal enterprise that has united our enemies, is creating more of them (per the CIA) and has divided our friends, leaving us all alone with our (so far) half-a-trillion dollar money pit in the most volatile region in the world?

    As for the claim that the terrorists haven’t struck since 9/11: They don’t need to. Their trap worked. Deluded opportunists like Kristol took bin Laden’s bait and now we’re bleeding ourselves to death, in the name of … of .. what exactly?

    You have to admire the brilliant economics of al Qaeda: how 19 guys armed only with flight training and box cutters could sucker an empire to commit itself in such a hugely expensive way to such an amibitous project. Given their level of brilliance, they understand that they simply don’t need to attack us again, they’ve got us right where they want us. So says bin Laden, according to plans discovered by the CIA.

    Not that an attack won’t ever happen. I am certain with all the atrocities we’re committing, and all the hatred we’ve fed – like pouring gasoline on a fire – our comeuppance is without a doubt in the queue. Karma is a bitch, another simple “if A then B” proposition, but unfortunately something right-wingers never seem to accept. Or if they do, they think they can escape. The opportunity for profits at nearly any expense is too great to pass up.

    Kristol is no doubt of the school that we’re so powerful we can create our own reality. The truth is, he’s right, he’s just oblivious to certain aspects of the nightmare we’re creating, or he thinks he can float away, like the people on the wingnut cruise. The only way his position works – as I hope I’ve shown in this rebuttal – is to wear blinders.

    One of my favorite posters on DailyKos is someone named antifa. He used to have a tagline that I liked:

    All frames exist within a larger frame. Draw a larger frame around your opponent’s frame, and he will appear wrong or insufficient. This is how wizards play.

    This, in a nutshell, is how to rebutt wingnuts, like Kristol, who live within a blindered bubble.

  2. moonbat  •  Jul 16, 2007 @3:16 pm

    …Maybe we should build theme parks for these people so they can live in their fantasies

    Done! See Tom Tomorrow’s ConservativeLand, The Happiest Place on Earth.

  3. whig  •  Jul 16, 2007 @5:01 pm

    Not hallucinatory, Maha. Hypnotic. Mass hypnosis consists in maintaining a closed set of “facts” and excluding all external sources of information, thus allowing the propaganda to be suited to the fictional reality they have created in the minds of their receptive audience.

  4. whig  •  Jul 16, 2007 @5:03 pm

    As for Kristol, if he believed what he was selling he would have to be either a completely psychotic or stupid person. I do not believe he is stupid.

  5. Swami  •  Jul 16, 2007 @5:06 pm

    First of all, we would have to compare the situation in Iraq now, with all its difficulties and all the administration’s mistakes, with what it would be if we hadn’t gone in.

    Even when I’m totally blown out on some ass kickin’ lunar quality herb I still retain enough sensibility to know not to make comparisons between what is and what will never be. Kristol isn’t smoking any substance I know of..he must be dropping Kool-Aid, or drinking angel trumpet tea.

  6. whig  •  Jul 16, 2007 @5:09 pm

    I also do not believe that George Bush is stupid. I think stupid is an act for the sake of not being held culpable.

  7. joanr16  •  Jul 16, 2007 @6:28 pm

    I always thought “spin” was, more specifically, a corrective misrepresentation. Anywho, Kristol’s fantasy is only spin in the playground sense, i.e., involving severe inner-ear dysfunction, staggering and falling down, followed by a copious barf.

  8. moonbat  •  Jul 16, 2007 @6:38 pm

    The key thing to remember about the far right, is that it is never about the truth. It is always about winning. Any set of facts or half-truths therefore will be construed as winning. Rush Limbaugh does this day in and day out for his listeners. Imagine what losing would be like to someone in Kristol’s position. They cannot conceive of this horrible, fearsome possibility.

    This is what we’re dealing with. Until you’ve lived or worked with someone from this mindset over a long period of time, it’s difficult to grasp how utterly different (and morally corrupt) these people are.

  9. moonbat  •  Jul 16, 2007 @6:44 pm

    Damn, I forgot to add one point. If you remember the rich snot in the movie Titanic, his famous challenge to Leonard DiCaprio’s character was “I ALWAYS win”. This, in three words, is the mantra of the far right. This bareknuckled motto is all you need to understand even the more milquetoast Kristol and those like him. Truth has nothing to do with it.

  10. Doug Hughes  •  Jul 16, 2007 @9:10 pm

    I have a hard time understanding Tony Snow. It’s not a problem with his command of the language, it’s that previous things he has written critical of Bush prove he is capable of seeing the truth, knows what a monsterous lie he is covering up, and has deliberately, sincerely devoted all his skills to supporting this criminal cabal. I am as corruptable as the next guy, but there are not enough zeros to string behind a one preceeded by a ‘$’ to persuade me to tell the lies he does on a daily basis.

  11. Swami  •  Jul 16, 2007 @11:04 pm

    Hey…I don’t want to be labeled a homophobe..because I’m not,but, just as an observation… has anyone noticed that Kristol has a quality about him that might suggest a chromosome imbalance of sorts. There’s something “sweet” in his mix that a guy like myself who majored in macho can sense that he doesn’t fit in with the tribe., we”ll have to assign him to basketmaking..Maybe it’s just his Paul Lynde smile?

  12. mamameow  •  Jul 16, 2007 @11:23 pm

    hey swami, i saw the same thing and have researched in depth but no wife or kids mentioned, no ladies of the night either. how friendly was he to foley?????? he sounds like he is on drugs, comments have been made about his drinking problem. have seen no retraction of the drinking problem.

  13. Art James (clownsense etc)  •  Jul 17, 2007 @7:20 am

    He may not smoke. Maybe he eats newspapers transformed into pastry? A Maracuta tea can be steeped in just about any green herb.

    Do DC people who write pro-war eat hallucinogenic and translucent eclairs that create a world of despair? I hope he soon writes a sumptuous anti-kill ideology. He seems passed-out.

  14. erinyes  •  Jul 17, 2007 @7:41 am


    I think Swami and Mamamewow are on to something.

  15. r4d20  •  Jul 17, 2007 @9:01 am

    The so-called insurgency is just the Last Throes of some Dead Enders. :p

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