Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 01, 2006

WB: Lessons Learned


When a stupid comment by John Kerry about the war in Iraq becomes the big October surprise, you know the Republicans are truly grasping at straws.

Lessons Learned

Posted by b on November 1, 2006 at 16:31 UTC | Permalink

I agree with JK,.. and that's no joke.

Posted by: pb | Nov 1 2006 18:19 utc | 1

Someone asked me this morning, "Aren't journalists supposed to report actual News? Ya know, facts and information?"

I took the dear soul aside for a short chat about birds and bees.

Maybe in Journalism 101 they still talk about it like that. Maybe. But News, as in accurately informing the public about genuine and current events, has been a profit-making venture since the late 1970's.

If it isn't buzz and drama, if it isn't buzzed and dramatized, it doesn't attract readers and viewers, which doesn't attract advertisers, so it's out of the picture, literally. Applause from the crowd rules the roost, even in the blogosphere. Applause can be monetized, and that is all that matters.

It is known among the birds and bees that Journalism is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the World's Oldest Profession. Surely, the modern Journalism 101 class must include daily exercises in Leg-Spreading, and Bending Over. Include detailed tracts like Mouths and Other Warm Wet Places, Stroking Your Story n' Other Things, and of course the classic freshman lecture, Felching Facts From Your Asshole.

Mentioning the role of a free press in a democratic society to a modern journalist is like quoting Civics 101 to a United States Senator. Mentioning ". . . these inalienable rights in here, Senator . . ." will only earn you a gimlet eye from His Worthiness. We are SO beyond rights at this time, he will say.

It's like strolling up to a captain in one of New York's five families, and showing him in the penal code where you aren't actually allowed to shoot people behind the ear an' stuff. He will give you the same gimlet eye the Senator offered. We are SO beyond quaint legal details at this time, he will say.

The circus is upon us. No longer a nation ruled by laws, but by men, now we are in the endgame of empire , where it all comes unravelled faster than you can write it down.

Advise all pilgrims and passersby wherever you encounter them that the surreal is not there to be analyzed and understood, it is there to buzz your senses, to awaken again a fleeting feeling of wonder and curiousity at what the world really is, behind what it is painted up to be.

The circus is upon us, the macabre circus Oskar Schindler attended for many a year, the circus that ended its last tour on the roof of the Saigon Embassy, the circus that tossed cluster bomblets like peanuts and candy to the citizens of lower Lebanon, the circus that surrounds and infuses Baghdad this morning, that uses power drills to probe people for information.

The circus is upon us, the Election of the Ages that will merely move members of the Millionaires Club from musical chair to musical chair in the House and Senate so that they can rise from those chairs in unison shouting for starting a three-ring circus in Tehran this week, this month, this year, soon, soon.

The circus is upon us, out of anyone's control, into the endgame where events overtake even wild imagination, into the far country where you can but stare at the mad faces in the crowd, and watch the exit signs blinking off one by one.

There is no more role to play, after the Rubicon is behind you. After Franz Ferdinand was shot in Sarajevo, did all the marching, voting, or elections change anything? After Hitler invaded Poland in '39, did letters to the editor, speeches, candlelight vigils or even pitched rioting change the course of empire? After Tet, the show on the roof of the American Embassy was a matter of waiting for the hourglass to descend.

The circus is upon us. No longer need you despair that you are not doing something to sway events this way or that. Events are out of control, out of anyone's hands, and passions will follow, flooding through foreign streets and then through our own streets as surely as blood in the veins.

What is in motion now will consume whatever is now standing, as surely as it did the over-extended and wannabe empires of the previous century.

Nothing is certain, save perhaps one thing. After the show, after our own empire expires in the sand somewhere, like a gutshot camel far from home, you may rest assured that nowhere will be found a sensible man or woman willing to say out loud, "I am an American."

Posted by: Antifa | Nov 1 2006 18:30 utc | 2

wolf blitwer & his band of barking & yelping jackals wouldn't know real news because they spend so much time escaping from it

what must have been at some time an honourable profession - has no honour, no honour at all. not only no honour but it does not even possess the most formal acquaintance with the facts

they are frightened by the facts because you cannot sell them

you cannot sell the fact that the cities of the occupation are surrounded by forces who can attack at will & don't

you cannot sell the fact that your partners in crime like halliburton & co have no concern, no concern at all for the ordinary american except as means to an end & that end is always called profit

what is astounding is the level of public greed for that profit - over the dead bodies of their own soldiers let alone the half million iraqi dead

you cannot sell the fact that your so called tacticians your so called strategist couldn't find facts even if they were envoyed up their ass with an exocet missile - there is no method in them except absolute force & absolute slaughter

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 1 2006 18:30 utc | 3

@antifa - nice rant! agreed.

Washington Wire

President Bush will hold no public events of any kind on Wednesday, an exceptionally light schedule this close to next Tuesday’s midterm elections. That sparked questions about whether Bush has a “November surprise” in store. This is, after all, a president who has twice managed to sneak away to Iraq.

At the White House morning briefing, a reporter observed that the light schedule made it sound “like something is cooking there.” Spokesman Tony Snow replied, “No, not really.”

That left some Democratic political operatives wondering just what Bush and his political guru, Karl Rove, might be up to.

Posted by: b | Nov 1 2006 19:49 utc | 4

Bush is going to Damascus.

I promise you all.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Nov 1 2006 19:52 utc | 5

@CP - Why not Teheran?

Posted by: b | Nov 1 2006 20:15 utc | 6

Or, Asuncion?

Posted by: pb | Nov 1 2006 20:57 utc | 7

another out of the ballpark from antifa

Posted by: annie | Nov 1 2006 21:17 utc | 8

thanks Antifa, we are aurely led by clowns

Posted by: gmac | Nov 1 2006 22:35 utc | 9

Because of memories of 2004, the Republicans would like to be running against Kerry again in 2006, but unfortunately for them they're not.

The BBC World Service report I heard this afternoon on the "Kerry joke controversy" didn't mention the intended punchline and on the whole sounded like something issued by the Republican campaign office. Also featured interviews with "offended" US soldiers in Iraq most of whom admitted they don't pay attention to the news and only got word of the joke second-hand. The BBC seems to me an odd place for pro-Bush propoganda to be coming from at this late a date, but there you have it.

Posted by: heatkernel | Nov 1 2006 22:46 utc | 10

@ Antifa.

Exceptional polemic...

Posted by: A | Nov 2 2006 3:24 utc | 11

Kerry's comment may have been very PI, but it was the truth. And once again he apologized for speaking it. *sigh*

Posted by: Ben | Nov 2 2006 4:14 utc | 12

Kerry's comment may have been very PI

keith didn't think so.

Posted by: annie | Nov 2 2006 4:23 utc | 13

damn, annie, thank you. olbermann is brilliant, consumately cuts through every bit of bullshit for the last long 6 years. my apologies to bernhard, but here is the transcript. must reading:

On the 22nd of May, 1856, as the deteriorating American political system veered towards the edge of the cliff, Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina, shuffled into the Senate of this nation, his leg stiff from an old dueling injury, supported by a cane. And he looked for the familiar figure of the prominent Senator from Massachusetts, Charles Sumner.

Brooks found Sumner at his desk, mailing out copies of a speech he had delivered three days earlier — a speech against slavery.

The Congressman matter-of-factly raised his walking stick in mid-air, and smashed its metal point, across the Senator's head.

Congressman Brooks hit his victim repeatedly. Senator Sumner somehow got to his feet and tried to flee. Brooks chased him, and delivered untold blows to Sumner's head. Even though Sumner lay unconscious and bleeding, on the Senate floor, Brooks finally stopped beating him, only because his cane finally broke.

Others will cite John Brown's attack on the arsenal at Harper's Ferry as the exact point after which the Civil War became inevitable.

In point of fact, it might have been the moment — not when Brooks broke his cane over the prostrate body of Senator Sumner - but when voters in Brooks's district started sending him new canes.

Tonight, we almost wonder to whom President Bush will send the next new cane.

There is tonight no political division in this country that he and his party will not exploit, nor have not exploited; no anxiety that he and his party will not inflame.

There is no line this President has not crossed — nor will not cross — to keep one political party, in power.

He has spread any and every fear among us, in a desperate effort to avoid that which he most fears — some check, some balance against what has become not an imperial, but a unilateral presidency.

And now it is evident that it no longer matters to him, whether that effort to avoid the judgment of the people, is subtle and nuanced — or laughably transparent.

Senator John Kerry called him out Monday.

He did it two years too late.

He had been too cordial — just as Vice President Gore had been too cordial in 2000 — just as millions of us, have been too cordial ever since.

Senator Kerry, as you well know, spoke at a college in Southern California. With bitter humor, he told the students that he had been in Texas the day before, that President Bush used to live in that state, but that now he lives in the state of denial.

He said the trip had reminded him about the value of education — that quote "if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you can get stuck in Iraq."

The Senator, in essence, called Mr. Bush stupid.

The context was unmistakable: Texas;the state of denial;stuck in Iraq. No interpretation required.

And Mr. Bush and his minions responded, by appearing to be too stupid to realize that they had been called stupid.

They demanded Kerry apologize — to the troops in Iraq.

And so he now has.

That phrase "appearing to be too stupid" is used deliberately, Mr. Bush.

Because there are only three possibilities here:

One, sir, is that you are far more stupid than the worst of your critics have suggested; that you could not follow the construction of a simple sentence; that you could not recognize your own life story when it was deftly summarized; that you could not perceive it was the sad ledger of your presidency that was being recounted.

This, of course, compliments you, Mr. Bush, because even those who do not "make the most of it," who do not "study hard," who do not "do their homework," and who do not "make an effort to be smart" might still just be stupid — but honest.

No; the first option, sir, is, at best, improbable. You are not honest.

The second option is that you and those who work for you deliberately twisted what Senator Kerry said to fit your political template. That you decided to take advantage of it, to once again pretend that the attacks, solely about your own incompetence, were in fact attacks on the troops — or even on the nation itself.

The third possibility is, obviously, the nightmare scenario; that the first two options are in some way conflated.

That it is both politically convenient for you, and personally satisfying to you, to confuse yourself with the country for which, sir, you work.

A brief reminder, Mr. Bush: You are not the United States of America.

You are merely a politician whose entire legacy will have been a willingness to make anything political — to have, in this case, refused to acknowledge that the insult wasn't about the troops, and that the insult was not even truly about you either — that the insult, in fact, is you.

So now John Kerry has apologized to the troops; apologized for the Republicans' deliberate distortions.

Thus the President will now begin the apologies he owes our troops, right?

This President must apologize to the troops — for having suggested, six weeks ago, that the chaos in Iraq, the death and the carnage, the slaughtered Iraqi civilians and the dead American service personnel, will, to history, quote "look like just a comma."

This President must apologize to the troops — because the intelligence he claims led us into Iraq proved to be undeniably and irredeemably wrong.

This President must apologize to the troops — for having laughed about the failure of that intelligence, at a banquet, while our troops were in harm's way.

This President must apologize to the troops — because the streets of Iraq were not strewn with flowers and its residents did not greet them as liberators.

This President must apologize to the troops — because his administration ran out of "plan" after barely two months.

This President must apologize to the troops — for getting 2,815 of them killed.

This President must apologize to the troops — for getting this country into a war without a clue.

And Mr. Bush owes us an apology… for this destructive and omnivorous presidency.

We will not receive them, of course.

This President never apologizes.

Not to the troops.

Not to the people.

Nor will those henchmen who have echoed him.

In calling him a "stuffed suit," Senator Kerry was wrong about the Press Secretary.

Mr. Snow's words and conduct — falsely earnest and earnestly false — suggest he is not "stuffed" - he is inflated.

And in leaving him out of the equation, Senator Kerry gave an unwarranted pass to his old friend Senator McCain, who should be ashamed of himself tonight.

He rolled over and pretended Kerry had said what he obviously had not.

Only, the symbolic stick he broke over Kerry's head came in a context, even more disturbing: Mr. McCain demanded the apology, while electioneering for a Republican congressional candidate in Illinois.

He was speaking of how often he had been to Walter Reed Hospital to see the wounded Iraq veterans, of how, quote "many of the have lost limbs." He said all this while demanding that the voters of Illinois reject a candidate who is not only a wounded Iraq veteran, but who lost two limbs there: Tammy Duckworth.

Support some of the wounded veterans. But bad-mouth the Democratic one.

And exploit all the veterans, and all the still-serving personnel, in a cheap and tawdry political trick, to try to bury the truth: that John Kerry said the President had been stupid.

And to continue this slander as late as this morning — as biased, or gullible, or lazy newscasters, nodded in sleep-walking assent.

Senator McCain became a front man in a collective lie to break sticks over the heads of Democrats — one of them his friend; another his fellow veteran, leg-less, for whom he should weep and applaud, or at minimum about whom, he should stay quiet.

That was beneath the Senator from Arizona.

And it was all because of an imaginary insult to the troops that his party cynically manufactured — out of a desperation, and a futility, as deep as that of Congressman Brooks, when he went hunting for Senator Sumner.

This, is our beloved country now, as you have re-defined it, Mr. Bush.

Get a tortured Vietnam veteran to attack a decorated Vietnam veteran, in defense of military personnel, whom that decorated veteran did not insult.

Or, get your henchmen to take advantage of the evil lingering dregs of the fear of miscegenation in Tennessee, in your party's advertisements against Harold Ford.

Or, get the satellites who orbit around you, like Rush Limbaugh, to exploit the illness — and the bi-partisanship — of Michael J. Fox — yes, get someone to make fun of the cripple.

Oh, and sir, don't forget to drag your own wife into it.

"It's always easy," she said of Mr. Fox's commercials — and she used this phrase twice — "to manipulate people's feelings."

Where on earth might the First Lady have gotten that idea, Mr. President?

From your endless manipulation of people's feelings about terrorism?

"How ever they put it," you said Monday of the Democrats, on the subject of Iraq , "their approach comes down to this: the terrorists win and America loses."

No manipulation of feelings there.

No manipulation of the charlatans of your administration into the only truth-tellers.

No shocked outrage at the Kerry insult that wasn't; no subtle smile as the First Lady silently sticks the knife in Michael J. Fox's back; no attempt on the campaign trail to bury the reality that you have already assured that the terrorists are winning.

Winning in Iraq, sir.

Winning in America, sir.

There, we have chaos: joint U.S./Iraqi checkpoints at Sadr City, the base of the radical Shiite militias — and the Americans have been ordered out by the Prime Minister of Iraq… and our Secretary of Defense doesn't even know about it!

And here — we have deliberate, systematic, institutionalized lying and smearing and terrorizing — a code of deceit, that somehow permits a President to say, quote, "If you listen carefully for a Democrat plan for success, they don't have one."

Permits him to say this while his plan in Iraq has amounted to a twisted version of the advice once offered to Lyndon Johnson about his Iraq, called Vietnam.

Instead of "declare victory — and get out"… we now have "declare victory — and stay, indefinitely."

And also here, we have institutionalized the terrorizing of the opposition. True domestic terror:

– Critics of your administration in the media receive letters filled with fake anthrax.

– Braying newspapers applaud, or laugh, or reveal details the FBI wished kept quiet, and thus impede or ruin the investigation.

– A series of reactionary columnists encourages treason charges against a newspaper that published "national security information" — that was openly available on the internet.

– One radio critic receives a letter, threatening the revelation of as much personal information about her as can be obtained — and expressing the hope that someone will then shoot her with an AK-47 machine gun.

– And finally, a critic of an incumbent Republican Senator, a critic armed with nothing but words, is attacked by the Senator's supporters, and thrown to the floor, in full view of television cameras, as if someone really did want to re-enact the intent and the rage of the day Preston Brooks found Senator Charles Sumner.

Of course, Mr. President, you did none of these things.

You instructed no one to mail the fake anthrax. Nor undermine the FBI's case. Nor call for the execution of the editors of the New York Times. Nor threaten to assassinate Stephanie Miller. Nor beat up a man yelling at Senator Allen. Nor have the first lady knife Michael J. Fox. Nor tell John McCain to lie about John Kerry.

No, you did not.

And the genius of the thing, is the same, as in King Henry's rhetorical question about Archbishop Thomas Becket: "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?"

All you have to do, sir… is hand out enough new canes.

Posted by: conchita | Nov 2 2006 4:52 utc | 14

I have never lost faith in the Democrats' ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Nov 2 2006 7:02 utc | 15

Antifa #2--

Just brilliant. And I suspect you are right.

I have no idea what the masses think--but that is not what worries me. What worries me is what my friends think, and they think they are living in a country that actually has not existed for some three decades now. They do not want to change their thoughts, either, nor do they think they have to. Nor will have to.

Which just makes your prognosis seem likely.

r.g. #3--

Very good. You are right: Real news cannot sell. And I can continue my thread by saying that my friends think I am a real Cassandra. Well it's true, and they are right. I am constantly saying things like: What do these economic/political/ecological indicators look like to you? And they say: I don't want to hear about all that depressing stuff; why can't you just be happy?

I do not take this as a good sign.

annie #13--

Thanks for the link. How much better if Kerry had lost for telling the truth than for being a clumsy imitation of his opponent. But he did not. We celebrate what he says now, but let's not overestimate him.

r.b. #15--

Me too. How come I cannot loose precisely the faith I WANT to lose?

Posted by: Gaianne | Nov 3 2006 6:44 utc | 16

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