Politics postsSaturday April 06, 2013
Remaining Stationary is the New Freedom
Did you see this story the other day?
With the Senate set to debate gun control this month, a National Rifle Association task force released a 225-page report on Tuesday that called for armed police officers, security guards or staff members in every American school, and urged states to loosen gun restrictions to allow trained teachers and administrators to carry weapons.
The report is fodder for Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. But the second graf became fodder for me:
Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican congressman from Arkansas who led the task force, unveiled the report at a packed news conference with unusually heavy security, including a bomb-sniffing yellow Labrador retriever. A dozen officers in plain clothes and uniforms stood watch as he spoke; one warned photographers to “remain stationary” during the event. (Italics mine.)
It immediately sparked this idea for a Tom Toles-like editorial cartoon:
- Panel 1: Show the news conference, use Hutchison's quote, and have one of the armed security officers telling the photographers: “Remain stationary.” Include: “*Actual quote.” Photogs look scared.
- Panel 2: Similar scene in our new, NRA-approved schools, where an armed guard tells students: “Remain stationary.” Students and teacher look scared.
- Panel 3: Similar scene at mall. Armed guards telling shoppers, “Remain stationary.” Shoppers look scared.
- Panel 4: Then in Congress during arm-control legislation debate. NRA to Congress: “Remain stationary.”
- Panel 5: Then in front of the thousands who have died because of gun violence since Newtown. NRA to the dead: “Remain stationary.”
- Denouement: Little Oliphant or Toles figure at bottom with hands raised before NRA guard. Oliphant figure says: “Remaining stationary is the new freedom.”
Guns guns guns.
Henny Penny, When the Sky Fell: 'No End in Sight' and the 10th Anniversary of the Iraq Invasion
Yesterday, the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, pissed me off more than I'd anticipated.
I think what set me off was this piece by Alex Pareene on Joe Scarborough, and the realization that the bastards got away with it, got away with calling us names, too, and now blame us for flag-waving our way into war when I was sickened by it all. Pareene dissects Scarborough well but you almost want a body blow. I remember seeing MSNBC at the time, and the American flag waving behind triumphant music and the Bush administration's chosen phrase, OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, up front, and thinking, “This is a cable news show?” I was naive at the time. I'm so much older than that now.
I remember a few years later, in 2005 or '06, arguing with a conservative friend about Iraq, and he trotted out the usual right-wing line about whether I would put Saddam back in place if I could. I gave him a look. I said:
Would I put him back in place? Does that mean we get back all of the American soldiers killed and wounded in Iraq, and all of the Iraqis killed and wounded in Iraq? We get back the money we spent, and the prestige we lost, and the focus we lost, and we're able to spend that money and put that focus elsewhere? On our more immediate concerns and enemies? Is that what you're asking me? Would I make that trade? In a fucking second.
How did you celebrate the 10th? I got drunk and watched “No End in Sight,” Charles Ferguson's 2007 documentary, which is the best thing I've seen on our early involvement there. It's about all of the fuckups that led to present-day Iraq, which we no longer pay attention to.
What gets me each time I watch this? It's not the lies and misrepresentations that led us into war. It's not the fact that we spent a few months, rather than years, prepping for a post-war Iraq. It's not that we didn't send the troop levels the miltary wanted but sent the troop levels Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld thought we needed (SPOILER ALERT: he was wrong), and it's not the fact that ORHA, the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, the organization designed to stabilize Iraq, reported to Rumsfeld and not, say, Secretary of State Colin Powell. We could have gotten away with all of those fuckups. But then the Bushies disbanded Jay Garner's ORHA and replaced it, and him, with L. Paul Bremer's CPA, the Coalition Provisional Authority, and Bremer ordered de-Ba'athification and the disbanding of the Iraqi military. And that was that.
A few quotes from last night's viewing, which I subsequently drunk-tweeted (see what you're missing by not following me on Twitter?):
- “We're a platoon of Marines. We could certainly stop looting if that's our assigned task.” — Lt. Seth Moulton.
- “It was just henny penny the sky is falling.” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on media reports about the postwar looting in Baghdad.
- “My goodness, were there that many vases?” --Donald Rumsfield, implying that U.S. media reports on looting were greatly exaggerated; followed by laughter from the press corp.
- “Whether you were Sunni or Shiite, you were outraged about the looting.” --Nir Rosen, Iraqui journalist.
- “And what followed was this pervasive sense of lawlessness that Iraq never recovered from. Guys with guns took over.”
- “The Iraqi army was essentially standing there, waiting. They were waiting for an overture. ... No one did that.”
- “I thought we had just created a problem. We had a lot of out-of-work soldiers.”
- “I don't do quagmires.” --Donald Rumsfeld.
If you're looking for a gift for Rumsfeld, Cheney, etc., 10th anniversaries are traditionally associated with tin.
Bremer (left), taking over from Garner (right).
Email to Jake: March 9, 2003
I sent this email to a group of friends on March 9, 2003:
Anyone been reading about the celebrity commercial wars? Martin Sheen & Co.? Liberal media articles mocking liberals. “Those know-nothing celebrities know nothing” is the gist. I've yet to hear much about the conservative response, led by former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, who, in his commerical (which I haven't seen), says the following in support of a possible war with Iraq:
When people ask, “What has Saddam done to us?” I ask, “What had the 9-11 hijackers done to us before 9-11?”
So true! We're all guilty until proven invaded.
Jake responded. Same day:
The conservatives, whose recent ascendance was led by a B-movie actor turned president, have no business complaining about “know nothing celebrities.” Same for the liberal media complaining about fellow liberals. The reason the actors are making such noise about the war has a lot to do with the shameful absence of noise coming from the democrats in Congress. My senator Hillary Clinton, for her part, went out of her way last week to reaffirm her support of Bush's war plans.
And the fact that the media themselves accept the myth of the liberal media only tilts their coverage further to the right. According to polls, a majority of Americans believe Saddam was a 9/11 co-conspirator. No evidence has been produced, but who needs evidence when a steady barrage of slanted coverage will do?
Apologies that we were all so, so right, and the others were all so, so wrong.
Email to Elin: March 2003
I sent this to my friend Elin in 2003....
How goes the war on your front? Here it's the same. The majority still favor Pres. Bush but Americans tend to rally round the president, any president, in times like these - even when we create times like these. Things will change if the war goes on too long, we create too many enemies (as we're doing), and the U.S. economy stagnates. Came across an appropriate JFK quote this morning from 1961: “The United States is neither omnipotent nor omniscient... We are only six percent of the world's population; we can't impose our will upon the other 94 percent of mankind.” Meanwhile the latest New Yorker magazine brings articles on our television coverage of the war (bordering on propaganda), W.'s lack of humility in his person or rhetoric, how the U.S. diplomatic community is viewing the war (scary line from a moderate on what's wrong with Europe: “What they're doing is listening to their public opinion, rather than leading it.”), and an article on the documents relating to Iraq's supposed nuclear program which helped pave the way for this war - even though, it turns out, they were forged. Not good. Most of my friends are against the war but then they're my friends.
Sarah Palin, Big Gulp, and Freedom in America
Apparently Sarah Palin showed up at CPAC today and talked guns and gun racks, and took swipes at both Mitt Romney and Pres. Obama, and then, for the coup de grace, and displaying all of her wit, brought out a Big Gulp and took a sip.
The use of right-wing food props immediately reminded me of Greg Stillson, the politician on a road to the presidency (and nuclear destruction) in Stephen King's 1979 novel, “The Dead Zone,” who, with a U.S. decal on his hard hat, threw hot dogs to the enthusastic crowds at his rallies:
“Hot dogs for every man, woman and child in America! And when you put Greg Stillson in the House of Representatives, you gonna say HOT DOG! SOMEONE GIVES A RIP AT LAST!”
I'm not the first to make the Palin/Stillson connection, either. “Around my house,” Mr. King told Salon.com in 2008, “we kinda laugh when Sarah Palin comes on TV, and we say, 'That's Greg Stillson as a woman.'”
The 32-oz. Big Gulp, in case you missed it, is a swipe at NYC's Mayor Bloomberg, who has attempted to limit, in restaurants and theaters, and for health reasons, the size of sugary drinks to 16 ounces or less. Jon Stewart among others has objected. I believe Stewart used the same prop as Palin. Is this the first thing the two have ever agreed on? Expect a mash-up.
Besides, didn't a judge strike down the Mayor's initiative earlier this week? But Palin wasn't going to give up a good prop when she had one.
Here's the bigger point. Yesterday, before a movie at Regal Cinemas in downtown Seattle, I got unaccountably thirsty and went to the refreshment stand to buy a soda. I just wanted a little, not much.
Me: What's the smallest soda you have?
Underpaid Regal employee: 32 ounces.
That's the small. But the employee was nice enough to sell me the kids' size, which is a mere 16 ounces. Which is still about twice what I wanted.
But that's freedom in America. You have the freedom to buy whatever the corporation is selling—for whatever reason it wants to sell it that way—without interference from the government.
Twitter: @ErikLundegaardTweets by @ErikLundegaard