surreality programming

If you ask me, this whole reality TV thing has gotten way out of control.

I mean, it's all good and well that Peter Funt is riding his father Alan's coattails by showing us all the humor inherent in phony extra airport security measures (ha ha ha, kids, but don't try it yourself or you'll end up in airport jail).

But when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says that the failure of U.N. arms inspectors to find weapons of mass destruction "could be evidence, in and of itself, of Iraq's noncooperation," you suddenly realize that, okay, it's all a joke, then, and George Bush isn't really the president, and okay, now this all makes sense, and where are all the hidden cameras, oh there they are, all over the malls and traffic signals and supermarkets and elevators and dressing rooms and sure, that's funny, but please stop the joke I want to know who the real president is and stop it please stop it this isn't funny anymore please please stop.


I mean, if this isn't all a joke, then why am I laughing so very very hard? Oh wait, I'm crying.

But enough about me. This has never been about me.

This has always been about tracking down and finding Osama bin Laden.

I'm sorry, about stopping the terrorist network that bin Laden led.

Check that, I mean about bringing peace and freedom to the country terrorized by the organization that was friendly to the network that bin Laden led.

No, scratch all that. This has always been about Iraq. Iraq has always been the problem here.

We have always been at war with Iraq. Ever since they uh ... um ... did that thing they did that made us realize that we should go to war with them. Again. Or once again have remained at war with them. Iraq. Ahem.

Look, I'm no fool. I realize Iraq's run by a truly despicable tyrant with a history for terrorizing his neighbors. And I'd be more than happy if Saddam Hussein left or was forced out of office.

But I'm not sure that's our job. After all, I'd be more than happy if Bush left or was forced out of office, too, but you don't see me massing a quarter of a million troops on the Whitehouse lawn and saying "oh, but I don't have a timetable for using them!"

I have yet to find anybody who can tell me why why oh please just answer the question why we ever started focusing on Iraq.

Okay, anybody who wants us to go to war, that is. Those who don't want us to go to war have lots of reasons ? Bush has a personal vendetta against Saddam ("he tried to kill my dad, you know"), Bush is trying to distract us from our failure in Afghanistan, Bush is trying to control the country with the second largest known oil reserves, etc.

Of course, I'd like to think that the burden of proof for why we should make war on Iraq lies not with the peaceniks but with those whose plan, you know, involves billions of dollars of spending and thousands (or more) of dead people, no small chunk of which will likely be your friends and neighbors in the military.

But the best I've gotten so far is that there exists some secret evidence that the administration can't tell us about but which neatly explains everything.

Including, one supposes, the existence of an illegal weapons program and maybe what really happened to the Mayans.

But the story is that Iraq has illegal weapons. So we advocate for weapons inspectors to be sent in to prove that they have illegal weapons, all the while touting that the burden is on Iraq to prove that they don't have illegal weapons.

And then, when Iraq fails to prove that they don't have weapons (never mind that we thus far have failed to prove that they do), we say it doesn't matter anyhow, because we already know that they do ha ha it was all a dirty trick.

How do we know? Why, our deus ex machina secret evidence tells us so! Oh, but you can't see it. It's secret.

So eventually we'll go to war and we'll bomb the expletive out of them, but not without sending some, what, several hundred or thousand Americans to die along with them, of course.

And when a mother, stricken with grief because her son has died while serving in Gulf War II, cries out, "Why? Why? Why did my son have to die?" is the government going to say, "We could tell you, but we'd have to kill you. Sorry about your son and all"?!

Or maybe those whose sons and husbands and fathers died get to be let in on the secret, hmm? What a special treat.

You know, when I get all worked up like I clearly am now, I find solace in just one place, and that is the White House press briefings page.

Though it may contain many ideas which make me want to explode, at least I can point to it and say, "here is some apparently unfiltered information that President Bush actually wants to share with me," although, of course, it is all very filtered, through the lips of Grima, I mean Ari Fleischer.

Let us marvel together at the transcript of a recent press briefing, shall we?

Q: Can we presume that the President is very happy that Mr. Blix says there is no smoking gun in the search for weapons in Iraq?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the problem with guns that are hidden is you can't see their smoke. And so we will still await to see what the inspectors find in Iraq and what events in Iraq lead to. The report that we understand was conveyed in the meeting up in New York this morning said that the work of the inspectors is still underway, they continue to gather information. And the report also cited a number of concerns and a number of problems in what Iraq has been doing.

Q: But it wouldn't be disappointing, would it, if there were no weapons there?

MR. FLEISCHER: We know for a fact that there are weapons there. And so ? the inspectors also went on ?

Q: What's the search all about if you know it so factually?

I'd like to think that Ari Fleischer has fundamentally altered the way English speakers think about their idioms involving smoking guns. It's not that we're looking for the smoke coming from the gun that shot somebody ? no no no!

The guns are hidden, and so is the smoke! And for that matter, nobody's been shot! Of course. So, um, what are we doing again?

Q: The heart of the problem is there is a lack of confidence in anybody speaking the truth there, isn't that ...

MR. FLEISCHER: Are you accusing the inspectors of not speaking the truth when they say that it's not assured?

Q: No, I think they're speaking the truth, and the country won't accept it.

MR. FLEISCHER: So when they say the absence of the particular item is not assured, you accept that as the truth. You agree with the President. I'm very proud.

Q: I mean, the point is, wouldn't you be happy if there were no weapons there?

MR. FLEISCHER: There would be nothing that would make the President happier than there being no weapons in Iraq. And the best way to make certain that there are no weapons in Iraq is for Saddam Hussein to disarm himself of the weapons he has.

Wow! My head's spinning! Along those lines, the best way to prove that there is no God is to have God come down and tell us he does not exist. Ipso facto, presto change-o.

I conclude this entry with a fun application you can try at home.

  1. First, you have to get yourself beat up by someone (we'll call him Person A) who doesn't like you. I leave this to your clevertude.
  2. Next, find a person (Person B), who also doesn't like you, and who knows Person A, but isn't noticeably good friends with him.
  3. Walk up to Person B and tell him that you heard he was going to throw a rock at you.
  4. Ignore any taunts he makes about the black eye you got from Person A and internalize them as proof that he is in cahoots with Person A.
  5. When Person B protests that he wasn't planning on hitting you with a rock, ask him why he has a rock in his back pocket.
  6. When he protests that he doesn't have a rock in his back pocket, tell him that he won't then mind if you stick your hands in his pockets.
  7. When he tells you to get the freak out of his pants, take him to the police station and inform them of Person B's plan to hit you with a rock, and suggest that they look in his pants pockets for proof.
  8. When the police find no rock, wonder to yourself if they are also not in cahoots with Persons A and B.
  9. Then declare to the police and Person B that it doesn't matter if a rock cannot be found on Person B's person, as rocks are very easy to hide, and the mere fact that Person B has not produced a rock (as evidence of his plan to hit you with same) proves that Person B is hiding the rock he plans to hit you with.
  10. While they are still trying to process your logic, pounce upon Person B and punch the living snot out of him.
  11. As the police are hauling you off to a jail cell, explain that it was all an object lesson, and ask if they realize that they're being used as tools of The Man.

6 comments so far

1 Jan 17 '03 7:47am:

josh replied:

"good link, sorta relevant to the first part of this article:"

2 Jan 17 '03 3:12pm:

amar replied:

"az. and i were discussing this. i think what bugs me the most is that the white house seems so fundamentally dishonest about their motives. it would be one thing if they just said "look, we're gonna invade iraq as part of a long-term plan to 'democratize' the region and reduce our reliance on saudi arabia, thereby paving the way for a more nuanced middle eastern policy that allows us to back out and maybe get some oil." but because they keep speaking in bald-faced lies and homilies, nobody has any clue, so we're all forced to guess as if we're trying to read the emperor's mind. it's so weird to me that a cabal of like, 5 or 6 people (not anyone in the state dept. or the military) can decide to take this country to war. anyway peace rally tomorrow, maybe there will be jugglers"

3 Jan 20 '03 3:14pm:

Nathan Beach replied:

"Regarding Amar's comment, I'm curious how the American public would respond to a blatant White House announcement along the lines of (this is completely simplified) "We're trying to strengthen the American economy and need to make sure we have fuller control over Middle East oil, otherwise you probably won't be as monetarily comfortable and won't be able to drive as far. So, we're going to kill people in exchange. We hope that's okay with you." Would Americans be fine with killing people to secure happiness and comfort? I really don't know what the answer would be (on a percentage scale). It kind of makes me wonder after just this weekend having read Ted Rall's illustrated book Real Americans Admit: The Worst Thing I've Ever Done.

Hello Todd!


4 Jan 24 '03 12:28pm:

chip replied:

"I find it interesting that the fact we destroyed many if not all of the terror camps in Afghanistan and took the biggest supports of terror the Taliban out of control there is a failure. The goal was never to get one man it was to stop the production of terrorist that where and will more then likely again be used against out country.

As for the men and woman that will die in a war in Iraq they know that the possibility was there when they joined the military. It is a voluntary force and if you don't like the idea of fighting in a war regardless of why it was started then you should not have signed your name and raised your right hand.

As for evidence against Iraq Blix and the inspectors have said that the warheads they found where not listed in the document given to the UN. Thus that is not full disclosure and in violation.

Just some random thoughts from a conservative.


5 Jan 27 '03 2:14am:

tODD replied:


Some clarifications are in order. Sure, it was never just about finding bin Laden. The reason we went to war in Afghanistan was because they refused to hand over bin Laden et al. But there was a whole lot of talk about bin Laden, even from Bush. He was an easy figure to focus on. "Dead or alive", anyone? Right.

But then we failed to find him, dead or alive. And lots of his top leaders as well. Sure, we seemed to have made a decent dent in their network (for now, at least), but I think it's pretty dishonest for us to pretend we never cared about bin Laden or any of his leaders in particular. Sour grapes and all.

And that we destroyed many terror camps in Afghanistan is neither in doubt, nor a failure. Indeed, when the United States' objective is to destroy, we do a pretty bang-up job of it.

However, the specific failure I was thinking of was for us to provide substantive support for a post-Taliban Afghanistan, namely in terms of money. Sure, we have troops over there, but the reports I've read (from poison-tongued liberal newspapers, I'm sure) indicate that outside of Kabul, things are pretty much back to the lawless days of tribal warfare. Which isn't exactly the rose garden we hinted at when we began this whole affair.

So in Kabul, things are nice. Outside, it's not clear we've made life better for anyone. Or maybe we have, but we still kind of gave them the short end of the stick.

And sure, right now we have an all-volunteer military, so the people in it are there by choice, and clearly have submitted themselves to live or die on someone else'e command.

But I'd like to think that that's all the more reason to make sure that we're going to war for only the most just of reasons. I, for one, would not feel comfortable ordering a soldier to give his life because, and I say this completely hypothetically, a president had conjured up a situation where by he found he could not back down from an increasingly out-of-control escalation and felt compelled to appear as if he was not flip-flopping or being weak.

No, but then I personally would rather not have to tell anyone to die, of course. I'm silly like that. But if I was in such a position of authority, I'd be darned sure that it was only for the highest of moral reasons.

And I think I'd bother to tell the people under my authority what that reason was. And I might bother to do it, say, a goodly amount of time before I started the war, so that there was time for reasoned, democratic debate.

But hey, I'm an idealist.

We've got one al Qaeda leader linked to a terrorist organization in northern Iraq. And a dozen or so empty short-range warheads. Who cares what anyone else thinks, let's kill some people! And be killed! And again! Whee! Dead folks! Ha ha! Yay! I mean, they're just bodies and all.

In short, I'm not complaining about the people in the military. Because they don't have much say in all this.

("In short" ... who do I think I'm kidding? ...)"

6 Feb 10 '03 10:11am:

chip replied:

"Glad to see that you did not deny the fact that Iraq is not in compliance.


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