October 27, 2006

Snow More Sense

From the October 23rd press briefing with Tony Snow, which I read before going to bed because yes, I am a masochist. And as I read, I realized that the only way to get the gear grinding horror of his words out of my head was to Fisk them. Hard. (Fisking, curiously, one of the few tortures not prohibited in the Geneva Conventions that Senate Republicans considered providing safeguards against in the recently signed military commissions act of 2006, s'trewth.) Snow's comments in blockquotes:

... What we are satisfied is that the Iraqi government is serious about taking on the real challenges that it faces. ... On the economic side, it means building an economic infrastructure that contains not only a legal framework in which people have property rights and redress in cases of fraud, theft, or personal violence, but also the opportunity for investors to come in and realize that their investments are going to be made good, that you have the kind of respect for investment. They have passed an investment law that makes it now possible for international investors to come into Iraq. ...

Iraq's tourism minister has told vacationers that a visit to Iraq could be a one way trip. Iraqis are getting drilled in the head and their bodies piled in the streets like cordwood because their relatives are often terrified of claiming them. Which is why Iraq, at this point, desperately needs more respect for investment.

... we cannot walk out of Iraq without having secured our objectives ...

However, later in the briefing, Snow says, "So what you have is not "stay the course," but, in fact, a study in constant motion by the administration and by the Iraqi government, and, frankly, also by the enemy, because there are constant shifts, and you constantly have to adjust to what the other side is doing. ..."

But we can't go before reaching our objectives, and they would be ... wait, it's coming to me ... making Iraq safe for international investors. That isn't staying the course at all, nope, clearly has nothing to do with why we went there in the first place. I'd like, one day, for reporters to consider it standard procedure to ask the president, Snow, or any other White House functionary who talks about securing objectives, which of the 27 different reasons for going to war they are talking about. We need precision in these matters.

... The Iraqi people themselves lived in "peace" under Saddam Hussein and hundreds of thousands were slaughtered. But they were done so outside the vision of television cameras or the watchful eye of a Western media. It is important that the Iraqis get what they deserve, which is a chance to live in peace. ...

Erm, so the television cameras and Western media can keep Iraqis safe? How's that again? I'm sure that the families of the more than half million Iraqis killed during this war would be mystified by this statement, if they weren't hiding from shrapnel in their basements. Saddam Hussein, in the course of 20 years, only managed to off around 300,000 Iraqis.

Indeed, the media that's supposed to be protecting the Iraqis by their very presence hasn't been doing so well, either. Iraq has been the second deadliest war for journalists since WWII. Both the Iraqi and American authorities have, however, taken pains to repeatedly ban, attack, deport, harass, arrest, and in a memorable case, torture [full original story, no longer available through Reuters] journalists that were going about the business of acting like a free press. So, either the media is really bad at protecting Iraqis, or they're so good at it that the powers that be in Iraq feel the need to preemptively attack them to prevent their protective mojo from operating. And either way, Tony Snow's statement is completely divorced from reality.

But, bringing this little freak show back home ...

... The President is keenly aware of those at the bottom levels of the income scale, which is why their tax burden has gotten not only lighter, but relatively lighter. It's why you probably hadn't noticed, but the tax burden has shifted even more so to the higher end of the income scales as a result of the tax cuts enacted three years ago. ...

Starting with reducing taxes that mainly affect wealthy investors, the Bush administration shifted more and more of the tax burden to the middle class, as was confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office. This naturally pushed more people into lower income brackets, and not just lower, but relatively lower.

See, Bush has made more poor people to be aware of, just like he's made more dead soldiers to honor and more dead Iraqis that we can remember as willing martyrs for freedom. Because he cares about the poor and the dead. Really.

And this is the only even vaguely coherent message that can be drawn from Tony Snow's fabulist dithering: You do not want President Bush to be keenly aware of you.

Which is why the investment community is safe, and why the administration is trying to extend that safety to Iraq. Nobody could be persuaded to believe that Bush is keenly aware of the world of finance. He has people to do that sort of thing for him.

Posted by natasha at October 27, 2006 02:29 AM | Iraq | Technorati links |