Just Above Sunset
July 10, 2005 - No End of Futile Analysis Available

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As the week ended the London bombings were the sole topic of debate in the chattering class.  Whatever did they mean to us all?  What about the GWOT (Global War on Terror)?  Does it need to be redefined?  Should we revise the objectives?  What about its efficacy - is it working?

Who knows?  You can always check on the status of the debate over at The Daou Report where Peter Daou provides the most current comment on the left in excerpts in the left column, with links to the source item.  The most current comment on the right are shown in, of course, the right column, with links to the sources.  The middle-of-the-road comments are lower left, and comment on the media lower right.  It's convenient, and disheartening.

At the end of the week this is the divide as he sees it.


From Captain's Quarters: "We, Brit and American, will finish the job. There is a reason that English-speaking people have dominated the world for centuries: there is something noble in our culture that will not allow us to give up or give in, an idealistic fever to "let justice be done, though Heaven should fall."

Digby is fed up with false bravado: "The [British] helped us gin up phony evidence to invade Iraq and were with us all the way. They helped us invade Afghanistan to topple the government that supports al Qaeda. They have turned a blind eye to abduction, rendition, imprisonment and torture of suspected terrorists. What exactly is the macho, codpiece wielding "roaring back" plan this time? What, pray tell, is our next military move in the global war on terror?"


That about captures the debate, although not everyone one the right is so overtly claiming the superiority of the White Man, who has dominated the world because he deserves to dominate the world.

Did these events in London change everything, or anything?  Kevin Drum over at the Washington Monthly thinks not:


… here's a very brief history of major Islamist terror attacks over the past five years:

- 2001: New York City
- 2002: Bali
- 2003: Casablanca, Istanbul
- 2004: Madrid
- 2005: London

I only want to make the point that as horrific as the London bombing was, it doesn't "teach" us anything. It doesn't represent a new phase, a new tactic, or a new target for al-Qaeda. Quite the opposite, in fact. We know perfectly well that this is what they do, we can expect similar bombings to happen again, and we need to do everything we can to stop them.

It's perfectly appropriate to discuss - loudly, passionately - what the best way to deal with al-Qaeda is. But despite the vast amount of windbaggery this attack has spawned, there's no new lesson here just because we feel closer to the British than, perhaps, we did to the Turks or Indonesians or Spaniards. The war we're fighting today is the same one we were fighting on Wednesday.


Same old same old.

Of course, speaking of "windbaggery," Fox News, which I suspect Ric and my friends in Paris don't see over there, has been saying, in their rotation of commentary, that we Americans all agree it's too bad the bombings weren't in Paris.

John Gibson, the day before, on why Paris should have got the Olympic bid - then they'd have been bombed - "So it would have been a treat, actually, to watch the French dealing with the problem of their own homegrown Islamist terrorists living in France already."

John Gibson, the day of the London bombings - "The bombings in London: This is why I thought the Brits should let the French have the Olympics -- let somebody else be worried about guys with backpack bombs for a while."

And the other hand, Fox anchor Brian Kilmeade argued that now the Brits, who really knew nothing about terrorism and such, will "get it" - and this happening with the G8 leaders nearby was a great day for us all - "And that was the first time since 9-11 when they should know, and they do know now, that terrorism should be Number 1. But it's important for them all to be together. I think that works to our advantage, in the Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together, just 500 miles from where the attacks have happened."

But classic on Fox News was Shepard Smith and Brit Hume just after the bombings - note Hume's first thought -
From Fox News' July 7 breaking news coverage between 1 and 2 p.m. ET:


SMITH: Some of the things you might expect to happen, for instance, a drop in the stock market and some degree of uncertainty across this country -- none of that really seen today, and I wonder if the timing of it - that it happened in the middle of the night and we were able to get a sense of the grander scheme of things - wasn't helpful in all this.

HUME: Well, maybe. The other thing is, of course, people have - you know, the market was down. It was down yesterday, and you know, you may have had some bargain-hunting going on. I mean, my first thought when I heard - just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, "Hmmm, time to buy." Others may have thought that as well. But you never know about the markets. But obviously, if the markets had behaved badly, that would obviously add to people's sense of alarm about it. But there has been a lot of reassurance coming, particularly in the way that - partly in the way the Brits handled all this, but also in the way that officials here handled it. There seems to be no great fear that something like that is going to happen here, although there's no indication that we here had any advance warning.


Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta - who, in spite of his connection to CNN as one of its first employees also worked twice for Roger Ailes, the fellow who runs Fox News - was amused:


Hey, I always figured that if you're looking for someone who's bullish on terrorism, you'll probably find him at Fox News! I mean, none of your namby-pamby liberal pessimism over there, no sirree; Fox News Channel employs only folks who have the savvy to pinpoint that tiny ray of hope on any cloudy day!


That about nails it, but you might want to check out James Wolcott's discussion here as it is even more detailed and snarky.  (Wolcott argues as callous as the statement was, it was also lousy investment advice.)

Minor gossip item - on Wednesday last, Roger Ailes, head of Fox News, had lunch with Jonathan Klein, the new head of CNN, at the famous Michael's (of course, New Yorkers know all about the place).  The day before the London bombings.  A conspiracy-minded friend of mine is working on a column for these pages proving that what Brit Hume said above - "there's no indication that we here had any advance warning " - is a lie.  He contends key people knew about these London bombings - time and place and all that.  He says there's something fishy here.  Ah, perhaps Klein and Ailes were planning their coverage together over seared ahi and a flinty French Chablis - how to drive the American public into a new pro-Bush panic.  Perhaps they were discussing how to play the market the next day, for maximum profit.  Spin your own theory.

Is there a master plan?  Over at Fafblog (don't ask) you can find one - which is also one of the better summaries of the Bush speech on the war last week -


Your Guide to The Plan

Q: So what's the plan?
A: The plan is to stick with the plan! If it ain't broke don't fix it.
Q: Why do we need the plan?
A: To stop terrorists like Saddam bin Laden from building another World Trade Center in Iraq - just so they can blow it up again.
Q: That would be horrible! How is the plan stopping them?
A: The plan is the central front in the war against terror! We invaded Iraq to get Iraqis to fight us in Iraq so they wouldn't fight us at home.
Q: The plan has cleverly lured them to where they already were, only in terrorist form!
A: Now you're catchin on!
Q: Hey, I know! We should invade like a small cardboard box. When all the terrorists attack there, we'll jump out of the way, tape up the box, and throw it in the ocean! No more terrorists!
A: Hey! No peeking ahead at the plan!

Q: Do we have enough troops for the plan?
A: The plan hasn't asked for any more troops. Why would it ask for more troops?
Q: Well I just heard...
A: We got tons a troops! Wooo! We're in a whole room fulla troops! Can't swing a stick without hittin a troop.
Q: Oh well that is a big relief! I was hearin alllll this crazy talk about "we don't got any troops" an I was all...
A: But you should sign up and become a troop.
Q: I thought you didn't need troops.
A: We don't! Nope, don't need troops at all.
Q: Okay, whew, that's good!
A: Pleeeeennnty a troops.
Q: Okay well if that's all -
A: But sign up anyway! Just for shits n giggles.

Q: How can I help the plan?
A: The best thing you can do to help the plan is support our troops, like with one a those car ribbons that says "Support Our Troops."
Q: Oh no - I do not own a car! How can I properly use it to help the plan?
A: Quick! Stick it to your head! Your head!
Q: Oh no, it is magnetic! It will not stay on!
A: Use the tape, the TAPE!
Q: It's falling off! It's FALLING OFF!
A: Thirty-one to base, we have a ribbon down! Repeat, we have a ribbon down!

Q: How long will the plan take?
A: The plan will be finished when there is no more terror. All around the world terror will cease to exist. When you are about to feel terrified you will feel something else, like sleepy or ticklish or hungry.
Q: Like you'll get attacked by a bear and go "Man I could go for a pizza"! What will happen to terrorists?
A: Terrorists will still pop up but because there's no more terror they will just have to work through the political process like everybody else. Hezbollah will threaten massive leafleting campaigns. ETA will make frequent appearances on Special Report with Brit Hume. Al Qaeda will run a third-party candidate for town council on a platform of zoning reform and school choice.
Q: What happens if the plan fails?
A: Then the world is eaten. By terror.
Q: Noooooooo!
A: Yes. Eaten by terror. What's something you like?
Q: Puppies?
A: All eaten. By terror.
Q: Noooooooo! Unless... we stick with the plan!
A: Smart thinking! And that's the plan.


I don't know why I like this stuff, but it's kind of cool.  And I keep hearing Tony Orlando and Dawn singing, "Hang another ribbon on the SUV..."  (Well, it scans right.)

As soon as I said that Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, shot back -


Although I suppose if you wanted to get technical about it, that should read "TIE a another ribbon ROUND the SUV..."

But whatever.

(Oh great, now I'm going to have that damn song in my head all day.)


Actually I was thinking of the magnetic yellow ribbons one sees on SUV's that say "Support Our Troops" - and note this is a demand that you so something the other person assumes you are not doing, rather than a self-declaration like "I Support Our Troops" - and since these are magnetic yellow ribbons the verb should be neither "hang" nor "tie," but rather "slap."

Rick shot this back -


"Slap" is good!  Yes, I can hear the song more clearly now ... "SLAAAAP a yellow ribbon on your SUV..."


Yep, events in London caused a whole lot of slapping.  Harmless enough.

But Rick did take exception to something else I said regarding the Karl Rove business (did he commit a felony by revealing the name of a CIA agent for petty political reasons?) and how it wasn't getting much press attention -


If ever Rove is charged with this, or with only perjury or obstruction of justice, or let off the hook, then you might see a news story here and there.  News is events - not allegations, as I think Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, would agree.  For example, the news didn't say one single thing about the allegations of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth about John Kerry - alleging Kerry was a coward, a liar, and perhaps a war criminal - until the Swift Boat guys proved it was so - just like they said.  Then it was a story.  No, wait...


Rick's response -


No, actually, he wouldn't.

Allegations, depending on where they come from, can also be events in themselves, even if the claims will later turn out to be untrue.


That set off our business school professor in upstate New York -


Which is the whole Republican game - Yes?  No?

Any allegation that catches fire is better than letting people on accurate allegations of misdeeds in process - so they fire allegations - that's the ENTIRE Rove strategy in a nutshell - isn't it?


Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, responds -


I would say this is largely true that the Republicans do this.

But I would also argue that people who sit around waiting for the so-called "mainstream media" to stir things up and chase after someone or other would be better advised to get their elected representatives to keep the fires hot by making allegations of their own, at which point the MSM will be forced to cover these as news.

But instead, what we see is a Democrat being shouted down by Republicans and forced to apologize for accurately quoting an FBI account of prison abuse, with nary a peep of defense from his fellow democrats, but also a storm of protest from fellow democrats criticizing Howard Dean when he takes a few mild swipes at Republicans.

For example, was there anything approaching a Democratic firestorm that surrounded Karl Rove, demanding he apologize or maybe even resign, following his recent remarks in New York?


From upstate New York -


Which all reminds me that in college (when we were living in different forms of altered states - different from the political ones that bear down on us today) in college we had a simplification of persona that you were either a buffalo or a duck (that being a required observation, because due to "alterations" too many of us lay around being indecisive ducks). Now four decades later I see in Rick's commentary that "buffalos and ducks" have become new political behavioral icons. Talk about full closure, or life repeating itself... whichever you prefer.


From Atlanta -


In other words, instead of Elephants and Donkeys?

Hmm. Maybe.

But I'm not sure the imagery works for me. My immediate picture is of a buffalo lazily grazing on prairie grass, maybe swatting flies with his tail, and then I see a duck slapping loudly around a barber shop, yelling "Aflac!"


From upstate New York -


See what media does to you? Buffalos USED to stampede... and ducks did once just sit around quacking. Not sure Aflac is that far off...


Buffalos.  Ducks.  It's been an odd week.



Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....