Taibbi: Smooth Flat Space
Pitt: The Color of Bush's Sky
The Truffle Solution
Taibbi: That's Infotainment!
Halliburton:Corporate Evil by Allan Uthman
"Real Job" Correspondent
Axis of Stupid Gains a New Member
Buffalo News "Bad for Eyes"
Angry Black Man
Perfect World News:
AOL Takes Back CDs
Kino Korner (Movies)
Separated at Birth?
[sic] - your letters
The Sports Blotter
Baby Steps' Review Cubby - Hip-Hop
The Color of Bush’s Sky
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Wednesday 21 January 2004
It took a little less than
a half hour for George W. Bush to taint the 215th State of the Union
address with a bald-faced lie about Iraq. It was, in the end, merely
an accent in the symphony.
The nonsense began in this
order: The economy is growing stronger. The tax cuts are working.
Public schools are flourishing. The Patriot Act is excellent.
Everything is rosy in Afghanistan. The people of Iraq are free.
Throughout the vacuous peroration were more shooting-fish-in-a-barrel
applause lines than has ever been heard in any major speech in
American history. “I love God! I love soldiers! I love America! I
love freedom!” went the drumbeat. Once upon a time, we had
Let’s take a few of
these in order.
• The Iraq lie came when
Bush claimed that David Kay’s weapons inspection teams had found
materials and equipment to construct weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq. In point of fact, Kay and his people found no such thing, just
as the denigrated UNMOVIC inspectors likewise found no such thing. The
promised 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin,
1,000,000 pounds of sarin and mustard and VX nerve agent, the 30,000
munitions to deliver this stuff, the mobile biological weapons labs,
and the uranium from Niger that so disgraced the last State of the
Union speech Bush gave, somehow failed to turn up. Bush dared, in the
speech, to claim that “No one can now doubt the word of America.”
Unfortunately, a vast majority now doubts the word of the American
President. Perhaps this failure is a matter of syntax. According to
Bush, once again, we should be looking for ‘nucular’ materials.
Maybe the inspectors just misread the package labels in Tikrit.
• Iraq is now free, and
the only people killing American soldiers are lingering defenders of
Saddam Hussein. In fact, most of the insurgents against the American
occupation despise Hussein. They are nationalists defending their
country against a force they see as usurpers. As for freedom, it is
not nearly on the table. Shia, Sunni and Kurd tremble on the edge of
explosive civil war, and the American administrators are using spit
and baling wire to keep the lid on. Meanwhile, pipe dreams about a
power transfer become less tenable by the hour.
• According to Bush, it
is “condescending” to suggest that democracy can never take root
in the Middle East. There are two bitterly amusing facets to this one.
First, it is axiomatic that true democracy can never be brought
anywhere effectively at the point of a gun without razing the existing
society completely to the ground, as was done in Japan and Germany. If
Bush had suggested we grind every aspect of culture and infrastructure
to powder in the Middle East, a necessary aspect of the plan proposed,
that particular bit of applause would have been muted. Second, the
main reason why democracy will have a hard time in the Middle East is
because it has been viciously repressed in places like Iran, Iraq and
Saudi Arabia under the American direction of a number of people at the
speech – Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Perle specifically –
while they worked in other administrations.
• Afghanistan is
apparently a wonderland of freedom where the children are learning and
all is well, according to Bush. The fact that the Taliban is reforming
there in strength, that the warlords are once again dominant, that the
opium industry is flourishing, that civilians continue to be killed by
American bombs, and that women are again being oppressed, never made
it into the speech. For the second year in a row, the name ‘Osama
bin Laden’ went completely unmentioned.
• The tax cuts are
working, and the economy is sound because of them. In fact, there are
two million fewer jobs in America than when Bush took office. The tax
cuts, which promised 300,000 new jobs a month, never reached a third
of that goal. Whatever new jobs have been created pay far less than
the ones which were lost. Bush demanded that Congress make the cuts
permanent, apparently taking Karl Rove’s advice about “Sticking to
principle.” The transcript of the meeting discussing the second
round of tax cuts, revealed recently by former Treasury Secretary Paul
O’Neill, had Bush openly questioning the policy of giving government
money to rich people again. In that meeting, he was basically shouted
down by the people who purportedly work for him, and the cuts went
through. It appears they won another argument about this, putting the
Commander in Chief in his place.
• The math in this
speech was pretty specious. Bush praised the No Child Left Behind
bill, which he underfunded by $7 billion, and asked for a whole new
program called ‘Jobs for the 21st Century.’ He wants to make the
tax cuts permanent. He wants to spend federal money to shore up the
energy grid. Simultaneously, he wants to continue to pour money into
the occupation of Iraq, an action that has cost nearly $200 billion
already. Yet he promised to cut the budget deficit in half within five
years. Recent poll numbers suggest Bush will be in retirement in five
years, however, so he won’t be around when the incredible inaccuracy
of these numbers become apparent.
• Gambling Social
Security in the stock market is back on the table. Never mind that his
Enron buddies blew a wide hole in the markets a couple of years ago;
had Social Security been invested in the markets then, it would have
been completely gutted. That, perhaps, is the rub. When the stock
market takes a beating, the money lost by investors doesn’t just
disappear. It is adjusted upwards into the holdings of the richest 1%
of investors, who have enough capital to survive a downturn and have
money on hand to scoop up devalued stock on the chance it retains
value later. This 1% owns a disproportionally massive majority of all
the stocks traded on the markets. If Social Security cash is fed into
the markets, it is ripe for the poaching. Besides, it rids Bush of the
pesky need to provide seniors with safety-net funding better used by
the Pentagon, Halliburton and other close friends.
• The sops thrown to the
most extreme elements of the Republican party were many and varied. If
children are to be taught sexual education, they must be taught only
abstinence, because clearly teenagers will never have sex again and
shouldn’t learn about protecting themselves from disease and
unwanted pregnancies. The Massachusetts judges who decided, using the
clear language of the law, that there is no aspect of the constitution
denying same-sex marriages were attacked. Bush dismissed their
decision as “arbitrary,” and threatened a constitutional amendment
to defend marriage against the queer onslaught. In doing this, Bush
says he is defending the “sanctity” of marriage. Once upon a time
our office-holders defended the law, and left the defense of sanctity
to ministers. His faith-based federal funding concept is back on the
table again. Bush said that religious groups are denied federal money
“because they have a cross, or a Star of David, or a crescent on the
wall.” Actually, George, it’s because the separation of church and
state is clearly outlined in the constitution you want to revise to
keep gay people from enjoying the same human rights as straight
We could go on in this
vein, but you get the idea. This speech was, in the immortal words of
Hunter S. Thompson, a nest of gibberish. Columnist Paul Krugman of the
New York Times holds the opinion that this was deliberate. “Karl
Rove and other insiders must know all this,” wrote Krugman in a
Tuesday editorial titled ‘Going for Broke.’ “So they must figure
that once they have won the election, they will have such a complete
lock on power that they can break many of their promises with
impunity. What will they do with that lock on power? Their election
strategy — confuse the middle, but feed the base — suggests the
The best moments in the
speech came from a completely unexpected realm. Bush’s people salted
the room with young soldiers resplendent in their uniforms. The
cameras flashed to them every time Bush pledged his undying respect
for them, and every time he said matters in Iraq are going famously
well. The soldiers reacted with dead faces, muted clapping, and about
as much enthusiasm as one might find in the waiting room outside a
One soldier in particular,
a young African American man, summed up the night. Bush was waxing
rhapsodic about a letter he received from a ten year old girl named
Ashley Pearson. Ashley, it seems, asked Bush to tell the soldiers she
loved them. As Bush slogged through the saccharine, the camera found
this soldier. When Bush was done with Ashley, and the room rose yet
again to applaud, this soldier visibly rolled his eyes, laughed in
obvious disgust, clapped once, and sat back down. The other soldiers
with him showed no emotion whatsoever.
The troops know the score.
Believe it. Hopefully, by now, the American people do as well.
William Rivers Pitt
is the Managing Editor of truthout.org. He is a New York Times
bestselling author of two books - - "War On Iraq" (with
Scott Ritter) available now from Context Books, and "The
Greatest Sedition is Silence," now available at from Pluto
Press and "Our
Flag, Too: The Paradox of Patriotism," available in August
from Context Books.