“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


LI was part of a research project the other day. A graduate student invited us and about four other bloggers to talk with her in a chat room about what we did. It was a pretty enjoyable scene, and we learned some new, fine acronyms – like MSM for main stream media. At one point LI suggested that bloggers don’t report the facts – we aren’t journalists – but frame them. We were surprised that this was generally disputed.

Well, perhaps LI is deluded on this one, but we still think most blog reporting consists of playing Google roulette. In the spirit of which…

The Washington Post published a White House pr release about Iraq in the implausible shape of a news article yesterday, suggesting that, as John Negroponte says in it, "When it comes to calling the plays on the field, especially on sensitive military operations, there's only one quarterback, and his name is Allawi." Negroponte’s metaphor, referring to a game that isn’t played in Iraq, is more truthful than he perhaps realizes. Metaphors, like symptoms, don't lie. The article was a fluff piece in general, in line with a whole history of fluff pieces about various American puppets and proxies that have been installed – with just such heavy breathing by American ambassadors – over the years. We imagine you could substitute Duarte’s name for Allawi, or Thieu’s, or whoever. The imperialist pretence is strictly for American consumption – or rather, American press consumption.

So a forgettable article in the vein of agit-prop, another lie in the mill that keeps running on American and Iraqi blood. But our eye was caught by one sentence in the piece: “Allawi's credibility is also still on the line, despite an early August poll indicating varying degrees of support from more than 60 percent of Iraqis.”

Wow. This 60 percent figure was surely some of that good news that was being suppressed by the ever liberal press. The odd thing about the sentence was the vagueness of its allusion to the poll.

So we looked around via google and finally found the source, something called the IRI, or International Republican Institute..

The IRI institute, from its webpage, looks like it could have been set up by John Negroponte. The place has just appointed a former Bush official president; has just given Condoleeza Rice, of all people, some freedom award; and is right on track with the good news bein’ suppressed by the bad press meme the Bushies have pushed for the last year and a half.

The result is an organization whose polling results are as trustworthy as, well, Saddam Hussein’s vote totals in 2002.

Here’s the killer results for our quarterback in Baghdad:

“Over 51% of Iraqis polled felt that their country is headed in "the right direction," up slightly from IRI's May/June poll. More telling, the number who feel that things are heading in "the wrong direction" has dropped from 39% to 31% over the same time period.

Some of this confidence may be a result of wide public support for the Iraqi Interim Government. Prime Minister Allawi holds an enviable approval rating, with 66% rating him as either "very effective" or "somewhat effective." Likewise, President al-Yawer enjoys the support of 60.6% of Iraqis polled who say that they "completely trust" or "somewhat trust" him.”

Now, usually in a country where there is an exponential increase in the amount of violence – where there are battles raging in Najaf, Karbala, Baghdad and Mosul, bombing strikes against Falluja and the like – the words “right direction” don’t exactly pop out. But not with the hip-happy Iraqis the IRI has polled! They are crazy in love with us – in fact, a full half of them, according to the poll, supported the invasion!

One wonders – did the WP byliners, Robin Wright and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, purposely leave out the name of the source of the poll, or did they even bother to research the White House pr sheet? Reporting or dictation -- you decide.

Comically, after duly announcing that Allawi was running around with the football we bought him, Americans standing about like nature's humble waterboys, the same byliners reported in another story that the Iraqi government announced it would release two women prisoners in response to the demands of the kidnappers – only to be overruled by the waterboys.

“The Iraqi Ministry of Justice announced the impending release of Taha Wednesday morning, insisting it had nothing to do with the demands of the kidnappers of Americans Armstrong and Hensley and their British housemate, Kenneth Bigley.

Later in the day, however, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said that that the women "are in our legal and physical custody. They will not be released imminently. Their legal status, like the other detainees, is under constant review."

That one story totally contradicts another is seemingly no problem for the WP journalists. To keep the war effort going, Americans need to be lied to in small ways and large. After all, this is the war the WP helped whip up last year.

What’s the line in the Dylan song, Highway 61, about promoting the next world war?

“… he found a promoter who nearly fell on the floor
“I’ve never engaged in this kind of thing before, but – yes
I think it can be very easily done…”

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