“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

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

liar, accessory, nullity

LI has grown tired of punching the President. It is like punching one of those blow up punching bags that were popular when LI was a kid – the bag just wobbles and comes back up, the cartoon figure imprinted on it bearing the same goofy, factory made smile.

So, knowing that this is the man who left the country vulnerable to the 9/11 attack to fulfill the Bush mandate – to take as many vacations as possible – it comes as no surprise that the man who said, three days after Katrina, that nobody expected the levees to break, was warned three days before Katrina that everybody expected the levees to break.

“In the 48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, the White House received detailed warnings about the storm's likely impact, including eerily prescient predictions of breached levees, massive flooding, and major losses of life and property, documents show.
A 41-page assessment by the Department of Homeland Security's National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC), was delivered by e-mail to the White House's "situation room," the nerve center where crises are handled, at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 29, the day the storm hit, according to an e-mail cover sheet accompanying the document.
The NISAC paper warned that a storm of Katrina's size would "likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching" and specifically noted the potential for levee failures along Lake Pontchartrain. It predicted economic losses in the tens of billions of dollars, including damage to public utilities and industry that would take years to fully repair. Initial response and rescue operations would be hampered by disruption of telecommunications networks and the loss of power to fire, police and emergency workers, it said.”

“President Bush, in a televised interview three days after Katrina hit, suggested that the scale of the flooding in New Orleans was unexpected. "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm," Bush said in a Sept. 1 interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."”
A liar, murderer and nullity – and the crème rises to the top in the America! Or as Fred Barnes might put it, the Rebel in Chief – our national cheerleader - rides again.


Paul craddick said...


is Brian Leiter guest-blogging here? This post definitely lowers the tone at LI.

Are you really prepared to say that Bush's administrative and personal failures over Katrina make him a "murderer"? Not even the manifest incompetence and blameworthiness of Ray Nagin merit such abuse - by a long shot.

It doesn't inspire confidence to see you playing fast and loose with weighty moral judgments.

roger said...

Paul, I'm just a blogger, man. Who cares about me. Doesn't it hurt you as an American to see this story, to contrast the information we know that the president had and the things that he did and said in the aftermath? Is it in any way defensible?

Do you really think that a president should act like he is a teenager denying that he smashed up the family car?

I think of Bush, now, not in terms of political ideology, but rather as one of those leaders like Marcos in the Phillipines, whose politics become a subset of a vanity monstrously mismatched with his capability -- the latter tending towards the null point, the former tending towards the Caligula point.

Nagin isn't exactly my lodestone here. Rather, it is the experience of Bush before the emergencies (9/11, Katrina) that have beset us. Liar, you would have to grant. There is no way to parse his words to make them even partially truthful. Nullity seems pretty evident to me. As for the culpability that should be accorded to a person in authority who grossly neglects his responsibilities, I'm up in the air about that. You may be right --maybe this is merely a case of manslaughter.

roger said...

PS -- but I did change it to accessory.

One further comment. I can't see how people who support the war -- people like yourself -- can't at least wince when the President is caught lying like this, without blinking, to get himself out of a corner. Since the arguments about the war often revolve around the issue of truth, to have the man who declared it treat take such a maddeningly casual attitude towards truth has bot cast a lot of discredit on the pro-war side. And that he lies about something that is so easily discovered makes it doubly heinous.

Paul craddick said...


Which war - Afghanistan? 'Cause we all know that it was fought to secure that pipeline for Unocal, right?

I'm not sure why you think I didn't/don't whince at the Bush remark - it was thoughtless, undignified, and just plain dumb. However, there are different levels of wrongdoing, and different kinds of lies ... if you mean to insinuate that the Bush lie over Katrina betokens a wider "pattern" that is connected to Iraq and other perfidy - I don't buy it. And I can assure you that a great deal of the "sympathy" I feel for Bush is a function of his assigned role as arch-fiend in Leftist demonology - exceeding exponentially the pathology of Clinton-hatred in the '90's. When the criticism becomes thoughtful and measured, I'll give it due consideration.

And, really - anyone who feels the need to find a scapegoat for Katrina ought to look no further than the Mayor of New Orleans.

Brian Miller said...

Well, Paul. I notice Osama is still out there, the countryside of Afghanistan is descending into (its eternal state) of chaos, we've done little to address then security situation in the Border Provinces of Pakistan (other than dropping bombs on a sovereign "allie's" territory. But, last I'd heard, the contract for the pipeline has been signed.

roger said...

Paul, I don't know why you think I admire the mayor. There have been two good mayors in New Orleans in the last seventy five years -- chip morrison and Ernest Morial.

But the mayor had no power over the kinds of obvious preliminary steps that the department of Homeland Security was supposed to institutionalize.

Now, I thought from the beginning -- and I have the posts to prove it! that the Homeland security department was the stupidest crock to come down the pork highway since, well, star wars. But it did -- and it did on Bush's watch. I truly don't see what vituperation from the left has to do with that. Clinton was vilified by the right, but I vilified him myself for my own reasons, voted against him in 96, and -- though thinking he should never have been impeached -- recognized that there was a grim justice in the law under which he was impeached, the Susan Molinari law, which was a typical example of repressive liberalism, the encroachment into our private lives in the name of "sexual harrassment." The Clinton case was an obvious example of what chaos and injury that law could do, as well as the astonishingly paternalistic assumption that women have sex only when forced into it -- truly mindblowing, if you ask me.

Now, it might be that you don't see any connection between Bush's lie -- and lie it was -- and Iraqi issues. Let's hypothesize there is none, for the moment. Still, because there is a huge, international constituency for thinking that there has been a series of lies, one would think that the strategy to pursue, for the President, is to be prudent about telling lies. In fact, this is why I think in the military they get so uptight about things like an officer wearing a medal to which he doesn't really have any claim -- lies have a tendency to produce chaos.

But anyway... I did change it to accessory, and I admit -- freely -- that Bush beating has become too habitual at LI. There's no art in it anymore. And where there's no art, there's no ardor. I expect Bush to fuck up and everyday, I read the paper and he fucks up. But I also notice that when I write long, complex posts about, say, phantom limbs I get zero comments -- which makes me feel much like a grandfather clock ticking away -- so sometimes I take the easy route.

Patrick J. Mullins said...

Now come clean, Roger dear--you don't want comments for every post. One reads all of them by now, and one is aware one talks too much sometime. So one likes to exercise some reserve not yet seen enough of, evidence lying in and possible to yet behold in some of our erstwhile comments...this leaves some posts pristine and allows others for digging, snarling and snorting (and there is no doubt some danger that may or may not be growing). That should be sufficient, because you cannot always want comments. One does not think you are the type that wants 'Great post.' The point is to be a little nonchalant about responses or no, no?

BC said...

Hi Roger, I've been meaning to find you out here for a while. Nice to see your words again. As to the post, maybe I missed something but... how can you lay responsibility for 9/11 at Bush's door alone? Screw ups he has a plenty and you mention a doozie in Homeland Security. But I think you'd have to ignore a great deal of history to hang 9/11 on Bush.

roger said...

Patrick, of course you are right. On the other hand, I thought - like the Duke in Huckleberry Finn - that if my Schopenhauer posts didn't grab any comments, "I don't know Arkansaw!" And it turns out I don't know Arkansas.

And I'm not quite sure I know Schopenhauer.

BC, hmm. When the Greeks invaded Turkey in 1920, they experienced a modicum of success until the Turkish counterattack not only drove them from their advanced positions but purged them altogether from Asia Minor,subjecting the Greek population that had peacefully lived in Turkey until that time to an enforced, painful exodus. The Greeks then shot their military command after drumhead courtmartials.

Now, the military command was by no means solely responsible for the disaster in Turkey, but they had aggravated the disaster by instances of irresponsibility, leavened with decisions of such irrationality (mitigating circumstances being, perhaps, to be pled in the case of the Greek supreme commander, who was under various probably pathological delusions about his limbs)that the Greek decision was understandable.

Bush was by no means responsible for Mohammed Atta and crew -- but he was responsible on the most elementary level for national security, which entailed responding in a timely and sensible manner when he received information indicating imminent attack. Perhaps he could not have prevented the attack, but -- from the little we know of this subject, since it still seems to be under heavy censorship -- he did little or nothing to make this a debatable counterfactual. In the case of the Greek generals, the disaster for which they were punished derived from crimes of commission -- in Bush's case, the "crime" is one of omission.

I must say, I didn't expect to receive such a response for this post -- it was scribbled in haste and mainly meant to point to the WAPO article.

BC said...

I hadn't planned to go into the Turkey affair. I'm not sure what the circumstances were that precipitated the specific episode you referenced, or if it'd be constructive to delve far enough into them in this context to make any sense out if it. Independant of what bilateral actions precipitated the eventual turn of events back then, it looks like Turkey did what it needed to do for itself there and thereafter. It has seen some tough times since then and may yet again thrive. Let's hope so anyway. There's so much there it'd be a shame otherwise. Ditto for Greece. Though it's hard to say either derives any good from their current state of relations...

Like the Turkish/Greek episode you mention, Iraq and New Orleans are in the books and will reveal themselves only over time as far as what was wise or true.

Looking forward, as one must, what do you think should happen in Iran? What do you think of the results achieved by the EU3?

Anonymous said...

Also do you think I should become a ballerina?