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*** You are here... Real Eyes Day 1 American Nightmare
Real Eyes Day 2 Psychological Element
Real Eyes Day 3 BOOKS : Will they ever trust us again?
Real Eyes Day 4 YOU'RE FIRED...NOT!
Real Eyes 5 Wallow In Chaos, And Laugh
Real Eyes 6 Michael Moore First Thoughts and KERRY WON
Real Eyes 7 The Election 2004 was Hacked!
1 NOVEMBER 2004
1 Day to Go
Bush's presidency has been a historic disaster.
There's still time to rectify his Iraq blunder -- but
first, he has to go.
By Gary Kamiya
"The pure products of America go crazy," wrote
William Carlos Williams.
The words could serve as a motto for the age of Bush.
In years to come historians will likely judge the Bush
presidency one of the worst in the history of the
republic -- an amalgam of arrogance, radicalism and
folly so egregious it's almost laughable.
Abandoning common sense in foreign affairs, weakening
the rule of law, handing the nation's wealth over to
the super-rich, and squandering the friendship and
sympathy of the world in rigid pursuit of a chimerical
dream of a world that cannot threaten us, the Bush
presidency has betrayed the nation's deepest
principles, both liberal and conservative.
Alarmed and outraged, half of a bitterly divided
nation protested, but it did so alone.
Cowed by 9/11 and intimidated by a right-wing media
machine that wielded the flag like a spear, Congress
and the media, the institutions that should have
checked Bush's mad rush to war, abandoned their posts
until it was too late. From its dubious beginning to
its fear-mongering, vote-suppressing end (one hopes),
the Bush era has been a perfect storm in which all the
worst aspects of our national temper -- insularity,
empty swagger and ignorance -- have come together.
Perhaps the most dispiriting aspect of the whole sorry
chapter has been the collapse of national memory and
One outrage follows the next with dreamlike
regularity, lies about aluminum tubes to 9/11
revelations to Ahmed Chalabi to Joseph Wilson to
cooked intel to Abu Ghraib to illegal detentions to
lost explosives, and nothing ever happens, no one is
ever punished, everything is for the best in the best
of all possible six-gun-brandishing worlds.
In an age of reality-TV war, where nothing is asked of
Americans except that they rage and fear on
color-coded command, the death of responsibility
offers a happy ending to all -- except for those
killed in Iraq.
Yes, everything changed after Sept. 11: The country
lost its mind. Heretical as it is to say, the terror
attacks proved that it is possible to overreact --
more specifically, to react foolishly -- to an attack
that left 3,000 dead. Bush launched America upon a
rash and pointless war that is likely to go down in
history as one of the greatest foreign policy
disasters in U.S. history.
The war achieved exactly what it was designed to
prevent: It has strengthened radical Islam and
increased the number of terrorists. The explosives
debacle at Al-Qaqaa perfectly encapsulates this bitter
irony: We invaded Iraq to keep dangerous weapons out
of the hands of terrorists, but the invasion put those
weapons in their hands. In Greek tragedy, this is a
classic punishment for hubris. In "The Twilight Zone,"
it's a favorite plot twist. The Bush presidency has
been a tale out of Aeschylus, adapted by Rod Serling.
AESCHYLUS (c. 525-456 B.C.)
When Bush invaded Afghanistan, the world approved.
That failed state, run by a brutal theocracy that
harbored al-Qaida, was a legitimate state target in
the so-called war on terror. But when Bush expanded
that "war" to include Iraq, he proved himself to be
not a warrior but a crusader -- a zealot who dragged
the nation on a weird, obsessive quest that combined
political calculation, nationalist fervor and
anti-Arab ideology. With tawdry mendacity, that
crusade (Bush actually called it that before advisors
pointed out that the word could have negative
associations in the Middle East) was sold to the
American people as a preemptive act of self-defense,
as Congress rolled over and the media credulously
passed on lies and half-truths from "senior government
officials."The administration and its mouthpieces in
the media shamelessly exploited the fear, patriotism
and anger stirred by the 9/11 terror attacks to stifle
serious debate about the war, painting opponents as
Neville Chamberlains who lacked the backbone to fight
Launched against a regime that posed no more threat
than a host of others around the world, the Iraq war
represented a radically lower standard for what
constitutes a just war. As Eugenia C. Kiesling, a
historian at the U.S. Military Academy, has written,
"The Iraq war ... was caused largely by the U.S.
demand for unrealistically absolute security. Not
since the Romans has any polity justified preventive
wars on the grounds that no military threat be
permitted to exist." It was a gratuitous war, a
strategic aggression whose grandiose goals --
democratizing the Middle East, resolving the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, defeating "terrorism" --
were bizarrely disconnected from reality.
The results of that bungled war have been
catastrophic. Yes, we removed a loathsome dictator, a
feat worthy of celebration, but the mountain of Iraqi
bodies we are piling up in the process is growing so
high -- a reliable study claims 100,000 civilians have
been killed in the war -- and the future of that
tortured land so dark, that it is no longer clear
whether the invasion will ultimately be morally
justifiable. (In the context of a war now justified as
a liberation, the administration's refusal to count
civilian Iraqi casualties is disgraceful.) Even if
Iraq staggers its way through and manages to establish
some form of democratic governance, the United States
will not be seen as a liberator. Too much Iraqi blood
has been shed.
In any case, assessing the morality of this war
requires looking beyond the fate of the Iraqis -- a
fact overlooked by the liberal hawks, intoxicated by
the rare sensation of playing John Wayne in a fight
with the bad guys. A nation's first responsibility is
to its own citizens. The price for saving Iraq -- if
in fact we end up saving it and not destroying it --
has been to greatly strengthen radical Islam around
the world, end the lives of more than a thousand
Americans, and make America, and the rest of the
world, less safe. That is not a price worth paying.
And what of Bush's Utopian dream of transforming the
Middle East? Making war, it turns out, is a highly
problematic way of bringing heaven to earth.
The Iraq blunder has endangered America not just
because we have exponentially multiplied the number of
Muslims and Arabs willing to take up the sword of
jihad against us -- and given them a convenient failed
state to work with -- but also because we have
weakened our standing in the world. By declaring
ourselves exempt from irritating encumbrances like the
United Nations and the Geneva Convention, Bush has
essentially embraced the law of the jungle. Might
makes right: If the U.S. government says someone is an
"enemy combatant," whether or not there is any
evidence to support that claim, then he is one, and he
has no rights. If the secretary of defense and the
administration's top legal advisors decide it's
acceptable to use torture to break "terrorists," we
will. (If they turn out not to be terrorists, but
common criminals or innocent civilians, too bad for
them.) The widespread torture of Iraqi prisoners and
the suspension of due process at Guantánamo are dual
blots on our national honor that may take generations
Of all the shameful episodes that have marked the "war
on terror," one of the worst -- and least protested --
has been the administration's tacit admission that
they had no case, and never had a case, against most
of the Guantánamo detainees. Once the Supreme Court
ruled against the administration's claim that it had
the right to do whatever it wanted with the detainees,
it quietly folded its hand and began preparing to
release them. Thus ended the Salem witch trials, not
with a bang but a whimper.
From its insistence on cutting taxes for the rich in
the middle of a war to its ugly environmental record
to its hostility to science to its corruption of the
intelligence community to its stealth assault on
abortion rights, the Bush presidency has been an
unmitigated disaster. But the inescapable subject is
Iraq. Bush's decision to invade Iraq was not only the
defining event of his presidency, but a hinge in time
-- an event so momentous that history arranges itself
The administration justified the war as a necessary
strike against Islamic terrorism. Its mantra is "9/11
changed everything": The horrific image of the twin
towers falling is the Bush administration's visceral
trump card. If Bush regains the White House, it will
be because he has succeeded in convincing enough
Americans that, as he argued in the debates, the best
way to defeat terrorism is to take the fight to "the
terrorists," and that he alone, not the vacillating
Kerry, has the guts to do that.
In the eyes of Bush and his supporters, the "war on
terror" requires simplicity, not complexity; courage,
not brains; patriotism, not alliance-building. For
them, 9/11/01 was really 9/1/39; the planes hitting
the towers were the Nazis invading Poland. You don't
think about the meaning of the Panzers, you react to
them, hard and ruthlessly, across the board. Anyone
who dreams that there is any alternative to a fight to
the finish is a woolly-headed idealist. The hatred of
the terrorists for us is implacable, metaphysical, as
unchangeable as that felt by the Muslims for the
Crusaders. Any sign of weakness on our part encourages
them in their single-minded pursuit of our
destruction. The terrorists hope for a Kerry victory
because he's weak. They fear Bush because he will
smash them in the mouth and keep smashing until
they're all dead.
In the aftermath of 9/11, this view of "the
terrorists" (a group never clearly defined) dominated
the public discourse. It was aggressively promulgated
by the White House and assented to by Congress and the
media, both liberal and conservative. To question it
was to risk being denounced as an appeaser, even a
fifth columnist. The belief that it represented
mainstream American thinking was why wavering
Democrats signed off on the resolution giving Bush the
power to invade. And even now, after Iraq has become a
bloody quagmire, this view is held by most Americans
who support Bush.
There are powerful reasons for its popularity. It
appeals to primordial instincts -- self-preservation,
anger, revenge, patriotism. It derives its power from
a hypnotic and inescapable image, like a hideous Tarot
card that turns up again and again: the apocalyptic
vision of the towers collapsing. And there are
elements of truth in its assessment of the enemy.
There are indeed fanatical Islamists whose hatred of
America, although it may have had political origins,
has become essentially religious, i.e. absolute. They
cannot be reasoned with; they must be fought.
But this analysis is profoundly and dangerously
mistaken. It is based on a misreading of the
Arab-Muslim world. In its high-minded guise it posits
a reified Islam, monolithic in its theocratic piety,
reflexively opposed to modernity and democracy. In its
vulgar form it is historically ignorant and racist.
And it is frequently, though not necessarily,
associated with either a deep-seated pro-Israeli bias
or a triumphalist belief in America's mission
civilisatrice, or both. In the case of the Bush
administration, emphatically both.
Above all, it is a view that is driven by emotion, not
thought -- in fact, it's positively hostile to
thought. It reached its reductio ad absurdum in
conservative columnist David Brooks' Saturday column
in the New York Times, in which he argued that Bush
was a better choice to lead the "War on Terror" than
Kerry because Bush really, really hated bin Laden --
hated him so much, Brooks notes approvingly, that he
was "consumed" by hatred. Brooks and his ilk would do
well to go to more fights. Fighters consumed by
hatred, who throw wild haymakers, are inevitably cut
down by fighters who know how to box. Brooks and his
hate-filled hero could take some lessons from Muhammad
The very phrase "war on terror" betrays the extremist
ideology that has driven the Bush administration. This
is not a war against al-Qaida, or against a specific
group of terrorists: This is a war against terror. But
"terror" is not an enemy; it is a tactic. What Bush is
waging war on is not the tactic of terrorism, which as
all students of military history know cannot be
defeated, but evil itself -- and not just any evil,
but Arab-Muslim evil. The "war on terror" is really
the "war on Arab-Muslim evil." Bush is too discreet to
call it that, but the more fervent of his supporters
have no such problem: Neoconservative godfather
Richard Perle and former Bush speechwriter David Frum
titled their frightening book (in which, among other
modest proposals, they advocate that Israel annex the
West Bank and the United States invade Iran and Syria)
"An End to Evil."
For the Bush administration, there's no evil like
Arab-Muslim evil. It pays lip service to the
junior-varsity version found in North Korea, but its
heart isn't in it. The Middle East is the bull's-eye
of evil. Bush persistently insisted that Saddam
Hussein and Osama bin Laden were connected even though
they had no relationship and loathed each other:
They're both evil, and they're both Muslims. Ergo,
they're both equal representatives of Muslim evil, and
both must be destroyed.
For obvious reasons, this view of the Middle East is
profoundly informed by the Bush administration's
passionately and unprecedentedly pro-Israel stance,
which Bush announced to a baffled National Security
Council at his first meeting. ("Sometimes a show of
force by one side can really clarify things," Bush
said, explaining why he was going to let Sharon do
whatever he wanted.) The Iraq war was not fought "for"
Israel, although removing a threat to Israel's
existence and weakening the Palestinians were seen as
important benefits. But the administration's mind-set
simply assumed that America's interests and Israel's
are identical -- an obviously false position that
became much easier to sell to the American people
after 9/11, and that was aided by the taboo against
raising any criticism of Israel. Bush and his
policymakers saw the Israeli-Palestinian conflict not
as an asymmetrical war driven by issues but as a
battle between Israeli good and Palestinian evil. And
that moralistic, ahistorical assessment carried over
into their views of the Arab and Muslim world, and
clearly informed the decision to invade Iraq.
To this day, to raise the inconvenient fact that the
Arab and Muslim world have legitimate historical
grievances against the U.S. -- even though no
grievance, however great, could justify 9/11 -- is to
invite charges of appeasement, if not treason. Yet it
is precisely a knowledge of history, and a lucid
analysis of its consequences, that is called for now.
We are dealing not just with one individual and his
followers, but with a region and a deeply religious
culture that has boiled over, and boiled over in such
a horrific way that it is understandable that many
Americans have followed Bush in seeing that region and
that culture as evil, fanatical, and medieval. Osama
bin Laden is surely all those things, and he and his
followers must be captured or killed. But the larger
Arab world, which shares his grievances, is not merely
fanatical or medieval. It has real and just
grievances, which we must try to understand and, if
possible, ameliorate. The Iraq war has done precisely
To be sure, the Arab world desperately needs to clean
its own house. The 2003 Arab Human Development Report
-- a far more important document than any bin Laden
video or disgusting, blasphemous snuff film hawked on
the streets of Baghdad -- points out that the region
is economically backward, politically unfree, poorly
educated, and repressive towards women. With
commendable honesty, the 26 Arab scholars who authored
the report refuse to blame the West -- the region's
favorite whipping-boy -- for these shortcomings. And
these factors -- and some perhaps having to do with
Islam itself, a religion "programmed for victory," as
the scholar Malise Ruthven has noted -- help to
explain the virulence of Muslim rage.
But they don't explain all of it. There are real,
legitimate issues that have brought Arab and Muslim
blood to a boil, and that explain why even pleasant
taxi drivers and shopkeepers in Lebanon or Egypt, who
denounce 9/11 as appalling and contrary to Islam,
still say they understand it. Unfortunately, those
issues cannot be honestly or fully raised in America's
political dialogue, because they all ultimately circle
back to a single subject: The Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. And that subject is a third rail. No major
American politician, and few journalists, dare touch
it. It is the elephant in the room that everyone has
This is not just a bizarre situation, it is a
dangerous one. We are locked in a struggle whose
stakes are incalculably high -- not because any Arab
or Muslim state could ever threaten us militarily, but
because if we continue on the course we are now on,
which is to essentially make the United States
indistinguishable from Israel in Arab and Muslim eyes,
we will end up living in their nightmare, a fortress
nation surrounded by a sea of hatred. Which I'm sure
is not a fate that any of my Israeli or Palestinian
friends would wish on their worst enemy. This is our
situation -- and yet we cannot discuss the single
issue that is most critical to resolving it.
Certain aberrations in a nation's behavior can be
explained only by ideological conviction. The ideology
that inspired Bush's bizarre Iraq adventure, indeed
his entire "war on terror," is a specific view of the
Arab-Muslim world, one deeply informed by both an
unreflective, stark, almost Biblical response to 9/11
and by an extreme pro-Israeli bias. It finds its
scholarly _expression in the work of Bernard Lewis,
employs tactics that mirror those of the hard-line
Revisionist Zionist Vladimir Jabotinsky, and was put
into practice by a peculiar group consisting of
unreconstructed Cold Warriors, cynical political
Machiavels, idealistic-unto-blindness liberals,
hardcore supporters of Israel's Likud Party and
born-again Christians. Although few Middle East
experts or academics subscribe to it, its
bumper-sticker simplicity has made it easy to sell to
an angry and uninformed public.
This view can be summarized thus: The Islamic world is
enraged at America and the West not because of
American foreign policy, namely, our complicity with
Israel in its 37-year occupation of Palestinian land
and our oil-driven coziness with various Arab despots
(whose number once included none other than Saddam
Hussein), but because of what Bernard Lewis called "a
feeling of humiliation -- a growing awareness, among
the heirs of an old, proud, and long dominant
civilization, of having been overtaken, overborne, and
overwhelmed by those whom they regarded as their
inferiors." Muslims hate America because our very
existence is a constant reminder to them that they
have failed. Unable to deal constructively with their
shortcomings, in large part because Islam has been
historically antithetical to secular pursuits like
science, the Muslim world turns on the West and seeks
to lay it low. Nietzschean ressentiment smashed the
airplanes into the twin towers.
What should America do, faced with an enemy whose only
"grievance" is our very existence? (Or, to cite Bush's
dumbed-down, flag-waving version: "They hate our
freedom.") Here Lewis' views dovetail with those of
Vladimir Jabotinsky, pre-state leader of Revisionist
Zionism and the intellectual father of Israel's Likud
Party. Jabotinsky believed that the only way to deal
with the Arabs -- whose nationalism he in fact
respected -- was with force. Jabotinsky famously
advocated building an "Iron Wall" between Jews and
Arabs. In similar fashion, Lewis argued that radical
Muslims had come to regard the United States as a
paper tiger and that only brute force would get their
(Hesitant pro-war liberal Thomas L. Friedman, probably
the most widely read American commentator on the
Middle East in the world, made the same argument
before the war, although he added that it was
essential that the United States also nurture Arab
moderates and broker a fair Israeli-Palestinian peace
deal. Friedman is bitterly disillusioned with the Bush
administration, which does not explain why he ever had
any illusions about it in the first place, or why he
was willing to roll the dice on a war that stood a
high chance of catastrophic failure even if America
had done everything right.)
Not surprisingly, Lewis urged the United States to
invade Iraq, where he said U.S. troops would be
greeted as liberators. Also not surprisingly, Lewis'
views were extraordinarily influential with the Bush
administration, which invited him to speak at the
White House. The Wall Street Journal wrote that "the
Lewis doctrine, in effect, had become U.S. policy." As
one of the world's eminent scholars of Islam, he
provided opinions that gave intellectual
respectability to the Bush administration
neoconservatives and Cold Warriors who pushed the Iraq
Like most grand theories, Lewis' contains considerable
truth. Arab-Muslim backwardness, coupled with
religious fervor, can indeed lead to a sense of
murderous humiliation. Religion plays a far larger
role in civic life in Muslim countries than it does in
the West (ironically, Bush is doing his best to
reverse that trend), and under the right set of
circumstances, passions that might have been channeled
into secular pursuits can only find outlets in holy
rage. The burning anger of Sayyid Qutb, the father of
modern Islamism, derived from his pious horror at what
he perceived as the decadence of 20th century America.
(In addition to being outraged by America's loose
sexual mores and spiritual vacuity, he was also
troubled by the attention that the residents of
Greeley, Colo., paid to their lawns.) It was not just
the Israeli-Palestinian crisis (and, he now says, the
Israeli bombing of Beirut) but the presence of infidel
American forces on the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia,
home of the Prophet, that pushed Osama bin Laden to
order the 9/11 attacks. To deny that there is an
element of the "clash of civilizations" -- the term
was originally coined by Lewis, not Samuel Huntington
-- in the confrontation between Islamists and America
would be myopic.
But Lewis' view is fatally flawed, because it
radically underestimates the importance of history.
His Islam is a medieval world preserved in amber,
outside of time. In the dialectic between nature and
nurture, it's all nature, no nurture. Religion and
"civilization" are absolute; the West's long and
sordid history of colonizing and exploiting the Middle
East, and its responsibility for open wounds like the
Palestinian tragedy, are downplayed. His optimism
about the aftermath of the invasion was a logical
consequence of these views.
Lewis' message was what the Bush administration wanted
to hear. And just as it has ignored critical voices on
any of its policies -- Bush and Karl Rove decided
early on that a pose of Papal Infallibility worked
best -- it ignored the numerous dissenting voices that
warned of trouble ahead.
One of the most eloquent of those voices was that of
Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian-American scholar who
wrote a valuable book titled "Resurrecting Empire"
around the time of the invasion. Khalidi points out
that the caricature of Islam as antithetical to
democracy betrays historical ignorance of the many
pioneering Middle Eastern experiments with democracy
-- which, he adds, were persistently undermined by
He also reminds Americans that people in the Middle
East have a long memory. The British rulers (who, like
the Americans, claimed they just wanted to "liberate"
the Iraqis) were able to put down an Iraqi revolt in
the 1920s only by an intense aerial bombing of
civilians. Iraqis have not forgotten this. Khalidi
also pointed out the obvious fact that nationalism, a
word banished from discussions of post-invasion Iraq
because it didn't fit the uplifting "liberation"
paradigm, would be inspired by an invasion. In short,
Khalidi's argument is that it was historically naive
for the United States, even assuming its intentions
were pure, to discount the region's painful,
historically recent experience of Western "liberators"
in judging how it would be greeted.
Some of the most influential pro-war voices also
sounded alarms. Thomas Friedman, to his credit, warned
U.S. policymakers that if they wanted to win the war,
not just the battle, they would not only have to pour
massive resources into rebuilding Iraq, they would
also have to take an active, good-faith role in
resolving the Palestine-Israel crisis. Kenneth
Pollack, whose "Threatening Storm" was the least
ideological and most convincing book advocating war
(he has since apologized, saying -- not completely
convincingly -- that he based his call to arms on
"faulty intelligence"), hedged his pro-war arguments
by warning that the postwar period would be more
difficult than the war and that a massive U.S. troop
presence would be needed for success.
But the Bush administration ignored all of those
warnings. Drunk on ideology, it saw an opportunity to
run the table -- rearrange the Middle East to Israel's
advantage, remove a dangerous regional despot who they
imagined threatened America, put the fear of God into
the Saudis, Iranians and Syrians, open the spigots to
Iraqi oil on favorable terms, create new American
military bases in the Middle East, and in the mystical
ways discussed above somehow scare terrorists into
submission -- all while assuring Bush's reelection by
picking up evangelical and Jewish votes and turning
him into a war president, George of Baghdad. And so it
launched the most momentous war in half a century
based on bogus intelligence provided by a wily con
man, with grossly inadequate troop levels, no postwar
planning, and only one significant ally. We know the
If it was the Bush administration's secret desire to
turn America into Israel in the eyes of the Arab and
Muslim world, it has gone a long way to succeeding. A
devastating recent poll shows a precipitous decline in
America's popularity in the Arab world: Even in
moderate countries like Jordan and Morocco, Osama bin
Laden is more popular than Bush, and majorities in
both countries said suicide bombing against U.S.
troops in Iraq was justifiable. The aerial bombardment
of Fallujah last spring was not seen by the Arab world
as a liberating blow against terrorists but as the
American equivalent of Israeli strikes against
Palestinian cities. The new U.S. use of targeted
assassinations, a tactic employed by the Israelis but
one we had always rejected before, has only
strengthened the association.
Not surprisingly, jihad is on the rise. European
Muslims are now making their way to Iraq to fight. And
things seem likely to get worse. This is the Bush
legacy, whether he wins or loses on Election Day.
The terrorists who hit America on Sept. 11 were filled
with religious clarity. And in another perverse
historical irony, they passed that clarity on to Bush.
A floundering president suddenly found his mission,
handed down by God. I am not, of course, equating the
actions of Mohamed Atta with those of Bush. But there
are reasons to be as suspicious of the president's
divine clarity as of the hijacker's. By launching his
own crusade against bin Laden's, Bush allowed the
fight to take place on the terrorist's terms. It was
not a wise idea.
If John Kerry is elected president, he will have to
clean up a disastrous mess. The first question, of
course, is what to do about Iraq. The likelihood that
free, fair and general elections will take place as
planned next year grows fainter by the day, which
raises the question: At what point should the United
States decide that its mere presence in the country is
harming the Iraqi people and their future more than
its absence? There is no way to answer that question.
But it must be asked.
The second issue is the Israeli-Palestinian crisis,
which Bush has simply handed over to Ariel Sharon and
his extremist counterparts on the Palestinian side.
America's eyes are understandably fixed on Iraq, but
what happens in Ramallah and Jerusalem is just as
important to America's security as what happens in
Ramadi. Indeed, the Iraq debacle, and the attendant
rise in anti-American rage, has only made resolving
the Israeli-Palestinian crisis more urgent. Sharon's
Gaza disengagement plan could hold promise, but only
if he is prevented from trading Gaza for the West
Bank, effectively locking the Palestinians up in
Bantustans -- a policy that his top aide recently
acknowledged, indeed bragged about. The precarious
state of Yasser Arafat's health also demands that
America immediately act: Post-Arafat, the Palestinian
leadership could degenerate into even worse anarchy
than now threatens it. Without a real political plan,
the two-state solution, already endangered, would
become impossible. And that outcome would be
disastrous for Israel, for the Palestinians, and for
It is still possible to rectify Bush's mistakes. It is
not too late to restore America's standing in the
world in general, and the Arab world in particular.
But time is running out. And first of all, he must be
removed from an office he has proven manifestly
incompetent to hold. It is hard to believe, at this
point, that even those who subscribe to Bush's
ideology could possibly vote for him.
A pious, foolish and poorly educated man, surrounded
by zealots and knaves, dreamed of smiting the
evildoers, but instead put a sword into their hands.
He imagined that by invading a state in the heart of
the Arab world, he would cut through the Gordian knot,
but he entangled his army in writhing coils. He
fantasized that an all-powerful America would stand
atop a grateful world, but he made his nation despised
everywhere, and particularly in the one region of the
world where it is most important that we not be
despised. This is the world Bush left us. We must make
a new one.
About the writer
Gary Kamiya is Salon's executive editor.
Ugly, Tasteless, Terrifying and Wild... Count Me In!
He's been America's most unorthodox political
commentator for more than 30 years. But for Dr Hunter
S Thompson the Bush presidency is evil beyond belief -
and judgment is nigh
by Hunter S. Thompson
The genetically vicious nature of presidential
campaigns in America is too obvious to argue with, but
some people call it fun, and I am one of them.
Election day - especially when it's a presidential
election - is always a wild and terrifying time for
politics junkies, and I am one of those, too. We look
forward to major election days like sex addicts look
forward to orgies. We are slaves to them.
Which is not a bad thing, all in all, for the winners.
They are not the ones who bitch and whine about
slavery when the votes are finally counted and the
losers are forced to get down on their knees. No. The
slaves who emerge victorious from these drastic public
decisions go crazy with joy and plunge each other into
deep tubs of chilled Cristal champagne with naked
strangers who want to be close to a winner.
That is how it works in the victory business. You see
it every time. The weak suck up to the strong, for
fear of losing their jobs and money and all the fickle
power they wielded only 24 hours ago. It is like
suddenly losing your wife and your home in a vagrant
poker game, then having to go on the road with
whoremongers and beg for your dinner in public. Nobody
wants to hire a loser. Right? They stink of doom and
"What is that horrible smell in the office, Tex? It's
making me sick."
"That is the smell of a loser, senator. He came in to
apply for a job, but we tossed him out immediately.
Sgt Sloat took him down to the parking lot and taught
him a lesson he will never forget."
"Good work, Tex. And how are you coming with my new
enemies list? I want them all locked up. They are
"We will punish them brutally. They are terrorist
sympathizers, and most of them voted against you. I
hate those bastards."
"Thank you, Sloat. You are a faithful servant. Come
over here and kneel down. I want to reward you."
That is the nature of high-risk politics. Veni, vidi,
vici, especially among Republicans. It's like the
ancient Bedouin saying: "As the camel falls to its
knees, more knives are drawn."
Presidential politics is a vicious business, even for
rich white men, and anybody who gets into it should be
prepared to grapple with the meanest of the mean. The
White House has never been seized by timid warriors.
There are no rules, and the roadside is littered with
wreckage. That is why they call it the passing lane.
Just ask any candidate who ever ran against George
Bush - Al Gore, Ann Richards, John McCain - all of
them ambushed and vanquished by lies and dirty tricks.
And all of them still whining about it.
That is why George W Bush is President of the United
States, and Al Gore is not. Bush simply wanted it
more, and he was willing to demolish anything that got
in his way, including the US Supreme Court. It is not
by accident that the Bush White House (read: Dick
Cheney & Halliburton Inc) controls all three branches
of our federal government today. They are powerful
thugs who would far rather die than lose the election
The Republican establishment is haunted by painful
memories of what happened to Old Man Bush in 1992. He
peaked too early, and he had no response to "It's the
economy, stupid." Which has always been the case.
Every GOP administration since 1952 has let the
Military-Industrial Complex loot the Treasury and
plunge the nation into debt on the excuse of a wartime
economic emergency. Richard Nixon comes quickly to
mind, along with Ronald Reagan and his ridiculous
"trickle-down" theory of US economic policy. If the
rich get richer, the theory goes, before long their
pots will overflow and somehow "trickle down" to the
poor, who would rather eat scraps off the Bush family
plates than eat nothing at all.
Republicans have never approved of democracy, and they
It goes back to pre-industrial America, when only
white male property owners could vote.
Things haven't changed much where George W Bush comes
from. Houston is a cruel, crazy town on a filthy river
in East Texas with no zoning laws and a culture of
sex, money and violence. It's a shabby, sprawling
metropolis ruled by brazen women, crooked cops and
super-rich pansexual cowboys who live by the code of
the West - which can mean just about anything you need
it to mean, in a pinch.
Houston is also the unnatural home of two out of the
last three presidents of the United States of America,
for good or ill. The other one was a handsome,
sex-crazed boy from next-door Arkansas, which has no
laws against any deviant practice not specifically
forbidden in the New Testament, including anal incest
and public cunnilingus with farm animals.
Back in 1948, during his first race for the US Senate,
Lyndon Johnson was running about 10 points behind,
with only nine days to go. He was desperate. And it
was just before noon on a Monday, they say, when he
called his equally depressed campaign manager and told
him to call a press conference for just before lunch
on a slow news day and accuse his high-riding
opponent, a pig farmer, of having routine carnal
knowledge of his sows, despite the pleas of his wife
His campaign manager was shocked. "We can't say that,
Lyndon," he supposedly said. "You know that it isn't
"Of course it's not!" Johnson barked. "But let's make
the bastard deny it!"
Johnson - a Democrat, like Bill Clinton - won that
election by fewer than 100 votes, and after that he
was home free. He went on to rule Texas and the US
Senate for 20 years and to be the most powerful vice
president in the history of the United States. Until
Armageddon came early for George Bush this year, and
he was not ready for it. His long-awaited showdowns
with John Kerry turned into a series of embarrassments
that broke his nerve and demoralized his closest
campaign advisers. They knew he would never recover,
no matter how many votes they could steal for him in
Florida, where the presidential debates were closely
watched and widely celebrated by millions of Kerry
supporters who suddenly had reason to feel like
Kerry came into October as a five-point underdog with
almost no chance of winning three out of three rigged
confrontations with a treacherous little freak like
George Bush. But the debates are over now, and the
victor was John Kerry every time. He steamrollered
Bush and left him for roadkill.
Did you see Bush on TV, trying to debate? Jesus, he
talked like a donkey with no brains at all. The tide
turned early, in Coral Gables, when Bush went belly up
less than halfway through his first bout with Kerry,
who hammered poor George into jelly. It was pitiful...
I almost felt sorry for him, until I heard someone
call him "Mister President", and then I felt ashamed.
Karl Rove, the President's political wizard, felt even
worse. There is angst in the heart of Texas today, and
panic in the bowels of the White House. Rove has a
nasty little problem, and its name is George Bush. The
president failed miserably from the instant he got
onstage with John Kerry. He looked weak and dumb.
Kerry beat him like a gong in Coral Gables, then again
in St Louis and Tempe. That is Rove's problem. His
candidate is a weak-minded frat boy who cracks under
pressure in front of 60 million voters.
Bush signed his own death warrant in the opening
round, when he finally had to speak without his
teleprompter. It was a Cinderella story brought up to
date in Florida that night - except this time, the
false prince turned back into a frog.
Immediately after the first debate ended, I called
Muhammad Ali at his home in Michigan, but whoever
answered said the champ was laughing so hard that he
couldn't come to the phone. "The debate really cracked
him up," he chuckled. "The champ loves a good
ass-whuppin'. He says Bush looked so scared to fight,
he finally just quit and laid down."
This year's first presidential debate was such a
disaster for George Bush that his handlers had to be
crazy to let him get in the ring with John Kerry
again. Yet Karl Rove let it happen, and we can only
wonder why. But there is no doubt that the president
has lost his nerve, and his career in the White House
is finished. No mas.
Indeed. The numbers are weird today, and so is this
dangerous election. The time has come to rumble, to
inject a bit of fun into politics. That's exactly what
the debates did. John Kerry looked like a winner, and
it energized his troops. Voting for Kerry is starting
to look like serious fun for everyone except poor
George, who now looks like a loser. That is fatal in a
I look at elections with the cool and dispassionate
gaze of a professional gambler, especially when I'm
betting real money on the outcome. Contrary to most
conventional wisdom, I see Kerry with five points as a
recommended risk. Kerry will win this election, if it
happens, by a bigger margin than Bush finally gouged
out of Florida in 2000. That was about 46 per cent,
plus five points for owning the US Supreme Court -
which seemed to equal 51 per cent. Nobody really
believed that, but George W Bush moved into the White
It was the most brutal seizure of power since Hitler
burned the Reichstag in 1933 and declared himself the
new boss of Germany. Karl Rove is no stranger to Nazi
strategy, if only because it worked for a while, and
it was sure fun for Hitler. But not for long. He ran
out of oil, the whole world hated him, and he liked to
gobble pure crystal biphetamine and stay awake for
eight days in a row with his maps and bombers and his
dope-addled general staff.
They all loved the whiff. It is the perfect drug for
war, as long as you are winning, and Hitler thought he
was king of the hill forever. He had created a new
master race, and every one of them worshipped him.
They were fanatics. That was 66 years ago, and things
are not much different today. We still love war.
George Bush certainly does. In four short years he has
turned our country from a prosperous nation at peace
into a desperately indebted nation at war. But so
what? He is the President of the United States, and
you're not. Love it or leave it.
BULLETIN: KERRY WINS GONZO ENDORSEMENT; DR THOMPSON
JOINS DEMOCRAT IN CALLING BUSH "THE SYPHILIS
"Four more years of George Bush will be like four more
years of syphilis," the famed author said yesterday at
a hastily called press conference near his home in
Woody Creek, Colorado.
"Only a fool or a sucker would vote for a dangerous
loser like Bush. He hates everything we stand for, and
he knows we will vote against him in November."
Thompson, well known for the eerie accuracy of his
political instincts, went on to denounce Ralph Nader
as "a worthless Judas goat with no moral compass."
"I endorsed John Kerry a long time ago," he said, "and
I will do everything in my power, short of roaming the
streets with a meat hammer, to help him be the next
president of the United States."
Which is true. I said all those things, and I will say
them again. Of course I will vote for John Kerry. I
have known him for 30 years as a good man with a brave
heart - which is more than even the President's
friends will tell you about George W Bush, who is also
an old acquaintance from the white-knuckle days of
yesteryear. He is hated all over the world, including
large parts of Texas, and he is taking us all down
with him. Bush is a natural-born loser with a
filthy-rich daddy who pimped his son out to rich
oil-mongers. He hates music, football and sex, and he
is no fun at all.
I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, but I won't make that
mistake again. The joke is over for Nader. He was
funny once, but now he belongs to the dead. Nader is a
fool, as is anybody who votes for him in November -
with the obvious exception of professional Republicans
who have paid big money to turn him into a
world-famous Judas goat. Nader is so desperate that
he's paying homeless people to gather signatures to
get him on the ballot. In Pennsylvania, the petitions
he submitted contained tens of thousands of phony
signatures, including Fred Flintstone, Mickey Mouse
and John Kerry. A judge dumped Ralph from the ballot
there, calling it "the most deceitful and fraudulent
exercise ever perpetrated upon this court".
But they will keep his name on the ballot in the
long-suffering Hurricane State, which is ruled by the
President's younger brother, Jeb, who also wants to be
the next president of the United States. In 2000, when
they sent Jim Baker to Florida, I knew it was all
over. In that election, 97,488 people voted for Nader
in Florida, and Gore lost the state by 537 votes. You
don't have to be from Texas to understand the moral of
that story. It's like being out-coached in the Super
Bowl. Only losers play fair, and all winners have
blood on their hands.
Back in June, when John Kerry was beginning to feel
like a winner, we had a quick rendezvous on a
rain-soaked runway in Aspen, Colorado, where he was
scheduled to meet a harem of wealthy campaign
contributors. I told him that Bush's vicious goons in
the White House are perfectly capable of assassinating
Nader and blaming it on him. His staff laughed, but
the Secret Service men didn't. Kerry suggested I might
make a good running mate, and we reminisced about
trying to end the Vietnam War in 1972.
That was the year I first met him, at a riot on that
elegant little street in front of the White House. He
was yelling into a bullhorn and I was trying to throw
a dead rat over a black-spike fence and on to the
President's lawn. We were angry and righteous in those
days, and there were millions of us. We kicked two
chief executives out because they were stupid
We conquered Lyndon Johnson and we stomped on Richard
Nixon - which wise people said was impossible, but so
what? It was fun. We were warriors then, and our tribe
was strong like a river.
That river is still running. All we have to do is get
out and vote, while it's still legal, and we will wash
those crooked warmongers out of the White House.
Real Eyes Day 4 YOU'RE FIRED...NOT!