May 15, 2004

The Face of Failure

I think it was Bette Davis who said, "When you're 20 you have the face God gave you. When you are 60 you get the face you deserve." The picture on the front page of Friday's New York Times (and must be the most "in character" image of Rumsfeld yet to appear. And it would appear to represent graphically the evolution of the man himself. It is the most spiteful, malevolent scowl I recall ever seeing on an unretouched photo. If you haven't seen it, make an effort to get hold of the thing and look very closely.

In the picture Rumsfeld is only one figure of many in a procession across what appears to be a dirt road in Iraq. He's surrounded by what appear to be hundreds of soldiers and apparent civilians. But front and center-left (oddly enough) is Don the man, in his black suit, with brown boots, striding defiantly down the street, fists clenched, lips pursed into a large pink carnivorous flower, his nostrils pulled up in a snarl and his brow clenched tight like a fist, eyes like flametorches of hate. He looks like a character from a Popeye cartoon.

From looking at the photo, you could just about believe Rummy could take on the whole population of Iraq, singlehandedly, like Stallone or Schwarzenegger, and dispatch them all in a matter of moments, without even mussing his hair. Go Rummy! He's so full of hate I wouldn't be surprised to see him suddenly just dissolve. (The picture is online at, and that version has been cropped so Rummy appears on the right, where he belongs.)

Are there going to be more atrocities? Yes, there are. Are there going to be more colossal miscalculations? You bet! Is American spinning utterly out of control? You got that right, Charlie! It's Rummy talking to himself again. Recombining the same 250-word vocabulary he's been repeating for the last few years, with a few new concepts added. Like failure, for example. Even Rummy has to now acknowledge that the Iraq project is a failure. A new project is required, but the administration has no idea what it is.

They've got to be getting to the point where retirement is looking pretty good to them. Bush used to talk like he really wouldn't mind giving it all up and going back to Texas. Of course it was just part of his phony Texan act, but he may be reaching a point now where it's no longer theater. He's got to be getting pretty fed up with being responsible for all these catastrophes.

Does he ever look at Cheney and wail, "Dick, what have you got us into!?" He can say whatever Karl Rove tells him too, but he's got to know in his private self that he's got no one to blame but himself. Mr. Commander in Chief. The President. That's the good thing about being president, he once told a reporter, you don't have to listen to anyone, you just do what you want. But now he may be wishing someone had restrained some of his impulses.

Right after he stole the election he said, "It would be a heckuva lot easier if it was a dictatorship." But in the end, a little checks and balances would probably have been good for Bush too. Now look at what a pickle he's gotten himself into.

And in the news...

  • Rumsfeld Signals Uncertainty About the Outcome in Iraq. Now even he concedes he does not know where all this is going. Billings Gazette
  • The Berg Mystery Broadens The Berg story, like so many others during the Bush years, exceeds the imaginations of the most ardent demonizers of the Bush administration. Here are a few intriguing links.
  • Though this is a zealously pro-Bush article, it still questions the official Berg story, at
  • The Mosul police chief denies arresting Berg. "In Mosul, police chief Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair al-Barhawi insisted his department had never arrested Berg and said he had no knowledge of the case. ''The Iraqi police never arrested the slain American,'' al-Barhawi told reporters. ''Take it from me ... that such reports are baseless.'' See Boston Globe, also see the USA Today version.
  • Mysterious Last Days, Star Ledger
  • KC Star on Berg's Strange Ways
  • Strange report headlined "CIA: Al-Zarqawi decapitated Berg" subtitled "Family e-mails quote U.S. official as saying Berg was in U.S. custody" and talking about questions that are unresolved and "In an odd twist, it also emerged Thursday that the FBI questioned Berg in 2002 about an e-mail address traced to him that was used by an acquintance of terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui. Investigators concluded that Berg had nothing to do with Moussaoui." Watch out for those "odd twist"s.
  • The View from Australia. heraldsun
  • "Fishy Circumstances and Flawed Timelines"Smoke Signals Communications.
  • The Chicago Tribune reports that "The Highland Park couple that founded the precursor to Air America Radio before selling most of it to a group of investors are in negotiations to gain control of the troubled liberal talk network, sources said Thursday."

    May 16, 2004

  • Rumsfeld ordered the torture, says Seymour Hersh at the New Yorker.
  • America Adrift in Iraq. "At times, the only unifying theme for Washington's policies seems to be desperation." New York Times

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