Monday, February 1, 2010



UPDATE below.

* One thing that really bothers me in our political discourse is that people in favor of more US military action abroad treat it as self-evident that the troop surge "worked" in Iraq. Yes, conditions did improve, at least in the short run after the surge, and the predictions of some of the most pessimistic critics were wrong. But Iraq is hardly an example of a successful US liberation effort. If George W. Bush had told the American people on the eve of the invasion, that almost seven years later, Iraq would still be plagued by suicide bombings that took 54 lives in a single attack, would Americans have been gung ho about the plan? (The latest body count is 3,478 U.S. combat fatalities, and some 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths from violence.) And yet people who are urging restraint in sending more troops to Afghanistan are being ridiculed for failing to learn from our "success" in Iraq.

* Here's a scary summary: "The White House budget proposal released Monday assumes the U.S. economy is heading for a six-year run of above-average economic growth with no sign of a worrisome spike in inflation or interest rates." And it's not as if, in exchange for such rosy scenarios, the White House forecast shows balanced budgets as far as the eye can see...

* You ever notice how in the midst of a crisis, government officials lie through their teeth, and then after the crisis has passed, versions closer to the truth start trickling out? Here's Paulson admitting that his remarks about Lehman Brothers at the time of its collapse were "a ploy" (which I guess is not the same as a lie), and here's Kurt Haskell's brave article spelling out just how much the U.S. government has been lying in the wake of the Underwear Bomber incident (HT2LRC). If you have followed the story, you know that Haskell got a lot of attention immediately after the event, because he had been a passenger and swore that he saw a "sharp dressed man" trying to get the Underwear Bomber on the plane, despite his lack of a passport. The government pooh-poohed his account. Well guess what? The "sharp dressed man"...may have worked for the U.S. government!

Now Haskell isn't saying the feds plotted the attack. And maybe they didn't. But my point is, why should we listen to anything they say at this point? U.S. government officials lie to us repeatedly, day in and day out. We know they do; all you have to do is compare one statement to the press with a previous one issued a month beforehand. So the fallback position for conspiracy doubters is, "Well, sure they lie, but only to protect us. They have to lie to us all the time. We can't handle the truth."

UPDATE: My apologies, in the original version of this post, I said categorically that the "sharp dressed man" who helped the Underwear Bomber get on his plane, worked for the U.S. government. I misinterpreted Haskell's blog post. I thought the government itself had admitted this, but they haven't; they have only admitted that they intentionally didn't revoke the Underwear Bomber's visa, because they wanted to keep tracking him and not tip him off. It is Haskell's (very plausible) hypothesis that the "sharp dressed man" he saw, worked for the U.S. government in some capacity.

There's an excellent and short interview with Mr. Haskell from January 4, 2010 on WJR radio in Detroit here.
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