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A letter sent to former SoS James Baker

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21 October 2006

James Baker:

The other day you appeared on Jon Stewart's Daily Show promoting your new book. We share feelings of gratitude towards your grandfather. In my case, some of the best years of my life were spent at the residential college named for Captain Baker at the university that only exists because he proved there is such a thing as an honest, honorable lawyer. That university was a concentration of wisdom at the top and cleverness everywhere that I've never encountered elsewhere. I grew so much, and yet I can still regret I didn't learn more. The wisdom was there for the taking...

As some sort of apparent 'liberal', I think a university is all about wisdom, but wisdom is a funny thing. It's sometimes linked to age or cleverness or experience or learning-and sometimes not. I think Captain Baker was trying to transmit a bit of his authentic wisdom to you when he advised you to stay out of politics. Apparently you couldn't think of anything better to do than ignore his advice, but I agree with your grandfather and count it as evidence against your wisdom. You went into politics-big time.

Of course your most famous political activity was your work at the end of 2000 to put Dubya in the White House. We knew that the reality was that the "will" of most of the voters of Florida was not to elect Bush. It's not just the Jews who voted for Buchanan with the "butterfly ballot". It should be the thousands of disenfranchised voters, though the MSM never said much about them or about the underlying conflicts of interest in targeting voters to block. No, the big stink is that the ballots were eventually examined and counted, and it turns out Gore won. Your job was to make sure the ballots did not get counted until it was too late. It was a job for a vile and unscrupulous political hack, but you did it. Congratulations. Not.

Yes, I think you do love America. Maybe you even approve of democracy, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. However, I really wonder what motivated you in 2000. Perhaps you were hoping Dubya would ask for your sage advice before doing something really stupid like invading Iraq? If so, it looks like you got fooled. Dubya can't admit to any mistake. Can you?

Switching to the other side of the coin, let's consider the lack of wisdom: "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me." Why are you letting Dubya and BushCo fool you again? Do you really think they have any intention of listening to you this time? No, the obvious reality is that this is Rove's new version of Nixon's secret plan, and your only function was to create a rumor (as reported on The Colbert Report) that they have suddenly realized Iraq is a lost cause. You're being fooled again. So can you do anything about that reality? No? I didn't think so.

Speculating now, but I think the real plan is that they are going to 'win' this election by any means, fair or foul, but mostly foul. One of the ex post 'facto' 'explanations' for the 'surprising' outcome will be the rumors you were used to create. Once they have safely insured that Congress is remaining neutralized, they'll move on to more 'important' problems.
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The most important problem is the manufactured one of Iraq. Awkwardly, the reality is that Iran has won in Iraq (and without firing a shot), but that's just another one of those awkward realities that BushCo will not accept. BushCo's version of 'reality' is that they need more boots on the ground, not fewer (and to heck with your 'recommendation'), but they can't come out and say that, and especially not just before an election. There's also the very awkward problem that they don't even have any more boots to send. Our troops are already seeing totally unprecedented levels of combat exposure. Just another unintended side effect, but in this case from Rumsfeld's crazy focus on ultra-efficiency which is making it possible for relatively small forces to continuously leap directly from one battle to another.

My next speculations are even wilder, but that's what happens when the reality field becomes too distorted by clouds of official government lies and spin. (So now comedy shows are some of the best sources for news about reality?) Have you noticed the usage of single quotes around many of the words of this letter? Those are examples of words whose meaning is now being strained to the point of meaninglessness. The word "liberal" is probably the most glaring example. However, these days it's not just at the word level, but applies all the way up to major government programs.

Still digressing a bit, but my most hated example of a fundamentally lie-based reality-distorting public policy that causes enormous harm is the 'no child left behind' school reform targeted at public education. In Texas, the state with the most experience with Dubya's education policies, it turns out that the reality is that lots of students are getting left behind, perhaps as many as 40%-but that's only the natural result of a system that systematically penalizes schools for trying to help the students who need the most help. In fact, I'm confident that the real plan was to destroy public education, not to save it, and they're doing a 'heckofa' job.

Now for the nuttier speculations about Iraq in a political world gone nuts. BushCo desperately needs more boots on the ground, but there aren't any more boots available. Therefore, they'll go at the problem sideways, perhaps by using the 'Peace' Corps. That would be especially amusing from their perspective, since that's a hateful 'liberal' idea that has mostly been highly successful. (Or they could create a new organization for the purpose if the subversion of the Peace Corps into a War Corps seems too awkward.) More specifically, Dubya will announce an 'enhanced' initiative for 'rebuilding' Iraq, and seek volunteers to go there in large numbers to 'reconstruct' the country. It's going to be hard to spin a claim that there is any pretense of 'safety' anywhere in Iraq, but these guys are master spinmeisters, so I think they're confident they can handle that part, and especially under the assumption that they've retained control of Congress-no awkward investigations. But where will the volunteers come from? Why, the obvious place: BushCo's allies among 'our' religious extremists, who really do envision this as a new Crusade in the Holy Land.

BushCo isn't above exploiting real reality when it suits their purposes. In this case, the reality is that it doesn't matter how hard they try to protect these new volunteers. With thousands of fresh targets and increased rage on the other side at the wholesale 'occupation' of their country, there will be lots of atrocities. But wait! Now we really do 'need' a much larger army to 'protect' the American volunteers who are just trying to 'help' Iraq. QED.
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Insane? I certainly think so. But that's what I think about the original lie-based invasion of Iraq. The problem with insanity as an explanation is that it doesn't have any useful predictive power.

Conclusion? Well, to conclude that your grandfather was right about staying out of politics seems awkward, though that certainly seems to be the lesson of your career. We do need some wise people in the government. I believe democracy and freedom are good, but how can we keep the slimy politicians from messing things up?


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Call me an extreme moderate beyond your wildest dreams of moderation. Everyone's crazy, save thee and I, and sometimes I wonder about me.

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A letter sent to former SoS James Baker