aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, September 09, 2005
Colin Powell struck me as a decent, principled, and extremely thoughtful man before his years in the Bush administration...he provided a rare voice of reason and statesmanship in an administration by-and-large driven by domestic politics and ideology.
For me, that all changed with Powell’s February 2003 speech to the UN about Iraq. That speech contained much ‘evidence’ about Iraq that was simply untrue. Much more significantly, that speech contained much that was even known to be untrue at the time.
Maybe because, like last night, Powell has always been an adroit player in the media game?
Powell’s U.N. speech was consistent with how the good soldier has always performed for the Bush’s (and decidedly not for Clinton); it’s also how he got to the top in Washington.
Last night he said he wouldn’t want an elected position, but that he’s open to appointed positions. He’s earned his appointments.
In December 1994, in a Washington Monthly cover story titled “How Colin Powell Plays the Game,” there was this observation of his efforts in the first Iraq war for the first Bush administration:
According to Bob Woodward’s book The Commanders, for which Powell was a major source, the general had reservations about going to war, favoring a containment strategy. Yet, once Bush decided to fight, it was Powell’s job as chairman (the principal military advisor to the president) to carry out the wishes of his civilian boss. That Powell, an officer with a high sense of duty, did this is not at all surprising. What is striking about Powell around this time is how adroitly he cast himself as a member of the winning war party within the administration.
Hence the stroke call to Solarz; blind accounts in magazines and newspapers about Powell’s eagerness and toughness; and his appearance with Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney before the Senate Armed Services Committee on December 4, 1990. There, he took on those such as Nunn, Crowe, and Jones, who believed that sanctions or limited air strikes could force Iraq out of Kuwait. “Many experts, amateurs and others in this town believe that this can be accomplished by such things as surgical air strikes, or perhaps a sustained air strike. And there are a variety of other nice, tidy, alleged low-cost, incremental, may-work options that are floated around with great regularity all over this town,” Powell said. “Those strategies may work, but they also may not. Such strategies are designed to hope to win. They are not designed to win.”
For Powell to be this dismissive of a position for which he had had such sympathy indicates that the general had decided not only to carry out his duty but also to carry political water for Bush. This was a tough Washington hand to play, but Powell did it beautifully. By the end of the war, he had, in the words of U.S. News & World Report, restored “the public’s faith in its fighting force.” People like Crowe and Jones were discredited, and Powell, who had privately told them--but never Bush--that he was on their side, came up a national hero, “America’s Black Eisenhower” (as National Review dubbed him).
Colin Powell will be burnishinng his reputation with pal Barbara Walters on a special 20/20 tonight. My expeience is that liberals tend to like him. I don’t.
I’ve never forgiven him for his stand against gays in the military and unwillingness to see the obvious parallel in that particular regard between blacks and gays.
Here’s Powell on Nightline, from January 25, 1993:
GREENFIELD: [voice-over] Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, flatly rejects any comparison between the racial segregation of the past and the current ban on gays.
Gen. COLIN POWELL: Homosexuality is not a benign sex- benign behavioral characteristic such as skin color or whether you’re Hispanic or Oriental. It goes to one of the most fundamental aspects of human behavior, and I think it does make a difference. I think it’d be very, very difficult to accommodate that into the armed forces.
Four meals away from anarchy
Students at school say that New Orlean’s anarchy would have happened here, too, and by implication, anywhere. Dean Esmay has dug up this from last year in London’s Sunday Times suggesting they’re right:
MODERN civilisation may not be quite as safe as we thought. Britain’s security services have been privately warning their staff that western societies are just 48 hours from anarchy.
MI5’s maxim is that society is “four meals away from anarchy”. In other words, the security agency believes that Britain could be quickly reduced to large-scale disorder, including looting and rioting in the event of a catastrophe that stops the supply of food.
There is evidence that the breakdown of order could be caused partly by the first pangs of hunger but more likely by panic.
This could occur if, for example, a bomb attack prevented food getting into an area or if computer systems were attacked by hackers, throwing the electricity, food and water networks into chaos. Alternatively, an attack by biological, nuclear or radiological weapons could result in an area being cordoned off.
It is likely that the people affected would immediately buy up all the food available. As supplies ran out, the public might try to break through cordons or start competing violently for available food.
It is estimated that after as little as four missed meals, a “law of the jungle” would take over, in which citizens resorted to looting or violence to find food.
On 9/11 in New York, in those first moments after the first tower collapsed, the city had already sealed all the bridges and tunnels and there was no way out. Traffic was gridlocked, horns honked and people were hollering on my street. On all streets.
I ran to the shower and filled pails with water, boiled water and cooked enough spaghetti (the only food in my house) for days, knocked on my neighbors’ doors to say that we should band together (they thought I was a bit nuts--I was) and went to the store and bought more food.
We got lucky. The power never even went out.
Let’s hope the Gulf Coast fares better
Major lenders such as Wachovia and Wells Fargo say they were only following the law. That, of course, is precisely the problem:
The government’s $5 billion effort to help small businesses recover from the Sept. 11 attacks was so loosely managed that it gave low-interest loans to companies that didn’t need terrorism relief - or even know they were getting it.
And while some at New York’s Ground Zero couldn’t get assistance they desperately sought, companies far removed from the devastation - a South Dakota country radio station, hair salons in Monroe, a Virgin Islands perfume shop, a Mukilteo pet-grooming shop and more than 100 Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway sandwich shops - had no problem winning the government-guaranteed loans.
Of the 19,000 loans approved by the two programs, fewer than 11 percent went to companies in New York City and Washington, D.C.
Read the whole story.