By The Progressive on August 16, 2006
Bush out to Luncheon in Iraq
By Matthew Rothschild

August 16, 2006

How out to lunch is Bush?

On Monday, he held a luncheon with a bunch of academics to discuss Iraq.

And, according to some of the participants quoted in the Aug. 16 New York Times, he couldn’t figure out why the Iraqi people aren’t more grateful for all that he and the U.S. troops have done for them.

Rather than take responsibility for the mess he’s made, Bush is going into self-pity mode.

He’s entering into deep, dark Nixon territory here.

The timing of the story was not so great for Bush, though. Because on the very same page was a story that noted that “July appears to have been the deadliest month of the war for Iraqi civilians,” with “an average of more than 110 Iraqis” dying every day there. The rate is nearly double what it was in January.

That’s just one little clue for the clueless commander in chief.

According to the Times, “in the first seven months of this year, at least 17,776 Iraqi civilians died violently.”

If there’s anarchy, and if you can’t go out of your house for fear of being murdered, what’s there to be grateful for?

Bush likes to say he liberated the people of Iraq, but many are tasting that liberty in the grave.

At the luncheon, Bush also expressed puzzlement that thousands of Iraqis would rally against the United States in Baghdad, the Times said. He was referring to the rally organized by Muqtada al-Sadr against the Lebanon War, where people chanted “Death to Israel, Death to America.”

Clearly, Bush still doesn’t understand the dynamics in Iraq or the greater Middle East. Prior to launching the Iraq War, Bush didn’t even know there were two competing Islamic groups in Iraq, Shiite and Sunni, according to a new book by Peter Galbraith. Even today, Bush apparently can’t grasp that al-Sadr’s Shiites are aligned with the Shiites of Hezbollah, even though al-Sadr’s supporters have been carrying around posters of Nasrallah for years.

And for some inexplicable reason, Bush failed to anticipate that U.S. support for Israel’s invasion of Lebanon would further incite hatred against the United States.

It’s getting a little late to study up. And Bush would rather whine about Iraqi ingrates anyway than figure out what’s going on, much less change policy to reflect reality.

Rather than take responsibility for the mess he’s made, Bush is going into self-pity mode.

He’s entering into deep, dark Nixon territory here.

When the mightiest person on the planet starts feeling sorry for himself, look out. You never know what maniacal thing he may do next to salve his wounded pride.

Poor, powerful him.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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