Last week I arrived here in Ankara and I've since been settling in to the way things are at Middle East Technical University. Having been in the country for four weeks prior to getting to Ankara, I was well aware of the way Turkish logic functions. I've since stopped asking "why" questions. There simply is no answer other than, "it's Turkish."
This week I've been trying to get my course schedule figured out and get classes picked out. This morning I went to a class on the Middle East and World Affairs and it looks like a winner. This afternoon couldn't be more opposite:
There is another international student from Denmark who is looking to take the class on Turkish Foreign Policy, so we go to the class together. About 15 minutes after the class is supposed to start, this Professor guy walks in, bringing with him zero materials of any kind. Just himself. Just a guy, standing there, with clothes on, looking Turkish. That's all. No papers, bags, books, or anything that would suggest a class was about to take place.
He walks in, stands at the podium and begins speaking Turkish to the 25 of us in the class. Keep in mind METU is a university that teaches all its classes in English. Or so they say. The Danish kid and I are confused, look at each other and sigh. We should have known logic was taking the day off.
But wait! After 10 minutes of Turkish mumbo-jumbo, the short, thin, balding man walks out of the class. Just like that! Gone!
Everyone begins to leave, so we ask a Turkish student in front of us what just happened. He chuckles at us realizing we just sat there for 10 minutes without a clue in the world. I'm sure it's just hilarious. Anyway, this is the knowledge he imparts on us:
Turkish student: "Eh, he says he does not want to give the, eh, lecture? and so he will leave now."
Turkish student: "He says maybe the class can be lectured by the administration, but maybe not. I do not know. Yes?"
Me: ".......uh..... So, he's just not teaching the class? Just like that?"
Turkish student: "Eh, yes maybe I don't know."
So we leave. Turkish Foreign Policy professor just doesn't want to teach the class. Ever. Just like that. He just decided it wasn't his thing. Teaching. Right now. This semester. Turkish Foreign Policy. Because that makes sense.
I'm beginning to understand why they haven't let Turkey into the European Union....
"The president of the United States decides to go to war against a nation led by a brutal dictator supported by one-party rule. That dictator has made war on his neighbors. The president decides this is a threat to the United States.
"In his campaign for president he gives no indication of wanting to go to war. In fact, he decries the overextension of American military might and says other nations must do more. However, unbeknownst to the American public, the president's own Pentagon advisers have already cooked up a plan to go to war. All they are looking for is an excuse.
"Based on faulty intelligence, cherry-picked information is fed to Congress and the American people. The president goes on national television to make the case for war, using as part of the rationale an incident that never happened. Congress buys the bait -- hook, line and sinker -- and passes a resolution giving the president the authority to use "all necessary means" to prosecute the war.
"The war is started with an air and ground attack. Initially there is optimism. The president says we are winning. The cocky, self-assured secretary of defense says we are winning. As a matter of fact, the secretary of defense promises the troops will be home soon.
"However, the truth on the ground that the soldiers face in the war is different than the political policy that sent them there. They face increased opposition from a determined enemy. They are surprised by terrorist attacks, village assassinations, increasing casualties and growing anti-American sentiment. They find themselves bogged down in a guerrilla land war, unable to move forward and unable to disengage because there are no allies to turn the war over to.
"There is no plan B. There is no exit strategy. Military morale declines. The president's popularity sinks and the American people are increasingly frustrated by the cost of blood and treasure poured into a never-ending war.
"Sound familiar? It does to me.
"The president was Lyndon Johnson. The cocky, self-assured secretary of defense was Robert McNamara. The congressional resolution was the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. The war was the war that I, U.S. Sens. John Kerry, Chuck Hagel and John McCain and 3 1/2 million other Americans of our generation were caught up in. It was the scene of America's longest war. It was also the locale of the most frustrating outcome of any war this nation has ever fought."
Read the whole thing. He goes on to outline the problems America faces in Iraq and what should be done to solve them. Cleland was broadsided by the Rove Smear Machine in 2002 when he was accused of being unpatriotic by a guy named Saxby. A man who lost three limbs in Vietnam was called unpatriotic by a guy who got out of service because of a bum knee. Sick.
Cleland would make a great VP for any of the candidates, save Clark who brings his own credentials to the table. America needs real heros running the government, not AWOL cowboys dressed up in flight suits. Max Cleland is a real hero.
In the most recent issue of Washington Monthly, Josh Marshall pins down that maddening tactic used by the Bush administration to lie through their teeth, but still get away scot free. He defines it thusly:
"Bush and his administration, however, specialize in a particular form of deception: The confidently expressed, but currently undisprovable assertion....
"The White House seemed guilty of what might be called persistent, chronic up-is-downism, the tendency to ridicule the possibility that a given policy might actually have its predictable adverse consequences, to deny those consequences once they have already occurred, or--failing that--to insist against all evidence that those consequences were part of the plan all along."
It's possibly the most frustrating thing to listen to, and its the reason there is an idiotic debate about whether Bush is actually lying. He's pulling another "the British have learned" trick. We all know what he's saying is 99% just plain wrong, but his lie is formatted in such a way so that it can't be completely ruled out.
Examples? Marshall provides them:
"By the middle of July, only 47 percent of adults surveyed by Time/CNN said they felt they could trust the president, down from 56 percent in March. The president's response to all this was to make yet more confidently expressed, undisprovable assertions. He simply insisted that his tax cuts would create jobs--and who knows? Perhapssomeday they will--and that American forces would eventually turn up evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."
Neither of these statements can be brushed off as straight up lies like Reagan's "trees cause more pollution than automobiles do," but unless you adhere to the administration's whacked out view of the world, it's pretty clear that cutting taxes for the super-rich will not create jobs for working Americans, and that weapons of mass destruction are long gone from Iraq, if they were ever there in the first place.
Baldfaced lies are not the tactic of choice for this administration, but impossible to disprove assertions that are overwhelmingly unlikely certainly are. It sure looks like a lie. It sounds like a lie. It dismisses the truth like a lie. It must be a lie.
POSTSCRIPT: And make sure to also read "The Mendacity Index" that compares the lies of George W. Bush and his three predecessors.