July 7, 2005: Reverse-engineering for truth

I had my say (See May 14, 2005: Poking the tiger), I paid the price (See June 25, 2005: Postcards from Guantanamo), and I was willing to let the issue die. But Bush and his propaganda machine continue to call attention to his incredible cycling virility, so I have no alternative but to continue my efforts to bring some semblance of truth to the man the world is coming to know as "Crash and Burn."

Bush is an "avid and aggressive" umbrellacist
And a major stockholder in Band-Aid, Inc.

As many loyal readers of STB,J! already know, the bobbler-in-Chief was involved in yet another cycling dustup yesterday in Gleneagles, Scotland. STB,J! readers are now hyper-aware of Bush's actual cycling skill level, despite an aggressive disinformation campaign on the part of the White House and rampant media portrayals to the contrary (check out this steaming pile of propaganda), in large part because of tenacious investigative reporting by STB,J!, reporting that scooped the entire international mediarchy by ripping the lid off the Bush cycling facade.

Slowly, slowly, the Main Stream Media (MSM) is starting to turn its attention to the lies and propaganda surrounding the Bush cycling conspiracy, but like the National Guard story, Bush's environmental record, the justification for going to war in Iraq, the Valerie Plame outing, the Downing Street memos, the 2004 Medicare reform scam perpetrated on the American pub-- like all these stories and more, the MSM is content to repackage Administration talking points -- talking points that run counter to common sense and indisputable facts -- and leave it at that.

Why the silence? One reason could be the vicious retribution the Bush White House rains down upon whistleblowers, critics, and other dissidents. Paul O'Neill can't even get a job as a drive-thru teller at the local credit union; Richard Clarke has just been audited by the IRS for the years 1978-1989; Joseph Wilson's decadent boondoggles to the premier destination location of Niger have come to a screeching halt; and I ended up doing six weeks hard time in Gitmo.

Let us only look to the brief, 304-word article from the Washington Post that I referenced at the beginning of this blog entry to see how much bullshit the Administration is able to launder through the filter of Big Media. And remember, the Rosetta Stone for deciphering what actually happened from the regurgitated White House press release scat that we see on the network news programs and the corporate newspapers is to not accept what is being reported at face value. Find out where the news came from, figure out what that source wants you to believe, consider why that source wants you to believe it, figure out the opposite of what they want you to believe, and there you have it -- a general semblance of what actually happened (all things that the press is supposed to be doing). Yeah, you really have to work for it, you have to constantly be triangulating every article, every press release, every seemingly innocuous and unrelated story in order to get somewhere near the truth, but it's in there if you're really interested.

The first paragraph reads:

"Bush, an avid and aggressive mountain biker, collided with a local police officer Wednesday during an afternoon ride at a golf resort here, scraping his hands and arms when he hit the asphalt."

Right up front, still within the five-second attention span of the typical American reader, we're hit with the description of Bush as "avid and aggressive." Score one for the Administration, although, as a relative beginner (experience-wise) to mountain biking, maybe aggressive isn't the smartest thing to be. But, if we're paying attention, we understand that "Bush collided with a local police officer." Also, we learn that he was apparently not even riding on dirt, he was riding on asphalt, a beginner-level riding surface that he apparently was too aggressive and not skilled enough to handle. Score two for STB,J!

It's never Dubya's fault
But the training wheels stay on (unofficially)

Next paragraph:

"Bush, who was wearing a helmet and traveling at what a spokesman called a 'pretty good speed,' quickly dusted himself off. But the officer, on foot at the time, was taken to a local hospital with an ankle injury. He was released when tests revealed no fracture."

Of course he was traveling at "a pretty good speed." At what other speed would our manly-man of a butt-kicking President travel? As we know, it's put your head down and full speed ahead for this Prez, in whatever china shop it is that he decides to rampage through. Add another dollop of bullshit to the Administration's stack. And he "quickly dusted himself off" while the soft, limey, wuss of a policeman had to be taken to the hospital -- and he didn't even have a fracture! Two more for the WH.

The article continues:

"White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush's scrapes were "mild to moderate" and did not interfere with the president's diplomatic schedule for the day. Bush appeared later in a tuxedo for dinner with Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh."

As this paragraph tells us, even though Bush suffered "mild to moderate" scrapes (which he gutted out and didn't have to go to the hospital for), he was man enough to go on with his tuxedoed diplomatic duties (while the policeman was sent home to have his mommy kiss his boo-boos for him). Cha-ching White House.

"The bike, McClellan said, fared worse."

MSM! No, no, no, no, NO! You cannot just let bullshit like this pass uncontested. This is exactly what I am talking about. Call the bastards on this bullshit, don't just pass it along. First off, McClellan says the bike "fared worse." I've read this same quote in several other accounts of the accident, but never is there an actual description of what happened to the bike. Why include this line if you're not going to follow-up? McClellan paints a NASCAR-esque picture of a mangled and smoking piece of aluminum and rubber where Bush's mountain bike once stood, the President escaping unscathed from the carnage. As a reader, a reporter, or anyone with half a brain, the next words out of my mouth would be, "Oh really, Scott, what actually happened to it? Can we see a picture of the bike?" Nope, we're just supposed to take it on face value that Bush is such a stud that a British police officer was wounded and a bike destroyed in this horrific crash, but Bush walked away. I'm calling them on this one and scoring it for STB,J!

H. R. Haldeman called, he wants his hair back

And, bless their hearts:

"It was unclear who was to blame for the crash."

Where to begin on this one. Let's see. In the first paragraph of this story, it was noted that Bush collided with the British policeman. It didn't say the policeman collided with Bush. OK, sure, maybe it's just sloppy writing.

But wait, let's think about it a little bit more and apply some common sense. Bush was traveling "at a pretty good speed," soooo, I'm thinking guy on foot, guy traveling at speed on a bike, probably the biker's responsibility. "But Cannonball," you might say, "aren't you the one who's always cursing out walkers for being zoned-out drones who never watch where they're going and never take any responsibility for being aware out on the trails and bikepaths? Aren't you being a hypocritical bastard?"

I am often a hypocritical bastard, but not in this case. In this case, we're talking about the POTUS, who is surrounded by a cocoon of unbelievably tight security. In addition, the pedestrian was not some clueless Lucy from Gloucester out for an afternoon stroll, this was a British police officer on security detail. I'm going to take a wild guess and say that he knew the President was in the immediate vicinity and that he was on high alert. All signs point to an out-of-control POTUS.

You're still not convinced? OK, let's reverse-engineer for truth. The line we were given is that "it was unclear who was to blame for the crash." It was unclear? How fucking difficult is it to figure out who was to blame? I'm sure there were plenty of eyewitnesses. Source: McClellan, the President's press secretary, a man responsible for promoting a positive image of the POTUS. If it makes the POTUS look anything less than godly, the truth is not an option. What they want you to believe: Bush was not at fault. Why they want you to believe it: Bush is never at fault, He is omnipotent and unerring, and as such, everybody should believe everything he says and do everything he wants. Opposite of what they want you to believe: Bush was barreling along without a care in the world for anything besides the profound Alan Jackson or Kenny Chesney song playing on his iPod, oblivious to his surroundings (why should he approach cycling any differently than he approaches anything else in his life?), and plowed into the policeman. Bush was completely at fault. You know damn well that if it was the police officer's fault they would have made that abundantly clear. Larger truth: Bush's bullheadedness is to blame for many of the nation's current problems and everything that comes out of the White House is meant to in some way obfuscate this fact. Point STB,J!

Skipping down to the extra special sauce:

"Bush, who turned 59 on Wednesday, prides himself on his physical fitness."

Serenity now, serenity now. Bush did turn 59 on Wednesday, and he does pride himself on physical fitness, that much is true. But just like his invasion of Iraq is a manifestation of his Daddy issues, so too is his "athletic prowess" a function of his deep-seated insecurities. Let's review: he fails at sports in school and turns to cheerleading. In 2002, he gets his ass kicked by a pretzel. Then in 2003, he has some problems handling the supposedly idiot-proof Segway contraption (note that this BBC article describes how Bush completely ignores the instructions for the Segway and ends up making the exact mistakes he was warned of -- it's a small fucking world). A year later, he takes the big sha-lay-lay at his ranch in Crawford (God love spokesman Trent Duffy, who reminded reporters, "You know this president. He likes to go all out. Suffice it to say he wasn't whistling show tunes." Suffice it to say, in-deeeed.) Call it a draw, he may not be able to stay upright, but he is in shape.

The Segway as metaphor for political policy
It must run in the family

It continues:

"He is no stranger to the dangers of biking. About a year ago, he wiped out while riding his bike at his Crawford, Tex., ranch, suffering cuts and bruises."

Oh he "is no stranger to the dangers of mountain biking," alright. It is clear that Bush can bite it with the best of them. But how about a common sense ad-just-ment to your actual skill level, how about wearing some gloves POTUS? Seems like after the first time you took a spill and ripped up your hands, you'd maybe think about getting a pair of gloves. But, of course, that would require admitting that you made a mistake by not wearing gloves in the first place, so you will instead stand resolute in your no-glove approach, and the next time you crash, voila! again with the shredded hands.

Scrape me once, shame on me
Scrape me twice, and I'm just an idiot who won't learn from my mistakes

It is good to know, however, that when he biffed it last year in Crawford, he was wearing a mouthpiece. Who wears a mouthpiece unless they're expecting to take a header? We're riding bikes here Dub', not playing squash at the Governor's Club. Minus one point for the mouthpiece.

"Bush took up hard-core bicycling a few years ago after a knee injury forced him to quit running."

My patience is running thin, but I'll try to suffer through this. He didn't just take up cycling or mountain biking, he took up "hard-core" bicycling. Sure he did. How sad for the Administration that the term "hard-core" (sooo early 90s) belies their true poser status in the world of contemporary sports. To fully connect with the Generation Next (ages 9-23) demographic, the judges were looking for "extreme", "ritual," or "stabbin'," so-sorry. But coming right back with the hard-as-nails routine again, we learn that even though he was forced to quit running by a knee injury, not even this devastating onset of tendonitis could quelch his burning athletic itch. Ad Administration.

"His pace was known to leave even some well-conditioned Secret Service agents huffing."

Do I even need to go off on this one, or are you already there? To summarize: "his pace was known?" Here, the deft use of passive voice serves to inject the notion of Bush's cycling superiority into the reader's consciousness without providing any context for this piece of information, nor any way to fact-check it. It is not that the author of the article is complicit in the propaganda per se, but, at the very least, the author or editor is responsible for taking Administration PR at face value and presenting it to readers as uncontested fact.

Finally, his blistering pace left "some well-conditioned" SS agents huffing? Either way you look at it, this sentence contains some bullshit somewhere. Either Bush does not leave the well-conditioned agents huffing or the agents left huffing are not well-conditioned. Either way, the Administration has once again created a credibility gap by lying about things it doesn't need to lie about, all in the name of glorifying the man they call W. I mean, I am just not buying that a 59-year old guy can outpedal "well-conditioned" agents, agents who presumably accompany him often enough to understand that cycling ability is one of their job requirements. STB,J! takes the final round with overkill.

So when we add up the carnage from just one 300-word article in the Washington Post, we find that the Administration version of Bush the Mountain Biker scored at least five direct hits on the public consciousness. However, by applying a few drams of reason to the article, STB,J! was able to parry the Administration propaganda machine to a draw. MSM, feel free to step into the fray at any time.

I looked at a few other versions of this story and got a little more information, but essentially, every account of the story was exactly the same. There are, of course, two reasons for this. One, every piece of legitimate news you see comes from one of about five or six media organizations in the world. Two, this news story was based entirely upon statements from the Administration. There were no eyewitness sources cited, and no media personnel were around to document the actual turn of events, thus making it easier for the Administration to complete form and control the story.

Bush said he was "flying" on his bike. "The pavement was slick...The bike came out from under me," he said. Pretty much sums up this Administration's explanation for any of the myriad of "bike collisions" they've been responsible for the last five years.


Let the healing begin
with respect for the truth

I know that I've been hard on the POTUS, but you can't say that he doesn't have it coming. That aside, I am quite willing to give the POTUS his day in court. If he wants to invite me to accompany him on a mountain bike ride for the purpose of demonstrating his actual mountain biking skills, I promise to set aside all personal prejudices and provide a purely objective evaluation of his cycling skillset.

This could be the first small step in a stampede of mutual respect and consideration that tramples partisanship and greed throughout our fair land for time everlasting. Think of your legacy Mr. President, think of your place in the history books. You could be the first Mountain Biker President, if you just stepped out of your protective cocoon and gave an honest, straightforward, and selfless effort.

I'm man enough to admit when I'm wrong, but I'm afraid I'm long past taking anything from this Administration at face value.

Mileage: 35.66 Time: 2:19:10 Avg: 15.3 Max: 37.9 Weight: 164.5

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