Copyright © 2006 Frank Lynch.
Me: Frank Lynch
These are my mundane daily ramblings.
A leader in asking the wrong questions? Rasmussen Reports recently missed the boat on a poll question regarding Bush's wiretapping program, failing to mention in its question asking Americans about their support for the program that Bush was proceeding without warrants; when other pollsters added that point, the support which Rasmussen found was significantly eroded. (Surprise!)
Now they've done it again, by polling about Cheney's "hunting accident," and whether or not it raises questions about his ability to serve as VP. Only 27% opted for the "hunting accident" raising questions, and 57% choosing "just one of those very embarrassing things that happens to all of us."
But let's get real: the accident itself was embarrassing, but the problems all arose from how it was reported, not the accident itself. And while some people may have considered the failure to report it on a timely basis as part of the overall picture, when your other choice is "just one of those very embarrassing things," it puts the question back into the very small focus of the trigger, the gun, the friend.
"Deeply sorry." Dick Cheney's etui was released from the hospital today, and he told the press that he and his family were "deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through this week."
I don't think the WH or the Veep's office has been holding a gun to his head or depriving him of bread and water, so I'm not going to suggest anything along the lines of Stockholm Syndrome. And seriously, my heart goes out to an elder who was shot to pieces by an irresponsible, reckless man wielding an expensive shotgun. (Anyone want to debate this characterizaton? If not, then let's use it and put it out and repeat it until the cows come home.)
But Harry Whittington's feelings aside, can we take a step back? The reigning powers have promoted a world of personal responsibility, divorced from government, and there's nothing more discordant with that concept than telling the veep — who has already accepted complete responsibility — yeah, I may have come close to death thanks to my failure to alert you to my location and your failure to understand the fact you were wielding a goddamned gun — but I'll forgive you that.
Honestly I'm at 6's and 7's about this. One of my favorite passages in the Old Testament reads "when your enemy is hungry, give him to eat; when he is thirsty, give him to drink; in this way you will be heaping red hot coals upon his head." Conceivably Whittington is taking a higher moral ground by feeling sympathy for what Cheney might have gone through. But my problems with that MOHGRO hypothesis are these: Cheney's problems occurred because of actions long after the hunting accident (that is, how to stonewall the sheriffs who might have wanted to test for blood alcohol levels; how to release it to the press, and so on). Accidents do happen, we all understand that, but Cheney exacerbated the problem by not being forthright. Secondly, for this approach to work, you have to presume some sensitivity on the part of the target, that is, an openness to the possibility that you're a dipsh-t. I just don't see these possibilities in the pan I've been using in these creek, there's just no gold. Nada.
I'm willing to give Whittington the benefit of the doubt, and
grant that he's a nice guy and sincere and gives to the poor. But
I fear his charitable expressions towards the Vice President are
really misplaced. Cheney came close to shooting his head
off; he acted incredibly irresponsibly. I can't help but wonder
if he's enabling similar recklessness on future hunters. Hunters
would do really well to disregard Whittington's comments,
and understand the concept of personal responsibility.
"These are the times that try men's souls." Aah, what an opening line: it has to be among the best. Even "Call me Ishmael" pales in comparison. In my spare moments I'm reading David Hackett Fischer's Washington's Crossing, which concerns the changes in momentum of the Revolutionary War surrounding Washington's crossing the Delaware. (Side note: the British described it as a civil war, and some of their descriptions of us sound hauntingly like the way we describe insurgents, with the major exception that we weren't killing our countrymen wholesale in our efforts to kick them out. But I've already digressed...) I read Paine's The American Crisis many years ago, but I don't think I fully appreciated the context or its impact enough until reading Fischer's book. Sure, I knew that Washington had been in retreat, and as a regular visitor to Brooklyn's Prospect Park I was well aware of the various remembrances of the Battle of Long Island and what took place near where I live.
I had no idea, really, how Paine's writing worked as a rallying cry to the colonists, and how it not only spurred local militias to harry the British army when it could, but how it united the local people against the Tories who thought it best to support the British. And how the ranks of the regulars swelled, too.
I am in no way arguing for an armed uprising against the people who have risen to power in the GOP and the White House; I am, however, suggesting that the little diligence and perseverance which you can find in yourself may have unforeseen positive outcomes. You know what's happening in your locality, and are in a better position than I am to find a specific action. But it could be as simple as writing a letter to your newspaper or calling into the local radio talk show. It might be a little grassroots involvement, it might be working for a candidate who is challenging a vulnerable incumbent. It might mean sending money to a candidate elsewhere.
Still proud to be an American. No question about it, the grand experiment we started 230 years ago and embodied in the Constitution remains grand, and the ideals espoused by our forefathers remain worth pursuing. I certainly want to, and I suspect you do, too. But does everything our government does, even as it claims to do so in order to protect our freedoms make me proud? Hell no. When we have a misguided operation like Guantanamo, which today the U.N. called upon us to split up, followed by a White House knee-jerk defense without any commitment to think hard about the U.N.'s charges — well, what are we to make of a government which is so anxious to deny basic justice and dignity from those it's apprehended? What are we to make of a Vice President who, when asked to comment on Lewis Libby's assertion that he was authorized by unnamed superiors to leak the name of a CIA agent, all he has to say is that he (the Vice President) is allowed to declassify information? (Without any independent review of course... Which sure explains a lot about the selective way in which the White House worked to discredit Richard Clarke back in the spring of 2004 — remember how "off the record" briefings Clarke gave suddenly became on the record?)
No, there are no standards at work, there is no rudder. The same administration which called for steel tariffs one week and their end the next is the same administration which claimed to be concerned about the proliferation of WMDs even as its members blew the cover of a CIA operative who was working to contain their proliferation. Anything, anything to retain power. (And do I need to describe the willy nilly wiretapping? 325,000 terrorists have been identified by the White House. At what point does this become like the old joke about the guy whose job it is to keep elephants away? If you haven't seen any elephants it shows what a fine job he's doing.)
Did you hear the one about...? See,
there's this major American brand name called McDonald's —
and it just now decided to reveal the fact that its french
fries are fried in oil containing wheat- and dairy-derived
products. That's right, they're not gluten free. C'mon, execs:
celiac disease effects just under one
percent of the population. Don't try and tell us you'd never
heard of it: food is your business.
Personally, I've not been thrilled with how the Congress has
turned "oversight committees" from groups that look to groups
that look away, but this kind of argument to have the Congress
abdicate its role further is disturbing. Sure, the Executive
Branch needs some leeway, but does our Congress have the spine to
make sure it's not giving carte blanche?
Ellis Valentine. It's not that I'm
unromantic: I made sure that Ab and Zoë knew it was
Valentine's Day and how much they mean to me, but there are
unescapable word associations in my mind, and Valentine's Day
always reminds me of Ellis Valentine. If I was to list my top
five moments in baseball, well, one which would immediately occur
to me would be the time I saw Ellis Valentine, playing right
field for the Mets (1982? - - a year when the Mets' primary
purpose was to let you see the visiting teams...) shoot a missile
to third base and nail some San Francisco Giant. There are few
baseball moments which would immediately come to mind (I
think the only other one would be when David Cone argued a call
at first while the ball was still in play, holding the ball in
his anger, and Dale Murphy took advantage of Cone's blind
furor and scampered home. Sweet.
Shoot first, ask questions later. I really don't want to make too much of Cheney's hunting accident this weekend — and I mean "too" in the original sense, that is, something should be made of it but let's not go overboard — but it really strikes me that there's something emblematic of the whole event and our invading Iraq. Even though it was Rumsfeld who proclaimed that we know where the WMD's are, they're somewhere around Tikrit, there was a similar arrogance and overconfidence on Cheney's part that he knew where the rest of the hunting party was. Cheney forgot that what he had in his hands was what civilized societies call "a gun." Heat of the moment and all that.
Another argument against wiretapping without warrants. A Pennsylvania man is alleged to have tried to work with al Qaeda to blow up U.S. pipelines. And why does it argue against wiretapping without warrants? Well, because he was noticed on a web site offering his services, by a judge who just trawls for this kind of thing. Nothing to do with wiretaps, just simple energy.
Hillary's problem is that she cuts me
no slack, says Laura Bush. Uh, much as I'd love to visit a
library with you (and seriously, I'd do that happily, we share an
interest in libraries), Mrs. Bush, maybe it's really that
her husband's offenses pale in comparison to your
husband's. If Hillary played fair, she'd have convinced her
husband to listen to the carping, saber-rattling
PNAC. Dammit, Hillary just didn't play fair.
How tall is Jack Abramoff? I know
what it's like, you
visit L.A. and suddenly you think you're seeing celebs
everywhere. But honestly I've seen celebs here in N.Y.C. without
trying, so it's not like I'm overly anxious to see these people.
I once saw John Entwistle in Harrad's and let him be, and the
same when I saw Van Morrison and Johnny Winter here (separate
occasions). But I'd swear that Abramoff was on my
Metroliner down to D.C. Thursday night, as well as former FEMA
director Mike Brown. Now, Brown testified in D.C. today, so
there's no reason to discount this. But how tall is Abramoff:
six? six one?