Copyright © 2006 Frank Lynch.
Me: Frank Lynch
These are my mundane daily ramblings.
On June 27, 2003, my family and I were waiting to board a plane to the Netherlands, a visit occasioned by a friend's wedding. I can't remember what my family was reading, but I still remember that I was reading an article by John Judis and Spencer Ackerman, called The Selling of the Iraq War: The First Casualty. "The First Casualty," of course, was an allusion to Hiram Johnson's condensed phrasing of a line from a Samuel Johnson essay. (I know I've recommended you read the Judis and Ackerman piece several times; if you haven't read it recently, it's well worth it again, and if you haven't read it yet, get with it.)
The piece concerns the machinations which the Bush Administration went through in pitching the Iraq War to the American public: the aluminum tubes, the use of intelligence, and all that. We now take much of this as a given, part of the fabric of the White House, but when the article originally came out it was news to most. Sure, there were some who had been skeptical all along, but most of America had rallied behind the President and his conflation of Saddam Hussein with 9/11.
One of the events which galled me the most was the difficulties which Senator Bob Graham (head of the Senate Intelligence Committee) faced as the Senate vote to authorize force was approaching in October, 2002. Graham knew the many caveats and qualifications which existed in the intelligence assessments, and was eager to get the frank assessments to the rest of the Senate. Graham himself was planning to vote against the authorization, and felt that for the Senate to properly vote it needed the best information available.
The Bush Administration felt otherwise, and if you read the article it will become apparent how hard the WH worked to keep the Senate in the dark. As Graham asked for more, he kept getting less and less he could share.
We now know that less than two weeks after I read that article, forces in the White House were moving to declassify information the Senators hadn't been allowed to see, all in the interest of political manipulation. Bush himself admitted as much today:
Of course it's infuriating that the White House would not let the Senate, about to vote, be informed; and of course it's also infuriating that when the Administration chose to slip information to Judith Miller (the then New York Times reporter referenced above), it chose to give a misleading characterization of the conclusions — even though they now claim Bush had declassified it, which meant she should have had greater access to the truth.
The patterns of behavior are endless, but I'm also struck by how the prescription drug plan vote was handled in the House: not just that it was held open for an unusually long period until arms could be twisted, but that the best estimates of the plan's cost were deliberately withheld from the House by the Administration (with one actuary being told to STFU or lose his job).
Theoretically we have only delegated our sovereignty to the
White House. There must be some way of recalling it: this is
so much more serious than an extra-marital affair with an
intern, don't you think?
Embarrassing radio silence this
weekend. Trust me, you don't want my weekend. I'll spare you
most of the details, but here's one aspect to allow you to
imagine the rest: I think we dropped about $300 on one of the
guinea pigs. I got to walk around lower Manhattan and shoot some
shots this afternoon, but aside from that the weekend was not one
I'd want to reminisce over.
A poster child for those against Bush's tax cuts. Earlier this week the New York Times ran an analysis of the Bush tax cuts, and the extreme benefits which were accrued to the super rich. That in itself didn't speak well for the argument that tax cuts don't promote growth, though without knowing how those breaks were spent, it's tough to poo- poo them out of hand. If the super rich took those tax cuts and opened shops or bought newly issued stocks, that would argue that the cuts were promoting growth. Right?
Okay, here's a side of the coin no one wants to know about,
buying high-priced art.
A casino owner spent nearly $36 million on a painting by
Turner. I don't doubt that he creates jobs due to his day
job, but can't someone run the numbers on whether he's created
more jobs thanks to the tax cuts? And whether or not he's
representative of the broader population?
Scientists doing climate research for the federal government say the Bush administration has made it hard for them to speak forthrightly to the public about global warming. The result, the researchers say, is a danger that Americans are not getting the full story on how the climate is changing.
Put a stake through his heart. Some myths are like vampires; they live far too long, and it seems like a nation can spend an eternity searching for the stake which will end its life. So too with the myth that Bush is a "straight shooter," the warm and fuzzy feeling people sometimes used to justify voting for him in 2000 and again in 2004.
Today's news that Bush may have capriciously declassified information for political purposes — if not the really the necessary stake — certainly should give every one of his voters pause to think. At least, those voters who aren't in denial over their complicity in perpetuating this travesty, this miserable failure of a presidency.
The story, if you didn't hear about it today, is this. I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former aide to President Bush and Vice President Cheney, and currently under indictment for obstructing justice (an investigation of who it was that leaked the name of a covert CIA agent to the press), testified to a grand jury that he had been authorized to release recently-declassified information to Judith Miller (at that point a writer for the New York Times), ostensibly in an effort to combat a swarm of dissent that the evidence for warring against Iraq had been trumped up out of smoke and mirrors.
According to Libby, it was Bush who declassified the information for this purpose.
A former top aide to Vice President Cheney told a federal grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA agent's identity that President Bush authorized him to disclose classified intelligence information about Iraq as a way of rebutting criticism from the agent's husband, according to court papers filed by prosecutors.
This was pretty fairly amidst the timeline of events surrounding the disclosure of Valerie Plame's name to the press. Libby's testimony doesn't implicate Bush in that treasonous behavior — don't forget, Plame's desk was all about WMDs, the ostensible reason we warred against Iraq — so Bush is in the clear there. And, as the POTUS he has the power to declassify anything he wants to, so no crime their, either.
But this is the guy who, discussing those who leaked Plame's name to the press, lined up along with those who had come before him and cast aspersion on the idea of anyone who leaked to the press. And here Bush is, having worked to declassify information for political purposes. Maybe it's not a "leak" when you're President; maybe it's just "politics as usual." But if so, then Bush is a politician as usual too.
So let's drive a stake through the heart of this vampire, the idea that Bush is someone you can cozy up to: far sooner than cozying, you should repudiate him. You should shun him, you should not allow him in your town or congregation. This man is an evil man, a capricious jerk who led our country into an unnecessary war, cost us thousands of lives, provoked the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, and created a tax bill that I can't understand how we'll ever pay it off — all the while giving such substantial tax breaks to the rich that Bush's War will be put on the shoulders not of his friends, but all of us. The quality of our schools, infrastructure, health care, air and so on and so on have been threatened for financial reasons, made more dire thanks to his irresponsible adventure.
Poster children of the other sort. Dwight Gooden is headed for the slammer, a year and a day behind bars. I hope it's not too much to ask that this confrontation will do what nothing has done yet, that he realizes he's up against a stone wall and understands that the wall is not going to move. I still remember his 1984 season — it wasn't the Mets' World Series year — and how Gooden's numbers, in comparison to the league averages and the number of innings he'd worked, suggested that he'd had the greatest season since Grover Cleveland Alexander. It was absolutely phenomenal to see him pitch those years, striking out batters at a phenomenal rate. And yet, as the guys at the store around the corner remembered, the way he was sweating buckets, you had to wonder what was driving his metabolism.
What a waste. You think about Charlie Parker, whose autopsist figured he'd died in his fifties when he was only in his thirties; you think about Art Pepper, and his ins and outs over drugs. It's just horrible how it cuts a life short: not just the tombstone, but the effective tombstone. Phil Neikro never, not for a moment, not a damned moment, had Gooden's arm; but he extended his career with great success through perseverence, ingenuity, and a faith in himself that it made sense to try.
The gig is up? The New York Times is
reporting that Tom
Delay will abort his efforts to retain his House seat. If
true, uh, ding dong the witch is dead...
Think before talking, Madam Secretary. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is soft pedaling her comment yesterday that defended the strategy of toppling Saddam Hussein even though the U.S. had committed "thousands" of tactical errors. Today she's saying don't take her words too closely to heart:
That's today. What exactly did she say yesterday?
"I'm sure." Sounds figurative to me, too. Too bad we can't
attribute her pre-war comments on Wolf Blitzer's show about the
aluminum tubes to speaking figuratively. That was pure mendacity,
as was Cheney's pre-war comment on Meet The Press that Hussein
had reconstituted his nuclear weapons. Those mischaracterizations
went uncorrected for too long to be considered anything but