Former CIA Director George Tenet finally tells all in his new book, asserting that Dick Cheney and others set him up for the blame on the intel leading up to the war. They had had their war plans regardless of the info, he now says. Nice of him to think of mentioning this. Wonder where he keeps his Medal of Freedom. Perhaps he should move it to a very dark place. In any case it's nice to see the rats start to rat.
MIKE GRAVEL, Vietnam War Era senator from Alaska (who knew he was running for president?), used the Democrat debate last night very constructively. He showed the illuminating power of politics. “We spend more on defense than the rest of the world put together. Who are we afraid of? . . . Iraq has never been a threat to us. We invaded them. . . . The Military Industrial Complex not only controls our government lock, stock and barrel, but they control our culture.”
Rudy in the Box. His comments yesterday indicating that a Democratic victory would leave the country vulnerable to an attack on the scale of 9/11 give you the essence of his whole campaign: party like it’s 2001. Only it’s not. Pop goes the weasel.
Fredo and Georgie, the incredible Siamese Pinheads. Although desiring the novelty of thought, each will wait for the other to start. “The attorney general went up and gave a very candid assessment and answered every question he could answer, that he could possibly answer in a way that INCREASED MY CONFIDENCE that he can do the job.” GW Bush 4/24/07.
Historically Significant Space Missile Screw-up of the Day
In January China launched a missile that destroyed a target satellite. This is really bad because they can now do that a lot (even to US communications systems). They have also now created about 1600 pieces of dangerous flying space garbage. It turns out we knew about this in advance and said nothing, did nothing, needing to give ourselves future cover for a mythological Star Wars system. Said Joseph Cirincione of the Center for American Progress, “This was absolutely preventable. The Chinese have been proposing a treaty to ban weapons in space for years. We have refused in order to pursue this fantasy of space-based antimissile weapons.” Weak in the head = weak on defense. Free slogan.
ANONYMOUS GUN MERCHANT in Roanoke Va, who, 5 weeks ago, sold Cho Seung Hui a 9mm Glock, which Cho would use in his Va. Tech massacre on Monday, for $571. Common sense would have a person like this in treatment and barred from gun purchases. The Commonwealth of Virginia, it seems, sees it the other way around.
KURT VONNEGUT, 1922-2007, a former WW II POW who emerged as a speaker of truth in the interest of humanity. He was also a brilliant artist, using a searing sense humor that focused the mind. This from his last book, A Man without a Country: “Can I tell you the truth? I mean this isn’t the TV news is it? Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on.” “ . . .All lights are about to go out. No more electricity. All forms of transportation are about to stop, and the planet Earth will soon have a crust of skulls and bones and dead machinery. And nobody can do anything about it. It’s too late in the game. Don’t spoil the party but here’s the truth: We have squandered our planet’s resources, including air and water, as though there were no tomorrow, so now there isn’t going to be one. So there goes the Junior Prom, but that’s not the half of it.” Here’s to Vonnegut and a renewed human dedication to wakefulness, attention and care. And good art.
MARINE GENERAL JACK SHEEHAN. At least three candidates have turned down the White House as it searches for a “war czar” (as, I suppose, Bush, Cheney and Gates are otherwise occupied). One of the three, Gen. Sheehan said, “The very fundamental issue is, they don’t know where the hell they’re going. So rather than go over there and develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, “No thanks”.”
DON IMUS. In the furor over his ugly comments about the Rutgers basketball team emerges the dollar-and-cents reason he hasn’t been fired (something that would have happened in a nanosecond to a lesser mortal). The NY Times today reports that his broadcasting empire rakes in $50 million a year. Advertisers like AT&T, Sprint Nextel, Ditech.com do very, very well by advertising on this show, which descends to the lower depths of human sensitivity on a regular basis. Anyone who has listened in knows Imus’ good-boy/bad-boy drill. And sexism/racism is part of the package. It’s there for an important reason. He knows what certain people will guilty-pleasure-belly laugh at. Bo Dietl, a former NYC detective, a regular on the show says, “If you handcuff him and just take away the “entertainment” (my quotes) it will just become like any other talk show.” Yep, that’s “entertainment”. So, perhaps the fault, dear Nextel, is not in our radio stars but in ourselves. His name says it all, I’m Us. PS: Larry Gerbrandt, senior vice president and media analyst for Nielson says, “My bet is he survives . . . If the notoriety pushes up his ratings, he could even come out ahead.”
SGT. DAVID GARDNER. Last week this photo, by Gerald Herbert of Associated Press, appeared in the NY Times, of President Bush’s visit with Sgt. David Gardner and his family at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Sgt. Gardner, seen here grappling with the ruins of his health and life as he had known it, is visited by the man who created his situation. This week news came out of a Pentagon study that concluded that there was no Iraqi involvement with al-Qaeda. I have to wonder what is going through this brave soldier’s head at this moment; and what, if he were to allow himself a brief departure from military decorum, he would look Bush in the eye and say to him.
MITT ROMNEY, in his continuing journey of self-discovery. Day 1: “I’m a lifelong hunter.” Day 2: “I’ve hunted more than 2 times. I hunted small things . . . varmints.” Day 3 (?): “A Painted Lady, tra-la!”
NANCY PELOSI. In a strange case of Trading Places, Pelosi takes on the role of Secretary of State, talking to Syria, while Condi Rice behaves like an indolent pol. In this version Pelosi even borrows the hair.
Dr. Rudy. In an interview with CNN yesterday he said this: "(Abortion) is your choice and it's an individual right. It's your right and I don't think society should put you in jail for it." Later on: "Abortion is wrong, but ultimately it's a Constitutional right. (I would support public funding of abortion) if it remains a Constitutional right." On the same day came the latest reports from New Hampshire, showing him dead even woth McCain. Does this mean an ultimate image change for the GOP . . . or just for Rudy?
Hi from Austin Texas, Burckhart Country, where I’m the guest of Texas Monthly. The assignment is a dreamy one: float around the Capitol, grab what’s there and, somehow, put together a story. The first couple of days on any story is about orientation; finding out where the lines interest, color and maximum relevance are. An early Monday meeting with TJ Tucker, the designer and I was off to the dome. Things started to come together quickly. This is a very easy place to get around in. People are extremely friendly. But none more so than Marc and Janice who invited me over on Monday. They live in a kind of characteristically low-key-high-style home perched on a hill overlooking glittery downtown Austin on one side and the river and a music arena on the other! Paradise to a surreal power. Marc’s image insignia for this year’s Texas Medal of Arts Award was on display at a cocktail reception we went to. The next night was the big award ceremony. This award honored Texas high achievers, among whom are Walter Cronkite and Ornette Coleman, who are both here.
Here’s Marc’s image
Here’s a 3-D version someone made, out of, what looked like cream cheese.
The big oak door to the State Capitol building with brass knobs. It takes effort to open them and people seem to have something to say as they do it. “The high point of my day” some lady said to me.
Seen at the bar of the Hotel Omni (where Texas Monthly offices are). This guy was German.
The Capitol has a real lobbyist problem. They hopelessly outnumber everyone and everything else. I suspect they’d call an exterminator but Tom DeLay would show up.
The House session went very long last night. Here’s a lobbyist having a “Tuesday night supper”, a Snickers bar.
After the House adjourned a meeting of the Environmental Committee began. Into the night they took up bills that would regulate coal plants. The governor, Bush’s successor Rick Perry, has contributed to the green backlash here by promoting coal plant building, using the dirtiest technology. This has galvanized ranchers, tree-huggers, corporations (who will lose if the area is condemned for its air quality). They have knocked out a good number of these plants so far. This was actually thrilling to see.
Paul Rolke, a Central Texas Rancher and no eco-advocate and organizer against the proposed Oak Grove plant, to be built 5 miles away from his ranch.
The chairman of the committee is Rep. Dennis Bonnen, not usually a friend of the environment, but last night very pissed off at the huge volume of faxes he’s been getting. “Are these from environmentalists? Killing trees???!”
Randy Eminger, a lobbyist form the coal industry, “We need the plants, he said. Or we’ll have blackouts. People will die.” He confided that this was not a good time for his kind of work . . . all of a sudden.
On the Senate side I found John Whitmire, the longest-serving senator. Looks already like a bust in the hall.
Walter Cronkite appeared yesterday in connection with his award. Senators lined up to meet him. He’s 90 and very hard of hearing so I don’t know if that stern expression was because he knew the guy he was meeting, Sen. Dan Patrick, a right wing talk show host and local media mogul or not. Any way Patrick looked like was meeting God. He was sitting down because he injured his Achilles tendon playing tennis at 88. I can tell you he does not have a 90 year old handshake.