January 30, 2009
This Is Pop!
Lily Allen's "The Fear" from her forthcoming album, "It's Not Me, It's You":
NSFW because of this line:
Life’s about film stars and less about mothersI'm amazed at how well-developed her sense of humor is at the ripe old age of 23.
It’s all about fast cars and passing each other
But it doesn’t matter cause I’m packing plastic
and that’s what makes my life so fucking fantastic
Old Jews Telling Jokes
January 29, 2009
You know what they say, big shoes...
A tribute to the George Bush shoe attacker:
After all we've done to them, it's nice to see that some Iraqis still have a sense of humor.
The Fifth Beatle
It Takes an Armey of Dicks
Dick Armey (who, not to excuse him, appeared to be 2-3 sheets to the wind), reveals the enlightened, compassionate conservative side of the Republican Party:
"I'm so damn glad that you could never be my wife 'cause I surely wouldn't have to listen to that prattle from you every day..."Joan Walsh more than held her own against the one-eyed wonder weasel. Still it was nice to see Bob Herbert come to her defense:
January 28, 2009
Hats of Meat
We All Deserve Medals of Freedom
Somehow, we survived eight years of this:
Speaking of which, last night we went to see Will Ferrell's You're Welcome America. A Final Night with George W. Bush. Try to get tickets (it's an extremely limited run). Or wait until the HBO broadcast of the show.
It's a pretty comprehensive look at our long, national nightmare. It's also fucking hilarious. I'm guessing/hoping this show will be the final judgement of W's sad legacy.
“I kind of feel like he’s someone who — and I think this is documented — he is someone who is seeking acceptance throughout his entire life, and finally got into the most prominent position of power in the world, and then thought ‘My way or the highway,’ ” said Mr. Ferrell, who paused as he discussed Mr. Bush, choosing his words carefully rather than cracking jokes that might seem demeaning. “There are times when I was doing him and I thought, ‘I kind of feel sorry for him.’ But then I’d think, ‘No, he’s a grown man, he needs to be held accountable for what happened.’ ”Oh, and the show features a Polaroid picture of Ferrell's penis. Bring the kids!
January 26, 2009
The Defining Moments of Preznit Bush in Photographs
...courtesy of filmmaker Errol Morris, AP (The Associated Press), AFP (Agence France-Presse) and Thomson Reuters:
"During the last week of the Bush administration, I asked the head photo editors of these news services — Vincent Amalvy (AFP), Santiago Lyon (AP) and Jim Bourg (Reuters) — to pick the photographs of the president that they believe captured the character of the man and of his administration. There are overlapping pictures — of the president with a bullhorn at Ground Zero, of the president looking out the window of Air Force One over New Orleans, of the president receiving the news on the morning of 9/11. It is interesting that these pictures are different. They may be of the same scene, but they have different content. They speak in a different way."Click the link above for Morris' entire article. Here are three of my "favorite" pics:
- Asked by Woodward how history would judge the war, Bush replied: "History. We don't know. We'll all be dead."
January 24, 2009
Ladies & Gentlemen, the Soothing Dulcet Sounds of President Barack Hussein Obama:
(President Obama's First Weekly Radio/YouTube Address)
Sooooo much easier on the ears than that faux cowboy. Bonus: He actually knows what he's talking about.
Added super-duper bonus: Recovery.Gov is being created by the Obama Administration to ensure transparency in the recovery effort:
"An oversight board will routinely update this site as part of an unprecedented effort to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government."Somewhere, Dick Cheney is spinning in his man-sized safe.
January 22, 2009
Good Job Democrats! High-Fives All Around
Jaw-Dropping, Ear-Popping Fresh Beats
Reason #404 why Stephen Colbert is one of the funniest men in America:
The intro may drag but it sets up the clip which is classic Colbert comedy gold.
You can watch submissions here. This Colbert kid really understands this internets thing, doesn't he?
If you see one of these and you need to make a deposit, run. Run fast. I just lost two checks totalling $_____.00 in one of these babies and I'm told it may take up to 45 DAYS to have my claim resolved.
If I was currently living hand-to-mouth (like so many unfortunate people are), I would starve to death within the month.
Jay Smooth weighs in on what the Obama presidency means:
Click Jay's link for more great stuff from the world of hip hop, including my favorite, A Beginner's Guide to "No Homo":
Bizarro World on Fox News
Me and the Missus spent a little time Tuesday night watching Fox News for the first time in a loooong time just to see how they were reacting to our/their new President. Unlike the funeral-like demeanor of their election night coverage, the Fox anchors and reporters seemed giddy with excitement, covering every inaugural ball with what I'd have to call Obama-love. There were the usual idiotic comments like Geraldo Rivera saying "You'd be surprised at how much the military supports Obama" after watching the military go head over heels for their new commander in chief and Megyn Kelly claiming that most of our soldiers overseas don't want to come home (qualifying her comment by saying they want to finish the mission). But even Bill O'Reilly didn't seem to buy her propaganda:
Most importantly, the night gave voice to people who normally wouldn't be able to freely express their (liberal) opinions without someone telling them to shut up. For example, check out this little interview with actress Dana Delany:
And, it looks like Dana got her wish:
President Obama will issue an executive order on Thursday reversing the Bush administration policy that bans the use of federal dollars by non-govermental organizations that discuss or provide abortions outside of the United States.Fox News viewers' heads must be exploding.
Obama will sign the executive order on the 36th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in all 50 states.
Oh My, um, Gosh!
Conservatives love to get caught up in minutia and issues smart people just don't care about while President Obama quietly goes about remaking America into America. I hope they continue to do this for the next four years -- this will all but guarantee Obama two terms.
Congratulations Secretary Clinton
Hillary Clinton arrives at the State Department to a rousing ovation:
How relieved these people must be that the ludicrously incompetent Condi Rice is no longer their boss. It's if our entire government has just experienced a ginormous (but somehow pleasurable) colon cleanse. Okay, ew.
January 21, 2009
Look Everyone! There's an Adult in the Oval Office!!!
And because I'm seven (see below), it's nice to have some adult supervision.
...because things like this make me cry with laughter:
"Did you feel that?"
(h/t List of the Day)
Bush got roundly booed at the inauguration. Hardballin' Chris Matthews thought that was "bad form":
Really? You call that bad form? How about starting an illegal war in Iraq? How about condoning torture? How about doing nothing while Katrina devastated the South? How about ignoring the danger signs of a cratering economy while enabling all of your rich friends to get richer? How about destroying America's standing in the world?
That's what I call bad form. Na Na Na Na. Hey Hey. Goodbye (and good fucking riddance).
The Daily Show's Take On Yesterday's Historic Inauguration
(The Clinton gag is classic.)
Bonus Video: Openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson (the man who opened Sunday's We Are One concert but somehow got left out of the initial broadcasts) steals the show with the best line of the night (about :30 in):
January 20, 2009
What a difference four years make:
One of these clips is not exactly SFW. As for most of everything that occurred over the last 8 years, I blame Bush.
The Music Video
(courtesy of ThePartyParty)
President Barack Hussein Obama
It suddenly feels like a good time to be alive.
January 19, 2009
Tomorrow is your day. Can't you feel it rising?
(Click to play)
*Stream the entire show here.
Running Away (or in this case, Toward)
As Bono said yesterday at the We Are One concert, the election of Barack Obama is "an American dream, an Irish dream...a European dream, an African dream, an Israeli dream...and also a Palestinian dream." That dream has even inspired this young lad from England:
(Click to play)
January 16, 2009
"Every kid gets a trophy"
Smirky McChimpy Chimp sez Goodbye to the Nation (and takes less than 2 minutes to bring up his crowning "achievement": 9/11):
This delusional speech was best summarized by Chris Matthews:
"Well, it was a score card that only he could design, and of course he did well on it, uh, but in the way that today every kid gets a trophy who participates..."
THE TRANSISTOR WIDOW (No. 020)
Untitled, Will McRobb (2008)
January 15, 2009
EVERYONE survived. Unbelievable.
January 14, 2009
President George W. Bellicose
Chevy Chase in 2016?
January 13, 2009
Mike Huckabee is Clearly Not a Ricky Gervais Fan
In a new Esquire interview, former fatty Mike Huckabee likens being gay to obesity and alcoholism:
Huckabee says he doesn't know if homosexuality is inborn, but he believes you can control the behavior. He compares homosexuality to obesity or alcoholism: "Some people have a predisposition to alcoholism. Does that mean they're not responsible for getting drunk? No."Alrighty, then. Apparently Mike hasn't heard Ricky Gervais' views on the subject:
I heard someone on the radio once say that they were tired of the prejudice aimed at the overweight. They said something like "you're not allowed to make fun of gay people, so why are you allowed to make fun of fat people? It's the same thing."What? Too graphic?!?
It's not the same thing though, is it? Gay people are born that way. They didn't work at becoming gay. Fat people became fat because they would rather be that way than stop eating so much. They had to eat and eat to get fat. Then, when they were fat they had to keep up the eating to stay fat. For gayness to be the same as fatness, gay people would have to start off straight but then ween themselves onto cock. Soon they're noshing all day getting gayer and gayer. They've had more than enough cock... they're full... they're just sucking for the sake of it. Now they're overgay, and frowned upon by people who can have the occasional cock but not over indulge.
When a doctor tells me that that's how you become gay, I'll stop making jokes about fat people.
January 12, 2009
Then Why The Fuck Are You There Joe?!?!?
Everyone's favorite regular plumber without a license goes to Israel even though he thinks it's "asinine" for him to be there:
Gee Joe, if only things were as wonderful as they were back in the days of WWI & WWII when people could watch feel-good newsreels before their Charlie Chaplin and Cary Grant movies without having to actually confront the reality that, um, soldiers and civilians get their limbs blown off and sometimes actually die during times of war. I mean, who wants to eat buttered popcorn after seeing something like that?
January 09, 2009
Top 10 George W. Bush Moments
I can't wait for this dumbass to go back to Texas:
I love how Dave doesn't even have to say a thing after each clip. They all speak for themselves (very loudly).
Best Use of Photoshop, Evah
Thank you Why, That's Delightful!
January 08, 2009
Would You Like Some Cheese With That Whine?
...or perhaps some water to wash down that bitter pill.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the (oh god I hope) Future of the Republican Party:
As TBogg points out, how cruel was it of "documentarian" John Ziegler to leave How Obama Got Elected on the screen throughout the Barracuda's entire interview? At least we finally learn what Sarah Palin reads: "I read newspapers, I read publications, I spend a lot of time, of course, reading our local papers, and the highly circulated publications here in Alaska because that's my job is to know the business of Alaska and our communities but also USA Today and New York Times." Man, she's exhausting.
Breaking News: The Obama Puppy Has Ties to al Qaeda...Peroxide Kills Hat Fungus...A New 15 Cent Coin Will Not Bear the Words "In God We Trust"
The Old People News Network:
"But He Kept Us Safe After 9/11!!!"
"There are some who would like to rewrite history. Revisionist historians is what I like to call 'em." - President G. Walker Bush (6.16.03)*
As the country says goodbye to George Bush, his handlers, sycophants and apologizers have been telling anyone who will listen that their man is a hero who saved America from the terrorizers. Take for example this creepy transvestite talking to Matt Lauer on The Today Show:
(at approx. 2:40: "I'm grateful to him for keeping the nation safe for the last 8 years. We'll see if that continues.")
Sure. He kept us safe. After he didn't. 9/11 ring a bell?
Then there's Time Magazine's Mark Halperin who thinks Bush did a bang-up job after 9/11 (and thinks "other presidents wouldn't have performed as well"):
Enough of this b.s. Former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke, who tried to warn the Bush Administration about "al Qida" but was ignored...
...has penned an op-ed to rewrite the rewriters of history:
George Bush, still President, is engaging in a legacy tour of media outlets. This comes despite his earlier having said he did not know how history would judge the Iraq war "because we'll all be dead."And, The Huffington Post's Bob Cesca has nice little rundown of the Bush Administration's actual "heroics":
Actually, many people are already dead because of Bush, and that is the point to keep in mind when he talks about his legacy.
Among the themes Bush is striking are that through action at home and fighting "them" over there, not over here, his administration stopped terrorist attacks and prevented another 9/11. There is a surface plausibility to those claims, as there has often been with the messaging served up by the Karl Rove spin machine. But let's look beneath the surface of the assertions.
There wasn't a second 9/11? That's obviously true, but it misses the point. First, we must remember that Al Qaeda terrorists are patient, deliberate planners who often wait years between strikes. Second, there was the first 9/11 - and it happened on Bush's watch. Without rehashing the entire 9/11 Commission Report, the historical record is pretty clear by now that Bush did virtually nothing about the repeated warnings to him that those cataclysmic attacks were coming. Unfortunately, I can personally attest to that as well.
Bush saved American lives? Tell that to the families of the 4,200 U.S. military personnel who have perished in the needless war in Iraq. While they served heroically and deserve the great thanks of the American people, the tragic truth is that they were engaged in a war we should not have been fighting and which was sold to the Congress, the media and American people with exaggerated and even false claims.
What I recall is a litany of awful, illegal and destructive responses to September 11 on behalf of the president. I'm thinking specifically about White House-sanctioned torture. I'm thinking about extraordinary rendition. I'm thinking about Abu Ghraib and illegal invasions and interminable occupations. I'm thinking about how a CIA agent tasked with tracking loose nukes was outed as part of effort to lie about the justifications for that invasion and occupation. I'm thinking about 35,000 American military casualties. I'm thinking about post traumatic stress disorder. I'm thinking about a system that allowed many September 11 heroes to die of respiratory-related illnesses. I'm thinking about illegal and unconstitutional searches and seizures. I'm thinking about the USA PATRIOT Act, the Military Commission Act and the "terrorist surveillance program." I'm thinking about known-knowns, "bring 'em on" and "watch what you say" warnings. I'm thinking about orange alerts, duct tape, bottled-liquids bans, cable news animations of exploding airplanes and national waves of hysteria tweaked by well-orchestrated fear-mongering campaigns. I'm thinking about the tens of thousands of terrorist attacks -- some of them on American soil, most of them against American interests and all having occurred despite the lie that the Bush administration has "kept us safe." To that point, I'm thinking about decades of future blowback which historians and foreign policy experts might attribute directly to President Bush's reaction to September 11.Okay fellow bloggers and cocktail party soap-boxers: You have your assignment.
Instead of compassion, reason, rationality and inspiration tempered with humility -- traits evident in the crisis-handling of other presidents -- we can easily recall self-indulgence, dangerous pride and indignity; sloganeering and exploitation in lieu of positive words and deeds -- words and deeds which so many of President Bush's predecessors have managed to summon under similar duress.
So in the face of a well-funded and high profile revisionist crusade, one of the most important tasks of our generation will be to preserve the real legacy -- the legitimate history -- of the Bush administration, and especially the sheer mediocrity of President Bush's immediate response, and utterly destructive long term reaction to September 11.
The motivation for rising to this challenge need only be found in the thought of our posterity learning the history of those days and the broader history of this decade as written by Mark Halperin and Karl Rove.
*Click link to listen to a great hero.
Taking Mount Sinai (By Strategy)
Musician/Producer Brian Eno believes Israel has hit a new low:
It's a tragedy that the Israelis - a people who must understand better than almost anybody the horrors of oppression - are now acting as oppressors. As the great Jewish writer Primo Levi once remarked "Everybody has their Jews, and for the Israelis it's the Palestinians". By creating a middle Eastern version of the Warsaw ghetto they are recapitulating their own history as though they've forgotten it. And by trying to paint an equivalence between the Palestinians - with their homemade rockets and stone-throwing teenagers - and themselves - with one of the most sophisticated military machines in the world - they sacrifice all credibility.Here's the rest:
The Israelis are a gifted and resourceful people who fully deserve the right to live in peace, but who seem intent on squandering every chance to allow that to happen. It's difficult to avoid the conclusion that this conflict serves the political and economic purposes of Israel so well that they have every interest in maintaining it. While there is fighting they can continue to build illegal settlements. While there is fighting they continue to receive huge quantities of military aid from the United States. And while there is fighting they can avoid looking candidly at themselves and the ruthlessness into which they are descending.
Still wondering what President-elect Obabma thinks about this mess...
January 07, 2009
12 More Days. Obama's Swearing-In Ceremony Can't Happen Soon Enough
If you can stand to relive it, Vanity Fair has put together a comprehensive oral history of the eight years of HELL known as The Bush Presidency. Most of this stuff you probably already know but being able to read it all in one fell swoop makes the last eight years seem like a particularly intense (and improbable) Hollywood crime caper -- one in which the criminals get off scot-free. Some "highlights":
Lawrence Wilkerson, top aide and later chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell: We had this confluence of characters—and I use that term very carefully—that included people like Powell, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, and so forth, which allowed one perception to be “the dream team.” It allowed everybody to believe that this Sarah Palin–like president—because, let’s face it, that’s what he was—was going to be protected by this national-security elite, tested in the cauldrons of fire. What in effect happened was that a very astute, probably the most astute, bureaucratic entrepreneur I’ve ever run into in my life became the vice president of the United States.I beg to differ with Mr. Dowd. The headline ultimately will be EPIC FAIL.
He became vice president well before George Bush picked him. And he began to manipulate things from that point on, knowing that he was going to be able to convince this guy to pick him, knowing that he was then going to be able to wade into the vacuums that existed around George Bush—personality vacuum, character vacuum, details vacuum, experience vacuum.
Richard Clarke, chief White House counterterrorism adviser: We had a couple of meetings with the president, and there were detailed discussions and briefings on cyber-security and often terrorism, and on a classified program. With the cyber-security meeting, he seemed—I was disturbed because he seemed to be trying to impress us, the people who were briefing him. It was as though he wanted these experts, these White House staff guys who had been around for a long time before he got there—didn’t want them buying the rumor that he wasn’t too bright. He was trying—sort of overly trying—to show that he could ask good questions, and kind of yukking it up with Cheney.
The contrast with having briefed his father and Clinton and Gore was so marked. And to be told, frankly, early in the administration, by Condi Rice and [her deputy] Steve Hadley, you know, Don’t give the president a lot of long memos, he’s not a big reader—well, shit. I mean, the president of the United States is not a big reader?
David Kuo, deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives: I went to a communications meeting the day after Jeffords switched. I remember feeling like I was looking at people who had won a reality-game ticket to head up the White House. There was this remarkable combination of hubris, excitement, and staggering ignorance.
Someone made the suggestion that perhaps the president should call the new majority leader. And it’s like, Well, I’m not sure that’s really necessary. Margaret Tutwiler [assistant to the president and special adviser for communications] was there, and I remember her sitting at the head of the table, her eyes just sort of wide, and she sort of lost it. She’s like, Are you fricking kidding me? She goes, The president of the United States calls the new majority leader. The president of the United States calls the new minority leader, right? The president does these things because, you know, these things have to be done.
And, you know, people around the table—Karl [Rove], Karen [Hughes]—all these people were like, Oh, well, do we have to? It was like an absolutely serious debate.
Richard Clarke: That night, on 9/11, Rumsfeld came over and the others, and the president finally got back, and we had a meeting. And Rumsfeld said, You know, we’ve got to do Iraq, and everyone looked at him—at least I looked at him and Powell looked at him—like, What the hell are you talking about? And he said—I’ll never forget this—There just aren’t enough targets in Afghanistan. We need to bomb something else to prove that we’re, you know, big and strong and not going to be pushed around by these kind of attacks.
And I made the point certainly that night, and I think Powell acknowledged it, that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. That didn’t seem to faze Rumsfeld in the least.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. It really didn’t, because from the first weeks of the administration they were talking about Iraq. I just found it a little disgusting that they were talking about it while the bodies were still burning in the Pentagon and at the World Trade Center.
Matthew Dowd, Bush’s pollster and chief strategist for the 2004 presidential campaign: He was given a great, great window of opportunity where everybody wanted to be called to some shared sense of purpose and sacrifice and all that, and Bush never did it. And not for lack of people suggesting various things from bonds to, you know, some sort of national service. Bush decided to say that the best thing is: Everybody go about their life, and I’ll handle it.
There’s this West Texas thing in him, which is the—you know: Bad people are comin’ to town. Everybody go back to their house. I’ll take the burden on. Which, you know, may work in a Western town, but doesn’t work for a country that wants to be part of that conversation.
Mary Matalin, assistant to the president and counselor to the vice president: There was so much to do that was more important than—I mean, looking back, the national-unity thing is important, but it was way more important to re-structure the intelligence communities, way more important to harden targets. Know what I mean? It was all hands on deck. We were working on other shit. Everyone’s pulverized and beat, and there’s 24 hours in a day, so woulda, coulda, shoulda, but, you know, there was no office to do “feel-good” stuff.
John Bellinger III, legal adviser to the National Security Council, and later to the secretary of state: A small group of administration lawyers drafted the president’s military order establishing the military commissions, but without the knowledge of the rest of the government, including the national-security adviser, me, the secretary of state, or even the C.I.A. director. And even though many of the substantive problems with the military commissions as created by the original order have been resolved by Congress in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hamdan case, we have been suffering from this original process failure ever since.
Bob Graham, Democratic senator from Florida and chairman of the Senate intelligence committee: In February of ‘02, I had a visit at Central Command, in Tampa, and the purpose was to get a briefing on the status of the war in Afghanistan. At the end of the briefing, the commanding officer, Tommy Franks, asked me to go into his office for a private meeting, and he told me that we were no longer fighting a war in Afghanistan and, among other things, that some of the key personnel, particularly some special-operations units and some equipment, specifically the Predator unmanned drone, were being withdrawn in order to get ready for a war in Iraq.
That was my first indication that war in Iraq was as serious a possibility as it was, and that it was in competition with Afghanistan for matériel. We didn’t have the resources to do both successfully and simultaneously.
Rick Piltz, senior associate, U.S. Climate Change Science Program: At the beginning of the Bush administration, Ari Patrinos, a very senior science official who had run the Department of Energy’s climate-change research program for many years, and a half-dozen high-ranking federal science officials were brought together and told to explain the science and help develop policy options for a proactive climate-change policy for the administration. They moved into an office downtown, and they worked very hard and were briefing at the Cabinet level, in the White House. Cheney was there, Colin Powell was there, Commerce Secretary [Don] Evans was there. They were making the case on climate change.
And one day they were told: Take it down, pack it up, go back to your offices—we don’t need you anymore.
Paul Pillar, national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia at the C.I.A.: The makers of the war had no appetite for and did not request any such assessments [about the aftermath of war]. Anybody who wanted an intelligence-community assessment on any of this stuff would’ve come through me, and I got no requests at all.
As to why this was the case, I would give two general answers. Number one was just extreme hubris and self-confidence. If you truly believe in the power of free economics and free politics, and their attractiveness to all populations of the world, and their ability to sweep away all manner of ills, then you tend not to worry about these things so much.
The other major reason is that, given the difficulty of mustering public support for something as extreme as an offensive war, any serious discussion inside the government about the messy consequences, the things that could go wrong, would complicate even further the job of selling the war.
Jay Garner, retired army general and first overseer of the U.S. administration and reconstruction of Iraq: When Shinseki said, Hey, it’s going to take 300,000 or 400,000 soldiers, they crucified him. They called me up the day after that, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld. They called me the next day and they said, Did you see what Shinseki said? And I said yes. And they said, Well, that can’t be possible. And I said, Well, let me give you the only piece of empirical data I have. In 1991, I owned 5 percent of the real estate in Iraq, and I had 22,000 trigger pullers. And on any day I never had enough. So you can take 5 percent—you can take 22,000 and multiply that by 20. Hey, here’s probably the ballpark, and I didn’t have Baghdad. And they said, Thank you very much. So I got up and left.
Kenneth Adelman, a member of Donald Rumsfeld’s advisory Defense Policy Board: I said to Rumsfeld, Well, the way you handled Abu Ghraib I thought was abysmal. He says, What do you mean? I say, It broke in January of—what was that, ‘04? Yeah, ‘04. And you didn’t do jack shit till it was revealed in the spring. He says, That’s totally unfair. I didn’t have the information. I said, What information did you have? You had the information that we had done these—and there were photos. You knew about the photos, didn’t you? He says, I didn’t see the photos. I couldn’t get those photos. A lot of stuff happens around here. I don’t follow every story. I say, Excuse me, but I thought in one of the testimonies you said you told the president about Abu Ghraib in January. And if it was big enough to tell the president, wasn’t it big enough to do something about? He says, Well, I couldn’t get the photos. I say, You’re secretary of defense. Somebody in the building who works for you has photos, and for five months you can’t get photos—hello?
Joschka Fischer, German foreign minister and vice-chancellor: The big problem was that the administration was in a permanent state of denial—that they are doing the job for Tehran. That’s another irony, a very tragic one. Because if you look to the basic parameters of Iran’s capability or strategic strength, this is not a superpower—they’re far from a superpower. They never could have achieved such a level of dominance and influence if they would have had to rely only on their own resources and skills. America pushed Iran in that way.
I was invited to a conference in Saudi Arabia on Iraq, and a Saudi said to me, Look, Mr. Fischer, when President Bush wants to visit Baghdad, it’s a state secret, and he has to enter the country in the middle of the night and through the back door. When President Ahmadinejad wants to visit Baghdad, it’s announced two weeks beforehand or three weeks. He arrives in the brightest sunshine and travels in an open car through a cheering crowd to downtown Baghdad. Now, tell me, Mr. Fischer, who is running the country?
Lee Hamilton, former Indiana congressman and vice-chair of the 9/11 commission: When you have a disaster strike, you have to have someone in charge. They didn’t have anybody in charge in New York during 9/11. They didn’t have anybody in charge in Katrina. And you get a mess.
Politically it’s a very difficult thing. You’ve got the counties, the cities, and the federal government and all the rest to work it out. Nobody wants to give up authority prior to the fact. The governor of Louisiana wants to be in charge. The governor of Mississippi wants to be in charge. The mayor of New Orleans wants to be in charge. You’ve got 50 other cities that want to be in charge. I have come to the view in these massive disasters—like Katrina or New York on 9/11—that the federal government has to be in charge because they’re the only one that has the resources to deal with the problem.
But presidents don’t like to stomp on governors and override them. When these kinds of problems are not resolved, people die.
Alan K. Simpson, former senator from Wyoming and a member of the Iraq Study Group: It was an early-morning session, seven a.m., I think, breakfast, the day we trotted it out. And Jim and Lee said, Mr. President, we will—and Dick was there, Cheney was there—just go around the room, if you would, and all of us share with you a quick thought? And the president said fine. I thought at first the president seemed a little—I don’t know, just maybe impatient, like, What now?
He went around the room. Everybody stated their case. It just took a couple minutes. I know what I said. I said, Mr. President, we’re not here to present this to vex or embarrass you in any way. That’s not the purpose of this. We’re in a tough, tough situation, and we think these recommendations can help the country out. We’ve agreed on every word here, and I hope you’ll give it your full attention. He said, Oh, I will. And I turned to Dick, and I said, Dick, old friend, I hope you’ll gnaw on this, too. This is very important that you hear this and review it. And he said, I will, I will, and thanks.
Then the president gave an address not too far after that. And we were called by [National-Security Adviser Stephen] Hadley on a conference call. He said, Thank you for the work. The president’s going to mention your report, and it’ll be—there will be parts of it that he will embrace, in fact, and if he doesn’t happen to speak on certain issues, you know that they’ll be in full consideration in the weeks to come, or something like that. And we all listened with a wry smile.
We figured that maybe 5 of the 79 recommendations would ever be considered, and I think we were pretty right.
Anthony Cordesman, national-security analyst and former official at the Defense and State Departments: We can all argue over the semantics of the word “surge,” and it is fair to say that some goals were not met. We didn’t come close to providing additional civilian-aid workers that were called for in the original plan. And often it took much longer to achieve the effects than people had planned. But the fact was that this was a broad political, military, and economic strategy, which was executed on many different levels. And credit has to go to General Petraeus, General Odierno, and Ambassador Crocker for taking what often were ideas, very loosely defined, and policies which were very broadly stated, and transforming them into a remarkably effective real-world effort.
It’s important to note that we made even more mistakes in Afghanistan than we did in Iraq. We were far slower to react, but in both cases we were unprepared for stability operations; we had totally unrealistic goals for nation building; at a political level we were in a state of denial about the seriousness of popular anger and resistance, about the rise of the insurgency, about the need for host-country support and forces; and we had a singularly unfortunate combination of a secretary of defense and a vice president who tried to win through ideology rather than realism and a secretary of state who essentially stood aside from many of the issues involved. And in fairness, rather than blame subordinates, you had a president who basically took until late 2006 to understand how much trouble he was in in Iraq and seems to have taken till late 2008 to understand how much trouble he was in in Afghanistan.
Ari Fleischer, Bush’s first White House press secretary: [The housing bubble] was not on my radar screen. Now, after everything broke with Fannie and Freddie, I guess the White House released some document that, if I remember it, said the president 17 times cited Fannie and Freddie problems going back to the initial budget that we submitted in 2001. So the wonks were onto it, but in the post-9/11 world and then the Iraq-war world, all the visible focus, all the news, was on other issues. I think it just got drowned out and it didn’t get met with any sense of urgency from people in both parties.
Jake Boritt, filmmaker and Gettysburg tour guide: We’re standing in front of the Virginia monument, which is more or less where Robert E. Lee ordered Pickett’s Charge from. When Lee invaded the North, his hope was that he could get far enough in, win a great battle, demoralize the Northern will to fight, and then there would be pressure on Lincoln to stop the war. Everybody in the North was terrified. Lincoln was not. He was looking at it as an opportunity, because finally Lee was going to be off his home turf in Virginia. Lincoln was actually excited at the possibility that the Confederate Army was invading Pennsylvania. And Bush said, Well, did the president say, “Bring it on”?
David Kuo, deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives: It’s kind of like the Tower of Babel. At a certain point in time, God smites hubris. You knew that right around the time people started saying there’s going to be a permanent Republican majority—that God kinda goes, No, I really don’t think so.
Matthew Dowd, Bush’s pollster and chief strategist for the 2004 presidential campaign: You know, the headline in his presidency will be missed opportunity. That is the headline, ultimately. It’s missed opportunity, missed opportunity.
War is NOT the Answer
No matter what side of the Israel-Palestinian fence you are on, you have to agree that, after decades of bloodshed, war has accomplished nothing. Except kill a lot of people. Including children. One brave woman thinks this madness has gone too far:
Chilling. Inspiring. Hopeful (yet still incredibly sad).
The "Top" 50 Albums, Artists & Tracks of 2008
The Hype Machine has compiled the best of '08 based on music bloggers' year-end best of lists. Click below to stream 'em all and get lost for 50 or so hours:
January 05, 2009
Coming to Alderaan:
One of the best Vader mashups ever (Star Wars and Coming to America, in case you didn't catch it).