I spent a goodly part of the day sitting here doing just about nothing at all except trolling around Doctor Who sites. Some of the out-of-print Doctor novels are selling used for astronomical prices (no joke, someone has The Eight Doctors selling at the Amazon Marketplace for $1,987.22!!!). Scary.
I was outside getting something out of Barb's car when I heard a kerfluffle in the backyard and looked around to see Sam dropping a pigeon. The pigeon weakly flapped its wings and scurried into the laundry room as I shrieked at the dog to leave it alone then raced through the house to try and discourage further damage. Long story short, bird is now encased in the crate (which is covered to keep it dark), safe on a table, with lots of water and birdseed. It's missing a lot of feathers and appears to have a broken leg, but the bleeding has stopped and it's awake and alert. Sam is in the house. We had to move the washing machine to get to it, and put it in the crate, but after several hours and finding it was still alive, we decided to at least try and see if it would survive. Now all we can do is wait. In the meantime, of course, Sam doesn't understand why we took his toy away (he looked very annoyed at me when I hollered at him in the first place).
Now I'm watching the History Channel's marathon of natural disaster shows, I would imagine to commemorate the upcoming anniversary of Katrina - every time man thinks he's mastered nature, Nature shows him how wrong he is. They're currently showing footage from the 1938 hurricane that absolutely devastated the New England/New York coastline - the news of which was overshadowed by Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia on the same day...
I feel achy and cranky for some reason. I don't know what I want. We spent the morning cleaning house for Barb's mom and then had lunch out, although the place we went to only served breakfast until noon, so I didn't get the burger and fries I wanted, but biscuits and gravy (the breakfast potatoes were kind of LIKE fries, though - tasty). We were woken very early by guys wanting to know if we wanted our lawn mowed - the sign of "yes, we know, it's overgrown" - but since they really didn't want to do it for free, we sent them on their way and tried to get back to sleep, but no go.
Some good articles in the NY Times the last two days - I decided to cough up for a month or two of "Times Select" so I could read Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich again. Worth it!
Junior Needs a Spanking
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: August 26, 2006
The Old King put the Boy King over his knee yesterday and gave him a good thwack with a lobster-shaped paddle.
O.K., that didn’t happen, but don’t you wish it had?
Junior certainly deserves it, with recent attempts to blame his dad for policies that led to 9/11 and the rise of Osama and Middle East terrorism.
As with so many things about this byzantine, Shakespearean relationship between father and son, reunited here at last for a wedding, a christening and a funeral this weekend, it’s an ironic turn of events.
The son was furious when the father was painted as a wimp in the 1988 campaign, and now he and his spinners are painting 41 as a weak leader. W.’s pain at what happened to his aristocratic dad with “the wimp factor” led him to overreact in the other direction when he became president, embracing a West Texas-tough, muscle-bound foreign policy that shunned diplomacy, nuance, compromise, multilateral treaties and allied coalitions as measures that reflected impotence.
And now it has led him to scapegoat his own father, and Bill Clinton, for sending signals of weakness that encouraged the terrorists — even as many Middle East experts say it is W.’s culturally obtuse, diplomatically averse and morally simplistic style that has spurred terrorism and made the world more dangerous.
The Bush spokesman Tony Snow recently told reporters that “when the United States walked away, in the opinion of Osama bin Laden in 1991, bin Laden drew from that the conclusion that Americans were weak and wouldn’t stay the course, and that led to September 11th.”
Afterwards, questioned by furious Bush I foreign policy types, Bush II officials tried to claim that Mr. Snow was talking about President Clinton running away from Somalia, but clearly the spokesman was referring, as he originally confirmed, to the truncated end of Desert Storm.
In Crawford recently, the president also criticized previous administrations for policies that indicated that “stability is more important than form of government.”
Translation: Dad cuddled up to the corrupt Saudi monarchy and other Middle East dictators and let Saddam stay in power and was tough on Israel. I got rid of Saddam to establish a democracy and uncritically sided with Israel, a democracy.
Of course, now W. has now been reduced to pleading with dictatorial Mideast leaders to help him quell the violence engulfing Iraq and Lebanon, and with the military dictator Musharraf to help him capture Al Qaeda members.
The Bush I inner circle whispers that W. and Condi are “in over their heads,” as one told me, and that without 41, Jim Baker and Brent Scowcroft around, there is no one to “corral” Dick Cheney from his hard-line craziness.
“They misread history,” said one Bush I foreign policy official. “43’s born-again background and lack of experience and simple view of the world made him think it was easy to define who the enemy is. But hope is not a policy — hoping to win, hoping to make a democracy. They came in with the philosophy that the U.S. was the most powerful country in the world and they could remake the world any way they wanted. Condi and others assumed that the Middle East would fall apart peacefully, the way the Soviet Union did, if given a chance. But the Middle East is a totally different place.”
They agree, as one said, that 41 is a “very private guy who loves his son dearly, and you will not catch any daylight between them. I doubt that he’s taking any joy from the fact it’s clear now that he did the right thing in ’91 and his son is screwing up.”
Poppy Bush did not like it when Jimmy Carter tried to give him advice after he took over the job and he would be very loath to do that with any successor — much less a son who was so threatened by his dad’s shadow that he drifted until his 40’s.
Father and son do talk quite a bit on the phone, and sometimes about world affairs. But 41, as one associate notes, “is not the type of guy to say, ‘George, you should be doing x, y and z.’ He might say something more oblique, like, ‘So-and-so says this is happening.’ ”
At this hazardous moment in world history, somebody has got to grab the stubborn, shuttered scion wearing the “43” windbreaker and talk some sense into him, the way Dwight Eisenhower did when he privately dressed down the young J.F.K. after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. And who better than his dad, that 82-year-old still demonically driving his cigarette boat around the Bay of Bushes?
Return to the Scene of the Crime
By FRANK RICH
Published: August 27, 2006
PRESIDENT BUSH travels to the Gulf Coast this week, ostensibly to mark the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Everyone knows his real mission: to try to make us forget the first anniversary of the downfall of his presidency.
As they used to say in the French Quarter, bonne chance! The ineptitude bared by the storm — no planning for a widely predicted catastrophe, no attempt to secure a city besieged by looting, no strategy for anything except spin — is indelible. New Orleans was Iraq redux with an all-American cast. The discrepancy between Mr. Bush’s “heckuva job” shtick and the reality on the ground induced a Cronkite-in-Vietnam epiphany for news anchors. At long last they and the country demanded answers to the questions about the administration’s competence that had been soft-pedaled two years earlier when the war first went south.
What’s amazing on Katrina’s first anniversary is how little Mr. Bush seems aware of this change in the political weather. He’s still in a bubble. At last week’s White House press conference, he sounded as petulant as Tom Cruise on the “Today” show when Matt Lauer challenged him about his boorish criticism of Brooke Shields. Asked what Iraq had to do with the attack on the World Trade Center, Mr. Bush testily responded, “Nothing,” adding that “nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attacks.” Like the emasculated movie star, the president is still so infatuated with his own myth that he believes the public will buy such nonsense.
As the rest of the world knows, the White House connived 24/7 to pound in the suggestion that Saddam ordered the attacks on 9/11. “The Bush administration had repeatedly tied the Iraq war to Sept. 11,” Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton write in “Without Precedent,” their new account of their stewardship of the 9/11 commission. The nonexistent Qaeda-Saddam tie-in was as much a selling point for the war as the nonexistent W.M.D. The salesmanship was so merciless that half the country was brainwashed into believing that the 9/11 hijackers had been Iraqis.
To achieve this feat, Dick Cheney spent two years publicly hyping a “pretty well confirmed” (translation: unconfirmed) pre-9/11 meeting in Prague between Mohamed Atta and a Saddam intelligence officer, continuing to do so long after this specious theory had been discredited. Mr. Bush’s strategy was to histrionically stir 9/11 and Iraq into the same sentence whenever possible, before the invasion and after. Typical was his May 1, 2003, oration declaring the end of “major combat operations.” After noting that “the battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September 11th, 2001,” he added: “With those attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States. And war is what they got.” To paraphrase the former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, this was tantamount to saying that the Japanese attacked us on Dec. 7, 1941, and war with Mexico is what they got.
Were it not so tragic, Mr. Bush’s claim that he had never suggested a connection between the 9/11 attacks and Iraq would be as ludicrous as Bill Clinton’s doomed effort to draw a distinction between sex and oral sex. The tragedy is that the country ever believed Mr. Bush, particularly those Americans who were moved to enlist because of 9/11 and instead ended up fighting a war that the president now concedes had “nothing” to do with the 9/11 attacks.
A representative and poignant example, brought to light by The Los Angeles Times, is Patrick R. McCaffrey, a Silicon Valley auto-body-shop manager with two children who joined the California National Guard one month after 9/11. He was eager to do his bit for homeland security by helping protect the Shasta Dam or Golden Gate Bridge. Instead he was sent to Iraq, where he was killed in 2004. In a replay of the Pentagon subterfuge surrounding the friendly-fire death of Pat Tillman, another post-9/11 enlistee betrayed by his country, Mr. McCaffrey’s death was at first officially attributed to an ambush by insurgents. Only after two years of investigation did the Army finally concede that his killers were actually the Iraqi security forces he was helping to train.
“He said we had no business in Iraq and should not be there,” his mother, Nadia McCaffrey, told the paper. Last week’s belated presidential admission that Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on America that inspired Patrick McCaffrey’s service was implicitly an admission that he and many like him died in Iraq for nothing as well.
Mr. Bush’s press-conference disavowalof his habitual efforts to connect 9/11 to Saddam will be rolled back by the White House soon enough. When the fifth anniversary of 9/11 arrives in two weeks, you can bet that the president will once again invoke the Qaeda attacks to justify the Iraq war, especially now that we are adding troops (through the involuntary call-up of reservists) rather than subtracting any. The new propaganda strategy will be right out of Lewis Carroll: If we leave the country that had nothing to do with 9/11, then 9/11 will happen again.
But before we get to that White House P.R. offensive, there is next week’s Katrina show. It has its work cut out for it. A year after the storm, the reconstruction of New Orleans echoes our reconstruction of Baghdad. A “truth squad” of House Democrats has cataloged the “waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement” in $8.75 billion worth of contracts, most of which were awarded noncompetitively. Only 60 percent of the city has electricity. Half of the hospitals and three-quarters of the child-care centers remain closed. Violent crime is on the rise. Less than half of the population has returned.
How do you pretty up this picture? As an opening act, Mr. Bush met on Wednesday with Rockey Vaccarella, a Katrina survivor who with much publicity drove a “replica” of a FEMA trailer from New Orleans to Washington to seek an audience with the president. No Cindy Sheehan bum’s rush for him. Mr. Bush granted his wish and paraded him before the press. That was enough to distract the visitor from his professed message to dramatize the unfinished job on the Gulf. Instead Mr. Vaccarella effusively thanked the president for “the millions of FEMA trailers” complete with air-conditioning and TV. “You know, I wish you had another four years, man,” he said. “If we had this president for another four years, I think we’d be great.”
The CNN White House correspondent, Ed Henry, loved it. “Hollywood couldn’t have scripted this any better, a gritty guy named Rockey slugging it out, trying to realize his dream and getting that dream realized against all odds,” he said. He didn’t ask how this particular Rockey, a fast-food manager who lost everything a year ago, financed this mission or so effortlessly pulled it off. It was up to bloggers and Democrats to report shortly thereafter that Mr. Vaccarella had run as a Republican candidate for the St. Bernard Parish commission in 1999. It was up to Iris Hageney of Gretna, La., to complain on the Times-Picayune Web site that the episode was “a huge embarrassment” that would encourage Americans to “forget the numerous people who still don’t have trailers or at least one with electricity or water.”
That is certainly the White House game plan as it looks toward the president’s two-day return to the scene of the crime. Just as it brought huge generators to floodlight Mr. Bush’s prime-time recovery speech in Jackson Square a year ago — and then yanked the plug as soon as he was done — so it will stop at little to bathe this anniversary in the rosiest possible glow.
Douglas Brinkley, the Tulane University historian who wrote the best-selling account of Katrina, “The Great Deluge,” is worried that even now the White House is escaping questioning about what it is up to (and not) in the Gulf. “I don’t think anybody’s getting the Bush strategy,” he said when we talked last week. “The crucial point is that the inaction is deliberate — the inaction is the action.” As he sees it, the administration, tacitly abetted by New Orleans’s opportunistic mayor, Ray Nagin, is encouraging selective inertia, whether in the rebuilding of the levees (“Only Band-Aids have been put on them”), the rebuilding of the Lower Ninth Ward or the restoration of the wetlands. The destination: a smaller city, with a large portion of its former black population permanently dispersed. “Out of the Katrina debacle, Bush is making political gains,” Mr. Brinkley says incredulously. “The last blue state in the Old South is turning into a red state.”
Perhaps. But with no plan for salvaging either of the catastrophes on his watch, this president can no sooner recover his credibility by putting on an elaborate show of sermonizing and spin this week than Mr. Cruise could levitate his image by jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch. While the White House’s latest screenplay may have been conceived as “Mission Accomplished II,” what we’re likely to see play out in New Orleans won’t even be a patch on “Mission: Impossible III.”
were both awesome.