--From George W. Bush's press conference, July 30, 2003.
Who might he have been talking about?
Why does he even have press conferences? Or, more to point, does he actually have them, or do they trot out a robotic double that they can wind up and deliver the talking points:
"Q. Suddam Hussein's alleged ties to Al Qaeda were a key part of your justification for war, yet your own intelligence report, the N.I.E. [National Intelligence Estimate], defined it as, quote, low confidence that Saddam would give weapons to Al Qaeda. Were those links exaggerated to justify war?...
A. Yeah. I think, first of all -- remember, I just said we've been there for 90 days since the cessation of major military operations...
There is no doubt in my mind...that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States security and a threat to peace in the region...
Q. There's a sense here in this country and a feeling around the world that the U.S. has lost credibility by building the case for Iraq upon sometimes flimsy or, some people have complained, nonexistent evidence. I'm just wondering, sir, why did you choose to take the world to war in that way?
A. ...Saddam Hussein was a threat. The United Nations viewed him as a threat. That's why they passed 12 resolutions. Predecessors of mine viewed him as a threat. We gathered a lot of intelligence on which I made a decision. And in order to placate the critics and the cynics about intentions of the United States, we need to produce evidence."
To every question about taking their eye off the Al Qaeda ball, we're told by Bush that Saddam was a threat. Flimsy evidence? Saddam was a threat. Poor post-war planning? Saddam was a threat. Dovetails nicely with his answers to all questions economic. The tax cuts to the wealthy are actually designed to help the middle class.
"There's no place like home. There's no place like home." In Bush's head, if he says it over and over, it will just have to come true.
So, the Policy Analyst Market is dead, and so, apparently is Poindexter's job. James Surowiecki thinks the death of PAM -- as bizarre as it appears -- is a bad thing. I'm not sure I follow his logic 100%. I mean, sure orange juice futures may be better at forecasting Florida weather than the weather service, but there's a key difference here. There's nothing we can do to prevent winter freezes in Florida, so the market is efficient. What's the incentive to bid big on a terror attack on an embassy in Samoa, if the government is going to use that information to stop the attack?
But the bigger issue is not whether DARPA comes up with crazy or cool ideas. It's about the arrogance and lack of accountability in this administration. First, they hire Poindexter, a felon whose sentence was overturned only because Congress, in their haste to get the goods on Reagan and Bush I, gave immunity to some of the key players in return for their testimony (Oliver North did no time for the same reason). Then the guy comes up with some bizarre ideas, but his bosses deny any knowledge of what he's working on? Gimme a break.
Arrogance. Lack of accountability. Oh yeah, did I mention cynicism? Re-read this sentence: "And in order to placate the critics and the cynics about intentions of the United States, we need to produce evidence." "We need to produce evidence to placate our critics." Sure, that's going to help to restore our credibility.
Need more evidence of the deep-seated arrogance of this guy and his administration? How about this choice exchange yesterday:
"Q. Mr. President, with no opponent, how can you spend $170 million or more on your primary campaign?
"A. Just watch."
Eric Boehlert of Salon has an excellent piece on how the war in Iraq has left us even more vulnerable to terrorist attack.
Also on Salon is Tom the Dancing Bug and the game everyone is playing.
I love this time of year when the Red Sox/Yankees begin the real race for the pennant. But I will miss Robin Ventura, one of the slyest wits on a Yankees team that generally eschews personality.
Speaking of personality. While attending a game at PacBell Park (yeah, yeah, it's a nice park and the food's great, and the Giants made some stellar plays in both left and right fields...okay, it was neat. And did I mentione the Anchor Steam Beer?), I was asked what Yankee Stadium is like. I, misty-eyed, of course, said, "Why, it's the cathedral of baseball." Rob Neyer reminds me that it can be pretty un-cathedral like. He's right, I have to admit it. I hate "Cotton-eyed Joe" -- one of the reasons I often prefer to watch the game on TV and listen to the commercials rather than the Stadium sound system. Not everyone's as open-minded as me, though.