“It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I'm pretty sure”

I'm not sure whether this tells us something we didn't know or need to know -- and again, the thing about this administration is that it's impossible to separate their mendacity from their extremism, from their arrogance, from their incompetence, from their ... well, you know, evilness. Anyway, even with everything that's happened, it's still hard to believe that the president's press secretary never heard of the Cuban missile crisis:

Appearing on National Public Radio's light-hearted quiz show “Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!” which aired over the weekend, Perino got into the spirit of things and told a story about herself that she had previously shared only in private: During a White House briefing, a reporter referred to the Cuban missile crisis -- and she didn't know what it was. “I was panicked a bit because I really don't know about -- nothing about the Cuban missile crisis,” said Perino, who at 35 was born about a decade after the 1962 U.S.-Soviet nuclear showdown. “It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I'm pretty sure.”

So she consulted her best source: “I came home and I asked my husband,” she recalled. “I said, 'Wasn't that like the Bay of Pigs thing?' And he said, 'Oh, Dana.' ”

So what, you say? That kind of thing leads to this kind of thing:

Censoring Climate Scientists

11 Dec 2007 09:52 am

It's difficult to know how to maintain one's sense of outrage these days. Am I surprised to learn that the House Govern Reform Committee says that its “16-month investigation reveals a systematic White House effort to censor climate scientists by controlling their access to the press and editing testimony to Congress.” Well, no, I'm not surprised. So am I shocked by the revelation? I guess I'm not. But is it shocking that this sort of thing has become par for the course? Well, yes it is. After all, this isn't some trivial little thing being kept under the rug; it's probably the most important issue facing the country.

So does this kind of thing. Really, what is scariest about this is how little shame appears to be involved. Maybe the Washington press corps would be happiest if Bush would read The Pet Goat to them. Listen, bub, how about you buy a dog to be his friend and instead ask the president to talk about FISA instead...

Hey, look here: “The LAT gets word that the Iraqi government has ordered all [Iraqi] policewomen to turn over their guns so that they can be given out to men. Women who don't return their guns risk losing their paychecks. This is a huge blow to US efforts to recruit female officers, who had already been mostly relegated to desk jobs, and some see it as a sign of the increasing religious fervor of Iraq's politicians." Did you happen to notice, by the way, that the Iraqis stayed away from Annapolis?

What is one to say: Want more? Now we've got an administration with James Glassman in it. Hooray from us.

From Wikipedia:

He is a long-term optimist and is quick to point out positive developments, which is clearly typified in his book Dow 36,000. In this book, published near the peak of the late 1990s stock market bubble, Glassman declared that the Dow Jones Industrial Average was undervalued and would rise to 36,000. In its introduction, Glassman and his co-author wrote that the book “will convince you of the single most important fact about stocks at the dawn of the twenty-first century: They are cheap. ... If you are worried about missing the market's big move upward, you will discover that it is not too late. Stocks are now in the midst of a one-time-only rise to much higher ground -- to the neighborhood of 36,000 on the Dow Jones industrial average.” [1] At the time the book was released (October 1, 1999) the average stood at 10,273. During the next three years the index declined by over 30%, bottoming at under 7,200 in the fall of 2002.[2]

I also love this absolutely true sentence: “Glassman grounded himself in conservative ideology whilst Publisher of The New Republic (1981-84)."

Alternative Universe Quote of the Day: What if Marty Peretz had been born a Muslim?

Marty Peretz, 9/17/06:

Is there anything the Jews don't like to which they fail to react with violence?

Posted by M. Duss

Bonus Marty item:

Marty's imaginary friend, “James 'sprezzatura' Kirchick” comes to the poor, friendless fellow's rescue, yet again. The piece that set him off on Dan Levy is here. Chris Matthews' best friend is on the case...

From TomDispatch:

We are now in the midst of a controversy over the CIA's destruction of “hundreds of hours” of videotape of its “extreme techniques” of interrogation, otherwise known as “torture.” In response, Greg Grandin, author of Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism, offers us all a riveting history lesson in how, from John F. Kennedy's moment on, Washington helped create an “unholy trinity” of death squads, disappearances, and torture in Latin America and finally, in the Bush era, globalized the formula on a planetary scale.

Beginning with a Graham Greene quote about those who consider themselves “torturable” and those who don't, Grandin explores the “rendition[s]” of our era and the “disappearances” of a previous one. He writes, “Like rendition, disappearances can't be carried out without a synchronized, sophisticated, and increasingly transnational infrastructure, which, back in the 1960s and 1970s, the United States was instrumental in creating. In fact, it was in Latin America that the CIA and U.S. military intelligence agents, working closely with local allies, first helped put into place the unholy trinity of government-sponsored terrorism now on display in Iraq and elsewhere: death squads, disappearances, and torture.”

He considers the origins of each grim part of his “unholy trinity” from the 1960s through the 1980s and the reign of terror, as well as slaughter, that they brought to Latin America. Then he discusses our own “anything goes” moment, when it comes to rendition and torture. He concludes: “Over the next two and a half decades, U.S.-funded and trained Central American security forces would disappear tens of thousands of citizens and execute hundreds of thousands more. When supporters of the 'War on Terror' advocated the exercise of the 'Salvador Option,' it was this slaughter they were talking about.”

Finally, he holds out hope that someday “the world-wide network of repression assembled by the Bush administration will be as discredited as Operation Condor” -- the CIA-supported transnational intelligence consortium in Latin America that carried out a continent-wide campaign of terror and murder -- is today.


Ethics and Character in the U.S. Presidency:

Is Ethical Leadership Possible in the 21st Century?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008, at the Center for Jewish History -- this is actually a really good line-up of people, yours truly notwithstanding. There's more info, here.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Kurt Sims
Hometown: Middletown, CT

Please, for the love of God, if you're going to link to a picture of a Podhoretz, especially one of them in a pool, put a warning in for us.

Name: J. R. Taylor
Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Wilfrid Sheed is entitled to his nostalgia, as are we all. Mine includes Sheed's novels of 40 years ago, such as Office Politics and especially Max Jamison ( “The Critic,” in its U.K. edition), his sharply observed summoning of the free-lance “public intellectual” life in 1960s NYC. Deservedly revived five years ago by a small (and now defunct) publisher, it can be had for as little as $4 at used book sites all over the web.