Discussion of the results of today's hearing
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
THE ENTERTAINMENT CRITIC BOOK REVIEW, BY JAMES MYERS
By Scott McClellan
Published by: Public Affairs Books, a Division of Perseus Books
Publication Date: May 28, 2008
Four Star Rating ****
SCOTT MCCLELLAN SERVED AS WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY FROM 2003 TO 2006, BEFORE THAT HE SERVED AS THE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY AND AS TRAVELING PRESS SECRETARY FOR THE BUSH-CHENEY 2000 CAMPAIGN. EARLIER IN HIS CAREER, MR. MCCLELLAN SERVED AS DEPUTY COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR IN THE TEXAS GOVERNOR'S OFFICE AND CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR THREE SUCCESSFUL STATEWIDE CAMPAIGNS. HE IS NOW A SENIOR ADVISER TO A GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY FIRM AND COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST. BORN IN AUSTIN, TEXAS, HE NOW LIVES NEAR WASHINGTON, D.C
“The University of Texas has always been special to my family and me. My grandfather, the late Page Keeton, was the legendary dean who led its law school to national prominence. I was born and reared in Austin, Texas, where it is located, and earned an undergraduate degree from the university.
I am very familiar with the UT Tower, the main building in the center of campus, with words from the Gospel of John carved in stone above its south entrance: “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
Those powerful words have always piqued my curiosity, as a person of faith and as an ordinary human being keenly interested in the larger meaning of life. But not until the past few years have I come to truly appreciate their message.
Perhaps God’s greatest gift to us in life is the ability to learn from our experiences, especially our mistakes, and grow into better people. That uniquely human quality is rooted in free will and blossoms in our capacity for knowledge, based on understanding the truth — not as we might imagine or wish it to be, but as it is. And that includes recognizing our faults and accepting responsibility for them. Through contrition we find the truth and the freedom that comes with it, even as we improve ourselves and grow closer to the image that God our Creator has in mind for us to become.
My mother, who began her career in public service as a high school civics and history teacher, likes to say, “It is people, not events, that shape history.” She couldn’t be more right. History is rooted in the choices made by people — ﬂawed, fallible people.
This is a book about the slice of history I witnessed during my years in the White House and about the well-intentioned but ﬂawed human beings — myself included — who shaped that history. I’ve written it not to settle scores or enhance my own role but simply to record what I know and what I learned in hopes that my account will deepen our understanding of contemporary history, particularly the events that followed the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001.
I began the process of writing this book by putting myself under the microscope. In my efforts on behalf of the presidential administration of George W. Bush I fell far short of living up to the kind of public servant I wanted to be. Having accepted the post of White House press secretary at age 35 and possessing scant experience of the Washington power game, I didn’t fully understand what I was getting myself into. Today, I understand it much better. This book records the often painful process by which I gained that understanding.
I frequently stumbled along the way and failed in my duty to myself, to the president I served, and to the American people. I tried to play the Washington game according to the current rules and, at times, didn’t play it very well. Because I didn’t stay true to myself, I couldn’t stay true to others. The mistakes were mine, and I’ve suffered the consequences.
My own story, however, is of small importance in the broad historical picture. More significant is the larger story in which I played a minor role — the story of how the presidency of George W. Bush veered terribly off course.
As press secretary, I spent countless hours defending the administration from the podium in the White House briefing room. Although the things I said then were sincere, I have since come to realize that some of them were badly misguided. In these pages, I’ve tried to come to grips with some of the truths that life inside the White House bubble obscured.
My friends and former colleagues who lived and worked or are still living and working inside that bubble may not be happy with the perspective I present here. Many of them, I’m sure, remain convinced that the Bush administration has been fundamentally correct in its most controversial policy judgments, and that the dis-esteem in which most Americans currently hold it is undeserved. Only time will tell. But I’ve become genuinely convinced otherwise.
The episode that became the jumping-off point for this book was the scandal over the leaking of classified national security information — the so-called Plame affair. It originated in a controversy over the intelligence the Bush administration used to make the case that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq represented a “grave and gathering danger” that needed to be eliminated. When a covert CIA officer's identity was disclosed during the ensuing partisan warfare, turning the controversy into the latest Washington scandal, I was caught up in the deception that followed. It was the defining moment in my time working for the president, and one of the most painful experiences of my life
When words I uttered, believing them to be true, were exposed as false, I was constrained by my duties and loyalty to the president and unable to comment. But I promised reporters and the public that I would someday tell the whole story of what I knew. After leaving the White House, I realized that the story was meaningless without an appreciation of the personal, political, and institutional context in which it took place. So the story grew into a book.
Writing it wasn’t easy. Some of the best advice I received as I began came from a senior editor at a publishing house that expressed interest in my book. He said the hardest challenge for me would be to keep questioning my own beliefs and perceptions throughout the writing process. His advice was prescient. I’ve found myself constantly questioning my own thinking, my assumptions, my interpretations of events. Many of the conclusions I’ve reached are quite different from those I would have embraced at the start of the process. The quest for truth has been a struggle for me, but a rewarding one. I don’t claim a monopoly on truth. But after wrestling with my experiences over the past several months, I’ve come much closer to my truth than ever before.
Many readers will have come to this book out of curiosity about the man who is a leading character in my story, President George W. Bush. You’ll learn about my relationship with him and my experiences as part of his team as you read these pages. For now, let me observe that much of what the general public knows about Bush is true. He is a man of personal charm, wit, and enormous political skill. Like many other people, I was inspired to follow him by his disarming personality and by his record as a popular, bipartisan governor who set a constructive tone and got things done for the people. We all hoped and believed he could do the same for the nation.
Certainly the seeds of greatness seemed to be present in the Bush administration. Although Bush attained the White House only after an extended legal battle over the outcome of the 2000 election, he began his presidency with considerable goodwill. He commanded a rare, extended period of national unity following the unimaginable national tragedy that struck our nation in September 2001.
On paper, the team Bush assembled was impressive. Vice President Dick Cheney was a serious, vastly experienced hand in the top levels of government. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had already enjoyed one successful run at the Pentagon and boasted a résumé listing a string of business and government achievements. Secretary of State Colin Powell, an able and widely respected military leader, was easily the most popular public figure in the country and could well have been the first African American president of the United States had he been interested in the job. Even Bush’s chief political adviser, Karl Rove, had a powerful reputation as a brilliant strategic thinker who was helping to make the Republican party the nation’s greatest political force.
I believed in George W. Bush’s leadership and agenda for America, and had confidence in his authenticity, integrity, and judgment. But today the high hopes that accompanied the early days of his presidency have fallen back to earth.
Rumsfeld and Powell are gone, their tenures controversial and disappointing. Vice President Cheney’s role is widely viewed as sinister and destructive of the president’s legacy. And Rove’s reputation for political genius is now matched by his reputation as an operative who places political gain ahead of the national interest.
Through it all, President Bush remains very much the same. He is self-confident, quick-witted, down-to-earth, and stubborn, as leaders sometimes need to be. His manner is authentic, his beliefs sincere. I never knew Lyndon Johnson (another Texan with a stubborn streak whose domestic accomplishments were overshadowed by a controversial war) or Richard Nixon (a president whose historically low poll ratings following Watergate have been rivaled only by Bush’s). But according to historians, both men were consumed with defensiveness, anger, and ultimately anguish as their presidencies unraveled under the pressure of war and scandal, respectively. George W. Bush is different. He is very much the man he always was — though not quite the leader I once imagined him to be.
It was the decision to go to war in Iraq that pushed Bush’s presidency off course. It was a fateful misstep based on a confluence of events (the shock of 9/11 and our surprisingly — and deceptively — quick initial military success in Afghanistan), human nature (ambition, certitude, and self-deceit), and a divinely inspired passion (President Bush’s deeply held belief that all people have a God-given right to live in freedom). For Bush, removing the “grave and gathering danger” that Iraq supposedly posed was primarily a means for achieving the far more grandiose objective of reshaping the Middle East as a region of peaceful democracies.
History appears poised to confirm what most Americans today have decided — that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder. No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully understand its impact. What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.
Waging an unnecessary war is a grave mistake. But in reflecting on all that happened during the Bush administration, I’ve come to believe that an even more fundamental mistake was made — a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those qualities were most needed.
Most of our elected leaders in Washington, Republicans and Democrats alike, are good and decent people. Yet too many of them today have made a practice of shunning truth and the high level of openness and forthrightness required to discover it. Most of it is not willful or conscious. Rather it is part of the modern Washington game that has become the accepted norm.
As I explain in this book, Washington has become the home of the permanent campaign, a game of endless politicking based on the manipulation of shades of truth, partial truths, twisting of the truth, and spin. Governing has become an appendage of politics rather than the other way around, with electoral victory and the control of power as the sole measures of success. That means shaping the narrative before it shapes you. Candor and honesty are pushed to the side in the battle to win the latest news cycle.
Of course, deception in politics is nothing new. What’s new is the degree to which it now permeates our national political discourse.
Much of it is barely noticeable and seemingly harmless, accepted as par for the course. Most of it is done unconsciously or subconsciously with no malicious intent other than to prevail in the increasingly destructive game of power and influence.
Some of it is self-deceit. Those engaging in it convince themselves to believe what they are saying, though deep down they know candor and honesty are lacking. Instead of checking their political maneuvering at the door when the campaign ends, they retain it as part of the way Washington works. The deception it spawns becomes the cancer on our political discourse, greatly damaging the ability of our elected leaders to govern effectively and do what is best for America.
Too many politicians and their followers have become passionately committed to a preconceived, partisan view of reality that allows little room for compromise or cooperation with the other side. The gray nuances of truth are lost in the black-and-white ideologies both parties embrace. Permanent division, gridlock, and a general inability to constructively address the big challenges we all face inevitably follow.
President Bush, I believe, did not consciously set out to engage in these destructive practices. But like others before him, he chose to play the Washington game the way he found it, rather than changing the culture as he vowed to do at the outset of his campaign for the presidency. And like others before him, he has engaged in a degree of self-deception that may be psychologically necessary to justify the tactics needed to win the political game.
The permanent campaign also ensnares the media, who become complicit enablers of its polarizing effects. They emphasize conflict, controversy, and negativity, focusing not on the real-world impact of policies and their larger, underlying truths but on the horse race aspects of politics — who’s winning, who’s losing, and why.
In exploring this syndrome and the way it helped damage at least one administration, I’ve tried to contribute to our understanding of Washington’s culture of deception and how we, the American people, can change it.
Although my time in the Bush White House did not work out as I once hoped, my optimism regarding America has been strengthened. I’ve met many, many people who are eager for positive change and are ready to devote their lives and energies to the future of our country. I still believe, in the words of then-Governor Bush, that it’s possible to show “that politics, after a time of tarnished ideals, can be higher and better.” I’m convinced that, if we take a clear-eyed look at how our system has gone awry and think seriously about how to ﬁx it, there’s nothing we can’t achieve.
This book, I hope, will contribute to that national conversation.”
Scott McClellan, former Press Secretary to President George W. Bush, has written an explosive, new book, What Happened that does not ask the question as much as it supplies the missing pieces of the answer. At the age of 30, he accepted what appeared to bed the job of a lifetime, press spokesman for Texas governor, George W. Bush. Bush was just beginning his candidacy for President. Scott identified with GWB due to his strong record of successful bipartisan leadership, as a compassionate, committed conservative. He was particularly inspired by his promise to restore dignity and honesty to the Office of The President of the United States after the tumultuous years under Bill Clinton’s scandalous and partisan administration.
McClellan served the “W” White House for over 7 years as part of the inner circle of trusted advisors to the President, as well as his Press Secretary. From his position and vantage point, he witness the events of the most challenging and contentious periods in American history. He witnessed the day to day operations of the Bush White House, and observed it veer disastrously and irretrievably off course. In this startlingly, candid book, he shares his provocative story with the American people.
What Happened provides a one of a kind prospective of all of the events, policies, and personalities of the Bush administration, including the Iraq War, 9/11, the Valerie Plame leak scandal, Hurricane Katrina and all of the propaganda and marketing campaigns designed to exculpate the White House and mislead the American people.
What Happened demonstrates what President Bush knew or should have known, how the Bush White House operates, and how the goals and priorities of the Bush Administration were shaped and focused. Scott offers completely unique opinions about the roles and personalities of the top advisors including, Karl Rove, Andy Card, Karen Hughes, Condoleezza Rice, and VP Dick Cheney.
More importantly, this book is a true confession of Scott’s understanding of exactly how our political culture became so toxic and intolerable. His compelling case against ‘politics as usual’ in the process of campaigning, governing, or covering politics for the media is the most unique insights offered into modern politics currently in written form. He has also offered potential solutions to make institutional changes to reform the Washington policies of deception that he feels poisoned the Bush Administration for within. He offers sound advice to the American people concerning the selection of a new leader.
This book blows the lid off of the incredibly secretive and manipulating workings of the Bush administration, and comes at a time when the President is still in office. His writing shows the painful truth that the powers to be were ultimately deceiving themselves. It is an often all too painful acknowledgement of what occurred, and his role in it. This is the most open, vivid and disturbing political book so far this year, giving incredible insight into the upcoming Presidential elections. Don’t miss this one. It is a political fireball of an eye opener.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
...way under the bus
Effect of the McClellan book on the current election and John McCain's campaign
Discussion about how the FLA MI delegate issue may help Hillary take the matter on appeal to the Democratic National Convention in August
Continued problems that John McCain has with Phil Gramm; did he lobby McCain? Will McCain keep Gramm? The solution that McCain has for the housing crisis is discussed as horribly inadequate. UBS has suggested its employees do not come to the USA for fear they may be arrested. There's only a limited portion of McCain's plan for homeowners
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Explosive disclosures from Scott McCollough in his new book concrning the Bush Presidency, including Iraq, Katrina and more
Monday, May 26, 2008
The Clintons want your sympathy this weekend after her RFK remarks and her unacceptable apology. Anything to win.....
Current poll in Montana shows Barack is up, 52%-32% over Hillary. What is Bill talking about?
This is Liz Trotter on Fox News talking about Hillary's RFK Assassination statement and making a joke about killing Senator Obama. Please contact Fox and call for her resignation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-369-4762
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
McCain still has a former (?)lobbyist on his staff, Charles Black. Influence over the candidate?
John, I haven't forgotten about you this weekend. Nice of you to give gay persons the right to contract and bring a lawsuit to redress their grieviances. But you do not agree with gay marriage, and the public desrves to know that. These are God-given rights, and things we are guaranteed under our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They don't come from you John. The recognition of these basic rights is long overdue, and the fear based politics of the past is coming to an end.
This is a very good discussion of why the RFK assassination as a reason for Hillary Clinton to stay in the campaign is unacceptable, and why her campaign for President should not continue
Analysis of why the reamrks made by Hillary Clinton indicate it may be time for her campaign to go
Friday, May 23, 2008
Keith Olbermann's special comment on May 23, 2008 concerning Hillary Clinton's remarks about her staying in the campaingn until June and referencing that to the RFK assassination; her remarks were inappropriate and her apology was inadequate
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 5, 2008
The Entertainment Critic
In Theatres Now Review
Opened May 2, 2008
By James Myers
Rating: 9 of 10
Director: Jon Favreau
Writers (WGA): Mark Fergus (screenplay) &
Hawk Ostby (screenplay)
Genre: Action Adventure Drama Sci-Fi Thriller more
Robert Downey Jr ... Tony Stark / Iron Man
Terrence Howard ... Jim Rhodes
Jeff Bridges ... Obadiah Stane / Iron Monger
Gwyneth Paltrow ... Pepper Potts
Leslie Bibb ... Christine Everhart
Shaun Toub ... Yinsen
Faran Tahir ... Raza
Sayed Badreya ... Abu Bakaar
Bill Smitrovich ... General Gabriel
Clark Gregg ... Agent Phil Coulson
Tim Guinee ... Major Allen
Will Lyman ... Award Ceremony Narrator
Marco Khan ... Insurgent #4
Kevin Foster ... Jimmy
Garret Noel ... Pratt
Rated: PG-13 for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and brief suggestive content.
Runtime: 126 min
Aspect Ratio: 2.35: 1 more
Sound Mix: DTS SDDS Dolby Digital
Certification: Canada: PG (Alberta/British Columbia/Ontario) Australia:M Norway:11 Hong Kong: IIA South Korea:12 UK:12A Canada: G (Québec) USA:PG-13 Germany:12 New Zealand: M Singapore: PG Sweden:11 Iceland:12 Finland:K-13 Netherlands:12 Malaysia: U Canada:14A (Manitoba) Ireland:12A Switzerland:12 (canton of Geneva) Brazil:14 Switzerland:12 (canton of Vaud) USA:126
Filming Locations: Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California, USA
Company: Dark Blades Films
This summer’s movie season is upon us, as May 2, 2008 marked the premier of the first summer blockbuster, Ironman. The movie in its very first weekend is a runaway smash, with a box office gate of $100.7 million, the second highest ever premier gross in motion picture history. Robert Downey, Jr., is perfectly cast as the arrogant, rich, superficial, playboy arms genius, Tony Stark, the moving force behind Stark Industries, an arms manufacturer that makes the very best in rocket warfare. Tony is the second generation Stark in this business as his father started the business with his original partner, Obadiah Stane, (you won’t know who the actor is until he begins to talk; it’s Jeff Bridges, with his head shaved!). Tony is an arms genius, who as the movie opens is in a Hummer with scotch in hand, the ice clinking in the glass, making wisecracks with army personnel. The film then flashes back to a test sequence that Tony conducts of his new weapon, "Jericho Missile", an extremely destructive, multi-warhead weapon system that Tony is showing to the Air Force and his old friend, Colonel James Rhodes (Terrence Howard), a serious jet pilot. This sequence shows the genius of Stark and the destructive power of the Jericho Missile. Downey is near perfect as the missile separates in to multiple warheads in the mountains of Afghanistan in the far off distance, arms outstretched as the precise time the bombs detonate with such force that the blast knocks the hats off of the pilots. Tony grabs his drink back from the stunned serviceman says, “...here’s to peace,” and walks to his vehicle. It is a brilliant, central scene in the picture, and from then on the audience realizes that this guy might be flaky, but he’s very good at what he does.
We flash back to Hummer, which is attacked and overtaken by a terrorist group, who calls themselves, The Ten Rings. Ironically, Tony is injured by shrapnel from one of his own weapons. Led by the evil and sadistic, Raza (Faran Tahir) they capture Tony, and force him to make a Jericho Missile for them. With the help of fellow captive Dr. Yinsen (Shaun Toub), Tony takes the next 3 months to build crude but strong power armor, powered from a miniature arc reactor. The arc reactor supplies energy to an electromagnet which protects Stark's heart from the embedded shrapnel in his chest. Unfortunately, in the escape attempt, Yinsen is killed. This is the second pivotal scene in the picture, as he lies dying, he tells Stark, …”to do something to help others” and not to waste his life. Stark escapes and is rescued, eventually returning home safely to Stark Industries, where he announces that Stark will not longer build arms, but will take steps to help it’s fellow man. The stock plunges and Stane is not pleased. He then leads a coup with the Board of Directors to bar Tony from their meetings.
Back at his home in Malibu, equipped with all the state of the art computer equipment, including his virtual assistant, Jarvis, Stark goes about the task, with the help of his assistant, Pepper Potts (played perfectly by the beautiful and capable, Gwyneth Paltrow), of perfecting his Ironman exoskeleton. The second best line in the picture comes from the hilarious sequences tracing Stark’s failure to make the contraption fly, when he tells her, “…you caught me doing stranger things than this.” The test sequences of flying in the suit are the funniest in the picture.
Once the body armor is complete, and Stark leans of insurgent activity in Afghanistan by his old nemesis, The Ten Rings, the first mission of Ironman begins. He saves the people of the village and stops the insurgents, but he strengthens the resolve of Raza to build and possess one of the Ironman suits from the prototype Tony left behind. The flying sequence on his way back to the US is hilarious, too. Chased by the Air Force, Tony gives them a run for their money, while talking to his buddy Rhodes the whole time.
Realizing that Obadiah Stane has been dealing with the insurgents under the table, Tony is determined to stop him. He has Pepper retrieve files relating to the sale of those weapons and his agreed to kidnapping from the computer in his office. While hacking into the system she discovers that it was Stane who hired the Ten Rings to kill Stark, but they had reneged on the deal when they realized who the target was. She also discovers that Stane has recovered the power suit prototype (Iron Man Mk I), and has engineered his own version, Iron Monger, an oversized, beefed up version of Iron Man.
Stane, upon realizing Pepper's discovery, steals Stark's arc reactor from his chest to power his new suit, leaving Stark for dead. Using his first reactor, which was not designed to power the suit, Stark does battle with Stane in Los Angeles, defeating him when the larger arc reactor that powers Stark Industries is deliberately overloaded. Stark barely makes it out alive when his reactor almost fails completely, but reactivates, causing a terrific explosion, killing Stane as Iron Monger.
The movies ends with Tony at a press conference, initially denying he is a superhero, then in a sudden reversal, and contrary to what the government has told him to do, announces to the world, that he is Ironman. Ozzie Osborne plays the Ironman theme and the credits roll, but don’t leave your seat quite yet. As with all the Marvel Comics movies, there’s more! Throughout the film, Clark Gregg appears as Agent Phil Coulson of Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (S.H.I.E.L.D.) trying to arrange a meeting with Stark. Following the credits, Samuel L. Jackson appears as their head, Nick Fury, telling Stark about the "Avenger Initiative". So there is a guaranteed sequel, and the buzz is that there will be 2 more Ironman pictures, with this cast.
This movie is surprising well-casted and directed. Directed by Jon Favreau (you may remember him from the movie, Swingers), he does an amazingly good job of having the right people in the right places, with the right dialogue at the right times. Downey and the rest of the cast had a tremendous amount of input into the script and the dialogue, ala Robert Altman; the film has a realistic feel in its dialogue and the relationships between the actors. The special effects and the amazing interaction between characters, (the sexual tension between Stark and Pepper is reminiscent of Bonds and Moneypenny), and Robert Downey Jr bringing his incredibly cohesive talents to this summer blockbuster, make this picture an absolute “you can’t miss this one” film. In a summer that will bring us Batman, Indiana Jones, The Hulk, Hellboy, and a new Star Wars picture, Ironman is a great kickoff to a summer season of blockbuster films. An explosion of summer fun, Ironman is a must see this summer.