Why was the Italian government trying to push the US into war with Iraq? And why is Italian PM Berlusconi saying that he tried to dissuade Bush from going to war, when the Italian military intelligence service repeatedly tried to shop the forged Niger yellowcake documents to France, Britain, and the US?
And will Bush or Rice have harsh words for Berlusconi during his visit to the White House today? (Doubtful. That would require a.) self-examination and b.) a conscience, both of which are conspicuously absent in the Bush Administration.)
Best NYT headline I've seen in a while:
(Smelled it first on the Lower East Side, and assumed it was from the new Starbucks on Delancey. Then it got stronger and more maple-y toward Rivington & Clinton. I then took the subway home to Astoria, where I was perplexed to smell maple again on 30th Avenue.)
Actually, it's slightly alarming that particles can be dispersed in such concentrations over such a large area. Doesn't seem to bode well for chem/bio attack preparedness.
Wow. It's been quite a week here at Telescreen...and big thanks go out to the New York Times, who linked to the below post in a roundup of bloggers' reactions to Miers' nomination withdrawal. (Scroll down to 12:45pm ET.)
So is President Bush pissed at Harriet Miers?
"Withdrawing before the mission is complete would send the signal that the U.S. is weak and that all they have to do is terrorize and we will leave," Bush said.
And also: Wow. Scuttling a nomination? Drastic step, to be sure. (and as much as I'd love to think so, I don't believe it's a back-handed way to distract from the coming indictments.) And I love how they're blaming the Senate for, y'know, asking about how she makes decisions and might rule from the bench. The next nominee, though, I'm sure, will be infinitely scarier, more competent as an attorney, and will have rock-solid conservative credentials. Who'll be next, you think: crony? Or wingnut?
Either way, I don't think Bush will be able to nominate someone tomorrow to draw attention away from Fitzmas. So....what'll the diversion be, you think?
On Tuesday, Chico and I went to the Swann Galleries auction house, which was hosting a talk by the amazing Ricky Jay. (Jay is a magician, collector, and historian of magic...and as I told him when he signed his new book for me, he was responsible for the single most astonishing evening I've ever spent in the theater. Also, check out this New Yorker profile.) Jay was, as always, witty and erudite and illuminating.
But the real revelation to me was the art; this reception was set up to promote the auction of the Christian Fechner Collection of English and American Magic, which goes under the hammer at 1:30 this afternoon.
You know, I lead a reasonably comfortable life. I don't want for much, and there's not much in the way of material things that I really wish I have but don't. However, seeing the wonderful posters on exhibit here (and the catalogue for Swann's upcoming sale of travel posters) made me wish I had serious money. There were many striking images and gorgeously printed lithographs.
Alas, my camera's batteries gave out after one measly shot, but Chico's was working...so feast your eyes on this set of pictures. And the online catalogue for the exhibition yields still more gems, like this poster and this one, which was possibly my very favorite. (Though the wonderful details of this poster were fun to examine as well.)
Now I think I'll save my pennies for next year's sale...
Wow, step away from the keyboard for a day or two and all kinds of stuff happens. If you'll allow me some shameless ego-massage:
More posting to come soon, wedged in between my stereo-wiring and apartment-shoveling-out projects. Some interesting things happened this weekend, and I'm looking forward to writing about them.
UPDATE: That slideshow is up now, and I'm still trying to find the time to write about last weekend.
Just two of the reasons why I love Jessamyn (in what she will hopefully perceive as a friendly, totally non-creepy way):
In the "People Are Crazy" Department: Man Requests Longer Prison Term to Honor Larry Bird.
(Good thing he wasn't a Gretzky fan.)
US soldiers in Afghanistan burnt the bodies of dead Taliban and taunted their opponents about the corpses, in an act deeply offensive to Muslims and in breach of the Geneva conventions.
An investigation by SBS's Dateline program, to be aired tonight, filmed the burning of the bodies.
It also filmed a US Army psychological operations unit broadcasting a message boasting of the burnt corpses into a village believed to be harbouring Taliban.
According to an SBS translation of the message, delivered in the local language, the soldiers accused Taliban fighters near Kandahar of being "cowardly dogs". "You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burnt. You are too scared to retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be," the message reportedly said.
"You attack and run away like women. You call yourself Taliban but you are a disgrace to the Muslim religion, and you bring shame upon your family. Come and fight like men instead of the cowardly dogs you are."
Big, big news from (of all places) the Daily News: President Bush knew what Rove did. None of this "if a crime was committed" or "if someone is convicted" stuff that he's been peddling the last couple years:
WASHINGTON - An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.
"He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."
And Bush's problem with Rove, we should note, wasn't that he was leaking. It was that the smear job wasn't up to his standards:
Bush has always known that Rove often talks with reporters anonymously and he generally approved of such contacts, one source said.
But the President felt Rove and other members of the White House damage-control team did a clumsy job in their campaign to discredit Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, the ex-diplomat who criticized Bush's claim that Saddam Hussen tried to buy weapons-grade uranium in Niger.
A second well-placed source said some recently published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.
"Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and others as believing that they handled it in a ham-handed and bush-league way," the source said.
For almost two years, Scott McClellan insisted that neither Karl Rove nor Scooter Libby had anything to do with the leaks. He knew because he asked them, he said. He was very categorical.
Now it seems that at least with reference to Rove, the president knew McClellan's statements weren't true. And yet he allowed McClellan to make them. Come to think of it, I guess this one really isn't even a question. It speaks for itself, doesn't it?
ADDENDUM: Scott McClellan gets his head handed to him in this morning's gaggle.
With such an important, serious story as the Plame investigation, no wrinkle should be left unexamined. Who knew what, and communicated it to whom? When did which piece of information become public? What was Karl Rove's involvement? (After all, this is the deputy White House chief of staff and chief political operative we're talking about here.) And, most importantly of all, what's in his garage?
Fortunately, we can rest easy, knowing that the AP is on the case.
Kevin Drum makes an excellent case for why Miller is lying when she says she can't remember her source's name;
All this seems to ignore a big question: Who was Bob Novak's original source? From Time: "Fitzgerald, says a lawyer who's involved in the case, 'knows who it is—and it's not someone at the White House.'" But that would seem to contradict Novak's original column from July 2003, which points to "two senior Administration officials."
Judith Miller (who apparently calls all the shots at the Times) has published -- finally! -- her account of the whole Plame imbroglio. It accompanies the 5,800-word takeout that is, I guess, the Times' definitive account of what happened.
My four-word reaction? Too little, too late. The Times has seriously damaged its credibility over the past few months with its coverage (or scandalous lack thereof) of its own and Miller's role in this story. Pulling punches doesn't make for quality journalism. Neither does an out-of-control reporter.
"We have everything to be proud of and nothing to apologize for," Ms. Miller said in an interview Friday.
Au contraire, Judy.
NYU J-school professor Jay Rosen has been en fuego with this story lately, keeping on top of it and analyzing developments. I agree with him that the takeout was nicely written and "superbly edited", not least in the juxtaposition of facts in key grafs:
Claudia Payne, a Times editor and a close friend of Ms. Miller, said that once Ms. Miller realized that her jail term could be extended, "it changed things a great deal. She said, 'I don't want to spend my life in here.' "
Ms. Payne added, "Her paramount concern was how her actions would be viewed by her colleagues."
On Sept. 29, Ms. Miller was released from jail and whisked by Mr. Sulzberger and Mr. Keller to the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown for a massage, a manicure, a martini and a steak dinner. The next morning, she testified before the grand jury for three hours. Afterward, Ms. Miller declared that her ordeal was a victory for journalists and the public.
And, most devastatingly, at the very end of the story:
The Times incurred millions of dollars in legal fees in Ms. Miller's case. It limited its own ability to cover aspects of one of the biggest scandals of the day. Even as the paper asked for the public's support, it was unable to answer its questions.
"It's too early to judge it, and it's probably for other people to judge," said Mr. Keller, the executive editor. "I hope that people will remember that this institution stood behind a reporter, and the principle, when it wasn't easy to do that, or popular to do that."