What a week it was. Monday, Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years, meaning he could get out of jail when he turns 221. His wife, Ruth, forfeited all but $2.5 million. Poor thing. She now takes the subway (not a limo) to visit Bernie in the slammer. Perhaps even worse, she’s been banned from the beauty salon where she gets her hair done.
As per the transition agreement, on Tuesday the U.S. withdrew its forces from Iraqi cities. Sounds great except that the Iraqi troops are nowhere near ready to keep the peace. Oh, well. Also on Tuesday, former Sen. Norm Coleman (R- Minn.) graciously conceded victory to Al Franken. This after stalling in the courts for only eight months.
More Tuesday news. Under “poor timing,” Joe Jackson, in commenting on his son Michael’s death, mentioned his new record company. Under “When you’re in a hole, stop digging,” Gov. Mark Sanford (R- S.C.), trying to save his marriage, still refers to his Argentinean mistress as his “soul mate.”
Today marks two important events. It’s my friend Margie Currie’s birthday and Manny Ramirez’ return to the Dodgers. If it seems hypocritical that I’m welcoming back a substance cheater, it is. In the meantime, happy birthday, Margie!
Tomorrow is July Fourth, marking our nation’s 233rd birthday. Actually you could say we don’t look a day over 200, except for a few collapsing bridges here and there. In Santa Monica the Fourth means beach, BBQ’s, hot dogs and hamburgers (or tofu burgers). With friends, I’ll be strolling down by the beach to view the fireworks, hoping to stay out of the line of fire.
The Fourth is also a patriotic observance, though some years are more difficult for me than others (like the last eight). As Mark Twain noted, “Loyalty to the nation all the time, loyalty to the government when it deserves it.”
Actually, the most patriotic thing we can do these days is to have a “truth commission” to learn how we bungled our way into the war in Iraq and how to avoid future such mistakes. I thought Vietnam had accomplished that, but I was obviously wrong.
So far we’ve lost 4,323 American GI’s, the latest on June 29. The total cost of the war will likely hit $5 trillion as we care for some vets for the rest of their lives: 320,000 have suffered brain injuries and 18 commit suicide daily. And, aside from Exxon, British Petroleum, Halliburton and Blackwater, who has benefited most from the war? Iran! They’re now the dominant power in the region. Ah, the irony.
While Obama only wants to “look forward,” I think that’s short sighted. I suggest, however, that we limit spending on this investigation to $80,000,000, the exact amount spent on Bill Clinton. Knowing the truth about the war should be as important as knowing the truth about Monica’s stained dress.
The main “intelligence” for the invasion came from an Iraqi defector with the code name “Curveball.” He was brought to us by Ahmed Chalibi, a convicted embezzler, whom we paid $350,000 a month (whom we now disavow). The Germans informed us that Curveball was an alcoholic and probably psychotic. Who better to believe when not looking for the truth?
After 9/11, the then president asked counter terrorism czar Richard Clarke what was Iraq’s involvement and was told there was none. The president insisted, “Look again!” Clarke did and the answer was the same. Given that, invading Iraq after 9/11 would have been like invading Mexico after Pearl Harbor.
And what was Dick Cheney doing at CIA headquarters so often he practically set up a cot? I thought the CIA’s job was to report the facts to an administration, not the other way around.
When Joe Wilson confirmed that Saddam hadn’t attempted to purchase yellow cake uranium he was attacked. Why? And why did Cheney & Co. “out” Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame (destroying her CIA career and the front company, Brewster-Jennings)? After all, even the Mafia doesn’t go after family.
And why in an “elective” war did we send too few troops and so poorly equipped? Why did we say we water boarded detainees three times when it was hundreds? (Why at all?) Why did we ignore the Geneva Convention or the FISA law when spying on our citizens? Why did the military lie to Mary Tillman about her son Pat’s death? And why, six years later, has no one been held accountable for any of this?
Where was Republican congressional oversight? Pat Buchanan called them “The most corrupt group in 50 years.” Even with Democrats in power, apparently the people are disinterested. My guess is that some are wondering if Manny will lead the Dodgers to the World Series, while others are wondering where Ruth Madoff is going to get her hair done.
Jack Neworth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.