Friday, December 29, 2006

Holidays and grim reading

This morning, I finally finished reading Bob Woodward's "State of Denial." I had read it in spurts, basically absorbing large chunks of it whenever I had some real time off, and then ignoring it for several weeks.

If you haven't read it, go ahead and pick it up. It's a revealing look at a dysfunctional administration and a disastrous war, as described by the very people who are involved at the top levels. Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are interviewed, as are Condoleeza Rice, former Coalition Provisional Authority Director Paul Bremer. Donald Rumsfled speaks on the record, and Woodward includes an interview he conducted with the president in 2003 (as the war waged on and his approval ratings plummeted, Bush refused further interview requests from Woodward).

It's aptly-titled. Throughout the book, which is "Part III" of Woodward's "Bush at War" series, there is a systematic denial of the facts on the ground in Iraq. The White House's very atmosphere prevented the kinds of factual reports in many cases from even reaching the president, and when they did, they were glossed over and reworked in order to fit into the kinds of rosy platitudes Bush felt the nation needed to hear.

Bush's former chief of staff, Andrew Card, is quoted as saying he felt that the presidency and administration had come to be recognized by two key distinguising characteristics: arrogance and ignorance.

And the mess goes on today.

Or at least, it did last time I checked. For the past week, I've been home in upstate New York on leave. Christmas has been a wonderful break, even though I took the Graduate Records Examination Wednesday. Despite how much I procrastinated in studying for the test, I think I did pretty well. No word yet on the analytical writing portion of the exam, but I got a 690 on the verbal section, just 10 points shy of the 700 I was hoping for, for insurance purposes.

Other than that, it's been reading and spending time with the family. For Christmas, my parents gave me an XM radio, so I've been stealing away to listen to Opie & Anthony and the Fungus channel (it plays punk, exclusively, and good punk: Ramones, Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, etc.) when I can.

So that's it from me at the moment. What's left to do is visit Syracuse University and find out about how to best apply for their graduate program in political science. Wish me luck...