Tim OBrien
August 2007
Person of the Day: The Georges
George Tenet being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
While Mr. Brodner is on a brief break from Person of the Day, I thought I'd add one to keep the feature going. I first became aware of just how responsible the current administration is/was in not doing what it should to halt or prevent the terror attacks of 9/11, by reading "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right", by Al Franken. In it, he recounts the ways this administration ignored warnings, evidence and the threat of Al-Qaeda. While Richard Clark tried his best to make everyone understand the scope of the threat, George Bush began amassing the record of the president who took the most vacation time. George "Slam Dunk" Tenet, the CIA head at the time, apparently did not do a job worthy of earning him the medal awarded to him by W, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The CIA reported, in a 19 page report, that 50 to 60 C.I.A. officers knew of intelligence reports in 2000 that two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Nawaf al-Hamzi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, may have been in the United States, and failed to grasp the role being played by the terror mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. However, none of those officers thought to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the potential domestic threat, the report says, evidence of what it calls a systemic failure. The inspector general recommended that the former director George Tenet, be held accountable for their failure to put in place a strategy to dismantle Al Qaeda in the years before Sept. 11, 2001. From Brownie to Rumsfeld to Harriet Miers and on and on, George Bush has shown he does not gather facts and draw new conclusions. He and his friends are beyond reproach.
McCain and War
For the most recent issue of Best Life Magazine I was asked to paint a portrait of John McCain. The article discusses the McCain family's multi-generational commitment to serving the country. McCain's father and grandfather served and his son is about to, in all likelihood. McCain Article. John McCain drives me crazy. He seems at times to be one of the few republicans willing to not read off the talking points. Just when you think he might be a breath of fresh air, he snaps back into line. It's like there are two McCains in constant battle. One who evaluates the facts and draws clear conclusions and the other who does what he's expected to. Just this weekend responding to Rove's unflattering comments about Hillary Clinton, he said she was a good senator and a formidable candidate. This is probably Senator McCain's swan song in presidential politics. He won't be the nominee and I can't see anyone picking him as a running mate. He could end up being a better senator once he forgets about being president. When I completed this assignment I was asked to submit a bio and to discuss feelings about doing the portrait. Huh? This is always weird for me, to have my thoughts run in a magazine with my art. I think I said I don't share many positions with McCain recently, buy am always impressed with his sacrifice for this country. What I didn't say, but I'll say here, is that if McCain's son was sent into Iraq to search for weapons and was blown up riding around without body armor, I wonder if he would see our folly into Iraq a whole different way?
A Storm Grows in Brooklyn
On Wednesday morning at 6 AM, I heard crackling thunder RIGHT after flashes of lightning. I popped out of bed knowing that my computer was on, stuff was open and I didn't want to fry everything. I ran upstairs and shut down. The rain was driving sideways on my house and the few windows that were open were letting in this storm. I closed everything and went back to bed. When I woke, everything was chaos. Cars blaring their horns, not knowing as I didn't, that trees were lying across many streets. My neighborhood is made up of 100 year old Victorian homes and many 100 year old Victorian Trees. In the summer they are a natural umbrella from the sun, and in the fall, leaves never stop coming down. As it turns out, it was a tornado that started in Bay Ridge, stopped off in Sunset Park and danced across Victorian Flatbush. The twister was estimated to have winds of between 111-135 miles an hour. The tornado was a Category 2 on the 0-5 classification scale used by the weather service, in which 5 is the most powerful. It was the first tornado to hit Brooklyn since modern record keeping began in 1950. My familyand I took a walk mid morning to see the damage and what we saw was amazing. The NEXT block north, a beautiful one, lost tons of these trees and the cars beneath them. We were lucky but many were not. Today the hum of chainsaws are a welcome sound.
This is a great house.
A pine tree leans on another pretty house.
This is looking at what must have been the path of the storm, Rugby Road between Beverley and Cortelyou.
Checking out the damage.
Snapped at the base. If this is your neighbor, are you annoyed that their tree leans on YOUR house?
That is wind!
Our Two Cents
Why is it that republicans like to run up debt and cut taxes? Well, it is what undisciplined, immature kids do. Live large, spend on stupid stuff and mortgage their future. Bush inherited a nice surplus when he was given his office by the Supreme Court. The outstanding public debt as of today, August 9th 2007 at 11:30:25 PM is: $8,947,817,981,043.98 The estimated population of the United States is 302,655,251 so each citizen's share of this debt is $29,567.69. The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $1.41 billion per day since September 29, 2006! For an article in GQ by The New York Time's Paul Krugman, I showed an empty piggy bank/head of George Bush. If we had 2 cents surplus we would be jumping for joy! This was hard to do initially so I told the AD I would do a detailed comp to see if I could figure it out. I did. It helped that I have a glass head I picked up from an antique store years ago. ~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Gross National Debt
The TIMES They Are A-Changin'
I like the size of the New York Times. It's so big it forces negotiation with the person reading the section they swiped from you. Now the realities of dwindling circulation have cut the grey lady down a tad. On Monday, the Times will reduce the width of its pages by an inch and a half, to a 12-inch standard. That 's too bad. On the bright side, if they DON'T lower their rates for illustration this can be thought of as a raise! I make my living primarily on print illustration. I have watched so many magazines fold in my career. That seems normal now and thankfully, more appear all the time. I recall several years ago the idea of a tablet book was huge. Many publishers had huge plans to create digital editions of their books. It never took off. Just a few weeks ago a huge ad in the TIMES appeared again; a digital tablet for reading books. As a new iPhone owner, I know that the resolution is sufficient now to allow for type on a tablet. So, I could either look at all this as a warning to ready my skills as a plasterer OR trust that images still have power and for a society raised to appreciate art (oy!), illustration will have a role. Color pixels look best when there are photos and art involved. For now, the morning negotiation for table real estate just got easier, by 2 inches.
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