Saturday, April 17, 2004
The Terrorists Among Us
9/11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick has received death threats as a consequence of conservative attacks on her and her work in the Clinton Justice Department.
"I can confirm that I've received threats at my office and my home," she told CNN on Saturday. "I did get a bomb threat to my home."
She added, "I have gotten a lot of very vile e-mails. The bomb threat was by phone."
Friday, April 16, 2004
Presidential Vacations: FDR vs. GWB
I just received some very interesting information on how many days FDR spent away from the White House on vacation. It's extensive information and it needs to be worked on a bit over the weekend to make sure I am comparing apples and apples - to be sure I am being 'fair and balanced'.
I will have a post on this topic ready for Monday. Stay tuned.
Debra Burlingame: Republican shill?
Earlier this week, I was watching Larry King Live after the Chimp's press conference. The conversation segued to the 9/11 Commission and one of the guests was Debra Burlingame, sister of AA Flight 77 captain Charles Burlingame, which was flown into the Pentagon on 11 September. Here's her angry diatribe:
BURLINGAME: This is the first 9/11 Commission report that was done by the Senate Select and House. This has a lot of really interesting information and here's a dot to connect for Jamie Gorelick who wrote the regulations on FISA warrants and what the threshold was that those agents in Minnesota had to pass to look into Moussaoui's belongings.
Jamie Gorelick, who has asked some of the toughest questions of Dr. Rice from her perch on that commission, she wrote those regulations and, as a result of them, the onerous burdens she put on the agency, the FBI agents that were desperately trying to crack that briefcase that Moussaoui was carrying, they were not able to find that there were numbers.
There were letters in there signed by the man who owned the condominium where Khalid Almihdar and Nawaf al-Hamzi were seen in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Those are the two gentlemen who did, in fact, crack open the door of my brother's cockpit and murder him in cold blood. That letter was in there.
KING: What do you have there?
BURLINGAME: I'll tell you, wait Larry.
KING: So, you have anger. I got -- we're running out of time. You have anger at her?
BURLINGAME: I have anger at her because she has asked very partisan questions and she was part...
KING: But she was interpreting the law though wasn't she? That was her job.
BURLINGAME: She was creating guidelines and she made them extra hard because the Clinton administration was itself allergic to making mistakes.
KING: Who do you...
BURLINGAME: And took pains to make sure that suspicious people would not be offended by warrants.
So, it was all Gorelick's (and Clinton's) fault that Zacaraia Moussaoui's computer could not be searched?
Well, not exactly.
The appeals court that demolished the wall said, however, that it had been erected earlier and was only codified by Ms. Gorelick.
The court also said that it was "quite puzzling that the Justice Department, at some point during the 1980's, began to read the statute as" requiring a separation of the two fields of counterintelligence and criminal search warrants.
In her questioning of Mr. Ashcroft, Ms. Gorelick did not refer to the issue of her 1995 memorandum. But Slade Gorton, a former Republican senator from Washington, challenged Mr. Ashcroft, noting that the deputy attorney general under Mr. Ashcroft renewed the 1995 guidelines. Mr. Gorton said the Bush Justice Department ratified those guidelines, saying in its own secret memorandum on Aug. 6, 2001, that "the 1995 procedures remain in effect today."
And who was in control of the executive branch of government in the 80's, kids?
The above Larry King transcript doesn't do a good job of communicating the enormous rage Ms. Burlingame displayed during her statement. But you know what? I've heard it before. Similarly on-the-edge-of-foaming-at-the-mouth outrage from callers to radio and TV shows repeating the latest GOP talking points rather than any honest, original thoughts. Like the "they never said 'imminent threat'" meme.
Where was Ms. Burlingame's outrage at those who originally erected the wall? Where was the outrage at the credibility-challenged Bush regime for maintaining that wall one month before her brother was tragically murdered? If Gorelick, in Ms. Burlingame's judgement, bears great responsibility for 9/11, what about the Bush Justice department, which did as much as Gorelick to maintain that wall, which displayed the same lack of foresight ascribed to Gorelick?
So, I was suspicious that Ms. Burlingame might just be a tool of the GOP, astroturf used to counteract the other 9/11 families who have become critical of the Bush administration. Let's look at a few other quotes from Ms. Burlingame.
Debra Burlingame on the Bush campaign's use of 9/11 images:
Not all relatives of 9/11 victims expressed outrage over the ads...
Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles was the captain on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon, said she supported the ads given the current foreign policy climate.
"The ads are very positive," Burlingame, a registered Democrat, told Reuters, adding, "It's a huge issue and to say that President Bush can't talk about it is preposterous. It's not like these images are being used to tear down his opponents, but to point out that this is his top priority."
Debra Burlingame on Condoleeza Rice's testimony to the 9/11 Commission:
But Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles was the pilot of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon, praised Rice as honest and open, even to partisan questions.
?I think she should be very, very proud,? said Burlingame.
Ms. Burlingame is a former lawyer and producer on Court TV.
"I think the fix is in," said Debra Burlingame, whose brother was the pilot of American Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon. "There will be partisan elements of that panel who will be looking for a way to embarrass or discredit the Bush administration."
Apparently Debra Burlingame is far more concerned with what the 9/11 Commission might have to say about the credibility-challenged Bush regime than it finding out the truth so that the errors which led to her brother's murder, can be avoided in the future.
She has no outrage over the Bush regime's stonewalling the 9/11 Commission. No outrage over the 6 August 2001 PDB. Only outrage over the not very nice things being said about the Bushies.
When all is said and done, there will be plenty of blame to go around. The Clinton administration did not do all it could have, certainly the credibility-challenged Bush regime did not do all it could have.
Ms. Burlingame seems to be focused on only one side of the equation: defending the Bushies and deflecting any blame that might fall upon them, using her status as a 9/11 family member. Her experience as a TV producer would certainly make her a valuable asset to the GOP in creating her one-woman astroturf campaign to shift all the blame onto the Clenis.
If anyone can point me to any quotes from Ms. Burlingame that are critical of the Bush regime, I'd sure like to see them.
...Al Franken's dittohead friend Mark just brought up the Gorelick thing and suggested she should resign. Slime and defend, where have we seen this before eh? To Al's credit, he knew the facts about Gorelick and 'the wall' which was put up by the Reagan and Bush administrations...
Al Franken is interviewing Richard Ben-Veniste, who spelled out pretty much what I quoted above in regards to the 'wall' and Gorelick. Ms. Burlingame, you owe Jamie Gorelick an apology for your partisan attack on her.
Thursday, April 15, 2004
This picture was taken on 1 May 2003, when Georgie did his little flightsuit-boy stunt.
Now, go here (and especially here) and read a bit and check out the other pictures.
1 May is coming up again. Now you know what to do. You have about two weeks to find a good spot and prepare a sign.
Just a suggestion.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
The, uh, President, uh, speaks
Enjoy this little video of some of the Chimperor's finest moments from last night's press conference.
The Bloody Peasant Sketch, Revisited
This is something I posted when I started my blog a year ago. I thought I'd repost it since I doubt anyone is going through my archives.
(with apologies to Monty Python)
[King Arthur music]
[thud thud thud]
[King Arthur music stops]
Hey there, you lazy, homeless old bum!
Man. Sorry. You lazy, homeless old man. What knight done lives in that castle over yonder?
I'm thirty-seven. I'm not old.
Well, I can't just call you 'Man'.
Well, you could say 'Dennis'.
Well, I didn't know you were called 'Dennis'.
Well, you didn't bother to find out, did you?
I did say 'sorry' about the 'old bum', but from the behind you looked--
What I object to is that you automatically treat me like an inferior!
Well, I is King!
Oh, King, eh, very nice. And how d'you get that, eh? By exploiting the workers! By 'anging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society. If there's ever going to be any progress with the--
Dennis, there's some lovely filth down here. Oh! How d'you do?
How do you do, good lady? I am George, King of the Murricans. Whose castle is that?
King of the who?
Who are the "Murricans"?
Well, we all is. We is all Murricans, and I is your king.
DENNIS: You mean, "Americans".
GEORGE: That's what I said, Murricans!
WOMAN:I didn't know we had a king. I thought we were a democratic republic.
You're fooling yourself. We're living in a dictatorship: a self-perpetuating oligarchy in which the working classes--
Oh, there you go bringing class into it again.
That's what it's all about. If only people would hear of--
Please! Please, good people. I are in haste. Who lives in that yonder castle?
No one lives there.
Then who is your fuhrer?
We don't have a fuhrer.
I told you. We're a democratic republic. Every four years each state elects a slate of electors pledged to each candidate, and the number of electors is based on each state's congressional representation, and in turn those electors select our president...
...but all the decisions of that president and the executive branch are kept in check by the judicial and legislative branches of government...
Yes, I see.
...it takes a simple majority vote to approve legislation,...
...but it takes a two-thirds majority to overturn a presidential veto of legislation--
Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!
Order, eh? Who does he think he is? Heh.
I is your king!
Well, I didn't vote for you.
The majority of the people didn't vote for him.
You don't vote for kings.
Well, how did you become King, then?
Five Justices of the Supreme Court,...
...their arms clad in the purest stinking bullshite, tore to little bitty pieces the Constitution, signi... signuh... sinifying... they done told me that by Divine Provi... Provinunce... Prollidunce... God told me that I, George, was to usurp the Executive Office. And I believe it, and that settles it.
That is why I is your king!
Listen. Fanatical right-wing ideologues making up the law as they go along, is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical judicial ceremony.
Well, but you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some fascist goons with law degrees threw out the votes!
I mean, if I went 'round saying I was an emperor just because some goose-stepping Nazis said so, they'd put me away!
Shut up, will you? Shut up!
Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.
Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help! Help! I'm being repressed!
Oh, what a give-away. Did you hear that? Did you hear that, eh? That's what I'm on about. Did you see him repressing me? You saw it, didn't you?
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Remember when Clinton was President? Remember what it was like when our nation was led by someone who could talk extemperaneously about the middle east, segue into nuclear proliferation, and then go off on a tangent into central Asian politics and current events? All while having his little soldier serviced by a WH intern?
Yes, those were shameful days for the universe's greatest country. Thank you Jesus for anointing such an empty vessel as George W Bush, a man who can almost string a non-coherent sentence together based on half-retained talking points stuffed into his coke-addled cerebellum by Karl Rove.
But seriously, that 'news conference' was fucking embarrassing. I swear I could feel my brain cells dying just watching it. And thanks to George's lame effort to pull his Presidency out of its death spiral, we all have to wait until Sunday to see the new "24". Thanks a lot, asshole.
I weep for my country that we are led by such an inadequate failure as George W. Bush.
It just so happens that a book I've had on hold at the library came in finally. Quite appropriate for this tax week - David Cay Johnston's "Perfectly Legal". In case you have not heard of it yet, it's a NYTimes reporter's exposè of how the tax system is rigged to benefit the super-rich.
I'll be reading and blogging it this week, for those of you who haven't yet read it. I have time to do so because I got my taxes done back in February, nyah nyah nyah!
Monday, April 12, 2004
As mentioned, I was in Italy for a couple weeks in January and I had some observations to make.
The night before I left I went with some friends to a new multi-plex movie theater just outside Florence, and it was absolutely the coolest theater I've ever been in - even better than American theaters!!!
First of all, you should understand what the usual Italian theater experience is. If it's not just an adapted room with a screen and some chairs set up (very rudimentary, this is something you run into frequently in smaller towns), it's a single screen theater and it closes in the summer, believe it or not. This seems bizarre to Americans, until you consider that Italians usually vacate the cities for the beach in July and August. A multi-plex theater is virtually unseen in Italy.
This new theater, in Campi Bisenzio (next to the Gigli mall), was incredible. I noted it had gone up last year, and I was curious to see it since it had 16 screens, but only in January did I have the chance to go.
We went to see "Return of the King." It was in Italian and actually quite easy to understand, any second or third year Italian student should have been able to follow it.
In any case, the exterior of the Vis Pathè theater was neon and glass, a huge builiding. The first thing I loved about it was RESERVED seats. No waiting in line to get a good seat or at least avoid a sucky seat. I've often said that I'd pay an extra $2 a ticket to avoid that waiting-in-line BS. When are US theaters going to get around to this simple innovation?
The ticket cost 8 euro. Once we went inside the lobby (enormous, euro-stylish, modern, well-lit), there was an immense bar at the left. The bar was loooooong, I'm a bad judge of distance but I bet it was 100 feet long. No kidding. The decor was Route 66 Americana, with some faux gas station canopies, a Fiat Cinquecento and a Vespa mounted in wall niches. This was a full-service bar, clean and well-lit, with everything from a caffè to a panino to the usual selection of liquors(!) available.
We stopped for a caffè since we had just eaten, then we went on to another, smaller lobby with a small snack bar, and a mini convenience store where you could buy candy, soda, water, etc. I believe the snack bar served beer as well. There was also a lounge off to a side with nice chairs and sofas where you could sit and consume and hang out.
Once we went in the auditorium (we happened to get GREAT seats, halfway up the auditorium with the middle row in front of us so we could stretch our legs out), we sat in very comfortable chairs which did not recline BUT they did have double-wide, PADDED arm rests. Think about it - no more playing elbow jockey, no more of that delicate unspoken negotiation on who gets to use how much of the armrest, with a stranger or your date!
The sound system was equal to anything I've heard in an American theater. This was the third time I had seen ROTK but by far the most enjoyable, and that's including the first two times I saw it at the biggest screen theater where I live.
I haven't been to NY or LA recently (nor Chicago) so maybe there's something similar in those big cities. I wish we could have something as luxurious here!
You can check out the website for Vis Pathè here. It's all in Italian but you will get the idea from the pretty pictures.
Sunday, April 11, 2004
Weird Al Yankovic's Parents Found Dead