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April 10, 2004
Meanwhile back on the ranch
This is Bush's 33rd visit to his ranch since becoming president. He has spent all or part of 233 days on his Texas ranch since taking office, according to a tally by CBS News. Adding his 78 visits to Camp David and his five visits to Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush has spent all or part of 500 days in office at one of his three retreats, or more than 40 percent of his presidency.
Nice work, if the Supreme Court can get it for you.
Washington, D.C., Nov. 3, 2000 — The fire and smoke from the downed passenger aircraft billows from the Pentagon courtyard. Defense Protective Services Police seal the crash sight. Army medics, nurses and doctors scramble to organize aid. An Arlington Fire Department chief dispatches his equipment to the affected areas.
The center cannot hold
Not good days for the Bushies, as the house of cards they've built for themselves begins to collapse eight months too soon. Iraq appears to be morphing into an unholy combination of Vietnam, Beiruit, and the West Bank...while on the home front, some, if not all, of the 9/11 commissioners are clearly fed up with the stonewalling and bullshit--hence the deliberate revelation during public testimony of the title of the infamous August 6 PDB, as well as the leaked description of its more damning contents in major papers this morning. (The latter attributed to "several people who have seen the memo"--gosh, who might that be?)
From the Times:
WASHINGTON, April 9 — President Bush was told more than a month before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that supporters of Osama bin Laden planned an attack within the United States with explosives and wanted to hijack airplanes, a government official said Friday.
And from the Post::
Bush had specifically asked for an intelligence analysis of possible al Qaeda attacks within the United States, because most of the information presented to him over the summer about al Qaeda focused on threats against U.S. targets overseas, sources said. But one source said the White House was disappointed because the analysis lacked focus and did not present fresh intelligence.
No wonder even some Republicans are beginning to second-guess Karl Rove on the wisdom of holding the convention in NYC:
But then came Richard A. Clarke, the 9/11 commission and a rising insurgency in Iraq. Now, as the administration faces increasing scrutiny of its handling of pre-9/11 terror threats and the wisdom of extending the war on terrorism into Iraq, the question has emerged whether New York is the best place for the Republicans to be gathering this summer.
And next week, Ashcroft appears before the 9/11 commission, and it's likely to be contentious, given his initially lackadaisical attitude toward the terror threat:
On September 10 (2001), the last day of what is now seen as a bygone age of innocence, Mr Ashcroft sent a request for budget increases to the White House. It covered 68 programmes, none of them related to counter-terrorism.
I doubt if any of the commissioners will go this far, but what I'd really like to see someone ask is why he himself stopped flying commercial jets the summer before 9/11:
Nevertheless, he began using a chartered private jet to travel around the country, rather than take commercial airliners as Ms Reno had done. A justice department spokesman said this was done as a result of an FBI "threat assessment" on Mr Ashcroft, but insisted that the assessment was not specifically linked to al-Qaida.
One more question: where the hell is John Kerry right now? You know, tall fellow, somewhat cadaverous looking, running for President? Shoulder surgery or no, isn't it time for him to be getting back into the spotlight, taking a stance on Iraq and the 9/11 revelations, generally showing some backbone, some leadership? I've told this story before, but after this cartoon ran, after Wellstone died, someone from Kerry's office emailed and requested a signed copy. I thought about that for awhile, and finally decided to inscribe it, "Senator Kerry--please prove me wrong."
Well, the jury's still out.
...I missed this. "Arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy"--that's more like it.
April 09, 2004
End of the week fun with composite photos
Warning: these are decidedly not work safe, nor in particularly good taste.
Either of these will haunt your dreams, so don't say I didn't warn you.
A law unto himself
This is outrageous:
HATTIESBURG, Miss (AP) — Two reporters were ordered Wednesday to erase their tape recordings of a speech by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at a Mississippi high school.
Why are you reading this, don't you know there's a war on?
Some highlights from Condi Rice's testimony:
RICE: If you'll just give me a moment, I will address fully the questions that you've asked.
To summarize: they did not know al Qaeda was planning to attack within the United States, even though they knew there were al Qaeda cells within the United States and the title of the August 6 PDB--a document prepared at the request of the President--was "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States." However, the document was apparently one of the most grossly misnamed reports in the history of governance, because, according to Rice's testimony, it "did not warn of attacks inside the United States." Except, of course, for the part where it talked about suspicious activity consistent with preparations for hijacking. And anyway there was nothing they could have done because they weren't specifically told when and where the hijackers were going to strike, and it's not like they could have hardened the cockpits in time even if they'd tried, which they didn't.
Or so Condi Rice explains it, with the smug condescension of a precocious nine year old who fully expects that her answers will earn her one of those little sticky gold stars--which, she will be the first to tell you, she richly deserves.
It's just that simple
"We've got tough work there because, you see, there are terrorists there who would rather kill innocent people than allow for the advance of freedom," Bush said in a speech in El Dorado, Ark. "That's what you're seeing going on. These people hate freedom. And we love freedom. And that's where the clash occurs."
April 08, 2004
(Busy today, doubt I'll be posting much.)
The face of this war
...here's the original source, with some commentary by the creator.
April 07, 2004
Speaking of corporate America
More than 60% of U.S. corporations didn't pay any federal taxes for 1996 through 2000, years when the economy boomed and corporate profits soared, Tuesday's Wall Street Journal reported, citing the investigative arm of Congress.
More than 60% of U.S. corporations paid no federal taxes for 1996 through 2000.
Think about that on April 15.
Nickel and diming
The Times had an article this weekend about the apparently common practice of time shaving--altering the time cards of low-wage employees so that they lose hours and the company saves a few bucks.
Experts on compensation say that the illegal doctoring of hourly employees' time records is far more prevalent than most Americans believe. The practice, commonly called shaving time, is easily done and hard to detect — a simple matter of computer keystrokes — and has spurred a growing number of lawsuits and settlements against a wide range of businesses.
I find this incredibly infuriating. When you're earning on this level, ten or twenty bucks can make a huge difference. Trust me, I speak from way too many years of personal experience on this one.
This practice--and reports that Wal Mart has recently been caught overcharging customers--inspire South Knox Bubba to write:
Companies like Walmart and Microsoft and Citicorp et. al. are the natural result of competition and free markets. I'd like to think, though, that someday we might value something other than just monetary profits in business and commerce. You know, things like honesty and integrity, respect for workers and suppliers and customers and the community at large -- in other words, holding them accountable for being responsible citizens like individuals are supposed to be.
As you may or may not know, I own my own business (Quizno's franchise). I've been in business for over six years. How did I get this franchise? My second father, retired 1st Sergeant Tyson Vale, invested in me 100%. Part of the deal involved me going to all sorts of franchise management and small business classes and he owning a 51% stake in the business the first year. This fairly rich man treated me with dignity and fairness. After I proved I could handle things. He pulled his ownership back to 40% after 2 years. After 4 years, Tyson pulled is ownership back to 25%. After over 6 years of profits, Tyson wanted to give me full ownership since he has made his investment back plus a healthy, juicy return. Out of respect for this man, I argued and argued with him to hold on to 10%. He wouldn't hear it. So we agreed to 5%. As he told me:
April 06, 2004
David Brooks' latest excursion into banality starts off with a Wacky Premise: since liberals and conservatives favor different media outlets, why, they might as well fly different airlines too!
As you might expect, much zaniness ensues.
The experience of flying on Liberal Air will be different than flying on normal airlines, and the company will be structured in different ways. For example, the frequent flier program will reward customers the less they fly, just to make things even. Airfares will be symbolic, since everything is paid for by George Soros. Pilots, who look disturbingly like Arlo Guthrie, will greet passengers at the door of the plane to apologize for the oil they are about to consume.
George Soros! Arlo Guthrie! You'll have to excuse me for a moment as I pull myself off the floor, where I have fallen, overcome by spasms of sheer hilarity.
The planes themselves will be designed by a really interesting fuselage cooperative in Oregon. Seating will be divided between coach class, working class (mostly screenwriters in flannel shirts) and faculty.
Oregon! Flannel shirts! Screenwriters! Stop--you're killing me!
In addition, pilots will provide a running travel commentary over the P.A. system ("Ladies and gentlemen, if you glance out of the left side of the aircraft, you'll be able to look down on the people of Kansas"), and there will be encounter sessions for Democrats who know in their heads they had to go with Kerry but who now miss the excitement of Dean.
Ha ha! Those elitist liberals, always looking down on the midwest!
And just when you think it can't get any crazier, Brooks aims his laser sharp wit at his comrades on the right!
All Right Wing Express flights will leave exactly on time, though for national security reasons the pilots will not reveal the identity of the destination cities. The Hummer-brand planes will have ample headroom for big-hair ladies, dozens of pews with easy access to the putting greens, and drop-down TV monitors, which will show libido-crushing abstinence education videos. There will also be ample bathroom facilities for heterosexuals of both genders.
Hummer planes! Abstinence videos! Putting greens! Whoosh! I haven't laughed this hard since the last time I watched the Dennis Miller show!
The rest of us in this funny-joke-making business might as well just pack it in. We have met our match.
The news today
The usual suspects on the right are busy proclaiming the chaos in Iraq a Good Thing--sort of a sequel to the Flypaper Strategy, bringing the enemy out into the open, yadda yadda yadda. Personally, I have a hard time seeing the bright side of escalating body counts, but hey, maybe that's just me.
(Speaking of the Flypaper Strategy--why didn't that one get the mock outrage treatment? I mean, suggesting that it's good news that terrorists are going after our troops abroad because it keeps them busy? Talk about disrespecting the military.)
Josh Marshall reminds us that the brilliant strategists who got us into this mess expected to have no more than 30,000 remaining troops on the ground as early as late last summer. Doesn't quite seem to be working out that way:
American commanders in Iraq are developing contingency plans to send more American forces to the country if the situation worsens, and administration officials said Monday that the new surge of violence by Shiites represented a worrying challenge to their plans to turn over power in less than 90 days.
And then there's this:
Since the war began a year ago, senior military leaders have given frequent assurances to troops and their families that Iraq duty would be no longer than a year.
Chaos in Iraq, the troops and their families getting the royal shaft--no wonder there's been so much bluster about Kos and his little outburst. Much easier than thinking. And speaking of the outsourcing of military responsibilities to private contractors--even those America-haters at Time magazine find something a little hincky about that situation:
The work of the four American civilians slaughtered in Fallujah last week was so shadowy that their families struggled to explain what exactly the men had been hired to do in Iraq. Marija Zovko says her nephew Jerry said little about the perils of the missions he carried out every day. "He wouldn't talk about it," she says. Even representatives for the private security company that employed the men, Blackwater USA, could not say what exactly they were up to on that fateful morning. "All the details of the attack at this point are haphazard at best," says Chris Bertelli, a spokesman for Blackwater. "We don't know what they were doing on the road at the time."
April 05, 2004
Speaking of Kos
Here's more of that intemperate rhetoric of his:
The one-day price -- 8 Americans and one Salvadoran killed. Both my countries took losses today. That's 13 dead coalition troops in an April just barely four days old. 613 dead Americans and 715 dead coalition total.
Why does he hate America so much?
April 04, 2004
I'm mostly taking the day off today. But I wanted to post links to this and this. Short story: Kos makes an ill-considered remark (which he soon retracts) and every right-wing nutcase online goes ballistic. Proof of the moral degeneracy of the left, Democrats are traitors, blah blah blah. I guess it's easier than thinking.
Some of Kos's advertisers have pulled out as a result. (...and John Kerry's blog has de-linked him.) It's the collision of old politics and new media. A lot of politicians figured out that blogs can reach the base and be an effective fundraising tool, and they wanted a piece of that action. What they didn't realize was that the appeal of the blogs is the unfiltered, off-the-cuff nature of their commentary. Personally, it just reinforces my suspicion that I don't want any candidate advertising on this site.
...one thing I want to add: I consider Markos a friend--I don't know him well, but I know him well enough to know that he's a decent guy. As for everybody piling on him--hey, let's take a magnifying glass to your archives and see how well you stand up. Everybody steps a little too far over the line occasionally.
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