Thursday, April 01, 2004

It's April Fools' Day. So, any hint of a connection between WBUR's talk show hour on erasing traumatic memories and a certain current Hollywood film would, of course, be folly...
A bit of news from Boston -- security precautions for the Democratic convention are starting to seriously worry people. North Station -- a major commuter-rail hub right underneath the convention venue -- will be closed; that had been announced for months, though it's now being portrayed as a response to the Madrid bombings. Additionally, subway service to North Station will be shut down (even though the subway station is at least a hundred feet away from the walls of the convention venue), and the major highway artery, a/k/a the Big Dig, will be shut down during rush hour for the duration of the convention.

Needless to say, this is resulting in a certain amount of bad publicity.

Similar measures for the Republican convention in New York at Madison Square Garden would involve shutting down Penn Station, and possibly the two subway lines beneath it, paralysing New York. Yet, remarkably, the Secret Service has not yet seen fit to order that.

Don't expect them to explain the discrepancy. Their spokesman in Boston is on the radio saying that he will not explain what threats he's trying to respond to, or justify anything.

Of course, we could avoid a great deal of this here if the Convention weren't held at the FleetCenter, right over a major commuter-rail hub, but instead at the massive new convention center now being finished in an asphalt jungle between the financial district and Southie; there's no rail nearby, just access roads for the newest of three harbor tunnels, and we got by for decades with the first two. But instead, it's downtown -- for what? Better hotel access, if the attendees can fight their way through the traffic? And the new center itself is chronically underbooked, and could certainly use the publicity. Why not? It's almost as if Mayor Menino were embarassed by the thing...

More on that: it turns out that there is a reason -- convention organizers want good TV angles, and the FleetCenter, designed as a sports arena, makes it easier to give the networks good shots. As if the amount of network coverage will be determined by camera placement. Perhaps these folks should give half a thought to what "respected Boston media figures" like radio troglodyte Howie Carr and lying ex-Globe columnist Mike Barnicle will be saying on national air about "Democratic arrogrance" shutting down businesses in the area for a week. And perhaps not be so quick to brush off the prospect of police picket lines in front of the building as Mayor Menino's problem, elsewhere in the same story...

Just listened to a report on liberal NPR on "rapid-response" campaign tactics, featuring the Kerry and Bush campaigns trading jabs. Except that the substance of the Bush attack (that Kerry was going to raise the gas tax) was presented repeatedly, and the substance of Kerry's response hardly at all. The reporter? Juan Williams...
I don't suppose anyone reading this might have some suggestions for a would-be tourist in New York on family business on Monday, when the museums are all closed?

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

George W. Bush, November 20, 2003:

We believe that the Iraqi citizens want to be free. We know that they are willing to work for their own freedom, and the more people working for their own freedom, the more we can put that into our calculation as to troop levels.
Reuters, March 31, 2004:

FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - A crowd of cheering Iraqis dragged charred and mutilated bodies through the streets of the town of Falluja Wednesday after an ambush on two vehicles that witnesses said killed at least three foreigners. ...

Television pictures showed one incinerated body being kicked and stamped on by a member of the jubilant crowd, while others dragged a blackened body down the road by its feet.

The footage showed at least three people lying dead, while some witnesses said that four were killed. It was not clear how many people were in the vehicles.

As one body lay burning on the ground, an Iraqi came and doused it with petrol, sending flames soaring. At least two bodies were tied to cars and pulled through the streets, witnesses said.

"This is the fate of all Americans who come to Falluja," said Mohammad Nafik, one of the crowd surrounding the bodies.

In homage to the master of the quote log, Billmon, who's got his own take on this story here...

Dubya's crew has been trying to discredit Richard Clarke by quoting from, for instance, his letter of resignation, which contained warm praise for the Dubya's leadership, and said how pleasant it was to work together.

There's been a problem with that -- Clarke has been able to show them up, by for instance, pointing out that he was talking about his service as cybersecurity "czar", after trying and failing to get a responsible role in the antiterror efforts. But, reports Josh Marshall, they're dealing with that problem -- they're going to be excerpting classified testimony, which he can't legally quote in context...

Monday, March 29, 2004

The jury in the trial of Dennis Kozlowski and a few associates, accused of looting the company they ran, Tyco, for millions of dollars, has been hung since March 18th. From all indications, there's one juror holding out for acquittal, because she doesn't believe the prosecutors have established criminal intent -- she thinks the defendants may not have known that their actions were wrong. Which is to say, she finds it plausible that people could get into the position of running a multi-billion dollar conglomerate, without ever learning that spending its money to rent a Sardinian villa for a private birthday party, or to have the company buy their own unwanted second homes from them for millions of dollars above the market price, would be wrong.

The woman is a lawyer herself, and other legal experts seem to think she may have a point.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

On Friday, Billmon found himself compelled to give up on parody for a while. He had posted over-the-top parody of Republican attack-dog politics, accusing Richard Clarke of racism for criticizing Condi Rice, only to find Darth Novak using the same line in all seriousness on CNN.

This presented an opportunity for folks like Tom Friedman to shield themselves from all future parody by merely spouting off lines that no parodist could hope to top. Like this:

I have a confession to make: I am the foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times and I didn't listen to one second of the 9/11 hearings and I didn't read one story in the paper about them. Not one second. Not one story.

Lord knows, it's not out of indifference to 9/11. It's because I made up my mind about that event a long time ago: It was not a failure of intelligence, it was a failure of imagination. We could have had perfect intelligence on all the key pieces of 9/11, but the fact is we lacked — for the very best of reasons — people with evil enough imaginations to put those pieces together and realize that 19 young men were going to hijack four airplanes for suicide attacks against our national symbols and...

So, he believes our national security authority is too blinkered too even imagine how we might be attacked. And that's a good thing. Fortunately he's wrong -- while Clarke was getting support, in the Clinton administration, he specifically planned for 9/11 style attacks against the Olympics and other events, which Clarke was trying to upgrade into a full-time capability. But Friedman was talking about the suicide attacks against our national symbols (while Dubya had Clarke sidelined) when al-Qaeda tried to ...

... kill as many innocent civilians as they could, for no stated reason at all.

Yo, Tom. Bin Laden. Fatwa. 1998. Look into it. But hey, our double-Pulitzer-prizewinner is not ashamed of showing his ignorance. He just finished bragging about it.

He goes on to recite a long list of things he wishes he could read about in the morning news. (He reads it on AOL). You know what I wish I could read? Op-ed columns from people who give a damn about getting their facts straight.

Oh, great. I've gone Dennis Miller on him. In ten years, I am doomed to be a burned-out knee-jerk conservative husk of my already insubstantial former self. Kill me now...