Thursday, March 25, 2004

NY Times - Was an Official 'in the Loop'? It All Depends
"Ms. Rice painted a distinctly different picture of the involvement of Mr. Clarke, who has prompted furious responses since he asserted in a new book and in testimony on Capitol Hill that President Bush did not heed warnings before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. 'He was in every meeting that was held on terrorism,' Ms. Rice said. 'All the deputies' meetings, the principals' meeting that was held and so forth, the early meetings after Sept. 11.'

Well now. Finally some truth begins to emerge. I don't find Ms. Rice's statements in conflict with Mr. Cheney's statements at all. Mr. Clarke WAS out of the principals', Cheney's loop. She only mentions ONE TIME that Clarke was in such a meeting and conveniently neglects to say it was on 9/04/01. And that was precisely his beef with Ms. Rice because he felt that had he been in the regular principals' meetings, and if the president and Ms. Rice felt the same urgency, the information that we now know we had in the FBI most probably would have been brought to light.

Here is the whole matter as I now see it, given the testimony I've read/heard/seen and all the press and all the statements: The Bush Administration did not really care WHAT Richard Clarke had to say because they felt his approach to stopping terrorism was too small. They thought in grand designs, big pictures. They could see the broad outlines of history and human endeavors. You eliminate Saddam, install a democracy in Iraq as a shining beacon to the rest of the Arab world, and voila THERE is your end to terrorism. They make no bones about that. They told Clarke to continue with his daily meetings but at the deputies level. Oh sure they still met with Tenet, but he was CIA! THAT'S why they felt all the "chatter" about an impending attack was most likely going to occur in a foreign country. FBI/Justice is responsible for America. CIA is for everywhere else. And really, all they had to do was admit that their focus on Iraq from the start of the administration and their refusal to take the impending threat of an attack on American soil as likely was wrong early on after 9/11/01 and there would not have been a huge problem. But instead, they pressed on like they have never made a mistake in their lives. And we are all paying for it now.

We see this over and over and over in politics and really it's curious why no one has learned the lesson: admit your mistakes early on, get it out in the open and move on. If you cover it up, it will ALWAYS come back to haunt you and, possibly, to defeat you.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Russia withdraws nuclear flagship
"Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov told Russian news agencies: "The ship is in such poor condition that it could explode at any moment. The situation is especially dangerous because the ship is powered by a nuclear power plant." It was not clear whether he was suggesting that there could be a nuclear explosion."

WOW. Seriously, WOW. We have GOT to do something about this.

Monday, March 22, 2004

9/11: For The Record (, registration required)
Rice: "Before Sept. 11, we closely monitored threats to our nation. President Bush revived the practice of meeting with the director of the CIA every day -- meetings that I attended."

I don't want this to become a political blog at all. But a couple of things struck me about Ms. Rice's rebuttal to Richard Clarke. Notice, she says "before Sept. 11" and declines to provide a date when the meetings with the CIA were revived. Also, why was it that they had to be revived? Because the new Bush administration stopped the regular meetings. Moreover, there is no dispute, and Ms. Rice does not answer, why the counter-terrorism position was downgraded from cabinet level. That meant that there was no pressure from the top to ensure that FBI, CIA and all other cabinet positions communicated on a daily basis. (That's the whole purpose of the bloated Homeland Security cabinet post.) I suspect the reason Clarke was downgraded was because Mr. Bush personally did not like him and the rest of the staff viewed him as a Clintonite. And notice also that they revived meetings "with the CIA" ONLY. Nice going.

Friday, March 19, 2004 Arts & Entertainment | Brilliant mistake
"...many of the movies of the past five years that have been hailed as inventive and interesting by young audiences -- pictures like 'Memento', 'Being John Malkovich' and 'Adaptation', the last two written by Kaufman -- are also movies that work hard to wow us with their jigsaw intricacies. It's as if young filmmakers fear that their audiences will become bored with a movie if they don't have a clever mind-boggler to wrestle with along the way..."

I've heard/read this take on Memento before and it always surprises me especially coming from critics who are supposed to know better. The reason Christopher Nolan structures the film the way he did is so we can empathize with the hero, feel what he feels, experience life as he does. That is what makes the final resolution all the more shattering. This is not new. This is basic storytelling.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The Economist - Ford Focus
"The Big Three also have huge health-care costs. According to Ron Tadross, an auto analyst at Banc of America Securities, their combined health-care liabilities amount to $60.4 billion."

THIS is the fact that will push the USA towards a single-payor universal healthcare solution. The tide is turning.

Monday, March 15, 2004

What an entertaining picture! I'm a Mamet fan so bear that in mind, but I am NOT a Val Kilmer fan and I enjoyed his performance in this picture. It can be interpreted as a response to "Wag The Dog" I suppose, but taken on its own terms it's a taut, suspenseful, enjoyable thriller with an intriguing heart about the conflict between cynicism and hope.
The St. Louis Rams - Tom Nutten Starting Over In Cologne
I have to admit it. I am a Europhile. This story about Tom Nutten, former Rams Super Bowl lineman and now tight ends coach with the Cologne Centurions got my imagination going. What a treat it would be to be able to live and work in Europe!

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

BBC NEWS - I'm retiring, says George Michael
While I've never been a fan of his music, I will predict that if these free songs are any good, he will be more popular than ever. This is something the music business as currently constructed cannot begin to fathom: clamping down on the sharing of music can only hurt overall sales. They look at MP3 sharing as piracy, when it is actually free advertising. It's a minor loss of revenue, but a major reduction in promotional costs.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Wired News: Hands Off! That Fact Is Mine
Are there ANY boundaries to greed anymore? At ALL?