Monday, September 22, 2003


Please update your links/bookmarks to:

posted by Fred Clark 5:39 PM


So I'm reading Eric Alterman's latest column in The Nation and I start to see this strange image. It's Eric in a rumpled raincoat, an unlit cigar in one hand and a notebook in the other, his glass eye ever-so slightly askew.

It's Alterman as Columbo.

It made me wish that somebody in the Washington press corps would take a cue from Alterman -- or from Peter Falk -- and confront the president with the contradictions and bizarre falsehoods of what we've been told about his actions and whereabouts on Sept. 11, 2001.

BUSH: "I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower --"

COLUMBO: You actually saw the first plane hit?

BUSH " -- the TV was obviously on. But I was whisked off there. I didn't have much time to think about it." [actual quote from Dec. 4, 2001]

COLUMBO: Aw geesh. That must've been a horrible sight. Mrs. Columbo and I were having breakfast and we didn't have the TV on, so ...

BUSH: "There was a TV set on. And you know, I thought it was pilot error, and I was amazed that anybody could make such a terrible mistake. ..." [actual quote, Jan. 5, 2002]

COLUMBO: So what did you do, when you saw that first plane hit?

BUSH: "Immediately after the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans." [actual quote from Bush's speech to the nation, Sept. 11, 2001]

COLUMBO: I see. I see. Well ... Okay. Okay then. I guess that's that. Thank you for your time.

BUSH: Glad to help officer, the secretary will show you out.

Columbo heads for the door, then stops, touching one temple with the index finger of his cigar hand and reaching for his notebook.

COLUMBO: I'm sorry Mr. President, just one more little thing ...

The rumpled lieutenant goes on to ask why the president "implemented our government's emergency response plans" when he thought it was merely a case of "pilot error." And he asks why those plans were not actually implemented until hours later. And how the president could have seen the first plane hit the towers when that image was not even broadcast until days later.

In episodes of Columbo, the wily detective patiently gathers up the suspect's contradictions and then forces the suspect to confront them. Once the suspect realizes that contradictory and discredited answers are no longer an option, they confess the truth.

Read Alterman's column. President Bush's confrontation with the truth is long overdue.

posted by Fred Clark 5:14 PM


Altriiiaaa -- I just met a girl named Altria ...

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the House majority whip, is getting married next month.

The wedding is planned for mid-October, Taylor said. This will be the second marriage for Blunt, 53, who got divorced last year, and the first for [Abigail] Perlman, 41.

Perlman is a lobbyist -- the head of government affairs for Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris:

Their relationship became controversial in June, after The Washington Post reported that Blunt tried to slip language aiding Philip Morris into a homeland security bill last year.

Isn't that romantic? I mean, anybody can send flowers, but nothing says "I love you" like diverting homeland security funding to Big Tobacco.

Theirs has been a classic, whirlwind Beltway love story. Rep. Blunt finished up the paperwork on his divorce. Altria finished up the paperwork on a new policy recusing Perlman from lobbying House leadership.

The soon-to-be Mrs. Majority Whip will still be allowed to lobby rank and file members of the House. Those representatives will, of course, feel no pressure to grant her undue access or influence just because she's married to the No. 3 man in the House leadership.

Rumor has it the couple is registered with Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel and several appropriations committees.

posted by Fred Clark 3:09 PM


After about 15 months here in a no-frills format, I'm preparing for the leap over to Typepad.

Planning to make the leap pretty soon, please click on by and check out the new digs.

posted by Fred Clark 2:12 PM


The "Business" section is irrelevant. We need a "Work" section.

"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital, producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor themselves, and, with their capital, hire or buy another few to labor for them. A large majority belong to neither class -- neither work for others, nor have others working for them. ..."

-- Abraham Lincoln, Annual Message to Congress, Dec. 3, 1861

Well, here it is Monday again, so you're back to work. That's the rhythm of the work-week and the rhythm of life for most people. But your daily newspaper doesn't think so.

Newspapers don't care much about the work-week. They don't care about thank-God-it's-Friday or Oh-God-it's-Monday. Monday matters to the daily newspaper only because that is the day the stock markets reopen on Wall Street.

The stock markets -- the business of investments and the people who live on them -- are the concern of an entire section of your daily newspaper. The "Business" section. Odds are, like most people, you don't read it. That's okay -- it wasn't written for you. It was written for a tiny sliver of the total readership -- those who earn dividends and capital gains rather than wages.

It's a bit odd, at least from a circulation standpoint, that an entire section of the paper should be dedicated wholly to the concerns of these "few men," as Lincoln called them. Particularly since there is no corresponding section dedicated to the concerns of the great majority of people and readers -- those who work for a living.

It can't be good business for newspapers to disregard the concerns of the great majority while catering to these few men. Nor does it seem fair.

USA Today was probably on to something when they decided to call their "Business" section "Money," instead, but I would like to take it a step further. I would like to see a section called "Work."

It only seems fair, after all, that work (labor) should be treated as at least the equal of investment (capital).

But of course these things are not equal. "Capital is only the fruit of labor," as Lincoln put it, a principle that came in Catholic social teaching to be called the "primacy of labor." Primacy as in "first," as in "priority."

It's Monday and you're back at work. That matters. It's more important than the vagaries of the stock markets. Even if your daily newspaper has its priorities upside down.

posted by Fred Clark 1:48 AM

Sunday, September 21, 2003


I'm having a hard time counting all the ways that this is not good:

An American soldier has shot and killed a rare Bengal tiger in Baghdad Zoo during an apparently drunken party.

"The soldiers arrived in the evening with food and beer, accompanied by a group of Iraqi police officers," said zoo official Adel Musa.

One of the soldiers, who Iraqi police said had drunk a lot, went into the cage against the advice of his colleagues and tried to feed the animal. The tiger tore off one of the soldier's fingers and mauled his arm. One of the other soldiers immediately fired at the animal and killed it. ...

US Sergeant Mark Ingham confirmed an American soldier had killed the tiger and said the incident was being investigated.

posted by Fred Clark 3:49 AM

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