Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My little sister is all married and shit now. The wedding was this past weekend. It was a lovely ceremony and the reception was a lot of fun.

I was most impressed with the groom's ability to refrain from wiping his brow. We were in this wooded outdoor area with lots of shade, but Brian and Kristy ended up being right in the one patch of sunlight. By the end of the ceremony, he had turned bright pink and had a sheen of sweat on his forehead. Those of us in the wedding party had more shade, but we surreptitiously swatted at the flies when we needed to. The ceremony was beautiful, although a little too much Jesus talk for my tastes. The pastor kept talking about the three-strand rope. Brian was one strand, Kristy another and Jesus the third. I kept picturing Kristy and Brian having fights and blaming all their marital problems on Jesus. "The real issue here is Jesus! He never lifts a finger to help out around here! Why don't you take out the trash, Jesus?"

At the reception, I got to introduce the wedding party. That was a lot of fun. They were a good bunch with a good sense of humor. I think the best line was for my brother. When we picked up his tux, the guy asked if he wanted to try it on. My brother looks at the garment bag and says, "No it looks like it'll fit." His introduction: "The man with the uncanny ability to tell if a suit fits just by looking at its garment bag, Paul Ochs!"

I also got to make a toast with my brother. That was fun, but our collaboration was tough. He wasn't the most supportive in the brainstorming/early stages. In fact, after I read him some opening lines, he said, "I don't see the funny in that." Ouch! We did a good job, though. My favorite joke was about my sister: "When I first met you, I was pretty disappointed. I'd really wanted a puppy and I got you. You kept drooling all over yourself and you couldn't speak English."

We also had a long-awaited dance-off rematch between me and my cousin Mark. Well, it was supposed to be between the two of us. Halfway through, Brian decided to join in. I still think I won, but it was his night. Everyone clapped for him and he walked away with the title. Mark was pretty angry about the whole thing. I got over it.

Great night, though. The only downside was the 30 hours I spent on standby on the way back to LA. Ouch! Trust me, don't ever fly United!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hooray!! I finally managed to post something new. I've been trying to get on here for the past two months to post my ideas about the Sopranos and Shakespeare. For some reason, I've been having serious issues with all this shit. Of course, the only reason I managed to get it to work is because I'm procrastinating in writing my speech for the senior breakfast tomorrow. I was voted most inspirational teacher so I get to give a talk to the kids. I'm pretty psyched about it, but writing a speech is HARD!!! I'll probably post it when I'm done . . . if I can figure out how.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I think they should change the title of that film Reign Over Me to 9/12.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The War on Santa

One of the drawbacks of being a liberal is being associated with shit like the war on Christmas. You've probably heard something about this. Some local atheist or worshipper of Shinto decides to sue the city council for wishing him a merry Christmas instead of the religion-neutral happy holidays. I mean, sure, we're supposed to be a non-religious state. The government's not supposed to endorse any religion over any other, but seriously, who fucking cares? Idiot liberals, that's who! "Healthcare? The environment? The war? Political corruption? Sure, they're important, but have you seen the Christmas tree they put up at the department of water and power?! I'm starting a crusade!"

It bugs me mainly because it gives Sean Hannity something to make liberals look like idiots. Fox News, like Steven Colbert, probably has a War on Christmas graphic (I wouldn't know; I've managed to avoid the network for a good long while) that they drag out every time some kook decides that Kra, the Egyptian god of gifts whose feast day just happens to fall on December 25th, isn't represented in the otherwise religion-neutral holiday display at the police station. It makes liberals look petty and out of touch.

More importantly, though, it really seems to miss the point. Christmas is not a religious holiday anymore . . . at least not in the United States. Christmas is, in fact, the most American of all American holidays. It is a celebration of our consumerism, our love of material goods, a statement of our beliefs in the capitalist system. It starts on Thanksgiving day---perhaps the only part of the holidays that isn't mired in money---when some people, the early birds, aka the Door Busters, start charting their plan of attack.

I was watching the local Las Vegas news on Thanksgiving day this year. Top story: Shopping! If you weren't aware, that non-holiday holiday, the day after Thanksgiving, is called Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. (Coincidentally, there are a bunch of super liberals who have tried to turn this into Buy Nothing Day---good luck with that guys!) I felt bad for the reporter who had to work on Thanksgiving, but her job was pretty easy. All she had to do was drive to the Best Buy and scan the crowd of people camped out in front. They had camped out in order to get one of Best Buy's Door Buster specials, really low prices reserved for the first 100 or so customers that day. Entire families were spending all of Thanksgiving there. One guy she interviewed explained that he was spending Thanksgiving there so that he could get his mom a plasma TV for $500. While that certainly was a great deal, I had to ask why he thought it was more important to get her a TV than to spend Thanksgiving with her.

Black Friday kicks off a month of packed shopping malls and heavy traffic. I usually put all my shopping off until the last day. My sister and I have a tradition of buying Starbucks and spending Christmas Eve shopping. The reasoning is two-fold: 1. I generally have to fly in and it's easier to buy gifts when I get to New Jersey and 2. I put everything off to the last minute. I have to admit that I love buying gifts for my family. I am perpetually broke, but I wish I could buy gifts for all of my friends. Obviously I've internalized all the consumerism messages inherent in Christmas.

Those messages may not be readily apparent. Here are a few observations:

1. Christmas shopping. Our gifts are a sign of how much we love people. Perhaps the price tag doesn't always equate to amount loved, but there is some correlation. I'm always shocked and outraged when one of my friends tells me about how her mom 'forgot' to buy one of her children presents one year. Could you imagine watching your siblings open gifts and your mom telling you she forgot about you?

2. Office gift exchanges. This is always the worst gift exchange at Christmas. You have to pretend to care about people who you wouldn't really know unless you worked with them. How about Secret Santa? You have to figure out the tastes of someone you hardly know and give them gifts. At my work, it got so involved that you had to give them gifts all week and finish the week with a major present. Thank goodness they canceled it this year. The grab bag idea is even stranger. Clearly that's just about getting a gift, any gift, as long as it's under $20. I was involved in one of those this year. I brought wine; I went home with Aliens vs. Spacemen action figures and Mars Mud. Couldn't help feeling a bit gyped.

3. Santa Claus. If he only had some blue in that red and white costume, he'd be our national symbol. An overweight guy who flips the paradigm of our paranoid fantasy of losing all of our stuff: He breaks into your house to bring you shit! Saint Nick---and my mom once told me that he was removed from Catholic Church's roster of saints---was originally a Catholic figure, but check out how he's been co-opted by the Protestants. Remember when you believed in Santa Claus? Your parents told you two lies: 1. That Santa Claus was real. 2. That Santa Claus would bring you good stuff if you were good. When I was a kid, I would get so excited for Santa that I couldn't sleep. It was better when I was little and shared a room with my brother--we kept each other company. When I had my own room, though, I had to sit in the dark and toss and turn, waiting for 4 am, which seemed to me a reasonable time to get up and open presents. Was all that goodness going to pay off for me in gifts? I feel a little bad saying that it never did. My parents are great, but they were always reasonable gift givers---mainly stuff that I needed: clothes, etc, and one or two fun items. They also had very little clue about toys that I wanted. I always did my best to try to make it clear---elaborate lists, sometimes illustrated, posted on the refrigerator door---but they never got it right. I got Go-Bots instead of Transformers. I got Radio Shack's Armatron, this robotic arm that could pick up paper clips and coins from inches away. Most Christmases, though, I'd get a respectable addition to my GI Joe collection.

Sometimes, when the wrapping paper and boxes were cleared away, you felt that the promise of Christmas hadn't been fulfilled. That hulking mass of presents under the tree had been reduced to a neat pile (my mom would tidy everything up before company arrived). I couldn't help but feel that I had been better, that I deserved more. Soon afterwards, that feeling dissipated as I gorged myself on all the food my mom made. The worst part was the next week. You'd go back to school and see your friends. Then you'd all compare notes and that's where the lie began to unravel. Some of the worst kids---seriously, they were SO bad---would get the best shit! Optimus Prime, that Hasbro space shuttle (I STILL want that thing!), RV cars, cash! And I'd sit there and wonder what I'd done wrong. I had been far more nice than naughty---at least more nice than those jerks who got Optimus Prime. What kind of cruel joke was Santa playing on me?

Maybe that's the real message, though: It's nice to believe that being good and doing the right thing will reward you in the end. In reality, though, the circumstances of your birth play a far bigger role in what you'll get in life.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

By popular demand, here's the Christmas list!


Clothes. Need shirts (17 ½ neck, size 34 to 36) and ties for work. Pants (36 or, hopefully, 34). Need brown shoes (11 ½) too. Gift certificates work great.

Bedding. The works! I want one of those goose-down (or fake goose-down) comforters (duvet?) with the cover, fresh high thread-count sheets, blankets, maybe even pillows. Dark colors preferred.

The Wire DVDs. Any season, but maybe the 1st season would be best.

CDs (burned CDs are A-okay!): Sonic Youth’s Goo (10th anniversary re-issue); The Clash’s London Calling (special edition); anything by Drive Like Jehu or Hot Snakes; Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew; any Jimmy McGriff CD except his greatest hits—I think I’d really like one of his live albums or one of the ones he recorded with Donny Hathaway; Metallica’s And Justice for All; anything by the Supersuckers; anything by the Murder City Devils (except Thelema), the Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, and The Sword.

iPod accessories. There’s an adapter to play the iPod through my car stereo which I’d really like. Also, I could use one of those armband iPod holders for when I’m at the gym. (If you need the type I have, it’s an iPod Video, 30gb.)

Nice wines or scotch.

A new gym bag.

Books. Give these sparingly! I have a ton of unread books already and very little time to read them. Nonetheless, I’d like the new biography of Frank Lloyd Wright that focuses on his artist colony (obviously I don’t have a name or title); Will Self’s new one The Book of Dave (title?); Bob Woodward’s State of Denial; books on contemporary architecture—something with pictures that includes Frank Gehry and Daniel Liebeskind works; anything Philip Roth (except Portnoy’s Complaint), the new one sounds particularly good; anything Martin Amis (except Money), The Iraq Study Group report.

Subscription to The Economist.

Gas cards.

Gift certificates for furniture stores. IKEA or Wickes or something. I’d like to get a new dresser and a rug for my living room.

Movies. White (it’s a film in French and Polish by a Polish director); Pulse (Pink Floyd concert film); the Simpsons—any season past the third, but I’m really looking for the episodes where they retell stories from classic literature and the Bible. There’s two different episodes, not sure what season; Rome, season 1.

Cologne! I usually use Drakkar Noir, but I’m open to suggestions.

Good kitchen knives. I don’t need the top-of-the-line stuff, but I would like something better than the $20 set of serrated knives I have.

Week pass to the Gold’s Gym near Shop Rite. (Give it to me early so I can go to the gym that week!)

Hats. Baseball caps, caps, whatever---as long as they don’t look as worn as the ones I’m currently wearing.

My Amazon list. Yeah, it’s dated, but you can use it as a last resort if you’re stumped. Wait. Why would you be stumped? Look at this list! It is long and thorough and jam-packed with GREAT ideas---all of which I’d go nuts over.

Friday, September 01, 2006

We may have to boycott ABC! Don't worry, you can rent the DVDs of Lost when the season's over.

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/083006J.shtmlClinton, 9/11 and the FactsBy William Rivers Pittt r u t h o u t PerspectiveWednesday 30 August 2006 The fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks is less than two weeks away, but the avalanche has already begun. Oliver Stone's film "World Trade Center" has been advertised in all corners and is being screened across the nation. CNN has announced that it intends, on the 11th, to rebroadcast all of the coverage of the attacks from 8:30 a.m. until midnight. If you don't have cable, they say, you can watch it for free on the CNN web site. ABC intends to mark the occasion in far more grand a fashion. Starting September 10th and ending September 11th, the network will show a miniseries titled "The Path to 9/11." According to reports from early screenings, the writer/producer of the miniseries, Cyrus Nowrasteh, has crafted a television polemic intended to blame the entire event on President Clinton. Nowrasteh, an outspoken conservative of Persian descent whose family fled Iran after the fall of the Shah, spoke last year at the Liberty Film Festival, described by its founders as Hollywood's first conservative film festival. Govindini Murty, actress, writer, and co-director of the Liberty Film Festival, wrote a review of "The Path to 9/11" for the right-wing online news page FrontPageMag.com. In the review, Murty states, "'The Path to 9/11' is one of the best, most intelligent, most pro-American miniseries I've ever seen on TV, and conservatives should support it and promote it as vigorously as possible. This is the first Hollywood production I've seen that honestly depicts how the Clinton administration repeatedly bungled the capture of Osama bin Laden." FrontPageMag, it should be noted, held a symposium back in May to argue that the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, which were never found despite being the main reason for invasion, were actually spirited out of Iraq by Russia on the eve of the 2003 attack. So it goes. Leaving aside the wretched truth that the far right is once again using September 11 to score political points, the facts regarding the still-lingering effort to blame the Clinton administration for the attacks must be brought to the fore. Nowrasteh, at several points in his miniseries, rolls out a number of oft-debunked allegations that Clinton allowed Osama bin Laden to remain alive and free before the attacks. Roger Cressy, National Security Council senior director for counterterrorism in the period 1999-2001, responded to these allegations in an article for the Washington Times in 2003. "Mr. Clinton approved every request made of him by the CIA and the U.S. military involving using force against bin Laden and al-Qaeda," wrote Cressy. "As President Bush well knows, bin Laden was and remains very good at staying hidden. The current administration faces many of the same challenges. Confusing the American people with misinformation and distortions will not generate the support we need to come together as a nation and defeat our terrorist enemies." Measures taken by the Clinton administration to thwart international terrorism and bin Laden's network were historic, unprecedented and, sadly, not followed up on. Consider the steps offered by Clinton's 1996 omnibus anti-terror legislation, the pricetag for which stood at $1.097 billion. The following is a partial list of the initiatives offered by the Clinton anti-terrorism bill:Screen Checked Baggage: $91.1 millionScreen Carry-On Baggage: $37.8 millionPassenger Profiling: $10 millionScreener Training: $5.3 millionScreen Passengers (portals) and Document Scanners: $1 millionDeploying Existing Technology to Inspect International Air Cargo: $31.4millionProvide Additional Air/Counterterrorism Security: $26.6 millionExplosives Detection Training: $1.8 millionAugment FAA Security Research: $20 millionCustoms Service: Explosives and Radiation Detection Equipment at Ports: $2.2 millionAnti-Terrorism Assistance to Foreign Governments: $2 millionCapacity to Collect and Assemble Explosives Data: $2.1 millionImprove Domestic Intelligence: $38.9 millionCritical Incident Response Teams for Post-Blast Deployment: $7.2 millionAdditional Security for Federal Facilities: $6.7 millionFirefighter/Emergency Services Financial Assistance: $2.7 millionPublic Building and Museum Security: $7.3 millionImprove Technology to Prevent Nuclear Smuggling: $8 millionCritical Incident Response Facility: $2 millionCounter-Terrorism Fund: $35 millionExplosives Intelligence and Support Systems: $14.2 millionOffice of Emergency Preparedness: $5.8 million The Clinton administration poured more than a billion dollars into counterterrorism activities across the entire spectrum of the intelligence community, into the protection of critical infrastructure, into massive federal stockpiling of antidotes and vaccines to prepare for a possible bioterror attack, into a reorganization of the intelligence community itself. Within the National Security Council, "threat meetings" were held three times a week to assess looming conspiracies. His National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, prepared a voluminous dossier on al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, actively tracking them across the planet. Clinton raised the issue of terrorism in virtually every important speech he gave in the last three years of his tenure. Clinton's dire public warnings about the threat posed by terrorism, and the actions taken to thwart it, went completely unreported by the media, which was far more concerned with stained dresses and baseless Drudge Report rumors. When the administration did act militarily against bin Laden and his terrorist network, the actions were dismissed by partisans within the media and Congress as scandalous "wag the dog" tactics. The news networks actually broadcast clips of the movie "Wag the Dog" while reporting on his warnings, to accentuate the idea that everything the administration said was contrived fakery. In Congress, Clinton was thwarted by the reactionary conservative majority in virtually every attempt he made to pass legislation that would attack al-Qaeda and terrorism. His 1996 omnibus terror bill, which included many of the anti-terror measures we now take for granted after September 11, was withered almost to the point of uselessness by attacks from the right; Senators Jesse Helms and Trent Lott were openly dismissive of the threats Clinton spoke of. Specifically, Clinton wanted to attack the financial underpinnings of the al-Qaeda network by banning American companies and individuals from dealing with foreign banks and financial institutions that al-Qaeda was using for its money-laundering operations. Texas Senator Phil Gramm, chairman of the Banking Committee, gutted the portions of Clinton's bill dealing with this matter, calling them "totalitarian." In fact, Gramm was compelled to kill the bill because his most devoted patrons, the Enron Corporation and its criminal executives in Houston, were using those same terrorist financial networks to launder their own dirty money and rip off the Enron stockholders. It should also be noted that Gramm's wife, Wendy, sat on the Enron Board of Directors. Just before departing office, Clinton managed to make a deal with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to have some twenty nations close tax havens used by al-Qaeda. His term ended before the deal was sealed, and the incoming Bush administration acted immediately to destroy the agreement. According to Time magazine, in an article entitled "Banking on Secrecy" published in October of 2001, Bush economic advisors Larry Lindsey and R. Glenn Hubbard were urged by think tanks like the Center for Freedom and Prosperity to opt out of the coalition Clinton had formed. The conservative Heritage Foundation lobbied Bush's Treasury Secretary, Paul O'Neill, to do the same. In the end, the lobbyists got what they wanted, and the Bush administration pulled out of the plan. The Time article stated, "Without the world's financial superpower, the biggest effort in years to rid the world's financial system of dirty money was short-circuited." ABC's miniseries skates right over this, and likewise refuses to address the myriad ways in which the Bush administration failed completely to defend this nation from attack. All the efforts put forth by the Clinton administration were cast aside when Bush took office, simply because they wanted nothing to do with the outgoing government. Condoleezza Rice, by her own admission, did not even bother to look at the massive compendium of al-Qaeda data compiled by Sandy Berger until the morning of September 11. After the attacks, virtually every member of the Bush administration put forth the talking point that, "No one could have anticipated anyone using airplanes as bombs." The facts tell a different story. In 1993, a $150,000 study was undertaken by the Pentagon to investigate the possibility of airplanes being used as bombs. A draft document of this was circulated throughout the Pentagon, the Justice Department, and to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In 1994, a disgruntled Federal Express employee invaded the cockpit of a DC10 with the intention of crashing it into a company building. Again in 1994, a pilot crashed a small airplane into a tree on the White House grounds, narrowly missing the building itself. Also in 1994, an Air France flight was hijacked by members of a terrorist organization called the Armed Islamic Group, who intended to crash the plane into the Eiffel Tower. The 1993 Pentagon report was followed up in September 1999 by a report titled "The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism." This report was prepared for the American intelligence community by the Federal Research Division, an adjunct of the Library of Congress. The report stated, "Suicide bombers belonging to Al Qaida's martyrdom battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House." Ramzi Yousef was one of the planners and participants in the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. Yousef's right-hand man, Abdul Hakim Murad, was captured and interrogated in 1995. During that interrogation, Murad described a detailed plot to hijack airplanes and use them as weapons of terrorism. The primary plan was to commandeer eleven commercial planes and blow them up over the Pacific Ocean. The secondary plan was to hijack several planes, which would be flown into CIA headquarters, the World Trade Center, the Sears Tower, the White House and a variety of other targets. Ramzi Yousef eluded capture until his final apprehension in Pakistan. During his 1997 trial, the plot described by Murad resurfaced. FBI agents testified in the Yousef trial that, "The plan targeted not only the CIA, but other U.S. government buildings in Washington, including the Pentagon." Abdul Hakim Murad described plans to use hijacked commercial airplanes as weapons in 1995. Ramzi Yousef's trial further exposed the existence of these plans in 1997. Two reports prepared by the American government, one from 1993 and another from 1999, further detailed again the existence and danger of these plots. The Federal Express employee's hijacking attempt in 1994, the attempted airplane attack on the White House in 1994, and the hijacking of the Air France flight in 1994 by terrorists intending to fly the plane into the Eiffel Tower provided a glaring underscore to the data. This data served to underscore the efforts made by the Clinton administration to combat international terrorism and attacks against the United States. Unfortunately, the data and the work that inspired it was not followed up on. A mission statement from the internal FBI Strategic Plan, dated 5/8/98, describes the FBI's Tier One priority as 'counterterrorism.' The FBI, under the Clinton administration, was making counterterrorism its highest priority. The official annual budget goals memo from Attorney General Janet Reno to department heads, dated 4/6/2000, detailed how counterterrorism was her top priority for the Department of Justice. In the second paragraph, she states, "In the near term as well as the future, cybercrime and counterterrorism are going to be the most challenging threats in the criminal justice area. Nowhere is the need for an up-to-date human and technical infrastructure more critical." Contrast this with the official annual budget goals memo from Attorney General John Ashcroft, dated 5/10/2001. Out of seven strategic goals described, not one mentions counterterrorism. An internal draft of the Department of Justice's plans to revamp the official DoJ Strategic Plan, dated 8/9/2001, describes Ashcroft's new priorities. The areas Ashcroft wished to focus on were highlighted in yellow. Specifically highlighted by Ashcroft were domestic violent crime and drug trafficking prevention. Item 1.3, entitled "Combat terrorist activities by developing maximum intelligence and investigative capability," was not highlighted. There is the internal FBI budget request for 2003 to the Department of Justice, dated late August 2001. This was not the FBI's total budget request, but was instead restricted only to the areas where the FBI specifically requested increases over the previous year's budget. In this request, the FBI specifically asked for, among other things, 54 translators to transcribe the backlog of intelligence gathered, 248 counterterrorism agents and support staff, and 200 professional intelligence researchers. The FBI had repeatedly stated that it had a serious backlog of intelligence data it has gathered, but could not process the data because it did not have the staff to analyze or translate it into usable information. Again, this was August 2001. The official Department of Justice budget request from Attorney General Ashcroft to OMB Director Mitch Daniels is dated September 10, 2001. This document specifically highlights only the programs slated for above-baseline increases or below-baseline cuts. Ashcroft outlined the programs he was trying to cut. Specifically, Ashcroft was planning to ignore the FBI's specific requests for more translators, counterintelligence agents and researchers. It additionally shows Ashcroft was trying to cut funding for counterterrorism efforts, grants and other homeland defense programs before the 9/11 attacks. Along with these new priorities, which demoted terrorism significantly, there were the warnings delivered to the Bush administration about potential attacks against the United States. Newspapers in Germany, France, Russia and London reported in the months before September 11th a blizzard of warnings delivered to the Bush administration from a number of allies. The German intelligence service, BND, warned American and Israeli agencies that terrorists were planning to hijack commercial aircraft and use them as weapons to attack important American targets. Egypt warned of a similar plot to use airplanes to attack Bush during the G-8 summit in Genoa in June of 2001. This warning was taken so seriously that anti-aircraft missiles were deployed around Columbus Airport in Italy. In August of 2001, Russian intelligence services notified the CIA that 25 terrorist pilots had been trained for suicide missions, and Putin himself confirmed that this warning was delivered "in the strongest possible terms," specifically regarding threats to airports and government buildings. In that same month, the Israeli security agency Mossad issued a warning to both the FBI and the CIA that up to 200 bin Laden followers were planning a major assault on America, aimed at vulnerable targets. The Los Angeles Times later confirmed via unnamed US officials that the Mossad warnings had been received. On August 6, 2001, George W. Bush received his Presidential Daily Briefing. The briefing described active plots to attack the United States by Osama bin Laden. The word "hijacking" appeared in that briefing. Bush reacted to this warning by continuing with his month-long vacation in Texas. Richard Clarke, former Director of Counter-Terrorism for the National Security Council, has worked on the terrorist threat for the Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and Bush Jr. administrations, amassing a peerless resume in the field. He became a central figure in the commission investigating the September 11 attacks. Clarke has laid bare an ugly truth: The administration of George W. Bush did not consider terrorism or the threat of al-Qaeda to be a priority prior to the attacks. Clarke, along with former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who as a member of the National Security Council was privy to military strategy meetings, indicated that the Bush administration was obsessed with an invasion of Iraq from the day it arrived in Washington. This obsession continued even after the attacks, despite the fact that the entire intelligence community flatly declared that Iraq was not involved. Five years later, the questions surrounding what exactly happened on September 11, and why they were allowed to happen, remain unsettled. A recent national poll conducted by Scripps Howard/Ohio University states that more than one third of Americans believe that Bush's government either actively assisted in the 9/11 attacks, or allowed them to happen so as to create a justification for war in the Middle East. The New York Post, reporting on this poll, stated, "Widespread resentment and alienation toward the national government appears to be fueling a growing acceptance of conspiracy theories about the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Seventy percent of people who give credence to these theories also say they've become angrier with the federal government than they used to be." "Thirty-six percent of respondents overall," continued the Post, "said it is 'very likely' or 'somewhat likely' that federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them 'because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.' 'One out of three sounds high, but that may very well be right,' said Lee Hamilton, former vice chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also called the 9/11 Commission). His Congressionally-appointed investigation concluded that federal officials bungled their attempts to prevent, but did not participate in, the attacks by al-Qaeda five years ago. 'A lot of people I've encountered believe the U.S. government was involved," Hamilton said. 'Many say the government planned the whole thing.'" The passage of time will, in all likelihood, finally expose the truth behind exactly what happened on September 11, and why. Until the moment of final revelation comes, however, we are all best served by a systematic analysis of the facts surrounding that dark day. Efforts such as this ABC miniseries to use 9/11 as a partisan club should be shunned, and hard data should be highlighted instead. Back in 2003, CBS was forced to pull its miniseries "The Reagans," after conservative groups lambasted the network for crossing the line into advocacy against the Reagan administration. A similar effort should perhaps be undertaken to compel ABC to pull "The Path to 9/11." At no time should a conservative producer with an anti-Clinton axe to grind be allowed to use public airwaves to broadcast a rank distortion of the truth, especially on the anniversary of the worst day in our history. William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence. His newest book, House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation, will be available this winter from PoliPointPress.

Friday, July 21, 2006

How is it that July always ends up being the busiest month of the year for me? I need this vacation already. I am burnt out---more so than usual. I think I've been burnt out for the past five years. That's a long time to feel that way.