April 2004
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Posted April 29, 2004
More coffee, Governor Kean?

Excerpt from 9/11 Commissioner's Notes: Not for reproduction or transmittal

GWB: Good morning. On behalf of everyone here at Team Lone Star, I'd like to welcome the 9/11 Commission to the Oval Office.
Gov. Kean: Thank you, Mr. President. And I'm sure I'm speaking for all the commissioners when I say that the Welcome 9/11 Commissioners banner over the north portico was a lovely touch.
GWB: Oh, you're welcome. I hope you don't mind coming in the back door?
Kean: No, no...
GWB: It's just that we have to keep the South Lawn clear.
Senator Bob Kerrey: For security?
Vice President Cheney: No. For Easter. The set up for the egg roll.
Kerrey: But Easter was two weeks ago.
Cheney: Greek Easter.
Kerrey: Actually Greek Easter and our Easter were the same day this year.
Cheney: Don't question me, you little-
GWB: Why don't you all come in and have a seat? You're not wearing a wire, are ya? *chuckle*
Lee Hamilton: No. Mr. Rove frisked all of us.
Jamie Gorelick: He strip-searched me. And not figuratively.
GWB: Uh, I was just kidding. And so was Karl. That joker.
Fred Fielding: Look! Here's where I carved my initials in 1974!
Kean: If we could get down to business?
Cheney: I wish you would.
Kean: Mr. Ben-Veniste?
Richard Ben-Veniste: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr. President, why did you say you saw the first plane hit the World Trade Center when no footage was available until late that night?
GWB: One moment, please. It's the Red Phone.
Slade Gorton: Oooh, the Red Phone.
GWB (to phone): Hello? This is President Bush, speaking on the phone. Yes. No. No. No. Thanks, but I already subscribe. 'Bye now. Now... the first plane? I don't remember. That was a horrible day. One we all will remem- will never forg- I had a lot of things on my mind.
RB-V: Mr. President, why, after speaking to Ms. Rice, did you go ahead with the photo op at the school? Why did you then remain at the school for a press conference when, as a terrorist target, your presence potentially jeopardized the students' lives?
Cheney: Would anyone care for scones? I have them flown in from this little bakery in Jackson Hole.
Kerrey: Thanks, we've already eaten. Let me: What was in the censored 28 pages from the Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry Report?
GWB: Now that's something I do remember. See, I was editing that report in Microsoft Word. And I always get confused by all that Track Changes color-coding. Anyway, I was trying to unselect Show Changes Onscreen, and what I did—accidentally—was Reject Changes.
Kerrey: So what was Rejected?
GWB: I think it was the Committee's lunch order from Arby's.
Kerrey: Are you seriously telling me that-
John Lehman: Bob, I think the President is honestly recounting events to the best of his recollection.
Kerrey: FINE. I'll move on. Vice President Cheney, why didn't the President get any Air Force fighter protection until more than two hours after the attacks started, while you were hustled into protection right away?
Cheney: Look, I've never seen a second-by-second breakdown of what I was doing, and what the President was doing. I doubt it's possible to even know that.
Kerrey: You're kidding.
Gorton: Excuse me? Does anyone have a pen? Mine's out of ink. I can't take notes...
Cheney: That's a nice pen. Is it a Mont Blanc?
Gorton: Yes, it is.
Cheney: I'm sorry, there are no pens.
Gorton: No pens?
GWB: Budget cuts. Had to slash wasteful use of office supplies.
Cheney: We have paperless offices now.
Kerrey: So there's no paper trail.
Cheney: So you say. I call it environmentally progressive office practices.
GWB: Would anyone like to sign Sherry's birthday card?
Kerrey: With WHAT? There aren't any pens!!!
GWB: Well, at least put $5 in the envelope. We want to get her a gift certificate for a day of beauty.

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Posted April 23, 2004
Operation Casket Shield "America knows full well that our men and women are serving and serving brilliantly both in Iraq and around the world. ... [But] The message is, the sensitivity and privacy of families of the fallen must be the first priority." —Bush spokesman Trent Duffy

      Disingenuous Alert Color Bikini Atoll Azure! Mr_Blog's position on the photographing of military caskets is that Mr_Blog—Taxpayer, Registered Voter—helped pay for those caskets, just as he helped pay for the Pentagon photograph at right, obtained by an activist only after a Freedom of Information Act request.

Yes, Mr. Duffy, we all know our heroic military men and women are serving, but that doesn't mean that once they're overseas it's out of sight-out of mind. We want to know the whole story—failures as well as successes, and failures include the casualties.
      How is the viewing of caskets insensitive? What reaction is the White House afraid of? The sight of the caskets is not demeaning. There are no family members aboard the airplanes or their home base of Dover, Delaware, who require privacy. Do we not look at caskets at funerals? Was the route of JFK's cortege not thronged with onlookers wanting to pay respects to his coffin? Did he not lie in state under the Capitol rotunda, as is the custom for prominent U.S. leaders? Do they think anti-war Americans will disrespect the coffins?
      We don't even know who is in each coffin. And the crisply draped American flags only inspire a solemn, respectful response from Mr_Blog and everyone else he has discussed this with.
      So why are the photos secret? The obvious reason— the sensitivities being protected are Bush's sensitive poll numbers; the negative reactions feared are those expected at the (non-touchscreen) voting booths in November; the photographs being suppressed are symbols of the failure of Bush's lie-based Iraq policy.

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Posted April 16, 2004
A piece of my mind

April 13, 2004

Laurent Belsie
Senior Features Editor
The Christian Science Monitor
1 Norway St. P02-20
Boston, MA 02115

Mr. Belsie,

I represent a Personal Rapid Transit advocacy group in Seattle, "SoundPRT"( I have been of late alternately amused and horrified by thebizarre antics of Ken Avidor, a man who reflects no knowledge of the PRTconcept, but thinks he does because he has a public platform from which to rant. His comic strip Road Kill Bill is cute. It's amusing. It reflects some of thethings I believe in as a Democrat with Green sympathies.
      Even when he is completely wrong about PRT, it's funny. For example, hisnotion that terrorists could use PRT to deliver bombs ( ). The truth is that PRT is the onlytransportation system that can be engineered to prevent someone from sending anunattended bomb: a Go button on the inside that must be pressed after the doorcloses. So, PRT 1, Avidor 0... but the egghead professor he drew was funny!
      Also funny: his allegations of a vast right-wing conspiracy. As I mentioned,I'm a D who's a little Green; I work for an environmental nonprofit. Also in ourSeattle group is a self-described conservative who loves rhododendrons, a formernaval aviator, a former Microsoft software designer, and a community activistwho has worked for groups like Seattle Nonviolent Opponents of War. So PRTpeople are all over the place politically. But we all want better mass transit,cleaner air, and fewer cars on the road. So the idea that we are in bed with thehighway lobby is hilarious. Also consider: wouldn't a right-wing conspiracy bebetter-funded? PRT 2, Avidor 0.
      What isn't funny at all is when Avidor's hatred of PRT motivates him to castaspersions upon a (by all other accounts honorable) man, A. Sheffer Lang, who isno longer alive to defend himself. Check under "The Patriarch of PRT" atAvidor's website if you don't believe me.PRT 2, Avidor... minus several million points for class.
      I was pleased when the Monitor ran the Mar. 31 Personal Monorail story; I'min no way displeased that you now plan to add a qualifying paragraph about thefact that our opponents disagree about PRT costs. I don't even care if you citea blatant piece of anti-PRT propaganda. BUT, and this is my point, WOULD YOU ATLEAST PICK PROPAGANDA THAT HASN'T ALREADY BEEN THOROUGHLY DISCREDITED THESE PAST3 YEARS? In a message copied me by Tim King via Ed Anderson, you wrote inreference to the Cincinnati Central Loop Study:

>>Now, along comes a study from an independent source --
>>they have no obvious ax to grind and they're engineers
>>hired specifically for the purpose of evaluating something. And
>>they find -- guess what -- the system is more expensive
>>to build than PRT advocates say.

The "independent source" you cite is Parsons, aka Parsons Brinckerhoff, akaPB Farradyne, aka likely the biggest proponent of light rail systems in NorthAmerica. All they know is conventional rail, so the ax they are grinding is forchopping off the head of PRT before it can become a threat to their business.For a partial listing of Parsons's anti-PRT activities, see
      What Parsons was supposed to do in Cincinnati in 2001 was evaluate theSkyloop Committee's proposal as submitted. But instead of evaluating thetechnology chosen by the committee (Anderson's Taxi2000/Skyweb), Parsonsinvented its own imaginary PRT design. Parsons knows zero about PRT and didn'tbother to ask anyone who does, so it is no surprise that Parsons found its ownPRT engineering unsound in places and generally too expensive. The whole storyhas been exhaustively documented by the Skyloop Committee at 001-SLC-T2C-Rebuttal-to-CALS-DFR2.pdf
      Today, Avidor goes around figuratively waving Parsons's Cincinnati study, andexclaiming that it proves the weight of a PRT car would cause the guideway todeflect (sag) 3 feet. What he neglects to mention (maybe he just doesn't know)is that it is PARSON'S IMAGINARY PRT DESIGN to which he is referring.
      So in closing, I ask that if you add "balance" to Tim King's story, you atleast cite anti-PRT references that are credible. I would suggest some, but Idon't know of any.


Here's two that AREN'T credible--
1. , debunked and elsewhere
2. , debunked in the"Comments" section (bottom of page) by me and others.

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Posted April 9, 2004
Did Condi say anything truthful & unspun?

It looks like it's time to do the We Told You So dance—the Administration was so focused on finding a way to go after Iraq, it was in denial about al-Qaida.
      Not being able to see the forest for the trees has never been more appropos. Overand over in her marathon testimony before the 9/11 Commission, Condi Rice looked atintelligence warnings in isolation. This one wasn't specific. That one wasn'tdetailed. That? We weren't told about that. Rice's attitude seemed to beHow could we have known? Mr_Blog was listening on radio, but at onepoint he could have sworn hearing Bob Kerrey throw up his hands in frustration.

  • On Clarke's proposals to combat Al Qaida: just "ideas".
  • On thePresidential Daily Briefing (PDB) Bin Laden Determined to Strike InsideU.S.: just a historical summary.
  • On the 70 FBI investigations into possible al-Qaida cells: "no new threat information."

  •        It's like the defense team's analysisof videotape in the Rodney King trial. Frame 524?... gee, that one doesn't looktoo bad, does it?
           Excuse me, but how specific did theintel have to get? Analysis of the already-infamous PDB for August 6, 2001 showsa clear pattern of al-Qaida actions:The CIA briefing delivered on Aug. 6, 2001,said al-Qaida members had been living in the United States for years and evenmaintained a "support system" here, according to one commissioner... al-Qaida'sinterest in hijackings as terror tools had never waned. The FBI was picking upsuspicious activity "consistent with preparations for hijackings" through thatAugust
           Condi's actual quote du jour was thatintelligence could provide "no silver bullet" to prevent terrorism.Mr_Blog hates this expression, which is increasingly trotted out by diffident insiders to excuse their failures. It is a lazy way to make a bigproblem appear unsolvable. Drugs smuggled across the border? Transit notreducing road congestion? Food not safe? Not my fault. There's no silverbullet. And the person saying it always follows by holding out a hand, palmup, to ask for more resources/money.
           So here we are, over $6 billion downthe road on TSA and $87 billion+ on Iraq, and why did we end up here? Because theResident in the White House and his handlers couldn't step back and seepatterns. All they could see was Iraq.

    Sidebar: Let's look at those 70 FBIinvestigations. From the Washington Post:

    Rice confirmed the [Presidential Daily]briefing's title [Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside U.S.] and said itincluded information that the FBI had 70 active field investigations at the timeinto suspected al Qaeda sleeper cells in the United States. But she said thedocument contained "no new threat information" and "did not, in fact, warn ofany coming attacks inside the United States."

    Mr_Blog hereby raises the DisingenuousAlert Color to Supernova Orange-- the investigations didn't get the chance toassess potential threats because Dubya told the FBI to stop investigating. Weknow this because of professional side-thorn Greg Palast. In his report that ran on BBC and in the Guardiannewspaper in 2001, Palast disclosed that the investigations, already hampered byClinton reluctance to annoy the Saudis, were restricted even further when Bushtook office:

    The intelligence agencies had been told to"back off" from investigations involving other members of the Bin Laden family,the Saudi royals, and possible Saudi links to the acquisition of nuclear weaponsby Pakistan. There were particular investigations that were effectivelykilled.

    Mr_Blog respectfully inquires of theliberal media why, even after two years, it still hasn't picked up this story.

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