April 29, 2004

there are brighter things than diamonds coming down the line

* The New York Times on the president's testimony:

"It would have been a pleasure to be able to congratulate President Bush on his openness in agreeing to sit down today with the independent commission on the 9/11 attacks and answer questions. Unfortunately, Mr. Bush conditioned his cooperation on stipulations that range from the questionable to the ridiculous."
"Given the White House's concern for portraying Mr. Bush as a strong leader, it's remarkable that this critical appearance is being structured in a way that is certain to provide fodder for late-night comedians, who enjoy depicting him as the docile puppet of his vice president.

"Mr. Bush's reluctant and restrictive cooperation with the panel is consistent with the administration's pattern of stonewalling reasonable requests for documents and testimony and then giving up only the minimum necessary ground when the dispute becomes public. Today's testimony will be in private in the White House, away from reporters or television cameras. The session will not be recorded, and there will be no formal transcript. The president's aides have defended this excessive degree of secrecy with the usual arguments about protecting highly classified information and not wanting to establish dangerous precedents.

"The idea that the panel may wring from Mr. Bush some comment that may endanger national security is ridiculous. The commission, led by the respected former Republican governor of New Jersey, Thomas Kean, has already heard, in public, from the leaders of the nation's top intelligence agencies, the secretary of defense and Mr. Bush's national security adviser. It seems highly unlikely that the president knows secrets more sensitive than they do. If he did, he would certainly be free to go off the record while discussing them.

"The president's aides have also been arguing that making the event anything more than a 'meeting' or informal discussion would establish a pattern that future chief executives would be forced to follow. That is true, in a way. If Mr. Bush or any of his successors have the tragic misfortune to be in command at a time when terrorists strike the country, killing thousands of innocent civilians, they should be expected to cooperate with the official investigations, and to do so in a way that puts their statements on the record and into history."

* The Mountain Goat's John Darnielle on smog. [via largeheartedboy] an excerpt:

"Songs occasionally come along at just the right time.

"Been getting really into (smog) over the past couple of years — gradually, since Bill Callahan’s songs are more of the seep-under-your-skin variety than of the oh-my-God-I-must-have-all-their-albums-now variety. Picked up his most recent one, Supper, at a record store in South Carolina on the last U.S. tour. I really liked South Carolina – seeing it felt like meeting an old friend whose memory had been nearly obliterated by a motorcycle accident, all ghostly-familiar: it was so pretty and ancient-looking. But this has nothing to do with anything right now.

"I put off playing the album until I got home from tour, and then I put it off some more because I was busy delving into the abysmally-titled Dongs of Sevotion, which is a masterpiece. And then it was time for tour again, and on the day before I left for Europe I transferred Supper to my iPod.

"I listened to it one morning at a cafe in Paris. I know, I know — how insufferable is it to hear people talking about the things they did and the good times they had at cafes in Paris? Let a guy get his foot in the door with this kind of nonsense and the next thing you know he’s complaining about how we don’t have cafes like that over here, and how great the public transportation is over there in Europe, and then you just wanna punch him in the nose."

* "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." -- Picasso


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