Saturday, August 29, 2009

"an airiness, a sense of light and charm"

All in rooms 8 1/2 feet wide and 42 feet long. Three floors worth of 8 1/2' X 42". Hey, that's New York City, and you can have it all for only $2,700,000.

It's located at at 75 1/2 Bedford St. in Greenwich Village, and until 1873 it was an alley. Such a deal must be seen to be believed.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Old News: Rathergate, Mapes, and 43

I have little to say in favor of former President George Bush, statist that he was and is, but this is interesting, as I have even less to say in favor of CBS. Former CBS newsman Bernard Goldberg says:
Until now, the controversy over the Rather/Mapes story has centered almost entirely on one issue: the legitimacy of the documents – a very important issue, indeed. But it turns out that there was another very important issue, one that goes to the very heart of what the story was about – and one that has gone virtually unnoticed. This is it: Mary Mapes knew before she put the story on the air that George W. Bush, the alleged slacker, had in fact volunteered to go to Vietnam.

Who says? The outside panel CBS brought into (sic) to get to the bottom of the so-called “Rathergate” mess says. I recently re-examined the panel’s report after a source, Deep Throat style, told me to “Go to page 130.” When I did, here’s the startling piece of information I found:

Mapes had information prior to the airing of the September 8 [2004] Segment that President Bush, while in the TexANG [Texas Air National Guard] did volunteer for service in Vietnam but was turned down in favor of more experienced pilots.
Of course, Bernard Goldberg is a disgruntled former employee. How can one believe a direct quote from a CBS internal document?

In any case, "CBS Lied" isn't exactly news.

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" that we can speak to each other safely… “

Well, now here is an interesting column by Patrick Courrielche.
On Thursday August 6th, I was invited by the National Endowment for the Arts to attend a conference call scheduled for Monday August 10th hosted by the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement, and United We Serve....”
Interesting that the White House would be involved. I wonder what their interest was.
Backed by the full weight of President Barack Obama’s call to service and the institutional weight of the NEA, the conference call was billed as an opportunity for those in the art community to inspire service in four key categories, and at the top of the list were “health care” and “energy and environment.” The service was to be attached to the President’s United We Serve campaign, a nationwide federal initiative to make service a way of life for all Americans.

It sounded, how should I phrase it…unusual, that the NEA would invite the art community to a meeting to discuss issues currently under vehement national debate.
Unusual, but to most of the participants, I suspect highly appropriate and far past time.
Throughout the conversation, we were reminded of our ability as artists and art professionals to “shape the lives” of those around us. The now famous Obama “Hope” poster, created by artist Shepard Fairey and promoted by many of those on the phone call, and’s “Yes We Can” song and music video were presented as shining examples of our group’s clear role in the election.

Obama has a strong arts agenda, we were told, and has been very supportive of both using and supporting the arts in creative ways to talk about the issues facing the country.
So, could they be talking about turning the National Endowment for the Arts into a national propaganda ministry? Oh, please! Never could such be the case, oh hyperventilating wingnut.
Is building a message distribution network, for matters other than increasing access to the arts and arts education, the role of the National Endowment for the Arts?
Apparently the White House now thinks so, so it isn't a propaganda ministry: It's an arts group.
The NEA is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts. That is right, the largest funder of the arts in the nation - a fact that I’m sure was not lost on those that were on the call, including myself. One of the NEA’s major functions is providing grants to artists and arts organizations. The NEA has also historically shown the ability to attract “matching funds” for the art projects and foundations that they select. So we have the nation’s largest arts funder, which is a federal agency staffed by the administration, with those that they potentially fund together on a conference call discussing taking action on issues under vigorous national debate. Does there appear to be any potential for conflict here?
No. Of course not. There is no conflict between liberal Democrats using the state to promote the state. That's what the state is for. Hence, no conflict.

Well, until the Republicans get back in control, of course. Then it would be criminal.
Discussed throughout the conference call was a hope that this group would be one that would carry on past the United We Serve campaign to support the President’s initiatives and those issues for which the group was passionate.
The NEA,, by the way, is reported to have received $50,000,000 in "stimulus" funds.
Artists shouldn’t be used as tools of the state to help create a climate amenable to their positions....
That is just so negative. Uncle Joe disagreed vigorously.
And if you think that my fear regarding the arts becoming a tool of the state is still unfounded, I leave you with a few statements made by the NEA to the art community participants on the conference call. “This is just the beginning. This is the first telephone call of a brand new conversation. We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government. What that looks like legally?…bare (sic) with us as we learn the language so that we can speak to each other safely… “
Courrielche also authored The Artist Formerly Known as Dissident. I wonder how many more conference calls with the Ministry of Propaga...NEA/White House Office of Public Engagement he'll be invited to attend in the future.

Jim Lindgren has some thoughts over at Volokh Conspiracy.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

FBI Director Robert Mueller on "compassion"

Scotland has, of course released Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Ali
al-Megrahi on so-called "compassionate" grounds: the poor dear is suffering from advanced cancer, something none of his 270 victims had to do. FBI Director Robert Mueller's letter to Kenny MacAskill, Cabinet Secretary for "Justice" for the Scottish Government is a lot more forceful than The One seems to have been.

PDF here.
Press Release
For Immediate Release
August 22, 2009

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

Letter from FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III, to Scottish Minister Kenny MacAskill

August 21, 2009

The Honorable Kenny MacAskill, MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Justice
Scottish Government
St. Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Dear Mr. Secretary:

Over the years I have been a prosecutor, and recently as the Director of the FBI, I have made it a practice not to comment on the actions of other prosecutors, since only the prosecutor handling the case has all the facts and the law before him in reaching the appropriate decision.

Your decision to release Megrahi causes me to abandon that practice in this case. I do so because I am familiar with the facts, and the law, having been the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the investigation and indictment of Megrahi in 1991. And I do so because I am outraged at your decision, blithely defended on the grounds of "compassion."

Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice. Indeed your action makes a mockery of the rule of law. Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world who now believe that regardless of the quality of the investigation, the conviction by jury after the defendant is given all due process, and sentence appropriate to the crime, the terrorist will be freed by one man's exercise of "compassion." Your action rewards a terrorist even though he never admitted to his role in this act of mass murder and even though neither he nor the government of Libya ever disclosed the names and roles of others who were responsible.

Your action makes a mockery of the emotions, passions and pathos of all those affected by the Lockerbie tragedy: the medical personnel who first faced the horror of 270 bodies strewn in the fields around Lockerbie, and in the town of Lockerbie itself; the hundreds of volunteers who walked the fields of Lockerbie to retrieve any piece of debris related to the breakup of the plane; the hundreds of FBI agents and Scottish police who undertook an unprecedented global investigation to identify those responsible; the prosecutors who worked for years--in some cases a full career--to see justice done.

But most importantly, your action makes a mockery of the grief of the families who lost their own on December 21, 1988. You could not have spent much time with the families, certainly not as much time as others involved in the investigation and prosecution. You could not have visited the small wooden warehouse where the personal items of those who perished were gathered for identification--the single sneaker belonging to a teenager; the Syracuse sweatshirt never again to be worn by a college student returning home for the holidays; the toys in a suitcase of a businessman looking forward to spending Christmas with his wife and children.

You apparently made this decision without regard to the views of your partners in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the Lockerbie tragedy. Although the FBI and Scottish police, and prosecutors in both countries, worked exceptionally closely to hold those responsible accountable, you never once sought our opinion, preferring to keep your own counsel and hiding behind opaque references to "the need for compassion."

You have given the family members of those who died continued grief and frustration. You have given those who sought to assure that the persons responsible would be held accountable the back of your hand. You have given Megrahi a "jubilant welcome" in Tripoli, according to the reporting. Where, I ask, is the justice?

Sincerely yours,

Robert S. Mueller, III
Fat lot of good it will do, but good for him.

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