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Notes on Ground Zero

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Now and then I think about grabbing one of the several daily Jet Blue flights from Long Beach to Newark and visiting my attorney friend in New York.  He works in lower Manhattan.  He had friends die when the World Trade Center buildings fell.  He thinks I should visit what is now called "Ground Zero."  But I know I shouldn't make that visit.  I would not be welcome there.  There is no place for me, the registered Democrat and decades-long member of the ACLU and NAACP.  That spot is reserved for Republicans, the patriots who supported the war of vengeance against Iraq, the center of all the efforts to kill us all.  I don't see it that way.  So I will stay here. 

Do you think thats silly?  Consider this:

Albert Eisele and Jeff Dufour, The Hill, February 26, 2004
President planning NYC extravaganza

White House goal is unprecedented convention theater


"And now, direct from Ground Zero, heeeeeeere's the president!"

Well, that's not exactly how President Bush is likely to be introduced when he gives his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention on Sept. 2, but it might be something equally dramatic and theatrical. 

According to sources privy to convention planners' discussions, the 2004 GOP conclave at New York's Madison Square Garden will be unlike any previous quadrennial gathering of either party.  In fact, not all of the main events will be held at the Garden, sources involved in planning the Aug. 31-Sept. 2 convention said. 

"The entire format and actual physical setup could be radically different," one GOP insider commented.  "They might not even have a podium, or maybe a rotating podium or even a stage that comes up from underground.  It would be like a theater in the round, with off-site events that are part of the convention."

The source, a veteran official of past GOP conventions, said the 50,000 delegates, dignitaries and guests would watch off-site events on giant TV screens.  "Now, we'll go to the deck of the USS Intrepid as the U.S. Marine Corps Band plays the National Anthem," he said, pretending that he was playing the part of the convention chairman. 

"Or, and this is a real possibility, we could see President Bush giving his acceptance speech at Ground Zero," he added.  "It's clearly a venue they're considering."


Well, that's what people want to see.  I dont. 

Perhaps people - widows and such who think the investigation of what happened should go on and not be shut down by the House as was announced this week - will actually become a bit angry that the place where so many died should be used as a campaign symbol by the Bush-Cheney ticket. 

But Karl Rove, the president's life-long friend and political advisor, can hardly resist this.  It's the perfect "you're with us or you love and support the terrorists" symbolism.  Vote for Bush or declare you don't care about all those who died here. 

Oh well.  What else would you expect? 

And on the same topic I was surprised by CNN one night this week when the cuddly, moderate Aaron Brown opened his show "NewsNight" with this. 

Broadcast Transcript of Segment Aired February 26, 2004 - 22:30 EST


We admit we don't do causes very well on the program.  And I don't do outrage well at all, yet, tonight, a cause and an outrage.  The decision by the speaker of the House to deny the independent commission investigating the 9/11 attack on America a 60-day extension - that's all, 60 days - to complete its work is unconscionable and indefensible, which, no doubt, explains why neither the speaker, nor any member of the House leadership, nor none of their press secretaries would come on the program to talk about it, despite repeated requests. 

The commission itself has gone about its work quietly.  It's had to fight tooth and nail to get necessary information.  And now this, an arbitrary decision to deny not just the commission - that's the least of it - but the country the chance to know all of what happened, how it happened, and how best to prevent it from happening again. 

Perhaps, the speaker and his team assume you do not care.  I hope they're wrong.  I hope you care enough to write them and e-mail them and call them until they relent.  Do that.  Do it for the victims and their families.  Do it for the country that was attacked and for history.


Now that is odd.  And Aaron is such a pleasant man. 

But we will get the full investigation, at the cost of thousands of jobs and a few potholes in our roads.  What?  See this:

Highway Bill Embroiled in 9/11 Dispute
Associated Press, February 27, 2004, filed 11:58 a.m.  EST

It seems McCain and Lieberman - troublemakers for each of their parties - had a plan. 


WASHINGTON (AP) - Nearly 5,000 Transportation Department workers face a furlough on Monday, a possible result of two senators using an expiring highway bill to force House Republicans to accept a two month extension of an independent investigation of the Sept.  11 terror attacks. 

"We all have a choice here to make,'" said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who along with Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., was using the highway bill as leverage to win an extension for the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, which is scheduled to finish its work on May 27. 

He said the choice was between "minor'" disruptions in highway projects and "telling the families of those who died on 9/11 that the commission will not be able to complete its work."


Well, whatever works.  The Speaker of the House backed down.  It looks like they will be allowed to finish their work.  And the potholes will be filled and the five thousand keep their jobs.

As far as the commission goes, if they are actually allowed to wrap up their work, Clinton and Gore will testify.  No problem.  Bush and Cheney will talk only to the two chairmen, privately, only for an hour and no more, and not under oath.  That would be informal and off the record.  Condoleezza Rice, our National Security Advisor, announced this week that she will not talk to the commission at all, formally or informally, for any amount of time, under any circumstances. 

Rice can stay silent.  She knows too much, it would seem. 

And look for Bush to make his acceptance speech at Ground Zero in early September.  And know that he is challenging you to choose sides and act like a patriot.  Just don't ask questions, or hold him to his answers.

Yes, the tone of all this is bitter.  Martin's friends didn't die for George Bush's reelection.

But maybe they did.