Archive: September, 2007

Hero or Military Mouthpiece?Clinton, Petraeus, Moveon.org

San Francisco – Waking up in San Francisco on a Sunday morning has its advantages, but one big downside is that the network talking head shows begin at 8 a.m., thus an entire day is fouled with cynical thoughts instead of just an afternoon. This past Sunday, Hillary Clinton ruined my day by appearing on all three network shows to explain to unctuous Tim Russell, innocent George Stephanopoulos and unflappable Bob Schieffer how she voted “yes” to launch the war on Iraq, but has now changed her mind.  She then condemned the infamous Moveon.org “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” newspaper ad without explaining why she voted “no” earlier in the week on a non-binding Senate resolution doing just that. 

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Cheapshot: Alan Greenspan

“Steal This Commentary” normally appears only on Tuesday mornings. But some things just can’t wait.

My friend Michael Shoob not long ago co-directed and produced a very cool documentary about Karl Rove called “Bush’s Brain” www.bushsbrain.com based on the book of the same name by James C. Moore and Wayne Slater.  I’m urging Michael to get busy on a sequel, this one about former Fed chair Alan Greenspan.  He should call this one “Bush’s Bubbe,” a Yiddish term of endearment meaning “kindly grandfather.”

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7Days@Ground Zero:Mary Ellen Sachetti, safety director

After finishing the roundtable discussion at Ground Zero (see previous blog posts), actor-activist Richard Masur and I interviewed a small group of government people, construction company executives and construction trades executives in a nearby office tower.  Among them was Mary Ellen Sachetti, who told us a harrowing and inspiring story of her experiences on 9/11 and the days that followed.  It is much longer than previous posts in this series, but it is worth the read.

Sachetti (excerpts, lightly edited): We actually had a job at the site.  We were doing the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Plaza.  I was down there for a final inspection and it was a beautiful day.  I remember that around nine o’clock or so I had gone inside and then all of a sudden I heard these people saying that a plane had hit.  We weren’t really sure what was going on.  I had stepped outside and all these papers were coming down all around us.  We didn’t know.  We couldn’t even fathom where the paper was coming from, and I said: “This is really serious.”  By the time I walked back into the building I had gotten a call from my main office telling me that we were, that something was terribly wrong, and that I needed to evacuate our building.

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September 16, 2007

7Days@Ground Zero:Greg Noland, operating engineer

This is the sixth installment in a series of verbatim excerpts from roundtable interviews with construction workers conducted by actor-activist Richard Masur at Ground Zero in March, 2002. We were one of the first outside film crews allowed on the site, producing a video for the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO.  Masur had an affinity for the workers because he’d been organizing other stars to visit the site since shortly after the terrorist attacks.  Greg Noland spoke up near the end of the three-hour session. 

Noland: [lightly edited] If I was to speak of a defining moment, probably about maybe seven or eight days into it, I realized we weren’t going to find anybody alive.  Something came over me and I thought we’re not going to find anybody here alive, and I started to detach from the people, from the body bags.

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September 15, 2007

7Days@Ground Zero:Bobby Gray, operating engineer

Bobby Gray: (lightly edited) I was working as a tower crane operator about 50 stories in the air on Forty-third at Eighth and actually saw the first plane hit.  I know my perception was off a bit, but it actually looked like it was going to hit the tip of the boom [of his crane].  My first reaction was: “Why is this guy so low?”  Then, before I could even get that out, I was like: “And why is he over Midtown?” 

I kinda followed it [the plane] down and it tucked behind, I guess it’s the Sheraton building, and I said: “Oh, it’s just going to Newark.”  I couldn’t actually see the impact, but I saw the fireball and I, it was, you know, you were, it just didn’t process.  You couldn’t figure out how this could happen and on a clear day.  It was so crystal clear.  I actually called up my partner and said: “Can you come up?  I need to get down and see what’s going on.” 

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September 13, 2007

7Days@Ground Zero:Phil Morelli, laborer

This is the fourth in a series of personal stories taken from on interviews with Ground Zero construction workers in March, 2002.  The material comes from a roundtable discussion that was conducted by actor-activist Richard Masur inside a trailer at the site for a video we were producing.  Most of the men, and one woman, had been working there  since shortly after the attacks.  Masur himself had been a constant volunteer, organizing other actors and personalities to visit and boost morale.  Phil Morelli was inside Tower On, beginning his normal workday, when the first plane hit.

Phil Morelli (lightly edited excerpts): The building I was in was Tower One and as I walk by 50A into the Secret Service parking lot, that’s when the big impact of whatever hit.  I didn’t know what was going on and the big impact threw me up against a wall in the corridor.

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7Days@Ground Zero:Bob Bartels, iron worker

This is the third installment in a series of seven excerpts from interviews with Ground Zero construction workers several months after 9/11.  They were part of a video we were producing, narrated by the actor, Richard Masur.  Most of the men, and one woman, had been working on the site since shortly after the attacks.  Masur himself had been a constant volunteer, organizing other actors and personalities to visit and boost morale.  Like many construction workers, Bob Bartels, Jr., an ironworker, realized his skills were needed and just showed up ready to work.

Bob Bartels (lightly edited):When we got here, everybody was just in shock.  It was just a horrible sight.  We had the acetylene tanks that were coming off, and the oxygen tanks were coming off and we just grabbed, put a set together, walked out and asked a fireman: “Where do we need to burn?”

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September 11, 2007

7 Days@Ground Zero:Joe Rubido, sheet metal worker

Several months after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the actor Richard Masur interviewed a group of construction workers inside a trailer at Ground Zero for a video we were producing.  Most of the men, and one woman, had been working on the site since shortly after the attacks.  Masur himself had been a constant volunteer, organizing other actors and personalities to visit and boost morale. Joe Rubido hustled down to the World Trade Center the moment he heard about the attacks.

Joe Rubido (lightly edited): I got down to the Trade Center at the foot of the South Tower probably six, seven minutes before it collapsed. I have some medical training. I used to work on an ambulance at one time, and I thought, there’s no way the city can respond with the amount of people that are probably gonna be hurt, and I thought I could be of some help. (More)

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September 10, 2007

7 Days@Ground Zero:Hugh Smith, carpenter

Several months after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the actor Richard Masur interviewed a group of construction workers inside a trailer at Ground Zero for a video we were producing.  Most of the men, and one woman, had been working on the site since shortly after the attacks.  Masur himself had been a constant volunteer, organizing other actors and personalities to visit and boost morale.  Hugh Smith was there when the planes rammed the twin towers. 

Hugh Smith (lightly edited): I was here on that morning.  I was in the loading dock at about 6:30 in the morning and the company I was with was starting a job over in One Liberty.  I was going across the street to One Liberty to oversee the men, and I came back out and somebody told me a plane hit the Trade Center. I mean, this beautiful clear day, like today, and I couldn’t believe it.

 

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September 7, 2007

Cheapshot: Larry Craig

“Steal This Commentary” normally appears only on Tuesday mornings. But some things just can’t wait.

With his “I am not gay; I never have been gay” denial of demon homosexuality, Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, certainly earned himself a Wikipedia page alongside Bill “I did not have sex with that woman” Clinton and Richard “I am not a crook” Nixon. But Craig’s parsing of his resignation statement may be rivaled only by Clinton’s hair-splitting “That depends on what ‘it’ means” evasion. (More)

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