FACTS MATTER CHART: As President Obama kicks off a week of r-and-r at Martha’s Vineyard (during Congress’s 5 week long second summer vacay), there are all the predictable gripes on the right [FOX] about his time off. A real news source, the Associated Press, provides some context: “Obama has taken far less time away from the White House than his predecessor, George W. Bush, who spent weeks at a time at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Obama has taken 87 days off, compared with 399 days [over one year of vacation time with less than 5 years in office] for Bush at a similar period in his presidency, according to CBS News’s Mark Knoller, who keeps detailed records of presidential travel.”
A lot of folks forget this, but Ronald Reagan set the record for most vacation days for a sitting president — a record that stood until George W. Bush passed Reagan’s seemingly unbreakable benchmark.
As for the current president, conservative gripes not withstanding, it’s just not realistic to think Obama has a credible chance of even coming close to GWB’s record. At comparable points in their presidencies, for every day Obama has taken off, Bush had already taken 4.5 days off. Obama could stay on vacation for the rest of 2013 and still not be within striking distance of Bush’s hyper-lazy pace. And for his total number of vacation days during any presidency, George W takes the all-time Presidential Medal of Freedom: Over a period of 8 years, 977 days, or 32% of his total time in office, or 2 2/3 years of his 8 years in office.
But in all fairness, the former two-term Republican president had a lot of brush to cut, a lot of dirt bike trails to explore and memos affecting the national security to ignore, including the now infamous August 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Briefing warning that Bin Laden was preparing attack America by flying planes into buildings. A direct quote from the memo: “Bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists. FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York. Al Qaeda members — including some who are U.S. citizens — have resided in or traveled to the U.S. for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks.”
From Page 262 of the 9/11 Commission Report summarizing Bush’s follow-up after the delivery of the memo: “We have found no indication of any further discussion before September 11 among the President and his top advisers of the possibility of a threat of an al Qaeda attack in the United States. DCI Tenet visited President Bush in Crawford, Texas, on August 17 and participated in the PDB briefings of the President between August 31 (after the President had returned to Washington) and September 10. But Tenet does not recall any discussions with the President of the domestic threat during this period.”
The day after he received the memo, “Bush seemed carefree as he spoke about the books he was reading, the work he was doing on his nearby ranch, his love of hot-weather jogging, his golf game and his 55th birthday,” the Washington Post noted.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A Florida woman claims she was molested as a child by George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch volunteer who is charged in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.
In an interview with police released Monday under a judge’s order, the woman said she was fondled, groped and kissed by Zimmerman beginning when she was 6 and he was about 8. She said it continued until she was about 16.
The woman, identified as witness No. 9, said they would see each other at family gatherings, but their relationship was removed from the audio recording.
Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, had fought the release, calling it an “uncorroborated, irrelevant statement” in court documents. He did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.
Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 death of the 17-year-old Martin, who was unarmed when he was killed in a community in Sanford. Zimmerman claims Martin attacked him. He has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense.
Police in Sanford said prosecutors had not alerted them to the alleged assault, but it is not clear where it may have occurred.
Prosecutors did not return a call seeking comment or say whether they planned to pursue additional charges.
In the interview, the woman tearfully recalled watching movies at Zimmerman’s house when he first reached inside her underwear. She said she went to sleep crying.
“I would try to push him off, but he was bigger and stronger and older,” she said.
She said she was not raped, but the abuse happened over the next 10 years when their families would visit one another.
“Every time that we would go up there, I could just look at him and he would give me a certain look and I would know if it was going to happen,” she said.
Around 2005, the woman’s parents arranged to meet Zimmerman at a restaurant to confront him, after learning from her sister what happened. He showed up, said “I’m sorry,” and left, the woman said.
The Orlando Sentinel, the Sun Sentinel and WFTV fought for the release of the interview, and the judge agreed.
“Adding this statement to the discourse will simply be another piece of the puzzle to be relied upon by those who want to believe there was a racial motive to the shooting, and will be dismissed by those who claim that there was no such motive” Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester wrote.
An attorney for Martin’s family, Benjamin Crump, said the interview could be used at trial to show Zimmerman “has a history of violence and manipulation.” But prosecutors and the defense attorney questioned in court documents whether it would be allowed.
In a separate interview, the woman accused Zimmerman of being a racist. Martin’s parents believe the black teen was racially profiled. Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother is Peruvian.
“I was afraid that he may have done something because the kid was black, because growing up they always made — him and his family have always made — statements that they don’t like black people if they don’t act like white people,” the woman said.
Under questioning, she said she couldn’t recall any specific comments Zimmerman made.
Prosecutors also released 145 phone calls Zimmerman made from jail. In one to his wife, he said he once wanted to be a priest, and he was thinking of becoming a chaplain.
In addition, court documents show that George Zimmerman, who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, went to court in 2005 and 2006 for accusations of domestic violence, violence with a police officer and speeding.
The three incidents took place in Orange County, Fla.
Associated Press writers Jennifer Kay in Miami and Suzette Laboy in Fort Lauderdale contributed to this report for Salon.com and msnbc.com
700 Club host Pat Robertson gave his opinion today on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent rulings on two gay marriage cases.
Robertson began by suggesting that the court’s swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, might have some law clerks “who happen to be gays,” notes MediaMatters.org.
“Let me ask you about Anthony Kennedy, does he have some clerks who happen to be gays?” Robertson asked American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) founder and lawyer Jay Sekulow.
Sekulow seemed taken back by the bizarre question and said: “I have no idea. I think what Justice Kennedy did, if you look at a series of cases that he’s been involved in, he’s taken the view that sexual orientation is a special class.”
The ACLJ is a Christian law firm and activist group that was originally funded by Robertson.
When later asked by his co-host if the U.S. was headed the way of ancient Rome, Robertson predicted a wrathful response by God, reports MediaMatters.org.
“Ladies and gentlemen, your liberties are in danger because, read the Bible about Sodom and Gomorrah. That’s where the term comes from, Sodom. Look what happened to Sodom. After a while, there wasn’t any other way, and God did something pretty drastic,” stated Robertson.
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