, , ">
Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Lets's talk about democracy
10 Mar, 08 > 16 Mar, 08
25 Feb, 08 > 2 Mar, 08
18 Feb, 08 > 24 Feb, 08
11 Feb, 08 > 17 Feb, 08
4 Feb, 08 > 10 Feb, 08
28 Jan, 08 > 3 Feb, 08
10 Dec, 07 > 16 Dec, 07
26 Nov, 07 > 2 Dec, 07
5 Nov, 07 > 11 Nov, 07
10 Sep, 07 > 16 Sep, 07
13 Aug, 07 > 19 Aug, 07
23 Jul, 07 > 29 Jul, 07
16 Jul, 07 > 22 Jul, 07
2 Jul, 07 > 8 Jul, 07
25 Jun, 07 > 1 Jul, 07
18 Jun, 07 > 24 Jun, 07
21 May, 07 > 27 May, 07
14 May, 07 > 20 May, 07
7 May, 07 > 13 May, 07
30 Apr, 07 > 6 May, 07
26 Mar, 07 > 1 Apr, 07
5 Mar, 07 > 11 Mar, 07
15 Jan, 07 > 21 Jan, 07
8 Jan, 07 > 14 Jan, 07
6 Nov, 06 > 12 Nov, 06
23 Oct, 06 > 29 Oct, 06
16 Oct, 06 > 22 Oct, 06
9 Oct, 06 > 15 Oct, 06
2 Oct, 06 > 8 Oct, 06
25 Sep, 06 > 1 Oct, 06
18 Sep, 06 > 24 Sep, 06
11 Sep, 06 > 17 Sep, 06
4 Sep, 06 > 10 Sep, 06
28 Aug, 06 > 3 Sep, 06
21 Aug, 06 > 27 Aug, 06
17 Jul, 06 > 23 Jul, 06
10 Jul, 06 > 16 Jul, 06
12 Jun, 06 > 18 Jun, 06
5 Jun, 06 > 11 Jun, 06
22 May, 06 > 28 May, 06
8 May, 06 > 14 May, 06
1 May, 06 > 7 May, 06
24 Apr, 06 > 30 Apr, 06
17 Apr, 06 > 23 Apr, 06
10 Apr, 06 > 16 Apr, 06
3 Apr, 06 > 9 Apr, 06
27 Mar, 06 > 2 Apr, 06
20 Mar, 06 > 26 Mar, 06
13 Mar, 06 > 19 Mar, 06
6 Mar, 06 > 12 Mar, 06
27 Feb, 06 > 5 Mar, 06
20 Feb, 06 > 26 Feb, 06
13 Feb, 06 > 19 Feb, 06
6 Feb, 06 > 12 Feb, 06
30 Jan, 06 > 5 Feb, 06
23 Jan, 06 > 29 Jan, 06
16 Jan, 06 > 22 Jan, 06
9 Jan, 06 > 15 Jan, 06
2 Jan, 06 > 8 Jan, 06
26 Dec, 05 > 1 Jan, 06
19 Dec, 05 > 25 Dec, 05
12 Dec, 05 > 18 Dec, 05
5 Dec, 05 > 11 Dec, 05
28 Nov, 05 > 4 Dec, 05
21 Nov, 05 > 27 Nov, 05
14 Nov, 05 > 20 Nov, 05
7 Nov, 05 > 13 Nov, 05
31 Oct, 05 > 6 Nov, 05
24 Oct, 05 > 30 Oct, 05
17 Oct, 05 > 23 Oct, 05
10 Oct, 05 > 16 Oct, 05
3 Oct, 05 > 9 Oct, 05
26 Sep, 05 > 2 Oct, 05
19 Sep, 05 > 25 Sep, 05
12 Sep, 05 > 18 Sep, 05
5 Sep, 05 > 11 Sep, 05
29 Aug, 05 > 4 Sep, 05
22 Aug, 05 > 28 Aug, 05
15 Aug, 05 > 21 Aug, 05
8 Aug, 05 > 14 Aug, 05
1 Aug, 05 > 7 Aug, 05
25 Jul, 05 > 31 Jul, 05
18 Jul, 05 > 24 Jul, 05
11 Jul, 05 > 17 Jul, 05
4 Jul, 05 > 10 Jul, 05
27 Jun, 05 > 3 Jul, 05
20 Jun, 05 > 26 Jun, 05
13 Jun, 05 > 19 Jun, 05
6 Jun, 05 > 12 Jun, 05
30 May, 05 > 5 Jun, 05
23 May, 05 > 29 May, 05
16 May, 05 > 22 May, 05
9 May, 05 > 15 May, 05
2 May, 05 > 8 May, 05
25 Apr, 05 > 1 May, 05
18 Apr, 05 > 24 Apr, 05
11 Apr, 05 > 17 Apr, 05
4 Apr, 05 > 10 Apr, 05
28 Mar, 05 > 3 Apr, 05
21 Feb, 05 > 27 Feb, 05
14 Feb, 05 > 20 Feb, 05
7 Feb, 05 > 13 Feb, 05
31 Jan, 05 > 6 Feb, 05
24 Jan, 05 > 30 Jan, 05
17 Jan, 05 > 23 Jan, 05
27 Dec, 04 > 2 Jan, 05
20 Dec, 04 > 26 Dec, 04
13 Dec, 04 > 19 Dec, 04
6 Dec, 04 > 12 Dec, 04
29 Nov, 04 > 5 Dec, 04
22 Nov, 04 > 28 Nov, 04
15 Nov, 04 > 21 Nov, 04
8 Nov, 04 > 14 Nov, 04
1 Nov, 04 > 7 Nov, 04
25 Oct, 04 > 31 Oct, 04
18 Oct, 04 > 24 Oct, 04
11 Oct, 04 > 17 Oct, 04
4 Oct, 04 > 10 Oct, 04
27 Sep, 04 > 3 Oct, 04
20 Sep, 04 > 26 Sep, 04
13 Sep, 04 > 19 Sep, 04
6 Sep, 04 > 12 Sep, 04
30 Aug, 04 > 5 Sep, 04
23 Aug, 04 > 29 Aug, 04
16 Aug, 04 > 22 Aug, 04
9 Aug, 04 > 15 Aug, 04
2 Aug, 04 > 8 Aug, 04
19 Jul, 04 > 25 Jul, 04
12 Jul, 04 > 18 Jul, 04
5 Jul, 04 > 11 Jul, 04
28 Jun, 04 > 4 Jul, 04
21 Jun, 04 > 27 Jun, 04
14 Jun, 04 > 20 Jun, 04
7 Jun, 04 > 13 Jun, 04
31 May, 04 > 6 Jun, 04
17 May, 04 > 23 May, 04
10 May, 04 > 16 May, 04
19 Apr, 04 > 25 Apr, 04
12 Apr, 04 > 18 Apr, 04
5 Apr, 04 > 11 Apr, 04
29 Mar, 04 > 4 Apr, 04
22 Mar, 04 > 28 Mar, 04
15 Mar, 04 > 21 Mar, 04
8 Mar, 04 > 14 Mar, 04
23 Feb, 04 > 29 Feb, 04
16 Feb, 04 > 22 Feb, 04
You are not logged in. Log in
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
Bush Administraiton
General News.
Iraq
Israel
The Saudis
U.S. Military issues.
War on Terror
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
Friday, 30 September 2005
Principles and governance.
Topic: General News.

Big news today: Judith Miller is out of jail. She is going to testify to the grand jury investigating the leaking of a CIA agent’s name about what Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, told her about Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson’s trip to Niger.

She says that by going to jail rather than reveling a source she was upholding a time honored journalistic principle. What she didn’t explain is why she spent 85 days in an Alexandria lock up (Wasn’t she in a DC jail before?) when she could have testified, because Libby signed a waiver for her to do so.

Libby’s lawyer said, “ We were very surprised to learn this had anything to do with us and wish we had known this earlier, that it was her position that she wanted to talk to Libby directly.” (Do these guys read the newspaper?) He said Miller’s lawyer approached him last month to ask if Miller could ask Libby if the waiver was genuine and not coerced. By and by, she was able to get the ok from Scooter and here we are.

This all is kind of fishy to me, there’s something defiantly rotten in Denmark. Knowing Miller’s connection to the neo-cons (John Bolton visited her in prison.) and their agenda it’s not a big surprise that her lawyer says he expects her testimony to be consistent with what other journalists have said and that it will “be helpful to him,” meaning Libby.

Yes, that’s what this was all about; journalistic principle and helping Libby and Rove avoid an indictment. She’s done her job; I can see a plumb ambassadorial appointment to Liechtenstein in her future, can’t you just?

In other Bush administration scandal news:

Lawrence Franklin, the pentagon analyst indicted on charges of giving classified documents to two AIPAC officials, will plead guilty in a plea agreement next Wednesday. All along he had professed his innocence, but now it seems he’s decided to play ball with the government and will, no doubt, testify against the two AIPAC officials Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman.

These two are charged with conspiring to obtain and disclose classified US defense information for their own political agendas and for an unnamed foreign government. I’ll give you one guess on which one. There are still some lingering questions about how Franklin got the information and what role if any deputy undersecretary of defense Douglas Feith had in this whole affair. [Inquirer] See my previous posts on this subject for more on that and this article in Tom Paine by Robert Drefuss for more on Doug Feith.

Casey at bat:

The AP reports that the pentagon’s top brass testifying to the Senate Armed Services committee yesterday wasn’t exactly a rousing success. Senators appeared to be skeptical about the pentagon’s claims of progress in training Iraqi forces after General George Casey, the top commander in Iraq, said that the readiness of Iraqi battalions able to fight insurgents on their own without US military help had gone from 3 to 1. (How much do we want to bet that one is mainly Peshmerga?)

Susan Collins, a republican, said, “It doesn’t feel like progress when we hear today that there is only one Iraqi battalion fully capable.” A rational person might come to that conclusion but from the pentagon’s point of view the good news is that 75 percent of the US trained Iraqi army was at least capable of engaging in combat, albeit with US troops providing support in most cases. Yes, that’s great news; we’re at least maintaining the status quo.

Casey “declined to give a break down of Iraqi combat readiness, which he said was classified as a secret.” I’ve asked this before, but why is this information a secret? I’m sure the insurgents knows exactly what the relative readiness and strengths are of all Iraqi forces including, home addresses of the commanders and how many bullets each soldier has. The only ones in the dark about this are congress and the American people.

So, what does this mean for General Casey’s prediction that major troop withdrawals could start to happen in early 2006? He wasn’t quite as sure this time around; he said it would depend on the political situation after the referendum. General John Abazaid assured the Senators that there were encouraging signs in the insurgency shifting to the west of Iraq, “which is a good sign, a good indicator that Iraqi and US forces are having an effect elsewhere.” Where? In Baquba where a hundred Iraqis died yesterday, or in Ramadi where a roadside bomb killed 5 Marines? I quess, Ramadi is kind of in the west, so its good to see the insurgents are staying put.

The problems with governance:

I heard Iraqi government spokesman Laith Kuba on the BBC this morning and he was pretty sanguine about the level of US troops currently in Iraq. He said attacks by insurgents were down, presumably because of all the progress being made, but the lethality of the attacks was up. So, that’s good, right? Robert Kagan was on Radio Times this morning pushing his new book, “Imperial Grunts” and he made the point that in a country of 23 million, a hundred blown up here or a hundred dead there, was an intafisimisble number in the great scheme of things.

His contention is the problem in Iraq is one of governance. He’s probably right about the governance issue, but I don’t see that problem being solved any time soon. AP reports that Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador, as of yesterday was still “struggling to negotiate changes to the charter in hopes of winning Sunni support. ” Wasn’t this charter supposedly agreed to almost two weeks ago, which was two weeks late to begin with?

Remember, the TIA said that if a constitution couldn’t be submitted to the national assembly by the deadline given a new government had to be elected. They just threw that whole thing out and they’re still fiddling around with the thing. Getting the Sunnis on board is only window dressing, I don’t think the US cares if the mainly powerless and ineffectual former Ba’athists are unhappy with the final result or not, I think the real worry the State Department has is what the Saudi reaction to a Shiite dominated government in Iraq is.

The mind boggles.

Extra points:

I wrote a few days ago that NASA had announced they were going to spend $100 billion on a manned mission to Mars. I was wrong. It’s really a manned mission to the moon, which is even more pointless if you think about it in light of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the rebuilding of a major US city. (The moon is just as good of a place to build W.’s presidential library, though.) In any case, the Chinese have their own ideas for a mission to the moon, they’re not exactly going to write us a check to beat them to it.

What if we had owed trillions to the Russians in the 60’s? I think they would have put a man on the moon, and maybe returned him safely to earth, before we did. Meanwhile, we’re asking the Russians for help with supplying the ISS because we’re SOL in the space shuttle department. How embarrassing! A US millionaire will be going up to the ISS on a Soyuz-TMA spacecraft tomorrow, by the way. Man, you know when it’s safer to travel to space on a Soyuz.

Condi in Haiti:

Back on the 27th,
Condi made a trip to Haiti to make sure upcoming elections there would be “open, inclusive and fair,” and there would be no funny business going on about allowing former democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide back in. “The Haitian people are moving on,” she said. Well, that’s nice of her to say, but what about the sizable number of Haitians who still support him and are still pissed off about us ousting him in a coup?

She’s got the big title now, but she’s still the same old incompetent nincompoop she always was. Tell us the one about you not knowing that terrorists would use planes to attack the US again, Condi.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:38 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 30 September 2005 2:10 PM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Thursday, 29 September 2005
Sweep the scoundrels out!
Topic: General News.

Ok, so I was gloating a little when I heard the news about Tom DeLay’s indictment, I admit, but now I’m sticking strictly to business. David Brooks on ATC yesterday put it all into perspective for me when he in effect said, ‘big deal,’ the Republicans weren’t happy with DeLay anyway. He caused them too much grief and “he skated to close to the edge.” And having said that: what did DeLay do anyway? No one has said what he did, so let’s not get too far ahead of this.

You know, Brooks is right, all this “hysteria” over DeLay is much to do about nothing and anyway he didn’t do anything. I’m sure the Republicans are perfectly happy to have their defacto leader under indictment and they welcome the challenge of convincing America that Ronnie Earl is a “political zealot.” DeLay says, “I’m innocent,” and we all should believe him. What more needs to be said?

And while we’re at it, the Republicans welcome an SEC investigation into Senate leader Bill Frist’s sale of HCA stock, which just happened to come days before the price of the stock plummeted. Frist says he was only trying to comply with ethics regulations and now he’s being crucified by a pack of partisan fanatics at the SEC for trying to play by the rules. How unfair.

And what about Michael Brown? He’s just a regular guy who is being used as a scapegoat. There’s a lot of evidence that Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin blew it before Katrina hit, Brown tried warn them! He was frantically calling the White House again and again to tell Andy Card that Katrina was “going to be a bad one.”

He’s overseen over a 150 presidentially declared disasters and he did a heck of a job! Of course, this last disaster was pretty much of his own making, but he still did a heck of job. If you really look at the response to the aftermath of Katrina objectively, it was a tremendous success.

And there’s an upside to this whole thing for the Republicans. They’re likely to win more congressional seats from Louisiana now that a large portion of democratic voters from New Orleans has moved on to other parts of the country, the oil companies are buckling under an avalanche of profits and all the big government contractors, like KBR and Shaw, are going to be able to bilk the American taxpayer for decades even after we’re out of Iraq. Win win!

Speaking of corruption and cronyism, Timothy Flanagan is on the hill today to begin his confirmation hearings to become a deputy Attorney General. His little and inconsequential lobbying job at Tyco which involved hiring Jack Abramoff to lobby Karl Rove is hardly an impediment to his confirmation. So what if his new job at the DOJ might mean he oversees all the various criminal investigations into Abramoff?

There’s no conflict of interest there, unless you’re a jackbooted, partisan fanatic like Ronnie Earl. So what that Karl Rove is also embroiled in the Valerie Plame scandal, big deal! I’m sure Flanagan is just a regular guy who will apply the law fairly without attempting to go easy on Abramoff like John Ashcroft is suspected of doing in the Guam judges case. There will be no partisan witch-hunts on this blog!

Enough of all this scandal and corruption, John Roberts is likely to be confirmed today, which is a big win for W. Hopefully W. will be in town when the vote comes down, I think it’s been at least 24 hours since he last made a trip down to the Gulf Coast. He’ll probably stick around DC today to conserve energy, and besides, Cindy Sheehan is gone. No fancy motorcades for W. anymore. He’s taking the Metro from now on and he’s making sure to turn off his X-box after he’s done playing.

Roberts will probably be sworn in soon after confirmation and will get right to work making public schools safe for “intelligent design” and eviscerating all those pesky environment regulations that are preventing the private sector from coming to the aid of all those hurricane Katrina victims. Another big win, right under the noses of those brain dead democrats. High five!

News Items:

Here are just a few news clips I’ve seen in the past few days that have coaught me attention, not in any particular order:

Luis Posada Carriles

Reuters reports a federal judge has ruled that Luis Posada Carriles cannot be deported to Cuba or Venezuela because he faced the threat of torture in those countries, which would violate the UN Convention Against Torture. His lawyers have said that Carriles will apply for American citizenship!

So, now the government is concerned that a terrorist and mass murderer might be tortured if he’s extradited to face trial for his many crimes. They’re all about that UN convention against torture when the terrorist is one of theirs but not so much for innocent types like Maher Arar.

What if the US government got one of those letters from Fidel that said he promised not to torture him? I hear we’ve ok’d renditions to Egypt and Syria when they crossed their hearts and hoped to die if they tortured al-Qaeda suspects, I think Hugo Chavez is about as trust worthy as Bashar al-Asad.

Faces of death:

Ton Shanker in the NYT reports that the US military is investigating a web site that provides free porno for US troops and also lets them post photos of dead Iraqis. The Online Journalism Review identified the operator of the site as Chris Miller from Florida (Of course.) who says the photos, “are from the soldiers slant. This is directly from them.

They can take the digital cameras and take a picture and send it to me, and that’s the most raw you can get it. I like to see it from their point of view, I think it’s newsworthy.” Some namby pamby Islamic rights group says the photos of Iraqi body parts and corpses burned to a crisp “bring dishonor to the military,” and the military has admitted that this type of thing undermines the war effort in Iraq, but this is war.

The photos shouldn’t just be on some porno site, they should be on the front pages of all the major US newspapers. Up till now the military hasn’t even wanted pictures of flag draped coffins being shown. If we’re ever going to get out of this war and prevent other such wars of choice, the American people need to see the actual results of their faux patriotic air punching. We’re number one!

If you’re a parent, do you want your 19 year old going to a war where the standard boredom killer is playing with corpses and viciously beating helpless prisoners? I wonder why they never mention this sort of thing in the recruiting ads? It’s your patriotic duty, mom, sign your kid up or we will.

Iraq:

In Iraq, by the way, it’s all going to hell, but W. is confident all will go well. Bush says the insurgents will, “do everything in their power to try to stop the march of freedom. And our troops are ready for them.” Bring ‘em on! Hell, we just killed Zarqawi’s number two, Abdullah Abu Azzam, the supposed al-Qaeda leader responsible for the bombings in Baghdad; don’t you feel another corner being turned?

There have been 8 US soldiers killed since Sunday [make that 12], a car bomb was found less than a mile away from the US embassy inside the green zone, a woman suicide bomber killed 6 army recruits in newly liberated and secure Tal Afar, five school teachers were lined up and shot in their class room, but other than that, it’s going pretty well.

Once this referendum is done with, of course, there will be another round of violence as the country prepares for elections in December, which will doubtless lead to even more furious Shiite infighting between the Iraqi and the Iranian factions and don’t forget about the Saudis.

Don’t you get the feeling at this point with all the various Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni militias running around Iraq killing each other, that we’re just one of the bigger militias? It’s like in the Lebanese civil war, but this time we’re involved. And maybe, in the near future there will be other militias coming to the party. Despite the good news coming out of the White House spin machine, the Saudi foreign minister says the Iraq is hurtling toward disintegration according to Joel Brinkly in the NYT. Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters at the Saudi embassy in Washington that,” There is no dynamic now pulling the country together. All the dynamics are pulling the country apart.”

He says he’s been warning the Bush administration about the dire situation in Iraq and they respond that things are getting better and use the elections and the constitution as examples. Al-Faisal says, “ But what I’m trying to do is say that unless something is done to bring Iraqis together, elections alone won’t do it. A constitution alone won’t do it.” I think what he means by bringing Iraqis together has more to do with the Sunnis and their alienation from the process by branding them all as Ba’athists.

The most important thing al-Faisal is saying to Condi & Co. is that the other countries in the region aren’t going to sit back and let Iraq become three different countries, especially a Kurdish one. This could, “ bring other countries in the region into the conflict.” Turkey considers an independent Kurdistan a red line, one that cannot be crossed.

I hear lately we’ve been cozying up to Turkey, National Security Director Stephen Hadley was just there, and have offered to help them with their PKK problem in the South-East of Turkey. Again, I say, bad idea. We’ve got enough problems without getting involved in Turkey’s ethnic cleansing.

No matter how you look at it, the future of Iraq has more potential looming disasters in store rather than happy outcomes. Who got us into this mess in the first place?


Extra notes:

John Roberts is the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by a vote of 78-22. Way to lay back and take it democrats!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:30 PM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Wednesday, 28 September 2005
The shit hits the fan!
Topic: General News.

Thanks to the Free Library of Philadelphia I haven’t been able to post for almost a week because the computers have been down and no one seems to know why they’re down or when they’ll be back up.

This is kind of ironic since the Library system just had a big to-do about the great new web site they put up. It’s a shame the people who use the library the most, the people without computers, which is probably the majority of people in Philly, since it’s the 6th poorest city in the US, can’t actually see the great new Library web site. They probably could have used the money it took to create this great new web site for better things like extending hours and being open on the weekends and more computers. But that’s just me, what do I know?

Stop the presses!!!

As I'm posting this news has come that shithead Tom DeLay has been indicted by a Texas grand jury investigating campaign rules violations in the 2002 elections. Glory Hallelu!

AP reports: "A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post."

Scott McClellan says,"Congressman DeLay is a good ally, a leader who we have worked closely with to get things done for the American people. I think the president's view is that we need to let the legal process work." Right, like he's letting the Plame investigation work its way through the legal system before he fires Karl Rove.

Boy, what a horrible month for Bush & Co.! I'm lovin' it!

In a nutshell, this indictment revolves around DeLay taking corporate donations for his PAC "Texans for a Republican Majority," sending $190,000 of it to the republican party in Washington and then laundering it back to Texas. You'd think they could use a different amount just to hide it a bit. The Texas prosecutor, Ronnie Earl, even has the check!

Kevin Madden, DeLay's spokesperson says, "This indictment is nothing more than prosecutorial retribution by a partisan Democrat." Right, Earl has tried 4 republicans and 12 democrats for coruption. Very partisan.

Looks like someone must have fingered deLay because he's being charged with conspiracy and you need two to tango, so I wonder who broke.

And speaking of corruption what about one of Tom DeLay's closest friends Jack Abranoff?

There’s a lot in the news the past few days about the rampant cronyism going on in the Bush administration but that hasn’t stopped Bush & Co. from going right ahead with doling out government largess to their monied clients.

All the big contractors are racking in the taxpayer money from the noble efforts of the former head of the government procurement office David Safavian who was arrested on the 19th in relation to yet another Jack Abramoff investigation.

Safavian, who has been called the most unqualified person for the head of the office of government procurement, made it much easier for the likes of Shaw Group and Halliburton to get no-bid contracts for hurricane reconstruction.

He may have been unqualified to manage over $300 billion in government contracts, but that wasn’t really his job. Giving it all away to well-connected corporations was the real job and he did a heck of a job.

Speaking of a heck of a job, Brownie the Clownie was at it again yesterday at the House select committee on whitewashes. The hearing on the Katrina disaster being conducted by the mainly republican committee, because democrats are boycotting it, focused on blaming Louisiana governor Blanco and New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin.

Brown said his only failure was not getting Blanco and Nagin to stop bickering and order an evacuation in time. He didn’t realize Louisiana was so “dysfunctional,” he said. That’s a good one, who doesn’t know Louisiana is a poor state run by political hacks?

In any case, the real issue is why it took so long for Michael Chertoff to issue the proper orders for the federal government to come in and why it took so long for W. to call up the 82nd Airborne. It took three days for them to get there, when they could have deployed within 8 hours anytime after the hurricane passed. But that’s not what these hearings are about. It’s all about placing the blame somewhere else.

Meanwhile FEMA has announced they’ll be giving taxpayer money to faith based charities for all their good works.

According to the WaPo “after prodding from Republican lawmakers and the Red Cross, FEMA said yesterday that it would reimburse churches and other religious organizations that opened their doors to provide shelter, food and support to survivors of hurricane Katrina.”

I think it says somewhere in the Bible that the good Samaritan got the Roman Senate to pay him back for helping that guy on the road. The next time you think about giving to the Red Cross, just remember they pushed for this. Do they really need your donations after all? If we’re going to be footing the bill out of our pay checks anyway, let’s just get the government to actually do their damn job the right way to begin with, then we won’t need these religious charities asking for a hand out for something they should be doing out of the goodness of their own hearts. Douche bags!

Speaking of Douche bags:

How about this Jack Abramoff? Two more stories about him have come to light in the past day or so. We already know about his ripping off the Indians on their casino deal, which involves all the big neo-con players in Washington, including Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist, and you’ve heard about his Sun Cruz Casino deal with Gus Boulis, which involved not paying for the deal, but have you heard about the effort by John Ashcroft to stop a prosecutor in Guam from investigating him?

The FBI is looking into whether the demotion of prosecutor Federick A. Black was related to his 2002 alert to the Justice Department that he was opening an investigation into Abramoff relating to his lobbying for some judges in Guam.

Philip Shendon writes in the NYT that, “ Mr. Abramoff’s internal email messages show he boasted to his clients about what he described as his close ties to John Ashcroft…and others at the department.” Just days after Black informed his superiors about his inquiry into Abramoff’s shady dealings he was reassigned and taken off public corruption cases. Democratic representative of California George Miller, whose special interest is US territories, said, “What this starts to suggest is that Abramoff’s ability to corrupt the system was far more pervasive.” This isn’t even the half of it I’m sure.

In a related story involving Gus Boulis and Jack Abramoff:

This Abramoff investigation has the potential to blow the Bush administration and the whole Republican take over of the country into smithereens. This is political dynamite!

Gus Boulis, a Ft. Lauderdale businessman, restaurateur and gangster was gunned down in 2001. At the time he was having a feud with Jack Abramoff and his business partner Adam Kidan over the sale of the SunCruz fleet. Ft. Lauderdale prosecutors have finally brought a case against three reputed gang members of the Gambino crime family in Boulis’ killing.

As of yet, Abramoff hasn’t been named in connection in this case, even though he has been indicted in the ship deal in Ft Lauderdale, but Kidan gave two of the three gangsters $250,000 right after Boulis was killed, which, of course, was just a legitimate business expense related to the running of the gambling ships. Kidan says, “ There was never any secret about these payments. If I’m going to pay to have Gus killed, am I going to be writing checks to the killers? I don’t think so.” Well, maybe so, if you thought they wouldn’t be caught. I’m sure Abramoff had nothing to do with this, right?

And in regard to putting people into important government positions based on how much they gave versus how much they know, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has a new boss.

Cheryl F. Halpern, who is one of the biggest hard money contributors to the Republican Party, has been elected to the chair of the CPB. Of course, she’s a right wing ideologue; of course she thinks NPR and PBS are infested with liberals.

In particular, she thinks NPR is anti-Israel and has said she believes the CPB should have the authority to penalize broadcasting journalists who air biased programs. Paul Fahri for the WaPo writes, “When she was a member of the federal agency that oversees Voice of America and Radio free Europe, she said during her confirmation hearing: ‘We were able to remove physically somebody who had engaged in editorialization of the news.’”

The CPB board also elected another right wing nut, Gary Hart Gaines, who worked for Newt Gingrich back in the GOPAC days. So, look forward to NPR becoming the domestic version of VOA in the near future. David Brocanccio better watch out, because they’re going to be coming for him!

I apologize for all those nasty letters I’ve written to NPR, except for the ones on the outrageous, over the top, coverage of the Reagan funeral.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:48 PM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Friday, 23 September 2005
Fighting terror and hurricanes. Bullets and Butter.
Topic: General News.

Things are really going from bad to weird, as Lou Reed would say. Another US city is being evacuated and this time more than a million and a half people are being displaced. (This on top of the million or so from New Orleans.) As if this whole evacuation wasn’t crazy enough already, just a few hours ago a bus with 45 elderly evacuees blew up on the highway out of Houston killing at least 24.

Just unbelievable. There are traffic jams that go on for 20 miles, people are moving at 10 miles an hour, if they’re lucky, and some are getting stuck on the roadside because they’ve run out of gas, which is in short supply, or they’re breaking down from overheating and there’s no water.

This hurricane is going to be rolling through in just a few hours, what are the local authorities going to if people are still stuck on the highway? You can already start to imagine something much worse than Katrina coming.

Not to say that I don’t have confidence in the gang-that-couldn’t-shoot-straight being capable of handling another crisis, or anything. [They’re already gassing up Air Force One for a fly over of Houston, when it’s all over.] I just hope this time, someone at the White House, or at FEMA, is watching CNN.

W., with his usual firm grip on reality, said in a speech on Wednesday, that he’s been “thinking a lot” (It’s hard work. Hard work!), about 9/11 and Katrina and the terrorists are “the kind of people who look at Katrina and wish they had caused it. We’re in a war against these people.” Wait, we’re in a war against hurricanes? I’m confused, what did he just say?

So, we should trust him to be able to handle another crisis because so far his leadership on the “war on terror” has been so stellar? This is Karl Rove’s strategy to resuscitate the Boy’s poll numbers? I think right now most people are just crossing their fingers desperately hoping this idiot doesn’t get us all killed.

Butter, Bullets, and a manned mission to Mars.

In a spectacularly well-timed announcement, NASA says they’re going to spend $100 billion for a manned mission to Mars. These guys can’t even pick up the trash at the International Space Station without a 1 in 52 chance of the shuttle blowing up and they’re going to Mars? Good location for a George W. Bush presidential library, though.

Don’t worry, be happy. W. says now is not the time to pull out of Iraq. We can have bullets and butter we can afford it all. No act of terror or nature is going to force us out of Iraq. “No matter how many car bombs there are, these terrorists cannot stop the march of freedom.”

So, he’s basically conceding that we can’t stop the car bombs. So, bring ‘em on! In an interesting bit of history revision, W. said yesterday “to leave Iraq now would be to repeat costly mistakes of the past that led to the attacks of September the 11th, 2001.” Before the invasion, we had to go in to prevent another 9/11, now we have to stay to prevent another 9/11.

Congress says money grows on trees:

I keep hearing the like’s of William Cristal and David Brooks droning on about how we’re ‘the wealthiest nation on earth’ and we can have two wars and recover from two massive hurricanes. If my only source of money is a Visa card, am I wealthy? I would like to know how we’re going to afford to rebuild New Orleans, rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan and pay for Don Young’s bridge to nowhere.

This is just insanity, sooner or later our creditors are going to seriously ask themselves if we’re good for it. Congress’ solution is tax cuts and set asides, but I don’t see how sticking it to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is going to solve our financial problems. Cutting social programs and diverting taxpayer money to politically connected faith-based charities is not an answer.
Doesn’t it just seem like our government has just lost its ability to function?

This administration and the congress are totally incapable of dealing with this crisis we’re in. The hurricanes, the wars, the raising oil prices----and we’re not even into the winter heating oil crisis yet----this government just can’t deal. This is how coups get started in banana republics and we’re starting to look like the wackiest banana republic in the west. In 1931 the government pretty much threw up its hands two years into the Depression and Hubert Hoover suggested what the country needed was a poem. At that time, the only question was who would take over after Hoover, the communists or the fascists? I don’t know, you think another day of prayer will do the trick?

Cloaca Catholica:

Just do what the Catholic Church does in a crisis, ignore it. I wrote yesterday about the Philadelphia Archdiocese and their little pedophile problem, which a Philadelphia Grand Jury called “A continuous, concerted campaign of cover up.” Cardinal Justin Rigali, the current head of the Archdiocese, says no one should read the Grand Jury report. “I don’t think it’s of value to families…It’s prolonged explanations of abuse” are “very graphic.”

Yeah, it not family reading material, for sure. Having to read about Father John Mulholland and his bondage, scat fetish and little boys isn’t very conducive to keeping the donation plate full.
Mulholland is still a priest, even though the Church concluded that a letter he sent to a boy with pictures of painful bondage and a message saying, “prepare to break me on vacation,” showed that he was “a disturbed individual in need of mental health intervention.” One report had Mulholland stringing up a boy and “piercing him or at least jabbing him with some instrument over his body.”

Cardinal Rigali says it’s a shame the Grand Jury report doesn’t show the “great efforts by the Archdiocese” to prevent further sexual abuse. Mulholland was cleared of any wrong doing in 2004, and is now ministering to a nursing home, so it would appear their efforts aren’t good enough.
I wonder what the Pope has to say about all of this. He after all, has a little cover up problem of his own.

Herr Ratzinger has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit in Texas involving the cover up of the abuse of three boys by a seminarian named Juan Carlos Patino-Arango, who is currently on the lam. The AP writes that, “the lawsuit alleges that the former cardinal, who headed the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith before becoming Pontiff, was involved in a conspiracy to hide Patino-Arango’s crimes and help him escape prosecution.” Imagine that!

In any case, the US State Department has stepped in to keep the Holy Father from having to deal with it. Assistant US Attorney General Peter Keisler has told the judge in the case that to allow the lawsuit to proceed would be “incompatible with the United States’ foreign policy interests,” because the Pope enjoys the immunity as head of state of the Holy See. So, how did we get away with arresting Manuel Noriega, he was a head of state too, right? And Saddam, wasn’t he a head of state? But in this case, it’s in our foreign policy interest to keep priests from having to stand trial for sexually abusing children.

Nazis, child abusers, what the diff?

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:57 PM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Thursday, 22 September 2005
The moral sewer that is the Catholic Church.

As I worte on the 16th, Pope Benedict XVI is going after all the fags in the Church and is going to toss them out, in order to prevent more child abuse problems. Of course, most gays don't abuse children, but don't confuse the Holy Father with the facts. The sun revolves around the Earth and thats that!

It appears, he might be a little late. A Grand Jury in Philadelphia just issued a report on the rampant abuse of children over many decades in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. [PI]

"Sexually abusive priests were left quietly in place or 'recycled' to unsuspecting new parishes - vastly expanding the number of children who were abused," the grand jury concluded."

The Grand Jury wrote that the Church hierarchy, "excused and enabled the abuse" for decades. In its callous, calculating manner, the archdiocese's 'handling' of the abuse scandal was at least as immoral as the abuse itself. What we have found were not acts of God, but of men who acted in His name and defiled it."

And here's a heads up for the Pope, in one case a preist who repeatedly raped an 11 year old girl took her to have an abortion. So it's not a about gay sex, its about sexual predators in collars.

But the Church is ready to admit guilt and make changes. Not really, their responce to the report went like this: the report is "incredibly biased and anti-Catholic" and a "a vile, mean-spirited diatribe."

Oh yes, poor Catholic Church. Call Rick Santorum for a donation.

A list of abuses by 63 preists who did this for decades goes like this:

"According to the report, victims of the abuse included:

An 11-year-old girl who was repeatedly raped by a priest who took her for an abortion when she became pregnant.

A fifth grader who was molested by a priest inside a confessional.

A teenage girl who was groped by a priest while she lay immobilized in traction in a hospital room.

A priest who offered money to boys in exchange for sadomasochistic acts of bondage and wrote a letter asking a boy to make him his "slave." The priest remains in ministry.

A priest who abused boys playing the roles of Jesus and other biblical characters in a parish Passion play by making them disrobe, don loincloths, and whip each other until they had cuts, bruises and welts.

A priest who falsely told a 12-year-old boy his mother knew of the assaults and consented to the rape of her son.

The grand jury found that many victims were abused for years and that many priests abused multiple victims, sometimes preying on members of the same family."

Unbelieveable.

As usual the Church moved these guys around and didn't tell anyone that they were moving a child molester into their parish.

Archbishop Anthony J. Bevilacqua, who was in charge of hiding these molesters from 1988 to 2003,
had a "strict policy, according to his aides, that forbid informing parishioners... about any problems in a priest's background."

Unfortunatly, no one is going to be prosecuted for these horrible crimes because the statute of limitations has run out. The Inquirer writes that, "The panel said it had considered charging the archdiocese with endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors, victim/witness intimidation, hindering apprehension, and obstruction of justice. But again, it said, the statute of limitations on any crimes had expired.

So the panel was left with what it described as "a travesty of justice, a multitude of crimes for which no one can be held criminally accountable."

They got that right. But I'm sure the Holy Father in his wisdom will make this right for the hundreds of victims of his Church, right?

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:55 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 22 September 2005 3:06 PM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Wednesday, 21 September 2005
Can do president.
Topic: General News.

Our can-do president made yet another trip to the Gulf Coast yesterday to highlight the progress being made in the recovery effort. Here we go again with the rose-tinted glasses approach to the problem. Towns throughout the Gulf region are still leveled, they haven’t been rebuilt, the levies aren’t repaired, there is an entire city that is still deserted and astoundingly; there are hundreds of children still missing!!! (And what happened to those $2000 debit cards?)

No one is expecting the administration to wave a magic wand and make it all better over night, but don’t give us this ‘we’re making progress’ crap, when its so obvious what all these trips down there are really all about.

If Karl Rove thinks the “mission accomplished” model is going to work in pumping up Bush’s poll numbers this time around, he’s got something else coming. Journalists in the US don’t need to be embedded in military units to report on what’s going on in Louisiana and Mississippi. It won’t take too long for people to match up the rhetoric coming from W. with the pictures of destruction.
But it’s not all about poll numbers, is it? More importantly it’s about giving a helping hand to Bechtel, Halliburton, Fluor and every other corporation with its hand out.

Oh yeah, and pushing the right wing agenda. Promoting school vouchers and giving government money to “faith-based” charities (Rick Santorum says, they’re the real first responders when the federal government is late with help.), is what it’s all about. Rove is an expert when it comes to manipulating a national crisis for political advantage; there isn’t any depth he won’t sink to. He’d sell us out to the Chinese if there were some benefit to the republicans in it. (I’m assuming he hasn’t already.)

Rita on the rocks:

So, there’s another hurricane coming down the pike. It’s all perfectly normal, though, we usually have 20 Cat. 5 hurricanes in a year, don’t worry be happy. Exxon/Mobil is pretty happy; they’re planning on buying the Sun with all the extra money their making from their crisis profiteering. We’ll all be getting bills for sun use in the near future. On cloudy days, naturally, they’ll need government disaster relief.

I say, that this time, if W. really wants to show everybody what a big man he is, he’ll ride out hurricane Rita wherever it hits and monitor the response time from the federal government, just to make sure he knows what’s going on.

[By the way, what the hell was Ray Nagin thinking when he encouraged people to go back to New Orleans? I understand he wants to get the city back in business, but even EPA is saying this time that it’s too dangerous, what with all the gasoline, oil and God knows what else floating around and caked on everything. This is a departure from the immediate aftermath of 9/11 when reports of asbestos in the air around the Ground Zero area were suppressed to get those brokers back to playing the market. To say nothing of the firefighters who were allowed to work without masks while digging for bodies under the collapsed buildings.]

Speaking of progress:

The US military reported the deaths of 12 more Americans yesterday, bringing the total death toll so far to 1,907. Stay the course, don’t let their deaths be in vain.

Also, on Tuesday, a British military attempt to rescue two special forces commandos from an Iraqi jail in Basra resulted in several British armoured vehicles being destroyed by fire. Iraqi “policemen” had detained the two commandos after being caught on the street dressed in Arab garb. Presumably they were engaged in some sort of undercover operation. While the British foreign service people were negotiating the release of these detainees with the “government” in Baghdad, the British military got wind of a transfer of these soldiers to a local militia, the Mahdi army, a report the Iraqi interior minister says was just a rumor. (Of course, he’s a part of the Badr organization, so he might be slightly biased.)

This is when the Brits cordoned off the area around the jail and launched an extraction operation by plowing a hole through a jailhouse wall with a tank. (During the cordoning off operation, the citizens of Basra started throwing rocks and Molotov Cocktails at the British troops who were caught on camera fleeing their burning tanks.) The Brits say they found their commandos at another house where they had been transferred, but the Iraqis say the house was part of the jail and they weren’t in the hands of the Mahdi army. It’s difficult to tell what really went on because most of the ring leaders of this whole mess in Basra are in the Iraqi government. In this case, I guess the British version is probably less of a lie.

This is a very embarrassing situation for the British military and the “coalition” which claims that they’re only there to help a “sovereign” Iraqi government. Violating the sovereignty of the government by attacking one of its police stations isn’t exactly acting like a good neighbor.

Maybe, we should ignore the media filter here and see what the prime minister’s office has to say on the subject: “In response to recent events in Basra, the Iraqi government wants to clarify that there is no crisis---as some in the media have claimed----between it and the British government.” So, this one incident doesn’t blow the whole facade off the lie that the British have really been in control of Basra over the past three or four months?

I was going to say, that this must be quite an eye opener for the British who thought everything was going relatively smoothly in the south, but I stand corrected. There is no crisis. And little children in Baghdad are begging their mommies to get them American military uniforms to dress up in because to them the US soldier is a super hero! (Yes, Susan Dakak actually said this on Radio Times.)

It’s difficult to say what the commandos were up to. Were they after Muktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi army? Or was it an Iranian group led by Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani, who is suspected of introducing the new and deadlier “shaped” explosive roadside bomb, which has been killing Brits, contractors and Americans in a much more efficient way lately.

There is little doubt now, as if there was before, that the Shiite militias of Muktada al Sadr, the Badr Brigade, and various other militias, all run by members of the present Iraqi government, are the real power in Basra. The Iranians also have a very large foothold in the south. Even before the war began, Iran had made sure as the chaos took hold in the early hours of the American invasion they were there to fill the void.

Michael Ware writes for TIME that, “as many as 12,000 armed men, along with Iranian intelligence officers, swarmed into Iraq.” A 2004 British military inquiry found that the Badr organization and other militias were already so deeply entrenched in the area that, "it quickly became clear that the coalition needed to work with them to ensure a secure environment in the province.” A student at Basra University, an institution which is a frequent target of Shiite religious police, says, “these guys with beards and Kalashnikovs showed up saying they'd come to protect the campus, the problem is, they never left.”

If the new Iraqi constitution winds up giving the Shiites autonomy in the south, you’ll see Sadr, Sistani, and Chalabi all vying for Iranian influence and fighting over oil revenues. The civil war in Iraq that the newspapers keep saying the US is trying to avoid is already in full swing and the Iranians and the Shiites in the south are really fanning the flames. The Sunnis aren’t necessarily the only ones fighting against the occupation, though.

Progress in Afghanistan:

Now that there have been successful parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, Rummy has declared, “Afghanistan is a democracy,” So, in that case, he won’t mind handing over the keys to president Hamid Kharzai, right? (Karzai is getting pretty uppity, these days, some one ought to remind him that we’re paying for his security detail.) He says the US needs to change its strategy in Afghanistan. “I don’t think there is a big need for military activity in Afghanistan anymore. The US should stop their air raids in the country; stop launching major offensives in the country and, “no coalition forces should go to Afghan homes without the authorization of the Afghan government.”

He seems to feel the real problem comes from other countries. The focus should be on “on where terrorists are trained, on their bases, on the supply to them, on the money coming to them.” Hmmm…which country could he be talking about? It couldn’t be Pakistan, because Pervez Musharraf launched a big raid in the tribal areas just before he came to the US for the UN summit.

Surely, Karzai isn’t saying these raids were just for show to keep the Americans happy? He must be talking about Syria. We’re really losing patience with them!!!

Since we’re celebrating this momentous occasion in Afghanistan, I thought it would be good to look back at all the success there’s been since the invasion in 2001. It’s been a very successful four years, full of great success, so much so that our point man in Afghanistan, the very successful Zalmay Khalilzad, has moved to Iraq to repeat his great success there.

WaPo:” After US-led military forces routed the Islamic Taliban militia from Kabul, large sections of Afghan territory remain in the grip of local militias, while the southeast has become the target of violent attacks and political wooing by insurgent Taliban forces based along the Pakistani border…coalition troops launched Operation Mountain Resolve, a high altitude offensive, in Kunar and Nurestan provinces, adjacent hilly border regions, that are believed to shelter a network of fighters loyal to the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the renegade militia leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.”

That was from the WaPo on Nov. 16, 2003. A day before, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters collided over Mosul killing 17 soldiers and injuring five others. This is also the day after the US and Iraq announced their “radical new plan for the country’s political transition that would end the US-led occupation by July 1 and could facilitate a significant withdrawal of US troops next year.”

As we know, the country’s sovereignty was turned over two days early! Of course, that was because they were afraid if they did it on the day they said they’d do it, there might have been a huge attack.

During this part of 2003 and into early 2004, you’ll remember, there was an upsurge in violence in the run up to the transfer of power. Then there was another surge of violence in the run up to the successful elections in January 2005, which included two very costly attacks on Fallujah, which is now a free city. Free of its citizens and buildings, but free of terrorism!

Then there followed a successful formation of a government, a successful drafting of a constitution and then the withdrawal of significant numbers of US troops.

Well, that last part didn’t happen, they’re still there fighting so that the deaths of the previous 1,907 won’t have been in vain, in the run up to the constitutional referendum in October. There might be an upsurge in violence, which is why there are a couple more brigades of US troops on the way. Leading up to a significant withdrawal, of course.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:36 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 21 September 2005 1:43 PM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Monday, 19 September 2005
It's going to cost what it's going to cost. Now, watch this swing.
Topic: Bush Administraiton

In election news, the Daniel Cooney for the AP writes that, “Millions of Afghans defied attacks and a Taliban boycott call to vote for a new parliament, yesterday.”

I think, he just replaced “Iraqis” with “Afghans” and “Taliban” with “insurgents” and filed his report. It’s the same old BS from last April’s elections in Iraq. “Officials hailed the election as a major success.” Well, what a surprise! Even though turnout appeared to be lower than the presidential elections, US ambassador Ronald Neumann thought the whole affair a “great success.” Low turn out, shmlow turn out, “ says ambassador Neumann; “In America, only half of the people vote.” See, the less they come out to vote, the more like us they become.

The Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan estimates a 30 to 35% turnout, compared to 75% for the last elections, so they’re right on their way.

Now, presumably, the Taliban will see this as a great defeat and lay down their arms, just like the Iraqi insurgency did. Former warlords and newly rich druglords, thanks to us, who bought and threatened their way into office will start their new lives as democratic leaders who care only for the democratic aspirations of their constituents. George W. was right nation building does work!

With all this nation building going on around the world and the rebuilding on the Gulf Coast, one might wonder how we’re going to pay for all of this. W. says don’t worry be happy. “You bet its going to cost money. But I’m confident we can handle our other priorities. It’s going to cost whatever it costs.”

He sounds like one of those people who doesn’t really have any intention of paying for anything. ‘By the time this bill comes due, I’ll be looking at the picture books in my library.’

Congress, on the other hand, actually writes the checks, so they’re a little more worried. Senator Tom “Sorry-I-sterilized-you-by-accident” Coburn says its “inexcusable” that Bush and the congress haven’t even made an “effort to find at least some offsets to this new spending.” By offsets, he means social spending cuts.

According to Al Hubbard, Bush’s economic wiz, the costs for this are coming from “the American Taxpayer,” but that, "this in no way will adversely impact his commitment to cut the deficit in half by 2009.” Bush says we have to “maintain economic growth and we should not raise taxes.” NO, don’t raise taxes; the right thing to do is make sure the “costs are wisely spent.”

Yeah, that makes sense, fiscally speaking. We’ll just cut all that fat out of the federal budget, like Social Security and Medicare, and $400 billion for the next four years in Iraq and the estimated $200 billion for Katrina will just magically appear. (This is on top of the $333 billion of debt we’ve rung up this year alone.) W. plans to kill two birds with one stone: don’t burden the rich with onerous taxes and use the credit card to make sure Halliburton and Bechtel keep those balance sheets in the black.

Is there anyone in Washington that has any clue about managing finances? My God, if most people went around buying Humvees and Beverly Hill mansions on credit cards and the banks just provided endless credit no matter how crazy the spending was, we’d be in real trouble.

Two little notes from the WSJ that caught my eye. Louisiana representative Richard Baker of Baton Rouge was overheard as saying, “we finally cleaned up the public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.” Later, Baker said he didn’t intend to be flippant he had just wanted to improve public housing.

The Army isn’t only helping out with cutting down trees and providing logistical assistance to Katrina victims. They also sent recruiters to the Astrodome to help out with “jobs” in the military. Army spokesman Douglass Smith says, “ Our intent is to approach the evacuees at the right time for them.” How thoughtful. Its not like the military is having any problems filling their ranks or anything, so they certainly wouldn’t take advantage of already desperately poor people have just lost what little they did have by offering them three squares and housing for a little trip to Iraq, now would they?

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:57 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 19 September 2005 12:59 PM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Friday, 16 September 2005
Pray for us!
Topic: Bush Administraiton

On this national day of prayer, I thought it would be enlightening to highlight a few stories concerning the more compassionate side of religion. Since his ascension to the throne of infallibility, Pope Benedict XVI (It’s a lie, I’m not a Nazi!) has been pushing the need to “purify” the church and in that vain has ordered a purge of all homosexuals from the seminary and of faculty members who dissent from church teaching. Edwin O’Brien, the archbishop for the US Army, no doubt equally busy rooting out gays in the military, says “anyone who has engaged in homosexuality activity of has strong inclinations,” even those who have not been sexually active for a decade or more, should not be admitted to a semenary. (That’s pretty much going to end the priesthood isn’t it?) Vatican inquisitors will fan out to the Church’s 229 semenaries to conduct an apostolic visitation (Cue Godfather theme.) aimed at cleaning out that den of iniquity known as the priesthood.

The Church leadership seems to think that rampant homosexuality in the priesthood is the cause of all the child abuse that has gone on, but the NYT writes that, “Experts in human sexuality have cautioned that homosexuality and attraction to children are different.” The reason these child molesters went after boys, for the most part, is because they had more access to them.

There are two problems with this theory: One is that the New York Times is saying it and the second is that, these so called “experts on human sexuality” are nothing more than perverts with a deep left agenda. Besides, who would know more about human sexuality than the Pope?

Now that that has been established, let’s just say for the sake of argument that there were gay priests out there who had been in the priesthood for years and had followed the catechism that says homosexuals should live in chastity because homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered,” and had never abused children. Should these old queens be thrown out into the streets, penniless because of their vows of poverty, just because they’re gay? Most assuredly!

For decades the Church knew they had a large population of child molesters in their ranks and instead of turning them into the police, moved them around from parish to parish, where they continued to abuse with impunity because their unsuspecting victims were kept in the dark about their past as a matter of Church policy. Pope Benedict XVI’s solution to this outrageous betrayal is to punish the innocent to make up for the Church’s guilt. How compassionate!

Fusing the dials on the way-back machine to A.D. 1300:

The Pope is a busy man these days. He’s got 700 years of modernism to wipe out. The NYT reports that the Pope encouraged a group of exorcists visiting the Vatican to “carry on their important work in the service of the Church.”

In keeping with the Church’s commitment to educating the next generation for the challenges of the 21st century, “Regina Apostolorum, a top Vatican university, is offering another course in exorcism to priests; a course last year proved popular with students.” Now, if we can only get that Galileo heresy thing looked into again. I hear there’s new research being cited in American school textbooks that proves that the earth stood still just like it says in the bible! The Sun does revolve around the earth, damn it, I’ll impale anyone who says different! P.S. I hated Hitler, please believe me!

Chertoff questions continue:]

The Knight/Ridder news service has got it in for Michael Chertoff, the director of DHS. They report today that he attended a previously scheduled briefing on avian flu in Atlanta on August 30th, the morning after Katrina struck.

This was also after Michael Brown says he called Chertoff and told him things were going “out of control” in New Orleans. The reports says, “stung by criticism, Chertoff’s aids this week attempted to downplay his importance in managing the disaster relief, saying FEMA director Michael Brown had been in charge.” That’s an interesting defense, since Brown couldn’t do anything without first passing it by Chertoff. (This goes to the heart of the criticism that FEMA’s envelopment into the DHS undermined its ability to function in an emergency like Katrina.)

The real sticking point is when Chertoff issued the declaration making Katrina an “incident of national significance,” which got the federal troops in motion. This was on the 30th, according to a memo he signed, even though the levies had broken on the early morning of the 29th.

DHS spokesman Russ Knocke says the department had been “under the auspices of an incident of national significance” since Bush’s emergency declaration on Aug. 27. The National Response Plan says the secretary of Homeland Security designates an event an incident of national significance. “When asked if Chertoff had made the declaration earlier than Aug 30, Knocke declined to answer.”

Don’t worry, though, W. is going to get to the bottom of this whole thing, he wants to know what happened and whether it will happen again. He said last night that he would work with lawmakers “to make sure this effort is thorough.” Right, but not independent or bi-partisan:

AP reported on Wednesday that, “Senate Republicans on Wednesday scuttled an attempt by Sen. Hillary Clinton to establish an independent, bipartisan panel patterned after the 9/11 Commission to investigate what went wrong with federal, state and local governments' response to Hurricane Katrina. The New York Democrat's bid to establish the panel… failed to win the two-thirds majority needed to overcome procedural hurdles. Clinton got only 44 votes, all from Democrats and independent Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont. Fifty-four Republicans all voted no.”

Let’s keep that vote tally in mind in the coming weeks. Not one republican is interested in finding out what really happened if it means making the president look bad. Imagine if the democrats had control of the congress and the White House and they were trying to protect Slick Willy. The republicans would be calling for impeachment!

Staying course: In the Gulf Coast.

I think W, needs some fresh blood on his speech writing staff. He promised last night that, “we will do what it takes; we will stay as long as it takes.” That’s great, but this isn’t Iraq we’re talking about here, its New Orleans. If this reconstruction is going to be anything like what’s going on in Iraq, I think Louisiana and Mississippi ought to think about taking up Hugo Chavez and Fidel’s offers of assistance first. I mean, what the hell are they thinking about at the White House?

Oh right, Karl Rove is running the reconstruction thing; that explains it. Not that history is repeating itself or anything, but KBR just got a big contract from the Navy and former FEMA director Joe Allbaugh, Bush’s former chief of staff in Texas, just happens to be lobbyist for KBR, which is a subsidiary if Halliburton, Cheney’s old job.

Bush promises that a team of inspectors will scrutinize spending, but I think the emphasis will be more directed to making sure none of those deadbeats who were too lazy to leave when they were told to get one of those $2000 debit cards, if they don’t deserve it.

Something just tells me, if they haven’t got around to stopping Halliburton, Custer and Battles, Fluor and all the other corporate pirates from ripping off the American taxpayers in Iraq for these past two years, they’re not going to have much better luck this time around. It’s a lot more easy to go after the poor of the Big Easy. And when the right-wingers call for the money being “spent wisely and honestly,” you know who they’re talking about. (Wink, wink.)

[Note: “semenary” isn’t a typo, it’s a joke.]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:05 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 16 September 2005 1:17 PM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Thursday, 15 September 2005
"Brownie" speaks. Does a great job.
Topic: Bush Administraiton

The NYT published its interview with Michael Brown today, the former FEMA chief, in which he blames FEMA’s delays in getting aid to Louisiana on Governor Kathleen Blanco for not letting him know what the state needed. He says, “I truly believed the White House was not at fault here.” He claims he made “a blur of calls” to Michael Chertoff and Andy Card to tell them that, “things were going to hell in a handbasket.”

The Times writes that a senior White House official confirms the calls were made but disputes the calls had the “urgency or desperation he described in the interview.” This tracks with the memo Brown sent to Chertoff five hours after the hurricane struck when he asked for 1000 employees to deploy to the area within 48 hours and ended the letter by writing, “Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities.” Doesn’t exactly sound like he was as worried about the situation as he claims.

Still, despite the obvious attempt to cover his own ass, the overall impression you get from the interview is that, here was a guy with basically had no authority to do anything without someone above him signing off on it. He says at one point, on the day before the hurricane hit, he was so frustrated with Mayor Nagin not calling for a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans that he asked Bush to call him and tell him to. According to Brown, Bush asked, “Mike, you want me to call the Mayor?” That’s pretty incredible, if true.

It will be very interesting to see whether the administration decides to do about either protecting Brown or setting him up as a scapegoat when the shit hits the fan. Once the investigations get going we’ll see if Brown takes a bullet for the president or goes off the reservation and actually comes clean on what was really going on at the White House.

Although, he might want to think twice about the latter option: buried in an article about Bush’s big speech tonight was this revelation; “Republicans said Karl Rove…was in charge of the reconstruction effort.” “Brownie” might want to consider moving his family out of the country before they become “fair game,” in Turd Blossom’s eyes.

So, Karl Rove is in charge of the reconstruction effort. That’s pretty startling. This brings a few questions to mind: like what does Karl Rove know about reconstructing an entire city, and doesn’t this really have more to do with reconstructing W.’s crumbling poll numbers? I mean, really. Is there anything in this administration Rove doesn’t have his hands all over?

[Just an aside on Rove: Besides the Plame investigation, there is also potentially worse scandal waiting in the wings over Rove’s involvement with Jack Abramoff and his lobbying for Tyco International. Newsweek reports that Tim Flanigan, a former White House lawyer nominated by President Bush for deputy attorney hired Abramoff to lobby against a law barring federal contracts to companies incorporated in offshore tax havens. "Abramoff, who raised more than $100,000 for Bush's re-election, allegedly told Flanigan he'd lobby White House aide Karl Rove on behalf of Tyco, says the source close to the company. Rove, whose secretary formerly worked for Abramoff, has "never spoken to [Abramoff] about any of his clients," says a White House spokeswoman.: Oh, and you can beleieve that.]

Chertoff to move to secure, undisclosed location?

Yes, Michael Brown had no business being in the position he was in, but he is in no way the only shoe that’s going to drop in this growing national disgrace. There is no doubt that Chertoff is getting a big time pass so far. Hours before Ted Koppel beheaded Brown on Nightline on the 31st, NPR had an interview with Michael Chertoff asking about the convention center situation and he said he would decline to comment on “rumors” about thousands of people stranded at the center. This in the face of TV reports beginning the day before and an NPR reporter’s eyewitness account of the deplorable conditions there just before NPR’s Robert Segal talked to him.

The Inquirer reports that Chertoff was in charge of the federal response, not Brown, according to the National Response Plan and Chertoff had the authority to order federal agencies into action without any request from state or local officials.

According to a memo which will become more and more important as this goes along, Chertoff waited 36 hours after the Katrina struck before declaring an “Incident of National Significance,” which was needed to get the federal ball rolling, including getting Rummy moving to get troops down to the area, which didn’t happen until Saturday, five days after the storm.

There will, no doubt, be many questions about why this declaration wasn’t made the moment the National Hurricane Center warned anybody who would listen that “The Big One” was coming.

USNS Comfort.

Last week I asked why a Navy hospital ship waited until the Friday after Katrina to set sail for New Orleans. I still don’t know, but the Comfort didn’t actually make it to New Orleans after all. It seems that just as it was about to make port, Trent Lott somehow got it diverted to Pascagoula Miss. Henry Holcomb of the Inquirer writes that the ship of 660 people, 1,000 beds and 12 operating rooms is treating an undisclosed number of patients for cuts, burns and bug bites. Obviously, Mississippi is probably not getting the kind of attention is deserves because the media is focusing on New Orleans, but is there really the need for a ship of that size in Pascagoula, that’s also costing $700,000 a day to operate? Boy, you’ve got to feel DHS has a really has a handle on the federal response now, when a senator can just make a phone call and divert an entire ship to his state and no one even notices.

NATO to hold baby?

Yesterday, amidst the news about the Katrina recovery and the John Roberts hearings, there was the story, deep in the papers, about the US considering troop reductions in Afghanistan. My faithful readers will remember me writing about an article in the Guardian about British defense officials being worried about the US leaving the Brits to “hold the baby” in Afghanistan.

The NYT says the pentagon is talking about reducing troops levels by about 20% and the idea is NATO will take over the fight against the “routed” and continually more and more “desperate” Taliban insurgency.

John Abazaid says, “It makes sense that as NATO forces go in, and they’re more in numbers, that we could drop some US requirements somewhat.” I quess, it makes sense if NATO is actually interested in taking up the fight against the Taliban, but unfortunately, they’re not. Yesterday in Berlin, NATO rejected Rummy’s suggestion that they pick up our slack. AP reports that, “Germany, France, and Spain made clear at a meeting in Berlin that they would not allow 11,000 NATO peacekeepers in the Central Asian nation to become embroiled in the military effort to quell a Taliban led insurgency.” Um…let’s see ignore Germany, punish France, nuke Spain. Was that it? That’ll show em’. []

IRAQ:

In Iraq today more car bombs from the ever more desperate and weakened insurgency killed 30 Iraqis, mainly policemen. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari better come up with a better plan than chasing the insurgents all over the Syrian border pretty quick, because this Katrina thing is getting kind of expensive both financially and politically. 9It looks like the insurgents might have "fled" to Baghdad.)

The NYT says, “American officials traveling with Mr. Bush said that they wondered how successful the White House would be in allocating more reconstruction aid for Iraq now that the hurricane damage will soak up so many American resources. ‘It seems clear,’ one senior official traveling with Mr. Bush said, ‘that the days of American larges for Iraq are coming to a close.”

But that may not be an issue after all, because Jaafari says the car bomb attacks that killed 152 and wounded over 500 yesterday just showed the insurgency’s “desperation and cowardice in the face of set backs they have suffered in Tal Afar and elsewhere at the hands of Iraqi security forces.” If that’s the case, I say we declare victory and go. Let the Shiites and the Peshmerga mop up and get our guys out of there. (Nice of him to thank the US forces that had their back, by the way.)

Scott Speicher. Again.

AP: The Navy has been unable to determine whether Michael Scott Speicher, the fighter pilot shot down over Iraq in January 1991, is dead or alive, but it decided to keep his official status "missing/captured" and intensify investigative efforts." Unbelievable!

See Non Sun Dignus
for more on my Scott Speicher problem.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:02 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 15 September 2005 3:42 PM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Wednesday, 14 September 2005
Progress is being made in Iraq and all options are on the table.
Topic: General News.
The beat goes on in Iraq: 160 Iraqis were killed by a dozen car bombs and 570 were wounded. [AP] Looks like the offensive in Tal Afar really didn't make the country any safer. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who is visiting the US, said the driver of the car bomb in Kazimiyah, which killed 112, was a Syrian. How convenient. "Operation Restoring Rights," the name of the offensive on Tal Afar, is still going on but the insurgents seem to have escaped out of their "rat holes" and redeployed else where.

Zalmay Khalilzad says the Syrians are the "number one offender" in the Middle East working to impede progress in Iraq. According to a State Dept. press release Khlalilzad said, "Syrian interference in Iraq 'will be dealt with' and 'all options are on the table' for addressing the problem if Damascus does not change its approach toward Iraq. 'Syria has to decide what price it's willing to pay in making Iraq's success difficult, and time is running out for Damascus to decide on this issue.'"

My main question remains: why can't the Iraqis secure their own border and why aren't we calling the Saudis out for sending all their jihadis to die in Iraq? The Syrians are not exactly angles and nuns but I serioulsy doubt they're actively assisting the insurgents. I'm not so sure about the Saudis. They have more to lose in a stable Shiite led Iraq than the Syirnas do.

More on the Katrina Fiasco:

On Market Place last night it was reported that hospitals in New Orleans are now asking for the government to bail them out because they don’t have any patients. Tenet Healthcare Inc, (You know, they’re the second biggest hospital chain in the country lately accused of performing unnecessary heart surgeries on hundreds of patients, including Merle Haggert. [See yesterday's post for link]), are the first ones with their hands out claiming they don’t have enough money to pay their doctors. They claim without patients they have no business. Maybe, they ought to find out how 44 patients died at their Memorial Medical Center first before they ask for a government welfare check.

This is corporate compassion for you. Oh, they’ll help people, but show them money first. Charitable corporations like Halliburton are reaping more no-bid contracts. "Hundreds of millions of dollars in no-bid contracts have already been let and billions more are to flow to the private sector in the weeks and months to come," according to the NYT. "Normal federal contracting rules are largely suspended in the rush to help people displaced by the storm..." What a surprise.

As I noted at Non Sum Dignus yesterday, the push is on by the advocates of ‘starving the beast’ to make political hay out of this disaster. While corporate flaks fan out to the various opinion pages and talk shows to promote the compassion of the “private sector” and the advantages of personal and religious charity over government relief, Bush is busy suspending environmental laws to help the oil industry and nixing a law that requires contractors to pay prevailing wages.


Tom DeLay is talking about pushing school vouchers to “assist” the displaced children of Katrina and funneling taxpayer money into religious organizations. Last week on a trip to Houston with Bush he said, “There about a thousand churches right here in Houston, and a lot of them are helping people with housing, but FEMA says they can’t reimburse faith based organizations.” What an outrage! FEMA also says they’re not going to reimburse Texas for the thousands of new students from Louisiana they took in either. You might want to check into that little problem first Tom, before you go raiding the US treasury to enrich your religious allies.

The right would never take advantage of a national disaster to promote their agenda, would they? No, they would never do that, but it does appear while attention is focused on the Gulf Coast they’re using emergency powers to ram through changes to the law they couldn’t get done through democratic means, even with an unassailable majority.

Herbert Hoover’s flood story:

I keep reading and hearing about the great job Herbert Hoover did during the 1927 Mississippi flood, without the help of big government. This flood story is supposed to illustrate how one man with the help of the private sector can handle a crisis without having to having to ask for a hand out, which is what by implication the Katrina victims are doing.

There’s no doubt that Herbert Hoover was a brilliant engineer and organizer, he saved millions of Europeans from starvation in the aftermath of WWI. But the reason we have the type of government we have today is because of Herbert Hoover being unable to deal in any way with the crisis of millions of Americans being unemployed and hungry at the beginning of the depression.

Hoover believed that private giving was the answer to the plight of the poor. “A voluntary deed by a man impressed with the sense of responsibility and the brotherhood of man is infinitely more precious to our national ideals and national spirit than a thousandfold poured from the treasury of the government under compulsion of law.”

In October of 1931, after vetoing a billion dollar appropriation for public works, he set up the Committee for Unemployment Relief instead, headed by Walter Gifford of AT&T. By putting on sporting events and theater benefits he hoped to raise $175 m. for the unemployed. The committee only raised $100 m., before it was disbanded. So much for corporate charity,

In line with Bill Frist’s idea that all the Katrina victims needed was a hug, Herbert Hoover offered a poem to help the unemployed. “Perhaps what this country needs is a great poem. Something to lift people out of fear and selfishness. Sometimes a great poem can do more than legislation.”

This is the type of government we should go back to? The hands off, non-governmental approach to national crisis has been tried and it has failed. If Roosevelt had come into office with more of the same, he would have been the last president. The American people then, the “greatest generation,” demanded government action and action now!

From the moment FDR was elected, the republicans who were vanquished along with their money changing allies have been trying to undo everything that the New Deal accomplished. The Holy Grail for them is getting rid of Social Security. This is a 60 year battle they’ve been waging against the American people and the government, that is by and for the America people, and they aren't going to stop.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:23 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005 2:55 PM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink

Newer | Latest | Older