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Lets's talk about democracy
10 Mar, 08 > 16 Mar, 08
3 Mar, 08 > 9 Mar, 08
25 Feb, 08 > 2 Mar, 08
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28 Jan, 08 > 3 Feb, 08
10 Dec, 07 > 16 Dec, 07
26 Nov, 07 > 2 Dec, 07
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5 Nov, 07 > 11 Nov, 07
10 Sep, 07 > 16 Sep, 07
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2 Jan, 06 > 8 Jan, 06
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3 Oct, 05 > 9 Oct, 05
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29 Aug, 05 > 4 Sep, 05
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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
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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
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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’. []


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
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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
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Tuesday, 13 September 2005
W. moving White House to New Orleans.
Topic: Bush Administraiton

As George Bush made his third visit to the Gulf Coast to oversee the results of “operation poll recovery,” FEMA director Michael Brown resigned and news came out that at least 45 bodies had been found at Memorial Medical Center. A spokesperson for the hospital’s owner said none of the patients had died because of lack of water, food, or electricity. David Goodson, the hospital’s assistant administrator said, though, that many had died over the four days it took to be evacuated.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that, “a radiologist volunteering in New Orleans, said he spoke with members of the team that recovered the bodies from the hospital in the city’s Uptown section. He said they told him they found 36 corpses floating on the first floor. ‘These guys were just venting,’ he said, they need to talk. They’re seeing things no human being should have to see.” (The media hates the first responders.)

FEMA knows where the bodies are hidden:

This is probably why FEMA doesn’t want the media snooping around the body recovery story. Too many toes to be stepped on; Tenet Healthcare corp., the second largest for-profit hospital chain, doesn’t need that kind of publicity. Especially after that whole unnecessary heart sergery thing with Merle Haggart.

[Reuters says today that, "Reporters who tried to enter the facility on Tuesday were blocked by National Guard soldiers."] (The media hates the first responders.)

And W, doesn’t, either. That’s why he rapidly appointed R. David Paulison, someone who actually knows something about emergency response to head FEMA. Not that this should in any way be taken as an admission that putting hacks in crucial government positions for political favors is a bad idea. (The media hates the first responders.)

Meet the new boss same as the old boss:

And this doesn’t mean FEMA is in any way capable of handling another crisis in the near future, either. Bush and Co. have so efficiently gutted the organization, that putting one guy with a clue in charge isn’t going to make much of a difference. One big disadvantage Paulison is going to have is not having been a college roommate of Bush, a political crony, or a republican.

And he still won’t have the authority to do anything without having to beg Michael Chertoff first. Oh yeah, and his senior staff are still only qualified to put up “mission accomplished” banners at Bush rallies. Good luck Mr. Paulison, you’re going to need it. (The media hates the first responders.)

Don’t get the idea that any one is to blame for this fiasco, though. NO, NO. Brown decided on his own to leave, he had talked about returning to the private sector soon any way….blah,blah,blah. Right! You can believe Scot McClellan (You can always believe Scott McClellan, he never lies.), when he says, “This was Mike Brown’s decision and we respect his decision.”

Right, directors of government agencies normally go back into the private sector in the midst of national disasters, what’s the big deal? The fact that Paulison was appointed about three seconds after Brown announced his resignation doesn’t mean Brownie wasn’t doing a heck of a job. (The media wants the government to direct every aspect of American life.)

I want to know what happened:

The emperor is apparently a little touchy these days about people questioning him about his wardrobe. He got up in the grill of a reporter who had the temerity to suggest that certain people in his administration, who might have possibly just resigned, had let him down. “Look, there will be plenty of time to play the blame game. That’s what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to say somebody is at fault.” No, the reporter is just asking a question dummy. It’s everybody else in the country, outside of the White House bunker, who is saying you blew it. (The media hates the first responders.)

Not that anything has gone wrong (Or right), of course, but he says congress ought to investigate anyway. Just because there’s a republican majority in both houses, that shouldn’t skew the result in the president’s favor. “I want to know exactly what went on and how it went on, and we’ll continually assess inside my administration.” Yeah, that’s the problem; it will stay within the administration. (Get through the media filter.)

I still want to know how this guy could be in charge, be ‘Mr. hands-on-I’m-back-from-vacation,’ and still need to know, “exactly what went on and how it went on.” What didn’t he president know and when didn’t he know it?

He said today, "Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government, and to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility." So that’s that, end of crisis!

Let’s focus on praising the first responders who are heroes and blame the media for trying to denigrate them. Let’s all pray! (The media isn’t praising the first responders.)

[Note: "U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in Berlin that the military response to Hurricane Katrina had peaked, and that some of the 71,000 troops, 20 Navy ships and 300 helicopters in the area could soon be withdrawn." Withdrawn where, Iraq?]

Non Sum DignusSee for great news on the wonders of the free market economy in building the dreams of individuals by the sweat of their own brow.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:38 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005 2:17 PM EDT
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Monday, 12 September 2005
Don't blame me!

Today, W. is on his third tour of the Katrina disaster area. This time he’ll be flying into the Big Easy from the assault ship USS Iwo Jima, where there are apparently no “mission accomplished” banners in sight, and on to a military convoy to tour the city formerly known as New Orleans. (Another great opportunity for soldier dressup!) Now that the city is safely emptied of angry black citizens who might have made an earlier appearance somewhat embarrassing, the president can, according to Scott McClellan, “visit those who are overseeing the operations on the ground” in peace. Hopefully, he didn’t forget the bullhorn and pre-tattered American flag.

A black republican supporter was quoted in the NYT as saying the White House didn’t want Bush meeting with black hurricane survivors during his first trip down to that part of the world, because they were “scared to death” of the reaction. (Jimmy Carter’s visit to Overtown in 1980 comes to mind.) “If I’m Karl, do I want the visual of black people hollering at the president as if we’re living in Rwanda?” Of course, all this is just the liberal media playing the race card.

The Blame Game:

W. says today, now is not the time for the blame. There will be time later to find out what happened and he wants to know what happened, too. Those of us who are a little less apt to take the president’s word as gospel might ask why he doesn’t already know what happened. According to a Knight/Ridder postmortem, administration spokeswoman Dana Perino said, “Overall, the president is in charge at the White House,” in response to a question about who was running the show at the White House while the storm raged. So, again, why does he need an investigation to find out what was going on while he was firmly in charge of the situation?

Its not only the liberal left asking where the buck stops in the Katrina relief debacle. That well known fellow traveler Charles Krauthammer writes that the president was, “late, slow, and simply out of tune with the urgency and magnitude of the disaster.” Of course, he then covers his political ass by blaming everybody else for the Katrina response disaster, too, including the Mayor of New Orleans, the governor of Louisiana, the congress and even the American people.

There’s no doubt that the state and local authorities messed up big time, but even before the storm hit the scale of the destruction had already been predicted by FEMA itself. There’s no way an impoverished city and two of the poorest states in the Union should have been expected to deal with this on their own, before or after.

You hear a lot about Mayor Nagin swearing on the radio from these FOX watcher types, like this is something very distasteful for a public official to do, (Nobody in the White House ever uses naughty language; well, except for Cheney who told a US senator to go fuck himself), but if he hadn’t done that interview, God knows how much longer it would have taken the federal government to wake up.

By the way, how is it that the media could get in and out of New Orleans and report from there live, yet city officials and doctors in destroyed hospitals were reduced to begging the media to tell the feds what was going on? Don’t worry, dubya, dubya, dubya, is on it.

In other news:

If it wasn’t for all this blame going on, someone would have noticed the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on the Jose Padilla case. Judge Michael Luttig wrote that the president has the right to lock up an American indefinitely without being charged. In this case, the president has the authority to designate someone as an “enemy combatant” and throw away the key without a trail or anything else. Luttig says al-Qaeda is “an entity with which the United States is at war.”

That’s an interesting reading of the law. When did congress declare war on that bunch of turbaned wackos hiding out in a Pakistani cave? This is a judge people are taking about possibly replacing Sandra Day! Do you think this ruling had anything to do with that? [AP]

Who’s to say the president doesn’t decide that the US is at war with liberal bloggers one of these days? He can count on Yahoo to help out in hunting down every one of them just like they helped put Chinese journalist Shi Tao in jail for 10 years.

The WaPo writes that Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang said, “to be doing business in China, or anywhere else in the world (Here for instance?), you have to comply with local law. I don’t like the outcome of what happens with these things, but you have to comply with the law.”

Another great victory for Iraqi security forces:

Once again, the Iraqis are victorious in routing the insurgents, this time in Tal Afar. AP reports "almost 200 suspected militants" were dead. Intersting how they kill these guys in such even numbers. Since they fight in civilian clothing, how do the Iraqis determine who is an insurgent and who is a civilan? No wait, this just in: "six civilians died in the fighting." Talk about precision!

The reports goes on to say, "invading force(s) discovered a network of tunnels below the city through which the insurgents were believed to have fled to the surrounding countryside." The offensive was a "was a great shock to al-Qaida," according to Interior Minister Bayan Jabr. I'm so sure!

Notice how the insurgents "fled" to the surrounding countryside. Just like the insurgents in Fallujah "fled" to Mosul and alomst completly took over while the Marines were busy "mopping up" there.

Defense Minister Sadoun al-Dulaimi said the "Syrians have to stop sending destruction to Iraq. We know the terrorists have no other gateway into Iraq but Syria." My question is; why can't the Iraqis secure their own borders after all this time?

It's one thing if the Syrians are letting these insurgents get to the border, even though the US military says only about 10% of the people they're fighting are foreigners, but it should be another thing when they try to get in. Saddam didn't have any trouble keeping his border closed, right?

Defense minister al-Dulaimi warned those giving aid and comfort to the insurgents, "that they must stop, kick them out or else we will cut off their hands, heads and tongues as we did in Tal Afar." Is this hand and tongue cutting on while we've got their back?

Send Michael Brown to Iraq?

Amidst this great victory for freedom and democracy, the tens of thousands of civilians from Tal Afar, mainly Turkmen, are living in tents in the desert. I wonder what the Turkish governemnt thinks about that?

Reports say, "Food, water and medical supplies are scarce." Have no fear, "the Iraqi and Turkish Red Crescent societies have rushed aid to the refugees."

When will Al Qaim and Qusaybah be liberated and once they are how long will it be before the insurgents "flee" back into Tal Afar? Hold your tongue!

[See this blog from May for more on the war on the Syrian border.]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:22 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 12 September 2005 3:09 PM EDT
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Friday, 9 September 2005
Freedom is on the march, as long as you're signed up.
Topic: Bush Administraiton

Sign up for your t-shirt and right to march for freedom. Rummy's parade on Sunday to honor the dead of 9/11 and promote the war that has nothing to do with them, will be under tight security according to the WaPo. The parade route will be "fenced off and lined with police and the event closed to anyone who does not register online by 4:30 p.m. today."

The event called "America Supports You Freedom Walk," will start at the pentagon and wind up at the national Mall where the crowd will be rocked to the neo-fascist/country stylings of Clint Black.

Put a boot up the ass of whichever hater of freedom you please, as long as you love freedom, have proper ID, are of the correct political persuasion and have been thoroughly screened, you're free to celebrate freedom.

[The Dixie Chicks were invited but they will be unable to appear as they have been rendered to an undisclosed Middle Eastern country that promises not to torture them.]

The Post says what's unusual about this event "is the combination of fences, required preregistration and the threat of arrest." Yes, that is kind of unusual, since the Mall is kind of like one of the most recognizable symbols of American freedom where everybody is free to assemble. Not this time, though, this is a freedom march, "interlopers" and peaceniks need not apply.

Park Police Chief Dwight E. Pettiford explains that the organizers of the march, the pentagon, requested in their permit application that the police put up "those fences to keep the public out." [So, I guess the money for staging this modern Nuremberg Rally will be coming out of Rummy's pocket, right?]

Not only will the public be kept out but the press isn't invited either! The WaPo writes that, "reporters and cameras are restricted to three enclosed areas along the route but are not permitted to walk alongside participants walking from the Pentagon, across the Memorial Bridge to the Mall." I guess, the pentagon is afraid Rummy might start goose stepping along the parade route or something. Golly, wouldn't that be embarrassing!

Note: Have you ever seen Richard Wilkins, the mayor of Sunnydale, and Rummy together, by the way? There are a lot of similarities in the way they talk and act. Could this be Rummy's assention?

Let's compare images: [My thanks to spookyfilms.com]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 5:47 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 9 September 2005 6:01 PM EDT
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Thursday, 8 September 2005
They should have prayed.

There’s news that the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort is in the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to arrive in New Orleans sometime later today. After getting its orders to sail from FEMA last Friday the ship left at 11:17 PM the same day from Baltimore. Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina struck last week and many hundreds, if not thousands, of people who could have benefited from a modern, fully equipped hospital instead suffered and died in vain waiting days to be cared for.

Imagine if the doctors and patients at Charity, University and other hospitals could have been spared the horrific consequences of FEMA’s inattention to details.

We’ve heard a lot about all the stuff that had been “propositioned” by FEMA before the Hurricane struck ----that still didn’t manage to get into the city for almost a week----but Navy ships apparently weren’t one of them.

I guess, Michael Brown and Co. were waiting for an explicit request from state and local governments before acting. (The words “lead time” aren’t in the FEMA lexicon.) According to memos written by Brown, five hours after Katrina struck, he was seeking approval from Michael Chertoff to send 1000 DHS employees to the disaster area within 48 hours. Naturally, after making sure they had the proper training “to help the life savers,” according to Homeland Security spokesperson Russ Knocke.

Brown wrote these employees would be there to “convey a positive image of disaster operations to government officials, community organizations, and the general public.” (Boy, looks like that part of the plan kind of crashed and burned.) Brown’s sense of urgency, during this “near catastrophic event,” is neatly conveyed by him closing with, “Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities.” [AP]

It sounds almost like he wasn’t sure Chertoff was going to sign off on the plan! This is language you use in a business situation when you’re asking for some petty cash to buy pizza for a staff party. This is so emblematic of the low priority this administration gives to the role of the federal government in matters not related to making war or handing out welfare checks to the rich. ‘Let the states and faith based charities deal with this sort of thing, we’re busy doing the business of America, which is business.’

Speaking of doing business, Haliburton’s subsidiary KBR is tapping into a $500 million Navy contract to do emergency repairs at Navy and Marine bases damaged by Katrina. The fact that the pentagon is still investigating hundreds of millions of dollars in overcharges by KBR in Iraq doesn’t mean they can’t continue to rip off the American tazpayer here at home.

[By the way, I'm sure this has nothing to do with anything, but former FEMA director Joe Allbaugh, who gave Michael Brown his job, just happens to be a lobbyist for KBR. But, as I say, I'm sure its all on the up and up.]

The “underprivileged” at the Astro Dome:

Barbara Bush, the queen mum, is worried the “evacuees” living in the palatial surroundings of the Astro Dome might be enjoying their stay a little too much. “What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas.” God forbid! That’s all Texas needs, more minorities! “And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so to this is working well for them.” Yes, too well. W. says everybody will get back to the way they were and made whole again. [Audio]

Well, maybe not whole, if that means not going back to living below the poverty line again. What does “underprivileged” mean anyway? This is a word people who are very privileged use to describe their inferiors. What this disaster needs is a lot more Eleanor and way less Barbara.

Talking points: it wasn’t all bad.

The administration’s emergency spin effort is claiming that blame for the pathetic and criminal federal non-response to Katrina should be withheld until there’s time to “assess what worked and what didn’t work.” Interesting choice of wording: it implies there actually was something that worked. If there was, this is what ought to be thoroughly investigated.

National Day of Prayer: Sept. 16

I just saw W. on the TV and besides giving $2000 debt cards out to people who don't have an internet conection or a phone to register for them, he's calling for a national day of prayer next Friday.

That's great. Maybe, he should have called for prayer while Katrina was on the way to New Orleans. If people knew then he wasn't going to do anything they might have been better off.

What about those of us that don't believe in that mumbo jumbo, by the way? Are the satan worshipers allowed to pray? Just wondering.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:54 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2005 3:07 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 6 September 2005
A tsunami of compassion:
The Bush White House is busy rebuilding: its poll numbers that is. Seems, people down in that part of the world are still a little pissed off at him, so he went back to the scene of the crime again yesterday. Apparently, his first trip, where he explained he was working hard, progress was being made, Trent Lott was going to get a great new house and he had little too much fun in New Orleans in the past, didn’t really go over well. This time, he showed up at a shelter run by a religious group in Baton Rouge with T.D. Jakes, (Look everybody, I’m with a brown one!) and praised all the private (i.e. religious) organizations helping out. (Isn’t there some way to get taxpayer money to all these groups? Ask FEMA)

He’d better work harder because I briefly saw Lou Dobbs on CNN last night and he cited a new ABC News/Washington Post poll that said 47% of Americans disapproved of his handling of the situation in New Orleans and 46% didn’t. Out of that Dobbs somehow came to the conclusion that the American people didn’t blame Bush for the Katrina disaster at all. As long as those that support Bush are still on board, that’s all that matters, I guess. Might as well just say 100% don’t blame Bush. The other half of America, the “Bush haters,” are liberals with an agenda, they don’t count.

Yes, the administration is in full ‘image resuscitation mode;’ this weekend Rummy was down in the disaster zone to observe the people of New Orleans discovering the untidiness of their own freedom, from all of their possessions. Also, Condi Rice, of all people, got dragged away from her vacation and was put on to a flight down to Alabama to be with “her people,” you know, black people.

Remember, Condi is black, so that means the slow response to hundreds of thousands of poor black victims waiting for days in squalid circumstances while Bush fiddled had nothing to do with race. If people in Palm Beach or Gross Point, Mich. had been in a similar position, they’d have to wait almost a week too. Stop playing the “race card.” (The fact that gun sales are up a zillion percent in Baton Rouge has nothing to do with race either.)

Bush to investigate.

Today, Dubya says he’s personally going to lead the investigation into the federal response to the Katrina disaster. (Or lack of it. Isn’t that sort of like having Lynndie England lead the investigation of Abu Ghraib?) He’s sending Cheney, fresh off his duck hunting vacation in Wyoming, down to the Gulf Coast to bang heads together. (No doubt, with some very lucrative no bid contracts for Haliburton in hand as well.) Treasury secretary John Snow says rebuilding is good for the economy, by the way. We might want to think about leveling Detroit to really get the economy going.

Unfortunately for Bush and Co., the horrific scenes at the convention center, now seared into the public’s psyche, aren’t going away anytime soon. While Michael Brown was busy defending his agency for not knowing about 25,000 people being stranded at the center without food or water three days after the hurricane struck, David Brooks, one of Bush’s most rabid spin-doctors, was reacting to the news by calling the slow reaction of the administration unconscionable.

Last Friday on “Washington Week,” he said leaving the poor to suffer like that was the moral equivalent of leaving wounded on the battlefield. Eventually, I’m sure, Brooks will regain his equilibrium and get back to his shameless flaking for the administration, but his reaction , might be emblematic of a larger unease that even Dubya’s supporters are starting to feel about his administration’s ineptitude in matters of national security. (Even William Kristol said, "Almost every Republican I have spoken with is disappointed" in Bush's performance. [WaPo])

FEMA: another government agency wasting our hard earned money.

Obviously, it’s great to see the Super Dome and the convention center finally being evacuated and it’s about time the military has restored order, more or less, to the city, but it’s the military doing it, not FEMA. Remember FEMA? The administration’s view of the little agency that couldn’t has been from the beginning that of an “oversized entitlement program,” this according to former director Joe Allbaugh, W.’s old time friend and former campaign manager. (‘Why are all these people asking the federal government for hand outs? It’s your fault you stayed in the danger zone, pull yourself up by your bootstraps!’ ) Mississippi congressman Bennie Thompson on the Homeland Security Committee says FEMA is basically a “political resting place for favors” owed. [NYT]

After all, what does someone whose previous job was running the National Arabian Horse Association know about disaster relief? Nothing: he’s a political crony of Joe Allbaugh’s, which is all the qualification he needs. L. Paul Bremer was a favorite of Henry Kissinger, so he got to run Iraq. (And what a job he did!) There’s a reason New Orleans and Baghdad look like carbon copies of each other.

Get the government off our backs!

Why should the federal government have to deal with disasters at all, right? (Ask John Roberts where it says that in the constitution.) Once the estate tax is killed (Let Paris Hilton have her daddy’s money when he dies, she deserves it!) and the tax cuts are made permanent, this whole argument will be merely academic; unlike the now mainstream libertarian theories that are being daily applied to the real world. Let the states worry about it. Private donations will solve the problem. If Exxon/Mobil wants flood control for New Orleans, they’ll pay for it. If a plane crashes because there’s no government regulation of airline safety, people will see it’s an unsafe airline and it’ll eventually go out of business. The markets will decide who lives and who dies.

The buck stops somewhere else.

Ok, so Bush isn’t entirely to blame for this awful mess on the Gulf Coast, many administrations before this one dropped the ball on flood control, but he is the guy in charge now, and back in the old days at least, the buck stopped at the president’s desk. Of course, one of the hallmarks of this presidency is the total lack of any accountability for anything; it’s always some one else’s fault.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the 100,000 or so “refugees” of Katrina in a year or two. (There are still almost 8000 victims of the four hurricanes that went over Florida last year still living in government trailers.) How W. and Co. eventually winds up dealing with rebuilding the lives of these people and their city will be all on him, there won’t be anyone else to blame.


Oh yeah, and then there’s Iraq. He is totally to blame for that. 1,893 US troops have now died in Iraq.

Kofi Annan has said, "One used to be worried about Afghanistan being the center of terrorist activities. My sense is that Iraq has become a major problem and in fact is worse than Afghanistan." [NYT]

And the WaPo reports that while the US is bombing the crap out of Tal Afar "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda in Iraq group took open control yesterday of a key western town at the Syrian border, deploying its guerrilla fighters in the streets and flying Zarqawi's black banner from rooftops, according to witnesses, residents and others in the city and surrounding villages...A U.S. Marine spokesman, Capt. Jeffrey Pool, said that Marines had no word of any unusual activity in Qaim but that it was possible insurgents were acting in areas out of Americans' sight." Maybe he ought to work for Michael Brown.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:07 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2005 3:08 PM EDT
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