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Monday, October 31, 2005: Special Halloween Issue

Today's 100+ bush headlines: Selected from around the world
by the editors of Bush Watch
...get our headlines in your e-mail

Inside Bush Watch: Today's Opinions and Features From Bush Watch Columnists,
Excerpts From World Opinion
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Getting Ready: The Bush Administration In Costume, Walter Brasch

...It’s hard to find President George W. Bush a costume, since he’s tried on so many. He puts on boots, jeans, a large buckle belt, and worker shirt, and pretends to be a cowboy. He put on a flight suit and had a Navy pilot ferry him to the U.S.S. Lincoln, where he puffed himself up and told the world “Mission Accomplished.” Unfortunately, none of the insurgents were listening. His public speeches often show him in the roles of Goofy or the Straw man trying to find a brain. Immediately after 9/11 and again the first days after Katrina, he did a great imitation of “Where’s Waldo?” On his eighth trip to the Gulf Coast after Katrina—after almost four days when he paid as much attention to the plight of the hurricane victims as he does the environment—he put on a hard hat and wrap-around tool belt and pretended to be a construction worker. But, for this Halloween, maybe we can give him a costume he has said many times he has worn constantly, but apparently has never felt—that of a compassionate conservative....[Other costumes described include: Condi, Kerry, Hillary, DeLay, Frist, Rumsfeld, and Cheney.]

Party Time: Bush's Halloween Party, Daryl Lease (excerpt)

The president and the first lady's annual Halloween party is in full swing when Tom DeLay steps into the room....He's not sure how his costume will go over. DeLay pauses to let his eyes adjust to the dim lighting in the room. "I knew I should have gone with the cockroach costume," he mutters to himself....DeLay whirls around, his hands balled into fists. Out of the shadows steps Karl Rove, dressed as a giant subpoena....

There's Dick Cheney, dressed as the Energy Hog. And Rep. Don Young, who's painted himself gold and is wearing a giant papier-mache bridge as a hat. But before DeLay can choose which one to approach, Sen. Bill Frist lopes across the room, dressed in an orange jumpsuit. "Hey, Tom, great diaper!" Frist hollers. "Thanks. Nice prison outfit you got there," DeLay replies sullenly.

The room abruptly falls silent. The crowd parts, and the president -- dressed in an elaborate costume made entirely of genuine Crawford brush -- strides toward the pile of people on the floor. "Is there a problem here?" Bush asks sternly. "No, sir," the men squeak. "No problem at all." Bush looks at them quizzically. As he turns to walk away, he whispers to Laura, "I forget: Is the theme of our party corruption or incompetence?"

Life Style: Babs Bush Halloween Mask, Jason Stout

Let Them Eat Cake: "What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this [chuckles]-- this is working very well for them." Barbara 'Marie Antoinette' Bush on New Orleans evacuees at the Houston Astrodome

Tom Tomorrow Halloween: Something Truly Terrifying

Trick-Or-Treaters To Be Subject To Random Bag Search, the onion
Halloween muscles in on Day of the Dead, El Universal


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Today's 100+ bush headlines: Selected from around the world
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Inside Bush Watch: Today's Opinions and Features From Bush Watch Columnists,
Excerpts From World Opinion
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Opinion: Libby's Indictment: A Window Into the White House Cesspool, Bernard Weiner

With Scooter Libby’s indictment, the first shoe has been dropped in the Plamegate criminal case. Whether there will be other shoes is problematic. Fitzgerald says the case is almost wrapped up, but that Rove is still not out of the woods yet. The fact that Rove and Cheney weren’t also indicted Friday is disappointing, to be sure -- they are the real movers and shakers in the Bush Administration -- but we don't know what's going on behind the scenes.

Is Rove working out a plea bargain that will be announced in a few days? Could Fitzgerald simply not have all the ammo he needed by October 28 to bring charges against Rove and Cheney, but is rounding up that last-minute evidence? Did Fitzgerald present charge(s) to the Grand Jury against suspects other than Libby but the panel wouldn't indict? We simply don't know at this point (I'm writing this the same day as the indictment); maybe the inevitable leaks will help us understand more as the story unfolds. What is clear is that Libby seems to have been caught redhanded concocting a false story and, under oath, sticking to those coverup lies in both his FBI interrogations and Grand Jury testimony. A definite no-no. Will this case go to trial?...

Opinion: George Has Two Daddies, Maureen Dowd (excerpt)

What we really want to know, now that we have the bare bones of who said what to whom in the indictment, is what they were all thinking there in that bunker and how that hothouse bred the idea that the way out of their Iraq problems was to slime their critics instead of addressing the criticism. What we really want to know, if Scooter testifies in the trial, and especially if he doesn't, is what Vice did to create the spidery atmosphere that led Scooter, who seemed like an interesting and decent guy, to let his zeal get the better of him.

Mr. Cheney, eager to be rid of the meddlesome Joe Wilson, got Valerie Wilson's name from the C.I.A. and passed it on to Scooter. He forced the C.I.A. to compromise one of its own, a sacrifice on the altar of faith-based intelligence. Vice spent so much time lurking over at the C.I.A., trying to intimidate the analysts at Langley into twisting the intelligence about weapons, that he should have had one of his undisclosed locations there.

This administration's grand schemes always end up as the opposite. Officials say they're promoting national security when they're hurting it; they say they're squelching terrorists when they're breeding them; they say they're bringing stability to Iraq when the country's imploding. (The U.S. announced five more military deaths yesterday.) And the most dangerous opposite of all: W. was listening to a surrogate father he shouldn't have been listening to, and not listening to his real father, who deserved to be listened to.

CIA Leak: Connecting The Dots

"Cheney...got Valerie Wilson's name from the C.I.A. and passed it on to Scooter." --Maureen Dowd.

It was Libby to Miller prior to Novak story. --Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC

"Friday's indictment identified "Official A" as a "senior official in the White House who advised Libby on July 10 or 11 of 2003" about a conversation with conservative columnist Robert Novak about an upcoming column where Plame would be identified as a CIA employee. Novak's column ran Jul. 14, 2003....Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove was the mysterious 'Official A' named in the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, lawyers close to the case have told Raw Story." See further, Washington Post July 15, 2005

Questions: Did Miller tell anyone? Who told Novak?

We're Watching: Jean Renoir's "The River" (Criterion)

Sunday Funnies:

The nominee America loved to hate: Now in Reruns: Everybody Hates Harriet! Mark Fiore
Studying the M.S.M. for clues Tom Tomorrow
Gear for Centrist Democrats Ward Sutton
War Cartoon: Iraqi Constitution, Steve Bell
Weather Cartoon: Try this one out in yer faith schools, Martin Rowson


Saturday, October, 29, 2005

Today's 100+ bush headlines: Selected from around the world
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Inside Bush Watch: Today's Opinions and Features From Bush Watch Columnists,
Excerpts From World Opinion
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Editorial: Republican Spin Begins, Jerry Politex

Here's what I heard/read thus far:

1. Perjury, Obstruction of Justice, and Giving False Statements are not the same as violating the Intelligence Act. (Conservative David Brooks said those who spin that line of thinking are "idiots." All are federal crimes, and Libby could get up to 30 years for what he's been indicted on. As Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald noted at his press conference, you can't get to the truth of any case if the witness lies about the circumstances. The implication is that those who lie are protecting themselves from the penalty involved in telling the truth.)

2. Cheney never literally sent Wilson to Niger, Cheney never read a Wilson report, and Cheney never met Wilson. (All true, all irrelevant.)

3. Not a "great day" for the press, since Cooper and Miller will have to testify. (Of course, they're witnesses.)

4. The Libby indictment is damaging national security. (If the indictment is true, it's Libby who has damaged national security, not the U.S. Justice Dept., and you need an indictment to prove or disprove it.)

5. Karl Rove has not been indicted. (True, but he is still being probed.)

6. Fitzgerald failed to tell us what we want to know about the supposed leak. (Fitzgerald: It's not my task to talk about people who have not been charged with a crime.)

6. There was no leak crime. (No one has been charged with a leak crime. Not the same thing.)

Quote: "If it's true that the President has lied us into war, it's the most heinous thing he could have done." --CNN Panelist

TV Comments:
Fitzgerald DID conclude that Valerie Plame's cover had been blown. --Pete Williams
It was Libby to Miller prior to Novak. --Andrea Mitchell
Libby will be tried by a Bush-appointed judge. --Andrew McBride

Quotes: Two Comments By Bush, Jerry Politex

1. When asked by reporters about the leak probe over a year ago, Bush said he instructed everyone in the White House to cooperate fully and tell the truth to the probers.

2. While announcing his acceptance of Libby's resignation, without indicating a belief in his innocence, Bush praised his Assistant to the President for his contributions to the nation.

Question: How can Bush praise a man who, according to the Grand Jury indictment, failed to follow the President's specific orders?

Opinion: Two Unsustainable Trends: Will Bernanke Be Enough? Paul Krugman (excerpt)

My main concern is that the economy may well face a day of reckoning soon after Mr. Bernanke takes office. And while he is surely the best politically possible man for the job (all the other candidates I would have been happy with are independents or Democrats), coping with that day of reckoning without some nasty shocks may be beyond anyone's talents. The fact is that the U.S. economy's growth over the past few years has depended on two unsustainable trends: a huge surge in house prices and a vast inflow of funds from Asia. Sooner or later, both trends will end, possibly abruptly.

It's true that Mr. Bernanke has given speeches suggesting both that a "global savings glut" will continue to provide the United States with lots of capital inflows, and that housing prices don't reflect a bubble. Well, soothing words are expected from a Fed chairman. He must know that he may be wrong. If he is, the U.S. economy will find itself in need of the "Rooseveltian resolve"...aggressive government moves to jump-start stalled economies....We can safely predict that Mr. Bernanke will show that resolve. In fact, Bill Gross of the giant bond fund Pimco has already predicted that next year Mr. Bernanke will start cutting interest rates.

But that may not be enough. When all is said and done, the Fed controls only one thing: the short-term interest rate. And it will be a long time before we have competent, public-spirited people controlling taxes, spending and other instruments of economic policy.

We're Listening: Ax, Stoltzman, Ma's "Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart" (Sony)


Friday, October 28, 2005

Today's 100+ bush headlines: Selected from around the world
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Inside Bush Watch: Today's Opinions and Features From Bush Watch Columnists,
Excerpts From World Opinion
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Editorial: Bush-Mires Spinning Her Withdrawal Into Constitutional Rights Issue

Making lemonade out of sour grapes, Bush is trying to turn the political fiasco of the Mires nomination into a Constitutional rights issue, and Mires, ever the yes-woman, agreed with him when she withdrew her name as a Supreme Court nominee, today. It's hardly a secret that a conerstone of the Bush presidency is to move the office of the presidency closer to a dictatorship, while dimenishing the balancing rights of the other branches of government.

"Ms. Miers, President Bush's White House counsel, told the president in a letter this morning, 'I am convinced the efforts to obtain executive branch materials and information will continue,' reports the New York Times. The Times goes on: "Mr. Bush issued a statement in which he accepted Ms. Miers's decision with regret, praised her 'extraordinarily legal experience' and her character and said he agreed that senators were intent on gaining access to internal White House documents about her service. Surrendering such paperwork would undercut any president's ability to get frank and unfettered advice from key aides, Mr. Bush said. 'Harriet Miers's decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the Constitutional separation of powers'."

In Bush's view, as he has said during his first term in office, things in the U.S. would be just fine, "as long as I'm the dictator." After all, why should we know what people in the White House think? Why should we know what Bush advisers say? As Bush says, that would stifle discussion. Maybe that would be a good thing, given the kind of anti-Constitutional, pro-war, racist, wrong-headed, and just plain un-Anmerican things that have reportedly been said to Bush by his advisers during his presidency. --Jerry Politex, Bush Watch, 10/27/05

Opinion: 32,000 Dead Is Not Enough For Bush, Bob Herbert (excerpt)

Much of the nation is mourning the more than 2,000 American G.I.'s lost to the war in Iraq. But some of the mindless Washington weasels who sent those brave and healthy warriors to their unnecessary doom have other things on their minds. They're scrambling about the capital, huddling frantically with lawyers, hoping that their habits of deception, which are a way of life with them, don't finally land them in a federal penitentiary....

For the Iraqis, the toll is beyond hideous. Perhaps 30,000 dead, of which an estimated 10 percent have been children. The number of Iraqi wounded is anybody's guess. This is what happens in war, which is why wars should only be fought when there is utterly and absolutely no alternative. So what's ahead, now that the giddiness in Washington has been replaced by anxiety and the public is turning against the war? Even Richard Nixon's cronies are crawling out of the woodwork to urge the Bush gang to stop the madness. In an article for Foreign Affairs magazine, former Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, now 83, says the administration needs to come up with a clearly defined exit strategy, and fast. Said Mr. Laird: "Getting out of a war is still dicier than getting into one, as George W. Bush can attest."

But President Bush, who never gave the country a legitimate reason for going to war, and has never offered a coherent strategy for winning the war, seems in no hurry to figure out a way to exit the war. Soon after the Pentagon confirmed on Tuesday that the American death toll in Iraq had reached 2,000, the president gave a speech in which he said: "This war will require more sacrifice, more time and more resolve. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead, nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight." Thousands upon thousands are suffering and dying in Iraq while, in Washington, incompetence continues its macabre marathon dance with incoherence.

War Cartoon: Counting The Cost, Steve Bell

Interview: "Silence is the greatest of all crimes": Peace Grandma, Rosemarie Jackowski, Mickey Z. (click)

I've been extremely fortunate to attract an amazing mix of visitors to my blog... a crew self-dubbed "The Expendables." The matriarch of the Expendables is one Rosemarie Jackowski, a 67-year-old grandmother/veteran/writer from Vermont currently facing jail time for participating in an anti-war demonstration in 2003. Her journey from flag-waver to rabble-rouser is a palpable source of inspiration and an excellent illustration of the motivating power of example. When, in a recent e-mail, I wrote to her: "you rock," this was Rosemarie's reply: "Hearing that from you has made my day. Those were the words that my daughter, Christine, said to me after I was arrested. They were very special words that day because she, not too long before, had married into a Republican-type family. She means the world to me and, at the time of my arrest, I was not 100% sure of her reaction." I recently interviewed Rosemarie via e-mail....

We're Reading: George Packer's "The Assassins' Gate: America In Iraq (FSG)


Thursday, October 27, 2005

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Inside Bush Watch: Today's Opinions and Features From Bush Watch Columnists,
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Opinion: Born To Lose: Kristof And The Dems, Andy Ostroy

To borrow from the wisdom of our great sage Donald Rumsfeld, you fight the enemy you have, not the enemy you want. In his column Tuesday, "Hurricane Fitzgerald Approaches the White House," NY Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof does the kind of over-intellectualizing and political cheek-turning that's symbolized the central weakness of the Democratic Party over the last several elections....

Haven't we yet learned that the GOP will go to any length, will do anything, and will attack anyone in order to win? Even after stolen elections, Swift Boat attack ads and PlameGate are we still unsure of the ruthless tactics our enemy employs to smear its rivals and win races? Does Kristof genuinely believe that taking the high road will cause the other side to do the same? Can he be that naive?

Opinion: Dick Cheney's "Sulfurous Strands," Maureen Dowd (excerpt)

The shocking thing about the trellis of revelations showing Dick Cheney, the self-styled Mr. Strong America, as the central figure in dark conspiracies to juice up a case for war and demonize those who tried to tell the public the truth is how unshocking it all is. It's exactly what we thought was going on, but we never thought we'd actually hear the lurid details: Cheney and Rummy, the two old compadres from the Nixon and Ford days, in a cabal running the country and the world into the ground, driven by their poisonous obsession with Iraq, while Junior is out of the loop, playing in the gym or on his mountain bike.

Mr. Cheney has been so well protected by his Praetorian guard all these years that it's been hard for the public to see his dastardly deeds and petty schemes. But now, because of Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation and candid talk from Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Wilkerson, he's been flushed out as the heart of darkness: all sulfurous strands lead back to the man W. aptly nicknamed Vice.

...Whether or not it turns out to be illegal, outing a C.I.A. agent - undercover or not - simply to undermine her husband's story is Rove-ishly sleazy. This no-leak administration was perfectly willing to leak to hurt anyone who got in its way....The Bush hawks presented themselves as protectors and exporters of American values. But they were so feverish about projecting the alternate reality they had constructed to link Saddam and Al Qaeda - and fulfilling their idée fixe about invading Iraq - they perverted American values.

Verse: Fitzmas Madness, Madeleine Begun Kane

I keep scanning the Net
For some news from Pat Fitz.
If he don't indict soon,
I may go on the fritz.

I can't bear the suspense.
I can't stand the delay.
We need Libby locked up,
And Karl Rove put away.

But don't stop with those guys.
Perp walk Cheney "big time."
Then impeach Georgie Bush.
Oh, wouldn't that be sublime?

Cause it ain't about sex,
But big lies and deep flaws.
Like Republicans say,
It's that damn "Rule of Law."    


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

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Inside Bush Watch: Today's Opinions and Features From Bush Watch Columnists,
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Opinion: Inside Patrick Fitzgerald's Diary, Bernard Weiner

This is like shooting fish in a barrel. Of course, I'd heard about the incompetence of this White House crew -- and the arrogance that makes them so sloppy in covering their tracks -- but despite their lies and amateurish attempts to conceal their involvement, their fingerprints are all over the place.

...Getting some of them to flip on their superiors and colleagues was fairly easy. I just let them have a whiff of what was in store for them unless they agreed to cooperate -- the possibility of long prison terms does concentrate the mind -- and, voila, first one and then another and then another eagerly took the bait. Even Rove and Libby, through the press, are playing "hot potato," trying to make sure the other guy is caught holding it. In short, it's the night of the long knives in the Bush Administration.

I've readied myself for the slime attack, but the fact that I'm a loyal Republican, appointed by the Bush Administration itself -- and giving me, in writing, full powers to follow the crime trail wherever it leads -- offers some protection. The initial Bush talking-points are really silly -- that I'm engaged in "criminalizing politics," or that I'm a "son of a doorman," as if that class-biased epithet is some sort of terrible slur, or that I've "run amok" and am going after this crew for minor violations of law, "technicalities" like perjury and obstruction of justice. If that's the best they can come up with, they are truly pathetic....This gang can't shoot straight, think straight, maybe even pee straight.

Opinion: "I am unable to explain the rise of George W. Bush," Paul Mulshine (excerpt)

Last week President Bush made a speech in which he announced a new, get-tough policy on illegal immigration....Now, that's news. There are at least 10 million people in this country illegally. After four years of ignoring the problem, Bush is finally going to do something about it....What accounts for the lack of news coverage on such a big story? I suspect it's simply that no one takes Bush seriously anymore. Is there a single, trusting soul out there who believes that a year from now there will be fewer illegal immigrants in the United States? Two years? Three?

As I sipped my suds and sat back on the sofa, I wondered if even Laura buys George's b.s. anymore. I already knew what he was going to say. He was going to spend the first two-thirds of the speech talking tough about the few minor improvements in border security embodied in the bill. Then he was going to make a pitch for an immigration amnesty. Better fences and more border- patrol agents are coming, Bush assured us. Then came the bait-and- switch: "Family values do not stop at the Rio Grande River," he said. Uh-oh. Family values. That's a code word for amnesty. Sure enough, what followed was the standard Bush pitch for his "guest- worker program."

So there was no news, just spin. In this case, Rove was lucky the media ignored the story. Any journalist who looked into it would have come across that fax sent to Rove last month by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith suggesting the strategy that emerged last week. "Enforcement of immigration laws, current and new, should come first to satisfy the increasing public demand for border security," wrote Smith, a Republican from San Antonio. "Liberals can easily and accurately be painted as opposing enforcement," Smith added. "Only then, as enforcement begins to gain traction, should the twin programs of guest workers and long-term illegal residents begin to be addressed."

That's the Bush/Rove era in a nutshell. As that era winds down to what seems an inevitable conclusion, conservatives have to ask themselves how they were ever fooled in the first place. How did a proponent of big government and internationalism manage to convince so many people he was a believer in small government and nationalism? I don't really know. I confess I am unable to explain the rise of George W. Bush.

Mini-Ed: The Rise Of George W. Bush Explained

Start with three Bush aides from Texas, called "The Iron Triangle," who firmly believe that winning is more important than telling the truth and politics is about marketing your corporate policies to a gullible public: Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, and Joe Allbaugh. Add a father who was the last President to control the Republican Party and its corporate backers. Take control, through meetings under the radar and coded promises, of the Christo-Right, a large slice of the nation that firmly belives that its vision of a U.S. theocracy is more important than the beliefs of our founding fathers.

Beat down your more moderate Republican opponents with racist slurs and lies by your footsoldiers. Make use of the corporate mainstream media for purposes of propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation. Control the voting results in key states through intimidition and abuse of voting procedures. Make use of the political codependence of the opposing party and its willingness to help the less fortunate. Wait for natural and man-made disasters in order to employ your previously-constructed fascist policies, which include calling those who disagree traitors to the country.

Reward those who back you with tax cuts and government contracts, punish those who disagree with you by cutting government aid, dismantleing/weakening beneficial programs, and creating massive deficits. Use the deficit as an excuse to screw those without power. Take power from the states and shift unfunded financial responsibilities to them. Reward both citizens and members of the media who support your aims and cut off access to those who don't, including public meetings. Everything described above should be employed with respect to foreign countries, but more forceful methods of changing behavior could be threatened or employed. Lie, lie, lie. --Jerry Politex, October 26, 2005

Quip: I'll be happy to give you innovative thinking, Mr. Bush. What are the guidelines?


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

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Editorial: Bush's Iraq War: Was It Worth It? Who Should Pay?

Frank Rich's op-ed in Sunday's New York Times, begins with a question:

"THERE were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no collaboration between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda on 9/11. There was scant Pentagon planning for securing the peace should bad stuff happen after America invaded. Why, exactly, did we go to war in Iraq?"

His answer: politicians Bush and Rove "wanted...slam-dunk midterm election victories" and neocon hawks Cheney, Libby, Wolfowitz, and Feith wanted " a war in Iraq for reasons predating 9/11....Abstract (and highly debatable) neocon notions of marching to Baghdad to make the Middle East safe for democracy (and more secure for Israel and uninterrupted oil production)."

Because it was determined that neither Bush-Rove's political goals nor the neocon hawks' mercenary and ideological goals could be sold to the American people as reasons for sacrificing the lives of Americans, Allies, and Iraqis, "fictional, more salable" reasons for going to war had to be manufactured and contradictory intelligence had to be "dismissed or suppressed." Hence, "bogus WMD intelligence," fictions about Saddam and 9/11, and meaningless connections between Saddam and Al Qaeda.

In order to make this political-mercenary-ideological distortion of reality work, the Bush Administration depended upon the political self-interest of members of Congress (see John Kerry and the Dems), the easily-manipulated mainstream media (see Judith Miller and the New York Times), and the gullibility of the American public (see war polls and Fox News). Rich concludes, any PlameGate "crime would seem a misdemeanor next to the fables that [Libby, Rove,] and their bosses fed the nation and the world as the whys for invading Iraq."

As columnist Chris Floyd writes elsewhere: "Even in the unlikely...event that the entire pack of jackals gets herded into the hoosegow for the agent-outing conspiracy, it will not bring back the innocent dead murdered at their command. It will not restore the shattered families writhing in the pits of grief and loss, from Baghdad to Burbank. It will not be recompense for the pointless sacrifice of soldiers and reservists sent on a criminal errand, plunged into a brutal and brutalizing hell -- for nothing, for a chimera, for ideological lunacy, for the enrichment of cats already so fat they can barely stand up and waddle to the dish for another slurp of cream." --Politex, Bush Watch, October 25, 2005

Opinion: Bush "Ideological Bag Of Tricks" Filled With "Lunatic" Ideas, Bob Herbert (excerpt)

Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, addressed the administration's arrogance and ineptitude in a talk last week that was astonishingly candid by Washington standards. "We have courted disaster in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran," said Mr. Wilkerson. "Generally, with regard to domestic crises like Katrina, Rita ... we haven't done very well on anything like that in a long time. And if something comes along that is truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence."

The investigation of Karl Rove, Scooter Libby et al. is the most sensational story coming out of Washington at the moment. But the story with the gravest implications for the U.S. and the world is the overall dysfunction of the Bush regime. This is a bomb going "Tick, tick, tick . . ." What is the next disaster that this crowd will be unprepared to cope with? Or the next lunatic idea that will spring from its ideological bag of tricks?

According to Mr. Wilkerson, "You've got this collegiality there between the secretary of defense and the vice president, and you've got a president who is not versed in international relations and not too much interested in them either." One of the consequences of this dysfunction, as I have noted many times, is the unending parade of dead or badly wounded men and women returning to the U.S. from the war in Iraq - a war that the administration foolishly launched but now does not know how to win or end.

Opinion: Stinky Inky: Jonah Goldberg And The Conservative Fog Machine, Walter C. Uhler

If you recall that [Jonah Goldberg] "entered the national stage when he listened to the Linda Tripp tapes with his mom," and, thus, "turned his 15 minutes of fame into a full-time job," [Inda Schaenen, "The Jester of Monicagate," Salon Media Circus, September, 1998] then you understand how this mediocrity learned to shift the terms of the debate. In his essay, "Dean pins new label on the faithful," Lucianne's boy plays "bait and switch." He starts with one limited-hang-out paragraph about the unprecedented scandals and crimes—notably those of Messrs. DeLay, Rove and Frist, but not Bush and Cheney—now rocking the world of the Republican Party.

Moreover, in that same paragraph, Lucianne's boy has the gall to lament the absence of public recognition and praise for Bush's "successes in Iraq." He seems to have forgotten that Bush's false "Mission Accomplished" came sandwiched between pre-invasion lies about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, its ties to al-Qaeda and its citizens' readiness to greet American soldiers with flowers—and a post-invasion occupation marked by incompetence, corruption, and widespread suffering, an ever resilient insurgency and the proliferation of jihadists and terrorist attacks, both in Iraq and around the world. Thus, we all need to remain skeptical about any allusions by conservatives to Bush's "successes."

GOP Words: ECONOMIC PROGRESS, n. 1. Recession; 2. Rising unemployment; 3. Minimum-wage freeze. (Terry McGarry, East Rockaway, New York)


Monday, October 24, 2005

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Opinion: Bush's Illusion Of Normality, Ernest Partridge

Never in the 229 years of United States history has this government “of, by and for the people” been in greater peril. Not during the Civil War, not during the great depression, and not during the Second World War or the Cold War which followed. Until today, gross incompetence, abuse of power, corruption, corporatocracy, and federal insolvency could be checked and reversed by balanced and separated governmental powers, and at the ballot box by a citizenry informed and provoked by an alert and independent media. Now all branches of government and the mainstream media are dominated by the wealthy elites in control of a single political party.

Can you believe this? If not, you are in the company of a majority of Americans who might respond to the above jeremiad with “Oh c’mon now, it can’t be as bad as all that! We’ve always had incompetence, corruption, waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government, and stolen elections are as old as the republic. It’s no different now.” So long as that majority of Americans believes this, the rule of the Busheviks and its successor oligarch regimes will be secure. Thus Bush, Inc. and its obedient mainstream media are desperately endeavoring to nourish and sustain this “illusion of normality.”

The illusion has many facets...

Opinion: Bush's Iraq War: Campaign Politics, Oil, Israel, And Empire, Frank Rich (excerpt)

As James Mann details in his definitive group biography of the Bush war cabinet, "Rise of the Vulcans," Mr. Libby had been joined at the hip with Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz since their service in the Defense Department of the Bush 41 administration, where they conceived the neoconservative manifesto for the buildup and exercise of unilateral American military power after the cold war. Well before Bush 43 took office, they had become fixated on Iraq, though for reasons having much to do with their ideas about realigning the states in the Middle East and little or nothing to do with the stateless terrorism of Al Qaeda. Mr. Bush had specifically disdained such interventionism when running against Al Gore, but he embraced the cause once in office. While others might have had cavils - American military commanders testified before Congress about their already overtaxed troops and equipment in March 2002 - the path was clear for a war in Iraq to serve as the political Viagra Mr. Rove needed for the election year.

But here, too, was an impediment: there had to be that "why" for the invasion, the very why that today can seem so elusive that [George] Packer [in his book, The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq"] calls Iraq "the 'Rashomon' of wars." Abstract (and highly debatable) neocon notions of marching to Baghdad to make the Middle East safe for democracy (and more secure for Israel and uninterrupted oil production) would never fly with American voters as a trigger for war or convince them that such a war was relevant to the fight against those who attacked us on 9/11. And though Americans knew Saddam was a despot and mass murderer, that in itself was also insufficient to ignite a popular groundswell for regime change. Polls in the summer of 2002 showed steadily declining support among Americans for going to war in Iraq, especially if we were to go it alone.

For Mr. Rove and Mr. Bush to get what they wanted most, slam-dunk midterm election victories, and for Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney to get what they wanted most, a war in Iraq for reasons predating 9/11, their real whys for going to war had to be replaced by fictional, more salable ones. We wouldn't be invading Iraq to further Rovian domestic politics or neocon ideology; we'd be doing so instead because there was a direct connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda and because Saddam was on the verge of attacking America with nuclear weapons. The facts and intelligence had to be fixed to create these whys; any contradictory evidence had to be dismissed or suppressed.

Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney were in the boiler room of the disinformation factory. The vice president's repetitive hyping of Saddam's nuclear ambitions in the summer and fall of 2002 as well as his persistence in advertising bogus Saddam-Qaeda ties were fed by the rogue intelligence operation set up in his own office. As we know from many journalistic accounts, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby built their "case" by often making an end run around the C.I.A., State Department intelligence and the Defense Intelligence Agency. Their ally in cherry-picking intelligence was a similar cadre of neocon zealots led by Douglas Feith at the Pentagon.

Tom Tomorrow Conservative Jones, Boy Detective


Sunday, October 23, 2005

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Opinion: PlameGate: The Fix Is In, Chris Floyd

Of course, we all know that the fix is in: If anyone in the White House is actually indicted and convicted for the high crime of exposing the identity of an undercover agent -- in wartime, no less -- they will certainly be pardoned when George W. Bush finally limps away from the steaming, stinking, blood-soaked ruin of his presidency. Nobody will do any hard time; in the end, the whole sick crew will simply pass through the golden revolving door into the lifetime gravy train of corporate grease and right-wing lecture-circuit glory.

Still, it is heartening to see the fever-sweat of fear popping out on the brows of these swaggering world-shakers, these third-rate goons and half-wit cranks posing as great statesmen, if only for a little while. Fear has always been their weapon of choice: They've used it to foment aggressive war, to crush political opposition, to manipulate the electorate and to mask their own incompetence, corruption and greed. Now they're getting a taste of it themselves -- and they can't take it....

But this schadenfruede, however tasty and effervescent, is no substitute for the strong meat of justice. And even in the unlikely -- not to say inconceivable -- event that the entire pack of jackals gets herded into the hoosegow for the agent-outing conspiracy, it will not bring back the innocent dead murdered at their command. It will not restore the shattered families writhing in the pits of grief and loss, from Baghdad to Burbank. It will not be recompense for the pointless sacrifice of soldiers and reservists sent on a criminal errand, plunged into a brutal and brutalizing hell -- for nothing, for a chimera, for ideological lunacy, for the enrichment of cats already so fat they can barely stand up and waddle to the dish for another slurp of cream.

Opinion: Juu-dy, Juu-dy, Juu-dy ! Maureen Dowd (excerpt)

[Judith Miller] never knew when to quit. That was her talent and her flaw. Sorely in need of a tight editorial leash, she was kept on no leash at all, and that has hurt [the New York Times] and its trust with readers. She more than earned her sobriquet "Miss Run Amok."...

Judy's stories about W.M.D. fit too perfectly with the White House's case for war. She was close to Ahmad Chalabi, the con man who was conning the neocons to knock out Saddam so he could get his hands on Iraq, and I worried that she was playing a leading role in the dangerous echo chamber that Senator Bob Graham, now retired, dubbed "incestuous amplification." Using Iraqi defectors and exiles, Mr. Chalabi planted bogus stories with Judy and other credulous journalists....Judy admitted...that she "got it totally wrong" about W.M.D. "If your sources are wrong," she said, "you are wrong." But investigative reporting is not stenography....

When Bill Keller became executive editor in the summer of 2003, he barred Judy from covering Iraq and W.M.D. issues. But he acknowledged in The Times's Sunday story about Judy's role in the Plame leak case that she had kept "drifting" back. Why did nobody stop this drift?... She casually revealed that she had agreed to identify her source, Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, as a "former Hill staffer" because he had once worked on Capitol Hill. The implication was that this bit of deception was a common practice for reporters. It isn't....

Judy told The Times that she plans to write a book and intends to return to the newsroom, hoping to cover "the same thing I've always covered - threats to our country." If that were to happen, the institution most in danger would be the [New York Times].

Sunday Funnies:

Need an Excuse? Use Hurricanes!, by Mark Fiore
Bush's Very Bad Idea, by Tom Tomorrow
Bush Running Out of Cronies to Appoint, The looming White House crisis by Ward Sutton

We're Watching: Turner Classic Movies' "Hitchcock Film Festival," Monday, Oct. 24 thru Sunday, Oct. 30.


Saturday, October, 22, 2005

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Opinion: New Republican Gag Rule On Non-Profits, Doug Ireland

OMB Watch has issued an urgent appeal about a new Republican gag rule restricting the ability of non-profit organizations to do voter registration or lobbying and advocacy for their constituencies . The bill is likely to be voted on by the House of Representatives next Wednesday, October 26. And a coalition of 60 national organizatons has sent a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert opposing the Gag Rule.

A provision to be introduced as a manager’s amendment to the Affordable Housing Fund (AHF) in the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act (H.R. 1461) would dramatically restrict nonprofit advocacy.  While it applies only to nonprofits seeking grants under a new Affordable Housing Fund (AHF), the provision sets a dangerous precedent that threatens the speech and association rights of all nonprofits.

Even non partisan activities are restricted under this Nonprofit Gag Provision, like voter registration. voter identification, and get-out-the vote activities. Also forbidden are: anything that “promotes,” “supports,” “attacks,” or “opposes” a candidate for federal office, which could be interpreted to include criticism of elected officials who may be seeking reelection, rebroadcast of any ads – public service announcements, grassroots issue advocacy, anything – that refer to federal candidates within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary except if the group is a 501(c)(3) organization it may lobby within permissible limits. Affiliation with any entity that engages in any of the above activities during the same time period -- 12 months before applying for a grant or during the grant period -- will also disqualify the group from receiving money from the AHF.

Big Bush Lies: What did Bush know and when did he know it?

What [did] Bush and Rove discuss in conversations beginning shortly after the Justice Department informed the White House in September 2003 that a criminal investigation had been launched into the leak of CIA agent Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak[?] An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News."He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."

Bush To A Reporter on October 7, 2003: Randy, you tell me, how many sources have you had that's leaked information that you've exposed or have been exposed? Probably none. I mean this town is a -- is a town full of people who like to leak information. And I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials. I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth. That's why I've instructed this staff of mine to cooperate fully with the investigators -- full disclosure, everything we know the investigators will find out. I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is -- partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers. But we'll find out."

If the DeFrank piece is accurate, it certainly seems likely that the president knew of Rove's complicity while he was saying these words. --Talking Points Memo, October 19, 2005

War: "According to press accounts, US forces have crossed the border into Syria"

War with Syria is already dangerously close. A series of clashes between US and Syrian troops have killed Syrians and, according to current and former US officials, raise the prospect that cross-border military operations may become a dangerous new front in the Iraq war. According to press accounts, US forces have crossed the border into Syria, sometimes by accident, sometimes deliberately. An October 1 meeting of top Bush officials in the White House considered “options,” including “special operations” against Syria. Bush administration officials are already laying the groundwork for attacks with the kinds of justifications they used to ensnare the U.S. in Iraq. --Common Dreams, October 21, 2005

Opinion: Beware The Wounded Bush Beast, Bernard Weiner (click)

Beware wounded beasts; when they feel trapped, they are liable to strike out in a desperate attempt at survival. As the Plamegate indictments approach; as Bush's popularity ratings continue to fall precipitously; as the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate, referendum or no referendum; as the true nature of Bush's unfeeling ideology toward ordinary people becames even more clear in the wake of the Katrina disaster; as the corruption and corporate thievery proceeds apace; as the DeLay and Frist and Abramoff scandals continue to ooze pus all over the GOP leadership -- as all these negatives continue to build pressure in the White House, one can anticipate a wide variety of major distractions and violent initiatives, both foreign and domestic.

War: Also, Wartime Will Help Elect Cheney, Guardian

For an embattled President Bush, combating the mullahs of Tehran may be a useful means of diverting attention from Iraq and reestablishing control of the Republican party prior to next year's congressional elections. From this perspective, even an escalating conflict would rally the nation behind a war president. As for the succession to President Bush, Bob Woodward has named Mr Cheney as a likely candidate, a step that would be easier in a wartime atmosphere. Mr Cheney would doubtless point out that US military spending, while huge compared to other nations, is at a far lower percentage of gross domestic product than during the Reagan years. With regard to Mr Blair's position, it would be helpful to know whether he has committed Britain to preventing an Iranian bomb "come what may" as he did with Iraq.

Letter: Not Very Likely, Christine Tomlinson

The Guardian opinion (above) is pretty depressing but I don't think the author's got it all scoped out. First, the idea that Cheney is the likely successor to Bush seems to be some sort of wet dream by Woodward. Second, I'm of the opinion that the country wouldn't be supportive of war with Iran, despite the hostages under Carter. Third, the U.S. is currently opening the Syrian front, and it seems to me that unless Bush is going to declare martial law and conscript most of the 18-40 population, the military would be sorely strapped trying to fight on two additional fronts besides Iraq and Afghanistan. The idea of an air assault on Iran is amusing. It could be launched, but unless the assault took out the Iranian citizenry, they'd be swarming across the border to Iraq, and the U.S. military would be faced with a ground war that they are simply ill-equipped to fight. In addition, there might well be a significant third front that bush would have to try and fight domestically.

We're Listening: Brad Mehldau's "Day Is Done," (Nonesuch)


Friday, October 21, 2005

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Quotes: New Orleans Disaster? Sorry, Mr. Brown's At Dinner, SMH

Federal Emergency Management Agency official [Marty Bahamonde,] who rode out Hurricane Katrina at the New Orleans Superdome has told a US Senate panel he was horrified at the agency's lack of action during the crisis and was haunted by the suffering he saw....Bahamonde expressed his frustration at being told by an aide that [FEMA head Michael] Brown, who was managing the storm response from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, needed [more] time to eat dinner because the city's restaurants had just reopened [and were busy].

At 11:20 a.m. Aug. 31, Bahamonde e-mailed Brown, "Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical . . . thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water . . . estimates are many will die within hours." At 2:27 p.m., however, Brown press secretary Sharon Worthy wrote colleagues to schedule an interview for Brown on MSNBC's Scarborough Country and to give him more time to eat dinner because Baton Rouge restaurants were getting busy: "He needs much more that 20 or 30 minutes." --Washington Post

"I just ate an MRE (meal ready to eat) and crapped in the hallway of the Superdome along with 30,000 other close friends so I understand her concern about busy restaurants," Bahamonde emailed a colleague from the Superdome.

Interview: Strike for Peace: An interview with Brian Bogart, Mickey Z. (click)

Activist Brian Bogart asked himself: "Our top industry has been the manufacture and sale of weapons-and we're a peace-loving nation?" Inspired by this paradox, Bogart created Strike for Peace...described on its website as an attempt "to highlight for everyone's sake the dominant role of the military industry in America's economy. We stand for a future of shared resources instead of a future of resource wars. The weapons we help the Pentagon develop in our schools will be used in such wars unless we step away from the microscope to see the macro view and change America's priority from war-industry profit to the Founding vision of prosperity for all."

"The action I'm taking is not about political parties," Brian declares. "It's about deadly priorities that have been ruining this country for 55 years and causing a world of suffering, even here at home, and even to our soldiers abroad." I interviewed Brian Bogart via e-mail:

Opinion: Four Strikes, Miers Should Be Way Out, Maureen Dowd (excerpt)

Harriet Miers shared a little secret about herself on her application to be an associate justice: "Earlier this year, I received notice that my dues for the District of Columbia bar were delinquent and as a result, my ability to practice law in D.C. had been suspended."...Weren't the Bush spinners making a case for her by reporting that she was really great at managing the paper flow when she was the president's staff secretary?

There was another odd, unfocused episode with the Republican senator Arlen Specter this week. He said that he and Ms. Miers had talked privately on Monday and that she had expressed support for two Supreme Court rulings that established a right to privacy and are viewed as the foundation for Roe v. Wade. Before Ms. Miers could even forget her bar dues again, the White House said that Senator Specter was mistaken, and Ms. Miers called to tell him so. Mr. Specter was willing to say he'd misunderstood, and will surely want to clear all this up in the hearings.But maybe he'll wind up sticking by his earlier statement: "She needs a crash course in constitutional law."

The White House gambits to soothe the wrath of the right and flesh out the views of Ms. Miers, in lieu of an actual judicial record, are creating more confusion. In order to sell her, officials had to expose her by sending her anti-abortion positions from 1989 to the Senate Judiciary Committee. She's on record as favoring one of the most restrictive positions on abortion: "actively" supporting a constitutional amendment to make abortion illegal except when the mother is actually about to die (never mind if her health might be severely impaired or she's a victim of rape or incest)....

Then when her draconian views on abortion came out, the White House immediately tried to assuage the left. The White House flack Scott McClellan turned on his fog machine, saying, "The role of a judge is very different from the role of a candidate or a political officeholder."...That's very interesting, since the president cited her constancy as one of her chief attractions, implying, to quell conservative worries, that she would not be another David Souter. "I know her well enough to be able to say that she's not going to change, that 20 years from now she'll be the same person with the same philosophy that she is today," W. said.

We're Reading: John R. Searle's "Mind, Language, And Society (Basic Books)


Thursday, October 20, 2005

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Opinion: Beware The Wounded Bush Beast, Bernard Weiner (click)

Beware wounded beasts; when they feel trapped, they are liable to strike out in a desperate attempt at survival. As the Plamegate indictments approach; as Bush's popularity ratings continue to fall precipitously; as the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate, referendum or no referendum; as the true nature of Bush's unfeeling ideology toward ordinary people becames even more clear in the wake of the Katrina disaster; as the corruption and corporate thievery proceeds apace; as the DeLay and Frist and Abramoff scandals continue to ooze pus all over the GOP leadership -- as all these negatives continue to build pressure in the White House, one can anticipate a wide variety of major distractions and violent initiatives, both foreign and domestic.

What might some of those be? In one effort to get the Plamegate indictments off the front page, we can anticipate that Saddam Hussein's show-trial in Iraq will dominate the front pages and TV-news broadcasts to tell us yet again what a monster dictator this guy was, thus leaving precious little space or airtime available for the White House's ethical and criminal problems. (Let's just stipulate: Saddam was one of the worst dictators ever, nobody mourns his loss from power -- and now let's get back to the real news.)

In addition, I would not be surprised if the U.S. or Mideast ally Israel took out Iran's nuclear power plants and research facilities. A massive bombing, with all the ramifications of such action in the Muslim world, would do wonders to divert attention. Likewise, ratcheting up the military pressure on Syria, after the U.S. recently started up hostilities along, and perhaps even beyond, the border with Iraq. Or, the Bush Administration may choose once again to look the other way when a major terrorist incident is about to happen inside the U.S.

Karl Rove's M.O. always has been: When in trouble, attack. Don't let the opposition even get close to defining the agenda and parameters of discussion. As Rove himself is about to be attacked, I would think he might have even more motivation to pull out all the survival stops and arrange for something drastic to become Topic#1, rather than permitting the American public to focus on the high crimes and misdemeanors of the Bush Administration before the judicial dock.

New War? "U.S. forces have invaded Syria," Dan Simpson (Member of the editorial boards of The [Toledo] Blade and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

AS I suspected six months ago, and U.S. military and Bush Administration civilian officials confirmed, U.S. forces have invaded Syria and engaged in combat with Syrian forces. An unknown number of Syrians are acknowledged to have been killed; the number of Americans - if any - who have died so far has not yet been revealed by the U.S. sources, who, by the way, insist on remaining faceless and nameless.

On the U.S. side, no declaration of war preceded the invasion of Syria, in spite of the requirements of the War Powers Act of 1973. There is no indication that Congress was involved in the decision to go in. If members were briefed, none of them has chosen to share that important information with the American people. Presumably, the Bush Administration's intention is simply to add any casualties of the Syrian conflict to those of the war in Iraq, which now stand at 1,970. The financial cost of expanding the war to Syria would also presumably be added to the cost of the Iraq war, now estimated at $201 billion.

Is there any advantage at all to the United States, or to Israel, in replicating Iraq in Syria? For that is what is at stake. Syria in its political, ethnic, and religious structure is very similar to Iraq. Iraq, prior to the U.S. bust-up, was ruled by a Sunni minority, with a Shiite majority and Kurdish and Christian minorities. Syria is ruled by an Alawite minority, with a Sunni majority and Kurdish and Christian minorities. That is the structure, not unlike many states in the Middle East, that the Bush Administration is in the process of hacking away at.

What needs to be done now is for the Congress, and through them, the American people, the United Nations, and America's allies, the ones who are left, to have the opportunity to express their thoughts on America's expanding the Iraq war to Syria. A decision to invade Syria is not a decision for Mr. Bush, heading a beleaguered administration, to make for us on his own. --Toledo Blade, October 19, 2005

U.S., France to Introduce U.N. Resolutions Against Syria
by Robin Wright
18 Oct 2005 at 10:00pm
The United States and France are planning to introduce two U.N. resolutions next week aimed at holding Syria to account for meddling in Lebanon and for its alleged links to the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, according to several sources close to the diplomacy.

High Noon for Syria
by David Ignatius
18 Oct 2005 at 10:00pm
An angry Bush administration...was actively exploring a policy of regime change several months ago. Bush was furious at Assad for not controlling the insurgents who are using Syria as a base for their attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, and the president pressed his national security team to explore whether there were good alternatives to Assad....But the administration pulled back from its regime-change enthusiasm in recent weeks, and officials now speak of the need for "policy" change. A big factor is the new director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, and his analysts at the National Intelligence Council. They have been warning Bush that if Assad is toppled, the result isn't likely to be better in terms of regional stability, and it could well be worse.

Opinion: Destroying The Middle Class, Paul Krugman (excerpt)

There was a time when the American economy offered lots of good jobs - jobs that didn't make workers rich but did give them middle-class incomes. The best of these good jobs were at America's great manufacturing companies.... But it has been a generation since most American workers could count on sharing in the nation's economic growth. America is a much richer country than it was 30 years ago, but since the early 1970's the hourly wage of the typical worker has barely kept up with inflation.

The contrast between rising national wealth and stagnant wages has become even more extreme lately. In 2004, which was touted both by the Bush administration and by Wall Street as a year in which the economy boomed, the median real income of full-time, year-round male workers fell more than 2 percent. Now the last vestiges of the era of plentiful good jobs are rapidly disappearing. Almost everywhere you look, corporations are squeezing wages and benefits, saying that they have no choice in the face of global competition....

What if neither [better worker] education nor health care [cuts by employers] is enough to end the wage squeeze? That's the possibility that makes free-trade liberals like me very nervous, because at that point protectionism enters the picture. When corporate executives say that they have to cut wages to meet foreign competition, workers have every right to ask why we don't cut the foreign competition instead. I hope we don't have to go there. But denial is not an option. America's working middle class has been eroding for a generation, and it may be about to wash away completely. Something must be done.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

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Opinion: Why Are We A Nation Of Sheep? Doug Soderstrom

Even more shameful [than Bush's attack upon freedom and democracy] is the fact that there are people who seem not to care that such things are taking place in our country; a rather ignorant crowd of jingoes more comfortable choosing to sit back pretending that everything will be just fine, a people with apparently little regard for the facts. As a behavioral scientist, I am grieved at what appears to be a near pandemic of disinterest in what is happening to our country.

Given the election of George Walker Bush as our president, our country made it quite clear that it is pleased to have as its president a scoundrel, a true terrorist, one more than willing to bully the rest of the world, as opposed to having chosen a real man, one that humanity might embrace as a man of true character (someone like Jimmy Carter), an individual committed to doing what is best for the world (rather than what is most profitable for those running the petrol, armament, pharmaceutical, and construction industries), one with a desire to do what must be done in order to create a more humane world, one of peace, justice, and love. Although we claim to be a Christian nation, having chosen George Walker Bush to be the leader of our nation is a scandal beyond belief, one that mocks the very name of one whose life embodies that which we have been said to believe.

However, now that I am well into my seventh decade of life and very near retirement, I have come to the conclusion that the world basically sucks, that there are few who seem to have the investigative courage to take a good hard look at things that, if discovered, would no doubt destroy one’s image of a land that can do no wrong, one that they believe has somehow received the eternal blessing of God. So I must ask: How is it that we have become such a mindless nation, a society populated by deadheads, folks who seem to have little desire to look beyond the thinly-veneered surface of life?

Opinion: Hey, Dems, Get Offa Your Cloud, Bob Herbert (excerpt)

While recent polls have shown growing disenchantment with President Bush and the G.O.P., there's no evidence that voters have suddenly become thrilled with the Democrats. A survey taken by the Pew Research Center showed an abysmal 32 percent approval rating for Democratic leaders in Congress. Another thing to keep in mind is that Congressional redistricting (anti-democratic in every sense of the word) has made it more difficult to oust incumbents. It would take a landslide of shocking proportions for the Democrats to win control of both houses of Congress next fall.

What the Democrats have to do is get off their schadenfreude cloud and start the hard work of crafting a message of hope that they can deliver convincingly to the electorate - not just in the Congressional elections next year, but in local elections all over the country and the presidential election of 2008. That is not happening at the moment. While Americans are turning increasingly against the war in Iraq, for example, the support for the war among major Democratic leaders seems nearly as staunch and as mindless as among Republicans. On that and other issues, Democrats are still agonizing over whether to say what they truly believe or try to present themselves as a somewhat lighter version of the G.O.P.

Democrats need to put together a serious proposal for withdrawal of American forces from Iraq over a reasonable (which means reasonably short) period of time, and couple that with a broader national security plan that focuses on Al Qaeda-type terrorism and domestic security.Democrats need to tell the country the truth about taxes, about the benefits of investing in the nation's physical infrastructure, about the essential need to bolster public education from kindergarten through college, and about the shared sacrifices that will be necessary if anything approaching energy independence is to be achieved.

Quotes: Supreme lie. Oh, THAT Roe v. Wade !

Monday, Oct. 17: Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers assured a Senate Democrat Monday that she's never told anyone how she would rule on abortion rights. "Nobody knows how I would rule on Roe v. Wade," Miers said, according to Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. --Knight Ridder

Tuesday, Oct. 18: As a candidate for a seat on the Dallas City Council [in 1989], Ms. Miers answered "yes" to the following question: "If Congress passes a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution that would prohibit abortion except when it was necessary to prevent the death of the mother, would you actively support its ratification by the Texas Legislature?"

Ms. Miers answered "yes" to all the organization's questions, including whether she would oppose the use of public money for abortion and whether she would use her influence to keep "pro-abortion" people off city health boards and commissions.

Ms. Miers also said she would refuse the endorsement of any organization that supported "abortion on demand," would use her influence as an elected official "to promote the pro-life cause," and would participate "in pro-life rallies and special events." NYT

Quip: FEMA here. No, we haven't had any substantiated reports of earthqua-a-a-a-a-a-a-kes.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

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Letters: How many years did W spend in high school? Is it true that he spent an extra year because his grades were so poor? --Harris

Corrected Text: No. Records indicate that Bush spent three years at Phillips Andover prep school prior to spending four years in college at Yale. Born July, 1946, Bush would have been age 6 in the fall of '52, allowing him to begin grade school at Sam Houston Elementary School in Midland, Texas. He began and finished the 7th grade at Midland's San Jacinto Middle School at the age of 13, and in the summer of '59 moved with his family to Houston. There, three of the four Bush boys (Marvin was too young), George, Jeb, and Neil, eventually were all enrolled in a private school, Kinkaid, where George spent two years (1959-1961), the last year being his ninth grade. Records show George spent three years at Phillips Andover (1961-1964) to prep for his four college years at Yale (1964-1968).

In "Barbara Bush: A Memoir" (Lisa Drew, 1994), George's mother recalls that Neil's Houston public school was giving him all A's, even in reading, when he couldn't read, "he didn't have a clue." Although she doesn't mention it, clues to the posssibility of a milder dyslexia in George were in evidence, according to later analyses. This may explain, as noted on our dyslexia page, Bush's difficulty with the English language, his tendency to limit concentration to short periods during his work days, his long weekends, and his lengthy vacations. When Neil's severe dyslexia was discovered and his Houston public school was poorly equipped to handle it, Mrs. Bush decided to place Neil and Jeb in Kinkaid with George, who had been in Kinkaid since the move to Houston.(p.55).

In "Fortunate Son" (Soft Skull, 2001), J.F. Hatfield echoes others who have noted that George was sometimes kept away from social activities while Barbara schooled her son with language flash cards (p.27). Both Hatfield and the Washington Post note George was admitted to Phillips Andover as a sophomore or "lower middler," and both state that he graduated as a Senior (p.30). English was his most difficult subject and he struggled to get through, earning a reputation as "the lip," a party man and a combination cheerleader-class leader. The Washington Post also quotes Bush as saying, "my math grades weren't all that good." When George told one of his teachers that he applied for admission to Yale, his teacher was incredulous. Perhaps he forgot Yale's policy at the time to allow a certain number of admissions each year based upon the Yale credentials of one's parents and grandparents. (more on Bush dyslexia) --Politex, October 18, 2005

Opinion: We Know The Answer To The Final Question, Nicholas Kristof (excerpt)

About 50 of the countries that support the International Criminal Court are unwilling or unable to give the U.S. the "bilateral immunity agreement" that Washington demands to prevent Americans from being prosecuted. Niger, for example, has determined that its Constitution does not allow it to grant the immunity agreement.

So the Bush administration is cutting off certain military aid and "economic support funds" to a couple of dozen of these governments, mostly in Latin America and Africa. The main result has been to undermine our friends and confirm every prejudice that people abroad have about Americans as schoolyard bullies....Frankly, the Bush administration's campaign to bully poor countries over the court is cultivating more ill will toward the U.S. than extremist madrassas ever could have.

It looks like the ideologues, in Congress and the Bush administration, who backed this legislation are already hurting America more than the International Criminal Court ever could. And aside from the damage to our own image and alliances, we're taking the children of countries like Niger hostage by threatening: Unless you give us an immunity agreement, those kids will die. Come on, President Bush! Is that really what your administration stands for?

GOP Words: STRICT CONSTRUCTIONIST, n. A judge with extremely conservative beliefs, who interprets laws in a manner that fits his/rarely-her own belief systems, while maintaining that this was the original intent of the law. (Floyd Doney, Athens, Ohio)


Monday, October 17, 2005

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Inside Bush Watch: Today's Opinions and Features From Bush Watch Columnists,
Excerpts From World Opinion
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Opinion: Disasters Happen, Then The Rich And Powerful Punish The Survivors, Chris Floyd

Humankind received yet another harsh message from its landlord last week. In the agony of Kashmir, in the laments of Guatemala, the planet once again laid down the hard truths of its brutal gospel: The earth doesn't love you. The earth doesn't need you. The earth doesn't know you are here....

Where the human factor shows most starkly is in the extent of unnecessary suffering in these unavoidable catastrophes. In Pakistan and Guatemala -- as in New Orleans -- the poor died in overwhelmingly greater proportions than the rich, who build their homes on higher, firmer ground. The rickety apartment blocks that collapsed in Islamabad caught no mine-owners or telecommunications entrepreneurs in their ruins. The poor drowned by the hundreds in low-rent Gulf Coast districts shorn of protection by ruthless commercial development, insufficient funding of levees and reclamation projects, and bipartisan, corruption-bloated political posturing, as The Washington Post shows in a devastating report.

And as in all disasters, those with political pull will benefit most from "reconstruction" aid. In Sri Lanka, poor villagers are being banned from re-settling on tsunami-hit beachfronts for "safety reasons" -- yet their land is being given to developers for five-star hotels, the Guardian reports. In New Orleans, the feasting on the dead by Bush cronies has grown so brazen that Washington has now been forced to re-bid some of the early pork payoffs, The New York Times reports. This is largely a show to allay public outrage, of course; billions more will remain safely stuffed in Bushist coffers.

At every turn, human greed compounds our suffering. The urge to eat each other alive for power and profit, to consign whole sections of the common human family to degradation and exposure is a cruel mimicry of the planetary indifference that shadows us all. Of course, the earth isn't human, it has no capacity for conscience and compassion -- but what's our excuse for cruelty?

Opinion: We Are The Victims Of The Bush WHIG "Conspiracy", Frank Rich (excerpt)

What matters most in [PlameGate] is not whether Mr. Rove and Lewis Libby engaged in a petty conspiracy to seek revenge on a whistle-blower, Joseph Wilson, by unmasking his wife, Valerie, a covert C.I.A. officer. What makes Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation compelling, whatever its outcome, is its illumination of a conspiracy that was not at all petty: the one that took us on false premises into a reckless and wasteful war in Iraq. That conspiracy was instigated by Mr. Rove's boss, George W. Bush, and Mr. Libby's boss, Dick Cheney....

Very little has been written about the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG. Its inception in August 2002, seven months before the invasion of Iraq, was never announced. Only much later would a newspaper article or two mention it in passing, reporting that it had been set up by Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff. Its eight members included Mr. Rove, Mr. Libby, Condoleezza Rice and the spinmeisters Karen Hughes and Mary Matalin. Its mission: to market a war in Iraq.

Of course, the official Bush history would have us believe that in August 2002 no decision had yet been made on that war. Dates bracketing the formation of WHIG tell us otherwise. On July 23, 2002 - a week or two before WHIG first convened in earnest - a British official told his peers, as recorded in the now famous Downing Street memo, that the Bush administration was ensuring that "the intelligence and facts" about Iraq's W.M.D.'s "were being fixed around the policy" of going to war. And on Sept. 6, 2002 - just a few weeks after WHIG first convened - Mr. Card alluded to his group's existence by telling Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times that there was a plan afoot to sell a war against Saddam Hussein: "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."

As we learn in "Bush's Brain," bad things (usually character assassination) often happen to Bush foes, whether Ann Richards or John McCain. On such occasions, Mr. Bush stays compassionately above the fray while the ruthless Mr. Rove operates below the radar, always separated by "a layer of operatives" from any ill behavior that might implicate him....THIS modus operandi was foolproof, shielding the president as well as Mr. Rove from culpability, as long as it was about winning an election. The attack on Mr. Wilson, by contrast, has left them and the Cheney-Libby tag team vulnerable because it's about something far bigger: protecting the lies that took the country into what the Reagan administration National Security Agency director, Lt. Gen. William Odom, recently called "the greatest strategic disaster in United States history."

Whether or not Mr. Fitzgerald uncovers an indictable crime, there is once again a victim, but that victim is not Mr. or Mrs. Wilson; it's the nation.

Tom Tomorrow Continuing Bush's Very Bad Idea Is A Very Bad Idea


Sunday, October 16, 2005

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Opinion: Torture Of Prisoners SOP For Home Of Brave, Mickey Z

As news of a prisoner hunger strike finally beging to trickle out from Guantanamo, rest assured any wrongdoing will be pinned on a few bad apples. However, even a cursory glance at U.S. treatment of enemies captured during military interventions will demonstrate that the goings-on at Gitmo (or Abu Ghraib for that matter) are standard operating procedure for the home of the brave.

During the Second World War, for example, it required a mouthpiece none other than prominent racist Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. to expose American tactics in the Pacific. His sentiments are summed up in the following journal entry:

"It was freely admitted that some of our soldiers tortured Jap prisoners and were as cruel and barbaric at times as the Japs themselves. Our men think nothing of shooting a Japanese prisoner or a soldier attempting to surrender. They treat the Jap with less respect than they would give to an animal, and these acts are condoned by almost everyone. We claim to be fighting for civilization, but the more I see of this war in the Pacific the less right I think we have to claim to be civilized."

Opinion: Bush "Silly Ideological Jag" Weakens America, Thomas Friedman (excerpt)

...Many U.S. manufacturers are moving abroad - not just to find lower wages, but to find smarter workers, better infrastructure and cheaper health care. [In] Germany, 36 percent of undergrads receive degrees in science and engineering; in China, 59 percent; in Japan, 66 percent; and in America, only 32 percent....Japanese on bullet trains can get access to the Internet with cellphones, and Americans get their cellphone service interrupted five minutes from home. U.S. 12th graders recently performed below the international average for 21 countries in math and science....In recent years, U.S. industry appears to have spent more on lawsuits than on R.&D....The world is racing us to the top, not the bottom, and...we are quietly falling behind.

Because of globalization, [a senator-requested bipartisan study group] report [with proposals] begins, U.S. "workers in virtually every sector must now face competitors who live just a mouse-click away in Ireland, Finland, India or dozens of other nations whose economies are growing. ... Having reviewed the trends in the United States and abroad, the committee is deeply concerned that the scientific and technical building blocks of our economic leadership are eroding at a time when many other nations are gathering strength. ... We are worried about the future prosperity of the United States. ... We fear the abruptness with which a lead in science and technology can be lost and the difficulty of recovering a lead once lost - if indeed it can be regained at all."...

These proposals are the new New Deal urgently called for by our times. This is where President Bush should have focused his second term, instead of squandering it on a silly, ideological jag called Social Security privatization. Because, as this report concludes, "Without a renewed effort to bolster the foundations of our competitiveness, we can expect to lose our privileged position."

Sunday Funnies:

What's a Commander-in-Chief to Do?, by Mark Fiore
It's Obviously a Partisan Witch Hunt!, by Tom Tomorrow
Sutton's Darfur S.O.S.: Send Brad and Angelina, by Ward Sutton

We're Watching: Takashi Miike's "The Bird People In China" (Arts Magic)


Saturday, October, 15, 2005

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Mini-Ed: Dead Rules For Opposing Judicial Nominations, Jerry Politex

Republicans from moderates like David Brooks through right wingers such as Trent Lott and George Wills and neocons such as William Kristol to far right wingnuts such as Robert Bork have gone on record opposing Bush's Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers. Thus, the following typical "rules" Republicans have used to defend other presidential judicial nominees and kill Democratic opposition are now hypocritical and forever dead:

1. One shouldn't prevent the President from having the judges he wants, because the American people have given him that right.

2. The nominees shouldn't have a judicial record that Democrats could attack, and if they do, it should not be made public nor be closely questioned.

3. There should not be a litmas test for judicial nominees.

4. Judicial nominees should not be considered on the basis of their position along the liberal-conservative spectrum.

5. Knowledge about the nominees' political position is irrelevant, since they may change after being sworn in.

6. Any more dead rules? Please send them in. --Politex, October 15, 2005

Opinion: Mainstream Media Whores Helped Bush Beat Gore, Paul Krugman (excerpt)

Many people in the news media do claim, at least implicitly, to be experts at discerning character - and their judgments play a large, sometimes decisive role in our political life. The 2000 election would have ended in a chad-proof victory for Al Gore if many reporters hadn't taken a dislike to Mr. Gore, while portraying Mr. Bush as an honest, likable guy. The 2004 election was largely decided by the image of Mr. Bush as a strong, effective leader. So it's important to ask why those judgments are often so wrong....

A large part of the answer is that the news business places great weight on "up close and personal" interviews with important people, largely because they're hard to get but also because they play well with the public. But such interviews are rarely revealing. The fact is that most people - myself included - are pretty bad at using personal impressions to judge character....

[It's] all too easy for coverage to be shaped by what reporters feel they can safely say, rather than what they actually think or know. Now that Mr. Bush's approval ratings are in the 30's, we're hearing about his coldness and bad temper, about how aides are afraid to tell him bad news. Does anyone think that journalists have only just discovered these personal characteristics? Let's be frank: the Bush administration has made brilliant use of journalistic careerism. Those who wrote puff pieces about Mr. Bush and those around him have been rewarded with career-boosting access. Those who raised questions about his character found themselves under personal attack from the administration's proxies. (Yes, I'm speaking in part from experience.) Only now, with Mr. Bush in desperate trouble, has the structure of rewards shifted.

We're Listening: John Scofield's, "That's What I Say: Plays The Music Of Ray Charles" (Verve)

Report: Pentagon Uses Collection Agencies To Get Money From Wounded Troops, WP

His hand had been blown off in Iraq, his body pierced by shrapnel. He could not walk. Robert Loria was flown home for a long recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he tried to bear up against intense physical pain and reimagine his life's possibilities. The last thing on his mind, he said, was whether the Army had correctly adjusted his pay rate -- downgrading it because he was out of the war zone -- or whether his combat gear had been accounted for properly: his Kevlar helmet, his suspenders, his rucksack.

But nine months after Loria was wounded, the Army garnished his wages and then, as he prepared to leave the service, hit him with a $6,200 debt. That was just before last Christmas, and several lawmakers scrambled to help. This spring, a collection agency started calling. He owed another $646 for military housing. "I was shocked," recalled Loria, now 28 and medically retired from the Army. "After everything that went on, they still had the nerve to ask me for money."

Although Loria's problems may be striking on their own, the Army has recently identified 331 other soldiers who have been hit with military debt after being wounded at war....Although efforts are being made to correct such problems, Rep. Todd R. Platts (R-Pa.) said that for some troops, "we've so mismanaged their pay that . . . we've sent debt notices while they're still in combat, in harm's way." Hounding wounded troops is unfathomable, he said. "For even a single soldier, this is unacceptable," he said.

Report: Pay No Attention To The Woman Behind The Curtain:
Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged, Rehersed, ABC/AP

It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new Iraqi constitution. "This is an important time," Allison Barber, deputy assistant defense secretary, said, coaching the soldiers before Bush arrived. "The president is looking forward to having just a conversation with you."...A brief rehearsal ensued. [The ABC-TV story this evening had Barber reading questions to individual soldiers, then showed Bush asking them the same rehersed questions minutes later. We plan to have the video on this page. --Politex]

The president told them twice that the American people were behind them. "You've got tremendous support here at home," Bush said. Less than 40 percent in an AP-Ipsos poll taken in October said they approved of the way Bush was handling Iraq. Just over half of the public now say the Iraq war was a mistake. The soldiers all gave Bush an upbeat view of the situation. The president also got praise from the Iraqi soldier who was part of the chat. "Thank you very much for everything," he gushed. "I like you."

Paul Rieckhoff, director of the New York-based Operation Truth, an advocacy group for U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, denounced the event as a "carefully scripted publicity stunt." Five of the 10 U.S. troops involved were officers, he said. If [Bush] wants the real opinions of the troops, he can't do it in a nationally televised teleconference," Rieckhoff said. "He needs to be talking to the boots on the ground and that's not a bunch of captains." September 13, 2005


Friday, October 14, 2005

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Opinion: The Bush Strategy of Mixing Politics and Terror, Andy Ostroy

Ever since the horrific Al Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 the Bush administration has used terror as a political weapon to reinforce Bush's role as the critical wartime leader. They've also seemingly used terror alerts to call attention away from Democrats' momentum as well as any GOP bad press. In fact, had the Bushies not duped half of America into obsessing over another potential attack we likely would have President Kerry in the White House instead of unCurious George.

As irresponsible and reprehensible as it would be, is it really possible that there's been a systematic effort to pull a bait and switch every time the Bushies feel some sort of political heat? Prompted by last week's heightened alert for the NYC subway system, which has been purported now to have been a hoax, one journalist decided to run a parallel analysis of the other terror alerts against the political turmoil the Bushies have faced since 9-11. What he found is both frightening and infuriating: that this increasingly corrupt administration may have breached national security for purely political purposes.

Opinion: Screwing The Poor, Big Time, Bob Herbert (excerpt)

[Bush went] on national television from the French Quarter of the stricken city of New Orleans and promised "bold action."...As the president spoke, it never occurred to me that anyone would buy into the notion that Mr. Bush and his supporters would actually do something about poverty and racism.

Bush is the standard-bearer par excellence of his party's efforts to redistribute the bounty of the U.S. from the bottom up, not the other way around. This is no longer a matter of dispute. Mr. Bush may not be the greatest commander in chief. And he may not be adept at sidestepping the land mines of language. ("I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here.") But if there's one thing the president has been good at, it has been funneling money to the rich. The suffering wrought by Katrina hasn't changed that at all.

Poverty has steadily increased under President Bush, even as breathtaking riches (think tax cuts, cronyism, war profiteering, you name it) have been heaped upon those who were already wealthy. Class divisions are hardening, and economic inequality continues to increase dramatically....In the end, much of the money to help lower-income victims of the recent storms will most likely be siphoned from existing, badly needed and already underfunded programs to help the poor and near-poor. A real effort to fight poverty and combat discrimination? From this regime? You must be joking.

Big Bush Lie: Miers And Bush: Who's The Top? Salon

When George W. Bush was asked...about the credentials of his Supreme Court nominee, he did his best to deflect concerns that Harriet Miers' highest qualification may be her loyalty to the president himself. "She's plenty bright," Bush insisted. Then he said that Miers was "consistently rated as one of the top 50 women lawyers in the United States -- not just one year, but consistently rated that way -- and as one of the top 100 lawyers."

But there's a circular sort of logic in Bush's claim about Miers' rankings. When Bush referred to the "top 50" and "top 100" rankings, he seemed to have in mind the National Law Journal's occasional listings of the nation's "most influential" lawyers. Miers appears to have made the magazine's 100 most influential lawyers list in 1997 and 2000 and its 50 most influential women lawyers list in 1998.

...Why did the National Law Journal consider Miers to be so "influential"? If the NLJ items posted at the pro-Miers site JusticeMiers.com are any indication, it wasn't because she had a keen legal mind or some other qualification for the Supreme Court. It was, in large part, because she was so well connected, even then, to somebody named George W. Bush.

We're Reading: John Crawford's "The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier's Account Of The War In Iraq," (Riverhead)


Thursday, October 13, 2005

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Opinion: Corporations are The Problem, John H. St.John

No one owns a corporation. It was made that way to avoid the liability that is inherent in ownership. A common stockholder is not an owner, he is an investor. The CEO is an employee hired by the board of directors to take the heat for any decisions that would ordinarily be suffered by an owner. He is responsible for the infamous bottom line, and while he might be perfectly normal at home, he must be a sociopath while on the job. As a legal person, the corporation retains the animal instinct for survival without any human weakness, like having a love for one's fellow man. Humans fear and hate war, if they are normal, but war has become a necessity to the survival of the corporations.

If we work for a corporation we seek to advance within the organization and give credit to the company for all of the benefits enjoyed. If we are consumers we are delighted with the many products available to us at the mall. If we are politicians we depend upon the corporations to finance our campaigns. That is why it is almost unthinkable for us to consider living in a world without them. Nevertheless corporations have to go. Business has to be conducted by individuals and organizations that have owners. The obvious solution is for the corporation to become owned by the people who form the body of the machine. This could be done in a number of ways, one of them is The Take, an Argentine invention. Another is for the government to punish a criminal act of a corporation by taking it over and making it into a cooperative.

Opinion: How Bush Is Killing America, Zbigniew Brzezinski

The budgets for the departments of Defense and Homeland Security are now larger than the total budget of any nation, and they are likely to continue escalating as budget and trade deficits transform America into the world's No. 1 debtor nation. At the same time, the direct and indirect costs of the war in Iraq are mounting, even beyond the pessimistic prognoses of its early opponents, making a mockery of the administration's initial predictions. Every dollar so committed is a dollar not spent on investment, on scientific innovation or on education, all fundamentally relevant to America's long-term economic primacy in a highly competitive world. It should be a source of special concern for thoughtful Americans that even nations known for their traditional affection for America have become openly critical of U.S. policy. As a result, large swathes of the world — including nations in East Asia, Europe and Latin America — have been quietly exploring ways of shaping regional associations tied less to the notions of transpacific, or transatlantic, or hemispheric cooperation with the United States. Geopolitical alienation from America could become a lasting and menacing reality.

That trend would especially benefit America's historic ill-wishers and future rivals. Sitting on the sidelines and sneering at America's ineptitude are Russia and China — Russia, because it is delighted to see Muslim hostility diverted from itself toward America, despite its own crimes in Afghanistan and Chechnya, and is eager to entice America into an anti-Islamic alliance; China, because it patiently follows the advice of its ancient strategic guru, Sun Tzu, who taught that the best way to win is to let your rival defeat himself. In a very real sense, during the last four years the Bush team has dangerously undercut America's seemingly secure perch on top of the global totem pole by transforming a manageable, though serious, challenge largely of regional origin into an international debacle. Because America is extraordinarily powerful and rich, it can afford, for a while longer, a policy articulated with rhetorical excess and pursued with historical blindness. But in the process, America is likely to become isolated in a hostile world, increasingly vulnerable to terrorist acts and less and less able to exercise constructive global influence. Flailing away with a stick at a hornets' nest while loudly proclaiming "I will stay the course" is an exercise in catastrophic leadership.

Verse: Harriet's Song: Bush Is the Sunshine Of My Life, Madeleine Begun Kane

You are the best Prez in the land.
That’s why I always shall be loyal.
You are the smartest living man.
I just can't wait to join the Court.

I feel reborn each time you're winning,
Cause I’ve loved you for a million years.
And if I thought your reign was ending,
I’d find myself buried in briefs and tears.

You are the best Prez we have had.
That’s why I'm blessed to be your friend.
Your twins have such a way cool dad.
I just can't wait to join the Court.

You surely know I'll do your bidding.
And I will come to your rescue.
Cause when I've joined those Sup Court heathens,
I'll make sure the law matches all your views.

You make me feel like a young girl.
That's why I'll always stand your ground.
You are the best Prez in the world.
And I can't wait to join your Court.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

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Opinion: Honoring Our Journalistic Heroes, Bernard Weiner

Despite the overwhelming pro-Bush fawning of the corporate media, radio talk-shows, newspapers, broadcast networks, cable TV "news" shows and pundits, a relative handful of writers remain willing to speak truth to power in the mainstream outlets. Their courage and perspicacity shine like beacons in an otherwise dark world of pseudo-journalism in the current era, even when their own editorial pages cave regularly to Bush&Co.

The columnist Honor Roll includes: Paul Krugman, Bob Herbert, Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd, for example, at the New York Times; E.J. Dionne Jr., Eugene Robinson, Harold Meyerson, Dan Froomkin, at the Washington Post; Tom Oliphant, Robert Kuttner, James Carroll and Derrick Z. Jackson at the Boston Globe; Seymour Hersh and Hendrick Hertzberg at The New Yorker; Robert Scheer at the Los Angeles Times; Jay Bookman and Cynthia Tucker at the Atlanta Constitution-Journal; Marie Coco at Newsday; Jon Carroll, Mark Morford and David Lazarus at the San Francisco Chronicle; Joe Conason of the New York Observer; Robyn Blumner of the St. Petersburg Times; Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay at Knight Ridder; the incomparable Molly Ivins in syndicated release, the irrespressible veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas and a few others. Plus, on the broadcast waves, Air America, a few lonely liberal radio talk-show hosts around the country, plus Keith Olbermann, virtually the lone cable-TV pundit willing to ask penetrating questions about Bush policy.

Here are some of the leading progressive websites that deserve our plaudits for fighting the good patriotic fight for so long: AmericanPolitics.com, AlterNet.org, AntiWar.com, BushWatch.com, BuzzFlash.com, CommonDreams.org, Consortium News.com, CounterPunch.org, CrisisPapers.org, DemocraticUnderground.com, Democrats.com, DemocracyNow.org, HuffingtonPost.com, Independent-Media.TV, JuanCole.com, MakeThemAccountable.com, MediaMatters.org, MotherJones.com, OnlineJournal.com, OpEdNews.com, OldAmericanCentury.org, Salon.com, Scoop.co.nz, SmirkingChimp.com, TheAmericanProspect.org, TheNation.com, Progressive.org, TomPaine.com, Truthout.com, WorkingforChange.org, ZNet.org, et al. (click on title for more)

Opinion: Tortured Soul Bush Wants To Torture Others, Bob Herbert (excerpt)

Last Wednesday, Senator McCain rose on the Senate floor and said: "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, states simply that 'No one shall be subject to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.' The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the U.S. is a signatory, states the same. The binding Convention Against Torture, negotiated by the Reagan administration and ratified by the Senate, prohibits cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

"On last year's [Department of Defense] authorization bill, the Senate passed a bipartisan amendment reaffirming that no detainee in U.S. custody can be subject to torture or cruel treatment, as the U.S. has long defined those terms. All of this seems to be common sense, in accordance with longstanding American values. But since last year's [defense] bill, a strange legal determination was made that the prohibition in the Convention Against Torture against cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment does not legally apply to foreigners held outside the U.S. They can, apparently, be treated inhumanely. This is the [Bush] administration's position, even though Judge Abe Sofaer, who negotiated the Convention Against Torture for President Reagan, said in a recent letter that the Reagan administration never intended the prohibition against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment to apply only on U.S. soil."

The McCain amendment would end the confusion and the perverse hunt for loopholes in the laws that could somehow be interpreted as allowing the sadistic treatment of human beings in U.S. custody....The president, who has trouble getting anything right, is trying to block this effort to outlaw the abusive treatment of prisoners.

Quip: Mr. Bush's nominee couldn't be with us today, but to keep in the spirit of things, let's look at a few scenes from "The Shawshank Redemption."


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

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Opinion: The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Miers, Herself, Chris Floyd

Miers, who has zero experience as a judge, is cut from the same cloth [as Roberts]. Bush first hired her to dig into his own past and bury the skeletons she found there as he limbered up for his presidential run in the 1990s, The Associated Press reports. Miers delivered the goods, brokering a convoluted $23 million payoff to former Texas Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes and his business partner. Barnes said he'd used political pull to get young war-coward Georgie into the National Guard back during Vietnam, The Washington Post reports. With payoff in hand, the whistleblower's memory suddenly got all fuzzy. Miers was also key in wangling Bush out of a jury duty assignment: The standard jury questionnaire would have revealed the drunk driving conviction that Bush had hidden for over 20 years, the Philadelphia Daily News reports. (Yes, Bush is the first convicted criminal ever elected -- or in this case, selected -- president.)

Miers, an ex-Catholic turned hardcore Protestant evangelical, has broader experience, of course. She was the managing partner of a high-powered Texas law firm that, under her gentle Christian guidance, paid out more than $30 million in two separate cases of helping corporate clients defraud their investors, The Huffington Post reports. At the firm, Miers also walked in Our Saviour's footsteps by specializing in union-busting and gutting worker safety protections. As the firm's prospectus proudly noted: "We defend [safety and injury] claims of any type, including multiple death cases." If you accidentally fed a few of your coolies into the company wood-chipper, no worries: Holy Harriet and her crew would have your back.

After [that], Miers moved to the White House, where, as the Los Angeles Times reports, she became Bush's chief gatekeeper for his most important briefings... that somehow lulled the entire Bush team into a deep sleep until Sept. 11. According to Republican Party chairman Ken Mehlman, Miers then became "heavily involved in the War on Terror" that followed the attacks....He said Miers believes that neither the courts nor Congress should "micromanage" the Terror War, i.e., put fetters on the unrestrained powers of the commander-in-chief to kill, incarcerate and torture whom he sees fit....In fact, as White House counsel, Miers "provided the president with guidance on the legal parameters" for the War on Terror, Mehlman said. In other words, Miers helped draw up the "justifications" for torture, rendition and war which she will now be ruling upon at the Supreme Court. Oh, there'll be a hot time in the old gulag when Harriet joins Jughead Roberts on the bench!

Opinion: Bush Will Do "Whatever It Takes" To Avoid Funding Katrina Reconstruction, Paul Krugman (excerpt)

...Bush already has a record of trying to renege on pledges to a stricken city. After 9/11 he made big promises to New York. But as soon as his bullhorn moment was past, officials began trying to wriggle out of his pledge. By early 2002 his budget director was accusing New York's elected representatives, who wanted to know what had happened to the promised aid, of engaging in a "money-grubbing game." It's not clear how much federal help the city has actually received. With that precedent in mind, consider this: Congress has just gone on recess. By the time it returns, seven weeks will have passed since the levees broke. And the administration has spent much of that time blocking efforts to aid Katrina's victims.

I'm not sure why the news media haven't made more of the White House role in stalling a bipartisan bill that would have extended Medicaid coverage to all low-income hurricane victims - some of whom, according to surveys, can't afford needed medicine. The White House has also insisted that disaster loans to local governments, many of which no longer have a tax base, be made with the cruel and unusual provision that these loans cannot be forgiven. Since the administration is already nickel-and-diming Katrina's victims, it's a good bet that it will do the same with reconstruction - that is, if reconstruction ever gets started....There are no visible signs that the administration has even begun developing a plan. No reconstruction czar has been appointed; no commission has been named. There have been no public hearings. And as far as we can tell, nobody is in charge.

...I've been reading "Off Center," an important new book by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, political scientists at Yale and Berkeley respectively. Their goal is to explain how Republicans, who face a generally moderate electorate and have won recent national elections by "the slimmest of margins," have nonetheless been able to advance a radical rightist agenda. One of their "new rules for radicals" is "Don't just do something, stand there." Frontal assaults on popular government programs tend to fail, as Mr. Bush learned in his hapless attempt to sell Social Security privatization. But as Mr. Hacker and Mr. Pierson point out, "sometimes decisions not to act can be a powerful means of reshaping the role of government." For example, the public strongly supports a higher minimum wage, but conservatives have nonetheless managed to cut that wage in real terms by not raising it in the face of inflation.

Opinion: Bush Bird Flue Czar Another Unqualified Crony

[Stewart Simonson is the Assistant Scretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness (ASPHEP) at the Department of Human Health and Services.] Like Michael Brown at FEMA, Simonson is a lawyer who was close to a political benefactor. Simonson graduated from the University of Wisconsin law school in 1994 and served as legal counsel to Tommy Thompson while he was governor of Wisconsin from 1995 to 1999. Simonson then followed Thompson to Washington when the governor was appointed as head of HHS. Simonson’s bio at HHS states that “from 2001-2003, he was the HHS Deputy General Counsel and provided legal advice and counsel to the Secretary on public health preparedness matters. Prior to joining HHS, Simonson served as corporate secretary and counsel for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK).”

Congressman Henry Waxman has recently pointed to Simonson as an example where Bush has “repeatedly appointed inexperienced individuals with political connections to important government posts, including positions with key responsibilities for public health and safety.”

Last spring, Simonson came under fire from several Republican senators as well. Idaho Senator Larry Craig, during a Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing in April questioned the acquisition process for influenza vaccine: Noting that the flu can be lethal to some populations such as the elderly, Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, said the country was unprepared to deal with a possible flu pandemic. Simonson . . . stopped short of agreeing with Craig’s assessment, but said “it would pose an enormous challenge.”

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Gregg also questioned if the process used by Simonson’s office to award vaccine development contracts ensured open competition and delivery to prevent a vaccine shortfall. “Are we creating the same situation with anthrax?” Gregg asked, referring to the flu vaccine shortfall last winter. Although Simonson said the different agreements show that they are “seeking not to put all our eggs in one basket,” he added that he remains unsure if the contract award process is being done right. “We’re learning as we go,” he said.

[At DHHS Simonson replaced a genuine expert, Jerome Hauer, who had served as Director of Emergency Management for New York City. And Hauer doesn't think that much of him:...Hauer faulted the current management at the ASPHEP Office, including acting secretary Stewart Simonson, for not being better prepared to handle its duties. He called for the creation of a new federal office to coordinate U.S. biodefense activities. Effect Measure]

The bottom line is that there is a risk of a [bird] flu pandemic that could kill millions of people worldwide if it is able to jump from human to human. Hurricane Katrina amply demonstrated what happens when underqualified yet well-connected lawyers are in charge. Transparent Grid

GOP Words: OBSTRUCTIONIST, n. Any elected representative who dares to question Republican radicals on the issue of the day. (Terry Levine, Toronto, Ontario)


Monday, October 10, 2005

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Opinion: All Our Dead Children, Walter Brasch

    Laura Bush was at the Colonial Fire Hall in Hamilton, N.J., telling about 700 pre-selected ticket-holding Bush faithful why they needed to vote for her husband. The First Lady went through the usual litany of what she believed were her husband’s accomplishments, frequently invoking the memory of 9/11. And then she told the crowd why the nation needed to support her husband’s war. “It’s for our country, it’s for our children and our grandchildren, that we do the hard work of confronting terror and promoting democracy,” said the First Lady.

        That’s when Sue Niederer, a 55-year-old teacher and Realtor, standing at the back of the hall, just couldn’t take it any more. “If the Iraq war is so necessary,” she called out, “why don’t your children serve?” That’s when the Secret Service came by, when Republican volunteers pushed and shoved her, and raised Bush campaign signs around her to block her from talking and to prevent the media from turning their cameras to her. A few in the crowd had tried to come to her defense, one person shouting out, “She has a right to speak. She’s a mother.” But, the “right to speak” was drowned out, as were Niederer’s own comments, by the partisan chant, “Four More Years! Four more years!”—just in case Niederer or anyone else had anything to say that the crowd thought might be high treason.

    Until she spoke out, exercising what she believed were her First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, most had not seen her shirt. Shortly before she spoke out, she put on a T-shirt with a picture of her 24-year-old son, and the words, “President Bush, You Killed My Son.” Her son was Second Lt. Seth Dvorin, of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division. He was wounded in November 2003 from a roadside bomb; on Feb. 3, 2004, he was killed in Iraq by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), sometimes known as booby-traps and land mines. Dvorin wasn’t trained for bomb disposal, says his mother. What he was trained to do was to be an air defense artillery officer. But, training matters little in war. His unit had been sent to locate IEDs along roads. “It was a suicide mission,” says Niederer. “They’re still sending out patrols on foot to locate IEDs,” she says.

    After their son was killed, Niederer and her ex-husband, Richard Dvorin, a retired New Brunswick police officer, and Seth’s father, both sent letters to the President; the only response was a form letter asking for campaign contributions.

Opinion: "Beware of leaders who drink their own Kool-Aid," Frank Rich (excerpt)

...Bush's dissembling wasn't limited to his Supreme Court nominee. Asked how he was going to pay for Katrina recovery, the president twice said he'd proposed $187 billion in budget cuts over 10 years - but failed to factor in his tax proposals and other budget increases. The real net total for proposed Bush cuts is $103 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and even less according to some independent number crunchers. Turning to Iraq, Mr. Bush once again fudged our "progress" there with a numerical bait-and-switch, bragging about "30 Iraqi battalions in the lead." (Translation: in the lead with American military support.) Less than a week earlier his own commanders had told Congress that the number of Iraqi battalions capable of fighting unaided had dropped from 3 to 1 since June. (Translation: 750 soldiers are now ready to stand up on their own should America's 140,000 troops stand down.) For good measure, Mr. Bush then flouted credibility one more time to set the stage for the next administration fiasco. In the event of a bird flu epidemic, he said, one option for effecting a quarantine would be to use the military. What military? Last week The Army Times reported that the Pentagon, its resources already overstretched by Iraq, would try to bolster sagging recruitment by tapping "a demographic long deemed off limits: high school dropouts who don't have a General Educational Development credential."

Like most Bush fictions, the latest are driven less by ideology than by a desire to hide incompetence. But there's a self-destructive impulse at work as well. "The best way to get the news is from objective sources," the president told Brit Hume of Fox News two years ago. "And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world." Thus does the White House compound the sin of substituting propaganda for effective action by falling for the same spin it showers on the public....Such naked presidential isolation from reality was a replay of his response to Hurricane Katrina. When your main "objective sources" for news are members of your own staff, you can actually believe that the most pressing tragedy of the storm is the rebuilding of Trent Lott's second home. You can even believe that Brownie will fix it. The truth only began to penetrate four days after the storm's arrival - and only then, according to Newsweek, because an adviser, Dan Bartlett, asked the president to turn away from his usual "objective sources" and instead watch a DVD compilation of actual evening news reports. Mr. Bartlett's one desperate effort to prick his boss's bubble notwithstanding, the White House as a whole is so addicted to its own mythmaking prowess that it can't kick the habit.

As always, much of it pertains to the war in Iraq. On Sept. 28, to take one recent instance, the president announced the smiting of a man he identified as "the second most wanted Al Qaeda leader in Iraq" and the "top operational commander of Al Qaeda in Baghdad." As New York's Daily News would quickly report, the man in question "may not even be one of the top 10 or 15 leaders." The blogger Blogenlust chimed in, documenting 33 "top lieutenants" of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who have been captured, killed or identified in the past two and a half years, with no deterrent effect on terrorist violence in Iraq, Madrid or London. No wonder the nation shrugged at the largely recycled and unsubstantiated list of 10 foiled Qaeda plots that Mr. Bush unveiled in Thursday's latest stay-the-course Iraq oration.


Sunday, October 9, 2005

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Opinion: Rewriting History: An Apologist's Rationale For Bush's Iraq War,
Thomas Friedman (excerpt)

When the definitive history of the Iraq war is written, future historians will surely want to ask Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush each one big question. To Saddam, the question would be: What were you thinking? If you had no weapons of mass destruction, why did you keep acting as though you did? For Mr. Bush, the question would be: What were you thinking? If you bet your whole presidency on succeeding in Iraq, why did you let Donald Rumsfeld run the war with just enough troops to lose? Why didn't you establish security inside Iraq and along its borders? How could you ever have thought this would be easy?...

Failing to find W.M.D. was a big intelligence failure. But the even bigger failure - the one that is the source of all our troubles today - was the failure to understand just how devastated Iraq's society, economy and institutions had become - after eight years of war with Iran, a crushing defeat in Gulf War I and then a decade of U.N. sanctions.

But I think Saddam knew how busted and bankrupt his country and army were. Therefore, he never wanted to completely erase the impression that he had W.M.D. Saddam lived in a den of wolves. The hint of W.M.D. was his only deterrent shield left against his neighbors, his enemies at home and the West. (This was alluded to in the Duelfer W.M.D. report.) So he tried to allow just enough U.N. inspections to clear him on W.M.D., while playing just enough cat and mouse with the U.N. to leave the impression that he still had something dangerous in the closet.

The Bush team, and the C.I.A., not only failed to learn that Saddam had no W.M.D., they failed to appreciate how devastated Iraqi society really was. The Bush team, listening largely to exiles who had not lived in Iraq for years, thought that there were much more of an Iraqi middle class and more institutions than actually existed. So Mr. Bush thought taking over Iraq would be easy. That is the only way I can explain his behavior. This intelligence failure about Iraqi society is what is killing us today.

Mini-Eds: 1. Rewriting History, 2. Behind The Bush Deficit, Jerry Politex

1. Thomas Friedman is spending what must be anguished years, inclined to defend Bush administration policies, while attempting to be true to the facts. With a nod to a future "definitive history" of Bush's Iraq War, he recently attempted to rewrite history (see above) by postulating the reason behind Bush's supposed belief that Saddam had WMDs. While Friedman is correct in believing that Saddam's response to the WMDs question was ambiguous, his attempt to paint Bush as being duped into going to war because of US intelligence flies in the face of the facts. The evidence shows that the neocon Bush administration wanted an Iraq war, sought evidence that would allow it to go to war, and ignored or pressured those who warned otherwise. At any rate, it's a sad day when a supposedly unbiased mainstream pundit is forced to indicate that the President is a dupe in order to shield him from more serious charges.

2. In 5 years in office, Bush has never vetoed a spending bill. While it's true that he pretty much gets the bills he wants from a Republican Congress, there's a more ominous reason. The greater the nation's debt, the less government money there is for the poor, the sick, the infirm, the jobless, the uninsured. The greater the nation's debt, the less government money there is for the control of corporations, government oversight, our voting system, social security, our health system, the environment, the nation's parklands, funded mandates. With 3 more years to go, there is little on the horizon to suggest that Bush's ultimate goal to take the US back to the pre-depression days of a bi-polar nation of the rich and the poor is not working. By the time Bush leaves office, the nation's deficit will be so large and the transfer of wealth, resources, and technological controls into the hands of the wealthy and the corporations will be so complete that recovery may prove unlikely.

Sunday Funnies:
Indictments, arrests, crime, depravity by Mark Fiore
Upcoming Republican Rallies by Ward Sutton
Evacuation Plans for Major American Cities by Tom Tomorrow

We're Watching: Godard's "Masculin Feminin" (Criterion)



Saturday, October, 8, 2005

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Opinion: 32 Bush Lies And Policy Failures, Andy Ostroy

President Bush's campaign mantra in the 2000 election was that he and the Republican Party would "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Five and one half years later, it's utterly mind-boggling the amount of lies, controversies and scandals that have been perpetrated by Bush and his closest aides. It's even more unsettling when we realize the dire straits America is in today at the hands of this incompetent, dangerous administration. Let's review Bush's impact since 2000 at home and abroad.

Opinion: Your Money Or Your Life, NYT Editorial

An economic cynic may argue that a country with a gross national product as small as Bhutan's can well afford to worry about its gross national happiness, and that the best way to increase G.N.H. is by increasing G.N.P. But that is essentially an untested assertion, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that it isn't necessarily true. Our sense of happiness is created by many things that are not easily measured in purely economic terms, including a sense of community and purpose, the amount and content of our leisure and even our sense of the environmental and ecological stability of the world around us....

To talk about gross national happiness may sound purely pie in the sky, partly because we have been taught to believe that happiness is essentially a personal emotion, not an attribute of a community or a country. But thinking of happiness as a quotient of cultural and environmental factors might help us understand the growing disconnect between America's prosperity and Americans' sense of well-being.

...The world looks the way it does - as if it is being devoured by some grievous species - partly because of narrow economic assumptions that govern the behavior of corporations and nations. Those assumptions usually exclude, for instance, the costs of environmental, social or cultural damage. A clearer understanding of what makes humans happy - not merely more eager consumers or more productive workers - might help begin to reshape those assumptions in a way that has a measurable and meliorating outcome on the lives we lead and the world we live in.

We're Listening: Sinaed O'Connor's "Throw Down Your Arms" (Sinaed O'Connor)


Friday, October 7, 2005

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Opinion: The New Orleans Aftermath and an Ugly Glimpse of the Future, Steve Lendman

In a nation like ours where almost from birth and surely from pre-school on we're all "assaulted" and programmed to accept the so-called "American way" or "American exceptionalism" as the best of all possible worlds. The dominant corporate media suppress and sanitize all our news and information and act merely as complicit transmission agents for the state and their own corporate interests. And throughout our school years from early on through the doctoral level, we're taught only acceptable doctrine. Throughout our history as a nation, the real story of war and endless conflict, imperial expansion and conquest, and oppression of the most defenseless is never taught and has never stopped. The way we treated black people as slaves, slaughtered our native peoples by the millions and stole their land and resources {both glaring examples of genocide on the most massive scale but never so labeled] are still repeated today in different forms.

Instead of slavery, we now have the world's largest gulag prison system {mostly for blacks and other people of color ] and impoverished ghettos. And instead of Indian wars of conquest and mass slaughter, we have bantustan-like reservations on the most inhospitable lands and even greater poverty, disease, hopelessness and cultural genocide.

In New Orleans today, the beat merely goes on, and it's the same business as usual story. But let's be very clear what all this really means. What's happening now in its most extreme form in New Orleans [unreported in the mass media and concealed from the public] is what will happen all across the country tomorrow unless enough dedicated good people can find a way to stop it before it's too late - and the time left is very short. If we who care fail, "America the beautiful" will only exist for the privileged few and no one else.

Opinion: Activist Judges Are What The Other Side Has, Nicholas Kristof (excerpt)

The left went to the Supreme Court to achieve a range of victories it could never have managed through the political process: barring school prayer, protecting protesters who used four-letter words, guaranteeing lawyers for criminal defendants, and securing a right to privacy that protected contraception and abortion....

So, granted, the courts were often the most efficient way to advance a liberal agenda, and cases like Roe v. Wade now deserve respect as precedents. But there were two problems with the activist approach. The first was that these rulings alienated ordinary Americans who just could not see how the Constitution banned school prayers but protected obscenities. Frustration still seethes at liberals who try to impose their values on the heartland, and one consequence has been the rise of the religious right.

The second objection is that conservatives can play the same game of judicial activism to advance a social agenda. Alas, they already are.... "Judicial activism" is usually associated with liberals, but Paul Gewirtz of Yale Law School has shown that lately conservatives have been far more likely to strike down laws passed by Congress. Clarence Thomas voted to invalidate 65 percent of the laws that came before him in cases, while those least likely to do so were Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Indeed, Justice Breyer has written a thoughtful new book, "Active Liberty," which calls for judicial restraint and suggests that the best arena for resolving crucial national questions is legislatures rather than courts.

Quote: God told me to invade Iraq, Bush tells Palestinian ministers

In "Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs," a major three-part series on BBC TWO (at 9.00pm on Monday 10, Monday 17 and Monday 24 October), Abu Mazen, Palestinian Prime Minister, and Nabil Shaath, his Foreign Minister, describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003.

Nabil Shaath says: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …" And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"

We're Reading: John Berendt's "The City Of Falling Angels" (Penguin Press)


Thursday, October 6, 2005

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Opinion: The Dems Have Failed Us, Ernest Partridge

The Republican Party and the Bush Administration are reeling, enmeshed in corruption and failure, and the ideology of the regressive right is in retreat. The iron is hot – now is the time to strike. Unfortunately, it appears that the congressional Democrats and the Democratic Party would prefer to throw cold water on the hot iron. What in the name of God and the US Constitution has neutered the Democrats?

Opinion: Failed Bush War Should Foster "Outrage Beyond Belief," Bob Herbert (excerpt)

It's finally becoming clear on Capitol Hill, and maybe even in the White House, that the United States cannot win the war in Iraq. The only question still to be decided is how many more American lives will be wasted in George W. Bush's grand debacle. The wheels have fallen off the cart in Iraq, and only those in the farthest reaches of denial are hanging on to the illusion of an American triumph over the insurgency.

Air Force General Richard Myers, who retired Friday as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was publicly chastised at an Armed Services Committee hearing last week by Senator John McCain of Arizona, who has always been a strong proponent of the war. Senator McCain bluntly declared that "things have not gone as we had planned or expected, nor as we were told by you, General Myers." The general replied, "I don't think this committee or the American public has ever heard me say that things are going very well in Iraq."...

Even the most diehard defenders of this debacle are coming to the realization that it is doomed. So the party line now is that the Iraqis at some point will have to bear the burden of Mr. Bush's war alone. Talk about a cruel joke. On the same day that Senator McCain faced off with General Myers, more than 100 people were killed in a series of car bombs in a town north of Baghdad; five U.S. soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Ramadi; and the American general in charge of U.S. forces in Iraq, George Casey, admitted before the Armed Services Committee that only 1 of the Iraqi Army's 86 battalions was capable of fighting the insurgency without American help.

The American death toll in Iraq is fast approaching 2,000. If the public could see the carnage close up, the way it saw the horror of New Orleans, the outrage would be beyond belief. You never want to say that brave troops died for the mindless fantasies spun by a gang of dissembling, inept politicians. But what else did they die for? And what about all those men and women, some of them barely out of childhood, who are lying awake nights, hardly able to move their broken, burned and paralyzed bodies? What do we tell them as they lie there, unable to curb the pain or fight off the depression, or even begin to understand the terrible thing that has happened to them? What do we tell them about this war that their country inflicted on them for no good reason whatsoever?

Verse: Another Bush Crisis, Madeleine Begun Kane

It's another Bush crisis,
And day after day,
Dub's stooges are spinning,
While Bush says, "let's pray."

He is not on vacation.
He's handling affairs.
We know that from photos
That show Dubya cares.

Bush's numbers are tumbling.
It's clear that he's failed.
But Karl is determined
To Dub un-derail.

So we'll keep hearing speeches
That try to shirk blame,
And win back the voters,
Who fell for Dub's game.

But for once it ain't working.
The scam's falling flat.
Most voters have noticed
That Dub's a spoiled brat.


Wednesday, October 5, 2005

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Opinion: War Crimes Are What The Other Side Commits, Chris Floyd

This column has been detailing the use of torture in Bush's global gulag since January 2002. It was no secret; at first, the Bushists even bragged about it. "The gloves are coming off" was a favorite phrase of the deskbound tough guys cracking foxy to an enthralled media.

They also boasted of "unleashing" the CIA, which set up its own "shadow army" of non-uniformed combatants operating outside the law -- i.e., "terrorists," according to Bush's own definition -- while creating secret prisons all over the world. As one CIA op enthused to The Boston Globe: "'We are doing things I never believed we would do -- and I mean killing people!" A senior Bush official proudly pointed to the ultimate authority for this deadly system: "If the commander in chief didn't think it was appropriate, we wouldn't be doing it."

We now know that in the very first weeks of the War on Terror, White House legal lackeys began concocting weasel-worded "findings" to justify a range of...techniques while shielding Bush honchos from prosecution for the clear breaches of U.S. and international law they were already planning. Bush and his top officials signed off on very specific torture parameters, including physical assault and psychological torment; even beating a captive to death was countenanced, as long the killer proclaimed that he had no murder in his heart when he commenced to whupping, The New York Review of Books reports. Indeed, the lackeys went so far as to establish a new principle of Executive Transcendence: The president, they claimed, could not be constrained by any law whatsoever in his conduct of the War on Terror.

One thing is certain: The true architects of these atrocities will never face justice. They'll go on to peaceful, prosperous retirements, heedless of the broken bodies and broken nations -- including their own -- left behind in their foul wake.

Opinion: Bush Health Care: Catching Up With Canada, Nicholas Kristof

In a sign of the growing disenchantment with our health system, 13,000 doctors have joined Physicians for a National Health Program, which lobbies for a single-payer government-financed health program.

There are four main problems with the existing system. First, it leaves out 45 million uninsured Americans, and their number is rising. Second, it is by far the most expensive in the world, costing 15 percent of our national income, yet our outcomes are awful - U.S. life expectancy is worse than Costa Rica's. Third, our business competitiveness is undermined when, for example, medical expenses add $1,500 to the sticker of each General Motors car. Fourth, our system is catastrophically inefficient: according to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, health administrative costs are $1,059 per capita in the U.S., and just $307 in Canada....

Whatever the mechanism, all children should be covered. It's a disgrace that we use public funds to save the lives of nonagenarians but not those of 9-year-olds. And kids are a bargain: per capita medical spending is $1,525 for children less than 5, and $9,000 per person aged 65 to 74. A second principle is that we should put less emphasis on curative medicine and more on public health and prevention - everything from preparing for avian flu to encouraging exercise... as a wise new book, "Prescription for a Healthy Nation," argues, you get more bang for the buck when you promote healthier lifestyles - fighting obesity, cigarette smoking and the like....

Reforming the health system won't be easy. In the real world, poor kids don't see doctors not only because they're uninsured, but also because Mom doesn't have a car, can't easily get time off from work, or doesn't speak English. Those are hard nuts to crack - but one reason to think that we can do better is that much of the world does better....Isn't it worth fighting one more time for reforms, so that we Americans can get health care every bit as good as Canada's?

Letter From Our Publisher: To: Sen. Reid [Senate Minority Leader], I appreciate your respect for Ms Mier's self-reliance. She has indeed worked very hard in her life, as have very very many citizens. She is not a product of privilege, but neither is she a stranger to it nor power at this time in her life.Your role in promoting her and your immediate support of the nomination seems to me to only dilute any significant critical examination of her as a candidate.

There are many examples throughout history of persons who worked hard to rise to positions of influence and power that had very counter-productive attitudes and approaches to life. It is really tiresome that you and others seem to consistently compromise and thereby continue to enable the dysfunctional behavior of the current administration. --Thank you, Christine Tomlinson

Quip: Encouraging dissent is a good way of finding out who the traitors are.


Tuesday, October 4, 2005


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Opinion: The Post-Katrina Bush Misery Plan, Paul Krugman (excerpts)

...Bush has been forced by events into short-term actions that conflict with his long-term goals. His mission in office is to dismantle or at least shrink the federal social safety net, yet he must, as a matter of political necessity, provide aid to Katrina's victims. His problem is how to do that without legitimizing the very role of government he opposes....

This dilemma explains the administration's opposition to Medicaid coverage for all Katrina refugees. How can it provide that coverage without undermining its ongoing efforts to reduce the Medicaid rolls? More broadly, if it accepts the principle that all hurricane victims are entitled to medical care, people might start asking why the same isn't true of all American citizens - a line of thought that points toward a system of universal health insurance, which is anathema to conservatives.

As for the administration's odd insistence on providing public housing instead of relying on the market, The Los Angeles Times reports that Department of Housing and Urban Development officials initially announced plans to issue rent vouchers, then backed off after meeting with White House aides. As the article notes, the administration has "repeatedly sought to cut or limit" the existing housing voucher program. This suggests that what administration officials fear isn't that housing vouchers would fail, but that they would succeed - and that this success would undermine the administration's ongoing efforts to cut back housing aid.

So here's the key to understanding post-Katrina policy: Mr. Bush can't avoid helping Katrina's victims, but he doesn't want to legitimize institutions that help the needy, like the housing voucher program. As a result, his administration refuses to use those institutions, even when they are the best way to provide victims with aid. More generally, the administration is trying to treat Katrina's victims as harshly as the political realities allow, so as not to create a precedent for other aid efforts....

Bush Deficit: Borrow From China, Buy More Guns, Screw Joe Six-Pack, Andy Rooney

I'm not really clear how much a billion dollars is but the United States — our United States — is spending $5.6 billion a month fighting this war in Iraq that we never should have gotten into. We still have 139,000 soldiers in Iraq today. Almost 2,000 Americans have died there. For what?

Now we have the hurricanes to pay for. One way our government pays for a lot of things is by borrowing from countries like China. Another way the government is planning to pay for the war and the hurricane damage is by cutting spending for things like Medicare prescriptions, highway construction, farm payments, AMTRAK, National Public Radio and loans to graduate students. Do these sound like the things you'd like to cut back on to pay for Iraq?

I'll tell you where we ought to start saving: on our bloated military establishment. We're paying for weapons we'll never use. No other Country spends the kind of money we spend on our military. Last year Japan spent $42 billion. Italy spent $28 billion, Russia spent only $19 billion. The United States spent $455 billion. We have 8,000 tanks for example. One Abrams tank costs 150 times as much as a Ford station wagon. We have more than 10,000 nuclear weapons — enough to destroy all of mankind. We're spending $200 million a year on bullets alone. That's a lot of target practice. We have 1,155,000 enlisted men and women and 225,000 officers. One officer to tell every five enlisted soldier what to do. We have 40,000 colonels alone and 870 generals.

We had a great commander in WWII, Dwight Eisenhower. He became President and on leaving the White House in 1961, he said this: “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. …" Well, Ike was right. That's just what’s happened.

Letters: Politex, in your blogburst, "DemWatch," you mention the "Pro-gun vote of July 29" as something bad - and I strongly disagree - from a viewpoint that most would categorize as very liberal /progressive. I suggest that with such an astonishing string of Fascist siezures of basic American rights in the last 5 years, you should consider arming yourself and becoming proficient in marksmanship.Fidel Castro put those skills to good use ; he is not a Republican , most likely. --Tom

Right, Tom, Republicans are anti-gun and Dems are pro-gun? Visit your local gun show and you'll find that it's just the opposite. Recall, the NRA backed Bush as Prez to the extent that they predicted they'd get a desk in the Oval Office. And they were right. Your gun views aren't "liberal/progressive," perhaps they're Libertarian, which tends to attract more far-right Republicans than far-left Dems. That's where William Safire and Rep. Ron Paul are coming from. As for an anti-gun position being "Fascist," tell that to the Canadians. Dems have traditionally been anti-gun, but they're not making a big deal about it these days, since the American majority appears to be pro-gun. As for the vote in question, 28 Demns voted anti-gun, and a below average 15 voted with the Republican majority, with Feistein not voting. --Politex

GOP Words: INSURGENT, n. Armed or unarmed, violent or non-violent Iraqi on the receiving end of an American rocket blast or bullet spray, regardless of age, gender or political affiliation. (Joey Flores, Marina del Ray, California)


Monday, October 3, 2005

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Senate Dems: Only 52% Senate Dems Have Passing Grades, Jerry Politex

With 20 key votes under their belts, 48% of the Senate Dems in the 109th Congress vote Republican more often than Democratic, showing no change since our last report two months ago. While Boxer remains as leader of the Dems with a 95% Dem vote record, and Kennedy remains at 90%, Hillary Clinton, who has led the list of '08 potential Dem presidential candidates in various national polls, passes by the skin of her teeth, voting traditionally Democratic only 70% of the time.

This update on Senate Dem voting adds the recent Roberts Supreme Court vote, the pro-gun vote of July 29, protecting gun manufacturers from civil liability actions, and the letter to Bush requesting that he not make a recess appointment of John Bolton to the U.N. About the Roberts vote, John Nichols in The Nation wrote: "Roberts's record of opposing expansion of the Voting Rights Act, unyielding allegiance to the corporate interests he served as an attorney in private practice and extreme deference to executive power he served as an aide to President's Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush drew broad grassroots opposition."

Opinion: Dead Politicians Walking, Frank Rich (excerpt)

...This is the culture that has given us the government we have. It's a government that has spent more of the taxpayers' money than any since L.B.J.'s (as calculated by the Cato Institute, a libertarian research institution), even as it rewards its benefactors with tax breaks and corporate pork. It's a government so used to lying that Mr. DeLay could say with a straight face that the cost of Katrina relief could not be offset by budget cuts because there was no governmental fat left to cut. It's the government that fostered the wholesale loss of American lives in both Iraq and on the Gulf Coast by putting cronyism above patriotism.

The courts can punish crooks, but they can't reform democracy from the ground up, and the voters can't get into the game until 2006. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, the key players both in the White House and in the leadership of both houses of Congress are either under investigation or joined at the hip to Messrs Rove, DeLay, Abramoff, Reed or Norquist. They seem to be hoping that some magical event - a sudden outbreak of peace and democracy in Iraq, the capture of Osama bin Laden, a hurricane affording better presidential photo ops than Rita - will turn things around. Dream on.

...The Democrats, bereft of leadership and ideas (though not of their own Beltway bandits), also harbor a number of would-be presidents, but they are busier positioning themselves politically than they are articulating actual positions that might indicate what a new governmental order would look like.

New Orleans: Good-by, Blacks: 6 Flags Over Bourbon Street, David Remnick

New Orleans was sixty-seven per cent African-American at the time of Katrina. It always had a substantial black population—it was one of the leading slave markets—and decades of migration starting at the time of Reconstruction made it even larger. The city was, in per-capita terms, the wealthiest in America before the Civil War and the wealthiest in the South until the nineteen-twenties. No more.

Few of the improvements in urban America—the growth of the black middle class, the decline of the murder rate, greater attention to inner-city schools—have taken firm hold in New Orleans. There is hardly any industrial base, no major corporate headquarters, no home-grown businesses on the scale of FedEx in Memphis, Coca-Cola in Atlanta, the Hospital Corporation of America in Nashville. Colonel Terry Ebbert, the head of Homeland Security in the city, told me, “Drugs are the biggest business in town, bigger than tourism.” Small wonder that at school-board meetings of Orleans Parish parents may think the worst—for example, that magnet schools are part of an over-all plan of educational disenfranchisement. Small wonder that they might believe that the break in the levees was a plot.

“Perception is reality, and their reality is terrible,” Jim Amoss, the editor of the Times-Picayune, said. “We are talking about people who are very poor and have a precondition to accept this belief. Lots are cut off from mainstream news and information. They are isolated in shelters and they know a thing or two about victimization. It fits well into a system of belief.”...According to polls, huge numbers of people now living in shelters say they will not go back to New Orleans. Few have insurance policies or even bank accounts, credit cards, or savings sufficient to start over. Many of them are sick or unemployed. As Hurricane Rita bore down on Texas last week, there were still roughly a hundred and fifty thousand evacuees in Houston alone. A poll conducted jointly by the Washington Post, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation showed that fewer than half the evacuees in shelters will move back, and there was nothing in my days of conversations in Houston, New Iberia, Lafayette, and elsewhere that made that figure seem exaggerated.

Tom Tomorrow Rocketships For Des Moines


Sunday, October 2, 2005

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Opinion: The U.S. Has Plans to Invade Iran Before Bush's Term Ends, Walter C. Uhler

Although America's past is riddled with instances in which a "war party"—remember the "War Hawks" Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun?—within a given party or administration labored mightily to con its subjects into wars of aggression, it's America's singular misfortune today to be guided by a "war party" in and around the Bush administration, which consists of neocons and chickenhawks who seek to compensate for personal cowardice or neglect of military duty (especially during the Vietnam war) with martial rhetoric and by sending courageous soldiers to fight, kill, and perhaps die for them. Note President George W. Bush's "Bring 'em on."

But it is America's greater misfortune today to be informed by a so-called "watch dog" mainstream news media that supinely reports this war party's will to kill without insisting upon the hard evidence necessary for justifying war. Although they failed miserably in their 2002-03 coverage of Iraq, unfortunately this is not a recent phenomenon. For as John L. Harper has recently concluded: "The premises on which the United States decided to go to war in 1812, 1846, 1898, 1917, 1950, 1964–65 and 2002–03, were largely false." [John L. Harper, "Anatomy of a Habit: America's Unnecessary Wars," Survival, Summer 2005, p. 79]

But, forget the past. Just a few days ago, on September 26, 2005, The Telegraph of Calcutta, India issued an astounding report that has yet to cause a ripple within America's mainstream news media. In the fifth paragraph of the article, "Gulf factor key to PM's Iran vote decision," were the following words: "Top-ranking Americans have told equally top-ranking Indians in recent weeks that THE US HAS PLANS TO INVADE IRAN BEFORE BUSH'S TERM ENDS" (author's emphasis).

Bomb Iran?: Get More Killed To Honor Those Killed, Maureen Dowd (excerpt)

The president and his generals are still offering gauzy assessments of our fight against an insurgency that grows ever more vicious, and dishing out loopy justifications for the war. Before Mr. Bush was dragged out of Crawford this summer, he was making the case that we had to keep killing in Iraq to honor troops killed there. This week, Gen. Richard Myers offered more circular logic, warning that a U.S. defeat would invite another 9/11. The Bush administration used 9/11 as a pretext for invading Iraq and now says it can't leave for fear of spurring another 9/11.

Wolfie and fellow hawks turned Iraq into a harbor for Al Qaeda with an invasion they justified by falsely calling Iraq a harbor for Al Qaeda. General Myers said that America couldn't leave and allow Al Qaeda to dominate Iraq because "then in my view we would have lost, and the next 9/11 would be right around the corner, absolutely." Here's the weirdest perversion: First Rummy, as President Reagan's Mideast envoy, was photographed with Saddam, supporting him in the war against Iran. Then Rummy and other hawks rushed the U.S. into war against Saddam and ended up turning Iraq over to Shiites intertwined with Iran. And now Richard Perle thinks we might have to bomb Iran.

From The Mouths Of Babes: A blizzard is the inside of a fowl.

We're Watching: Stephen Chow's "Kung Fu Hustle" (Sony)


Saturday, October, 1, 2005

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Opinion: Degrees Of Separation, Paul Krugman (excerpts)

David Safavian is a former associate of Jack Abramoff, the recently indicted lobbyist. Mr. Safavian oversaw U.S. government procurement policy at the White House Office of Management and Budget until his recent arrest. Mr. Safavian is charged with misrepresenting his connections with lobbyists - specifically, Mr. Abramoff - while working at the General Services Administration. A key event was a lavish golfing trip to Scotland in 2002, mostly paid for by a charity Mr. Abramoff controlled. Among those who went on the trip was Representative Bob Ney of Ohio....

Tyco paid $2 million, most going to firms controlled by Mr. Abramoff, as part of its successful effort to preserve tax advantages it got from shifting its legal home to Bermuda. Timothy Flanigan, a general counsel at Tyco, has been nominated for the second-ranking Justice Department post. Mr. Abramoff was indicted last month on charges of fraud relating to his purchase of SunCruz, a casino boat operation. Mr. Ney inserted comments in the Congressional Record attacking SunCruz's original owner, Konstantinos "Gus" Bolus, placing pressure on him to sell to Mr. Abramoff and his partner, Adam Kidan, and praised Mr. Kidan's character....

Last week three men were arrested in connection with the gangland-style murder of Mr. Boulis. SunCruz, after it was controlled by Mr. Kidan and Mr. Abramoff, paid a company controlled by one of the men arrested, Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, and his daughter $145,000 for catering and other work. In court documents, questions are raised about whether food and drink were ever provided. SunCruz paid $95,000 to a company in which one of the other men arrested, Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, is a principal....

Tom DeLay, who stepped down as House majority leader after his indictment, once called Mr. Abramoff "one of my closest and dearest friends." Mr. Abramoff funneled funds from clients to conservative institutions and causes. The Washington Post reported that associates of Mr. DeLay claim that he severed the relationship after Mr. Boulis's murder....

Opinion: Arnold Schwarzenegger Betrays His Gay Past, Doug Ireland

Radar -- the sassy new pop culture magazine edited by Maer Roshan (right) and bankrolled by Mort Zuckerman ( lower left), the real estate mogul who owns the N.Y. Daily News and U.S. News and World Report -- has published on its website a catty contrast of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's veto of the bill legalizing gay marriage in California with Arnold's past, which included many gay friendships that helped launch his bodybuilding career with "the gay sugar daddies of the international bodybuilding circuit." Schwarzenegger yesterday vetoed the bill, passed by the state legislature, that would have made marriage in California gender-neutral.

Quote: William Bennett "the former [GOP] U.S. education secretary-turned-talk show host said Wednesday that "if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose -- you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." Bennett quickly added that such an idea would be "an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do." But, he said, "your crime rate would go down." (paragraph 2) Washington Post, September 30, 2005.

We're Listening: LeMonte Young's "Forever Bad Blues Band: Just Stompin" (Gramavision)


Friday, September 30, 2005

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Opinion: Bush Has Blood On His Hands, Bob Herbert (excerpt)

Make no mistake: government officials have blood on their hands. Men, women and children - some of them handicapped, some of them elderly or already desperately ill - were condemned to horrible suffering and, in many cases, agonizing deaths. Human beings were left to drown in their flooded homes, in hospitals, in nursing homes and in the street. The American people deserve to know why.

Even as the tragedy was unfolding, carried live on television screens across the U.S. and around the world, President Bush declined to intervene in a timely and effective way. Had he acted promptly, he no doubt could have saved some lives. But he didn't. His inaction seemed both inexplicable and unforgivable, and would certainly be a main focus of an independent investigation.

What is needed now are the findings and the learned counsel of a bipartisan group of distinguished, sincere and dedicated individuals who are capable of keeping the best interests of the people of the United States in mind.

Investigation: Brown Lie Smears Gov. Blanco: Ex-FEMA Head Incorrectly Claims The "Looked At Request" Did Not Include New Orleans

Pre-Katrina, August 27: In the letter that Blanco sent to Bush, she specifically requests a coastal state of emergency: "The affected areas are all the southeastern parishes including the New Orleans Metropolitan area...." Blanco to Bush letter requesting Bush declaration of St. of Emergency.

Pre-Katrina, August 27: Bush Declares Louisiana St. Of Emergency, But For Northern Parishes, Only, Not For Coastal Parishes, Including New Orleans Parishes, Which Blanco Had Specifically Named. --WH ST On Fed ASS For LA.

Map Showing Parishes Covered By Bush Declaration. --Bob Harris.com.

Pre-Katrina, August 28: Blanco sends another request for a Bush emergency declaration, again spelling out the need in specific coastal parishes, including those in New Orleans, that likely will be in the path of Katrina. --Blanco Letter Of Request To Bush (pdf).

Pre-Katrina, August 28: Bush names coastal parishes as being eligible for federal funding to affected individuals, but does not indicate (as he does for inland parishes) that funding will be made available to State and eligible local governments in the coastal hardest-hit area. --St. on Fed. Dis. Ass. For LA.

FEMA House Hearings, September 27: Rep. Steve Buyer asks FEMA Paid Consultant and ex-head Michael Brown why New Orleans was not included in August 27 declaration, and Brown says it was because LA Gov. Blanco did not request that Bush declare a state of emergency in New Orleans. --House Committee Hearings (excerpt). --Politex

DeLay Indictment: Following The Bouncing Money Ball, Austin American-Statesman

According to the indictment:

1. Delay conspired with two officials at Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC) or with TRMPAC to launder $155,000 in corporate contributions to Republican legislative candidates in Texas, which is against Texas law.

2. John Colyandro, the PAC head and former executive director of a PAC connected to DeLay, ordered a blank check be given to Jim Ellis, the PAC's consultant who headed DeLay's national political committee

3. Jim Ellis gave that check, filled out for $190,000, to an arm of the Republican National Committee, along with a list of Texas Republican candidates and suggested campaign contributions to them.

4. The arm of the RNC donated $190,000 of non-corporate money to 7 Texas Republican legislative candidates.

5. Politex Question: Is there non-circumstancial evidence of the alleged conspiracy? On the other hand, in Texas people have been tried for murder and executed on circumstancial evidence.

6. Follow-up: According to the Boston Globe, "some analysts said Ronnie Earle, the Travis County, Texas, prosecutor who brought the case, lacked jurisdiction to bring potentially tougher charges of state election law violations. The conspiracy charge that Earle filed is a broader allegation that could be harder to prove in court, analysts said."

Verse: DeLay Haiku, Madeleine Begun Kane

DeLay's indictment.
Long awaited by Lib'rals.
The delay's over.

We're Reading: "The Complete New Yorker," 8 DVD's for Computer (New Yorker/Random House)


Thursday, September 29, 2005

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Letters: Indecent And Offensive: Signing Up The Poor For War

Politex, Could you please remove the [animated] pix [linked to the actual video] of Bush with the finger? Makes me cringe everytime I visit your excellent site.Even though I do not support the Bush administration, still I find it indecent and offensive.Thank you. --Tomasita

Thanks, Tomasita. What I find indecent and offensive is what Bush is doing to you and I; most of the country, in fact, except for the wealthiest 1%. The pix from the video and the video that Bush made are daily reminders of Bush's attitude toward us, as well as what he's doing to us. If he would only stop, I'd be more than happy to delete his pix and video. --Politex

Politex, I rented "No Direction Home" last night and saw some of the footage from 66's march on Washington that apparently Dylan attended. Point is that the number of folks who demonstrated to see and hear King must have been hundreds of thousands. What do you think was driving that kind of energy and willingness to stand up then, that's missing now with Bush and his gang so blatantly behaving badly. --Stan

I think the difference between then and now is that both racism and the war were more blatant then, the media didn't hide things as well, and a greater slice of our society was involved. We have no draft today. That's why I always talked about the need for a draft of men and women from 18-65 at my book signings during the presidential campaign. That would get the people marching. Bush and Rummy know that if they just sign up the poor and privatize for the rest, they can get away with just about anything. The political strategy of this administration is to turn everyone into whores, and they can do whatever they want. This is their idea of "democracy." --Politex

Opinion: Why Should Any More US Troops Die In Iraq
To Defend Ethnic Hatred? Thomas Friedman (excerpt)

Some courageous Sunnis have begun to speak out. "One of the most bizarre phenomena of recent times has been the refusal of Arab governments to condemn terrorist acts in Iraq or to commiserate with the victims," Abdul Rahman al-Rashed wrote in the Saudi daily Asharq Al Awsat. He added, "Take the most recent atrocities in which more than 200 Iraqis lost their lives in two days of carnage: no Arab government raised its voice in condemnation, although most of them shrilly objected when the new Iraqi constitution failed to mention that the country was part of the Arab nation. The official Arab position vis-à-vis Iraq has always been spineless."

So, folks, we are faltering in Iraq today in part because of the Bush team's incompetence, but also because of the moral vacuum in the Sunni Arab world, where the worst are engaged in murderous ethnic cleansing - and trying to stifle any prospect of democracy here - and the rest are too afraid, too weak, too lost or too anti-Shiite to do anything about it.

Maybe the cynical Europeans were right. Maybe this neighborhood is just beyond transformation. That will become clear in the next few months as we see just what kind of minority the Sunnis in Iraq intend to be. If they come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible, and we should stay to help build it. If they won't, then we are wasting our time. We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind. We must not throw more good American lives after good American lives for people who hate others more than they love their own children.

   Verse: Ballad Of The Bush Man, Dylan/Politex

Bush walks into the room
With a guitar in his hand
He sees Brownie naked
And he says, "Who is that man?"
He tries so hard
But he doesn't understand
Now that he's
Fallen on his tush.

Something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Bush? (more).  


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

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Opinion: News From Behind The Facade, John Pilger

...The Facade was how we described the dividing line between the America of real life - of a poverty so profound that slavery was still a presence and a rapacious state power that waged war against its own citizens, as it did against black and brown-skinned people in faraway countries - and the America that spawned the greed of corporatism and invented public relations as a means of social control; the "American Dream" and the "American Way of Life" began as advertising slogans.

The wilful neglect of the Bush regime before and after hurricane Katrina offered a rare glimpse behind The Facade. The poor were no longer invisible; the bodies floating in contaminated water, the survivors threatened with police shotguns, the distinct obesity of American poverty - all of it mocked the forests of advertising billboards and relentless television commercials and news sound-bites (average length 9.9 seconds) that glorify the "dream" of wealth and power. A word long expropriated and debased - reality - found its true meaning, if briefly.

As if by accident, the American media, which is the legitimising arm of corporate public relations, reported the truth. For a few days, a selective group of liberal newspaper readers were told that poverty had risen an amazing 17 per cent under Bush; that an African-American baby born within a mile of the White House had less chance of surviving its first year than an urban baby in India; that the United States was now ranked 43rd in the world in infant mortality, 84th for measles immunisation and 89th for polio; that the world's richest oil company, ExxonMobil, would make 30 billion dollars in profits this year, having received a huge slice of the 14.5 billion dollars in "tax breaks" which Bush's new energy bill guarantees his elite cronies.

In his two elections, Bush has received most of his "corporate contributions" - the euphemism for bribes totalling 61.5 million dollars - from oil and gas companies. The bloody conquest of Iraq, the world's second biggest source of oil, will be their prize: their loot....

Interview: Bush Has Put Us All In The Superdome, Chris Floyd

The Bush Faction are not people who are going to be moved by soaring words into changing their position. There's no point in "speaking truth to power" with them. They are utter cynics. They know what the truth is; they know very well what they are doing to American society. And they don't give a damn. It's what they came to Washington to do. If they could be moved by appeals to reason, compassion, principle, logic or genuine patriotism, they wouldn't be where they are in the first place. Anyone among them who might respond to anything like that has already been weeded out long ago. I wouldn't waste my breath on any of them....

The game is so rigged now that it's hard to see what would make a difference to those in power. Mass demonstrations do have an effect, although it's harder now because the media invariably ignores or under-reports them. I think the thing to do is just keep on plugging. Keep marching, keep organizing campaigns, keep trying in every possible way to get the truth out to as many people as possible. Because push is going to come to shove in America sooner or later – probably sooner.

The rapacious policies of the Bush Faction – and the whole 30-year right-wing juggernaut – are starting to hit home in a big way. They waged a war of decimation against the poor, and they won, while the middle-class looked the other way. But now it's their turn. The elitist policies are now devouring the middle class too. They're skating on the thinnest ice right now, living on debt, stretched to the margins. When economic crisis hits – perhaps as soon as this winter, with gasoline and home fuel prices skyrocketing – they're going to find that the safety net has been ripped to shreds, that the candy store has been given away to a few fat cats around the corner. They're going to find that the whole country has been turned into the Superdome and they've been left to fend for themselves. It's not going to be pretty.

Quip: The mark of true leadership is knowing when to resign in disgrace.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005


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Statistics: Arming The World At A Theater Near You, Mickey Z.

It's not every day Amnesty International asks me to go see a Nic Cage movie. So, when I got their e-mail about Lord of War, I promptly caught a bargain matinee at my local multiplex. This is not a movie review, but, by Hollywood standards, Lord of War rates R for radical: a film about the governments and freelancers supplying the weapons that kill men, women, and children every minute of every day.

According to the Federation of American Scientists:

  • Half of the world's governments spend more on defense than health care.
  • The U.S. share of total world military expenditures per year has been roughly 36 percent, though the U.S. constitutes under 5 percent of the world's population.
  • The U.S. arms industry is the second most heavily subsidized industry after agriculture.
  • 2001 world military expenditures topped $839 billion, while at the same time an estimated 1.3 billion people survive on less than the equivalent of $1 (U.S.) a day.
  • The International Red Cross has estimated that one out of every two casualties of war is a civilian caught in the crossfire.
  • According to the United Nations, there are now over 300,000 child soldiers around the world, now serving as combatants in over 30 current conflicts.
  • The Center for International Policy estimates that about 80% of U.S. arms exports to the developing world go to non-democratic regimes.
  • There are more landmines planted in Cambodia than people. Cambodia is just one of 64 countries around the world littered with some 100 million anti-personnel landmines. Intended primarily to maim, landmines can lie in wait years after a conflict ends, causing 500 deaths and injuries per week.
  • The U.S. government is training soldiers in upwards of 70 countries at any given time.

Statistics: Health (N. Kristof) and Education (D. Brooks) Excerpts

Health: "Our medical system failed [the gulf states] long before Katrina arrived. One of the Children's Health Fund doctors discovered a previously undetected hole in a 4-year-old boy's heart. The mother said nobody had ever listened to the boy's chest before. In both Mississippi and Louisiana, infant mortality is worse (for every 1,000 babies born, 10 die in their first year of life) than in Costa Rica (8 die per 1,000). For black babies in either state, the picture is still more horrifying: 15 die per 1,000. In poor, war-torn Sri Lanka, where per capita medical spending is only $131, babies have better odds, with 13 dying per 1,000. So let's rebuild the levees, but let's also construct a health care system that works."

Education: "Divorce rates for college grads are plummeting, but they are not for everyone else. The divorce rate for high school grads is now twice as high as that of college grads....High school grads are twice as likely to smoke as college grads. They are much less likely to exercise. College grads are nearly twice as likely to vote. They are more than twice as likely to do voluntary work. They are much more likely to give blood....Part of the problem is that kids from poorer families have trouble affording higher education....A lot of it has to do with being academically prepared, psychologically prepared and culturally prepared for college."

GOP Words: SUPPORT THE MILITARY, v. To praise Bush when he sends our young men and women off to die for no reason and without proper body armor. (Marc Goldberg, Vancouver, Washington)


Monday, September 26, 2005

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Opinion: Katrina: Bush's New Crony Cash Cow, Chris Floyd

George W. Bush's plan to reconstruct the Gulf Coast is the biggest crony cash-cow in American history (aside from the pork-orgy he's throwing for his pals in Iraq). Bush is using his emergency powers to strip American citizens of their legal protections against exploitation, handing out no-bid contracts to his pals and paymasters and allowing them to pay coolie wages to build their new commercial empires on the bones and blood of the hurricane's victims.

All of this is aimed at "changing the demographics" of the region, especially New Orleans, as the city's wealthy white elite have openly admitted to the Wall Street Journal. They want to scatter the poor – especially the black poor – to the four winds, and rebuild New Orleans as a playground for the rich, a malevolent corporate fantasyland patroled by heat-packing private goons.

While Bush is handing fat federal deals to his biggest contributors, to his former aides – and, as always, to the ubiquitous Halliburton – he has suspended regulations that would have paid the countless thousands of displaced natives a living wage to rebuild their communities and their region. Instead, as investigator Jeremy Scahill reports, the Bushist elite are bringing in migrant laborers – legal and illegal – to work, unprotected and ill-paid, under the watchful eye of hired guns from the Blackwater mercenary agency, many of them fresh from the privatized killing fields of Iraq and now under direct federal contract, with shoot-to-kill powers, in the streets of New Orleans.

Letters: Headlines Page Readers Comment On NYT's Op-Ed Policy

Pedro: Could you identify the NY Times links? They require subscription and it is a waste of band width to hit the link button.

Politex: Only selected op-eds need a subscription, and they're identified as "[TS]".

Mark: The "[TS]" designation in The NYT means "Tough S*&%," right?

Kent: I think you should seriously consider dropping the NY Times from the newspapers you cover, along with a clear statement in each issue you post as to why that paper is not being covered. Other major papers continue to be part of the public record, while the NY Times has opted for commercializing their commentators, joining the ranks of the Wall Street Journal and a few other right-wing rags in trying to squeeze dollars out of the internet.

Politex: Actually, the Wall Street Journal has commercialized its news, but posts its conservative op-eds free at www.opinionjournal.com. To my knowledge, the only other mainstream newspaper that commercializes its op-eds but not its news is the progressive UK Independent. Bush Watch has no plans to delete news and analysis by either The Independent or The NYT.

Alan: The NY Times charging for [op-eds] may be a signal that this golden age of easily reading [internet] newspapers from around the world will eventually come to an end.

Opinion: CEO Bush And His Enron Government, Frank Rich (excerpt)

Ours will be remembered as the Enron era. Enron itself is a distant memory - much like all that circa 2000 talk of a smoothly efficient C.E.O. presidency led by a Harvard M.B.A. and a former chief executive of Halliburton. But even as American business has since been purged by prosecutions and reforms, the mutant Enron version of the C.E.O. culture still rules in Washington: uninhibited cronyism, cooked books, special-favors networks, the banishment of whistle-blowers and accountability. More than ideology, this ethos has sabotaged even the best of American intentions, whether in Iraq or New Orleans. Unchecked, it promises greater disasters to come....

The damage done to the mission in Iraq and homeland security alike by Enron governance is immeasurable. Administration apologists who now claim that hurricane relief will bring still more examples of innovative, C.E.O.-style governmental enterprise (Mr. Bush's "Gulf Opportunity Zone," for instance) conveniently sidestep the harsh truth that such schemes are destined to be as empty and corrupt as Andrew Fastow's Raptor partnerships at Enron once they're staffed from the apparently infinite crony talent pool.

Tom Tomorrow Free Swimming Ponies To Everyone In New Orleans!


Sunday, September 25, 2005

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Opinion: Four Strikes: Bush Katrina Investigator Should Be Out, William Fisher

Either President Bush just doesn’t get it, or he just doesn’t care, or he thinks the people he serves are all gullible morons. He’s appointed his own Homeland Security Advisor, Ms. Frances Townsend, to lead the White House investigation into how the government screwed up with Hurricane Katrina – and what to do about it.Does the president really believe the American people will find such an investigation credible?...

Second, Ms. Townsend is a career prosecutor with no experience in natural disaster preparedness or response. Her homeland security experience has been limited to terrorism-related intelligence.... Third, her track record leading investigations does not exactly inspire confidence....[Last April,] Ms. Townsend directed Cabinet secretaries to report back to her quickly [on a 9/11 report]. "You will begin to see action in a matter of weeks," Townsend said from the White House podium. Maybe I missed something, but I think we’re still waiting. Finally,....

Opinion: Play Stormy For Me, Maureen Dowd (excerpt)

Stormy is like his dad, Desert Stormy. They both love wardrobe calls: cool costumes, sports outfits, presidential windbreakers, "Top Gun" get-ups, weather gear. But leadership is not a series of costume changes. The former Andover cheerleader has been too reliant on photo-ops, drop-bys and "Mission Accomplished" strut-bys, rather than a font of personal knowledge. What Katrina exposed was a president who - remarkable as this may sound - seemed bored after his re-election....

Before the Katrina scandal, W. had lethargically wandered the country, lifelessly promoting his Social Security plan and an energy bill that did nothing to solve the energy crisis, and endlessly vacationing in Crawford.He campaigned as a strong daddy who would keep us safe, but then seemed lost when his daddy figure, Dick Cheney, kept vacationing as Katrina exposed a grotesque rescue apartheid in New Orleans. The more tuned-in W. is now, the more obvious it is that he tuned out as New Orleans drowned. There is a high cost for presidential learning curves. A lot of elderly hospital and nursing home patients died in New Orleans before W. could pay attention to Houston and Galveston.

From The Mouths Of Babes: A buttress is a woman who makes butter.

We're Watching: John Malkovich in "Ripley's Game" (New Line)


Saturday, September 24, 2005

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Opinion: Bush Hoards Billions In Drilling Money For Iraq War, Turns Down Share-Repair Requests From Gulf States, Jason Leopold

To hear the president in a televised speech promise to spend whatever it takes to rebuild one of the nation’s great cities is not a sign of progress, rather it’s a symbol of the total breakdown of his administration and an attempt to conceal what could arguably have been a man-made disaster because of Bush’s policies....In June. Louisiana state officials had been hoping that a provision included in the Senate energy bill that called for $500 million in offshore energy revenue from the federal government would finally provide Louisiana and four other coastal states with the funds it desperately needed to repair its damaged wetlands to protect itself, among other things, against possible future weather-related disasters.

But the White House adamantly refused to part ways with the $5 billion it gets from drilling in the Gulf Coast, its second biggest source of revenue (after income the Internal Revenue Service brings in) choosing to use most of those funds to finance the Iraq war. To ensure that the message came across crystal clear, Bush personally ordered White House aides to take the unusual step of sending a letter to House and Senate negotiators advising them to kill the revenue-sharing plan in the final version of the energy bill.It wasn t long after the White House issued its statement on the revenue sharing concept that Louisiana lawmakers predicted an apocalyptic end to the city of New Orleans. Clifford Smith, a Houma, La., civil engineer and coastal advocate who is also a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi River Commission, told The Courier in June that without federal assistance New Orleans could very well drown if it took a direct hit from a hurricane. "We re not going to get the kind of recognition and concern we deserve until we have a disaster," he said.

Opinion: Bush Trifecta: The Crisis Of Confidence, Paul Krugman (excerpt)

The available measures say that consumer confidence, which was already declining before Katrina hit, has now fallen off a cliff....Most Americans say the war was a mistake; a majority say the administration deliberately misled the country into war; almost 4 in 10 say Iraq will turn into another Vietnam. And many people are outraged by the war's cost....Fragmentary evidence...suggests that the confluence of Katrina and the fourth anniversary of 9/11 has caused something to snap in public perceptions about the "war on terror."...

The hapless response to Katrina, which should have been easier to deal with than a terrorist attack, has shown that our leaders have done virtually nothing to make us safer....These blows to our national self-image are mutually reinforcing. The sense that we're caught in an unwinnable war reinforces the sense that the economy is getting worse, and vice versa. So we're having a crisis of confidence....But who will provide leadership, now that Mr. Bush is damaged goods?

Bushlexia:"We look forward to hearing your vision so we can more better do our job."
--Bush in Gulfport, Miss., Sep. 20, 2005

We're Listening: Bill Frisell's, "This Land" (Elektra)


Friday, September 23, 2005

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Opinion: The People Vs./ FEMA, Sara DeHart

So far there has been little scrutiny of Michael Chertoff, the new security czar who holds dual citizenship (Israel and the United States). Most of the media directed their attention and blame on Michael Brown, who as FEMA's director was clearly ill prepared to handle the job. Brown believes he has been scapegoated by the media and, in part, I agree. This debacle is much larger than merely placing political appointees in positions for which they are unqualified.

Changing personnel is not the answer to FEMA's problem. The American people need to demand that the structure of FEMA and Homeland Security be carefully examined by an independent commission that is willing to go back to the drawing board and demand that the structure fit the needs of the United States in the 21st Century.

Homeland Security and FEMA have failed a massive systems test, and in the language of No child left behind, failure will no longer be tolerated. To members of the House and Senate, the message is clear. Fix the structure or you will lose your jobs! We cannot wait for the next disaster to find out that the U.S. Cavalry is a no-show charade directed by incompetents placed into a Hydra-headed bureaucracy by a president addicted to cronyism.

Opinion: Isn't Competence A Criteria For President? Bob Herbert (excerpt)

Here at home, even loyal Republicans are beginning to bail out on Mr. Bush's fiendish willingness to shove the monumental costs of the federal government's operations - including his war, his tax cuts and his promised reconstruction of the Gulf Coast - onto the unsuspecting backs of generations still to come. There is a general sense now that things are falling apart. The economy was already faltering before Katrina hit. Gasoline prices are starting to undermine the standard of living of some Americans, and a full-blown home-heating-oil crisis could erupt this winter. The administration's awful response to the agony of the Gulf Coast has left most Americans believing that we are not prepared to cope with a large terrorist attack. And Osama bin Laden is still at large.

This is what happens when voters choose a president because he seems like a nice guy, like someone who'd be fun at a barbecue or a ballgame. You'd never use that criterion when choosing a surgeon, or a pilot to fly your family across the country. Mr. Bush will be at the helm of the ship of state for three more years, so we have no choice but to hang on. But the next time around, voters need to keep in mind that beyond the incessant yammering about left and right, big government and small, Democrats and Republicans, is a more immediate issue, and that's competence.

We're Reading: Thom Hartman's "We The People: A Call To Take Back America" (Core Way Media)


Thursday, September 22, 2005

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Opinion: Who Lost New Orleans? Ernest Partridge

The port of New Orleans is an indispensable national asset. Its loss, while an inconsolable tragedy to its residents, now scattered around the nation, is also an economic hardship to all Americans, and to millions abroad – as we are all about to discover. And so, the response to the taunt – “it’s their fault for living in a disaster-prone region” – is simple and straightforward: someone had to live there, and because the entire nation has benefited from the city and port of New Orleans, it is appropriate that the entire nation should invest in its reconstruction and assist in the rehabilitation of its unfortunate residents.

Similar considerations apply to the Pacific coast with its seismic hazards, and the Northwest with the additional threat of volcanoes. The national economy requires Pacific seaports, along with the timber of the Northwest and the agricultural production of California’s incomparably fertile central valley. And so, if disaster strikes, compensation to the victims is appropriate. Any politician who believes that these regions are autonomous and economically detachable and thus not the responsibility of the federal government is unqualified for national leadership. To the great misfortune of the United States, such individuals are nonetheless in political control of the federal government.  

Opinion: Won't Get Fooled Again, Thomas Friedman (excerpt)

Following President Bush's speech in New Orleans, many U.S. papers carried the same basic headline: "Bush Rules Out Raising Taxes for Gulf Relief." The president is planning to rely on "spending cuts" instead to pay for rebuilding New Orleans. Yeah, right - and if you believe that, I have some beachfront property in Biloxi I'd like to sell you. The underlying message of all these stories is that the Bush team sees no reason to change course in response to Katrina.

I beg to differ. Katrina deprived the Bush team of the energy source that propelled it forward for the last four years: 9/11 and the halo over the presidency that came with it. The events of 9/11 created a deference in the U.S. public, and media, for the administration, which exploited it to the hilt to push an uncompassionate conservative agenda on tax cuts and runaway spending, on which it never could have gotten elected. That deference is over.

If Mr. Bush wants to make anything of his second term, he'll have to do his own Nixon-to-China turnaround, reframe the debate and recast the priorities of his presidency. He seems to think that by offering to spend billions of dollars to rebuild one city, New Orleans, he'll get his leadership halo back. Wrong.

   Verse: Rebuilder In Chief, Madeleine Begun Kane

George Bush said he'll Gulf Coast rebuild
In a speech that was platitude filled.
And he'll do it with cash
From fine programs he'll slash.
And for that, we're supposed to be thrilled?   


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

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Disaster: Praying For Katrina, William Fisher

Congress gave our military $10 billion for Iraq Reconstruction. A good chunk of that money has simply vanished – it’s been lost. And there is virtually no reconstruction to show for it. And, in one more of a long litany of incompetence and malfeasance, the General Accountability Office (GAO) informed us recently that millions of dollars worth of new equipment was being sold as ‘surplus’ for pennies on the dollar. That equipment included Kevlar flak jackets needed by the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, so of course the Pentagon ordered more.

If President Bush is looking for ‘offsets’ to pay for Katrina, he shouldn’t be thinking about cutting back on Medicaid, No Child Left Behind, Social Security, and other programs that directly benefit those most devastated by Katrina. He should take a look at the ‘offsets’ already in the Pentagon’s appropriations – if he can find them.

Disaster: It's All In The (Dysfunctional) Family, Maureen Dowd (excerpt)

Mr. Bush should stop posing in shirtsleeves and get back to the Oval Office. He has more hacks and cronies he's trying to put into important jobs, and he needs to ride herd on that.... The announcement that a veterinarian, Norris Alderson, who has no experience on women's health issues, would head the F.D.A.'s Office of Women's Health ran into so much flak from appalled women that the F.D.A. may have already reneged on it....The choice of Julie Myers, a 36-year-old lawyer with virtually no immigration, customs or law enforcement experience, to head the roiling Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency with its $4 billion budget and 22,000 staffers, has caused some alarm...She just married Mr. Chertoff's chief of staff, John Wood, and she's the niece of Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

David Safavian, the White House procurement official involved in Katrina relief efforts, was arrested on Monday, accused by the F.B.I. of lying and obstructing a criminal investigation into the seamy case of "Casino Jack" Abramoff, the Republican operative [and old friend of Tom DeLay] who has broken new ground in giving lobbying a bad name. Democrats say the fact that Mr. Safavian's wife is a top lawyer for the Republican congressman who's leading the whitewash of the White House blundering on Katrina does not give them confidence. Just as he has stonewalled other inquiries, Mr. Bush is trying to paper over his Katrina mistakes by appointing his homeland security adviser, Frances Townsend, to investigate how the feds fumbled the response.

Quip: Bush To Nominee: "I'm trying to find a way to balance your strengths against your felonies."


Tuesday, September 20, 2005


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Opinion: Rebuilding New Orleans Like Iraq, Bob Herbert (excerpt)

In the same lavish way that Mr. Bush is promising to rebuild New Orleans and the rest of the storm-damaged Gulf Coast, he assured us and the rest of the world that the invasion he was ordering would lead to the rebuilding of Iraq and its devastated economy....But last Thursday, the very same day that he delivered his speech in New Orleans, the World Bank released a report showing that the continued violence in Iraq had frightened away private investors, slowed reconstruction and disrupted oil production.

The country has put its faith in Mr. Bush many times before, and come up empty. It may be cynical, but my guess is that if we believe him again this time, we're going to end up on our collective keisters.... Polls have shown that over the past two years Americans have lost a great deal of faith in Mr. Bush, who tends to talk a good game but doesn't seem to know how to deliver....

This president has had zero interest in attacking poverty, and the result has been an increase in poverty in the U.S., the richest country in the world, in each of the last four years. Instead of attacking poverty, the Bush administration has attacked the safety net and has stubbornly refused to stop the decline in the value of the minimum wage on his watch. You can believe that he's suddenly worried about poor people if you want to. What is more likely is that his reference to racism and poverty was just another opportunistic Karl Rove moment, never to be acted upon....

Opinion: America's "Mental Defectives" Confront Iran, Walter C. Uhler (link corrected)

On a recent visit to a periodicals room in the Joe Paterno wing of Penn State's Pattee Library I ran across a fascinating journal, The Long Term View, published by the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover. Its Spring 2004 issue was entirely devoted to the question, "Why We Seek War" and its editor, Lawrence R. Velvel, commenced his introduction by asserting: "The United States is a nation which seeks war. We better change or we may end up destroying ourselves and perhaps even the world." [p.3]

Mr. Velvel provides some twenty-one reasons why Americans seek war, but I was especially intrigued by reason number six: "Government is incompetent and its leaders stupid." [p.9] Velvel offers many persuasive reasons for government incompetence (which should not prevent us from acknowledging widespread incompetence in the private sector), but he's less persuasive when attempting to explain why leaders become stupid.

True, Velvel gets close when he observes: "politicians, who run government, care little about truth, accuracy, honesty, or any of those other disposable attributes. They care far more about what can be spun, sold, and made to sound good, so that they will get votes." [Ibid.] Were one to add that most politicians these days are driven by ideology, then he arrives at our present day phenomenon: the ideological moron.

GOP Words: STRICT CONSTRUCTIONIST

n. A judge with extremely conservative beliefs, who interprets laws in a manner that fits his/rarely-her own belief systems, while maintaining that this was the original intent of the law. (Floyd Doney, Athens, Ohio)

Monday, September 19, 2005


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Opinion: America's "Mental Defectives" Confront Iran, Walter C. Uhler

On a recent visit to a periodicals room in the Joe Paterno wing of Penn State's Pattee Library I ran across a fascinating journal, The Long Term View, published by the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover. Its Spring 2004 issue was entirely devoted to the question, "Why We Seek War" and its editor, Lawrence R. Velvel, commenced his introduction by asserting: "The United States is a nation which seeks war. We better change or we may end up destroying ourselves and perhaps even the world." [p.3]

Mr. Velvel provides some twenty-one reasons why Americans seek war, but I was especially intrigued by reason number six: "Government is incompetent and its leaders stupid." [p.9] Velvel offers many persuasive reasons for government incompetence (which should not prevent us from acknowledging widespread incompetence in the private sector), but he's less persuasive when attempting to explain why leaders become stupid.

True, Velvel gets close when he observes: "politicians, who run government, care little about truth, accuracy, honesty, or any of those other disposable attributes. They care far more about what can be spun, sold, and made to sound good, so that they will get votes." [Ibid.] Were one to add that most politicians these days are driven by ideology, then he arrives at our present day phenomenon: the ideological moron.

Opinion: Race and Poor In America, Paul Krugman (excerpt)

The administration's lethally inept response to Hurricane Katrina had a lot to do with race. For race is the biggest reason the United States, uniquely among advanced countries, is ruled by a political movement that is hostile to the idea of helping citizens in need. Race, after all, was central to the emergence of a Republican majority: essentially, the South switched sides after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Today, states that had slavery in 1860 are much more likely to vote Republican than states that didn't.

And who can honestly deny that race is a major reason America treats its poor more harshly than any other advanced country? To put it crudely: a middle-class European, thinking about the poor, says to himself, "There but for the grace of God go I." A middle-class American is all too likely to think, perhaps without admitting it to himself, "Why should I be taxed to support those people?" Above all, race-based hostility to the idea of helping the poor created an environment in which a political movement hostile to government aid in general could flourish.

Tom Tomorrow GOP Voter Backs Bush No Matter What. What???

Sunday, September 18, 2005

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Opinion: Iraqis To Bush - Where Did All Our Money Go? Evelyn Pringle

I have come to the conclusion that even if I live to be 100, I will never be able to track down every Bush-connected profiteer involved in this phony war on terror scheme. According to a report released in March 2005, by Transparency International (TI), an international organization that focuses on matters of corruption, Iraq could become "the biggest corruption scandal in history."

...As for Halliburton, it is currently facing a number of investigations for overcharging in Iraq, according to a report released in March 2005, by Rep Henry Waxman (D-CA). But hey, what better choice could Bush have made than for Halliburton to get the $700 million reconstruction contract to repair the damage caused by Katrina? I mean, look what the firm has done for the Iraqis.

Opinion: Senate's Kabuki Dance With Roberts, William Fisher
After three days of hearings on the confirmation of Judge John G. Roberts to be the seventeenth Chief Justice of the United States, what the public has learned is that the nominee appears to be as much Talmudic scholar as jurist. In the relatively few questions he did not duck altogether by saying they related to issues likely to come before the Court, or by claiming the views he wrote were those of the administrations he has worked for in the past, Roberts responded even to most specific questions with an "on the one hand, on the other hand" approach.

...That has been his response to a long litany of questions for the past three days. The questions involved such issues as civil rights, end-of-life decisions, HIV-AIDS, Congressional power, terrorism, freedom of information, abortion, guns in schools, the Geneva Conventions, affirmative action, separation of church and state, detention of alleged terrorists, and dozens of others.

Sunday Bible School: (Actual test answers.)
Christians have only one spouse. This is called monotony.

We're Watching: Matthew Vaughn's "L4yer Cake" (Sony)


Saturday, September 17, 2005

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Opinion: Georgie, You’re Doing a Heck of a Job, W. David Jenkins, III

The last few weeks have been irrefutable proof that America is being wrecked and mismanaged by the most incompetent, dangerous and out of touch boobs ever to obtain power. Any American with even a tiny amount of conscience who watched those images from New Orleans shook their heads with disbelief and shame that something like this should happen within our own borders in these modern times. As pictures of floating corpses glared at us through our TV sets, we were treated to photo-ops of our supposed leader golfing, blithering about Social Security, eating cake and strumming a guitar. Meanwhile, our Secretary of State shopped for shoes and took in a show while the Vice President shopped for a house in a ritzy Maryland neighborhood.

And just as it was four years ago before the smoke had cleared in Southern Manhattan, the Bush people are running from any sense of responsibility or accountability before the waters are gone from New Orleans. Oh sure, I know Bush came out later the same week and assumed responsibility for any short-comings by the federal government, but that ploy was devised to address his pathetic numbers rather than any altruistic intentions. They still shamelessly accuse those who point to the pathetic response of the federal government of playing the “blame game” and “pointing fingers” while they and their media mouthpieces do exactly the same thing when referring to State and Local officials. But there are other unfortunate similarities regarding Bush and Company’s actions that also remind us of what happened four years ago besides their chronic fear of accountability.

Opinion: Where's My Flying Car? William A. Smith

How many wake-up calls do we need? I ve seen the obscene sums. Show me the progress. Please, show me the error of my ways. Although I ll readily cop to being AWOL in the 70s, I didn t miss too many classes in the 50s and 60s; and looking back down the road, with JFK and Neil Armstrong in the rearview, I was taught that I d be buzzing around Paris and Bangkok in a flying car that ran on grass and little more than a liter of water by now.

So of course I'm PO'ed. I despise 97 percent of what I see and hear. Life is pointless without a flying car, and every complacent jerk who thinks it's so Jim Dandy can easily shove his or her freakin Ipod nano where the sun doesn t charge a dollar for a song. Which reminds me of another sure thing from the olden days: They had me believing any ditty ever recorded--from ABBA to Zappa--might cost maybe a nickel or a dime at most if I wanted to play it forever inside my flying car. And that was before eight tracks, dadgummit!

We're Listening: Andy Summers, "Green Chimneys" (BMG)


Friday, September 16, 2005

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Opinion: 20 Things We Now Know 4 Years After 9/11, Bernard Weiner

A general assessment before we begin the numbered list: There now is a widely-accepted foreign and domestic judgment that the Bush Administration is composed of bumbling, dangerous, close-minded ideologues. You can see it in the polls (as I write this, Bush has only a 40% approval rating, amazingly low) and, particularly, in how many conservative/traditional Republicans and former military officers are expressing remorse at having supported this guy in the 2004 election. Bush these days still has his true-believer base of about 30%, but he's extremely vulnerable politically, which is why Rove and his minions are so desperate right now and are ratcheting up the rhetoric and smear-tactics against their political enemies. And the desperation helps us understand why Bush keeps returning to 9/11, the one talisman that he thinks still may work for him, that singular moment in his history when many Americans thought he looked good.

Disaster In New Orleans: Memorable Katrina Quotes, ed. by Richard Roeper

From the disputed presidential election of 2000 to the terrorist attacks on America on 9/11/01 to the failure to find Osama bin Laden to the quagmire of a war in Iraq to Hurricane Katrina, this has been a terrible decade, century, millennium. It's got to get better in 2006, doesn't it? In the meantime, we're two weeks into one of the most tragic and shameful events in American history. Here, in chronological order, are some of the most memorable quotes from evacuees, politicians, journalists, media personalities and celebrities.

Verse: Though Judge Roberts is getting a hearing, Madeleine Begun Kane

Though Judge Roberts is getting a hearing,
To measure his outlook and bearing,
He's determined to hide
Views that Dems can't abide.
His convictions he simply ain't sharing.

We're Reading: Douglas Preston's "Tyrannosaur Canyon" (Tom Doherty Associates)


Friday, September 23, 2005

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Opinion: The People Vs./ FEMA, Sara DeHart

So far there has been little scrutiny of Michael Chertoff, the new security czar who holds dual citizenship (Israel and the United States). Most of the media directed their attention and blame on Michael Brown, who as FEMA's director was clearly ill prepared to handle the job. Brown believes he has been scapegoated by the media and, in part, I agree. This debacle is much larger than merely placing political appointees in positions for which they are unqualified.

Changing personnel is not the answer to FEMA's problem. The American people need to demand that the structure of FEMA and Homeland Security be carefully examined by an independent commission that is willing to go back to the drawing board and demand that the structure fit the needs of the United States in the 21st Century.

Homeland Security and FEMA have failed a massive systems test, and in the language of No child left behind, failure will no longer be tolerated. To members of the House and Senate, the message is clear. Fix the structure or you will lose your jobs! We cannot wait for the next disaster to find out that the U.S. Cavalry is a no-show charade directed by incompetents placed into a Hydra-headed bureaucracy by a president addicted to cronyism.

Opinion: Isn't Competence A Criteria For President? Bob Herbert (excerpt)

Here at home, even loyal Republicans are beginning to bail out on Mr. Bush's fiendish willingness to shove the monumental costs of the federal government's operations - including his war, his tax cuts and his promised reconstruction of the Gulf Coast - onto the unsuspecting backs of generations still to come. There is a general sense now that things are falling apart. The economy was already faltering before Katrina hit. Gasoline prices are starting to undermine the standard of living of some Americans, and a full-blown home-heating-oil crisis could erupt this winter. The administration's awful response to the agony of the Gulf Coast has left most Americans believing that we are not prepared to cope with a large terrorist attack. And Osama bin Laden is still at large.

This is what happens when voters choose a president because he seems like a nice guy, like someone who'd be fun at a barbecue or a ballgame. You'd never use that criterion when choosing a surgeon, or a pilot to fly your family across the country. Mr. Bush will be at the helm of the ship of state for three more years, so we have no choice but to hang on. But the next time around, voters need to keep in mind that beyond the incessant yammering about left and right, big government and small, Democrats and Republicans, is a more immediate issue, and that's competence.

We're Reading: Thom Hartman's "We The People: A Call To Take Back America" (Core Way Media)


Thursday, September 22, 2005

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Opinion: Who Lost New Orleans? Ernest Partridge

The port of New Orleans is an indispensable national asset. Its loss, while an inconsolable tragedy to its residents, now scattered around the nation, is also an economic hardship to all Americans, and to millions abroad – as we are all about to discover. And so, the response to the taunt – “it’s their fault for living in a disaster-prone region” – is simple and straightforward: someone had to live there, and because the entire nation has benefited from the city and port of New Orleans, it is appropriate that the entire nation should invest in its reconstruction and assist in the rehabilitation of its unfortunate residents.

Similar considerations apply to the Pacific coast with its seismic hazards, and the Northwest with the additional threat of volcanoes. The national economy requires Pacific seaports, along with the timber of the Northwest and the agricultural production of California’s incomparably fertile central valley. And so, if disaster strikes, compensation to the victims is appropriate. Any politician who believes that these regions are autonomous and economically detachable and thus not the responsibility of the federal government is unqualified for national leadership. To the great misfortune of the United States, such individuals are nonetheless in political control of the federal government.  

Opinion: Won't Get Fooled Again, Thomas Friedman (excerpt)

Following President Bush's speech in New Orleans, many U.S. papers carried the same basic headline: "Bush Rules Out Raising Taxes for Gulf Relief." The president is planning to rely on "spending cuts" instead to pay for rebuilding New Orleans. Yeah, right - and if you believe that, I have some beachfront property in Biloxi I'd like to sell you. The underlying message of all these stories is that the Bush team sees no reason to change course in response to Katrina.

I beg to differ. Katrina deprived the Bush team of the energy source that propelled it forward for the last four years: 9/11 and the halo over the presidency that came with it. The events of 9/11 created a deference in the U.S. public, and media, for the administration, which exploited it to the hilt to push an uncompassionate conservative agenda on tax cuts and runaway spending, on which it never could have gotten elected. That deference is over.

If Mr. Bush wants to make anything of his second term, he'll have to do his own Nixon-to-China turnaround, reframe the debate and recast the priorities of his presidency. He seems to think that by offering to spend billions of dollars to rebuild one city, New Orleans, he'll get his leadership halo back. Wrong.

   Verse: Rebuilder In Chief, Madeleine Begun Kane

George Bush said he'll Gulf Coast rebuild
In a speech that was platitude filled.
And he'll do it with cash
From fine programs he'll slash.
And for that, we're supposed to be thrilled?   


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

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Disaster: Praying For Katrina, William Fisher

Congress gave our military $10 billion for Iraq Reconstruction. A good chunk of that money has simply vanished – it’s been lost. And there is virtually no reconstruction to show for it. And, in one more of a long litany of incompetence and malfeasance, the General Accountability Office (GAO) informed us recently that millions of dollars worth of new equipment was being sold as ‘surplus’ for pennies on the dollar. That equipment included Kevlar flak jackets needed by the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, so of course the Pentagon ordered more.

If President Bush is looking for ‘offsets’ to pay for Katrina, he shouldn’t be thinking about cutting back on Medicaid, No Child Left Behind, Social Security, and other programs that directly benefit those most devastated by Katrina. He should take a look at the ‘offsets’ already in the Pentagon’s appropriations – if he can find them.

Disaster: It's All In The (Dysfunctional) Family, Maureen Dowd (excerpt)

Mr. Bush should stop posing in shirtsleeves and get back to the Oval Office. He has more hacks and cronies he's trying to put into important jobs, and he needs to ride herd on that.... The announcement that a veterinarian, Norris Alderson, who has no experience on women's health issues, would head the F.D.A.'s Office of Women's Health ran into so much flak from appalled women that the F.D.A. may have already reneged on it....The choice of Julie Myers, a 36-year-old lawyer with virtually no immigration, customs or law enforcement experience, to head the roiling Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency with its $4 billion budget and 22,000 staffers, has caused some alarm...She just married Mr. Chertoff's chief of staff, John Wood, and she's the niece of Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

David Safavian, the White House procurement official involved in Katrina relief efforts, was arrested on Monday, accused by the F.B.I. of lying and obstructing a criminal investigation into the seamy case of "Casino Jack" Abramoff, the Republican operative [and old friend of Tom DeLay] who has broken new ground in giving lobbying a bad name. Democrats say the fact that Mr. Safavian's wife is a top lawyer for the Republican congressman who's leading the whitewash of the White House blundering on Katrina does not give them confidence. Just as he has stonewalled other inquiries, Mr. Bush is trying to paper over his Katrina mistakes by appointing his homeland security adviser, Frances Townsend, to investigate how the feds fumbled the response.

Quip: Bush To Nominee: "I'm trying to find a way to balance your strengths against your felonies."


Tuesday, September 20, 2005


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Opinion: Good Grief, Bob Herbert (excerpt)

In the same lavish way that Mr. Bush is promising to rebuild New Orleans and the rest of the storm-damaged Gulf Coast, he assured us and the rest of the world that the invasion he was ordering would lead to the rebuilding of Iraq and its devastated economy....But last Thursday, the very same day that he delivered his speech in New Orleans, the World Bank released a report showing that the continued violence in Iraq had frightened away private investors, slowed reconstruction and disrupted oil production.

The country has put its faith in Mr. Bush many times before, and come up empty. It may be cynical, but my guess is that if we believe him again this time, we're going to end up on our collective keisters.... Polls have shown that over the past two years Americans have lost a great deal of faith in Mr. Bush, who tends to talk a good game but doesn't seem to know how to deliver....

This president has had zero interest in attacking poverty, and the result has been an increase in poverty in the U.S., the richest country in the world, in each of the last four years. Instead of attacking poverty, the Bush administration has attacked the safety net and has stubbornly refused to stop the decline in the value of the minimum wage on his watch. You can believe that he's suddenly worried about poor people if you want to. What is more likely is that his reference to racism and poverty was just another opportunistic Karl Rove moment, never to be acted upon....

Opinion: America's "Mental Defectives" Confront Iran, Walter C. Uhler (link corrected)

On a recent visit to a periodicals room in the Joe Paterno wing of Penn State's Pattee Library I ran across a fascinating journal, The Long Term View, published by the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover. Its Spring 2004 issue was entirely devoted to the question, "Why We Seek War" and its editor, Lawrence R. Velvel, commenced his introduction by asserting: "The United States is a nation which seeks war. We better change or we may end up destroying ourselves and perhaps even the world." [p.3]

Mr. Velvel provides some twenty-one reasons why Americans seek war, but I was especially intrigued by reason number six: "Government is incompetent and its leaders stupid." [p.9] Velvel offers many persuasive reasons for government incompetence (which should not prevent us from acknowledging widespread incompetence in the private sector), but he's less persuasive when attempting to explain why leaders become stupid.

True, Velvel gets close when he observes: "politicians, who run government, care little about truth, accuracy, honesty, or any of those other disposable attributes. They care far more about what can be spun, sold, and made to sound good, so that they will get votes." [Ibid.] Were one to add that most politicians these days are driven by ideology, then he arrives at our present day phenomenon: the ideological moron.

GOP Words: STRICT CONSTRUCTIONIST

n. A judge with extremely conservative beliefs, who interprets laws in a manner that fits his/rarely-her own belief systems, while maintaining that this was the original intent of the law. (Floyd Doney, Athens, Ohio)

Monday, September 19, 2005


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Opinion: America's "Mental Defectives" Confront Iran, Walter C. Uhler

On a recent visit to a periodicals room in the Joe Paterno wing of Penn State's Pattee Library I ran across a fascinating journal, The Long Term View, published by the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover. Its Spring 2004 issue was entirely devoted to the question, "Why We Seek War" and its editor, Lawrence R. Velvel, commenced his introduction by asserting: "The United States is a nation which seeks war. We better change or we may end up destroying ourselves and perhaps even the world." [p.3]

Mr. Velvel provides some twenty-one reasons why Americans seek war, but I was especially intrigued by reason number six: "Government is incompetent and its leaders stupid." [p.9] Velvel offers many persuasive reasons for government incompetence (which should not prevent us from acknowledging widespread incompetence in the private sector), but he's less persuasive when attempting to explain why leaders become stupid.

True, Velvel gets close when he observes: "politicians, who run government, care little about truth, accuracy, honesty, or any of those other disposable attributes. They care far more about what can be spun, sold, and made to sound good, so that they will get votes." [Ibid.] Were one to add that most politicians these days are driven by ideology, then he arrives at our present day phenomenon: the ideological moron.

Opinion: Tragedy in Black and White, Paul Krugman (excerpt)

The administration's lethally inept response to Hurricane Katrina had a lot to do with race. For race is the biggest reason the United States, uniquely among advanced countries, is ruled by a political movement that is hostile to the idea of helping citizens in need. Race, after all, was central to the emergence of a Republican majority: essentially, the South switched sides after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Today, states that had slavery in 1860 are much more likely to vote Republican than states that didn't.

And who can honestly deny that race is a major reason America treats its poor more harshly than any other advanced country? To put it crudely: a middle-class European, thinking about the poor, says to himself, "There but for the grace of God go I." A middle-class American is all too likely to think, perhaps without admitting it to himself, "Why should I be taxed to support those people?" Above all, race-based hostility to the idea of helping the poor created an environment in which a political movement hostile to government aid in general could flourish.

Tom Tomorrow GOP Voter Backs Bush No Matter What. What???

Sunday, September 18, 2005

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Opinion: Iraqis To Bush - Where Did All Our Money Go? Evelyn Pringle

I have come to the conclusion that even if I live to be 100, I will never be able to track down every Bush-connected profiteer involved in this phony war on terror scheme. According to a report released in March 2005, by Transparency International (TI), an international organization that focuses on matters of corruption, Iraq could become "the biggest corruption scandal in history."

...As for Halliburton, it is currently facing a number of investigations for overcharging in Iraq, according to a report released in March 2005, by Rep Henry Waxman (D-CA). But hey, what better choice could Bush have made than for Halliburton to get the $700 million reconstruction contract to repair the damage caused by Katrina? I mean, look what the firm has done for the Iraqis.

Opinion: Senate's Kabuki Dance With Roberts, William Fisher
After three days of hearings on the confirmation of Judge John G. Roberts to be the seventeenth Chief Justice of the United States, what the public has learned is that the nominee appears to be as much Talmudic scholar as jurist. In the relatively few questions he did not duck altogether by saying they related to issues likely to come before the Court, or by claiming the views he wrote were those of the administrations he has worked for in the past, Roberts responded even to most specific questions with an "on the one hand, on the other hand" approach.

...That has been his response to a long litany of questions for the past three days. The questions involved such issues as civil rights, end-of-life decisions, HIV-AIDS, Congressional power, terrorism, freedom of information, abortion, guns in schools, the Geneva Conventions, affirmative action, separation of church and state, detention of alleged terrorists, and dozens of others.

Sunday Bible School: (Actual test answers.)
Christians have only one spouse. This is called monotony.

We're Watching: Matthew Vaughn's "L4yer Cake" (Sony)


Saturday, September 17, 2005

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Opinion: Georgie, You’re Doing a Heck of a Job, W. David Jenkins, III

The last few weeks have been irrefutable proof that America is being wrecked and mismanaged by the most incompetent, dangerous and out of touch boobs ever to obtain power. Any American with even a tiny amount of conscience who watched those images from New Orleans shook their heads with disbelief and shame that something like this should happen within our own borders in these modern times. As pictures of floating corpses glared at us through our TV sets, we were treated to photo-ops of our supposed leader golfing, blithering about Social Security, eating cake and strumming a guitar. Meanwhile, our Secretary of State shopped for shoes and took in a show while the Vice President shopped for a house in a ritzy Maryland neighborhood.

And just as it was four years ago before the smoke had cleared in Southern Manhattan, the Bush people are running from any sense of responsibility or accountability before the waters are gone from New Orleans. Oh sure, I know Bush came out later the same week and assumed responsibility for any short-comings by the federal government, but that ploy was devised to address his pathetic numbers rather than any altruistic intentions. They still shamelessly accuse those who point to the pathetic response of the federal government of playing the “blame game” and “pointing fingers” while they and their media mouthpieces do exactly the same thing when referring to State and Local officials. But there are other unfortunate similarities regarding Bush and Company’s actions that also remind us of what happened four years ago besides their chronic fear of accountability.

Opinion: Where's My Flying Car? William A. Smith

How many wake-up calls do we need? I ve seen the obscene sums. Show me the progress. Please, show me the error of my ways. Although I ll readily cop to being AWOL in the 70s, I didn t miss too many classes in the 50s and 60s; and looking back down the road, with JFK and Neil Armstrong in the rearview, I was taught that I d be buzzing around Paris and Bangkok in a flying car that ran on grass and little more than a liter of water by now.

So of course I'm PO'ed. I despise 97 percent of what I see and hear. Life is pointless without a flying car, and every complacent jerk who thinks it's so Jim Dandy can easily shove his or her freakin Ipod nano where the sun doesn t charge a dollar for a song. Which reminds me of another sure thing from the olden days: They had me believing any ditty ever recorded--from ABBA to Zappa--might cost maybe a nickel or a dime at most if I wanted to play it forever inside my flying car. And that was before eight tracks, dadgummit!

We're Listening: Andy Summers, "Green Chimneys" (BMG)


Friday, September 16, 2005

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Opinion: 20 Things We Now Know 4 Years After 9/11, Bernard Weiner

A general assessment before we begin the numbered list: There now is a widely-accepted foreign and domestic judgment that the Bush Administration is composed of bumbling, dangerous, close-minded ideologues. You can see it in the polls (as I write this, Bush has only a 40% approval rating, amazingly low) and, particularly, in how many conservative/traditional Republicans and former military officers are expressing remorse at having supported this guy in the 2004 election. Bush these days still has his true-believer base of about 30%, but he's extremely vulnerable politically, which is why Rove and his minions are so desperate right now and are ratcheting up the rhetoric and smear-tactics against their political enemies. And the desperation helps us understand why Bush keeps returning to 9/11, the one talisman that he thinks still may work for him, that singular moment in his history when many Americans thought he looked good.

Disaster In New Orleans: Memorable Katrina Quotes, ed. by Richard Roeper

From the disputed presidential election of 2000 to the terrorist attacks on America on 9/11/01 to the failure to find Osama bin Laden to the quagmire of a war in Iraq to Hurricane Katrina, this has been a terrible decade, century, millennium. It's got to get better in 2006, doesn't it? In the meantime, we're two weeks into one of the most tragic and shameful events in American history. Here, in chronological order, are some of the most memorable quotes from evacuees, politicians, journalists, media personalities and celebrities.

Verse: Though Judge Roberts is getting a hearing, Madeleine Begun Kane

Though Judge Roberts is getting a hearing,
To measure his outlook and bearing,
He's determined to hide
Views that Dems can't abide.
His convictions he simply ain't sharing.

We're Reading: Douglas Preston's "Tyrannosaur Canyon" (Tom Doherty Associates)


Thursday, September 15, 2005 (HTML Version)

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Satire: Bush 4 Horseman Apply "O.J. Dodge" to Katrina, Bernie Weiner

TURD BLOSSOM: Need I remind you guys that your approval numbers are way low? Were it not for our tech-savvy friends out there, we couldn't win an election for dogcatcher right now, and neither could you, Arnold. Somewhere between election day 2004 and now, the public seems to have figured out something. Our job is to make them forget the facts, and alter those negative feelings and images; we need to frighten the hell out of them, make them dependent on us as the authority figures who can make them feel better, and regain our old momentum. If it takes cracking some heads, or rounding up critical types for 're-education' in FEMA summer camps, we'll do it.

UNCLE DICK: Hey, your mention of "camps" just reminded me that you three guys have something interesting in common. You all had relatives with ties to the Third Reich. Karl, your grandfather, a high-up Party man, helped plan the Birkenau death camp; your father, Arnold, volunteered for the Nazi S.A. in Austria and worked his way fairly high up in the officer corps; and your industrialist great-grandfather, Mr. President, helped finance the Nazi Party from here in America, and your grandfather carried on the tradition -- actually, to the point where the U.S. government shut down his German money-laundering operation in 1942. I'm really impressed with how you guys managed to spin your way out of all that. (Long Silence)  

Letter And Response: 9/11 and Katrina: Bush Policy Changes Have Weakend The Government

Politex, A new administration came to power in 2001 loaded with monumental hubris and decided to destroy anything the previous administration had done. An example: 9/11. Clinton had set up interagency working groups in PDD 62 and PDD 63. This was an attempt to get around the gorelick wall. It created a position that would have access to all cabinet level posts to run it, the one Clarke held. With NSPD-1 Bush abolished what Clinton set up in February of 2001, one month into his first term.

Another example: FEMA. Clinton had set up a policy of mitigating damages of national disasters and Bush abolished them. One such policy Bush abolished was "Project Impact" which among other things set up protocols for the coordination of federal, state, and local governments during an emergency. The very thing that went wrong during Katrina.

...The point I'm making is that no one is looking at the policy changes Bush has made and how they have contributed to 9/11 and Katrina. Certainly not the mainstream media, for this topic seems to be beyond their ability to comprehend. --Dean Nusholtz

Dean, yesterday's NYT story on the Bush Administrations censoring of 9/11 Committee reports since 1998 that Al Queda was looking into flying planes into key national buildings and monuments gives lie to Condi's "Who Knew?" Similarly, a WP story on August 30, "Destroying FEMA," by Eric Holdeman, gives fair warning about how Bush's dismantling of FEMA will come back to bit him on the butt:
"In the days to come, as the nation and the people along the Gulf Coast work to cope with the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we will be reminded anew, how important it is to have a federal agency capable of dealing with natural catastrophes of this sort. This is an immense human tragedy, one that will work hardship on millions of people. It is beyond the capabilities of state and local government to deal with. It requires a national response.

"Which makes it all the more difficult to understand why, at this moment, the country's premier agency for dealing with such events -- FEMA -- is being, in effect, systematically downgraded and all but dismantled by the Department of Homeland Security. Apparently homeland security now consists almost entirely of protection against terrorist acts. How else to explain why the Federal Emergency Management Agency will no longer be responsible for disaster preparedness? Given our country's long record of natural disasters, how much sense does this make?

"Indeed, the advent of the Bush administration in January 2001 signaled the beginning of the end for FEMA. The newly appointed leadership of the agency showed little interest in its work or in the missions pursued by the departed Witt. Then came the Sept. 11 attacks and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Soon FEMA was being absorbed into the "homeland security borg." This year it was announced that FEMA is to "officially" lose the disaster preparedness function that it has had since its creation. The move is a death blow to an agency that was already on life support. In fact, FEMA employees have been directed not to become involved in disaster preparedness functions, since a new directorate (yet to be established) will have that mission." --Politex

Song: Back In The U.S.S.A., Beatles with Politex

Flew in to New Orleans BOAC
Couldn't find a bed last night
On the way the paper bag was on my knee
Man I had a dreadful flight
I'm back in the U.S.S.A.
I know how lucky I am, boy
Back in the U.S.S.A.

Been away so long I hardly knew the place
Gee it's good to be back home
Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my mace
FEMA's disconnected the phone
I'm back in the U.S.S.A.
I know how lucky I am, boy
Back in the U.S.S.A.

Well the N'Awlins girls really knock me out
They leave the rest behind
And the Mississippi girls makes me sing and shout
And Alabama's always on my my my my my my my mind.

Show me round your flooded cities way down south
Take me to Trent Lott's crawdaddy farm
Let me hear Bush FEMA spinners shoutin' out
Come and keep our corporations warm.
I'm back in the U.S.S.A.
I know how lucky I am, boy
Back in the U.S.S.A.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

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Disaster: Hurricane Katrina: Our Experiences, Larry Bradshaw, Lorrie Beth Slonsky

The following is a message from Tobias Wolff to his father, Robert Paul Wolff, professor in the Afro-American Studies Department at UMass Amherst, and contains an eyewitness account of two friends of Tobias who were trapped in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:

"...As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and in the end decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway on the center divide, between the O'Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned we would be visible to everyone, we would have some security being on an elevated freeway and we could wait and watch for the arrival of the yet to be seen buses.

All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others to be verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the City on foot...."

Disaster: After The Deluge, Ben Ehrenreich, LA Weekly

In the Houston Astrodome last Saturday, I met a man named Robert. He invited me to take a seat beside him on a cot pushed against the wall — his home for the previous three days and the foreseeable future. Robert had lived in New Orleans for all of his 55 years, and was in the St. Bernard projects when Katrina washed it all away. “After the storm,” he told me almost as soon as I sat down, “they blew the levees up so they could flood New Orleans.”

I asked him who “they” were.
“The money people,” he answered. “The big money.”
“Why?” I asked.
Robert shook his head at my naiveté. “They had to get the poor people out so they could get the space.” He gestured to the thousands of people in the dome around us, almost all of them African-American, crammed onto cots a few inches apart. “Now they got their space.
“We survived the storm,” Robert went on. “We survived the wind and the rain. After the storm passed, the water started rising, and all you heard was ‘Boom!’ ” The explosions, he said, were the levees blowing. “Ask any of these people. The hurricane wasn’t that bad, but the opportunity came up.”

It was a real estate grab, Robert explained — gentrification with a genocidal edge. And if he was more than slightly paranoid — he didn’t want to tell me his last name, and grew visibly nervous when a white stadium employee began sweeping the floor within earshot a few feet away — his theory made a certain kind of sense, far more than any of the official excuses for government inaction. I would later hear similar speculations again and again in New Orleans, and saw them written on the walls. Just across the canal from the flooded 9th Ward, on a corner heavy with the scent of death, these words were scrawled across an abandoned garage: “F*** Bush They F*** Left Us Here Them B*** Flooded Us . . . Them B*** Killed Our People.”

But bombing the levees wasn’t necessary. Years of neglect, suicidal environmental policies (the natural wetland barrier that might have protected New Orleans from the storm surge has been eaten away by pollution in the Delta) and the massive under-funding of urban infrastructure did the trick. It amounts to the same thing: Them b*** killed our people. Poor people, black people, people who can be easily transformed — with a flash of the darkest TV news magic — into a criminal class of looters hardly worthy of our care.

Quip: Bush To Sec. of Homeland Security Chertoff: "To be fair, Mike, I think you should be very clear about the general rules with your next jester."

New York Times To Charge For Op-Eds Starting Next Monday
On Monday, Sept. 19, NYTimes.com will launch a new subscription service, TimesSelect, an important step in the development of The New York Times. Subscribers to TimesSelect will have exclusive online access to many of our most influential columnists in Op-Ed, Business, New York/Region and Sports. In addition to reading the columns, TimesSelect subscribers can also engage with our columnists through video interviews and Web-only postings.

All of our news, features, editorials and analysis will remain free to readers of NYTimes.com, as will our interactive graphics, multimedia and popular video minutes. --Letter From Editor


Tuesday, September 13, 2005 (HTML Version)


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Special Report: ‘Unacceptable’: The Federal Response to Katrina, Walter M. Brasch
EDITOR’S NOTE: We recommend that our readers print out this incisive special report and read it in print. The author is an award-winning syndicated columnist, professor of journalism, and a former emergency management official. This article is an in-depth look at the Bush policies that created the atmosphere not only for an ineffective FEMA response during the Katrina catastrophe, but which may have contributed to additional property destruction and deaths than should have occurred.

Florida Disaster: FEMA Paid Millions in False Claims to Help Bush Win Fla. Votes, Jason Leopold
Michael Brown, the embattled head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, approved payments in excess of $31 million in taxpayer money to thousands of Florida residents who were unaffected by Hurricane Frances and three other hurricanes last year in an effort to help President Bush win a majority of votes in that state during his reelection campaign, according to published reports. Some Homeland Security sources said FEMA's efforts to distribute funds quickly after Frances and three other hurricanes that hit the key political battleground state of Florida in a six-week period last fall were undertaken with a keen awareness of the looming presidential elections, according to a May 19 Washington Post story.

Homeland Security sources told the Post that after the hurricanes that Brown and his allies [recommended] him to succeed Tom Ridge as Homeland Security secretary because of their claim that he helped deliver Florida to President Bush by efficiently responding to the Florida hurricanes. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel uncovered emails from Florida Gov. Jeb Bush that confirmed those allegations and directly implicated Brown as playing politics at the expense of hurricane victims.

GOP Words: ECONOMIC PROGRESS, n. 1. Recession; 2. Rising unemployment; 3. Minimum-wage freeze. (Terry McGarry, East Rockaway, New York)

New York Times To Charge For Op-Eds Starting Next Monday
On Monday, Sept. 19, NYTimes.com will launch a new subscription service, TimesSelect, an important step in the development of The New York Times. Subscribers to TimesSelect will have exclusive online access to many of our most influential columnists in Op-Ed, Business, New York/Region and Sports. In addition to reading the columns, TimesSelect subscribers can also engage with our columnists through video interviews and Web-only postings.

All of our news, features, editorials and analysis will remain free to readers of NYTimes.com, as will our interactive graphics, multimedia and popular video minutes. --Letter From Editor


Monday, September 12, 2005 (HTML Version)


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Audio/Video: New Bush Watch Feature
Top of the home page: Listen to and watch people, politicians, and pundits.

Disaster: Randville, Rawlsburg, and New Orleans, Ernest Partridge

Is there such a thing as a “public interest” distinct and apart from a simple summation of private interests? The libertarians and the regressive right say that there is not. Progressives say that there is a public interest, and both history and common sense bear this out. In a free society, the appropriate protector and administrator of this public interest is a government of, by, and for the people. Our founding documents affirm this explicitly.

The regressive right (falsely called “conservatives”) tells us otherwise. Thus we are now experiencing the bitter consequences of Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inauguration pronouncement: “government is not the solution, government is the problem.” The Reagan administration and the two subsequent Bush administrations have crippled and dismantled government agencies almost the point at which, as Grover Norquist puts it, government can be “drowned in a bathtub.” And so today it is the unprepared and unprotected city of New Orleans that is drowning in the filthy flood waters left by Hurricane Katrina.

Disaster: "Physician who told off Cheney lost his home in Katrina, arrested by Cheney's goons"

"I am no fan of Mr. Cheney because of several reasons," [Dr.] Marble explains. "For those who don't know Mr. Cheney is infamous for telling Senator [Pat] Leahy 'go fu** yourself' on the Senate floor. Also, I am not happy about the fact that thousands have died due to the slow action of FEMA, not to even mention the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time i.e. Iraq."

So Marble asked a couple police officers if he and a friend could walk down to Cheney. They told him Cheney was "looking forward to talk to the locals." "So we grabbed my Canon digital rebel and my Sony videocamera and started walking down the street," Marble wrote. "And then right in front of the destroyed tennis court I used to play on Dick Cheney was giving a pep rally, talking to the press. The secret service guys patted us down and waved the wands over us, and then let us pass."

As he stood about 10 feet away from Cheney and his friend and some camera operators from CNN and other media filmed the scene, Marble suddenly yelled, 'Go fu** yourself', Mr. Cheney! "Go fu** yourself', you a**hole!'" --Jackson Thoreau

Tom Tomorrow What Went Wrong? Explanations are not pretty.

Mr. Fish: Cartoon: George W. Bush speaks to a man as a woman sits weeping in the background. Bush says: "Find out if she lost her family in the hurricane or if she lost a son in Iraq so I knew whether or not she deserves my sympathy."


Sunday, September 11, 2005 (HTML Version)

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Opinion: This unfeeling president should be held accountable, Carla Binion

The novelist E. L. Doctorow once said of George W. Bush, "He is the president who does not feel. He does not feel for the families of the dead, he does not feel for the 35 million of us who live in poverty." (http://www.easthamptonstar.com/20040909/col5.htm) Bush's disconnect from normal human feeling, his general lack of seriousness and abysmal leadership skills have always been evident. His response to the recent hurricane has only highlighted them. What are the consequences of our failure to hold Bush accountable?

Bush's demeanor has been eerily upbeat as thousands of corpses floated through the streets of New Orleans. He said in one recent speech, "The good news is - and it's hard for some to see it now - that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house - he's lost his entire house - there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch."...

If any of us ever doubted that empathy and mature seriousness are necessary character traits in a political leader, few doubt it now. Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina and his failure to promptly aid hurricane victims contributed to thousands, possibly as many as ten thousand, needless deaths. This could be described as criminal negligence or murder by neglect.

Bush Diary: It's Raining Money, Peter Clothier

Listen, it's not that I disapprove in any way, Bush, of coming up with all that money to help those who have lost their homes, their livelihoods, their loved ones in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. No, I approve. It's the right thing to do. For you, with your latest polls showing a terrible loss of faith in your administration, it's the only thing to do. The latest figures I heard were the $51.8 billion request you sent to Congress yesterday, plus the amount already requested, totalling now some $62 billion, plus. You had to do it, Bush, no question. And no question that it helps to make you look a little better, both to the affected people and to your constituents in general, after last week's political disaster. It's also, as I see it, one of the important functions of government, to provide that safety net for our less fortunate citizens--among whom we must now count the storm victims of the Gulf Coast. But... and here's my but, Bush--if you'll forgive the pun: what I still need to hear from you is some strong, unambiguous statement as to where that money's coming from. Show me the other side of the ledger here. Say the word. There's only one. It begins with a "T."

Sunday Bible School: (Actual test answers.)
The Epistles were the wives of the Apostles.

We're Watching: Paul Haggis' "Crash" (Lion's Gate)


Saturday, September 10, 2005 (HTML Version)

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Disaster: Big Talking, Poor Performing America, Walter C. Uhler

You can't fool the precious few Americans who really know their country's history. They know that America's big talk (dating from Puritan times) about God's plan for America to redeem the world is largely the product of religiously inspired self-delusion or outright propaganda. They also know that, far too often, the big talk has been belied by extremely low-class performance. Now it's happening once again in the events surrounding hurricane-ravaged New Orleans.... Let's try removing the God-tinted glasses, which severely distort our views about America's behavior, both at home and abroad. Ask yourself; did God support America's genocide of Native Americans? Did God support slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow, Hiroshima, or Vietnam? Did God support 9/11? How about the devastation of the great city of New Orleans?...America's worst president and biggest phony wraps himself in God.

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Propaganda: FEMA's Brown And Adolph Hitler Agree: Propaganda is Where It's At.

The function of propaganda does not lie in the scientific training of the individual, but in calling the masses' attention to certain facts, processes, necessities, etc., whose significance is thus for the first time placed within their field of vision. The whole art consists in doing this so skillfully that everyone will be convinced that the fact is real, the process necessary, the necessity correct, etc. But since propaganda is not and cannot be the necessity in itself, since its function, like the poster, consists in attracting the attention of the crowd, and not in educating those who are already educated or who are striving after education and knowledge, its effect for the most part must be aimed at the emotions and only to a very limited degree at the so-called intellect.

All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. Consequently, the greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be. But if, as in propaganda for sticking out a war, the aim is to influence a whole people, we must avoid excessive intellectual demands on our public, and too much caution cannot be exerted in this direction. The more modest its intellectual ballast, the more exclusively it takes into consideration the emotions of the masses, the more effective it will be. And this is the best proof of the soundness or unsoundness of a propaganda campaign, and not success in pleasing a few scholars or young aesthetes. The art of propaganda lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding, through a psychologically correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the broad masses. The fact that our bright boys do not understand this merely shows how mentally lazy and conceited they are.

Once we understand how necessary it is for propaganda to be adjusted to the broad mass, the following rule results:
It is a mistake to make propaganda many-sided, like scientific instruction, for instance. The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in sloans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away, for the crowd can neither digest nor retain the material offered. In this way the result is weakened and in the end entirely cancelled out. Thus we see that propaganda must follow a simple line and correspondingly the basic tactics must be psychologically sound. --Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. One, Ch. VI.

**********************

"It's not really all that surprising that the officials who run FEMA are stressing that all-important emergency response function: the public relations campaign. As it turns out, that's all they really have experience at doing....When Mr. Brown finally got around to asking Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff for extra people for Katrina, it wasn't much of a departure for Mr. Brown to say that one of the things he wanted them to do was to "convey a positive image of disaster operations to government officials, community organizations and the general public." We'd like them to stay focused on conveying food, water and medical help to victims. --NYT Ed.

We're Listening: Randy Newman, Good Old Boys (Rhino)


Friday, September 9, 2005 (HTML Version)

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Opinion: The Perfect Storm, Chris Floyd
The destruction of New Orleans was a work of nature - but a nature that has been worked upon by human hands and human policies. As global climate change continues its deadly symbiosis with unbridled commercial development for elite profit, we will see more such destruction, far more, on an even more devastating scale. As the harsh, aggressive militarism and brutal corporate ethos that Bush has injected into the mainstream of American society continues to spread its poison, we will see fewer and fewer resources available to nurture the common good. As the political process becomes more and more corrupt, ever more a creation of elite puppetmasters and their craven bagmen, we will see the poor and the weak and even the middle class driven further and further into the low ground of society, where every passing storm - economic, political, natural - will threaten their homes, their livelihoods, their very existence.

Dispassionate Conservatism: Is The Purpose Of Government To Watch People Die?
"By which measures, precisely, do we lead the world? Caring for our countrymen? You jest. A first-class physical infrastructure? Tell that to New Orleans. Throwing so much money at the rich that we've got nothing left over to promote the general welfare? Now you're talking. The problem goes beyond the fact that we can't count on our government to be there for us in catastrophes. It's that a can't-do spirit, a shouldn't-do spirit, guides the men who run the nation. Consider the congressional testimony of Joe Allbaugh, George W. Bush's 2000 campaign manager, who assumed the top position at FEMA in 2001. He characterized the organization as "an oversized entitlement program," and counseled states and cities to rely instead on "faith-based organizations . . . like the Salvation Army and the Mennonite Disaster Service."

Is it any surprise, then, that the administration's response to the devastation in New Orleans is of a piece with its response to the sacking of Baghdad once our troops arrived? "Stuff happens" was the way Don Rumsfeld described the destruction of Baghdad's hospitals, universities and museums while American soldiers stood around. Now stuff has happened in New Orleans, too, even as FEMA was turning away offers of assistance. This is the stuff-happens administration. And it's willing, apparently, to sacrifice any claim America may have to national greatness rather than inconvenience the rich by taxing them to build a more secure nation. As a matter of social policy, the catastrophic lack of response in New Orleans is exceptional only in its scale and immediacy. When it comes to caring for our fellow countrymen, we all know that America has never ranked very high. We are, of course, the only democracy in the developed world that doesn't offer health care to its citizens as a matter of right. We rank 34th among nations in infant mortality rates, behind such rival superpowers as Cyprus, Andorra and Brunei. But these are chronic conditions, and even many of us who argue for universal health coverage have grown inured to that distinctly American indifference to the common good, to our radical lack of solidarity with our fellow citizens. Besides, the poor generally have the decency to die discreetly, and discretely -- not conspicuously, not in droves. Come rain or come shine, we leave millions of beleaguered Americans to fend for themselves on a daily basis. It's just a lot more noticeable in a horrific rain, and when the ordinary lack of access to medical care is augmented by an extraordinary lack of access to emergency services.

Even if we'll never win the national-greatness sweepstakes for solidarity, though, we've long been the model of the world in matters infrastructural, in roads, bridges and dams and the like. But the America in which Eisenhower the Good decreed the construction of the interstate highway system now seems a far-off land in which even conservatives believed in public expenditures for the public good. The radical-capitalist conservatives of the past quarter-century not only haven't supported the public expenditures, they don't even believe there is such a thing as the public good. Let the Dutch build their dikes through some socialistic scheme of taxing and spending; that isn't the American way. Here, the business of government is to let the private sector create wealth -- even if that wealth doesn't circulate where it's most needed. So George W. Bush threw trillions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, and what did they do with it? Did the Walton family up in Bentonville raise the levees in New Orleans? Did the Bass family over in Texas write a tax-deductible check to the Mennonites for the billions of dollars they would need to rescue the elderly from inundated nursing homes? Even now, with bedraggled rescuers pulling decomposed bodies from the muck of New Orleans, Bill Frist, the moral cretin who runs the U.S. Senate, wanted its first order of business this week to be the permanent repeal of the estate tax, until the public outcry persuaded him to change course. The Republicans profess belief in trickle-down, but what they've given us is the Flood." --Harold Meyerson

We're Reading: Douglas Coupland's "Souvenir of Canada 1" (Douglas & McIntyre)


Thursday, September 8, 2005 (HTML Version)

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Opinion: Bankruptcy of Bush culture now apparent for all to see, Kent Southard
So it's official: The Bush Administration is a clustermuck. Who knew?! I suppose about the time it was known that the administration was sending the College Republicans to run things in Iraq - not to be interns, say, but to actually run things - it was obvious that this White House took some things less seriously than others.

 You see, it's not as if they're complete twits about everything - what they want to do, invade Iraq, say, or destroying the legal framework for environmental protection, privacy rights of the American public, worker's rights, and making the country a fundamentalist theocracy, etc., that kind of thing they're pretty good at. Ruthlessly efficient, actually.  But when it comes to their actual job, running the government for the benefit of the whole country; that they don't give a rat's butt because they fundamentally don't care about it.  

Quotes: The New Orleans Disaster: We're Killing Ourselves
"For half a century, free-market purists have to great effect denigrated the essential role that modern government performs as some terrible liberal plot. Thus, the symbolism of New Orleans' flooding is tragically apt: Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and Louisiana Gov. Huey Long's ambitious populist reforms in the 1930s eased Louisiana out of feudalism and toward modernity; the Reagan Revolution and the callousness of both Bush administrations have sent them back toward the abyss. Now we have a president who wastes tax revenues in Iraq instead of protecting us at home. Levee improvements were deferred in recent years even after congressional approval, reportedly prompting EPA staffers to dub flooded New Orleans "Lake George."

None of this is an oversight, or simple incompetence. It is the result of a campaign by most Republicans and too many Democrats to systematically vilify the role of government in American life. Manipulative politicians have convinced lower- and middle-class whites that their own economic pains were caused by "quasi-socialist" government policies that aid only poor brown and black people — even as corporate profits and CEO salaries soared. For decades we have seen social services that benefit everyone — education, community policing, public health, environmental protections and infrastructure repair, emergency services — in steady, steep decline in the face of tax cuts and rising military spending. But it is a false savings; it will certainly cost exponentially more to save New Orleans than it would have to protect it in the first place." --Robert Scheer

"In a May 25, 2001 interview, Grover Norquist told National Public Radio's Mara Liasson, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." Norquist got his wish. Democracy - and at least several thousand people, most of them Democrats, black, and poor - drowned last week in the basin of New Orleans. Our nation failed in its response, because for most of the past 25 years conservatives who don't believe in governance have run our government. As incompetent as George W. Bush has been in his response to the disaster in New Orleans, he wasn't the one who began the process that inevitably led to that disaster spiraling out of control. That would be Ronald Reagan.

It was Reagan who began the deliberate and intentional destruction of the United States of America when he famously cracked (and then incessantly repeated): "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'" Reagan, like George W. Bush after him, failed to understand that when people come together into community, and then into nationhood, that they organize themselves to protect themselves from predators, both human and corporate, both domestic and foreign. This form of organization is called government. But the Reagan/Bush ideologues don't "believe" in government, in anything other than a military and police capacity. Government should punish, they agree, but it should never nurture, protect, or defend individuals. Nurturing and protecting, they suggest, is the more appropriate role of religious institutions, private charities, families, and - perhaps most important - corporations.

Let the corporations handle your old-age pension. Let the corporations decide how much protection we and our environment need from their toxics. Let the corporations decide what we're paid. Let the corporations decide what doctor we can see, when, and for what purpose. This is the exact opposite of the vision for which the Founders of this nation fought and died. --Thom Hartman

Verse: The Blame Game (excerpts)
The Blame Game
Is the game we're in.
And we're proud to be
In The Blame Game
We love it.
We can hardly wait to wake
And get to work at eight
Nothing's quite the same as the Blame Game.

**************

I know a dark secluded muck.
A place where no one gives a darn.
A bribe, a stab, and then you're stuck.
It's called Dick Cheney's fundraiser, oy-vey!
All you drink is heavy booze.
You wonder if you're being used.
And no one cares how much you lose.
Not at Dick Cheny's fundraiser, oy-vey!

more


Wednesday, September 7, 2005

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Disaster: To Those Of You Who Voted For Bush: Do You Get It Now? Bernard Weiner
Here's something I don't understand. The Golden Goose was about to lay another 9/11-type Golden Egg for Bush&Co. to pick up. And they didn't. Surely, Karl Rove, who had seen Bush's approval ratings drop to all-time lows, knew days ahead that a Category 5 Hurricane was bearing down on New Orleans and a calamitous disaster was likely to unfold there if and when the levees were unable to hold back the water. What better way to improve those ratings than for Bush to be photographed the day after the disaster struck, standing on top of debris, bullhorn in hand, vowing that the government would help Gulf Coast states rebuild from the Katrina catastrophe?

But none of that happened. They bungled their own political resurrection! Nearly a full week went by, while thousands were dying and starving or were kenneled in unbelievable filth in New Orleans. Nobody seemed to be in charge. Bush remained "on vacation" in Crawford, and traveled around to fundraisers, played golf, etc.; Condi was theatergoing and buying thousand-dollar shoes on Fifth Avenue. What was going on? Did Karl Rove not understand the significance of what was happening? Was Bush...uh..."incapacitated"? What about Cheney, "on vacation" in Wyoming; was he "incapacitated," too? Are the Bush people really that politically obtuse? So here's the question I have for those of you who voted for Bush in 2004: Do you get it now?

Quotes: The FEMA Disaster: Starving The Government
"The federal government's lethal ineptitude wasn't just a consequence of Mr. Bush's personal inadequacy; it was a consequence of ideological hostility to the very idea of using government to serve the public good. For 25 years the right has been denigrating the public sector, telling us that government is always the problem, not the solution. Why should we be surprised that when we needed a government solution, it wasn't forthcoming?" --Paul Krugman

Clinton knew that in times of crisis, he didn't need a speechwriter – he needed James Lee Witt. As governor, Clinton had put Witt in charge of reinventing Arkansas's emergency management system. When he became President, Clinton not only brought Witt with him, but elevated FEMA to Cabinet level. Before Witt came along, FEMA was a lackluster agency under abysmal political management. As Donald Kettl of Brookings has written, the old FEMA was a laughing stock: "Every hurricane, earthquake, tornado and flood, the joke went, brought two disasters: one when the event occurred, and the second when FEMA arrived." --Bruce Reed

"As a governor, Bush was so impressed by the agency's renaissance under Witt that he singled him out for praise in his first presidential debate with Al Gore: "You know, as governor, one of the things you have to deal with is catastrophe. I can remember the fires that swept Parker County, Texas. I remember the floods that swept our state. I remember going down to Del Rio, Texas. I have to pay the administration a compliment. James Lee Witt of FEMA has done a really good job of working with governors during times of crisis."
In 2001, despite his praise for Witt, Bush returned to the old FEMA model. He turned the agency over to Joe Allbaugh, his campaign manager. Allbaugh left in 2003 for a more lucrative disaster gig, as a lobbyist for reconstruction contracts in Iraq. Now FEMA is a tiny subsidiary of the mammoth Department of Homeland Security." --Bruce Reed

"[Allbaugh's college buddy] Michael D. Brown has been called the accidental director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, caricatured as the failed head of an Arabian horse sporting group who was plucked from obscurity to become President Bush's point man for the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. Amid the swirl of human misery along the Gulf Coast, Brown admitted initially underestimating the impact of Hurricane Katrina, whose winds and water swamped the agency's preparations. As the nation reeled at images of the calamity, he appeared to blame storm victims by noting that the crisis was worsened by New Orleans residents who did not comply with a mandatory evacuation order." --Wash. Post

"The undermining of FEMA began as soon as President Bush took office. Instead of choosing a professional with expertise in responses to disaster to head the agency, Mr. Bush appointed Joseph Allbaugh, a close political confidant. Mr. Allbaugh quickly began trying to scale back some of FEMA's preparedness programs. As many people have noticed, the failed response to Katrina shows that we are less ready to cope with a terrorist attack today than we were four years ago. But the downgrading of FEMA continued, with the appointment of Michael Brown as Mr. Allbaugh's successor. Mr. Brown had no obvious qualifications, other than having been Mr. Allbaugh's college [buddy]. But Mr. Brown was made deputy director of FEMA; The Boston Herald reports that he was forced out of his previous job, overseeing horse shows. And when Mr. Allbaugh left, Mr. Brown became the agency's director. The raw cronyism of that appointment showed the contempt the administration felt for the agency; one can only imagine the effects on staff morale." --Paul Krugman

"Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal showed how the Bush administration had systematically stripped power and money from FEMA, which had been painfully rebuilt under President Bill Clinton but had long been a target of Republican "small government" ideologues. The Journal said state officials had been warning Washington - as recently as July 27 - that the homeland secretary, Michael Chertoff, was planning further disastrous cuts." --NYT ed

"When Wal-Mart sent three trailer trucks loaded with water, FEMA officials turned them away, he said. Agency workers prevented the Coast Guard from delivering 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and on Saturday they cut the parish's emergency communications line, leading the sheriff to restore it and post armed guards to protect it from FEMA, Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, south of New Orleans, said." --NYT

The Chicago Tribune reported that a huge assault ship, the USS Bataan, had been deployed in the Gulf of Mexico when the hurricane struck. Despite the fact it had six operating rooms and 600 hospital beds, and was willing to help, Fema did not use it all week. A New Orleans newspaper, the Times-Picayune, published an open letter to the president calling for every official at Fema to be fired, "director Michael Brown especially". --Guardian

Mayor Nagin said the root of the breakdown was the failure of the federal government to deliver relief supplies and personnel quickly. "They kept promising and saying things would happen," he said. "I was getting excited and telling people that. They kept making promises and promises." --NYT

The grisliest quote of the week, the one to cut out and keep, came when reporters asked Lea Anne McBride what her boss was doing as New Orleans sank, stank and suppurated. "He's working from Wyoming today," said Vice-President Dick Cheney's official spokesman brightly. --Peter Preston

"Experts say that the first 72 hours after a natural disaster are the crucial window during which prompt action can save many lives. Yet action after Katrina was anything but prompt. Newsweek reports that a "strange paralysis" set in among Bush administration officials, who debated lines of authority while thousands died." --Paul Krugman

"After days of withering criticism from white and black Americans, from conservatives as well as liberals, from Republicans and Democrats, the president finally felt compelled to act, however feebly. (The chorus of criticism from nearly all quarters demanding that the president do something tells me that the nation as a whole is so much better than this administration.) Mr. Bush flew south on Friday and proved (as if more proof were needed) that he didn't get it. Instead of urgently focusing on the people who were stranded, hungry, sick and dying, he engaged in small talk, reminiscing at one point about the days when he used to party in New Orleans, and mentioning that Trent Lott had lost one of his houses but that it would be replaced with "a fantastic house - and I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." Mr. Bush's performance last week will rank as one of the worst ever by a president during a dire national emergency. What we witnessed, as clearly as the overwhelming agony of the city of New Orleans, was the dangerous incompetence and the staggering indifference to human suffering of the president and his administration." --Bob Herbert

Quip: Mr. Brown, FEMA'S head, has numerous disaster experiences. For example, two disasters that he oversaw was when a forest ranger got caught between a tree and a rock.


Tuesday, September 6, 2005 (Congress Reconvenes)


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Opinion: Hot Button Congress Starts Today, Willian Fisher
When Congress returns to work today, it will face debate on a number of hot-button issues likely to inflame passions on the political left and right and deepen the country's ideological divide. The probable agenda includes reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act, immigration and border control, embryonic stem cell research, a number of critical legal reforms, consideration of a new report from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) detailing its handling of pre-9/11 intelligence, and, of course, the confirmation hearings for John G. Roberts to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

GOP Words: DEATH TAX, n. [Senate scheduled to discuss issue today.] A term invented by anti-tax zealots and referring to a tax used to prevent the very wealthy from establishing a dominating aristocracy in this country. (David McNeely, Lutz, Florida)

New Orleans Quotes: "Screw this! They're lying! The President's lying! The rich fat cats that are drowning you will do it again and again and again. They lead you into imperialist wars for profit, they take away your schools and your hope and when you complain, they blame Blacks and Jews and immigrants. Then they push your kids under. I say, Kick'm in the ass and take your rightful share!" --Huey Long, 1927
"There is no such thing as a "natural" disaster. Hurricanes happen, but death comes from official neglect, from tax cuts for the rich that cut the heart out of public protection. The corpses in the street are victims of a class war in which only one side has a general. Where is our Huey Long?" --Greg Palast
"On Thursday morning, the president told Diane Sawyer that he hoped "people don't play politics during this period of time." Presumably that means that the photos of him wistfully surveying the Katrina damage from Air Force One won't be sold to campaign donors as the equivalent 9/11 photos were. Maybe he'll even call off the right-wing attack machine so it won't Swift-boat the Katrina survivors who emerge to ask tough questions as it has Cindy Sheehan and those New Jersey widows who had the gall to demand a formal 9/11 inquiry." --Frank Rich
Looters? "The real criminals are sitting in positions of authority: the president, the director of FEMA, and the hundreds of congresspersons cutting their excessive vacations short to pat one another on the back as they pass emergency funding provisions for the hardly-operative relief efforts centered in Louisiana and Mississippi." --Brian Dominick
The US Navy asked Halliburton to repair naval facilities damaged by Hurricane Katrina, the Houston Chronicle reported today. The work was assigned to Halliburton's KBR subsidiary....In March, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is tasked with responding to hurricane disasters, became a lobbyist for KBR. Joe Allbaugh was director of FEMA during the first two years of the Bush administration." --Haliburton Watch
"The president's declaration that "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees" has instantly achieved the notoriety of Condoleezza Rice's "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center." The administration's complete obliviousness to the possibilities for energy failures, food and water deprivation, and civil disorder in a major city under siege needs only the Donald Rumsfeld punch line of "Stuff happens" for a coup de grâce." --Frank Rich
"Federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans.... The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. "Quite frankly, if they'd been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals." --Washington Post
"Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, was so oblivious to those on the lower decks that on Thursday he applauded the federal response to the still rampaging nightmare as "really exceptional." He told NPR that he had "not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don't have food and water" - even though every television viewer in the country had been hearing of those 25,000 stranded refugees for at least a day. This Titanic syndrome, too, precisely echoes the post-9/11 wartime history of an administration that has rewarded the haves at home with economic goodies while leaving the have-nots to fight in Iraq without proper support in manpower or armor. Surely it's only a matter of time before Mr. Chertoff and the equally at sea FEMA director, Michael Brown (who also was among the last to hear about the convention center), are each awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in line with past architects of lethal administration calamity like George Tenet and Paul Bremer." --Frank Rich


Monday, September 5, 2005


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Interview: Meet The Press, Sunday, September 4
MR. RUSSERT:  And we are back. Jefferson Parish President Broussard, let me start with you.  You just heard the director of Homeland Security's explanation of what has happened this last week.  What is your reaction?
MR. AARON BROUSSARD:  We have been abandoned by our own country.  Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history.  I am personally asking our bipartisan congressional delegation here in Louisiana to immediately begin congressional hearings to find out just what happened here.  Why did it happen?  Who needs to be fired?  And believe me, they need to be fired right away, because we still have weeks to go in this tragedy.  We have months to go.  We have years to go.  And whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chain-sawed off and we've got to start with some new leadership.
It's not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area, and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now.  It's so obvious.  FEMA needs more congressional funding.  It needs more presidential support.  It needs to be a Cabinet-level director.  It needs to be an independent agency that will be able to fulfill its mission to work in partnership with state and local governments around America.  FEMA needs to be empowered to do the things it was created to do.  It needs to come somewhere, like New Orleans, with all of its force immediately, without red tape, without bureaucracy, act immediately with common sense and leadership, and save lives.  Forget about the property.  We can rebuild the property.  It's got to be able to come in and save lives.
We need strong leadership at the top of America right now in order to accomplish this and to-- reconstructing FEMA.
MR. RUSSERT:  Mr. Broussard, let me ask--I want to ask--should...
MR. BROUSSARD:  You know, just some quick examples...
MR. RUSSERT:  Hold on.  Hold on, sir.  Shouldn't the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of New Orleans bear some responsibility?  Couldn't they have been much more forceful, much more effective and much more organized in evacuating the area?
MR. BROUSSARD:  Sir, they were told like me, every single day, "The cavalry's coming," on a federal level, "The cavalry's coming, the cavalry's coming, the cavalry's coming."  I have just begun to hear the hoofs of the cavalry.  The cavalry's still not here yet, but I've begun to hear the hoofs, and we're almost a week out.
Let me give you just three quick examples.  We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water.  FEMA turned them back.  They said we didn't need them.  This was a week ago.  FEMA--we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish.  The Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right away."  When we got there with our trucks, they got a word.  "FEMA says don't give you the fuel."  Yesterday--yesterday--FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines.  They cut them without notice.  Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, "No one is getting near these lines."  Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America--American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis.
But I want to thank Governor Blanco for all she's done and all her leadership. She sent in the National Guard.  I just repaired a breach on my side of the 17th Street canal that the secretary didn't foresee, a 300-foot breach.  I just completed it yesterday with convoys of National Guard and local parish workers and levee board people.  It took us two and a half days working 24/7. I just closed it.
MR. RUSSERT:  All right.
MR. BROUSSARD:  I'm telling you most importantly I want to thank my public employees...
MR. RUSSERT:  All right.
MR. BROUSSARD:  ...that have worked 24/7.  They're burned out, the doctors, the nurses.  And I want to give you one last story and I'll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me.  The guy who runs this building I'm in, emergency management, he's responsible for everything.  His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, "Are you coming, son?  Is somebody coming?" [starting to cry] And he said, "Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you.  Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday.  Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday.  Somebody's coming to get you on Friday."  And she drowned Friday night.  She drowned Friday night.
MR. RUSSERT:  Mr. President...
MR. BROUSSARD: [continuing to cry] Nobody's coming to get us.  Nobody's coming to get us.  The secretary has promised.  Everybody's promised.  They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences.  For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody.

New Orleans Quotes: "Who on earth could have known that Osama bin Laden wanted to attack us by flying planes into buildings? Any official who bothered to read the trellis of pre-9/11 intelligence briefs. Who on earth could have known that an American invasion of Iraq would spawn a brutal insurgency, terrorist recruiting boom and possible civil war? Any official who bothered to read the C.I.A.'s prewar reports.Who on earth could have known that New Orleans's sinking levees were at risk from a strong hurricane? Anybody who bothered to read the endless warnings over the years about the Big Easy's uneasy fishbowl." --Maureen Dowd..."You're killing my city. You're killing my city." --Mayor Nagin, Saturday night. Nagin on Air American tells Laura Flanders that FEMA will not allow the Red Cross (or any other non-U.S. Government aid organization) into any part of New Orleans, including West New Orleans, where there isn't any flooding. FEMA wants to close down the entire city and send everyone elsewhere. Nagin says that's not necessary. The people in safe West New Orleans don't want to leave the city. It appears as though Bush and FEMA have other plans for the entire city of New Orleans on both sides of the Mississippi, and it doesn't include the city's citizens. --Politex..."These troops are battle-tested. They have M16s and are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and I expect they will." -- Kathleen Blanco, the Democrat governor of Louisiana... "The words "homeland security" now have a terribly hollow ring in the anarchic south: 35% of Louisiana's National Guard is serving in Iraq, where four out of every 10 soldiers are guardsmen. And recruiting is down because people fear being sent to Iraq. The priority given to law and order seems a troubling inverse reflection of what happened after the fall of Baghdad. Is it really more important to use deadly force against looters than to deliver humanitarian aid effectively?" --Guardian Ed..."Bush Finds Weapons Of Mass Destruction: "I am not looking forward to this trip. It's as if the entire Gulf coast were obliterated by the worst kind of weapon you can imagine." --G.W. Bush... After the Friday Bush Visit: "I continue to hear that troops are on the way, but we are still continuing to protect the city with 1,500 National Guardsmen," Mayor Nagin complained, challenging government claims that 30,000 guardsmen were on hand. He estimated that 50,000 people were still trapped in the city, thousands of whom would die unless relief arrived immediately." --Independent...“Before the supplies were pitched off the bridge today, people had to break into buildings in the area to try to find food and water for their families. There was not enough. This spurred many families to break into cars to try to escape the city. There was no police response to the auto thefts until the mob reached the rich area—Saulet Condos—once they tried to get cars from there. . . well then the whole swat teams began showing up with rifles pointed. Snipers got on the roof and told people to get back.” --Michael Barnett, Interdictor...“Around 200 frightened Japanese, European, and American tourists, who had been thrown out of their hotel on Thursday morning, told how police fired over their heads as they attempted to get to buses to take them to safety.” ---Agence France Presse...“The medical condition is bad. We don't have any DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team) support—we have been told they are all being used in Baton Rouge. Acadian Ambulance set up a triage area which somehow morphed into the city-wide evacuation center. It is located under an overpass on I-10. It is an amazing site. There are thousands of evacuees there. Some are uninjured and waiting to get on buses to go somewhere. Others are waiting hours for triage. Helicopters are landing in the grass at the rate of 2 - 3 per minute. They are full of evacuees. . . . Later today the unit was pulled from operations because conditions worsened. Once law enforcement improves, they'll resume rescue operations. Is this really America?” --Dr. Richard Bradley, UT Med School..."Speaking on Cuban television tonight, Castro revealed that on Tuesday, while George Bush was still on vacation playing with his spiffy new guitar, and a day or two before the Secretary of State went shopping for shoes, Cuba contacted the State Department and offered no less than 1,100 doctors to assist in dealing with the crisis. Doctors who, unlike the hospital ship which has yet to leave its berth in Baltimore and isn't scheduled to be in New Orleans until NEXT Saturday (!), could have been on site by Wednesday if the Cuban offer had been accepted. It wasn't." --Eli Stephens, Lefti..."I'm 62 and I remember the riots in Watts, I remember the earth Quake in San Francisco, I remember a lot of things. I have never, ever seen anything as badly bungled and poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans. Where the hell is the water for these people. Why can't sandwiches be dropped to those people that are in that Super Dome down there...This is Thursday...This storm happened five days ago. It's a disgrace and don't think the world isn't watching." --Jack Cafferty, CNN...

Mr. Fish: Cartoon: George W. Bush speaks to a man as a woman sits weeping in the background. Bush says: "Find out if she lost her family in the hurricane or if she lost a son in Iraq so I knew whether or not she deserves my sympathy."


Sunday, September 4, 2005

Today's 100+ bush headlines: Selected from around the world by the editors of Bush Watch
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Opinion: Lord, The Flies, Bill Smith
Bodies floating. Bloating. The indignity. An unholy embarrassment of bodies left on the street, people covered by ratty blankets and soiled sheets and left where they died on benches, in their wheelchairs. It's just awful watching the slow, sudden death of an entire city. New Orleans won t be New Orleans again. And, of course, that s all fine and dandy by Dennis Hastert and Pat Robertson's lights: Any populace that's 67 percent you know what is too darned smoky and already lost drinking, drugging, dancing bound for damnation.
Oh, sure, the French Quarter is going to be alright, I guess. But an estimated three hundred and fifty thousand homes, though still standing, are gone, too saturated by standing water under and over the eaves. All of them are bound to crumple and slide into useless bits of soggy debris like a baby's drool-drenched cracker or so many cardboard boxes sinking softly in a pool. They'll rebuild most of it or try their damnedest to what end, though, when so little character remains, anywhere? That's what happens when everything becomes a facsimile. People forget what's real. They'll loot the past for all sorts of baroque rococo trash. Sugar packets. Wrought iron curlicues on shotgun shacks.

And it all makes me wonder what sort of interest-free government loan I could wrangle to build on a half-acre lot after the levees are tamped whole and higher and wider (now that the shore-up funding isn't a problem --plenty of devils and demented policies to blame before Katrina, see: Bush, Iraq, Congress, the Army Corps of Engineers, Voodoo Economics--) and the water's been pumped and all the slime's been removed and buried. Toxic. Urban blight. Even so, my odds aren't so good. I got no sway or swag to speak of. Saints like Harry Connick, Jr. will march in to become the Crescent City's answer to Magic Johnson. Steve Winn and The Donald to follow. Glorious Casinos rise to be staffed by people who can t afford the gas to get to work because they haven't suffered enough to merit a living wage.
That stinks. It always has in the struggle between Progress and the Greedy SOBs who always seem to win the tug of war. New Orleans. NAwlins. May God continue to bless our country. Right. "Project Hope," my ass. Floods, Tourism, and Crime like it ever was.

Letters: Bush Watch readers respond.
It's already started in Washington, the usual. Representatives from both sides of the aisle, frustrated with the slow response for relief for the victims of Katrina, are promising hearings, and I m sure we'll hear from Bush, promising to appoint a commission to look into the whole farce. Several million dollars and a couple of years down the road, when enough time has passed and the American public has calmed down from an obvious drop of the ball on this administration's part, they will come out and say they did all they could under the circumstances, know one could have foreseen this catastrophe, blah, blah, blah.
It sickens me to my core that our government let people suffer like this: babies died, the old died, the worst in people came out, taking advantage of the situation to vent frustration from just being poor and forgotten. Thank God for the nature of Americans when their own are in trouble, because, while our President and the unqualified idiots that he has put in key government positions they have no place being in were still trying to figure out what was going on, the American people mobilized a relief effort to try and give aid to those left in the wake of this storm. --Krow

New Orleans Quotes: In front of the Superdome, noon, Saturday:"There's still an estimated 10,000 here. The [air] evacuation is going on at a hundred an hour, but buses are arriving. The dead man was shot while attacking another man with scissors. Another was shot dead while attempting to rape a 13 year old girl." --Geraldo, FOX...FOX is calling its New Orleans disaster coverage "The Cost of Freedom." What in the world are they thinking? The phrase for the day is "The Blame Game," used over and over and over in an attempt to cover Bush's butt. --Politex...A CNN observer with experience of Iraq battle conditions says medical facilities presently are more primitive in New Orleans. --Politex...Fact: Saturday morning, after the Bush visit on Friday, Superdome evacuation stalled. No buses. 2,500 remained without plans to leave for the fith day in NO's Convention Hall. Fact: Volunteers and supplies from around the country remain unused because there is no processing system in place. -CNN..."The stench of the dead on the streets is significant...The General in charge has a cell phone with a dead battery for communication. This is not the kind of communications the US military is used to. This is why this is taking so long. There is no infrastructure." --LA Gov, Saturday morning, CNN...CNN's Paula Zahn was incredulous. "Sir," she said, "you aren't just telling me you just learned that the folks at the convention center didn't have food and water until today [Thursday], are you? You had no idea they were completely cut off?" "Paula," FEMA's head, Michael Brown replied unequivocally, "the federal government did not even know about the convention center people until today." --NYT..."W. drove his budget-cutting Chevy to the levee, and it wasn't dry. Bye, bye, American lives." --Maureen Dowd...Asserting that the whole recovery operation had been "carried on the backs of the little guys for four goddamn days," Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans said "the rest of the goddamn nation can't get us any resources for security."..."Someone described [ GOP House Speaker Hasterts' comments that New Orleans "should be bulldozed" and it "doesn't make sense" to rebuild the city.] Had they been in the same place when the remarks were made, [Bill] Clinton said, 'I'm afraid I would have assaulted him.'" --WP ..."It really makes us look very much like Bangladesh or Baghdad." --David Herbert Donald, retired Harvard historian...Convention Center "evacuees said that seven dead bodies littered the third floor. They said a 14-year-old girl had been raped." --NYT "I have one message for these hoodlums," said Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco. "These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so if necessary."..."Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country." --Mayor C. Ray Nagin from his damaged Hyatt office newar the Superdome..."I am in utter shock. There is just total disarray. This far into the cleanup and they are still understaffed? I am just so disappointed. It's just a terrible, sad situation." --Jonathan Williams, Hartford architect...."I believe it's wrong for the state to reap a [gas] tax windfall in this time of urgency and tragedy," Governor Purdue, Georgia.."I think we've got to see this as a serious problem of the long-term neglect of an environmental system on which our nation depends." --Andrew Young..."I think they were too slow to respond. Maybe the response would have been quicker if it had occurred in some other area of the country, for example in New York or California where there's more money, more people who are going to object, raise their voices....Those people are the poorest of the poor in Mississippi and Alabama, and it seems they had no access to anything." --Dr. Kauser Akhter, Tampa..."There is no question that we can see now with our own eyes the two Americas of which John Edwards began speaking a year and a half ago." --Tom Oliphant..."We cannot allow it to be said that the difference between those who lived and those who died" amounted to "nothing more than poverty, age or skin color" --Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland..."Everything just broke down for the folks who needed help the most. And when government cannot provide for those who need help the most, it makes everybody else feel less secure." --Clarence Page...I knew in Charleston, looking at the Weather Channel, that Gulfport was going to be destroyed. I'm the mayor of Charleston, but I knew that!" --Joseph P. Riley, Jr.

Sunday Bible School: (Actual test answers.)
Jesus enunciated the Golden Rule, which says to do unto others before they do one to you.

We're Watching: Martin Scorsese's "Bringing Out The Dead (Paramont)


Saturday, September 3, 2005

Today's 100+ bush headlines: Selected from around the world by the editors of Bush Watch
...get our headlines in your e-mail

Opinion: The Story of the Hurricane Cowboy Who Fiddled While New Orleans Drowned, Amanda Lang
Why did Bush vacation – cut wood, clear brush, bike, and read -- for days while the world watched Katrina develop, then slam as a category 4 hurricane into the Gulf Coast? Just as he did on September 11, 2001, he froze. They don’t have cable or telephones in Crawford? The unfolding catastrophe has Bush leadership skills, or lack thereof, written all over it. He treats his own citizens with the same contempt and callousness as he does the Iraqi civilians – as “collateral damage.” If a category 4 hurricane is not a “bomb” dropping on American soil, what is? Bush remained on vacation one whole day after Katrina hit, WAITING FOR WHAT? The federal government was ‘missing in action’ and has failed its citizens abysmally. And Congress... where the hell are they? They rushed back to Washington over night for one woman’s feeding tube, but can’t seem to find the way back for a destructive hurricane that most likely killed thousands. Are these Americans too poor or not expounding the right religion to garner attention the Trade Tower victims received? They all sat and watched this train wreck, now they are screwing up the rescue and salvage, probably busy searching for the ‘scapegoat’ du jour. Did the Bush administration and Congress want to create a situation where they could declare martial law? Looks like it. New Orleans has become a war zone. Martial law declared. Since when is a policy of "you loot, we shoot" appropriate for people just trying to survive until help arrives? THEY ARE DYING.

New Orleans Quotes: "I'm satisfied with the response." --George W. Bush at NO Airport..."The results are not acceptable." --G.W. Bush earlier in the day... "We're going to help these communities rebuild....Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter.) --Bush During Disaster Tour...{"...................................."} --Dick Cheney..."No one has thought enough of us to even bring us a cup of water....Several bodies lie scattered around. Edwards pointed to an elderly lady dead in a wheelchair and said, "I don't treat my dog like that." He says he buried his dog." --Man Outside NO Convention Center..."They don't have a clue what's going on down here....They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn - excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed," New Orleans Mayor Nagin...Instead of helping people left desperate in the wake of Katrina's wrath, [the inactive U.S. Custom's three] Blackhawks actually were slated to transport a CNN news crew to take video shots of those people." --a former regional Internal Affairs supervisor for U.S. Customs...."I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." --George W. Bush 9/1/05..."The storm surge most likely will topple our levee system" New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin 8/28/05..."No one can say they didn't see it [the breach of the levees] coming." --Newhouse New Service..."Bush slashed levee reinforcement funding "down to a trickle," and New Oreans is in a Democratic Party state." --Jerry Politex..."A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource." --Conservative NH Union Leader..."It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed." --GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert..."An Act of God destroyed a wicked city." --Christianist Repent America director Michael Marcavage..."Take a close look at the people you see wandering, devastated, around New Orleans: they are predominantly black and poor." --NYT Columnist David Brooks...The people remaining in New Orleans "who chose not to evacuate, who chose not to leave the city....the federal government did not even know about the Convention Center people until today." --Bush FEMA director Michael Brown...To help in rescue efforts, "donate cash [to Pat Robertson's] Operation Blessing." --FEMA website..."Since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal." --NYT Editorial

We're Listening: Dr. John's "Gumbo" (Atco) the very best!


Friday, September 2, 2005

Today's 100+ bush headlines: Selected from around the world by the editors of Bush Watch
...get our headlines in your e-mail

Letters: Readers Respond To New Orleans Disaster
I feel rather small right now. Down south there are thousands of people dying before my eyes. I feel like our government could be doing more to help these people. I feel like all the big companies that these people have bought their products from all these years should give back. We need a voice together. We need to help these people. --Jennifer Robinson
no bottled water for la. by wed., aug. 30,?, yet gas has risen to over 3.00 per gal. in upstate n.y.? poor bush had to cut his vaca. short of the 5 wks.? they need his o.k. to send water but not to gouge usa? now do we get it? --Rick Drewes
GET THE TROOPS OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND TO THE SOUTHERN STATES TO HELP WHERE THE HELP IS REALLY NEEDED. BUSH IS A WASTE OF A PRESIDENT, I AM EMBARRASSED TO CALL HIM OUR LEADER --Bush Watcher

Interview: Who Knew? Gas Prices? Bush Spins Disaster With Diane Sawyer, with Dan Froomkin
Sawyer: "Mr. President, this morning, as we speak . . . there are people with signs saying 'Help, come get me'. People still in the attic, waving. Nurses are phoning in saying the situation in hospitals is getting ever more dire and the nurses are getting sick because of no clean water. Some of the things they asked our correspondents to ask you is: They expected -- they say to us -- that the day after this hurricane that there would be a massive and visible armada of federal support. There would be boats coming in. There would be food. There would be water. It would be there within hours. They wondered: What's taking so long?"
Bush: "Well, there's a lot of food on its way. A lot of water on the way. And there's a lot of boats and choppers headed that way. Boats and choppers headed that way. It just takes a while to float 'em! . . . "
Sawyer: "But given the fact that everyone anticipated a hurricane five, a possible hurricane five hitting shore, are you satisfied with the pace at which this is arriving? And which it was planned to arrive?"
Bush: "Well, I fully understand people wanting things to have happened yesterday. I mean, I understand the anxiety of people on the ground. I can imagine -- I just can't imagine what it is like to be waving a sign saying 'come and get me now'. So there is frustration. But I want people to know there is a lot of help coming.
"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached. And as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded. And now we are having to deal with it and will."
*****
Wrong.
Just for starters, how about Sunday's New Orleans Times-Picayune , which described a computer model run by the LSU Hurricane Center. "It indicated the metropolitan area was poised to see a repeat of Betsy's flooding, or worse, with storm surge of as much as 16 feet moving up the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet and topping levees in Chalmette and eastern New Orleans, and pushing water into the 9th Ward and parts of Mid-City."
Or Monday's New York Times , in which New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin is quoted as saying that "Hurricane Katrina could bring 15 inches of rain and a storm surge of 20 feet or higher that would 'most likely topple' the network of levees and canals that normally protect the bowl-shaped city from flooding.
And as Andrew C. Revkin and Christopher Drew write in today's New York Times: "The 17th Street levee that gave way and led to the flooding of New Orleans was part of an intricate, aging system of barriers and pumps that was so chronically underfinanced that senior regional officials of the Army Corps of Engineers complained about it publicly for years.
*****
Later, Sawyer asked about gas prices and oil company profits.
Sawyer: "Gas prices going up at the pumps. We have seen in Atlanta the lines backing up. And some of the prices are going up to $4, $5. First of all, what do you want to say -- what is the government putting in place to guard against price gouging? And also, is this a time to call on Americans simply to pull back and not use the gas? . . . "
Bush: "First of all, you are right. We ought to conserve more. And I would hope Americans conserve if given a choice. Secondly, we have done some things to help on the gas prices. . . ."
Sawyer: "Some people have said that the oil companies themselves should simply forfeit some of their profits in this time of national crisis. One conservative commentator, a popular one, called for a 20 percent reduction in the profits. Do you -- "
Bush: "Well, what I'd like to see in corporate America, is to make sure they contribute to helping these victims. . . . "

Disaster In New Orleans: How About An Emergency Communications System That Works? William Fisher
In the months to come we'll learn that one of the many failures of protecting citizens during the New Orleans disaster was the lack of communications. Last Thursday we ran this story because we thought it was relevant to the present need to coordinate communications in event of a disaster. It pointed out that very little that has been done to date to correct our inadequate communications system that may have cost lives during the 9/11 disaster. For example, as Fisher notes, " On 9/11 there was no spectrum allocated to public safety – and there still isn’t."

Such a system would have proved useful during the New Orleans disaster. Based on relevant new stories, it's clear that the communications disaster in New Orleans in the 48 hours after the hurricane passed through may be found to have contributed to a loss of lives. The combination of poor, uncoordinated communications, confused survivors who were given little help to evacuate in advance of the hurricane, the sick and the handicapped who were left behind, the growing toxic stew of heat, refuse, poisons, sleeplessness, and mental derangement, and the Bush administration's slowness to respond could lead to more loss of life. --Jerry Politex

[On 9/11] when police officials concluded the twin towers were in danger of collapsing and ordered police to leave the complex, fire officials were not notified. Four years on, families of victims, policy makers, and ordinary citizens are asking: ”Could it happen again”? And, according to virtually every expert, the answer is ‘yes’.
Public safety agencies including first responders, such as firefighters, police officers, and ambulance services, are heavily dependent on wireless radios. Wireless technology requires radio frequency capacity, known as spectrum, in order to function, and existing wireless technology is designed to work within specified frequency ranges. On 9/11 there was no spectrum allocated to public safety – and there still isn’t.

We're Reading: Michael Moore's "Stupid White Men" (Regan Books)


Thursday, September 1, 2005

Today's 100+ bush headlines: Selected from around the world by the editors of Bush Watch
...get our headlines in your e-mail

Report: Bush And The New Orleans Levee Disaster Linked To His Tax Cuts, His Iraq War, E+P
Even though Hurricane Katrina has moved well north of the city, the waters may still keep rising in New Orleans late on Tuesday. That's because Lake Pontchartrain continues to pour through a two-block-long break in the main levee, near the city's 17th Street Canal. With much of the Crescent City some 10 feet below sea level, the rising tide may not stop until it's level with the massive lake.
New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been working with state and local officials in the region since the late 1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.
Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.
Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.
Newhouse News Service, in an article posted late Tuesday night at The Times-Picayune Web site, reported: "No one can say they didn't see it coming. ... Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."
In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness.
On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."
Also that June, with the 2004 hurricane season starting, the Corps' project manager Al Naomi went before a local agency, the East Jefferson Levee Authority, and essentially begged for $2 million for urgent work that Washington was now unable to pay for. From the June 18, 2004 Times-Picayune:
"The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don't get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can't stay ahead of the settlement," he said. "The problem that we have isn't that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can't raise them."... (
more

Opinion: Are We Angry Enough Yet? Jerry Politex
Are we angry enough yet?
First, Bush took us from a surplus to the most massive deficit in our history, one that incereases with each passing day, one that not even your grandchildren will be able to pay off, one that will be used as an excuse to gut social programs and seriously weaken the country's infrstructure. And, while his corporate masters plunder the country, poverty has increased each year he's been in office,increasing the gap between rich and poor, and turning the middle class into wage slaves too frightened to voice any oppositon for fear of losing their jobs.
Second, Bush took us into a war in Iraq that has sucked more money from our government, while giving it to his corporate friends involved in the privatization of the military, the servicing of his war machine, and the creation of his weapons. In so doing, we find that his reasons for invading Iraq, the reasons given to Congress and the UN, the reasons he gave to the American people prior to the invasion, were lies. Since then, we've learned that his fallback reasons for invading Iraq, the reasons he gave after the invasion, were also lies. In short, Bush has yet to give us one reason for his invasion of Iraq that has not turned out to be a lie.
Third, with the mayor's predictions of hundreds, if not thousands of deaths, massive destruction of home and infrastructure, and the Governor's call to abandon New Orleans because the inadequate levee system broke down and the city is now under water, we learn that in early 2004, as the cost of Iraq grew and the tax revenues fell, the levees protecting New Orleans from flooding remained unfinishd, even though by 1995 the Army Corps of Engineers had heeded the dire warnings and had been working to stave off disaster. Nevertheless, under Bush federal funding needed to strengthen the levees in New Orleans "dropped to a trickle" with at least $250 million in work needed to be done.
"In fiscal year 2006, the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding," New Orleans City Business reports. "The cuts mean major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded....Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now." While Bush slashed funding to protect New Orleans from flooding, he continued to talk about more tax cuts for corporations, more estate tax cuts for the wealthiest 1%, more reckless schemes to provide additional tax cuts and rewards for his wealthy friends and corporate masters.
How many deaths are acceptable? How much money rape can we stand? How many lies are we willing listen to?
Are we angry enough yet?

Verse: A Broadcasting Preacher Named Pat, Madeleine Begun Kane
A broadcasting preacher named Pat,
Who quite frequently talks through his hat,
Seems to think it's God's will
That we Prez Chavez kill.
Then we'll take all his oil, and that's that.


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