Friday, February 03, 2006

Cheerleading vs. Leading

This Guardian article focuses on the media playing cheerleader--but you can just as easily make the case that the media is little better than a pep squad--amplifying Smirk-Chimp-in-Chief's bellowing:

The US media reached an "all-time low" in failing to reflect public opinion and Americans' desire for trusted information, instead acting as a "cheerleader" for war, said Amy Goodman, the executive producer and host of US TV and radio news show Democracy Now!, at a news forum organised by al-Jazeera.

Newsweek's Paris bureau chief, Christopher Dickey, said the US media were dying because of cutbacks and weren't interested in covering the world outside America...

Ms Goodman said in the run-up to the Iraq war a study of NBC, CBS, ABC and PBS newscasts over a fortnight recorded 393 interviews on the conflict, of which only three reported the anti-war movement.

"This is a media cheerleading for war and does not represent mainstream opinion in the US," she added.

Ms Goodman said she believed the policy of embedding reporters with coalition forces was "a total failure for independent journalism ... western audiences need to see the other side of the story - from communities and hospitals".

"If people in the US had a true picture of war - dead babies, women with their legs blown off, dead and dying soldiers - they would say 'no'," she said.

Last night I was thinking somewhat along the same lines, but again, focusing on the puppeteer instead of the various Pinocchios. I made a small note:

Salesmanship vs. Leadership

Even Shrub's strongest defenders are aware that his leadership qualities are just plain they ratchet up their rhetoric to focus on the sale (see Krugman below re: politics vs. policy).

The result: A foreign policy debacle entire region destroyed, then subsequently ignored, here in the United States. Meanwhile, the rest of the country isn't in such great shape either. To wit: check out this Dave Zirin article about Detroit. Something tells me you won't see much about that this weekend...
"Fallujah, Ramadi, Abu Ghraib-y, Baby"

Freeway Blogger offers a multimedia work.

Pretty soon you're talking about real money:

Currently, the Defense Department says it is spending about $4.5 billion a month on the conflict in Iraq, or about $100,000 per minute.

Current spending in Afghanistan is about $800 million a month, or about $18,000 per minute.

The rising costs contrast with projections before the war. Former White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey predicted in late 2002 that the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion, drawing administration ire for offering such high estimates and eventually resigning his post.

In spring 2003, top administration officials, including Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, said Iraq's vast oil reserves would help defray the costs of an extended U.S. stay. Nearly three years later, oil revenues are far below expectations and the Iraqi government is able to pay for only a fraction of its reconstruction.

The White House also told Congress on Thursday that it will ask for $18 billion in supplemental funds for Hurricane Katrina relief, bringing to $105 billion the amount the administration plans to spend on relief and rebuilding efforts along the Gulf Coast.

But $105 billion dollars for Gulf Coast rebuilding is a misleading figure, as Da Po Blog points out...
Krugman Weighs In

Assessment of Team Bush


State of Delusion

So President Bush's plan to reduce imports of Middle East oil turns out to be no more substantial than his plan — floated two years ago, then flushed down the memory hole — to send humans to Mars.

But what did you expect? After five years in power, the Bush administration is still — perhaps more than ever — run by Mayberry Machiavellis, who don't take the business of governing seriously.

Here's the story on oil: In the State of the Union address Mr. Bush suggested that "cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol" and other technologies would allow us "to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East."

But the next day, officials explained that he didn't really mean what he said. "This was purely an example," said Samuel Bodman, the energy secretary. And the administration has actually been scaling back the very research that Mr. Bush hyped Tuesday night: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is about to lay off staff because of budget cuts. "A veteran researcher," reports The New York Times, "said the staff had been told that the cuts would be concentrated among researchers in wind and biomass, which includes ethanol."

Why announce impressive sounding goals when you have no plan to achieve them? The best guess is that the energy "plan" was hastily thrown together to give Mr. Bush something positive to say.

For weeks administration sources told reporters that the State of the Union address would focus on health care. But at the last minute the White House might have realized that its health care proposals, based on the idea that Americans have too much insurance, would suffer the same political fate as its attempt to privatize Social Security. ("Congress," Mr. Bush said, "did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security." Democrats responded with a standing ovation.)

So Mr. Bush's speechwriters were told to replace the health care proposals with fine words about energy independence, words not backed by any actual policy.

What about the rest of the speech? The State of the Union is normally an occasion for boasting about an administration's achievements. But what's a speechwriter to do when there are no achievements?

One answer is to pretend that the bad stuff never happened. The Medicare drug benefit is Mr. Bush's largest domestic initiative to date. It's also a disaster: at enormous cost, the administration has managed to make millions of elderly Americans worse off. So drugs went unmentioned in the State of the Union.

Another answer is to rely on evasive language. In Iraq, said Mr. Bush, we've "changed our approach to reconstruction."

In fact, reconstruction has failed. Almost three years after the war began, oil production is well below prewar levels, Baghdad is getting only an average of 3.2 hours of electricity a day, and more than 60 percent of water and sanitation projects have been canceled.

So now, having squandered billions in Iraqi oil revenue as well as U.S. taxpayer dollars, we've told the Iraqis that from now on it's their problem. America's would-be Marshall Plan in Iraq, reports The Los Angeles Times, "is drawing to a close this year with much of its promise unmet and no plans to extend its funding." I guess you can call that a change in approach.

There's a common theme underlying the botched reconstruction of Iraq, the botched response to Katrina (which Mr. Bush never mentioned), the botched drug program, and the nonexistent energy program. John DiIulio, the former White House head of faith-based policy, explained it more than three years ago. He told the reporter Ron Suskind how this administration operates: "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. ... I heard many, many staff discussions but not three meaningful, substantive policy discussions. There were no actual policy white papers on domestic issues."

In other words, this administration is all politics and no policy. It knows how to attain power, but has no idea how to govern. That's why the administration was caught unaware when Katrina hit, and why it was totally unprepared for the predictable problems with its drug plan. It's why Mr. Bush announced an energy plan with no substance behind it. And it's why the state of the union — the thing itself, not the speech — is so grim.

H/T Suspect Device.

Well, we all know Shrub wanted war with Iraq like a coffee drinker on the highway wants a clean restroom. In the dauphin's case, the moral equivalent of his teeth floating is summed up in this Guardian UK article:

A memo of a two-hour meeting between [Bush and Blair] at the White House on January 31 2003 - nearly two months before the invasion - reveals that Mr Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second UN resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme...

The disclosures come in a new edition of Lawless World, by Phillipe Sands, a QC and professor of international law at University College, London. Professor Sands last year exposed the doubts shared by Foreign Office lawyers about the legality of the invasion in disclosures which eventually forced the prime minister to publish the full legal advice given to him by the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith.

The memo seen by Prof Sands reveals:

· Mr Bush told Mr Blair that the US was so worried about the failure to find hard evidence against Saddam that it thought of "flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft planes with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours". Mr Bush added: "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach [of UN resolutions]".

· Mr Bush even expressed the hope that a defector would be extracted from Iraq and give a "public presentation about Saddam's WMD". He is also said to have referred Mr Blair to a "small possibility" that Saddam would be "assassinated".

· Mr Blair told the US president that a second UN resolution would be an "insurance policy", providing "international cover, including with the Arabs" if anything went wrong with the military campaign, or if Saddam increased the stakes by burning oil wells, killing children, or fomenting internal divisions within Iraq.

· Mr Bush told the prime minister that he "thought it unlikely that there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups". Mr Blair did not demur, according to the book.

"unlikely that there would be internecine warfare..." Well, that certainly settles one argument: Bush IS an idiot.
"And Rummy, You're Doing a Heckuva Job"

Schroeder links to this WaPo article about Rummy's address in anticipation of the Quadrennial Defense Review. As PGR aptly puts it:

...the Quadrennial Defense Review...conveniently ignores what may be the lasting legacy of the Bush administration's abuse of troops in Iraq.

The emasculation of the military for a questionable purpose has converted the military into a thin green line. Recall that it took many years for the U.S. military to rehabilitate itself after the demoralizing impact of the Vietnam War.

The United States can ill afford to entertain such a grandiose vision of empire. The Army War College released a report last year bringing into focus its concern that the United States' economic competitiveness might be eroded by the Bush administration's fetish with a never-ending war without defined goals.

Indeed. Meanwhile, the Post article notes the mule-headed insistence of Team Bush to conflate Al Qaeda to the level of Nazi Germany and/or the USSR, which proves either they don't have a fucking clue, or they're more than willing to lie in order to further short-term political gains.

Al Qaeda IS dangerous--and has become MORE dangerous thanks to the morons captaining Team Bush. But bin Laden--or Zawahiri--are neither Hitler nor Lenin, despite Donald's incessant clucking.

The inability to understand the limited support for fundamentalist Islamic terrorists among the population stretching from Indonesia to North Africa is a major reason WHY "The War Against Terror" has been such a dud...and, on a more ominous note, perhaps that's what Team Bush wants: a way to keep the war economy going in the absence of the Soviet threat. Which means, again, they're willing to lie to the public--and drag the nation down--in order to facilitate short term economic cronyism (see Halliburton).

A genuine strategy against fundamentalist Islamic terrorism would logically seek to ally with the VAST majority of people in the region (actually, more of a superregion) who have as little use for kooks like bin Laden as we in the West have for kooks like Eric Rudolph. Instead, Team Bush has stupidly adopted it's OWN bullying stance of "you're either with us or against us." A genuine strategy against fundamentalist Islamic terrorism would also understand the difference between a bin Laden and a Saddam Hussein--the latter, a thug, to be sure, but decidedly NOT a threat (more on that in a minute). We may not like thugs (although, as As'ad Abu Khalil points out, we deal with SOME thugs all the time, like in "Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UAE, Oman, Jordan, Libya, Algeria, Guatemala, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Bahrain, etc.").

Finally, a genuine strategy against fundamentalist Islamic terrorism would certainly NOT involve childlike foot stamping insistence for war in Iraq, which has damaged both US credibility AND the US military beyond bin Laden's wildest dreams.

On the subject of the US military, John Murtha's response to the Bush SOTU is worth looking at in its entirety, but I'll cite some especially relevant passages here:

...this drawn out conflict has put tremendous stress on our military, particularly on our Army and Marine Corps, whose operations tempo has increased substantially since 9/11.

The Government Accountability Office issued a report in November 2005 addressing the challenges of military personnel recruitment and retention and noted that the Department of Defense had been unable to fill over 112,000 positions in critical occupational specialties. This shortfall includes intelligence analysts, special forces, interpreters, and demolition experts-- those on whom we rely so heavily in today's asymmetric battlefield.

Some of our troops have been deployed four times over the last three years. Enlistment for the regular forces as well as the guard and reserves are well below recruitment goals. In 2005, the Army missed its recruitment goal for the first time since 1999, even after offering enlistment bonuses and incentives, lowering its monthly goals, and lowering its recruitment standards. As Retired Army officer Andrew Krepinevich recently warned in a report to the Pentagon, the Army is "in a race against time" to adjust to the demands of war "or risk 'breaking' the force in the form of a catastrophic decline" in recruitment and re-enlistment.

The harsh environment in which we are operating our equipment in Iraq, combined with the equipment usage rate (ten times greater than peacetime levels) is taking a heavy toll on our ground equipment. It is currently estimated that $50 billion will be required to refurbish this equipment.

Further, in its response to Hurricane Katrina, the National Guard realized that it had over $1.3 billion in equipment shortfalls. This has created a tremendous burden on non-deployed guard units, on whom this country depends so heavily to respond to domestic disasters and possible terrorist attacks. Without relief, Army Guard units will face growing equipment shortages and challenges in regaining operational readiness for future missions at home and overseas.

Since 9/11, Congress has appropriated about $334 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the insurgents have spent hundreds of thousands. We have seen reports estimating that the total cost of the wars may reach as high as $1 trillion. These estimates are said to include such costs as providing long-term disability benefits and care for injured service members. It is estimated today that over 16,000 U.S. troops have been wounded in Iraq, 10,481 of whom have been wounded by "weaponry explosive devices."

But while war costs continue to climb, cuts are being made to the defense budget. As soon as the war is over there will be pressure to cut even more. This year, even while we are at war, 8 billion dollars was cut from the base defense spending bill. You ordered another $32 billion in cuts to the defense budget over the next five years, with $11.6 billion coming from the Army. The Pentagon told Congress only last year that it needed 77 combat brigades to fulfill its missions, but now insists it only needs 70. In fact, 6 of the 7 combat brigades will be cut from the National Guard, reducing its combat units from 34 to 28. Even though all of the National Guard combat brigades have been deployed overseas since 9/11, your Administration has determined that, because of funding shortfalls, our combat ground forces can be reduced. Not only will these cuts diminish our combat power, but our ability to respond to natural disasters and terrorist threats to our homeland will be adversely affected. It is obvious that the cost of the war, in conjunction with the Army's inability to meet recruitment goals, has impacted this estimate. My concern is that instead of our force structure being based on the future threat, it is now being based on the number of troops and level of funding available.

Rummy--and his nominal boss--really ARE doing a heckuva screwing up.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Just Kidding, Prince Turki!


"Bold initiatives" aren't what they used to be:

One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally.

He merely meant, Your Majesty...

What the president meant, they said in a conference call with reporters, was that alternative fuels could displace an amount of oil imports equivalent to most of what America is expected to import from the Middle East in 2025.

But America still would import oil from the Middle East, because that's where the greatest oil supplies are.

The president's State of the Union reference to Mideast oil made headlines nationwide Wednesday because of his assertion that "America is addicted to oil" and his call to "break this addiction."

Bush vowed to fund research into better batteries for hybrid vehicles and more production of the alternative fuel ethanol, setting a lofty goal of replacing "more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025."
He pledged to "move beyond a petroleum-based economy and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past."

Not exactly, though, it turns out.

"This was purely an example," Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.

He said the broad goal was to displace foreign oil imports, from anywhere, with domestic alternatives. He acknowledged that oil is a freely traded commodity bought and sold globally by private firms. Consequently, it would be very difficult to reduce imports from any single region, especially the most oil-rich region on Earth.

Asked why the president used the words "the Middle East" when he didn't really mean them, one administration official said Bush wanted to dramatize the issue in a way that "every American sitting out there listening to the speech understands." The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he feared that his remarks might get him in trouble.

Reddhedd also has the goods on Bush's lie claim that he's increasing research spending on alternatives:

The reality -- Bush cutting the budget for the Department of Energy's alternative fuels research division by 15%, and laying off scientists working in the fields of biomass fuels, wind energy and other alternative energy source projects:
The Energy Department will begin laying off researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the next week or two because of cuts to its budget.

A veteran researcher said the staff had been told that the cuts would be concentrated among researchers in wind and biomass, which includes ethanol. Those are two of the technologies that Mr. Bush cited on Tuesday night as holding the promise to replace part of the nation's oil imports.

The budget for the laboratory, which is just west of Denver, was cut by nearly 15 percent, to $174 million from $202 million, requiring the layoff of about 40 staff members out of a total of 930, said a spokesman, George Douglas. The cut is for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1.

You'd think Bush would be doing all he can and then some to rebuild the Gulf Coast if he was serious about reducing our dependence on foreign oil...

But I guess that claim, like pretty much everything else he says, is full of shit.

According to Team Bush, NOLA is worth...about 17 cents for every dollar they spend on Operation They're Fucking LOSING Even If They Refuse to Admit It:

The Bush administration said Thursday it will ask Congress for $120 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and $18 billion more this year for hurricane relief.

If approved by Congress, the war money would push spending related to the wars toward a staggering half-trillion dollars...

Joel Kaplan, deputy director of the White House's budget office, said the administration was "trying to balance the desire for transparency and accurate estimating with the unpredictable nature of war and the needs on the ground."

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said the requests reflect the president's desire to "commit the resources that are necessary to fight and win the war on terrorism."

The requested money would cover troop salaries and benefits, repairing and replacing equipment, supporting U.S. embassies in the two countries and taking on the insurgency. It would cover the costs of continuing to train Iraqi and Afghan security forces and protect U.S. troops.

Kaplan said the $50 billion request for Iraq and Afghanistan for 2007 is a placeholder and he suggested that the combined costs of the two campaigns could be different.

"We're still in the process of working out the details," he said.

Meantime, Donald Powell, the coordinator for rebuilding the Gulf Coast, confirmed that the administration would request $18 billion for that effort.

The money would push the total federal commitment for rebuilding to more than $100 billion, according to administration tallies. He said it probably would be the last such spending request for the current budget year. He said a detailed request would go to Congress within 10 days to 30 days.

Powell said he does not anticipate additional money for the region in the 2007 budget Bush planned to announce Monday.

Powell provided little detail about specifically what the money would be used for, saying it would include money for housing, roads and levees.

"That's a lot of money," he said, referring to the $100 billion.

But...the $100 billion includes things like insurance payments, which Da Po' Blog noted recently is an interesting development: people are obligated to pay insurance premiums, but apparently in BushWorld, disbursing CLAIMS is a discretionary act, i.e., charity. On the other side of the coin, $50 billion as a "placeholder" for war spending means you can probably count on the actual cost being quite a bit more.

One thing that probably IS consistent is the level of destruction in Iraq, Afghanistan...and the United States Gulf Coast.

Bush is managing to make Herbert Hoover look good in comparison.
Speaking of Stone Walls

A friend sent me this story about Renaissance Village, a FEMA trailer park in Baker (north Red Stick burbs). Two things:

1) That this story--and others like it--aren't plastered across the front pages of EVERY goddamned newspaper in the country, aren't featured on the national television news, cable news, etc., speaks volumes about the level to which BOTH the government AND the nation's citizens are willing to abandon the people of New Orleans. Talk about shameful.

2) In Bushmerica, "freedom" really IS just another word...

FEMA's Baker trailer park is a mysterious sanctuary, as 225 found out when we asked freelance writer Chuck Hustmyre to write about life in B.R.'s instant subdivision. The quest to simply enter the park became a story in itself as FEMA has surrounded the place in a baffling veil of secrecy and red tape. But once inside, Hustmyre met frustrated, angry people eager to tell the world about their troubled daily lives.

Do you know what life is like at the FEMA trailer park in Baker?

No? Don't feel badly. Hardly anyone does.

Much within Renaissance Village--the grandiosely named smudge of dirt and limestone on the outskirts of Baker that's home to 565 travel trailers---remains largely concealed from the outside world, as does the plight of the 1,600 displaced New Orleanians who now call the place home. Their trailer park is protected by a veil of inexplicable procedures that not even government workers agree on.

I thought, rather naively, I could simply stroll the grounds of Renaissance Village, talk to the residents, maybe take some pictures and generally get a feel for how the residents were faring as they prepared for their first Christmas away from home, family and friends.

But the Federal Emergency Management Agency carefully manages and monitors information coming out of the Groom Road trailer park. Not even local law enforcement officials can get all the information they believe they need to ensure the public safety.

The first hint things weren't going to be easy came from an old salt at The Advocate who told me FEMA assigns handlers to reporters, at least they did whenever the newspaper covered a staged visit by a dignitary looking for a photo op.

Still, how much trouble could it be? I wondered. After all, I was just trying to write a story about people who are trying to put their lives back together.

If you've got the time, please take a look at the entire report. And, and one more thing:

Reporters requiring "handlers?" WTF? The last time I recall ANY non-embedded reporter talking about handlers Iraq, during the run up to Operation Enduring Clusterfuck (on the other hand, NO reporter was murdered PRIOR to the onset of hostilities).

What's become of this country?
Higher and Higher

Team Bush is once again refusing to cooperate--last week they stonewalled the Senate Committee investigating Hurricane Katrina, ridiculously citing "executive privilege," now they're hiding documents related to their "filling out forms is too hard" decision to bypass FISA and break the law:

The Bush administration is rebuffing requests from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for its classified legal opinions on President Bush's domestic spying program, setting up a confrontation in advance of a hearing scheduled for next week, administration and Congressional officials said Wednesday.

But stonewalling is so......1973 and 1974, i.e., the second and third year of Nixon's second term (noticing a trend?).

Since it is, I offer the following--and best of all, there's more than enough debris. Maybe Team Bush can finally send some trucks down here to deal with it:

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hat in the Ring

My entry in a contest I saw announced over at Rising Hegemon:

Photoshop a picture of Jack Abramoff presenting a huge ceremonial check to President Bush and email it as an attachment to We’ll display some of the entries here, and pick a winner.

I'm not holding my breath...but I'm reasonably satisfied with the effort...
Whine and Cheese

What I really like about this Keith Olbermann takedown of "the worst person in the world" (does Bill get to keep the trophy now that he's won it so many times?)...anyway, what I like is that you KNOW O'Reilly saw the clip...and he's probably STILL sputtering with wingnut rage.

Bill's sensitive...
Rose Colored Glasses

Thanks to Cursor for the link.

While the boy-chimp sees nothing but blue skies (despite his colored shades), another from-the-ground report in Baghdad confirms what I and others keep saying--it's an Enduring Clusterfuck:

MICHAEL WARE, "TIME" BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Anderson, this is all clearly from the president, political gymnastics. Like a magician, he's attempting to create something out of nothing. It's very clear that U.S. policy, on the ground in Iraq, is not winning, it's not creating a victory. The question is, can America get out of there with anything close to a semblance of success, of any kind? I mean, let's look at Iraq. He refers to an inclusive government. That simply does not exist and is back and owned now by a member of the axis of evil, Iran. Listening to commanders on the ground who have described to me the "big lie," that we can't really tell the truth of what's going on, we can't ask for the resources that we need for fear of betraying the true situation, here in Iraq. And this is a policy. Born of success that is seen U.S. administrations now turning to the insurgents themselves, bringing back the Ba'ath party.

In this war, all we have seen is an emboldening of Al Qaeda, which has become stronger in so many ways and emboldening of Iran. And the spillover of democracy, we're starting to see that in Palestine, with the coming to power of the Hamas Islamic extremist government that we're seeing in Iraq itself, which has brought to power a pseudo-Islamic series of parties backed by Iran. And this is a success that the president wishes to build upon.

The "great lie" of his address is the success of Iraq. The great truth is that the only long-term way out is developing alternative energy strategies. And he talks about a battle of ideologies. Well, so far in that test of wills, that test of ideas, we're simply gain no traction whatsoever.

A couple of days ago, it was Christiane Amanpour who delivered a sobering dose of reality.

Wingnuts can bark themselves hoarse, but you can only mask truth for so long. Over there, we keep spending money like an alcoholic on a expense account bender--with NOTHING to show for it except shattered bodies, seething hatred--and corruption of the kind that allegedly makes Team Bush wary of spending money to restore the Gulf Coast (though they're more than willing to sink it into a drug plan/boondoggle, for instance).

Here in the United States, the Gulf Coast is...ignored, despite its ongoing testament to the distinctive lack of qualifications possessed by this administration...and their cynical, no doubt poll-driven decision to throw the region to the wolves.

Speaking of throwing to the wolves, Firedoglake and Glenn Greenwald both point out the ominous trend in ejecting both Cindy Sheehan and Beverly Young from the House Chamber for exercising their right to free speech. Reddhedd posts this interesting graphic showing what a difference a year makes:

Greenwald links to a Carpetbagger Report post chronicling a number of instances where Team Bush demonstrates their selective regard for a fundamental principle of freedom...which means, when they crow about their commitment to "freedom," well, they're talking out of their ass.

But I digress. The point here is simple: calling Team Bush a lying sack of shit is an insult to sacks of shit, which at least are capable of fertilizing fields. And while the Kool-Aid faction of the GOP--and their mediawhore hacks like Chris Matthews--think of everything as merely a political game, eventually reality WILL catch up with them...

It's not going to be a pretty sight.
Trader Shrub's $39.95 Merchandise

"Hardly any Water Damage..."

Other bloggers have already written about the paucity of verbiage devoted to the Gret Stet and Gulf Coast in last night's Shit on the Union used war sales pitch address: here, here, here, and here you can find analysis as good as any I've seen thus far...analysis far better than the assclowns on teevee.

If politics is show business for ugly people, then televised punditry is politics for idiots. I was able to endure less than five minutes of actually paying attention before I determined that the cost of a new television outweighed my strong desire to kick in the screen (and my cat would've freaked).


I see Cindy Sheehan was arrested for believing a little too strongly in the first amendment right of free speech--which is doubly ironic on the day Strip Search Scalito officially donned his new robe.

Speaking of irony--and paucity: watching watching Mr. "I-couldn't-even-bother-with- my-easy-TANG-champagne-brigade-commitment" cite a letter written by Sergeant Dan Clay was like imagining Aleister Crowley in the pulpit at Liberty Baptist--or guffawing with Pat Robertson on CBN (likewise his "bold initiative" re:'s GOP is cynical enough to use the "initiative" as an excuse to screw the Gulf Coast. Mark my words).

Otherwise, it was the same...old...shit. And count me as in agreement with Greg Peters as to Tim Kaine's "response:"

Weak, dispassionate, unwilling to confront and call a liar a liar and a failure a failure. Sometimes I don't know who makes me sicker, the dogpack running the country or the whipped ones cowering under the bed. Nothing new from the president? Nothing new from you, either.

Anyway...Think Progress is as good a place as any for particulars. As for me, there was only so much stink I could stand.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Hat tip to King of Zembla.
Condi then: "No one imagined" [planes being used as weapons].

In July 2001, a few weeks before Bush received the "Bin Laden" PDB, Italian authorities warned the U.S. Secret Service that terrorists connected to al-Qaeda were planning to hijack a plane and crash it into George W. Bush's hotel at that month's Genoa summit of the G-8 nations. As a result of these warnings, the Italians shut down the Genoa airport and airspace and installed anti-aircraft batteries to protect the summit (also see LA Times, Sept. 27, 2001). George W. Bush and his entourage - presumably including Condoleeza Rice - spent a night on a U.S. aircraft carrier for protection, even as the other G-8 leaders boarded a luxury ship to go on an Adriatic pleasure cruise.

Condi now: "I've asked why nobody saw it coming," Ms. Rice said, speaking of her own staff. "It does say something about us not having a good enough pulse" . . . .

Ms. Rice pointed out that the election results surprised just about everyone. "I don't know anyone who wasn't caught off guard by Hamas's strong showing..."

From the New Yorker, 2/6/06 (via our stalwart colleagues at Cursor):
[Shalom] Harari, who served as an intelligence officer in the West Bank and then as the adviser on Palestinian affairs to the Israeli Defense Ministry, is still closely connected to his former colleagues, and he said he had heard that, some weeks ago, the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, who was afraid of a Hamas rout at the polls, begged Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to exert United States pressure and postpone the scheduled elections. Rice refused, Harari said, and told Abbas to go forward. (A State Department spokesman declined to confirm the details of their conversation.)
The Shrublegon

William Rivers Pitt found this fact in a WaPo article entitled "Post-Katrina Promises Unfulfilled":

Thirty million cubic yards of debris remain uncollected - the Washington Post estimated over the weekend that this was "enough to build a five-sided column more than 50 stories tall over the Pentagon." There is not even a plan in place to begin to attack the problem. The Bush administration has left New Orleans to rot, and the next hurricane season is four months away.

Check out the rest of his essay--Pitt cites Mark Folse of Wet Bank Guide, who must've posted a message at Truth Out recently (I didn't find it on his site):

"I've never lost the deepest allegiance I've ever held: to my city," wrote Folse. "We have always known we were a people different and unique, as divided as we may seem. That sense of identity as a New Orleanian is the powerful bond that draws me on. It is the deep love of country that drives me - of my country, New Orleans and southern Louisiana. It is the irrational emotional attachment to my piece of America that leads men and women to go willingly up Bunker Hill, to follow General Pickett, to volunteer for Iraq.

A life of assured privilege has protected you from having to take these sorts of risks, to find the strength to get up and go into the maw of uncertainty, to risk and gamble your own and not other peoples' lives or money. You can pledge allegiance or sing the anthem or give a stirring speech as well as any, but you know you have no allegiance except self-interest."

"If nothing moves you except your own self-interest, then consider this. There are hundreds of thousands of us, scattered throughout most of the United States. We are everywhere you and your party will go to campaign: Arkansas and Atlanta and Austin, Dallas and Detroit and Denver, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Baltimore and Boston, Chicago and Charlotte. Many will remain there indefinitely, unable to go home, precisely because you have lied to them and betrayed them. We will not let you escape from the net of lies you have woven. Wherever you turn, you will find us, ready to call you out."
George Nose, um, Knows Addiction

Shrub's "bold initiative" in tonight's SOTU:

"America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world," he plans to say. "The best way to break this addiction is through technology."

Oil prices are inching toward $70 a barrel, and the president's goal of reducing dependence on foreign suppliers has been issued by the White House over the decades but never realized. Bush's primary proposal is to increase federal research into alternative fuels such as ethanol made from weeds or wood chips, instead of corn.

That's WEED"S", not weed, though Chimperor's probably more familiar with the latter. And no, Shrub, all that brush you're clearing won't light up the country.

Meanwhile, the pushers of all that oil we're addicted to still enjoy their $14 Billion Dollar tax breaks.

I guess some crime DOES pay.
Abu the Perjurer

"Senator, I — you — in my judgment, whether I took a cookie is sort of a hypothetical situation."

Evidently, "changing the tone" in Washington, for this administration, meant THEIR acts of perjury weren't regarding personal matters:

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) charged yesterday that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales misled the Senate during his confirmation hearing a year ago when he appeared to try to avoid answering a question about whether the president could authorize warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens.

In a letter to the attorney general yesterday, Feingold demanded to know why Gonzales dismissed the senator's question about warrantless eavesdropping as a "hypothetical situation" during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January 2005. At the hearing, Feingold asked Gonzales where the president's authority ends and whether Gonzales believed the president could, for example, act in contravention of existing criminal laws and spy on U.S. citizens without a warrant.

Gonzales said that it was impossible to answer such a hypothetical question but that it was "not the policy or the agenda of this president" to authorize actions that conflict with existing law. He added that he would hope to alert Congress if the president ever chose to authorize warrantless surveillance, according to a transcript of the hearing...

Gonzales was White House counsel at the time the program began and has since acknowledged his role in affirming the president's authority to launch the surveillance effort. Gonzales is scheduled to testify Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the program's legal rationale.

"It now appears that the Attorney General was not being straight with the Judiciary Committee and he has some explaining to do," Feingold said in a statement yesterday.

A Justice Department spokesman said yesterday the department had not yet reviewed the Feingold letter and could not comment.

Think Progress has more, including a transcript from the hearing in question. Because Abu was under oath, he opened himself up to criminal prosecution.

He also won't likely be subjected to the sort of treatment he authorized in Iraq and Cuba.
Shrub's SOTU: Shit on the Union

"Take my used ideas home today...and your children will make the payments."

Funny--yesterday's anticipated headlines all focused on the boy-Chimperor's upcoming "upbeat" message--but then, probably earning some seething Chimperor rage, Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt had the temerity to get seriously wounded.

With the fate of reporter Jill Carroll still in limbo, Ayman Al-Zawahiri issuing videotaped taunts, and Christiane Amanpour stating the obvious, all but the GOP Kool-Aid zombie caucus know that the war policy has proven itself an utter failure and disaster. Thanks to incompetence, inattention, and simian chest-thumping, this country went through the worst terrorist attack in history--and followed it up with a poorly planned war against Afghanistan (failing to capture or kill anyone of significance, except for the never ending supply of "Number 3 in the Al Qaeda heirarchy types--I wonder if, like the extras in Star Trek landing parties, they're forced to wear red...). Then, Shrub launched Operation Enduring Clusterfuck, managing to 1) bog down the US military in a land war in Asia, 2) spawn a training ground for terrorists in perhaps the one country that WASN'T a terrorist threat, 3) additionally spawn an insurgency that attacks US forces, and has at least some sympathy among the Iraqi citizens themselves, and 4) put us massively in debt to...communist China. Then there's the recent victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections--assisted in no small part by...drumroll...U.S. incompetence, negligence, inattention--anyone noticing a trend? And that's just for starters.

On the domestic side of the equation, the dauphin reacted to the worst NATURAL disaster in this country's history by...playing GEE-tar and guffawing with John McCain. Five months later, his grasp of Gulf Coast reality is on par with his grasp of Middle East reality. Let's see: incompetence, inattention, negligence.

Then, take the economy. Please.

Juan Cole has a list of ten things Bush won't tell you about the state of the nation. Since I'm already planning on having a few during the address itself (for medicinal purposes: listening to the guy otherwise makes me want to hurl), I guess I don't require any of Cole's points for a drinking game--though I'll down a pint of rum in one gulp if the dauphin utters the name "Harriet Miers."

Speaking of: I see Strip Search Scalito got his lifetime appointment. Geez. If only someone could put some sort of pill in his tea to make him as annoyingly insignificant as Clarence Thomas...

Monday, January 30, 2006


Hat tips to Scout Prime and Suspect Device. Check out Greg's latest--I doubt I'll drive up the page views like Dead Pelican or Daily Repot did--but it's damn good.

Scout thinks this person could qualify as a winner for Countdown's Worst Person in the the very least, he's a STRONG contender:

Until the eviction notices began to arrive, Solomon Benjamin and Patti Joseph believed they had dodged the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina.

Their one-bedroom apartment in this New Orleans suburb, which suffered no flooding or widespread destruction, was unharmed in the storm. Its good condition was verified by a federal inspector who found Joseph ineligible for housing assistance because of ''insufficient damage." Their landlord took a different view, launching an aggressive three-month campaign to remove Benjamin, Joseph, and all remaining tenants from the complex of about 200 units. Former residents believe the ouster took place so the units can be renovated and rented to higher-paying tenants...

''They" are Leonard J. Samia, one of Boston's largest and most notorious landlords, and LES Realty Trust, a Samia partnership that owns Louisburg Square Apartments, a sprawling cluster of low-income, two-story buildings on the west bank of the Mississippi River, 6 miles from the French Quarter.

According to former residents, housing advocates, and legal aid attorneys in Louisiana, Samia took advantage of the chaos that consumed New Orleans after the hurricane -- a lawless time when police, courts, and social service agencies were overwhelmed with emergencies -- to force out tenants. The tenants were among the city's most vulnerable residents, their lawyers said, lacking the money and know-how to fight the eviction pressure they faced.

Check out the entire story. To quote a line from Dependable Renegade (in an unrelated post), shit don't get any more craven...
My Least Favorite Martian

Strip Search Sammy survived the cloture vote.

Reddhedd's reaction is worth a look.

Maybe we lost a battle--but the war's just beginning.
Hand Over Fist


Exxon posts record profits--again:

For the year the company earned net income of $36.1 billion, or $33.9 billion excluding special items. That's up 31 percent from the $25.9 billion it earned on that basis year earlier.

Exxon Mobil's 2005 net income for the year comes to $1,146 a second. That per-second profit is enough to pay for gas for the average American vehicle to be driven 10,294 miles, at current gasoline prices.

By the way, the record isn't just for Exxon, or energy/oil companies. It's the largest annuah corporate profit ever.

I'd be more than a little interested to see how much tax Exxon will be paying this year. If I remember right, they are the largest private employer here in Red Stick, and one of the largest in the Gret Stet...and quite a bit of their profit is presumably derived from on and offshore mineral concessions...oh, and a big old ugly refinery in the north part of town (not all that far from where I work).

If anyone already has information re: how many dollars flow from their corporate coffers to the Gret Stet's treasury, by all means let me know...
Doing What They Do Best

Sitting around on their fat asses, daydreaming.

Team Bush--the political equivalent of "spastic:"

As Hurricane Katrina victims waited for help in flooded houses or in looted neighborhoods, hundreds of trucks, boats, planes and federal security officers sat unused because FEMA failed to give them missions, newly released documents show.

Additionally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency called off its search and rescue operations in Louisiana three days after the Aug. 29 storm because of security issues, according to an internal FEMA e-mail given to Senate investigators.

And, of course, when called on their incompetence, their first reaction is to hurl slime:

Trent Duffy, the deputy White House press secretary...acknowledged that all levels of the government had suffered from a lack of clarity about the events as they developed.

"There was a lack of situational awareness at all levels," Mr. Duffy said in an interview on Friday. "That is one of the biggest lessons everyone in emergency preparedness has learned because of the storm."...

The investigators expressed frustration that the White House did not seem to have been more actively involved. But Mr. Duffy, echoing a point made by Mr. Rapuano, said: "The White House should not be making combat decisions in Iraq. The same is true for a domestic emergency response."

The committee staff members also asked why it had taken Mr. Bush until the following Saturday, nearly a week after the storm, to order a large number of federal troops to the Gulf Coast.

Mr. Rapuano said that the Pentagon had already started to send troops and that in fact 5,000 of them had arrived by that point.

Louisiana's governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, had asked for many more three days earlier, but Mr. Rapuano said the problem was that she had not provided specifics as to what kind of troops she needed.

Or maybe it was because Team Bush is a gang of full-of-shit-lard-asses--and couldn't manage a goddamn drive-up daiquiri stand across the street from a fraternity house, much less the country...