Saturday, September 24, 2005

Question for ZuZu's Petals

Isn't the following picture sufficient to disqualify one from serving as a senator from Tennessee?

Low and inside

Republicans are of course no strangers to insider trading scandals. You have probably heard by now about Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (the favorite senator of Zu Zu's Petals!) and his little problem with dumping his holdings in the family empire, HCA, just before it tanked.

Well, if you will, "Harken" back a few years, when a Texas energy company brought a young man on board solely for his intellect and business acumen:

He too bailed out just in time when things looked bad, with nary a slap on the wrist from Poppy's SEC. Frist and Bubble Boy demonstrate with undeniable clarity the typical neocon attitude toward the regulation of business in the public interest:

He was never the Wizard, he was ALWAYS Professor Marvel!

One of the last free Op-Ed pieces from the Gray Lady, now that the New York Times has adopted its ill-conceived pay service for its columnists:

September 18, 2005
Message: I Care About the Black Folks

ONCE Toto parts the curtain, the Wizard of Oz can never be the wizard again. He is forever Professor Marvel, blowhard and snake-oil salesman. Hurricane Katrina, which is likely to endure in the American psyche as long as L. Frank Baum's mythic tornado, has similarly unmasked George W. Bush.

The worst storm in our history proved perfect for exposing this president [a question for Mr. Rich, though--WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?? Back to your regularly scheduled column] because in one big blast it illuminated all his failings: the rampant cronyism, the empty sloganeering of "compassionate conservatism," the lack of concern for the "underprivileged" his mother condescended to at the Astrodome, the reckless lack of planning for all government operations except tax cuts, the use of spin and photo-ops to camouflage failure and to substitute for action.

In the chaos unleashed by Katrina, these plot strands coalesced into a single tragic epic played out in real time on television. The narrative is just too powerful to be undone now by the administration's desperate recycling of its greatest hits: a return Sunshine Boys tour by the surrogate empathizers Clinton and Bush I, another round of prayers at the Washington National Cathedral, another ludicrously overhyped prime-time address flecked with speechwriters' "poetry" and framed by a picturesque backdrop. Reruns never eclipse a riveting new show.

Nor can the president's acceptance of "responsibility" for the disaster dislodge what came before. Mr. Bush didn't cough up his modified-limited mea culpa until he'd seen his whole administration flash before his eyes. His admission that some of the buck may stop with him (about a dime's worth, in Truman dollars) came two weeks after the levees burst and five years after he promised to usher in a new post-Clinton "culture of responsibility." It came only after the plan to heap all the blame on the indeed blameworthy local Democrats failed to lift Mr. Bush's own record-low poll numbers. It came only after America's highest-rated TV news anchor, Brian Williams, started talking about Katrina the way Walter Cronkite once did about Vietnam.

Taking responsibility, as opposed to paying lip service to doing so, is not in this administration's gene pool. It was particularly shameful that Laura Bush was sent among the storm's dispossessed to try to scapegoat the news media for her husband's ineptitude. When she complained of seeing "a lot of the same footage over and over that isn't necessarily representative of what really happened," the first lady sounded just like Donald Rumsfeld shirking responsibility for the looting of Baghdad. The defense secretary, too, griped about seeing the same picture "over and over" on television (a looter with a vase) to hide the reality that the Pentagon had no plan to secure Iraq, a catastrophic failure being paid for in Iraqi and American blood to this day.

This White House doesn't hate all pictures, of course. It loves those by Karl Rove's Imagineers, from the spectacularly lighted Statue of Liberty backdrop of Mr. Bush's first 9/11 anniversary speech to his "Top Gun" stunt to Thursday's laughably stagy stride across the lawn to his lectern in Jackson Square. (Message: I am a leader, not that vacationing slacker who first surveyed the hurricane damage from my presidential jet.)

The most odious image-mongering, however, has been Mr. Bush's repeated deployment of African-Americans as dress extras to advertise his "compassion." In 2000, the Republican convention filled the stage with break dancers and gospel singers, trying to dispel the memory of Mr. Bush's craven appearance at Bob Jones University when it forbade interracial dating. (The few blacks in the convention hall itself were positioned near celebrities so they'd show up in TV shots.) In 2004, the Bush-Cheney campaign Web site had a page titled "Compassion" devoted mainly to photos of the president with black people, Colin Powell included.

Some of these poses are re-enacted in the "Hurricane Relief" photo gallery currently on display on the White House Web site. But this time the old magic isn't working. The "compassion" photos are outweighed by the cinéma vérité of poor people screaming for their lives. The government effort to keep body recovery efforts in New Orleans as invisible as the coffins from Iraq was abandoned when challenged in court by CNN.

But even now the administration's priority of image over substance is embedded like a cancer in the Katrina relief process. Brazenly enough, Mr. Rove has been officially put in charge of the reconstruction effort. The two top deputies at FEMA remaining after Michael Brown's departure, one of them a former local TV newsman, are not disaster relief specialists but experts in P.R., which they'd practiced as advance men for various Bush campaigns. Thus The Salt Lake Tribune discovered a week after the hurricane that some 1,000 firefighters from Utah and elsewhere were sent not to the Gulf Coast but to Atlanta, to be trained as "community relations officers for FEMA" rather than used as emergency workers to rescue the dying in New Orleans. When 50 of them were finally dispatched to Louisiana, the paper reported, their first assignment was "to stand beside President Bush" as he toured devastated areas.

The cashiering of "Brownie," whom Mr. Bush now purports to know as little as he did "Kenny Boy," changes nothing. The Knight Ridder newspapers found last week that it was the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, not Mr. Brown, who had the greater authority to order federal agencies into service without any request from state or local officials. Mr. Chertoff waited a crucial, unexplained 36 hours before declaring Katrina an "incident of national significance," the trigger needed for federal action. Like Mr. Brown, he was oblivious to the humanitarian disaster unfolding in the convention center, confessing his ignorance of conditions there to NPR on the same day that the FEMA chief famously did so to Ted Koppel. Yet Mr. Bush's "culture of responsibility" does not hold Mr. Chertoff accountable. Quite the contrary: on Thursday the president charged Homeland Security with reviewing "emergency plans in every major city in America." Mr. Chertoff will surely do a heck of a job.

WHEN there's money on the line, cronies always come first in this White House, no matter how great the human suffering. After Katrina, the FEMA Web site directing charitable contributions prominently listed Operation Blessing, a Pat Robertson kitty that, according to I.R.S. documents obtained by ABC News, has given more than half of its yearly cash donations to Mr. Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. If FEMA is that cavalier about charitable donations, imagine what it's doing with the $62 billion (so far) of taxpayers' money sent its way for Katrina relief. Actually, you don't have to imagine: we already know some of it was immediately siphoned into no-bid contracts with a major Republican donor, the Fluor Corporation, as well as with a client of the consultant Joe Allbaugh, the Bush 2000 campaign manager who ran FEMA for this White House until Brownie, Mr. Allbaugh's college roommate, was installed in his place.

It was back in 2000 that Mr. Bush, in a debate with Al Gore, bragged about his gubernatorial prowess "on the front line of catastrophic situations," specifically citing a Texas flood, and paid the Clinton administration a rare compliment for putting a professional as effective as James Lee Witt in charge of FEMA. Exactly why Mr. Bush would staff that same agency months later with political hacks is one of many questions that must be answered by the independent investigation he and the Congressional majority are trying every which way to avoid. With or without a 9/11-style commission, the answers will come out. There are too many Americans who are angry and too many reporters who are on the case. (NBC and CNN are both opening full-time bureaus in New Orleans.) You know the world has changed when the widely despised news media have a far higher approval rating (77 percent) than the president (46 percent), as measured last week in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

Like his father before him, Mr. Bush has squandered the huge store of political capital he won in a war. His Thursday-night invocation of "armies of compassion" will prove as worthless as the "thousand points of light" that the first President Bush bestowed upon the poor from on high in New Orleans (at the Superdome, during the 1988 G.O.P. convention). It will be up to other Republicans in Washington to cut through the empty words and image-mongering to demand effective action from Mr. Bush on the Gulf Coast and in Iraq, if only because their own political lives are at stake. It's up to Democrats, though they show scant signs of realizing it, to step into the vacuum and propose an alternative to a fiscally disastrous conservatism that prizes pork over compassion. If the era of Great Society big government is over, the era of big government for special interests is proving a fiasco. Especially when it's presided over by a self-styled C.E.O. with a consistent three-decade record of running private and public enterprises alike into a ditch.

What comes next? Having turned the page on Mr. Bush, the country hungers for a vision that is something other than either liberal boilerplate or Rovian stagecraft. At this point, merely plain old competence, integrity and heart might do.

Friday, September 23, 2005

My Fellow Americans--Four Letter Countries


Good evening. My fellow Americans, I wanted to talk to you tonight about a serious problem, a problem for America. As you know, before we saved the world from a murderous dictator with stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and gave Iraq a happy, peaceful democracy, I mentioned an "axis of evil."

I mentioned Iran and Iraq, because they hate our freedom, and I want to mention Cuba now, because they hate Jeb, and because I lost my wallet down there once when Neil and I snuck in using one of Poppy's planes in the '70s because we heard they had some kick-ass weed there, and anyway it was a bitch and a half getting out without my state ID because, you know, the cops had my driver's license to start with and Neil was doing the hooker thing, they were cheap down there even with the drinks, but anyway, since 9/11, you know, 9/11 and all that--anyway, where was I? Oh right, I decided something.

Look--Iran, Iraq, Cuba, what do you see? OK, murderous dictators or oppressive regimes, but I mean something more important. Look again, Iran, Iraq, Cuba--four letters! Iran, Iraq, Cuba, FOUR letters! Coincidence??

Therefore, I have tonight declared an "Axis of Countries with Four-Letter Names." These countries may be evil, they may not be, but hey, just saying Iran, Iraq and Cuba gives me reason to invade. And besides, there are other countries that may be way eviller that I could never come close to saying. Uzbekistan, Vanuatu or Turkmenistan? Hell, they could have yellowcake waffles every day for breakfast and damn if I'm going to mention them in a V.F.W. speech. Seychelles? She sells seashells down by the seashore for all I know! Saint Vincent and the Grenadines? Karl, are these real countries? Hell, the only thing I know about grenadine is that's what you float on a Tequila Sunrise!

So tonight, my fellow Americans, I am making the hardest decision that an American president can make, after deciding between watching Japanese cartoons or that boxed set of "The O.C." I have decided that to keep America safe, we must preempt any threats posed by the four-letter countries. So now, Chad, we're coming for you. Peru, you gave me some wicked shit in college but look out for shock and awe. I took out half of Guam before Cheney told me they were actually part of us, but Fiji, you're either with us or against us. Condi said that Togo is a country, hell, I think it's a party! War, party, same thing, though, huh?

Well, I'm going to have another Lone Star, I mean, another O'Doul's, while Rummy kicks the crap out of Laos and Oman. Good night and God bless America, and Iowa, I'd watch your ass if I were you.

Rita and Bush

September 23, 2005
We Have Full Penetration

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Rough Ol' Boy @ 4:33 am
This is an actual map produced by the National Hurricane Center; I really don’t think any further commentary is necessary.

Look Out Tomorrow!!

Tomorrow Darth Cheney goes under the knife to repair an aneurysm in his knee, and during that time in his anesthesia slumber, he cedes power to Little Bootsy McCokespoon. We can only hope that aides have the latest versions of Dungeon Siege to keep the Kid occupied those few hours. Laura may not be able to keep Georgie from scarfing down a few Coors while "monitoring Rita" while in Colorado, but the chance to role play a couple archers, knights, magicians against evil sorcerers may keep him from using "the codes" on Trinidad.

Reality, Next Stop, the Next Station is Reality

Please see below for my narco-residue theory.

The president needs to get out more. Really. He has gone beyond being divorced from reality to having any previous relationship with reality annulled (Renee Zellwegger and Reality can both claim fraud as grounds for the annulment!)

Let's look at a couple of quick examples. From the "Fun with Bianca" press conference below:

"Iraqi forces are showing the vital difference they can make. They are now in control of more parts of Iraq than at any time in the past two years. Significant areas of Baghdad and Mosul, once violent and volatile, are now more stable because Iraqi forces are helping to keep the peace."

Mr. President, please pick up a newspaper. The U.S. military, let alone the "Iraqi" military, is not in control. We can't even control the road to the airport!

"The only way the terrorists can win is if we lose our nerve and abandon the mission. For the security of the American people, that's not going to happen on my watch. We'll do our duty. We'll defeat our enemies in Iraq and other fronts in the war on terror."

Hi, me again. First of all, who knew you were watching?? And just who are the "enemies?" I hate to break it to you, but for the most part, they are the ones who wanted a SECULAR government in Iraq, remember? The Iraqi "government" you constantly refer to want to install a fundamentalist Shi'a republic!!

And the clincher:

"The international community is helping Afghanistan become a lasting democracy. There's still terrorists who seek to overthrow the young government. See, they want to return Afghanistan to what it was under the Taliban, a miserable place, a place where citizens have no rights, women are oppressed, and the terrorists have a safe haven to plan and plot attacks."

Well, it is still all of the above, plus add in the incredibly ramped-up heroin production. We backed the wrong horse, supporting the Northern Alliance under the theory of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," even though the NA is a minority coalition. If there was an honest election in Afghanistan, the people would probably vote for the Taliban, hold the crazy.


The Madness of King George

George III of England, monarch during the American Revolution, exhibited increasingly bizarre behaviors later in life. It may have been madness, environmental toxins or a hereditary condition such as porphyria.

Our own King George has become similarly odd in recent days. In terms of inherited conditions, he certainly acquired the Bush family stupidity, dishonesty, cupidity, avarice, etc. Much also can be explained, however, from when George looked at himself in the mirror, a mirror with lines of white powder on it.

Jimmy Buffett sang in "We are the People Our Parents Warned Us About" that "I got a guitar, found a job in a bar, playin' acid rock til I was numb, tell me where are the flashbacks they all warned us would come." Well, Jimmy, they are right here being played out in the White House on a daily basis.

This from the most recent press conference:

PRESIDENT: Bianca? Nobody named Bianca? Well, sorry Bianca's not here. I'll be glad to answer her question.

[UNKNOWN REPORTER] I'll follow up.

THE PRESIDENT: No, that's fine. (Laughter.) Thank you though, appreciate it. Just trying to spread around the joy of asking a question.

[UNKNOWN REPORTER] How is the strategy outlined today by General Casey different from what the United States was doing in the past? What lessons would you say have been incorporated in it? And based on that, how much closer do you think we are to being able to turn over full control of the security situation?

THE PRESIDENT: It's going to be a while to turn over full control. Full control says that the Iraqis are capable of moving around the country and sharing intelligence and they got a command control system that works like ours, and that's going to be a while. Turning over some control to Iraqis is now taking place. As I told you, there are more Iraqis in the lead -- Iraqis are in the lead in this mission for the first time on a major operation.

What General Casey briefed us on was how our strategy of cleaning out the terrorists out of a city and being able to fill in behind, or leave behind Iraqi forces, is beginning to pay off. And what hadn't happened in the past was the capacity to fill that void with a capable force that would prevent the terrorists from coming back in.

[ANITA] Mr. President, could we talk more about --

THE PRESIDENT: Are you Bianca?

[ANITA] No, I'm not. Anita -- Fox News.


[ANITA] Just a quick question --

THE PRESIDENT: Okay. I was looking for Bianca. I'm sorry.

Bianca???? Hmmm, is he flashing back to a drug-addled threesome with Mick and the Mrs? Perhaps an unhealthy obsession with Buddy Biancalana, a light-hitting shortstop for the Kansas City Royals in the mid-80s?

Or perhaps it was more innocent than my suspicions of delayed drug responses. Perhaps he was just looking for a stooge to lob a softball question now that America's favorite gay hooker has been banned from the press room.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Should we try the English way?

No, I don't mean bangers and mash, lager and lime or God forbid, soccer, I mean the parliamentary system of government. Just think, for an administration to remain in power, they must retain the confidence of the majority of the people's representatives, a confidence that can disappear overnight.

The English system presupposes party discipline, that the selection of one's MP is governed more by party than individual positions or legislative effectiveness. Historically, U.S. political parties have been rather amorphous ill-defined entities in which "party discipline" has been an oxymoron.

But now, speaking of (oxy)morons, we see a profound and ultimately disastrous transformation in American politics. The Republican party has reshaped and re-invented itself English style, with discpline and positions dictated from the top, while the Democrats remain, as someone once said a paragraph before, an amorphous ill-defined entity in which "party discipline" IS STILL an oxymoron.

So we get the disadvantages of parliamentary government, with an ideologically-defined party more attuned to national objectives rather than local representation, coupled with an idiot on the job for three more years.

Well, the Brits certainly got this one right. See photo below.

A humble request

As you ponder these witticisms, please take a second and click on some of the ads to the right. We might actually make a couple of shekels some day!

Pretty scary, huh kids?

Imagine if these creatures showed up on your doorstep on Halloween???

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Guest Editorial-My Brothers and Sisters

Valuable thoughts from a dear friend from the Sonoran desert:

"Where Are My Brothers and Sisters?

If you recall, ten days after 9-11, the INS Commissioner, James Zigler announced the following:
'I want to personally urge the immigrant community to come forward and assure everyone that INS will not seek immigration status information provided to local authorities in the rescue and recovery efforts.'

And yet, today no one has come forward from either the Department of Homeland Security or the White House to encourage the immigrant community to come forward and utilize the available medical and social services without fear of being rounded-up and deported. Sadly, our governmental officials cannot bring themselves to "do the right thing" and yet, they continue to politely reach backwords to accept our taxpayer dollars as part of their monthly compensation as our national employees.

Shame indeed!"

Stupidity should be painful

This is a personal memo to Tysen Anne Nowak. You have fairly been assessed a $90 stupidity tax.

Ms. Nowak
attempted to bring her baby stroller to Soldier Field for a Bears game. She becomes irate when she cannot bring the stroller in and complains to the Chicago Tribune when the stroller is stolen.

Ms. Nowak, let me put this in proper perspective for you. Use these two phrases in a sentence together---"baby stroller" and "football stadium." The only logical sentence I can come up with is
"A baby stroller does not belong in a football stadium!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Now to clarify, I have three children, all of whom started out as babies. We can argue about the wisdom of bringing a child that needs a stroller to a Bears game (actually, we can't, I was just being polite, it is a DUMB idea, the kid is miserable, everyone around you is miserable, if you can afford a Bear game you can afford a sitter). However, your idea that you could either bring a large bulky object into a stadium with long narrow aisles, steep rows and lots of people or have someone else happily watch it for you staggers the imagination. It is rudely presumptuous on your part to assume that the stadium would have a check service. Do you have a right to have others look after your property while you are amused? So what if the other teams in town, private businesses, choose to do so, does that entitle you in this case? Hardly.

I have sent this to the Tribune
reporter that printed your laughable sob story in case you wish to respond. I will publish your response here in full, but I consider you duly taxed for stupidity.

And once again, back in Frostbite Falls...

Reuters reports that bomb blasts in Iraq have killed nine Americans, including a U.S. State Department security officer, since Monday.

Freedom is on the march.

Well, at least this is good for the economy of Batesville, Indiana (check and see why)

A shout out to Mike Malloy fans

If you aren't familiar with the above -referenced radio host, this won't make any sense (not a first here, by any means!) but...

Mike Malloy, now on Air America, always referred to the neocons as the "flying monkey right." A great image, I wish I had come up with it!

But given that, what amuses me is the way cable news, MSNBC and Fox, caption their guests. For example:

FMR U.S. Congressman!

Lovely Rita, Hurricane

With apologies to the Beatles, just read below as Rita gives us a high five:

"Winds greater than 155 mph. Storm surge generally greater than 18 ft above normal. Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. All shrubs, trees, and signs blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Severe and extensive window and door damage. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 ft above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles (8-16 km) of the shoreline may be required."

God help us.

Three, count 'em, three Cat 5 storms have made landfall in the U.S. since records were kept. Katrina was a Category 4+++ and then you turn around with another in less than a month? And as Schmidlap points out, we have three out in the Pacific and one in the Atlantic on-deck circle.

But climate change has NOTHING to do with this. Right.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Well, I saw it in the want ads....

Look, we all know Blinky the Chimp is completely overmatched for the job he has now. While through hard work and clean living, I'm sure he has put a little away for a rainy day, but if he does the world a favor and steps down, he is going to need a job. I did some hunting in the local paper for some jobs he could handle. What do you think?

LABORER/CLEAN-UP: Local remodeling company looking for reliable laborer. Must have own transportation and good communication skills.

Oops, not that one. Reliable? Hardly. Good communication skills? Um, no.

LABORERS: Experienced Must have drivers license.

Scratch that one too, driving isn't his strong suit.

General Labor Conssession / Attendant Mature responsible person to work occasional weekdays & weekends.

Sorry, he isn't responsible for anything!

CHILD CARE ATTENDANT Do you enjoy working w/ children


No, I don't think so.

Wait, I've got it!

GENERAL LANDSCAPING. Knowledge of English not required.


Jackson Square

We have here an image of a strong, decisive president who energetically led a nation through trying and divisive times.

(Oh, also in front of Andrew Jackson is some blinking idiot.)

Has anyone seen my keys?

I wanted to take a break from politics for just a minute to address something..hey look, bubble wrap! Now where was I? Oh, that's right, I was just about to, hang on, going to check ESPN for a minute, I'll be right back, hmm, I'm hungry, honey, I'll get to it soon, damn, has anyone seen my keys? Oh yes, I was about to address attention deficit disorder.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not pop psychology, this is a very real condition. It is far more than being flighty or disorganized. It is a neurological condition that profoundly affects the way the brain processes information.

For years my life was a tumultuous chaos of lost papers, missed deadlines, forgotten appointments, procrastination and as mentioned above, the ever-present "has anyone seen my keys?" While there is certainly some chaos, recognizing ADD as a problem and addressing it as such has made a tremendous difference.

I have opted for medication, unless Tom Cruise tells me not to, and it has been a godsend. Unlike Tom, however, I do not dare to assume that I have all the answers and I certainly have no expertise to assess treatment alternatives. There are medications with basic chemical differences, some stimulants, others not, and medication may not be right for all cases. All I'm saying is if you feel like you are trapped in a giant pinball machine with lights flashing and bells constantly ringing, or if you see your child struggle with the organizational demands of school. please talk to a professional. It is real, and it won't go away.

Has anyone seen my keys? Oh, wait, here they are.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The hurrieder he goes, the behinder he gets

The Hurrieder President Bush Goes, The Behinder He Gets: 3 polling days after George W. Bush's prime-time speech to the nation from Jackson Square in New Orleans, a "can't win" dynamic is unfolding for the President, according to exclusive SurveyUSA data gathered Friday 9/16, Saturday 9/17 and Sunday 9/18. The number of Americans who now approve of the President's response to Hurricane Katrina is down: 40% today compared to 42% before he announced the Gulf Opportunity Zone.

The number of Americans who disapprove of the President's response to Katrina is up: 56% today compared to 52% before the speech. Bush went from "Minus 10" on his Response to Katrina before the speech to "Minus 16" today. One way to make sense of these numbers is to look at the number of Americans who today say the Federal Government is doing "too much" for Katrina victims. That's up to 16% today, more than triple what the number has been on 7 of the 19 days that SurveyUSA has conducted daily tracking since the storm.

The more cash President Bush throws on the fire, as compensation for what some see as an inadequate initial response, the more it antagonizes his core supporters. Consider, for example: the number of Whites who today say the Government is "not doing enough" for Katrina victims is statistically the same as the number of Whites who say the Government is doing "just the right amount." (41% "right amount"; 40% "not enough.")

The number of Blacks who today say the Government is "not doing enough" is 51 percentage points higher than the number of Blacks who say the Government is doing the "right amount" (70% "not enough"; 19% "right amount.") That's a 53-point disagreement between Whites and Blacks on this question. What other poll results point to the conclusion that the President is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't? (titters) 41% of Americans today say that the city of New Orleans should be rebuilt with "private money," the highest that number

No more boat rides, Son...

Clinton on Bush
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bill Clinton made nice with George W. Bush. Those days seem to be over. Appearing Sunday on ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos, Clinton had a few words to say about the policies of his successor, and they weren't the kind designed to get him invited for another boat ride with the president's father.

Some highlights:

On rolling back some of Bush's tax cuts to pay for Katrina: "I think it's very important that Americans understand, you know, tax cuts are always popular, but about half of these tax cuts since 2001 have gone to people in my income group, the top 1 percent. I've gotten four tax cuts. They're responsible for this big structural deficit, and they're not going away, the deficits aren't. Now, what Americans need to understand is that that means every single day of the year, our government goes into the market and borrows money from other countries to finance Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina and our tax cuts. We have never done this before. Never in the history of our republic have we ever financed a conflict, military conflict, by borrowing money from somewhere else."

On the Republicans' responsibility for problems involving poverty and race: "If you give your tax cuts to the rich and hope everything works out all right, and poverty goes up, and it disproportionately affects black and brown people, that's a consequence of the action made. That's what they did in the '80s; that's what they've done in this decade. In the middle, we had a different policy. We concentrated tax cuts on lower-income working people and benefits to low-income people that helped them move from welfare to work, and we moved 100 times as many people out of poverty. We know what works, and we had a program that was drastically reducing poverty, and they got rid of it. And they don't believe in it."

On whether the United States has a strategy for winning in Iraq: "Well, if we do, it's not working right now, at least ... A lot of good Americans have given their lives; thousands of others have been horribly wounded. So I have been in a position where I wanted the strategy to work. Whether it will or not, I don't know. But the only thing I would sacrifice it to is if I thought we were going to lose in Afghanistan. We cannot lose in Afghanistan. We cannot let the Taliban come back. We cannot let [Hamad] Karzai fail. We cannot relax our efforts to try to keep undermining al-Qaida, because that's still by far a bigger threat to our security."
-- T.G.

Playing Politics?

To answer the question above--YES!!!

I have heard the screech owls from the right object to "playing politics" (apparently this is a different game from the "Blame Game," should I check with Hoyle?) with this disaster. Should we “play politics?” Should we take advantage of a disaster? Should we “exploit” this tragedy?

The obvious response is YES!!!!

First of all, we have the oh so simplistic black pot and black kettle angle. Think about how the Republicans “exploited,” “played politics,” etc. with the attacks of September 11, 2001. They did so despite the whole “Bin Laden to attack in United States” memo, remember?

Honestly, I do not blame the administration for 9/11. Was there more they could have done? Certainly. Would it have been effective? Who knows, while well-planned, the attacks were fairly low-tech, a few guys you could fit in a phone booth and some box cutters. But in terms of playing politics? This administration parlayed a horrific attack and a national tragedy into an unrelated misbegotten war. And just think how they capitalized on that, from embedded reporters to questioning the patriotism of critics to Captain Codpiece and his Greatest American Hero flightsuit landing. They also played on that horrific image and the country’s fear of “terror” to “win” “re-election.” (Ohio and Florida, hello!)

But beyond the obvious pot and kettle stuff, there are legitimate reasons for running on this. First of all, it clearly demonstrates this party’s PRIORITIES. Tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, levees be damned!

Secondly, it deals with INTEGRITY. “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job?” This administration promoted a grotesquely incompetent man to a position of national importance based on cronyism? His superior had no experience in disaster management? Then factor in the lies and half-truths put forth by the administration to try and cover their failings and blame others.

But to my mind, the clincher as to why we not only can but MUST run on this is the question of COMPETENCE. This is a two-fold question. The first is an obvious attack on THIS administration, as they demonstrated their grotesque incompetence. Given that they ran on a platform of making us safer, it is absolutely fair to hold up their failings. Mismanagement, missed opportunities, lost lives and really bad air guitar!

I see, however, the incompetence not only of an administration but also that of an ideology. As Grover Norquist, an influential advisor of the president stated, their goal was to reduce the federal government “to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

Well, they didn’t reduce the size of the federal government, as a quick look at the debt and deficit numbers will show. However, they did reduce its effectiveness, and when they dragged it into the bathroom, New Orleans drowned, and God only knows, that was no bathtub.

Profiles in cowardice

John F. Kennedy described Edmund G. Ross in his Pulitzer Prize winning book as one of the Senate's Profiles in Courage. It is quite possible that JFK didn't write the book himself, and the esteemed Mr. Ross may well not have not been a paragon of virtue, but still, his case remains quite illustrative.

Edmund Ross was a Republican senator from Kansas. Despite much pressure from his own party, he cast the decisive vote to acquit Andrew Johnson in the president's Senate impeachment trial.

Fast-forward some seven generations, and the spotlight turns on David Vitter, freshman senator from Louisiana. At a time when a straight party-line vote by his fellow Republicans blocks an independent inquiry into the Katrina disaster, Sen. Vitter stands up and DOESN'T VOTE. hr refuses to challenge the party leadership and call for an independent investigation. He represents a state most in need of answers and he refuses to call for the questions to be asked. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a profile in cowardice.

Congratulations, Senator Vitter, you must be so proud.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

A question for you to ponder....

This came up in church a couple of weeks ago. It is a very simple question, yes or no.

Would you leave this country and renounce your U.S. citizenship for $10 million?

The hits (literally) just keep on comin'

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Insurgents assassinated a Kurdish member of parliament and police found 20 bodies shot to death and dumped in the Tigris River north of the capital, where there was no major violence Sunday for the first time in five days.

More at Yahoo news.

No doubt about it

"If I'm focusing on the hurricane, I've got the capacity to focus on foreign policy, and vice versa."

From the "Freedom is on the March" file

An observer in Iraq writes:

"The situation has deteriorated in Baghdad dramatically today. Five neighborhoods (hay) in Baghdad are controlled by insurgents, and they are Amiraya, Ghazilya, Shurta, Yarmouk and Doura. It is very bad. My guys there report that cars have come into these neighborhoods and blocked off the streets. Masked gunmen with AKs and other weapons are roaming these areas, announcing that people should stay home. One of my drivers in Amiraya reports that his neighborhood is shut down totally, and even those who need food or provisions are warned not to go out.

The government will respond feebly. It will go into a contested neighborhood, and then just like Fallujah, Ramadi, Tel Afar, the insurgents will flee to take over another area on another day. Bit by bit they are taking over the main parts of Baghdad. The only place we are sure they cannot control is Sadr City, unless of course they want to take on Jaish Mahdy [Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army], and that would be bloody.

A few minutes ago Jaafari came on television to tell everyone in Baghdad to stay home. Can't wait for his next bold move.

There are flyers in public areas of Baghdad warning people not to gather in large numbers because they will thereby become targets. I am trying to get a copy of the flyer.

Notwithstanding Al-Hayat's claim that Zarqawi and the Sunni resistance are not together, my street listeners claim otherwise. My folks are convinced that the two groups, broadly defined, are together, "100 percent" is the claim of certainty. It is hard to get a handle on this because people in Baghdad tend to lump all resistance groups, except for Zarqawi, into one large category.

More and more of even the most patriotic intelligentsia are departing. The situation is dire, and those with escape valves are using them. [Some organizations are]sending more of [their] staff to Arbil and Sulamaniyah and out of Baghdad. Until about March this year, [some] thought that there was a chance of returning to Baghdad. It is remarkable how incapable this government is. Its only success is that it exists at all.

In the meantime, the embassy people act as if nothing in Baghdad is wrong (except that they cannot walk in the Green Zone without body armor and they have to take precautions against kidnapping). Recently, a group from State and the military parachuted in from Washington [with fatuous advice] . . . It is a fantasy world."