Saturday, December 29, 2007

So Ridiculous 2

President George W. Bush announced yesterday from Crawford Texas that he planned to veto a military policy bill that includes an added pay raise for service members and improvements in veterans’ health benefits, which would have taken effect next Tuesday. Since the Prez can barely read a teleprompter because of his mental impairments, and medications, we can hardly blame him for failing to catch earlier an obscure provision in the bill that makes it untenable to Republicans. It is Section 1083 of a 1300-page, $696 billion military authorization bill that suddenly caught the attention of White House lawyers. And this was only after Iraqi officials complained to American ambassador Ryan Crocker in Baghdad ten days ago. What had the Bush administration lawyers been doing all this time? Preparing statements about how the war in Iraq has improved? Which it hasn't. Preparing statements about how the Republican candidates for president will keep the US safe? Which they won't. Shredding documents and destroying tapes? That sounds right. In any case, the final military policy bill was adopted by overwhelming margins, 370 to 49 in the House and 90 to 3 in the Senate and now the Prez is going to veto it because his minders and lawyers failed to notice Section 1083. According to the New York Times this morning, Senate sponsor of the provision, Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), said Section 1083 would “help plaintiffs in lawsuits against Iran and Libya, including relatives of Americans killed in the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and in a Berlin disco in 1986.” But Bush’s statement yesterday said, “Exposing Iraq to such significant financial burdens would weaken the close partnership between the United States and Iraq during this critical period in Iraq’s history.” It certainly is an embarrassment for the White House and its legal staff, which is scrambling around trying to explain away why they didn’t act sooner. This lapse has exposed the Prez to even more criticism and derision than he has been experiencing recently, which says a lot. And now Senator John Warner (R-VA) looks like an idiot because he approved the bill. This morning he told the NYT, “The White House prepared a very detailed legal memorandum, and I am convinced that they are correct.” Where was this legal memorandum weeks ago, one might ask? The NYT reports that, “While removing the provision would involve only a minor amendment, the veto could reopen many of the contentious issues that stalled the legislation’s approval in the first place, including efforts by Democrats to impose conditions on spending for the military operations in Iraq.” And it looks like the Bush administration is siding with the Iraqi government over Americans who have suffered in terrorist attacks. So ridiculous!

Friday, December 28, 2007

So Ridiculous

Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto sent a message to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer two months ago. She asked that it not be made public unless she was assassinated. The message said, "Nothing will, God willing, happen. Just wanted you to know, if it does, in addition to the names in my letter to Musharraf of October 16, I would hold Musharraf responsible. I have been made to feel insecure by his minions. And there is no way what is happening, in terms of stopping me from taking private cars or using tinted windows or giving jammers or four police mobiles to cover all sides, could happen without him." And sure enough, yesterday she was assassinated as she had foreseen. When she left a political rally, she raised herself up through the sunroof of the car she was riding in, waved at the crowd and she was shot in the neck or head. Bhutto’s friend, Mark Siegel, sent the message to Blitzer. Siegel said, “She had asked for special vehicles. That was denied to her. She had asked for special tinted cars. She had asked for four police vehicles to surround her at all times. She basically asked for all that was required for someone of the standing of a former prime minister. All of that was denied to her.” Mahmud ALidurrani, Pakistani Ambassador to the United States said police vehicles surrounded her and 7000-8000 security people were deployed for that purpose. He said, “I think the government of Pakistan provided her all the security that was necessary. Now, you tell me, even without jammer or tinted windows, the way she was hit, she would have been hit with tinted windows or without tinted windows.” And that, of course, is indisputable. Whether by idiocy or design, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated because of her own actions. By whom? Who knows? Extremists, surely. Which ones? Who knows? Cui bono? Who benefits? Not Musharraf. Not Pakistan. Factions against Musharraf benefit. Oh my! Could that be the Bush administration?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Let’s Get a Few Things Straight

1) No way did the President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf want ex-Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto dead. Bhutto came back to Pakistan determined to be a martyr and she got her wish. Musharraf was just as determined that she should not taint his presidency with her death. He would have gritted his teeth and held his nose and somehow used her as an ally. 2) No way is George W. Bush the most admired man in America. A USA Today-Gallup poll conducted this month says that GWB is the most admired man in America. It’s a put-up job. USA Today/Gallup conducts a poll every year and the sitting president always comes out as the most admired man in America. Frank Newport (Gallup’s editor in chief) said, “Bush's support — he was the choice of 10% of 1,011 Americans polled — was the lowest since he took office in 2001 and 2 percentage points above the No. 2 choice, former president Bill Clinton.” 3) The news coming out of Iraq is not good news. The situation has not improved it is simply stagnant. Our soldiers are tired and the Iraqi insurgents are tired. As of this morning, 3900 American soldiers have died in Iraq in this senseless, illegal war. The US has not improved the lot of the Iraqis...they hate us and want us to get out. 4) John McCain is the perfect symbol for the US policy in Iraq. McCain is old, he’s tired, he’s irrelevant, he’s deluded and he’s insane. 5) The American people do not give a mink-dyed rat’s ass about anything anyone on television or in any of the mainstream media is saying about any of the candidates for president. 6) The American people do not give a damn about anything President George W. Bush says on any subject. His lips move. No one listens. 7) The American people are quietly making up their own minds about everything and they will be heard when they vote. But until we can vote and make our desires and druthers manifest, we are tuning out and just patiently waiting for the comics to come back.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Unexplored Question Re 2008 Election

Every trait of every candidate and every issue likely to sway voters is being dissected and examined as to the possible effect it may have a year from now on the election. Save one: The satiety quotient. 1) How sick and tired of hearing about the election and the candidates will voters be by November 4, 2008? And, 2) what effect will that “up to here” disgust have on choosing a president for the United States? The answer to 1) is: VERY! The answer to 2) is: NONE! People will vote from their gut as they always have. And by that, I do not mean they will vote emotionally. I mean, the majority of voters will pick a candidate they think will first, be good for their party, and second, be good for the country. I say the majority of voters. There will be the same old 20% who will vote as a way to tilt God’s image of themselves, or will vote as a way to not vote, or will vote for a moron to attest to their own self worth. Recently, the question of likeability has been explored. Likeability does not matter. Dislikeability matters a lot. Having a sense of humor will not get you votes. Having no sense of humor will knock you out of the box. On-the-job experience does not matter. It’s a selling point. Selling points don’t matter to voters. Selling points sell the people using selling points, as in, speechwriters and campaign managers. The people who use selling points keep their jobs by using selling points. But voters don’t care about selling points. Being a silly, over-the-hill old poop matters. Being two silly, over-the-hill old poops on the same ticket is manna from heaven for comics. Case in point: This morning, in his Op/Ed column in the New York Times (“A Résumé Can’t Buy You Love”), Frank Rich quoted Republican candidate Mike Huckabee’s rejoinder on Don Imus’s radio show. Huckabee said, “I may not be the expert that some people are on foreign policy...but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.” As Rich said, “So much for the gravitas points earned during a five-and-a-half year stay at the Hanoi Hilton.” Huckabee’s slap at John McCain was very funny. But Huckabee’s sense of humor can’t erase the fact that he’s an ignorant, nonsense-spewing religious fanatic. And McCain’s constant yammering on being a prisoner of war in Viet Nam only underlines the fact that he’s old and irrelevant and a butt of jokes, particularly since he’s teamed up with Joe Lieberman, another old and irrelevant butt of jokes. The voting public already is only listening with half an ear to the talking heads and pundits. I cannot imagine whom the Republicans can find to vote for, but then, I’m a Democrat, and I know whom I will vote for.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Do I Believe Anything the Bushies Say?

Let me say this to that. This morning a news story came out that the Ceremonial Office of the Vice President caught fire and clouds of black smoke came billowing forth. The VP's Ceremonial Office is the old Eisenhower Executive Office located next to the West Wing on the White House premises. The news story reported Cheney was not in his Ceremonial Office at the time, but was across the street. My faith in the truth of news stories from the White House has eroded to the point that the only thing I believe in the official story about the fire is that the Ceremonial Office of the Vice President caught fire this morning. Anything else in the story I believe is either the opposite of the truth or not the truth. Therefore, my scenario goes like this: The Ceremonial Office of the Vice President is used only for the ceremony of shredding documents and destroying information filed in Vice President Cheney's other office. Cheney, who should not smoke and drink, was smoking and drinking in the wee hours of Wednesday morning in his Ceremonial Office while destroying documents pertaining to everything in the world that he’d had has nasty fingers in during the past week. Which is to say, everything in the world. While laughing maniacally over a particularly nasty piece of executive manipulation and chicanery, the VP spilled booze on papers lying on the floor. The papers partially dried, but a cigarette butt fell on them and ignited, causing a slow-burning fire that escalated after Cheney fell into a boozy nod. Cheney was spirited out by way of a secret passage by the Secret Service. Is my version the true one, or is the news story the true one? The problem is, we have no way of knowing. Therefore, I choose my version.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Here’s The Thing About the Steroid Report

I really like former Senator George Mitchell. I always have. And if anyone is going to head up an investigation of steroid use in baseball, I’m glad it’s George Mitchell. But do you love the headline in the New York Times this morning, or what? “Player Cooperated, and His Name Was Left Out of Report” The headline invites us, of course, to make nasty assumptions about the Mitchell report. Then we find out that the player “had persuasive evidence” and that’s why his story was believed. What's with the NYT and a headline like that? And why not believe him the guy? The snitch that named 90 players was believed. And that snitch was believed because we’ve all known steroid use has been going on for decades. Steroid use became illegal in 2002 but it was not banned until 2005. George Mitchell is a reasonable man. He is not taking a hard line. He doesn’t even believe prosecutions on the drug users should go forward. And he’s right about that. Everyone in baseball and in the world has known about steroid use in sports. And everyone has condoned it, from club managers down to trainers. So why prosecute the little guys? And yes, of course, there should be a “from now on” ruling about jail sentences for steroid providers and users. And yes, of course, anyone selling steroids or providing it to high schoolers and college kids should be jailed. And yes of course, there has to be a widespread education campaign to inform kids about why steroids must not be used. But I gotta say. One thing in the NYT story this morning gave me a hearty laugh: “Some members of Congress expressed dismay that they were misled by testimony two years ago by baseball officials over a 2004 testing program that had been secretly suspended...Three key members of Congress, in separate interviews Friday, said baseball officials should have revealed those problems during testimony in 2005 to House committees.” Congress was dismayed it had been misled? Oh hahahahahahahaha! Do you think it’s just vaguely possible that Congress didn’t want to know it had been misled? Do you think it’s just vaguely possible that the baseball mega-buck interests that kiss Congress’s ass made sure the 2004 testing program was suspended? The’t-want-to-hear-it Congress has struck again.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Astonishing? What’s To Astonish?

This morning the New York Times says, “It is astonishing that President Bush would even think of vetoing” the energy bill that may come up for a vote in the Senate today. It’s not in the least astonishing. It would be astonishing if the Prez didn't veto the bill. The deluded and clinically insane President of the United States vetoes bills because he can. It’s a game he likes to play because he can win. Not only can he win, the game has been rigged so that the odds are in his favor. And those who rigged the game are those who put a deluded and clinically insane man in the White House. That is to say, the Bush administration, the neocons and the Republicans in Congress gave a crazy fascist the power to act unilaterally and without conscience. Now if the NYT editorial (“A Shameful Presidential Threat”) had said it’s astonishing that the Senate’s Republicans are so corrupt, short-sighted and greedy that they may not override the president’s veto out of hand, that is true. To quote the Times again, the editorial says, “By almost any measure, it is the most important energy bill that Congress has entertained in many years... In a statement Tuesday, however, the White House demanded that the bill be amended to make the industry-friendly Transportation Department solely responsible for regulating fuel economy as well as carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles...This would directly reverse the Supreme Court’s historic decision in April declaring that greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the meaning of the Clean Air Act and giving the Environmental Protection Agency the power to regulate them. It would also have the effect of stripping California and other states of the power to impose their own automobile emissions standards... But for the White House to advance industry’s cause at the 11th hour of the debate over a breakthrough energy bill is inexcusable.” Inexcusable, perhaps, but it is not astonishing because a presidential veto is to be expected. However, if the Senate does not override this veto threatened by an insane President, then that would not only be reprehensible, dishonorable, disgraceful and inexcusable, it would be criminal.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

AMERICAblog and “American Prospect”

Yesterday, John Aravosis over at AMERICAblog quoted an “American Prospect” article by Courtney E. Martin (“All the News That's Fit to Depress”). Martin said, “Being informed is depressing”. How true! Staying on top of the news is depressing. But it goes further than that. It’s the clear seeing that is depressing and horrifying. Getting a handle on how the Bush administration works is like being present at the autopsy of a murdered friend. The information is ugly, monstrous and difficult to deal with. In the early days of the first George W. Bush term, it was so much easier just to despise the man for his arrogance, mental problems and stupidity. But now, seven years later, it’s possible to be privy to precisely how George W. Bush and the Bush administration got from Point A to Point B and right on down the whole insane spiral that finally culminates in today’s annoying press conference by GWB. The knowledge is maddening and depressing. And the most depressing thing is that all the Republican candidates for President and many Republican voters see absolutely nothing wrong with the executive branch malfeasance and ineptitude fostered by the Bush administration. Not only do they see nothing wrong, they intend to continue the unethical, immoral, corrupt policies and methods if they can get another Republican team elected in 2008. Courtney Martin wrote: “I also can't help but wonder if the average liberal American's love for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert isn't a direct result of the emotional relief that comes from being told: "This is the news. Now laugh at it." The action becomes the laugh. The instinct to torture yourself over how to respond to the situation in Sudan is displaced by a chuckle at how badly other people -- namely our eternally comic president -- are responding. “I enjoy those shows too, but it's not enough. We can't settle for laughing our outrage away when there is so much violence in the world -- some of which we are directly responsible for. We also can't keep shoving the lesson of informed citizenship down good people's throats -- Do your duty! Stay informed! -- if we aren't going to create new ways of responding to all that information. It's actually a destructive recommendation in many ways -- pushing people to grow accustomed to disaster, disconnected, numb, and ethically dumbfounded. At the very least, it's breaking our hearts.” As Martin says, “there's got to be a better way”. But what that better way might be, I do not know. What I do know is that staying informed about how George W. Bush and the Bush administration is ruining America is depressing.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

In Philadelphia, We Have a New Mayor

Mayor Michael Nutter will take office in January. He’s Black. Our last Mayor, John Street, is black. Race and religious affiliation have had little impact on who becomes Mayor of Philadelphia. So far, Nutter is doing all the right things. First crack of the bat, he canned our Police Commissioner. And he’s given the trade unions (which have a stranglehold on Philadelphia and are notoriously anti-black and anti-minority) the directive to stop their bigoted hiring practices. We knew last May after the primary that Nutter would be our Mayor. No one had heard of the Republican candidate, Al Taubenberger, and this is a Democrat town. But the reason I mention these local politics is that the main thing people in Philadelphia are saying..right after they say, “maybe this town can rise from its ashes” “I hope Nutter will be allowed to do all the good things he wants to do”. And that hope is being voiced because Philadelphia’s City Council, police force, political machines of both parties, unions, and State politicians are notoriously corrupt. And the reason I mention that local fact is that any candidate for President of the United States is faced with the same daunting challenge. Will any of the candidates for president be allowed to change anything when he/she is elected to office? Frank Rich’s interesting article in this morning’s New York Times calls Mike Huckabee the Republicans’ Barack Obama. Huckabee and Obama talk the talk and in their limited way (Huckabee was governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007 and Obama has been in the Illinois State Senate and the US Senate since 1996), they both have been walking the walk. But neither has been put under the political microscope and tested during a major upheaval in the way Clinton, Giuliani and Romney have been sliced, diced and disected. And in that way, both Obama and Huckabee are tempting as candidates. We have no idea what they will do when the shit hits the fan, as it surely and inevitably will. Huckabee says he will abolish the IRS. For this, he received a standing ovation when the proposal issued from his mouth. And of course, as president, he could never abolish the IRS. It would not be allowed. It is not even remotely possible. But the idea resonated with everyone who heard it. What would any of these candidates be allowed to do as far as changing the modus operandi of the present political system when he/she becomes president? Not much. And unless a new brilliant rising star appears on the political horizon who can engage the hopes and allay the fears of the American voting public, we are going to get a political warhorse who knows the ropes for president. Because most people are likely to vote for the devil they know.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Since George W. Bush Is Never Wrong....

...he’s not about to admit that Iran is no threat to the world in general or to the US in particular. That’s a given. But what is interesting is the justification that director of national intelligence Mike McConnell is giving for not advising the Prez fully about new intelligence re Iran and its lack of nuclear capabilities. McConnell feared that since the Prez and the neocons in the President’s cabinet had made a huge misstep before and had willfully misinterpreted raw intelligence (as in, lying the US into a war in Iraq), McConnell was afraid they would do it again. And McConnell may have been right to keep Crazy George (and his equally nutty cohorts) in the dark. But McConnell having good reason to sit on intelligence reports because he couldn’t trust the president of the United States is simply proof that the Republicans, the Bush administration, the neocons running the Bush administration, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are WRONG. It does not prove that McConnell and Bush’s minders are right. The New York Times made this statement this morning: “A senior intelligence official and a senior White House official said that Mr. McConnell had been cautious in his presentation to Mr. Bush in an attempt to avoid a mistake made in the months leading to the Iraq war, in which raw intelligence was shared with the White House before it had been tested and analyzed.” I have no problem with institutions for the criminally insane keeping sharp objects and weapons away from their patients. That’s prudent. But I have a problem with the United States having a president and vice president who are criminally insane and therefore the national intelligence director has to keep information from them to keep the world safe. AND, I have a problem with three Republican candidates for president—John McCain, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani--seeing nothing wrong with Bush and Cheney being crazy as loons and they intend to follow in their footsteps. What a situation! The president’s advisors can’t advise the President because the President is nuts. And they can’t advise the Vice President because the Vice President it nuttier than the President. In addition to that, most of the President and Vice President’s advisors have fled the sinking US ship of state because they knew the President and Vice President were criminally insane and they used that knowledge to promote their own agendas. What a bunch of maroons!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Oh My Goodness! Bush Was Lying About Iran?

Condoleezza Rice was lying about Iran? Dick Cheney was lying about Iran? We don’t have to nuke Iran to keep Iran from nuking us? Well my stars and garters! I am shocked! The New York Times this morning says a new report released by the National Intelligence Estimate yesterday means that “for now at least, the main argument for a military conflict with Iran — widely rumored and feared, judging by antiwar protesters that often greet Mr. Bush during his travels — is off the table for the foreseeable future.” The Washington Post says, “President Bush got the world's attention this fall when he warned that a nuclear-armed Iran might lead to World War III. But his stark warning came at least a month or two after he had first been told about fresh indications that Iran had actually halted its nuclear weapons program.” WaPo went on to say, “The new intelligence report released yesterday not only undercut the administration's alarming rhetoric over Iran's nuclear ambitions but could also throttle Bush's effort to ratchet up international sanctions and take off the table the possibility of preemptive military action before the end of his presidency.” Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley admitted that he, Vice Prez Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condi Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had reviewed and debated the report two weeks ago. Steven Myers writes in the NYT today (“An Assessment Jars a Foreign Policy Debate About Iran”): “It (the report) will certainly weaken international support for tougher sanctions against Iran, as a senior administration official grudgingly acknowledged. And it will raise questions, again, about the integrity of America’s beleaguered intelligence agencies, including whether what are now acknowledged to have been overstatements about Iran’s intentions in a 2005 assessment reflected poor tradecraft or political pressure.” But Hadley countered that view by saying, “the estimate showed that suspicions about Iran’s intentions were warranted, given that it had a weapons program in the first place.” Hadley even said, “On balance, the estimate is good news...on one hand, it confirms that we were right to be worried about Iran seeking to develop nuclear weapons. On the other hand, it tells us that we have made some progress in trying to ensure that that does not happen. But it also tells us that the risk of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon remains a very serious problem.” Or, to put it another way...there must be a pony here someplace, look at all the horseshit. Another article in the NYT (“U.S. Finds Iran Halted Its Nuclear Arms Effort in 2003”) says, “The report states that the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research judges that Iran is unlikely to achieve this goal before 2013, because of ‘foreseeable technical and programmatic problems’.” As I see it, the only recourse the Bush administration now has is to claim that everyone is lying, Iran is lying and The National Intelligence Estimate report is a lie; trust the Bush people—the only reliable, honest, Christians in the United States--Iran is still a real, ungodly threat to democracy, love, the American way and world peace, and those who don’t want to nuke Iran are traitorous blasphemers who also should be nuked off the face of the earth. And what with all this new info about White House mendacity, does anyone in the Bush administration remember that our soldiers are still getting killed in Iraq for no reason and that the US has been bankrupted by that illegal, unnecessary war? As of today, 3,882 American soldiers have died in that George W. Bush/Dick Cheney war.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I ❤ Gail Collins

Of course, you could just read her column (“Rudy’s Security Blanket”) in Saturday’s New York Times. But because it would be fun for me, let me recount some of her observations about Rudy Giuliani. Subhead: “Rudy Giuliani is one of those people who doesn’t handle power well. The more important he becomes, the more impossible he becomes.” Lede paragraph: “Rudy Giuliani has been having a bad week. Or, as he might put it, suffering persecutions never seen upon this planet since Mel Gibson was tortured on the rack, castrated, disemboweled and beheaded in ‘Brave heart’.” And then, “Rudy looked bad in that debate in Florida. The protégé he promoted for homeland security secretary, Bernard Kerik, kept showing up on TV in news clips captioned 16-COUNT FEDERAL INDICTMENT.” The bills for his golf and adultery pursuits, Collins said, “were hidden in budgets of obscure city agencies like the Loft Board and the Office for People With Disabilities.” When he was mayor of New York City, at one point NYC was paying for police guards to protect and transport not only Rudy, his children and his elderly mother, but also both his wife and his mistress. Really, they were thisclose to assigning a detail to the family retriever and a springer spaniel he was courting down the block.” “After American embassies were bombed in East Africa,” Collins said, “his administration responded by blocking off the driveways to City Hall, barring protesters and politicians from their traditional press conference site on the building steps, and banishing tourists. Meanwhile, behind the barricades, the mayor was planning to put the city’s emergency command center inside the best-known terrorist target in America.” “Does this sound like a good plan, people?” Collins wonders. “Do you want the next president putting a nuclear missile at Camp David while he moves the Situation Room to the Louisiana flood plain?” That scenario probably doesn’t sound as horrible to people who voted for the ne’er-do-well-alcoholic-mentally-challenged--lying-warmonger George W. Bush as it sounds to people who voted for Al Gore and John Kerry. But Collins adds another sobering thought by reminding us that: “The safety of New York reached its peak on 9/11, when the entire public security leadership of the city left ground zero in order to protect the mayor in his walk uptown. And then there was the aftermath, when he tried to postpone the mayoral election under the theory that the factor most critical to our survival was his continued presence at the helm.” Keep it up, Gail. Keep telling the uninformed and misinformed about what a thoroughly unwholesome corrupt piece of work Rudy Giuliani really is under his thin veneer of being an unethical bullying Republican presidential candidate.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Help Me Figure This Out

On November 20th, the New York Times (and other MSM) went all gushy about how wonderful Baghdad is these days, what with refugees returning and children being shown pictures of Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis holding hands and being kissy-face. But this morning an NYT article by Michael Gordon and Stephen Farrell (“Iraq Lacks Plan on the Return of Refugees, Military Says”) reports: “All these guys coming back are probably going to find somebody else living in their house,” said Col. William Rapp, a senior aide to Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, speaking at a two-day military briefing on measuring military trends for a small group of American reporters in Baghdad. “We have been asking, pleading with the government of Iraq, to come up with a policy so that it is not put upon our battalion commanders and the I.S.F. battalion commanders to figure it out on the ground,” he added, referring to the American and Iraqi security force commanders. Explain this to me, please. President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and a bunch of war-mongering, war profiteering Bush administration neocons lied the US into attacking Iraq. They then installed a puppet government in Iraq that had no power and was ruled by the Bush administration. Then, since the Bush administration had no military to speak of, it used mercenary guns-for-hire thugs to ostensibly fight in Iraq but which thugs killed Iraqis out of malice and for fun and sport. Here’s what I can’t understand: General David Petraeus tried to bribe the Iraqi people and handed out money from the backs of trucks which ended up in the hands of US enemies; this same General David Petraeus lost track of thousands and thousands of US weapons in Iraq which ended up in the hands of US enemies. Now General David Petraeus is whining and moaning. He says he has been “pleading” with the Bush administration’s powerless puppet government in Iraq to “come up with a policy” for dealing with returning refugees whose homes have been usurped by Iraqis because their own homes were destroyed by the Bush administration’s illegal, senseless and failed war in Iraq. Why is it up to the Iraqis to come up with a policy? Why is that not part of George W. Bush’s great plan for the rehabilitation of Iraq and the Iraqis? The Bush administration has bankrupted the United States with its failed, silly, irresponsible war In Iraq. The Iraqi people were minding their own business in whatever way they could when the Bush administration attacked them. Why shouldn’t the Bush administration at least come up with a policy for dealing with returning refugees? The Bush administration broke Iraq. Iraq now belongs to the Bush administration. Why is General David Petraeus sniveling like a little girl about the situation in Iraq which he, George W. Bush, the Bush administration and the Republican neocons caused? I will tell you this, however: If you can explain this to me in words that make sense to you, I will NEVER, not on my sunniest, most accepting and loving day, EVER understand your convoluted logic.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Let’s See, What’s Happened Since My Last RB?

NOTHING! And my last RB was November 25, It’s not that there isn’t newsworthy stuff going on. It’s that no one in a leadership position is doing or saying anything newsworthy. CNN keeps trying to create controversy where none exists, like between Democrat candidates for president. Did Obama dis Clinton? Did former President Clinton put his foot in Hillary’s mouth? Does it matter? NO! However, I will say that Wolf Blitzer’s interview with President Bush yesterday was very nice. It showed the Prez being the consummate asshole that only George W. Bush can be. I had meant to write something about Trent Lott (R-MS) on November 27th but came down with a cold and just gave in to it for three days. But Lott gave me the best laugh I’ve had since the Castro clone warned the US that Cuba would retaliate with pre-World War II bombers if the US doesn’t sweeten its tone re Cuba. Lott announced he was retiring from the Senate before year’s end. When asked why he was retiring so soon after his 2006 election with five years left on his term, he said he had wanted o leave the Senate after his previous term ended, but “Katrina intervened and I ran again because the people I loved so much were still struggling”. Hahahahahahahahahaha! As the LA Times noted: Is Lott cashing in his chips or cashing in his chits? Trent Lott considering anyone or anything but Trent Lott is the funniest thing I’ve heard in days. I chose to watch a Project Runway rerun and then a Project Runway new episode last night rather than the CNN/YouTube-sponsored Republican Debate last night. This morning the postmortems on the debate featured words like “fireworks”, and “withering cross-fire”. Oh please! New York Times columnist Gail Collins said it was “wacky”. I'm sure that's closer to the mark. Collins said the only candidate who sounded at all sane was McCain, but that was just before he too went nutty and started refighting the war in Vietnam. Collins tag line was, “Maybe they’ll (the Repub candidates) vacillate until the bitter end, leaving it all up to the final primary in South Dakota in June. And that would be great. Finally, instead of allowing a few thousand corn farmers to decide the fate of the nation, we could place the power where it rightfully belongs, with a few thousand wheat farmers.”

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Haven’t Done a Ratbang in 4 Days

And yet, nothing earthshaking has been going on. George W. Bush is still an idiot. Anyone defending George W. Bush, or suggesting we vote for anyone defending George W. Bush is still an idiot. It’s a half-hour before the Sunday morning talk shows, and I will guarantee that nothing new will be said. A rerun of the last four Sunday morning talk shows may just as well ramble across our screens because today’s boring baloney will be the same old same old. However, I would like to ask one question. What with the writers’ strike having paralyzed most TV shows including Letterman, Leno and The Daily Show, how come the Dem and Repub campaigns and debates are allowed on television? Nothing could possibly be more scripted than those productions. They couldn’t even pass muster as reality TV. Oh...but I have to say, the funniest thing I’ve seen on television in months that hadn’t been put under the Jon Stewart microscope was on CNN Thursday night. Thanksgiving being a slow news night, we were treated to a replay of a few salient moments during a speech given by Fidel Castro’s latest impersonator on Monday when he threatened the United States that if it didn’t stop its anti-Cuba policies Cuba would retaliate in no uncertain terms. "You would not win that war,” Castroman said. “You will not find glory in military action against Cuba, your march on Cuba would not be easy," the man wearing the Castro olive-green garb said, standing in front of a huge poster of Bush wearing a uniform and sporting a Hitler moustache. The photo caption read: "Bush, Fascist: There Is No Aggression Cuba Cannot Resist." If the US mounted a war on Cuba, Castroman warned in his 35-minute speech that, “it would be something that would be very sad...An incursion into Cuba, my physical absence or other reasons would not cause any damage to our capacity to fight and resist...They (the US) will not have one day, one hour, one minute, even one second to prevent the military and political leadership of the country from being immediately taken by my successors.” Cuba has “more than 200,000 well-trained soldiers who know how to use weapons and a large number of combatants who know very well the strong and weak points of those who threaten us...The orders of what is to be done have already been given. I will be the first in line to die for my country,” Castroman said, shaking an admonishing finger. And then we were shown pictures of Cuba’s air force: World War II vintage (and older) planes and their bombing capabilities that seemed like weapons strapped to the underbellies with duct tape. During his speech, Castro also announced that Cuba would offer free health care to 3,000 Americans, the same number of Americans who died in the 9/11 attacks. However, we were not shown Cuba’s healthcare facilities. Being deprived of new Jon Stewart shows, the latest reality TV from Cuba was very welcome.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

NYT’s Latest Iraq Propaganda Message

“Baghdad Starts to Exhale as Security Improves”, a headline in the New York Times boasted this morning. “Iraqis are clearly surprised and relieved to see commerce and movement finally increase, five months after an extra 30,000 American troops arrived in the country,” reporters Damien Cave and Alissa J. Rubin enthuse from Baghdad. But even the NYT had to admit, “The depth and sustainability of the changes remain open to question.” The reporters interviewed people who have returned to Baghdad. A few were quoted in the article. Mrs. Aasan has gone back to work in a library with two other women. Their children accompany them to work. It is “an oasis of calm,” the NYT article says. “A small library in eastern Baghdad, where on several recent afternoons, about a dozen children bounced through the rooms, reading, laughing, learning English and playing music on a Yamaha keyboard...Brightly colored artwork hangs on the walls: images of gardens, green and lush; Iraqi soldiers smiling; and Arabs holding hands with Kurds.” Of course, as the NYT reporters acknowledge, “It is all deliberately idyllic. Mrs. Aasan and the other two women at the library have banned violent images, guiding the children toward portraits of hope. The children are also not allowed to discuss the violence they have witnessed.” One of Mrs. Aasan’s children witnessed two dead bodies with their eyes gouged out, which has affected the boy enough to scar him permanently. However, if the children don’t talk about the violence and if no one else in Iraq talks about the violence and if no one in the United States talks about the violence, perhaps we can all forget about it and just go to the seashore. The NYT article says: “The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad’s streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says.” Oh great! And the NYT goes on to gush, “As a result, for the first time in nearly two years, people are moving with freedom around much of this city. In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark. In the most stable neighborhoods of Baghdad, some secular women are also dressing as they wish. Wedding bands are playing in public again, and at a handful of once shuttered liquor stores customers now line up outside in a collective rebuke to religious vigilantes from the Shiite Mahdi Army.” Oh wunderbar! Oh BULLSHIT!!!!! And one (this in, ME) wonders: How much money did the Pentagon pay out to get a few people to move back to Baghdad? Surely not as much as General David Petraeus doled out from the backs of trucks when he loaded up plastic bags with untold wads of US dollars and gave them to whomever put their hands out—as in, members of armed militias, members of Al Qaeda, Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds...whoever the fuck wanted it and there was no accounting of it whatsoever. No, surely not as much as Petraeus stupidly tried to use as bribes and in the end enriched the enemy with. But it would be fun to know how much the Pentagon spent this time around. Oh, but let’s keep our mouths shut like those unfortunate children in Baghdad who are not allowed to talk about what they’ve seen. Let’s just shut our mouths and pass whatever bills George W. Bush wants passed to fund his idiotic Iraq war. And let’s read the NYT’s sunny reports of renewed life in Baghdad caused by the most recent influx of Bush administration troops, who, apparently are not getting killed anymore, but are beloved by the happy, laughing Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds who are dancing hand in hand together. Seashore, anyone?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Republican Logic

I can’t even remember who said it, or on which Sunday morning talk-show it was said yesterday. And it doesn’t matter, because it’s the general Republican stance on funding the war in Iraq. And that is: We have to keep funding the Bush administration’s illegal and unethical war in Iraq because not to keep funding the illegal and unethical war would be unpatriotic and treasonous and would endanger our troops who are being forced to fight an illegal and unethical war. In other words (as our monumentally ignorant president is fond of saying when he defines the obvious), according to Republicans: When one is held hostage by thugs, it would be a civil wrong and an outrage to try to stop the thugs from committing a crime. The responsibility of endangering our troops in Iraq does NOT EVER devolve to those who are trying to stop the war. Endangering our troops is ALWAYS AND FOREVER the burden of those who lied us into the war. If the Democrats succeeded in getting the votes to stop the war and pull our troops out tomorrow, any deaths and chaos resulting after we pulled out would still only be due to those who lied us into the war. The other bit of nonsensical Republican logic is that those who believed the Bush administration’s lies are equally responsible for the war in Iraq. NO! NO! AND NO! Those who lied us into the war are solely responsible for the carnage, deaths, and chaos of the war in Iraq. So what does that mean as regards a pullout strategy? It means that the war needs to be ended and troops sent home in the most expeditious and morally mindful way possible. But without guilt of any sort by anyone except those who started and abetted the war. And yes, ending this war will be painful and deaths will occur. But we must never forget who started this mess, and who is finally responsible for this mess: THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION. The cleanup crew has an unenviable job but is never responsible for the ugliness caused by reckless, stupid, drunk, sociopathic morons.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

New York Times Gets it Wrong...Again

This morning, in an article (“Bush Failed to See Musharraf’s Faults, Critics Contend” by Sheryl Gay Stolberg) about President Bush’s defense of Pakistan’s President, the NYT says “It has been an unlikely partnership: a president intent on promoting democracy and a military commander who seized power in a bloodless coup.” To advance that lie, is bad journalism at best and Republican propaganda at worst. President George W. Bush has never in his entire sorry life been intent on promoting democracy. If it can be said Bush has any intention other than promoting himself and the policies of GOP warmongering neocons, his intention has been to destroy democracy in the United States and to install Bush administration fascism in the countries the US invades. The NYT went on to claim that Bush’s critics say “Mr. Bush looked at General Musharraf and saw a democratic reformer when he should have seen a dictator instead.” Nonsense. The president of the United States looked at the President of Pakistan and saw a dictator whom he admired and craved to emulate. According to the New York Times “Mr. Bush is backing away from the leader he once called a man of ‘courage and vision,’ and critics are asking whether the president misread his Pakistani counterpart.” George W. Bush seems to be backing away from Musharraf because he’s been told the outcry against Musharraf has become deafening to everyone but George W. Bush and that Republicans have to answer for it. However, Bush's reading of Pervez Musharraf was perfect and right on the money. Bush still thinks of Musharraf as a friend and still sees his modus operandi as inspired. The ideal of democratic rule is not in either man’s playbook. While the New York Times keeps on whitewashing George W. Bush’s dismal record of backing the wrong horse and tearing down democracy at home and around the world, the NYT at least keeps on publishing Frank Rich’s columns. Which I am convinced are read by more people than read Sheryl Stolberg’s articles. And today’s is a beaut! This morning, Frank Rich reminds New Yorkers of some of the smarmier facts about ex-New York Mayor and now-presidential contender Rudy Giuliani. These unwelcome flashbacks for New Yorkers will be first-time disclosures to many people across the US. And since it’s my belief that if, God forbid, Giuliani is elected President, he will simply be a smarter and nastier George W. Bush, I am hopeful millions of people read Frank Rich (“What ‘That Regan Woman” Knows”) this morning. The Regan Woman is Judith Regan who has mounted a $100 million lawsuit against her former employer, HarperCollins. Regan is the one who was behind the O.J. Simpson book-publishing fiasco, “If I Did It”. But that’s not Regan's major achievement. It’s what she could reveal about Rudy Giuliani and his protégé Bernard Kerik, not to mention the Rupert Murdoch Empire that is enticing. The entire voting public needs to know the Rudy Giuliani that New Yorkers came to know and despise. Read Frank Rich today.

Friday, November 16, 2007

No, I Didn’t Watch the Dem Debate Last Night

And I didn’t watch for the same reason that lately I can hardly bear to watch any national news coverage for more than ten minutes. Whether it’s news shows or debates, it’s not about covering news stories, it’s about ratings. And how does a TV news program (or a debate) keep the attention of a public that has the attention span of a gnat? The TV program sinks to the level of the lowest common denominator. Which means it panders to that group’s partiality for public humiliation, train wrecks, natural disasters and sticky buns that look like Jesus. There were two quotes in the The New York Times account of the debate that were absolutely true. 1) Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) said he was worried about there being "shrillness to the debate.” Since everyone was attacking Hillary Clinton (D-NY), and the word shrill is usually used about women, he probably meant her shrillness. And shrillness has come into the debate. But it’s the men who are beginning to sound shrill, nasty and catty. 2) And Clinton said that the other candidates were not attacking her because she’s a woman. She said they are attacking her because she’s ahead. And that’s certainly true. But oh my GOD! I am so sick of the childish, boring, shrill, predictable, harangues on the news. I am so sick of the candidates going after each other rather than giving us cogent explications of their plans and ideas. I am so sick of wall-to-wall twenty-four-seven coverage of the same people yammering about the same things day after day. And BTW. Has CNN’s Lou Dobbs lost his mind? Talk about shrill and yammering. Is that why they bumped him off his 6:00 slot and put him on at 7:00? Not that it makes much difference. Wolf Blitzer simply yammers at a lower decibel and in a more pleasing key.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Aw Jeeze! It's True...I Should Have Said...

"Since Eliot Spitzer is a Republican at heart"...I apologize.
Two Heartening News Stories Republican bullies are having to rethink their positions because of public outcry. 1) New York Governor Eliot Spitzer assumed that since he’s a Republican, he could announce he planned to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and it was a fait accompli. Not so fast, Guv. Last night the New York Times issued a breaking news aviso: “Gov. Eliot Spitzer is abandoning his plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, saying that opposition is just too overwhelming to move forward with such a policy.” 2) And this morning, the New York Times reported, “Federal agents investigating the Sept. 16 episode in which Blackwater security personnel shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians have found that at least 14 of the shootings were unjustified and violated deadly-force rules in effect for security contractors in Iraq, according to civilian and military officials briefed on the case.” The Bush administration decided to use as many guns-for-hire thugs as bonafide soldiers in Iraq in order to pretend the US has a military, but that’s not working out. Blackwater mercenaries are unprincipled shoot-and-ask-questions-later trigger-happy snotnose hoodlums who have been trained by religious fanatic Erik Prince and his mob in North Carolina. Once again, a bunch of Republican bullies made decisions the way fascist governments make decisions—unilaterally and secretly. The NYT says, “Some officials have expressed pessimism that adequate criminal laws exist to enable them to charge any Blackwater employee with criminal wrongdoing. Spokesmen for the Justice Department and the F.B.I. declined to discuss the matter.” New Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey is sitting on a powder keg on this one. As the NYT says, “The case could be one of the first thorny issues to be decided by Michael B. Mukasey, who was sworn in as attorney general last week. He may be faced with a decision to turn down a prosecution on legal grounds at a time when a furor has erupted in Congress about the administration’s failure to hold security contractors accountable for their misdeeds.” North Carolina Democrat David Price has put forth legislation to extend American criminal law to contractors serving overseas. Price says the Justice Department has to hold someone accountable for the shootings. “Just because there are deficiencies in the law, and there certainly are, that can’t serve as an excuse for criminal actions like this to be unpunished. I hope the new attorney general makes this case a top priority. He needs to announce to the American people and the world that we uphold the rule of law and we intend to pursue this,” Price said. As much fun as it must have been to run the United States as though it were the Third Reich, Repubs are now like Wile E. Coyote realizing he’s not riding a magic carpet but sitting on an anvil hurtling to earth. YIKES!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Musharraf and Bush, Twins at Heart

President Bush has no more idea about what’s involved in the so-called democratic process than does Pakistan’s president General Pervez Musharraf. Bush says the democratic process must continue in Pakistan. But for the past seven years Bush has done his best to halt the democratic process in the United States. In fact, if President Bush could get away with it, he would run the US the way Musharraf is running Pakistan—by fear, by military force and by totalitarian rule So, let’s get something straight: President Bush is not only pro-Musharraf, he’s envious of the man’s way of doing things. Musharraf and Bush totally understand each other. And the main thing they are on the same wavelength about is duplicity. Although duplicity may not be the preferred modus operandi in the lives of most Americans, it is the preferred MO with the Bush administration and with most people in Pakistan. Americans may find it hard to understand that Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister who seems to be leading a movement against Musharraf, are actually working together. Eventually Musharraf and Bhutto will have co-rule in Pakistan. This has been understood since Bhutto started making noises about returning to Pakistan. Were this not true, she would not have dared to come back. George W. Bush may not know anything about the Middle East’s culture or history. And he may care to know nothing, but he learned duplicity at his mother and father’s knee. Double-talk, double-speak and duplicity are so ingrained in President Bush’s core that he is incapable of saying “freedom” without meaning “oppression”. The only Republican presidential candidate who comes even close to being as duplicitous as President Bush is Rudy Giuliani. Should Giuliani become our next president, it will be as though George W. Bush had a third term.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The World’s Theater of the Absurd

If you’re looking for theatricals during the writers’ strike, take a gander at the goings-on in Pakistan and the fulminations of the Bush administration about the goings-on in Pakistan. Early this morning, we heard via a special advisory from the New York Times that General Musharraf had placed Pakistan Opposition Leader Benazir Bhutto under house arrest. The special news story was complete with pictures of Ms. Bhutto being manhandled. George W. Bush was quoted in the story saying that Pakistan had to return to its path toward democracy. And Bush’s demand that Musharraf not sit in Bush’s presence wearing his uniform because it indicated Musharraf was both head of state and head of the military was quoted. By the way, that statement is a perfect metaphor for George W. Bush who himself claims to be head of the United States and Commander in Chief of the US military at the same time but typical of Bush’s duplicity, he won’t be upfront about it and wear a uniform. And it also is perfect for Bush to insist that Pakistan espouse the principles of democracy, while Bush himself espouses the principles of totalitarianism and tries to run the US as a dictatorship. But hardly had the presses cooled from cranking out the news about Bhutto’s arrest than a news story came out that, in fact, the hoopla had been choreographed in advance and agreed to by both sides. The New York Times just reported: “Outwardly, the stand-off today appeared to deepen the confrontation between the two, making Ms. Bhutto an opponent of General Musharraf rather than a partner with him in the transition to democracy that she and her American sponsors who helped negotiate her return to Pakistan envisaged...Behind the scenes, however, the strategies for both sides for the day were probably worked out in advance, analysts said, in order to give each side a face-saving way to avoid a potentially bloody clash on the streets.” And furthermore, the NYT said, “In another sign of what seemed like behind-the-scenes co-ordination between Ms. Bhutto and the authorities, Ms. Bhutto’s voice came over official Pakistani television at 4 p.m. this afternoon as she made a long speech setting out her demands. A still picture of her appeared on the screen while she spoke...But Ms. Bhutto and General Musharraf are described by Western diplomats as continuing to negotiate a power-sharing deal that was envisaged when she returned to Pakistan from self-imposed exile abroad last month.” In other words, the whole house-arrest bullshit was bullshit. Just as George W. Bush’s bullshit about democracy is bullshit. What continues to amaze is that any of these morons think we believe any of their bullshit. But the worst of it is that while the writers’ strike is going on, the Theater of the Absurd being produced by the world’s governments is so badly done, badly written, badly produced and badly executed.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Prez is Stark Naked...Does He Know It?

No. President Bush thinks he still wears the impermeable, impregnable, cover-up-cover-all new clothes fashioned for him by Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Karen Hughes, Donald Rumsfeld, Mary Matalan, Dan Bartlett and Dick Cheney. But all those masters in the art of flim-flam have flown the coop. Only Dick Cheney, the most ham-handed of the sorcerers remains. This morning, when Bush got out of bed and slipped on his all-purpose cloak of arrogance, confidence, intimidation and narcissism, nothing stood between him and his awful nakedness. Or, as the New York Times put it: “President Bush suffered the first veto override of his seven-year-old presidency Thursday as the Senate enacted a $23 billion water resources bill despite his protest that it was too expensive. It was the first in a decade that Congress has passed a bill over a presidential veto.” The NYT went on to crow, er...say: “The vote was 79-14 to pass the bill. Enactment was a foregone conclusion, but it still marked a milestone for a president who spent his first six years with a much friendlier Congress controlled by his Republican Party. Now he confronts a more hostile, Democratic-controlled legislature, and Thursday's vote showed that even many Republicans will defy him on spending matters dear to their political careers...The House voted 361-54 to override the veto Tuesday. Both votes easily exceeded the two-thirds majority needed in each chamber to negate a presidential veto.” Will Bush eventually recognize that he’s naked as a jaybird, unmanned, powerless, limp-dicked, and gormless? No. That’s the way it is with the gormless.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Congress Can Do It! Bush Must Be Shocked!

House Republicans joined Democrats yesterday and overrode the Prez’s pork-barrel water projects program. As the New York Times says this morning, "The vote on the water measure was 361 to 54, far more than needed to reject the veto. If the Senate follows suit, it will be the first time Mr. Bush has had a veto overturned." The important moment will be when the Senate overrides President Bush’s veto the first time. In the Senate, there has been an aura of invincibility surrounding our insane leaders. As though it were unthinkable, unheard of, and impossible for Republicans to cross the aisle to rebuke or contradict the fascist regime now controlling the White House. But when the Senate overrides a veto and sees that the sky did not fall in, the dissidents were not murdered in their beds and the world did not end, it will be a monumental day. And from that moment on, overriding vetoes will be, if not a daily occurrence and popular in the US Senate, at least it will be a possible and very probable course of action. When the House quashed Bush’s veto on the water projects measure, it approved a $215 billion bill to pay for health, education, labor and veterans programs despite a veto threat. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), who helps map out the Democrat’s spending strategy, was quoted in the NYT saying: “The president is appealing to a very small conservative base of people, his last few friends in the country, to say, ‘I am conservative’...but the problem is, he is playing with American lives while he sends his message to his friends.” And those few friends have less clout and less political power as each day passes. Bush said he “would not withdraw from Iraq, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me.” As it turns out, yesterday’s vote shows that the Prez, Laura and Barney are not enough. He is not a dictator and/or king after all.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Writers’ Strike Hits Daily Show & Colbert Hard

Comedy Channel’s “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” both rely on topical, up-to-the-minute writing. The strike by the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture &Television Producers, which placed their members on picket lines this morning, puts TDS and Colbert into rerun. That’s okay for a week, but after that, those shows are stale and unwatchable. Viacom, the daddy of MTV Networks cable channels and the Paramount movie studios, says it's not worried. It’s got tons of movies to play in all their timeslots and they are geared up to replace their shows with movies FOREVER. Which effectively says: “We’re okay. But screw you and your writers, TDS and Colbert.” Sitcom writers for scheduled TV shows will actually be ahead of the game in a strike. One of the big issues is residual payments. And the writers will be getting residuals for reruns during a strike. Reality shows are not affected by the strike and will no doubt clog all channels even more than they do now. Will the outcome of this strike give viewers better television? No. It will give writers more money. And the writers hope it will even-out the amounts paid to big-time writers and less-successful writers who get paid for writing a show here and there. But the myth that the owners of channels and their producers give viewers what they want will continue. Television viewers do not get what we want. We get what companies like Viacom want to give us. That is to say, we get hundreds and hundreds of channels from which to choose hundreds and hundreds of bad television shows. And in order to watch one hour of these badly written, badly conceived, boring and gratuitously violent shows, we have to sit through, or fast-forward through, eighteen minutes of commercials. Not to mention, we are shown, willy-nilly, the cleavage of all women on all shows, no matter whether it’s appropriate and no matter if that cleavage would never be tolerated in actual business situations. Yes, I will miss The Daily Show. (Nevermind Colbert...he wore thin after one week.) But since I am offered increasingly crappy dramas on TV, I won’t watch reruns of first-runs because I never watched most of the hideously awful first-runs. I’ll watch more Spanish Telenovelas to work on my Spanish, and I’ll watch the reality shows I can tolerate. I’ll watch movies, reruns of old Law & Order and Monk shows. I’ll download whatever podcasts are available and listen to more music. And maybe I’ll knit more. But will I sorely miss anything on the Fall TV schedule? Only TDS. I wish this strike would improve the quality of the shows on TV. I wish this strike would lessen the number of commercials we have to suffer though. But it won’t do either.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Election Hokum Gets Choreographed

Watching the Democrat candidates on talk shows, in debates and ratcheting up the hoopla is like watching one of the so-called reality shows. And the reality shows have as much in common with reality as a zircon is like a diamond. When a newspaper mentor of mine wanted an article to have more pizzazz, he’d say: Conflict is the soul of good writing. As soon as it appeared Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in for the Democratic candidacy, all handlers, PR people, editors and TV producers responded by doing a close-order Rockettes routine. One step back, slide to the right, hand on hip, waggle right finger, sing “Woman Trouble”. Suddenly, all candidates and talking heads, who the day before had agreed with Hillary, got snarky and then pounced. The end result, of course, is that conflict has not been introduced. Only party-line cant has been introduced. And the confrontational tone is as boring as the shoo-in stories had been except that now everyone sounds programmed and phony. The only real question is: Who is Hillary going to choose as her running mate?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Studs Terkel Editorial in NYT Nails Wiretaps

This morning, Studs Terkel had an editorial in the New York Times about the history of the US executive branch’s “dragnet interceptions”. He remembers a lot. He was born in 1912. Terkel is most famous for his oral histories of just folks, such as the people he interviewed for his book “Hard Times”, which is about the depression in the 1930’s. When his latest book (“My American Century”) came out this past May, Terkel was Jon Stewart’s guest on The Daily Show. He was 95 on May 16th and was the same funny, sharp, insightful raconteur he’s always been. Although he said he’s deaf as a post now. Terkel had open-heart surgery when he was 93 and I believe he was one of the oldest, if not the oldest person to ever come through that kind of operation and be able to tell about it. When I was a kid in the 40’s, we listened to Studs on Chicago’s WGN. I remember commercials on WGN for performances of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” that Terkel used to do with Win Stracke in Chicago. Terkel was blacklisted by the McCarthy hearings and wasn’t allowed to work in television for years. But he continued working in radio. He was a mainstay on Chicago’s WFMT from 1952 until 1998. Studs Terkel’s real name is Louis Terkel. He was reading “Studs Lonegan” at the time he was acting in a play with another actor named Louis. The director wanted to keep the two Louis’s straight and started calling Terkel “Studs”. His last professional acting job was in “Sacco and Vanzetti”, which opened this past March. This morning Studs Terkel says in the New York Times: “I am a plaintiff in one of those lawsuits (against American telephone companies who wiretapped Americans), and I hope Congress thinks carefully before denying me, and millions of other Americans, our day in court...Congress is moving in a haphazard fashion to provide a ‘get out of jail free card’ to the telephone companies that violated the rights of their subscribers. Some in Congress argue that this law-breaking is forgivable because it was done to help the government in a time of crisis. But it’s impossible for Congress to know the motivations of these companies or to know how the government will use the private information it received from them.” He ends his column by saying: “I have observed and written about American life for some time. In truth, nothing much surprises me anymore. But I always feel uplifted by this: Given the facts and an opportunity to act, the body politic generally does the right thing. By revealing the truth in a public forum, the American people will have the facts to play their historic, heroic role in putting our nation back on the path toward freedom. That is why we deserve our day in court.”

Thursday, October 25, 2007

LA Times Writer Calls Bush & Cheney Psychotic

Today, LA Times columnist Rosa Brooks called for mental health professionals and the courts to order the hospitalization of Bush and Cheney due to mental illness. Brooks says, “On Tuesday, Bush insisted on the need ‘to defend Europe against the emerging Iranian threat.’ Huh? Iran is now a major threat to Europe? The Iranians are going to launch a nuclear missile (that they don't yet possess) against Europe (for reasons unknown because, as far as we know, they're not mad at anyone in Europe)? This is lunacy in action.” We don’t need to impeach Bush and Cheney, Brooks says. Bush and Cheney need to be treated for their madness and laws already exist for the courts to act. In Washington, Brooks says, “the appropriate statutory law is already in place: If a ‘court or jury finds that [a] person is mentally ill and . . . is likely to injure himself or other persons if allowed to remain at liberty, the court may order his hospitalization.’" As far as I know, this is the first time that anyone in the mainstream media has suggested in print that President Bush and Vice President Cheney are mentally ill and that the courts have the power and the duty to have them committed to a mental institution. I see George W. Bush as afflicted with congenital mental defects, which were known to those who decided his madness would be a great asset to the Republican Party. Putting W in the loony bin would be a belated, though appropriate mercy for him. However, I believe Dick Cheney has been driven mad by his detestably passive-aggressive spiteful and hate filled horror-wife Lynne. And, of course, he’s physically ill and over-medicated. Not that Cheney can be rehabilitated. He can’t. But I’m willing to see him as a man who at one time had all his marbles but lost them due to circumstances. But GWB was mentally ill from birth due to his parents and his parents’ parents and his parents’ parents’ parents’ parents. Those who foisted him on the American people should be jailed, but that’s another case for the courts and too wearying and futile to even contemplate. The New York Times reported this morning that four current and two former Blackwater employees “have described a grating sense among many of the Blackwater guards, especially those with years of experience, that the killings on Sept. 16 were unjustified.” Also, the NYT said, “Richard J. Griffin, the State Department official who oversaw Blackwater USA and other private security contractors in Iraq, resigned Wednesday.” That’s putting it nicely. Griffin was canned. Not that a respected newspaper declaring our Prez and VP to be insane is good news. And not that Blackwater thugs admitting that Blackwater thugs commit murders is good news. Still, seeing the bald-faced truth in print has the effect of reading good news and I feel better for it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Latest Bush Warning

The New York Times reports this morning: "President Bush is planning to issue a stern warning Wednesday that the United States will not accept a political transition in Cuba in which power changes from one Castro brother to another, rather than to the Cuban people.” So the Prez of the United States says the US will not accept Raul Castro as Cuba’s leader. So what? What’s Bush going to do? Send war ships to invade Cuba? Having no army at his disposal, the Prez has recently deployed more war ships to the western coast of Iran to show the Iranians he means business. Maybe he plans to do the same thing with Cuba. One wonders why? But asking that question of the Bush/Cheney regime has never proved fruitful because there is only one answer and it is insane. They do these things to prove they (and their supporters) have balls. That’s it. That’s all there is, Do you realize that the Department of Defense and the Pentagon have been switching US Navy personnel over to the Army to beef up our military in Iraq? When the sailors’ tour of duty as soldiers is over, they go back to being Navy personnel. Then another contingent from the Navy is deployed to Iraq to be soldiers for awhile. This is the US military that is going to attack Iran? Our Army is non-existent and the White House is using guns-for-hire thugs and Navy personnel to act like soldiers in Iraq. This is what is going to defend Americans from terrorism or from retaliatory attacks? God help us! And at the height of all the bombastic nonsense coming out of the Bush administration warning the world not to fuck with the United States, the Prez says the US will not accept Raul Castro as Cuba’s leader. Who cares? Not Raul Castro, that is certain. The real threat to the United States is not terrorism or the proliferation of nuclear capability. The real threat is that some little country will call Bush/Cheney’s bluff and reveal the men behind the curtain have NOTHING but NOTHING with which to defend the US. No military. No plans. No strategy. NOTHING. As Phil Peters, an expert on Cuba at the non-partisan Lexington Institute said about the Bush administration and Cuba: “Succession has already happened. They can no longer have a policy that keeps them waiting for Castro to die when the rest of the world has moved on.” The entire world has moved on re Iraq. The entire world knows the US has nothing to back up its threats. The entire world knows the men behind the curtain are dickless creeps. The only problem is, these dickless creeps are determined to provoke some annoyed nation into kicking our ass.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Far-Right Righteous Right’s Values

Here’s a conference name you gotta love: The Values Voter Summit. The far-right religious fanatic conservatives had a meeting in Washington, DC on Saturday called The Values Voter Summit to decide which candidate was righteously pure enough to be backed by their righteously pure selves. Five thousand seven hundred seventy five votes were cast in a straw poll. The votes were allowed to be cast online as far back as August: Mitt Romney got 27.6 percent; Mike. Huckabee, 27.1 percent; Ron Paul, 15 percent; Fred D. Thompson, 9.8 percent. Rudy Giuliani less than 2 percent and John McCain finished last among the nine candidates. The Values Voter Summit was held because the far-right religious fanatics are very worried that candidates won’t be sufficiently hardline on the abortion issue, which, according to Values Voters, is the biggest issue facing the United States government. It’s this cast of characters that thinks the murders committed by Blackwater USA in Iraq and Afghanistan are fine and dandy because the Blackwater founder is a far-right religious fanatic. In addition, it’s this cast of characters that believes it’s fine and dandy for the US to torture prisoners. It’s good to know what values voters value, at least.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bush Takes Insensitivity to a New Level

Children's healthcare advocates were 13 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the Prez’s veto of a bill to provide health insurance to 10 million children. That Bush, the Bush administration and the Republicans who rubber stamp the current administration would vote against a bill to ensure health care for a million children by claiming it costs too much money is unfortunate and callous. That this crew of Republicans has bankrupted the United States, put Americans into indentured servitude for the foreseeable future to pay for an illegal and unnecessary war but won’t spend money for the health care of children is uncivilized and merciless. And that is their right. However, President George W. Bush went on television and bragged that this particular veto proves he is still relevant and that he intends to use his veto power until the end of his term to confirm that he has power. And that behavior is childish, vicious, mean, nasty, cruel and arrogant. But the Prez being proud and boastful about using his veto power to prove he has cojones, perfectly sums up the George W. Bush presidency. It’s a thumbnail example that will go down in the history books, alongside the picture of Bush not knowing what to do when he heard about the 9/11 attacks, the Mission Accomplished photo and the stage-prop plastic turkey he supposedly shared with the troops in Iraq.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bush/Cheney Warn They Will Start WWIII

The New York Times reported this morning: “President Bush issued a stark warning on Iran on Wednesday, suggesting that if the country obtained nuclear arms, it could lead to “World War III.” For some reason that is totally unclear to me, the President and Vice President of the United States are itching to start World War III. Why they would want to end life on earth is a mystery. They are insane of course. The White House has decided to make Iran the fall guy in the Bush administration’s plan to start a nuclear war in the Middle East. If Iran obtains nuclear arms, Bush/Cheney plan to mount a nuclear attack on Iran and, like the mother who kills her child for crying, they will say “Look what you made me do!” Another thing that is totally unclear to me is how the Bush administration can castigate other countries for committing the exact same sins it commits. The US signed a Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty in 1968. And yet, under the Bush administration, the US has not only increased its stockpile of nuclear arms, but the US has also been devising new nuclear weapons and has been stockpiling them. The current White House says torture is not a good thing. But the US merely changed its definition of torture and continues to torture political prisoners in horrendous ways. The current White House tries to export the concept of democracy to other countries while it practices fascism and freely and notoriously violates the concepts of democracy at home. The man who cannot (or stubbornly will not) pronounce nuclear correctly, George W. Bush, is mentally challenged and probably does not understand that a nuclear war would end life on earth or at the very least make life on earth a living hell, even for rich Republicans. But what is the excuse of the Republicans in the Bush administration who are not insane neocons? I cannot help wondering if there are secret meetings going on in Republican homes and caucus rooms hatching plots to assassinate our leaders.

Monday, October 15, 2007

This is How the Pullout Will Be Sold

Not unlike the US pullout from Viet Nam, the Bush administration will yell, “We won”, and start withdrawing troops. This morning’s Washington Post reports: “The U.S. military believes it has dealt devastating and perhaps irreversible blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq in recent months, leading some generals to advocate a declaration of victory over the group, which the Bush administration has long described as the most lethal U.S. adversary in Iraq.” As far as Iraq is concerned, the White House, Pentagon and US military have never been concerned about whether their version of events was based on fact or fiction. Whether, indeed, the US has delivered irreversible blows to al-Qaeda, or delivered no blows at all is not the point. The White House will sell the story that “the most lethal U.S. adversary in Iraq” has been vanquished. And then the Bush administration's bought-and-paid-for generals will “advocate a declaration of victory”. And the Bush administration has saved face. Which is what our staying in Iraq has been about. The same White House that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about seeing to it that children receive proper medical care, also does not give a rat’s ass about the devastation the Bush regime has visited on the Iraqi people. Nor has this WH ever cared about bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people. It’s all about selling the Bush administration’s version of events. WaPo pointed out that many generals, analysts and US officials are saying that claiming victory over al-Qaeda in Iraq is premature. One senior US official, “who declined even to be identified by the agency he works for said ‘the data are insufficient and difficult to measure’.” But that is hardly the point. The White House version of events that will signal a major pullout of troops from Iraq has now started. And do not for one minute imagine that Dick Cheney will allow those troops to come home. No. They will be redeployed to Afghanistan to a war that is not carrying as much negative baggage as Cheney and George W. Bush’s war in Iraq. WaPo claims “The expanded presence of U.S. troops in combat outposts in many parts of Baghdad has also put pressure on AQI (WH code for al-Qaeda 1, since there are other al-Qaeda presences in other parts of the world), but a major test of gains against the organization will come when the U.S. military begins to turn security in those areas over to Iraqi forces next year.” That is not really the major test. The major test will be if and when the US is forced to pull Blackwater USA thugs out of Iraq. We have 168,000 Blackwater mercenaries fighting alongside our troops in Iraq. Should the Iraqi’s suit against Blackwater for wanton murder of Iraqis force the US to end its unholy alliance with Blackwater, the US will no longer be able to even float the fiction that the US military is winning or holding its own in Iraq. WaPo’s tagline tells the whole story about the Bush administration’s war in Iraq. WaPo says: “While a victory declaration might have the ‘psychological aspect’ of discouraging recruitment to a perceived lost cause, the White House official said, advantages overall would be minimal. ‘I recognize that there are pros to saying, “Hey, listen, the bad guys are on the run.” ‘But if AQI were later able to demonstrate residual capabilities with a series of bombings, even though it was temporary, the question becomes: How does this play out in terms of public opinion?’” Oh yes! Isn’t that the main point? Screw the Iraqis, screw all our soldiers dead and alive in Iraq, screw the American people who will pay for this Republican temper tantrum called the War in Iraq for the foreseeable future. The point is: HOW DOES THIS PLAY OUT FOR THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION IN TERMS OF PUBLIC OPINION?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Blackwater USA Sued by Iraqis

The Associated Press reported this morning: “A wounded survivor and relatives of three people killed on Sept. 16 when employees of the private security company Blackwater USA opened fire on Iraqis in Baghdad sued the firm in an American court on Thursday.” The suit was filed in behalf of Talib Mutlaq Deewan and the estates of Himoud Saed Atban, Usama Fadhil Abbass and Oday Ismail Ibraheem. The Center for Constitutional Rights, a legal advocacy group, said it filed the suit, which charges that Blackwater and its affiliates violated United States law in committing “extrajudicial killings and war crimes.” The AP report said, “United Nations officials in Baghdad called for the United States on Thursday to prosecute any unjustified killings of Iraqi civilians by private security contractors. Such killings, they said, could amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.” That surely puts the Bush administration in a bind. Does the White House support its far-right religious fanatic friend, Erik Prince, and his thuggish guns-for-hire group Blackwater USA that the White House has bankrolled in Iraq to the tune of $832 million? Or does the Bush administration do the right thing? The lawsuit claims that Blackwater “created and fostered a culture of lawlessness amongst its employees, encouraging them to act in the company’s financial interests at the expense of innocent human life.” If the Bush administration does the right thing, that will make history since it will be the first time since the Bush fascist regime gained power that it will have done the right thing. Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bush Administration & Pentagon in La-La Land

Here’s the thinking of the Pentagon, US military honchos and the Bush administration who are sitting in their safe and secure offices diddling themselves while Iraq falls into chaos, Afghanistan continues to grow poppies to supply the world with drugs, our troops continue to die for nothing in Iraq and Afghanistan—securing nothing and preventing nothing, our budget to support these futile and failed wars continues to escalate into unthinkable stratospheric figures, and George Bush and Dick Cheney continue to descend into delusional madness. According to the New York Times this morning: “The Marine Corps is pressing to remove its forces from Iraq and to send marines instead to Afghanistan, to take over the leading role in combat there, according to senior military and Pentagon officials. “While still under review, its supporters, including some in the Army, argue that a realignment could allow the Army and Marines each to operate more efficiently in sustaining troop levels for two wars that have put a strain on their forces.” The military geniuses are saying, according to the NYT, “the Marine proposal is also an early indication of jockeying among the four armed services for a place in combat missions in years to come.” Or, as one Pentagon asshole put it, “At the end of the day, this could be decided by parochialism, and making sure each service does not lose equity, as much as on how best to manage the risk of force levels for Iraq and Afghanistan.” The chief Army asshole in Iraq David Petraeus and his No. 2 Deputy asshole Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odiereno, say "Anbar Province is a significant success story in Iraq.” Oh really? Success? That’s a laugh. The NYT notes, “The Marine Corps has recently played the leading combat role in Anbar Province, the restive Sunni area west of Baghdad.” And last week, the NYT reminds us, “The Senate approved a $459 billion Pentagon spending bill, an increase of $43 billion, or more than 10 percent over the last budget. That bill did not include, as part of a separate bill, President Bush’s request for almost $190 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Adding to the unreal, insane atmosphere in Washington, and even though we can blame the Repubs for all the above, the Dems are so afraid of being seen as not Republican, that they are starting to side with the Repubs to get votes. Which, of course, they won’t get because Dem voters want Dems not to be Republicans.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Daily Show Nails the Bush Presidency

When ever has the Bush regime been called the “meta-presidency” as Jon Stewart defined it last night on The Daily Show? Never. But it’s a spot-on description. In clip after clip showing Bush during photo-ops, we see the Prez explaining that he wants to explain. Or he informs us that he wants to inform. But he never explains or informs. Rather, he quotes himself on how he intends to explain and inform. And so the circle of talking about explaining widens. The Prez explains that he told us what he was going to explain in the past. But he never explained anything in the past. He only gave us information about how he wanted to inform. Time after time we see Bush telling his audience in effect, “The reason I am here is because I want to tell you why I am here.” And then he goes on to explain that he is at whatever venue he is at because it is necessary for him to be at that venue.” Simply, “meta” is a prefix meaning “information about”. George Bush’s meta-presidency is one that gives information about information. But it never gives information. Metadata is data about data. Metadata describes how and when and by whom a particular set of data was collected, and how the data is formatted. But like the Bush meta-presidency, metadata gives no information. It gives information about information. The Jon Stewart segment last night about the meta-presidency was brilliant. If you didn't see it, watch it in replay on Comedy Central. Last night’s show is replayed many times today, but most conveniently, it’s on at 8:00 tonight.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Pete Domenici Has a Diagnosed Brain Disease

Senator Pietro "Pete" Domenici (R-NM) is 74 years old. He has served as a senator since 1973, the longest tenure in New Mexico’s history. Last Thursday, Domenici announced that he's been diagnosed with frontotemporal lobar dementia (sometimes called Pick's Disease for the doctor who first diagnosed it in 1972). It's a fairly rare brain disease. Only 100,000 to 200,000 people in the US have it, as contrasted with the 4.5 million people afflicted with Alzheimer's. There is no cure for frontotemporal lobar dementia. The salient characteristic is that as it progresses—and it can progress very fast--it impairs insight and judgment, something patients themselves cannot recognize. What made Domenici seek a medical opinion? We don’t know. How long has Domenici been afflicted with a brain disease? We don’t know. The New York Times reported this morning that Domenici’s spokeswoman, Courtney M. Sanders, said: “He’s had the condition, been aware of it, for some time. I can’t say precisely how long.” Nor would Ms. Sanders say what led to the diagnosis, what symptoms the senator had or what indicated that the disease had progressed. Domenici wants to serve out his term. It ends in January, 2009. I love this bit from the NYT news story: “Ms Saunders said that Mr. Domenici had regular examinations by a doctor at Johns Hopkins, and that a checkup in April detected no signs of progression. At that point, he was planning to run for re-election, but changed his mind after the examination in September.” Oh great! Domenici has been getting regular examinations at Johns Hopkins to monitor his brain disease for God knows how long. Six months ago, there was no sign of progression. But in September there obviously was progression because Domenici suddenly let us in on his secret. The man has a degenerative brain disease that is progressing. The tip-off that this disease is spiraling downward is impaired judgment which patients can’t recognize themselves. So someone had to tell Domenici that his brain disease is progressing. But nevermind that. Domenici wants to soldier on through January 2009. Dr. Jason Karlawish, an associate professor of medicine and medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania has weighed in on this news story, He says, “Just because he (Domenici) has a diagnosis doesn’t mean he’s not capable of doing his job.” But Dr. Bruce Miller, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco, and a leading expert on frontotemporal dementia, called it “a very tough disease,” and said it could progress rapidly, twice as fast as Alzheimer’s...In a study we did, the average person, from the time of diagnosis, lived only about three and a half years." Neither doctor is Domenici's doctor. In 2006, Domenici pressured New Mexico’s United States Attorney David Iglesias to speed up indictments of Democrats in federal corruption investigations. When Iglesias said there would be no indictments handed down, Domenici said (and subsequently admitted he said it), “I’m very sorry to hear that” and within a month Iglesias was fired by the Bush administration. Was that due to Domenici’s mental impairment, or just normal Domenici behavior? We don’t know. And obviously, mental disease and psychiatric disorders in the Republican Party have not kept people like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and others too numerous to name from holding public office. But Pete Domenici has made a public announcement that he has a diagnosed brain disease that will impair (and maybe already has impaired) his judgment. Pete Domenici must resign NOW.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Our State Dept. Is Going to Monitor Blackwater

Oh hahahahahahahahaha! And hahahahahahahahaha! The US State Department is the outfit that hired the Blackwater thugs and has paid the Blackwater company $600 mil during last year alone for their guns-for-hire criminals to be sent to Iraq. And NOW that the thugs have been proven to be marauding and killing whatever moves in Iraq, the New York Times reported today that the US State Department said on Friday it is “seeking to retain its relationship with Blackwater USA while trying to bring the company’s armed guards under tighter control” and that it “would now send its own personnel as monitors on all Blackwater security convoys in and around Baghdad.” Oh well, that makes everything fine and dandy. Now both the fox and his father are sitting squarely in the center of the hen house where they can monitor the movements of the nasty foxes outside the henhouse who don’t seem to be there anymore because they are sitting squarely in the center of the henhouse. What are the chances that the US State Department will exercise any control at all on their anointed and highly paid Blackwater hirelings? Slim and none. And Slim has left town.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Rest Easy, Comedians, Craig Will Stick It Out

Urged on by the Crapo/Specter team in the Senate--you can’t make up names like that--Michael D. Crapo (R-ID) and Arlen Specter (R-PA)—Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) has reneged on his vow to leave the Senate if he could not get his guilty plea in Minnesota reversed. A Minnesota judge has ruled that Craig’s guilty plea re soliciting sex from an undercover police officer in a restroom of the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport last June will stand. But now Craig says he’s staying in the Senate until his term ends in January 2009. And every comic in the US has breathed a sigh of relief. What if the Repubs suddenly started acting like ethical, mature, responsible, honest human beings? What if the Republicans stopped being hypocrites who sneak around with prostitutes and enjoy gay sex while decrying the moral decay of people who sneak around with prostitutes and enjoy gay sex? Well, never fear all you comics...Craig is staying in the Senate. And he won’t be leaving until George W. Bush’s term ends. (Will they walk out of Washington hand-in-hand? What a lovely photo-op that would be.) matter how grim the Bush administration makes the headlines from now until January 2009, we’ll still have Larry Craig to lighten our mood. Because neither the Repubs nor the Dems are going to let this die down. There are investigations to mount, and allegations of prior Craig dalliances in public bathrooms to be divulged, pored over and dissected ad infinitem. The big clowns in Washington, DC—George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, David Petraeus, Ryan Crocker, and honorary DC clowns David Brooks, Erik Prince, James Dobson and Newt Gingrich have a new leader: Larry Craig. Carry on Larry. You get the Ratbang Clown of the Day award.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Erik Prince Defends His Hoodlums

Blackwater USA founder Erik D. Prince told a Congressional committee yesterday that his company’s employees in Iraq were not “trigger-happy mercenaries”, but were “loyal Americans doing a necessary job in hostile territory.” He said he was proud of his employees. He said the Blackwater guards had “strictly followed rules of engagement set by the State Department, which call for gradual escalation of force before any shots are fired.” However, the New York Times reports this morning that the House committee staff “found that Blackwater employees had fired their weapons 195 times since early 2005 and in a vast majority of incidents used their weapons before taking any hostile fire. The report also said that in most cases Blackwater guards fired from fast-moving vehicles and immediately fled the scene of any confrontation.” The latest outrageous Blackwater incident occurred on September 16th. The NYT says it started out as a family errand: “Ahmed Haithem Ahmed was driving his mother, Mohassin, to pick up his father from the hospital where he worked as a pathologist. As they approached Nisour Square at midday on Sept. 16, they did not know that a bomb had gone off nearby or that a convoy of four armored vehicles carrying Blackwater guards armed with automatic rifles was approaching. Interviews with 12 Iraqi witnesses, several Iraqi investigators and an American official familiar with an American investigation of the shootings offer new insights into the gravity of the episode in Nisour Square. And they are difficult to square with the explanation offered initially by Blackwater officials that their guards were responding proportionately to an attack on the streets around the square.” Near the end of his testimony, which lasted nearly three hours, Erik Prince made a thought-provoking statement. He said, “If the government doesn’t want us to do this, we’ll go do something else.” Oh really? What would that be? It was revealed during the hearing yesterday that the Blackwater company charges the United States government $1222 for each day of work for each of its mercenaries. In 2001, Blackwater took in less than $1 million in federal government contracts. But last year, Blackwater made nearly $600 million in federal money, most of it with contracts with the State Department. Committee Chairman Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) said it appeared the State Department was acting as “Blackwater’s enabler”. What “something else” does Erik Prince have in mind if the State Department cancels his contracts? Is the fanatic religious right-wing faction in the Republican Party prepared to pay Blackwater USA $600 million a year to start the religious war in the United States that the Prince family and James Dobson have predicted will happen if Republicans aren’t kept in office? That doesn’t seem likely. But then, what other service could Prince provide that would utilize his Blackwater thugs? Perhaps one of the seven United Arab Emirates needs a few thousand guns-for-hire at $1222 a day.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

State Department on Hot Seat Re Blackwater

A 15-page report by Congressman Henry A. Waxman’s (D-CA) House Oversight Committee, says the Bush State Department covered up and ignored misconduct by Blackwater USA mercenaries. The founder of Blackwater, religious fanatic ex-Navy SEAL Erik Prince, is scheduled to appear before Waxman’s committee today. The New York Times reported this morning that “Employees of Blackwater USA have engaged in nearly 200 shootings in Iraq since 2005, in a vast majority of cases firing their weapons from moving vehicles without stopping to count the dead or assist the wounded, according to a new report from Congress.” The LA Times says, “The detailed allegations, which the committee said were backed by thousands of documents, depict a security firm that almost routinely opens fire in Iraq's streets, occasionally attempts to cover up its transgressions and is frequently protected from censure and prosecution by its State Department overseers...The memo describes incidents in which Blackwater guards eagerly rushed to battles involving U.S. soldiers; plowed their armored trucks into civilian vehicles for no apparent reason; and left scenes of violence without assisting wounded civilians.” This is the private militia contractor in Iraq that the Bush administration most favors. In fact, the White House loves Blackwater so much that the State Department has paid Blackwater more than $832 million to guard US diplomats and to fight the Bush administration’s war in Iraq. The NYT says, “The committee report places a significant share of the blame for Blackwater’s record in Iraq on the State Department.” The Washington Post reported this morning “Blackwater security contractors in Iraq have been involved in at least 195 "escalation of force" incidents since early 2005, including several previously unreported killings of Iraqi civilians...In one of the killings...Blackwater personnel tried to cover up what had occurred and provided a false report. In another case, involving a Blackwater convoy's collision with 18 civilian vehicles, the firm accused its own personnel of lying about the event.” WaPo goes on to report, “The State Department has made little effort to hold Blackwater personnel accountable beyond pressing the company to pay financial compensation to the families of the dead, In a case involving a drunken Blackwater employee who killed a security guard to one of Iraq's vice presidents last Christmas Eve, U.S. government personnel helped negotiate a financial settlement and allowed the employee to depart Iraq.” Blackwater paid the dead man’s family $15,000. In another fatal shooting a State Department official in Baghdad told Blackwater to pay the victim’s family $5000 and wrote in a memo, “I hope we can put this unfortunate matter behind us quickly.” The NYT says, “Blackwater has dismissed 122 of its employees over the past three years for misuse of weapons, drug or alcohol abuse, lewd conduct or violent behavior, according to the report. It has also terminated workers for insubordination, failure to report incidents or lying about them, and publicly embarrassing the company. One employee was dismissed for showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.” Many otherwise intelligent Republicans have held their noses and supported George W. Bush and the neocons in the White House simply because they are Republicans. Presumably, they believe that eventually the White House will be inhabited by a president who not only is a Repub but also is sane and is not a religious fanatic. However, now that the far-right zealots have taken over the US State Department and are polluting the military in Iraq with their amoral behavior and jihad-like tactics re ethnic cleansing, it’s time for thinking Republicans to stand up and to call a halt on the religious fanaticism that abounds in the Bush administration. This blog will repeat over and over and over the fact that religious fanatic madman James Dobson’s entire career as a rightwing hate-spewing zealot has been bankrolled by the Erik Prince family. And James Dobson counsels George W. Bush on all matters political and religious. The Prince family started Blackwater USA in order to have a militia at its beck and call when Dobson and his believers force their version of Christianity on the United States und Morgan die Welt. Let me say that I do not believe for one minute that Bush, Prince and Dobson would be successful in their fanatic scheme. However, the fact that they have a scheme and a military force like Blackwater USA to back them up, and the fact that their military force is already marauding and killing in Iraq like crusaders on a mission, should be sending shivers of horror through every Republican in America.