Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Latin Mass Soon to Be Back in Catholic Church

On Wednesday, May 30, John L. Allen, Jr. reported in his New York Times Op/Ed piece (“The Pope’s Language Lesson”) that Pope Benedict XVI will soon give permission for celebration of the Latin Mass and that the Pope’s decision “will be hyped beyond all recognition”. Allen should have added, “and I will be first in line with the hype”. John Allen is the Vatican analyst for CNN and NPR. His column “The Word from Rome” can be found in print and online in the National Catholic Reporter. He also is an apologist for the Roman Catholic Church’s notorious “prelature of the Holy Cross”, Opus Dei. Allen says Vatican authorities contend that the Pope’s intent is to make the pre-1960’s Mass optional. Allen says this in no way “symbolizes a broad conservative drift in Catholic affairs” which will be read as “another sign of a ‘rollback’ on Vatican II.” Allen even goes so far as to say, “evidence of a systematic lurch to the right is hard to come by”. But that is exactly what reinstituting the Latin Mass symbolizes. The Pope has not drifted or lurched to the right. He is marching the Roman Catholic Church steadfastly and determinedly back to the positions he took when he was John Paul II’s “secretary of state”. At that time, he was Cardinal Ratzinger and he was called The Enforcer, The Fundamentalist, The Panzerkardinal. Then, he said homosexuality is “an intrinsic moral evil.” Now he has ordered the church to root out all suspected homosexual priests. This small move to reinstate the Latin Mass is just one more sign of the conservatism of the current Pope and that he intends to roll back everything Vatican II stood for.Allen says that since Pope Benedict outlawed Limbo, prayed in the Blue Mosque in Turkey, and denounced the war in Iraq, it means the Pope’s agenda is not to bring the Roman Catholic Church back to far-right conservative values. A puny list if ever there was one, and not persuasive. The Roman Catholic Church never believed in Limbo. Limbo was a construct of Saint Augustine of Hippo and was never considered divine revelation. Benedict made such a gaffe about Islam when he quoted a 14th Century Christian emperor saying “Muhammad brought the world evil and inhuman things”, that he’s been trying to pull his Prada shoes out of that cowpie ever since. Praying in a Mosque in Turkey was the least he could do. And denouncing the war in Iraq? Please! Allen ends his piece by saying “If only we could convince the activists to slug it out in Latin, leaving the rest of us blissfully oblivious, then we might have something.” I can only note that Pope Benedict’s ruling on the Latin Mass speaks for itself. Or, as Pope John XXIII might have said: “Res ipsa loquitur, sed quid in infernos dicet?” The thing speaks for itself, but what in hell does it say?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

NIH & FDA OK Experiments on Crash Victims

The National Institutes of Health bows down to politically driven restrictions on medical research (such as stem cell research) and the Food and Drug Administration might as well not exist for all the protection it gives Americans regarding anything remotely having to do with food or drugs. However, yesterday, the New York Times reported, “The federal government is undertaking the most ambitious set of studies ever mounted under a controversial arrangement that allows researchers to conduct some kinds of medical experiments without first getting patients' permission.” This ethically suspect project has been under “exhaustive scientific and ethical review by the National Institutes of Health, which authorized the funding in 2004, and the Food and Drug Administration, which approved the first phase about a year ago and the second phase six months ago”, the NYT said. The first “experiments” were conducted on 6,000 patients who were in shock or had head injuries from a car accident, a fall or some other “trauma”. The NYT reported that, “About 40,000 such patients show up at hospitals each year, and the standard practice is to give them saline infusions to stabilize their blood pressure. For the study, emergency medical workers are randomly infusing some patients with "hypertonic" solutions containing much higher levels of sodium, with or without a drug called dextran. Animal research and small human studies have indicated that hypertonic solutions could save more lives and minimize brain damage.” Myron L. Weisfeldt of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is overseeing the project. He said, "Even if there are family members present, they know their loved one is dying. The ambulance is there. The sirens are going off. You can't possibly imagine gaining a meaningful informed consent from someone under those circumstances." Weisfeldt went on to say "Some people object to the whole concept of doing any study whatsoever without permission....we try to explain all the layers of approval we've gone through and that this is the only way we can do the kind of research that could save many more lives in the future...we will never know the best way to treat people unless we do this research. And the only way we can do this research, since the person is unconscious, is without consent.” WTF? Layers of approval? Not by the families of the people being experimented on, that’s for certain. How about comatose people who have no families? Are they also being experimented on? The NYT says, “The next experiment, which will involve about 15,000 patients, is designed to determine how best to revive patients whose hearts suddenly stop beating. About 180,000 Americans suffer these sudden cardiac arrests each year. “Emergency medical workers often shock these patients immediately to try to get their hearts started again. But some do a few minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation first. Researchers want to determine which tactic works better by randomly trying one or the other -- both with and without a special valve attached to devices used to push air into the lungs during CPR. That study is expected to start next month.” So the Bush administration says embryonic stem cell research is wrong, “partial-birth” abortions are wrong, the Roman Catholic Church says all contraception and vaccinating young girls against cervical cancer is wrong, the right-to-lifers say the “morning-after” pill is wrong. But experimenting on dying people without the consent of their families or loved ones is right. And not only does the NIH, FDA, trauma experts and “some” bioethicists think this kind of experimenting is right, they have already implemented their plan, unbeknown to anyone except themselves. And the arrogant Myron Weisfeldt told the NYT “all critics against the plan would be unhappy under any circumstances”. No, Mr. Weisfeldt, you overbearing, egotistical pig, we would not be unhappy under any circumstances. It’s the fact that you and your “experimenters” have done these experiments in secret and have gotten permission from NO ONE except yourselves--that's why this whole project is appalling. It’s the fact that we are reminded of experiments undertaken in Nazi Germany and in America’s past on hapless black men that raises concern. This is not a complicated ethical issue. Just because this team of benighted medical experts believe their experiments are for the good of mankind, does not mean they have the right to impose them on trauma victims. If informed consent to perform an experiment on a human person cannot be obtained, then it should not be done. It’s simple as that.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Blackwater Mercenaries Are Uncontrollable

Yes, I’m going to repeat myself. As I said in my BuzzFlash article two weeks ago (it’s still on the BuzzFlash site, BTW), “For me, the most unsettling thing about our State Department paying a bunch of gun-for-hire mercenaries and deploying them to Afghanistan and Iraq is that a far right Christian religious fanatic is training these thugs. And the second most unsettling thing is that each soldier in this shadow army, numbering 120,000, is being paid $1000-a-day by the U.S. State Department.” The Washington Post reported this morning, “Employees of Blackwater USA, a private security firm under contract to the State Department, opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days last week, and one of the incidents provoked a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. “A Blackwater guard shot and killed an Iraqi driver Thursday near the Interior Ministry, according to three U.S. officials and one Iraqi official who were briefed on the incident but spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation. On Wednesday, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle in which the security contractors, U.S. and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were firing in a congested area.” WaPo went on to say that Blackwater spokesperson Anne Tyrrell said the company did not discuss specific incidents. In Iraq, the Interior Ministry regulates security companies for the Iraqi government. Undersecretary for Intelligence Affairs Hussein Kamal said Iraqi authorities have been hampered by a Coalition Provisional Authority order granting contractors immunity from the Iraqi legal process. Translation: Blackwater hooligans can do whatever they want in Iraq, there is no oversight whatsoever, Blackwater takes no responsibility for its illegal actions nor will its officials discuss it. WaPo said, “Blackwater is now the most prominent of dozens of security companies working in Iraq, with hundreds of guards and a fleet of armored vehicles and helicopters.” And, don’t forget, the religious-fanatic Prince family that has built the Blackwater training camp in North Carolina, has also bankrolled the far-right religious fascist James Dobson and his “Focus on the Family” ministry with it’s political arm, “The Family Research Center”. Dobson meets regularly with George W. Bush to give him orders about where the Republican Party should be headed. Dobson said in 2004 he would bring down the Republican Party if it “fails” him. WaPo said, “A US Embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Blackwater contractors "did their job," enabling the State Department employees to be extracted without injuries. The U.S. military said no American soldiers were killed or wounded during the attack.” Blackwater guns-for-hire are killing Iraqis. These mercenaries don’t have to abide by any rules, and our State Department has given Blackwater carte blanche to maraud at will while paying these armed thugs $1000-a-day. (Incidentally the Thugs/Thuggees were a religious organization in India that operated from the 17th century to the 19th century and murdered and robbed in the service of Goddess Kali.) James Dobson now has an army at his disposal. His writings indicate his vision is to take over the Republican Party, and then to impose “divine moral law” on everyone in the United States. Und morgen die Welt.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Shiite Cleric Moktada al- Sadr Back in Iraq

This morning, the New York Times reported: “The cleric left for Iran after the Bush administration announced its new security push in January, and his militia immediately went underground, in an apparent effort to outwait the Americans and avoid a head-on clash.” Point 1) It may be true that al-Sadr took a trip to Iran in January to sit out the Bush administration surge bullshit. Although it is more likely that al-Sadr had business of one kind and another to transact in Iran. However, it is not true that al Sadr’s Mahdi militia went underground. It has remained as virulent and effective during and after the surge as ever it was before. Point 2) If al-Sadr ran to Iran because he feared the Bush surge (as the White House said back in January), how come al-Sadr has returned to Iraq at exactly the moment when reports are making the rounds of “a second secret surge” being ordered by the Prez for this winter? Point 3) Does anyone know how many US troops are in Iraq? Bush announced on January 10, 2007 that he was ordering “5 additional brigades” to be deployed to Iraq. The Department of Defense says, “a brigade is smaller than a division and roughly equal to or a little larger than a regiment--strength typically ranges from 1,500 to 3,500 personnel.” However the definition of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization brigade is that it consists of 4,000 to 5,000 troops. If we stick with the DOD definition of “brigade”, President Bush ordered somewhere between 7,500 and 17,500 additional troops to be deployed to Iraq on January 10, 2007. There were 15 brigades already in Iraq, or between 22,500 and 52,500 troops. And there will be an additional 8 brigades deployed by Christmas, which is 12,000 to 28,000 more troops Depending on the prevailing definition of brigade, we have either 30,000 or 70,000 troops in Iraq. And that number will increase to 42,000 or 98,000 by Christmas. Of course, if the NATO definition of brigade is used, we could be talking about 140,000 US troops in Iraq by Christmas. Who knows how many troops we have in Iraq? Certainly not you or me. But whatever the number is (and double it to include the Blackwater, USA mercenaries), Shiite Cleric Moktada al-Sadr and his merry band are not in the least troubled by the prospect of more troops in Iraq because however many there are, the US soldiers have been totally ineffective against the insurgents and al-Sadr’s Mahdi militia. The Bush administration is far more worried about al-Sadr than he is worried about US troop deployments. And by the way, al-Sadr’s militia has infiltrated the hapless Iraqi Army so that the Iraqi Army is killing Iraqis. Tell me again, how has this illegal war and unnecessary bloodletting in Iraq made me safer?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Democrats Cave In

I know we are supposed to be aghast at the Dems latest cave-in to the Bush administration. That is, the Dems capitulating on the Iraq spending bill and stripping the bill of a timetable for getting our troops out of Iraq And I truly am pissed. Not aghast, but pissed. I’m pissed at feeling so powerless. When the Dems gained control of the House and Senate I felt that now we had a voice. I felt it gave us the edge we needed, a chance to change the wholesale sell-out of the United States government to every malevolent power group on the face of the planet. But I had forgotten that the GOP and the Bush administration are like Big Julie in “Guys and Dolls” who was so powerful in the Chicago mob that when he brought his own dice with no spots to a crap game, everyone caved in and let him use them. Big Julie said he could remember where the spots were. Now that the Dems have given in, again, to the worst President the US has ever had, I’m wondering, WHAT DID WE EXPECT? The Dems have a simple majority in the House and Senate but no powerbase for ensuring that votes go in their favor and no power to override the president’s veto. Yes, I’ve seen Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment. And yes, I’ve read the rants and tirades and the claims that sometimes you have to remain true to your beliefs even when you know you are going to lose. Olbermann’s Comments were wonderful! He was righteously (in the true sense of the word) indignant, furious and very articulate. But I still find it difficult to be enraged at the Democrats who are in a crapshoot with the Republicans who have changed the laws of the land so that they are allowed to use dice with no spots because they can remember where the spots were. I just don’t know where not ceding to the Republicans on the Iraq war bill would have gotten us. The Dems have chosen to engage in practical politics and to get on with it. But isn’t it still the Republicans who were willing to hold up funding their Iraq war until hell froze over, just because they could? Isn’t it still the Republicans who are going to suffer at the polls and be voted out? Isn’t it still the Republicans who are the warmongering, war-profiteermg, intransigent fascists who have betrayed Americans for their personal gain? Isn’t it still the Republicans who are wire-tapping and spying on Americans? Isn’t it still the Republicans who have changed the laws in the United States and violated the Constitution? The Dems stance on illegal immigrants is wrongheaded and stupid. But I think wrath at the Dems over the Iraq spending bill is misplaced.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

McCain MIA for Roll Call Votes

This morning, the Washington Post reported that since January, John McCain (R-AZ) has missed half--87--of the Senate’s votes. On May 17th, WaPo’s Paul Kane reported that McCain had missed “his fifth straight week without casting a vote…marking the 42nd straight roll call that he has missed.” WaPo also said McCain isn’t the only one to miss votes due to campaigning. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Joe Biden (D-DE) have both missed one-third of the Senate votes this year. During his presidential campaign John Kerry (D-MA) missed 75 votes in the same period. (Hillary Clinton has missed four votes and as of May 3, Barack Obama (D-IL) had missed seven.) Last week when Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) accused McCain of being absent for negotiation meetings on the immigration bill and only “parachuting in” at the last minute, McCain yelled, “Fuck you!” So okay. Senators who are campaigning miss Senate votes. McCain’s immediate response to being challenged by Senator Cornyn is probably more important than his missing Senate votes, many of which are procedural and/or have no bearing on important issues. But it does have bearing on important issues that John McCain, a candidate for president, is a hothead and he cannot control it. Fortunately for us, against his better judgment and because he is not in control of his emotions or his reactions, McCain is showing us the worst side of his character before the election. On the one hand, when feeling threatened, he lies, he rewrites history and he makes inappropriate remarks. On the other hand, he is old, his health is bad, he’s on who-knows-how-many medications, and he looooooves the war in Iraq and wants it to continue forever and ever. With Senator John McCain, we get a two-fer. He’s our current President and Vice President rolled into one.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Abortion Foes Have a New Tactic

According to the New York Times this morning, the new argument of the anti-abortion crowd is that “abortion, as a rule, is not in the best interest of the woman”. The new strategy is to publicize the fact that not only are there physical risks to having an abortion but that women feel depressed and despondent afterwards. The NYT reports that the Texas-based Justice Foundation "is a nonprofit public interest litigation firm that has handled an array of conservative causes, has increasingly focused on abortion through its project called Operation Outcry." The Justice Foundation's president Allan E. Parker, Jr., said "the group began hearing from women in the late 1990s who considered themselves victims of legalized abortion — physically and emotionally — and wanted to tell their stories. Operation Outcry, which grew to include a Web site, a national hot line and chapters around the country, eventually collected statements from more than 2,000 women. “In its friend-of-the-court brief, the group submitted statements from 180 of those women who said that abortion had left them depressed, distraught, in emotional turmoil. ‘Thirty-three years of real life experiences,’ the foundation said, ‘attests that abortion hurts women and endangers their physical, emotional and psychological health.’” All of which cannot be disputed. But the other side of that argument cannot be disputed either. Giving birth can endanger a woman’s health, and having unwanted babies or putting a full-term baby up for adoption also leads to emotional and psychological problems, not only for the mother, but for the father, the child and society. Not to mention the fact that some distraught parents of unwanted babies murder their new-borns. The one claim anti-abortion groups cannot make is that banning abortion solves the problems created by unwanted pregnancies. Time was when the anti-abortion crowd beat the drum for fetus rights. They said pregnant women had no rights. That plan of attack hasn’t worked too well. Now they are saying pregnant women really are important too and that abortions are bad for their mental and physical health. Typically, the anti-abortion faction doesn’t look at the other side of their new argument. And the other side points to exactly the same conclusions. Aborting an unwanted fetus or not aborting an unwanted fetus can lead to mental and physical health problems. The only perfect solution to unwanted pregnancy problems is not to get pregnant. After all the new anti-abortion hype is perused and analyzed, it comes down to the same old nonsense. The anti-abortion political bloc is trying to divert attention from the real issues confronting voters. But voters know the problems in the United States have nothing to do with abortions, gay marriage or flag burning. The problems in the United States have been caused by the Bush administration’s malfeasance in general and the war in Iraq in particular.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tom Friedman is Still an Idiot

Every so often, I check in on a Tom Friedman Op/Ed piece in the New York Times just to see if, against all odds, Friedman has turned back into the respected and respectable writer/Middle East analyst he used to be. Yesterday, he gave advice to Bush’s new War Czar, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute. That’s okay. It’s hard to resist the temptation. Czar Lute, of course, won’t take anyone’s advice, because he’s already had plenty of advice from people who can recognize a no-win job when they see one. And he took it anyway. Lt. Gen. War Czar Lute is beyond hope. Friedman outlines the memo he thinks Lute should send to the Prez. Lute should say, Friedman advises, “We have to reassess our strategy (with Iraq and Iran)…We brought down the hard walls that surrounded Iran by destroying Iran’s two archenemies—the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam’s regime in Iraq…as a result, we are dealing today with an emboldened, resurgent Iran, which has taken advantage of our good works to expand its economic, cultural, religious and geopolitical influence into Persian-speaking western Afghanistan and into Shiite Iraq.” Took advantage of our GOOD WORKS? Tom Friedman is still an idiot. Even if he made his good works remark tongue-in-cheek, which he didn’t, he’s an idiot. The US didn’t destroy the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam’s regime in Iraq has been replaced by chaos, terrorism and civil war, surely no improvement and no favor to Iran. Bush said Iran was part of an “axis of evil” in his State of the Union address on January 20, 2002. He closed off all dialogue between the United States and Iran, a country that Republican saint Ronald Reagan had armed to the teeth. And then, fearing the aftermath of what the US had wrought in Iran, the US decided it should bring down Iran's Islamic regime. Having botched its relationship with Iran, the US set about to conquer Iraq in order to have military bases in a country sitting directly between the United States’ new enemy Iran and the Bush family’s old buddy and oil-ally Saudi Arabia. We attacked Iraq and made a mess of it. Only because Iraq was weak and Hussein was more incompetent and muddled than George W. Bush did we happen to bring Saddam Hussein down. We destroyed the country, fomented international terrorism and started a civil war, which cannot be contained. These are good works? Tom Friedman is an idiot.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Who Is Amber Wilkerson?

Yesterday, when the Associated Press reported that former Prez Jimmy Carter had slammed President Bush six ways to Sunday, Amber Wilkerson, a Republican National Committee spokeswoman, out-snarked former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman when she countered with this gem: "Apparently, Sunday mornings in Plains for former President Carter includes hurling reckless accusations at your fellow man.” She added that it’s hard to take Carter seriously because he also "challenged Ronald Reagan's strategy for the Cold War." Who is Amber Wilkerson and where did she come from? In 2005, she was a propaganda flack for the House Committee on Homeland Security. In 2006 her career trajectory slipped a couple notches when she became deputy communications director for former footballer (Pittsburgh Steelers) and ABC sportscaster Lynn Swann, who had no experience in politics but tried to unseat Pennsylvania’s popular Democrat Governor Ed Rendell. And lost by a landslide, need it be noted? Now Wilkerson is a spokesperson for the RNC. Of course the new RNC Chairman Mike Duncan wasn’t about to touch the explosive and controversial Carter critique even with Ken Mehlman’s pole. Which explains why the RNC gave Wilkerson the job. Speaking of former RNC Chairman Mehlman. He has been invisible since the day after the 2006 midterm elections when he announced he would resign as RNC chairman. He’s been working at the Washington, DC law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

News From tells us Donald Rumsfeld’s plans for the future are “even more ambitious” than writing a book. The former-Secretary of Defense is “in the early stages of setting up an educational foundation that would provide fellowships to citizens who want to try their hand at public service.” The foundation, says, “is still in the idea stage and thus remains unnamed, would be financed by Rumsfeld himself and provide funds for Americans with experience outside of government to do a stint in public service.” This approach would “match” Rumsfeld’s own career, says…blah-blah-blah…dotted with long stretches in the public sector…(yada-yada and sighs of breathless admiration)...did stints with Richard Nixon (you know we love you Donald) he returned to Washington…(oh how we wish you were still DOD…whimper)… after a two-decade absence (god! we thought you’d never come back)…he resigned last November (sob-snuffle…we at just can’t help it, Donald)…when public support for the war in Iraq collapsed (woe! how can we live now!). Rumsfeld is “open to the idea” of writing a memoir. He was in New York last week “meeting with executives from a number of different publishing houses”. George Tenet’s book was “highly critical” of the Bush administration and now the publishing world is interested in “Rumsfeld's side of the story”. The proceeds from a book, which Rumsfeld has no plans to write, would go to his new foundation to “generate funds for fellowships”. says, “Rumsfeld has a small but storied history as an author.” That history would be the “Rumsfeld Rules” which then-White House Chief of Staff (under Gerald Ford) Donald Rumsfeld put into a handbook in 1974 for Washington, DC newcomers to read. Author? No. Compiler of control-freak rules? Yes. There are 153 Rumsfeld Rules under eight headings…from “Serving in the White House” to “On Life”. They were revised in 2001. I’ll give Rumsfeld this, the last one is pretty funny: On Life-No.32: If you develop rules, never have more than 10.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

LA Times Asks the Big Question About McCain

Is he physically fit to serve as president? If the public had known about the health problems of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, they might not have been elected president. But now, the public is told about the health issues of candidates and elected officials. Or, I should say, the public is told about some of their health issues. And that being the case, now that the LA Times has brought out the issue of McCain’s health, we are left wondering what aren’t we being told? The LA Times says one of McCain’s problems is that he looks so old. Yes, he’s 70, but all those broken bones in the past make him move more slowly and more stiffly than most 70-year-olds move. And the melanoma scarring on his face is ugly and Americans like pretty. So okay, now that we realize that John McCain looks wooden and old and it’s not his fault, it’s because he is a brave American who was tortured in Vietnam and who has battled cancer, what about his mind? Worry not. His mind is fine. The LA Times reports that McCain’s staff says, "The incarceration, the broken bones, the beatings and years of starvation have left little lasting damage." The Robert E. Mitchell Center for Prisoner of War Studies at the Naval Operational Medicine Institute in Pensacola, Fla. says McCain's medical records indicate McCain was in generally good health and did not suffer any psychological illness." Dr. Bob Hain, director of the study program, said McCain was examined almost every year until 1994, when he stopped returning to the voluntary program. "The people who were captured in the mid-'60s underwent very serious torture," Hain said. "The people who underwent that certainly have significant orthopedic problems as a result." But Hain added that the men generally remained in good physical and emotional health. "These people are very unusual, very gregarious, very outgoing as a majority," Hain said. "There are some people who have some problems. As far as I know, John McCain is not one of them." After a particularly brutal period of beatings, the LA Times says, “McCain attempted to take his life several times. And when his communist captors finally beat a political confession out of him, McCain was left an emotional wreck.” The LA Times story says that it’s true that McCain is vindictive and a hothead but those traits predate his Vietnam experiences. And it’s true, McCain used to suffer from despair. He used to shake a lot. McCain says he “kept imagining that they would release my confession to embarrass my father. All my pride was lost and I doubted I would ever stand up to any man again. Nothing could save me. No one would ever look upon me again with anything but pity or contempt." McCain says his outlook darkened considerably during his experience in Vietnam. Nevermind. The LA Times reports that’s all in the past because McCain has an "outgoing, gregarious, sunny personality." At the end of the article, there is a list of all the bones John McCain has broken, and the cancer surgeries he’s had. But one thing we are never likely to know is what medications John McCain is on, when he takes them and why. It’s a question that also has never been answered about Sunny George in the White House Insane Asylum.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How We Got Where We Are

The Think Progress site has an interesting report called “Where Are They Now?” It reminds us of the words used by the guys who got us into the war in Iraq. Think Progress also reminds us that the Bush administration has fired none of these warmongers and has rewarded many of them. The latest White House crony to foul his own nest (and a cushy little love nest it was) is Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank. He was appointed head of the World Bank in 2005 by George W. Bush. (Traditionally, World Bank presidents are from the United States because the US is its largest shareholder, while the International Monetary Fund heads are from European countries.) Today, reports say the White House has suggested it would be willing to replace Wolfowitz at the World Bank if he agrees to resign and if he doesn’t get fired. The World Bank is not likely to accept this solution. Officials at the bank didn’t want Wolfowitz as president in the first place and can’t wait to boot him out. An official at the World Bank says the White House solution isn’t likely to fly because Wolfowitz “was found guilty as charged of a whole slew of violations.” Wolfowitz, being Wolfowitz, is not saying he didn’t do the things he’s charged with doing. He’s saying that all the adverse news about his chicanery is bad for the World Bank and therefore he should be allowed to stay on as World Bank president. Following are a few choice words (via Think Progress) from some of the wonderful guys who gave us the war in Iraq: Paul Wolfowitz was a signer of the 1998 PNAC manifesto and a major planner of the war in Iraq. He was George W. Bush’s Deputy Secretary of Defense until Bush appointed him head of the World Bank. Wolfowitz said the U.S. would be greeted as liberators, that Iraqi oil money would pay for the reconstruction, and that Gen. Eric Shinseki’s estimate that several hundred thousand troops would be needed was “wildly off the mark.” Key Quote : “We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon (3/27/03).” As Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Douglas Feith was the brain behind two hush-hush groups at the Pentagon — the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group and the Office of Special Plans. These were the geniuses that invented the ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. Their job was to find evidence to back up Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld’s beliefs. Feith resigned from the Department of Defense. He is co-chairman of a project at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government to write an academic book on how to fight terrorism. His secretive groups at the Pentagon are under investigation. Key Quote: “I am not asserting to you that I know that the answer is — we did it right. What I am saying is it’s an extremely complex judgment to know whether the course that we chose with its pros and cons was more sensible.” Richard Perle was chairman of the Defense Policy Board and suggested Iraq had a hand in 9-11. In 1996, he authored “Clean Break,” a paper that was co-signed by Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, and others arguing for regime change in Iraq. Perle now says he never said Iraq was in on 9/11 and we should not have gone into Iraq. Key Quote: “And a year from now, I’ll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush. There is no doubt that, with the exception of a very small number of people close to a vicious regime, the people of Iraq have been liberated and they understand that they’ve been liberated. And it is getting easier every day for Iraqis to express that sense of liberation (9/22/03).” Eliot Abrams was an Iran/Contra Affair defendant. He pled guilty to withholding evidence from Congress. He was a Special Assistant to George W. Bush and Bush’s chief advisor during GWB’s first term. He is associated with the Plame Affair. Abrams was promoted to deputy national security adviser in February of 2005. Key Quote: “We recognize that military action in Iraq, if necessary, will have adverse humanitarian consequences. We have been planning over the last several months, across all relevant agencies, to limit any such consequences and provide relief quickly (2/25/03)." At the time of the war, David Wurmser was a special assistant to John Bolton in the State Department. He called for airstrikes against Iraq and Syria. He is believed to be a main author with Perle of “Clean Break”. Wurmser was promoted to Principal Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs. He is associated with the Plame Affair. Key Quote: “Syria, Iran, Iraq, the PLO and Sudan are playing a skillful game, but have consistently worked to undermine US interests and influence in the region for years, and certainly will continue to do so now, even if they momentarily, out of fear, seem more forthcoming.” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the war in Iraq would be short and swift. He said, “The Gulf War in the 1990s lasted five days on the ground. I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.” He also said, “It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.” Rumsfeld resigned November 8, 2006. Key Quote: “You go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” As National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice ignored two (probably more) CIA memos and a personal phone call from CIA Director George Tenet stating that the evidence behind Iraq’s supposed uranium acquisition was weak. She said the war in Iraq was necessary because “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” Rice was promoted to Secretary of State. Key Quote: “We did not know at the time — maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency — but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this (yellow cake document) might be a forgery. Of course it was information that was mistaken.” Vice President Dick Cheney claimed that Iraq might have had a role in 9/11. He claimed Saddam was “in fact reconstituting his nuclear program” and that the U.S. would be “greeted as liberators.” Key Quote: “I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency (6/20/05).” President George W. Bush built public support for his war by telling lies: Saddam had WMD, Saddam had ties to al Qaeda, Saddam had a nuclear weapons program. He then ordered an invasion of Iraq. Bush is in his second term and has a 28% approval rating. Key Quote: “Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud (10/7/02).” Another key quote from a neocon warmonger should be added. And that one is from presidential candidate, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), regarding the demise of the worst bigoted, trash-talking lying rightwing religious fanatic scumbag to have ever lived on this planet, Jerry Falwell: “Dr. Falwell was a man of distinguished accomplishment who devoted his life to serving his faith and country."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Richard Perle Again

Richard Perle in La-la-land. Neocon Iraq war architect, believer that rogue states (read, Iraq) must be confronted with pre-emptive action and former Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle told Vanity Fair writer David Rose in November, 2006 that the US shouldn’t have gone into Iraq. "I think if I had been delphic,” he told Rose, “and had seen where we are today, and people had said, 'Should we go into Iraq?' I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.” Today the New York Sun writer Nicholas Wapshott reported, “Richard Perle offered a withering assessment of the president's impotence at a meeting of the Hudson Institute in New York, saying American foreign policy is being applied by an out-of-control State Department.” Perle said that Bush had appointed people who are not allowing Bush to do what he wants to do. According to Richard Perle, Colin Powell didn’t allow Bush to do what he wanted to do, Rumsfeld kept Bush from doing what he wanted to do and Condi Rice is keeping Bush from doing what he wants to do. Bush is not “getting his own way” Perle says. This is because Bush was inexperienced when he came into office. "He came ill-equipped for the job and has failed to master it…I do not meet the president, but from the people I meet who are close to him and from his speeches, I believe the gap between the president and his administration is without precedent." Perle says Bush was weak in his response to Syria and “he (Bush) failed to convincingly condemn the visit of the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to Damascus because he had authorized some Republicans to talk to Assad.” What then, is it that Bush is being kept from doing? Being tough on Iran, for one thing. Perle said, “Mr. Bush is routinely frustrated by ‘establishment’ thinking within Washington and that the failure to respond to the president's “more radical thinking” has harmed American policy in Iraq.” Perle told Wapshott that the U.S. Army is not terribly well equipped to fight the insurgency in Iraq. He said, “The Defense Department is still planning an army to fight a Russian advance in Central Europe,“ adding, "we sent over the only Army we had (to Iraq) but the coalition should have handed the country over to the Iraqis in October 2003, when the insurgency began.” This is the man who planned the Iraq war with his neocon buddies and then profited from improper sweetheart deals with major munitions contractors while he was a government employee. And now he says we should have turned Iraq over to the Iraqis in 2003? However you look at it—whether Perle thinks he can reinvent himself and make it stick or whether he has lost his mind, the fact is, he has lost his mind.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Race for the Cure

We’ve got a Race for the Cure thing going on in Philadelphia. It’s a 5K run/walk/1-mile fun walk, the promotion blurbs say. It happens every Mothers Day. All the survivors of breast cancer are wearing pink. The reason for this event is to raise money to find a breast cancer cure. Wear pink, the promoters say. Wear pink all day. The event ads are written in soft pink…the color for girl babies. Stamp out breast cancer with your feet, the race slogans say. It may be a noble cause, but that slogan is the worst piece of PR crap since Brian Tierney came up with “Philadelphia is the place that loves you back” in 1997. And the cutesy pinkness is annoying and trivializing. Plus, let us face a fact, ladies and gentlemen. If a cure for breast cancer were really being sought, it would have been found a long time ago. A vaccination has been found. If given to young girls the vaccine will prevent cervical cancer. The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t like it. Forget the silly, bogus reason for the RCC giving a thumbs-down to the vaccine: it will promote teenage sex. THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH IS AGAINST PREVENTING CERVICAL CANCER IN WOMEN. But is the medical profession any more enlightened? Does the medical profession, which looks skuzzier all the time, really want to find a cure for cancer? No. If it did, it would. If a cure were found, look at all the people, organizations, hospitals and doctors who would be out of a job. That happens to be the bald, naked truth. But go ahead, ladies. Have your fund-raising events. I know it makes you feel better. And who can begrudge cancer survivors from feeling better and trying to be a force for good? But, for God’s sake, stop the simpering. Enough with the cuddly pink teddy bear baloney. Enough with that stupid slogan that puts in mind a boot stomping on a breast. You want to DO something? Reform the health care industry. Reform the pharmaceutical industry. Make doctors be doctors again, not flacks for drug companies. Lobby for the woman in the health industry to find a cure for cancer because you know in your hearts that men will not do it. Men run the health industry. So if you women want to look serious about your goal, act serious. Stop being passive/aggressive. Stop trying to unlock the coffers held by men by seeming to be nonthreatening and adorable. That strategy isn’t working. Threaten a little. And shitcan the pinky cute little me nonsense.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Billions in Oil Missing in Iraq

This morning the New York Times says, “Between 100,000 and 300,000 barrels a day of Iraq’s declared oil production over the past four years is unaccounted for and could have been siphoned off through corruption or smuggling, according to a draft American government report.” And then we get a comprehensive recital of the usual smuggling and siphoning suspects. The only suspects not on the usual suspects list are the Americans. And why would that be? Because the draft report which will be released next week was prepared by the United States Government Accountability Office, that’s why. However, the NYT says, “the report also contains the most comprehensive assessment yet of the billions of dollars the United States and Iraq spent on rebuilding the oil and electricity infrastructure, which is falling further and further behind its performance goals.” The report says the US has spent $5.1 billion of the $7.4 billion in American taxpayer money to rebuild the Iraqi electricity and oil sectors. Plus, the US has spent $3.8 billion of Iraqi money on electricity and oil sectors. “Despite those enormous expenditures, the performance is far short of official goals, and in some cases seems to be declining further. The average output of Iraq’s national electricity grid in 2006, for example, was 4,300 megawatts, about equal to its value before the 2003 invasion. By February of this year, the figure had fallen still further, to 3,800 megawatts, the report says.” The story is similar for the oil sector, the NYT says. “Even if the Iraqi numbers are correct — neither exports nor production have met American goals and have also declined since last year, the report says.” Let me be the first to suggest the obvious: that all those civilian contractors that Dick Cheney saw to it would be hired from Halliburton and its subsidiaries and who are oil industry super-mavens are siphoning off oil and smuggling it out of Iraq. Let me be the first to suggest that these private contractors are not smuggling the oil to the US but selling it anywhere they can and pocketing the dough. Let me be the first to suggest that all those mercenaries the State Department has hired from Blackwater, USA at $1000 a day to play soldier and to help in rebuilding Iraq who have not done jackshit about rebuilding Iraq are also smuggling oil out of Iraq for their own enrichment. The NYT says, “American reconstruction officials have continued to promote what they describe as successes in the rebuilding program, while saying that problems with security have prevented the program from achieving all of its goals. But federal oversight officials have frequently reported that the program has also suffered from inadequate oversight, poor contracting practices, graft, ineffective management and disastrous initial planning.” No fucking kidding! “The discrepancies in the Iraqi oil figures are broadly reminiscent of the ones that turned up when some of the same energy department experts examined Iraq’s oil infrastructure in the wake of the oil-for-food scandals of the Saddam Hussein era. In a United Nations-sponsored program that was supposed to trade Iraq’s oil for food, Mr. Hussein and other smugglers were handsomely profiting from the program, investigations determined.” Other smugglers? Who might they be? In 2002, the usual suspects were Syria, Jordan and Turkey, the NYT says, “and by ship in the Persian Gulf, routes that could also be available today, said Robert Ebel, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington…any number of adjacent countries would be glad to have it if they could make some money,” Mr. Ebel said. Right. With a little help from their Gulf War buddies in the US. “Mr. Ebel said the lack of modern metering equipment, or measuring devices, at Iraq’s wellheads made it especially difficult to track smuggling there. The State Department official agreed that there were no meters at the wellheads, but said that Iraq’s Oil Ministry had signed a contract with Shell Oil to study the possibility of putting in the meters.” Hahahahahahahaha! A contract with SHELL OIL to study “the possibility”? Hahahahahahahaha! Oh very good! “The official added that an American-financed project to install meters on Iraq’s main oil platform in the Persian Gulf was scheduled to be completed this month.” This month? Not back in 1991? Not back in 1998? Not in 2003 or 2004, or 2005, or 2006? Can one infer that Mr. State-Department-Official added, Oops!? “As sizable as a discrepancy of as much as 300,000 barrels a day would be in most parts of the world, some analysts said it could be expected in a country with such a long, ingrained history of corruption,” the NYT said. A country like the United States, you mean?

Friday, May 11, 2007

This is Rich!

As in, Richard Perle explains it all to you. Arch-fiend Richard Perle, well, at least arch-Iraq-war promoter and war-profiteer Richard Perle has an article in this morning’s Washington Post, “How the CIA Failed America”. I’ve read this thing three or four times and still am not sure why Perle wrote it. For sure, he wants to make it crystal clear that he did NOT say that Iraq was going to have pay dearly for 9/11, which George Tenet claims he said. Perle wrote, “I was surprised when, having been made aware of his error, Tenet reasserted his claim (that Perle said Iraq would have to pay a price for 9/11), saying: ‘So I may have been off on the day, but I'm not off on what he said and what he believed’.” Perle says he never ever said it. And for sure he wants to nail the CIA in general and former-head George Tenet in particular for negligence, stupidity and whatever else might be sitting in the kitchen sink. Perle says, “For years the American intelligence establishment has failed to show meticulous regard for the facts.” And, “Fatefully, the CIA failed to make our leaders aware of the rise of Islamist extremism and the immense danger it posed to the United States.” And, “But the greatest intelligence failure of the past two decades was the CIA's failure to understand and sound an alarm at the rise of jihadist fundamentalism.” Huh? Perle’s tagline: “George Tenet and, more important, our premier intelligence organization managed to find weapons of mass destruction that did not exist while failing to find links to terrorists that did -- all while missing completely the rise of Islamist fundamentalism. We have made only a down payment on the price of that failure.” What? The man has balls, that’s for sure. Richard Perle is an architect of the war in Iraq. He wanted to make war on Iraq since before 1998. One of the centerpieces of the Project for the New American Century manifesto that Perle signed in 1998 was: “we need to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values”. Iraq was seen as a regime hostile to our interests. No one was talking about the rise of fundamentalism in Iraq. It was all about the US showing its military strength and defending its economic interests in the Middle East. And Iraq was the weak nation that was perfect for the PNAC neocons' show of power. Richard Perle was named Assistant Secretary of Defense (under Donald Rumsfeld) for President Ronald Reagan (at which time he was dubbed The Prince of Darkness); he signed the PNAC preemptive strike statement; he was foreign-policy adviser for George W. Bush’s Presidential campaign; he accepted Rumsfeld’s offer in mid-2001 to chair the Defense Policy Board; he has been an outspoken backer and cheerleader for the war in Iraq. And now he’s claiming the war in Iraq was embarked on because of the rise of jihadism? How does that scan? The rise of terrorism in Iraq is a direct result of the war, not the other way around. And by the way, let’s take a wee glance at one of Mr. Perle’s less-than splendid moments in the last five years. The Defense Policy Board is one of those benign sounding organizations no one pays any attention to, until the realization dawns that the thirty members have access to classified information and give advice on policy and weapons procurement. The proceedings of the Defense Policy Board are secret and confidential When Perle was chairman of the Board of the Defense Policy Board, he was considered a special government employee and therefore was subject to the federal Code of Conduct. That meant he couldn’t take advantage of his position to gain financially in any way. In the March 17, 2003 issue of The New Yorker, Seymour M. Hersh wrote, “In January of this year, he (Adnan Khashoggi) arranged a private lunch, in France, to bring together Harb Saleh al-Zuhair, a Saudi industrialist whose family fortune includes extensive holdings in construction, electronics, and engineering companies throughout the Middle East, and Richard N. Perle, the chairman of the Defense Policy Board, who is one of the most outspoken and influential American advocates of war with Iraq. “The Defense Policy Board is a Defense Department advisory group composed primarily of highly respected former government officials, retired military officers, and academics. Its members, who serve without pay, include former national-security advisers, Secretaries of Defense, and heads of the C.I.A. The board meets several times a year at the Pentagon to review and assess the country’s strategic defense policies. “Perle is also a managing partner in a venture-capital company called Trireme Partners L.P., which was registered in November, 2001, in Delaware. Trireme’s main business, according to a two-page letter that one of its representatives sent to Khashoggi last November, is to invest in companies dealing in technology, goods, and services that are of value to homeland security and defense. “The letter argued that the fear of terrorism would increase the demand for such products in Europe and in countries like Saudi Arabia and Singapore. “The letter mentioned the firm’s government connections prominently: ‘Three of Trireme’s Management Group members currently advise the U.S. Secretary of Defense by serving on the U.S. Defense Policy Board, and one of Trireme’s principals, Richard Perle, is chairman of that Board.’” Perle was forced to step down as Chairman of the Board of the Defense Policy Board partly because of Hersh’s article, but he remained a member of the organization. And he has received huge profits from the war in Iraq. You can absolutely bet the rent that the Prince of Darkness did say 'Iraq has to pay a price for what happened on 9/11”. The events of September 11th fit in so perfectly with Perle’s plans to invade Iraq that he must have thought he’d died and gone to heaven when that disaster struck.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bush Stance Not Just Mad & Stupid, It’s Absurd

As John Edwards said Sunday on George Steph’s “This Week”, there is only one thing holding up the funding of the troops, and that is the President. The Dems are expected to send another bill this week offering to fund the troops through September. The other half of the funding will be dependent on the Iraqi government's progress toward meeting security goals. The Washington Post reported this morning that Dick Cheney said, ”a war funding bill should not contain conditions that limit either the flexibility of our commanders on the ground in Iraq or interferes with the president's constitutional prerogatives as commander-in-chief, which is the general principle that we've adhered to and it's one of the reasons the president vetoed the original bill.” That is to say, the Bush administration’s displeasure with the wording of the new bill and its threats to veto the bill have nothing to do with funding the troops. It’s about the president and vice president protecting their fascistic power base. Which is a fact we have always known. But it’s nice to hear Cheney tell the naked truth for once. US ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker was with Cheney at a news conference. Crocker said, “Our people need the tools to get the job done, and the tools in this case are money…we really need to get the money out here so we can start making a difference on the streets." Absurdity on absurdity. Getting half the funding money now would make it possible to immediately “make a difference on the streets” as Crocker so quaintly put it, IF that were the Bush administration’s goal, which it is not. Neither the GOP nor the Bush administration has the slightest interest in the troops, the Iraqi people or making a difference in Iraq. They simply want to defend their fiefdom. The increase in powers that the Congress granted to the President, the trampling on citizens’ rights and the trampling on the Constitution were gained only because of the war in Iraq. The GOP mavens reason that to now back down on anything involving the war would show a chink in the Bush administration armor and would lead the way to a mass defection of Republicans from their Party Apparently the GOP hasn’t looked at the Bush armor recently. It’s nonexistent except for the part covering the Prez’s ears.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Astronomers A-Twitter and Prophesying

The Washington Post reported this morning; “Astronomers have spotted a cataclysmic explosion that marked the death of a huge, distant star in a blast five times as bright and powerful as any they had seen previously. They said yesterday that a similar fate might be imminent for a star in Earth's galactic neighborhood.” So-called objective scientists loooooove scary stuff more than teenagers. Although one of the most unlikely scenarios is that a star in Earth’s nabe would blow up and cover Earth with deadly radiation, the astronomers are more excited than Homeland Security’s resident Chicken Little with stories about how the sky may fall. And yes…the sky may fall TOMORROW. The supernova (SN 2006gy) that blew up is 240 million light-years away. The astronomers are “a little excited about what might happen to the similarly enormous and unstable star closer to home”, WaPo says. A nearer star named Eta Carinae is only 7,500 light-years away. It’s in our Milky Way galaxy, the breathless astronomers said. It has similar features to SN 2006gy, and it could blow up any minute, and it’s been getting really unstable lately and if it blows up it might spew death rays all over planet Earth and who knows what would happen, and then, and then…. But it’s not likely. Mario Livio of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore said, "Discoveries don't get more exciting than this for a theorist.” And although Livio admitted that if Eta Carinae blows up it will most likely only be a terrific lightshow, he still suggested, “it could possibly spew dangerous radiation in Earth's direction…tomorrow.” Exploding supernovas generally cause a blackhole in space that sucks all surrounding matter into itself and from which nothing can escape, not even light. Astronomers have thought that exploding supernovas might also throw enormous amounts of matter into space, but the explosion of SN 2006gy is the first time they’ve seen it. First, I find it creepy that these astronomers are so attracted to and excited by their alternate reality scenarios that have very little chance of happening. Second, I find it more than creepy that they are advancing their unlikely theories with such adolescent panting and heavy breathing. We’ve got a blackhole in the White House. We’ve got a toxic Congress that spews deadly lies and misinformation into the atmosphere. That’s reality. And it’s frightening. We’ve got a so-called Homeland Security office that routinely sends out bogus alerts to take attention away from the Bush administration’s malfeasance and criminal activity. That’s reality. And it’s maddening. Astronomers who get their jollies from imagining cataclysmic events in outer space and then promote their fantasies as possibilities are not malevolent. They are just silly, little men. And that's annoying.

Monday, May 07, 2007

France’s New Prez, Nicholas Sarkozy

The New York Times said this morning: “(Sarkozy) has always been nakedly ambitious, pragmatic, calculating and not beyond betrayal to reach his goals…arrogant, brutal, an authoritarian demagoge, a "perfect Iago" of the most polarizing figures to move into Élysée Palace in the postwar era." What’s not to like? Oh, and he’s a George W. Bush supporter. Quelle surprise! According to the NYT, “(Sarkozy) is full of nervous energy, often rocking on his toes when not at the center of attention — a habit that sometimes makes him look taller than he is in photographs but otherwise draws attention to his small stature.” He’s the grandson of a Sephardic Jew who converted to Roman Catholicism. He’s 52 years old. In 1995, when Sarkozy was budget minister under Prime Minister Edouard Balladur, he betrayed his mentor Jacques Chirac and backed Balladur. Predictably, when Chirac won the presidency, Sarkozy was persona non grata in the new administration. But Sarkozy was a super politician who couldn’t be ignored and Chirac made him interior minister in 2002. "I want to give French people back the pride of being French”, Sarkozy said in his victory speech. He wants to reinvigorate ties with the United States and Europe, he said. He wants to change labor laws and embrace free-market policies like the United States, he said. President Bush called him shortly after his victory was announced and congratulated him, saying he “looks forward to working with president-elect Sarkozy as we continue our strong alliance.” Oh my! Kiss-kiss, slobber-slobber. How long can this romance last? George W. Bush may officially believe in long-term marriages, but Sarkozy doesn’t. His father was married three times and Sarkozy has been married twice. He and his current wife were estranged when she had a very public affair. They are now back together but rumors say he will live in the Élysée Palace alone. Can Nicholas Sarkozy remain faithful to George Bush? Who will betray whom first? The first clue may be in the Bush reference to continuing “our strong alliance” with France. There is no strong alliance with France.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

This I Love

In today’s New York Times Op/Ed piece (“Is Condi Hiding the Smoking Gun?”) Frank Rich catalogs the many Repubs pointing fingers of blame for the Iraq war. Then he says: “Satisfying though it is to watch a circular firing squad of the war’s enablers, unfinished business awaits… a tragedy of this scale demands a full accounting, not to mention a catharsis.” And who might give that accounting? Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, that’s who. “It’s now been nearly five years since Ms. Rice did her part to sell the Iraq war on a Sept. 8, 2002, Sunday show with her rendition of ‘we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,’” Rich says. And she should be held accountable under oath “before she too jumps ship.” Although, as Rich points out, it’s Colin Powell who “should summon the guts” to give a full accounting, but that’s not likely to happen. “Of all the top-tier policy players who were beside the president and vice president at the war’s creation, she (Condoleezza Rice) is the highest still in power and still on the taxpayers’ payroll,” Rich says. What a sight that would be! Condi Rice, after all, is the one the White House sent to all the talk shows last Sunday to defend the war in Iraq and to retell all the old lies. Let Condi Rice be the one to tell-all under oath--old tight-lipped, clench-haired, brittle-voiced, mean-faced, toadying, sycophantic, brown-nosing twit-twat Condi. Let’s hear how it all came to pass, Condi. Who is more of an insider’s insider than Condoleezza Rice who became Secretary of State (fourth in line to become President if the president dies) because she was George Bush’s nanny when he needed a baby-sitter to remind him he is the Great I-Am. Let’s get the truth from the Great I-Am’s confidante. I want to hear the word, the real story, the ratfuck rat-out to end all rat-outs from Ms Mushroom Cloud, and under oath. As Rich says, “As long as American troops are dying in Iraq, the secretary of state has an obligation to answer questions about how they got there and why they stay. If accountability is ever to begin, it would be best if those questions are answered not on ‘60 Minutes’ but under oath.” Put another way, Condi, you may as well glean some measure of respect for letting the truth be heard, because you’re done in politics. However, DC’s Ms Palfrey might be able to use a good piano player.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Cinco de Mayo

May 5th, 1862 is the day an army of rag-tag Mexican soldiers defeated Napoleon III’s well-dressed, well-trained, well-fed army in Puebla, Mexico. The French army hadn’t been defeated in 50 years. Napoleon was so sure he would be victorious that he brought Hapsburg Prince Maximilian and his wife, Carolota with him so they could rule Mexico after the battle. But when the dust settled, the Mexicans had humiliated Napoleon. They defeated his army, which was twice the size of the Mexican army. The battle had ramifications for the United States too. The Mexican horsemen kept Napoleon’s army from getting supplies to the rebels who were fighting America’s Civil War, which gave the North the opportunity to build a huge army and eventually win the Civil War. Union General Sheridan gave weapons and ammunition to the Mexicans and even discharged American soldiers from the Union army if they agreed to join the Mexican Army and help rout out the French from Mexico. In a gesture of thanks, thousands of Mexicans crossed into the United States when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and joined the US Army. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. That date was September 16, 1810. But Cinco de Mayo is a very important date for both Mexico and the United States. ¡Viva Cinco de Mayo!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

It Doesn’t Matter

Now that the Prez has stamped his little foot in a fit of pique and vetoed the first Iraq spending bill, legislators are looking for ways to draft a second bill that would meet with White House approval. The Washington Post reported this morning, “House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) indicated that the next bill will include benchmarks for Iraq -- such as passing a law to share oil revenue, quelling religious violence and disarming sectarian militias -- to keep its government on course. Failure to meet benchmarks could cost Baghdad billions of dollars in nonmilitary aid, and the administration would be required to report to Congress every 30 days on the military and political situation in Iraq.” All that bullshit about benchmarks and requiring Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government in Iraq to do this that and the other is window dressing. It allows Bush to say he stuck by his guns and now he will fund the troops. But changing the language in the proposed bill has no meaning in the real world. In September, General Petraeus is going to take a look at the progress made by Maliki, which is negatory, and he will say the latest strategy is not working. It must be in our hardwiring, this business of telling lies to justify horrendous mistakes. How many marriages have taken place when either the bride or the groom or both have already realized it was a mistake? But so much money had been spent, and the church had been booked, and the hall had been hired and the dresses had been bought. Look at all the Popes who have ratified nonsense in the Roman Catholic Church canons in order to claim Popes are never wrong when everyone in the world knows Popes are almost never right. Although Reverend Al Sharpton has done everything he can to rehabilitate his image, to this day he has never apologized or admitted he told monstrous lies in the Tawana Brawley case 20 years ago. Brawley was a 15-year-old black girl who claimed she was raped and smeared with feces by six white men. Her false claims were supported by Sharpton even after they were proven to be lies by a grand jury. Sharpton and Brawley’s attorneys Alton H. Maddox and C. Vernon Mason were sued for slander and had to pay $345,000 in damages. There are those who claim New Jersey Governor James McGreevey made the choice to come out as a gay man and resign as Governor rather than face up to charges of malfeasance and corruption in his administration. Now that McGreevey has just renounced Roman Catholicism and embraced the Episcopal Church and will shortly enter General Seminary to become a priest, I favor the view that he is gay and corrupt and therefore perfectly suited to his new vocation. However, I digress. George W. Bush and his cronies really do not believe their war in Iraq is a righteous war. But they would rather continue to kill thousands of people than admit they are and have been wrong from the gitgo. This ridiculous charade that is taking place in Congress is of no consequence. It doesn’t matter how the terms of the bill are couched. The troops will start to be withdrawn in October. Bush will leave office disgraced. And a host of Republicans will be voted out of office in 2008.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I Like George Tenet; I Also Like Bruce Cutler

George Tenet was the CIA’s head spook when the Bush administration illegally attacked Iraq. Bruce Cutler has been called a Mafia lawyer and he is defending pop music producer and weirdo Phil Spector in his murder trial. I believe both men have a personal code of honor. I like them. Last night, CNN’s political consultant David Gergen called Tenet “a decent man”. So what? You may say. So nothing. Except that we all act on instinct and hunches. We may not realize it but we smell fear in others, we sense danger before anything actually happens. We have a pack mentality, we stick with our own kind and defend our clan against interlopers and defectors. We scare easily and we are paranoid. None of us is far out of the trees. If I had to trust George Tenet or Bruce Cutler with my life, I would. And I would rather eat worms than be in the same room with George Bush, Dick Cheney, John McCain or Joe Lieberman. What makes us trust one man and not another man? I don’t know. Gut reaction, I guess.