Monday, July 30, 2007

The Mob Considers Canning Its Consigliere

The Mob has lined up its goombata to go on the record and support the Family’s Consigliere. But everyone knows the Family has decided to kick the suit to the curb. Even so, that’s not an easy thing to do. Short of whacking the slimy and incompetent gavonne, how do you fire the guy who knows where all the bodies are buried? If watching Capo Orrin Hatch yesterday on George Steph’s Sunday morning show is any indication, the Mob in the White House has instructed its soldiers to praise Alberto Gonzales to the skies, then they are gong to sell him out to the Democrats and they will let the Dems do the dirty work. Senator Hatch (R-UT) sounded like a veritable Bruce Cutler on Steph’s “This Week” yesterday. I love John Gotti’s mouthpiece Bruce Cutler, but he’s charming and smart when being evasive and slick, not irritating and shifty like Hatch. Hatch kept asking where the “evidence” was against Alberto Gonzales. Of course, when Hatch kept yammering about there being no evidence, he didn’t venture from the topic of Gonzales having fired nine U.S. attorneys in 2006. This morning, the Washington Post helpfully chronicled the damning evidence against Gonzales in a news story titled “Gonzales's Truthfulness Long Disputed” (and subtitled “Claims of Misstatements to Shield Bush Stretch Back a Decade”). Gonzales owes his entire career to George W. Bush. Shielding GWB dates back to Gonzales’s tenure in Texas as general counsel, secretary of state, judge on the Supreme Court and good buddy to GWB. The WaPo article quoted Bill Minutaglio, a University of Texas journalism professor and author of biographies of Gonzales and Bush. Minutaglio said Gonzales had kept a low profile in Texas and ‘had little practice before he came to Washington at responding publicly to stiff scrutiny’ and that ‘it’s beyond anything he had ever experienced in his life. He was ill prepared for it.’” The WaPo article goes on to say: “Democrats and some experts on the use of language say that Gonzales's gaffes are too numerous and consistent to be chalked up to misunderstandings...his answers, or his refusals to answer, have served to obscure events that would be damaging to the administration, Gonzales or Bush. One example involves the Terrorist Surveillance Program...Gonzales has testified repeatedly that there was never 'serious disagreement' among administration officials about the program and that an unusual visit by Gonzales to the hospital bed of then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft was focused on 'other intelligence activities'...Others privy to details of the surveillance activities -- including several lawmakers and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller -- have suggested that they were all part of a single NSA program. Gonzales's critics say his distinction was a lawyerly one that stretched the bounds of the truth.” More quotes from WaPo: "He's a slippery fellow, and I think so intentionally," said Richard L. Schott, a professor at the University of Texas's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. "He's trying to keep the president's secrets and to be a team player, even if it means prevaricating or forgetting convenient things.” “Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) told Gonzales at the (Senate) hearing (in April) that much of his testimony was ‘a stretch’. and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said he was ‘taken aback’ by Gonzales's memory lapses. Last week, Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), the Judiciary Committee's senior Republican, warned Gonzales to review his remarks, saying: ‘I do not find your testimony credible, candidly.’ “Stephen Gillers, a professor of legal ethics at the New York University School of Law, said that Gonzales's strengths "may lie elsewhere, but they are not in management." Oh yeah...the administration is going to get rid of Gonzales. But how? A fatal accident would look really bad and that option has probably been taken off the table...for now. I see Gonzales resigning, being given a Medal of Freedom and being pardoned for all past and future peccadilloes, misdemeanors and felonies instead of going to trial and being convicted. Then he has a fatal accident.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


An article in the Washington Post today (“Waiting For His Bus to Come In” by Sridhar Pappu) describes Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) campaign as “sickly, weak, feeble, pick your choice”. Which, of course, is exactly what the onetime Republican front-runner’s campaign for the presidency has become. But that is not what the article is about. Pappu’s article is about John McCain’s self-devised, self-help, one-man, ego-rehabilitation therapy program. Through Pappu’s eyes, we see McCain going back to the site of his greatest triumph, New Hampshire, where he won the primary over George W. Bush seven years ago. “It was here”, Pappu says, “where Mr. Straight Talk Express shook hands with everyone and won over the press. It was here where he was happy.” Now, without campaign advisers, entourage, or dough because McCain’s great ego caused him to make faux pas after faux pas and doomed any hopes his supporters had for a McCain candidacy, the erstwhile Republican shoo-in is on his own. He’s just a little guy going from one small gathering to an even smaller gathering of hardcore groupies and he’s glorying in the approval and in his memories. McCain tells terrible jokes and he shmoozes. But there is no campaign. There is only a 70-year-old has-been soldier, has-been Senator, has-been candidate, has-been pooh-bah who is healing his wounds the only way he knows how. Is it sad? Is it poignant? Is it depressing? Is it embarrassing to read about John McCain booking himself into Rotary Clubs and any hall that will have him just to feed his addiction for applause and approval? No. McCain is a pragmatic man. He is doing what he has to do to live with himself, and to go on living at all. McCain is dealing with that period of time between death—in this case, the death of his hopes—and the acceptance of death. McCain’s campaign and McCain himself are sickly, weak and feeble. He has simply gone on a cross-country tour to feel like a man again. You do what you gotta do. But McCain is irrelevant. Right now, he’s dealing with the death of his hopes. Should John McCain ever try to come to grips with being irrelevant, it will require a cadre of mental health professionals being on-call 24-7.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

More Lies About Progress in Iraq

Stuart W. Bowen Jr., who is head of the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, released a new report yesterday. The conclusions detailed in Bowen’s report found that of 2,797 so-called completed projects in Iraq, (costing $5.8 billion) only 435 of them (costing $501 million) were in a condition to be handed over to the Iraqis. The remainder of the 2,362 projects, which had cost US taxpayers $5.2 billion were crumbling, inoperative and had been abandoned. The New York Times reported this morning, “The United States often promotes the number of rebuilding projects, like power plants and hospitals, that have been completed in Iraq, citing them as signs of progress in a nation otherwise fraught with violence and political stalemate. But closer examination by the inspector general’s office, headed by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., has found that a number of individual projects are crumbling, abandoned or otherwise inoperative only months after the United States declared that they had been successfully completed.” Rick Barton, co-director of the post-conflict reconstruction project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a research institute in Washington was quoted in the NYT article, saying, “the lack of interest on the part of the Iraqis was the latest demonstration that they were not involved enough in its planning stages.” Barton’s remark and the title of the NYT article, “As US Rebuilds, Iraq Won’t Act on Finished Work” are misleading. The lede paragraph of the article is misleading as well: “Iraq’s national government is refusing to take possession of thousands of American-financed reconstruction projects, forcing the United States either to hand them over to local Iraqis, who often lack the proper training and resources to keep the projects running, or commit new money to an effort that has already consumed billions of taxpayer dollars.” That is hardly the problem. Many of the projects are either in no shape to be handed over in the first place, or they are handed over to Iraqis with no instructions from the builders as to how to operate them. The NYT said, “In one of the most recent cases, a $90 million project to overhaul two giant turbines at the Dora power plant in Baghdad failed after completion because employees at the plant did not know how to operate the turbines properly and the wrong fuel was used...Because the Iraqi government will not formally accept projects like the refurbished turbines, the United States is ‘finding someone at the local level to handle the project, handing them the keys and saying, “Operate and maintain it,”’ another official in the inspector general’s office said.” The actual truth of the matter is that Vice President Dick Cheney’s company, Halliburton (and its subsidiaries), and Blackwater, USA have made a fortune SUPPOSEDLY rebuilding Iraq. But in fact, the rebuilding has never occurred or the construction work has been so shoddy that the buildings could not be used. PLUS, Blackwater, USA, which is the company that provided much of the manpower for the reconstruction work, switched their employees (who are first and foremost mercenaries not builders) over to fighting the war instead of rebuilding Iraq. And since the Iraq government and the Bush administration have fallen out of love, the Iraq government is being blamed for not operating projects that were not built at all, were inoperable, or were handed over with no instructions or Read-Mes. Sounds all too much like most of our experience with computers and computer programs, but we’re talking about life, death and billions of dollars in Iraq, not machines. I suspect that telling the truth has become an actionable offense in the Bush administration. That is the only thing that would explain why everyone, from the lowest of the low toady to cabinet heads are lying every time they utter a simple declarative sentence.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Heart of the Matter

Yesterday, by a vote of 399 to 24, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution that would limit federal spending “to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq or to exercise United States economic control of the oil resources of Iraq.” So take that, William Kristol and all you little Kristols who signed the PNAC (Project for the New American Century) manifesto and who have conspired since 1997 to control Middle East oil and to put US military bases in Iraq. Because that’s what the war in Iraq has ALWAYS been about. What a miserable flop the neocons’ warring aggression has been. The Bush administration has killed 3640 US soldiers, started a civil war it cannot win or end in Iraq, fomented terrorism where no terrorism existed before, effectively bankrupted the United States until our children’s children are old and grey, ruined the US reputation around the world and for what? Well, the US was supposed to overrun and conquer Iraq first, and then Iran, and with the help of Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia—the Bush family’s great pal, whose countrymen were responsible for bombing the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001—the US was supposed to put military bases in Iraq to control the Middle East and its oil und morgen die Welt. The New York Times reported “House Republicans offered little resistance, saying the plan essentially reflected current law and Bush administration policy. But they criticized Democrats for what they said was meaningless legislation since the administration had not called for permanent bases.” The Bush administration had not called for permanent bases because that is what it had planned for and was in the process of accomplishing without calling for permanent bases.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

One of Four Things Has To Happen

Option 1) The Prez changes his mind (all on his own) about the way he has been running things in Iraq and about other major Bush administration policies. Option 2) The Republicans in the House and Senate show the Prez the wisdom of changing his mind on Iraq and other Bush administration policies. Option 3) The House and Senate override the president’s vetoes. Or what? Or, the Repubs get voted out of office for the foreseeable future. Option One is doomed. The Prez is not going to change his mind. And that is because George W. Bush does not see himself as a political figure. But rather, he sees himself as God’s stand-in for Him who punishes evil and rewards good. George Bush, as God, can’t change his mind. Option Two is doomed unless the Republicans in the House and Senate suddenly locate their balls, which is not likely. They are not going to teach the president rudimentary lessons of etiquette, let alone show him the error of his ways since 2001. So, Option Three is the only recourse. The House and Senate have to override the president’s vetoes. And that means each chamber of Congress votes on a bill vetoed by the President and passes it by a two-thirds vote over the President’s objections. Hmmm...Option Three seems a little iffy. Oh well...guess the Repubs are going to get voted out of office for the foreseeable future. Oh...there is Option Four. The Prez could be committed to a real insane asylum. I don’t think that has ever been done in US history. I like Option Four ALOT...just because.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Who Can Say What and Not

Yesterday, a friend and I were having lunch at a sushi restaurant in Center City, Philadelphia. The conversation got around to the murder rate in Philadelphia. In the wee hours on Sunday, five more people were murdered. That brings our total for 2007 up to 232. My friend said, “Of course, we’re not supposed to say this, but if guns were taken away from young black men, we wouldn’t have the highest violent-crime rate in the nation.” I agreed. And I also agreed, we couldn’t say it because we would be called racist. But last night, on CBS News, Philadelphia’s Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson, who is black, answered Byron Pitts question, “Is it an urban problem or is it a black problem?” by saying, "I can only speak for Philadelphia — and Philadelphia is definitely a black problem because of the 85 percent of the people being killed, close to 80 percent are African-American males.” Commissioner Sylvester Johnson could say it. And he did. Backtracking on Johnson’s math, he said that 85% of the people killed are non-whites: that is 198. And of that 85%, 80% are African-American males. That comes to the whopping figure of 158 out of 233 people killed in Philadelphia between January 1 and July 23, 2007 were black males. Another statistic is that since 2001, Philadelphia has had 10,000 shooting victims. Most of the gunmen are under age 25, and most of the murders have occurred in predominantly black North Philadelphia where the unemployment and school dropout rates are the highest in Philadelphia. The headline on the CBS News story about Philadelphia’s murder rate was: “Philadelphia: City Under Siege”. I live in an area of South Philadelphia that is just south of Center City. And that headline is blatantly sensational. The people in this part of town only feel under siege by the Republican Party. However, the black community in North Philadelphia is most definitely under siege. And that is one of Philadelphia’s biggest problems and it’s certainly not racist to say so. In any culture, when a group is failing by all the standards set by the community as a whole, then it is that community’s fault. But seeing the problem and confessing to culpability does not make it easier to solve the problem. I certainly have no answers. But I suspect the problem is going to have to be solved by the people who are affected most by the problem, which is the black community in North Philadelphia. How? I don’t know. And that’s the worst part of living in a city with the highest violent crime rate in the United States. We can point to where the problem is occurring and we can point to all the circumstances that are causing it and we can cluck our tongues. But we don’t have the foggiest notion what to do about the problem.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

How Stupid Do They Think We Are?

The “they” being whoever is trying to sell “us” a bill of goods. And the “bill of goods” is everything from the so-called wisdom of doctors to the war in Iraq. Doctors rely on actuarial tables and bullshit fed to them by pharmaceutical companies. The people who graduate from the most highly rated med schools predominately are over-achievers with serious personality defects who believe everyone is stupid, so why should we believe them? We believe them because we’ve been told to believe them. And doctors have the upper hand. It is amazing how much crap we are inundated with daily from everything everywhere. And all those purveyors of crap think we are going to believe it because we are stupid and they have the upper hand. Believing that he who makes the most noise is superior is probably in our hardwiring. It’s certainly true in the animal world. Priests and preachers are the biggest purveyors of crap. They’ve got the upper hand because they say their load of baloney comes straight from God. The Republican Party says they get their high-grade bullshit straight from preachers who get their crap straight from God. Mega-buck corporations get their bunkum straight from the Republican Party who got the garbage straight from preachers who got the crap straight from God. And doctors are only four degrees from God because they got their crap from schools supported by mega corporations who got their crap from the Republican Party that has kissed the ass of preachers who got their crap straight from God. But the myth-factories are starting to crumble. And it’s mainly because information is available. Since the beginning of time, there have been people who said they had information that the masses could not acquire except through middle-men. Turns out, that is the biggest load of crap of all. And I won’t pretend this is not a scary time. It’s a scary time. No longer can we say we have to rely on people who are empowered because they have the info. We all have the info. We can get at it and we can make our own decisions. Now the people who have always said they are our masters and have the upper hand are just worker bees. It’s up to us, guys. We are not beholden to the few anymore. The information is available. We do not have to depend on wisdom wizards who claim they can turn lead into gold, defeat into victory, disease into different disease called health and lies into truth. They’re selling a load of crap. We may be lazy but we are not stupid.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Here’s the Thing

No matter what deadline dates the Bush administration sets for itself regarding the war in Iraq, the dates will be pushed ahead, fudged and lied about ad infinitum. The criteria used for progress or success in Iraq will be lowered and changed ad infinitum. The definition of Al Qaeda, where it is and how effective it is will be changed according to the whim of the Bush administration ad infinitum. The standard used to gauge the effectiveness of the insurgents against US troops will be changed according to the Bush administration’s latest lies about the war in Iraq ad infinitum And the Bush administration will change and invent reasons why we attacked Iraq ad infinitum. It’s Lucy in the Peanuts cartoon. Lucy always pulled away the football just as Charlie Brown was going to kick it. That was Lucy’s unchanging and unchangeable modus operandi. And lying is the Bush administration's unchanging and unchangeable way of conducting itself. The only things we know for certain about the war in Iraq is that the Bush administration will lie. And we know 3,630 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq for no reason. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the cost of the war in Iraq is $8 to $10 billion a month. The CBO estimated the costs of the surge would be from $9 billion to $13 billion for a four-month deployment and from $20 billion to $27 billion for a 12-month deployment, The surge has not worked. The surge cannot work because the US soldiers and the ragtag Iraqi soldiers are fighting a civil war in Iraq. The New York Times reported this morning: “Ambassador Crocker cautioned the lawmakers that the series of 18 benchmarks set by Congress to define his assessment due Sept. 15 might not be the best measures of success in Iraq. And he strongly hinted that those specific goals may not be reached by the September deadline, anyway.” This kind of lying bullshit from the Bush administration will go on forever until US voters demand that it stop.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Vote May Fail, But NEVERTHELESS...

The Dems are doing what they should have been doing all the way along. And that is, they are forcing a vote in the Senate on the Iraq war. And they should keep forcing votes in the Senate over and over and over. A sorry clot of Republicans who have broken with the Prez on his conduct of the war in Iraq, refused yesterday to back a plan to withdraw American troops from Iraq. Two Republicans who have been very vociferous in their criticism of the president’s Iraq policy, Richard G. Lugar (R-IN) and Pete V. Domenici (R-NM), said they would oppose the Democratic plan. As Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) said, “Many of these senators have been back home telling their constituents they’ve given up on the president’s policy in Iraq...well, the question is, will they have the courage now to vote with those who want real change?” Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who is a leading sponsor of the Democratic plan said, “It is on the right is moving in the right direction and it is a very significant change.” But Alexander said he would not support the Dem’s withdrawal proposal. The American people need to see this. They need to see that the Republicans who are voicing their disapproval of the Bush administration’s conduct of its war in Iraq, do not have the balls to show that they have broken with Bush’s policies and that they want change. “You wonder if they are more interested in politics than dealing with the substance of this,” Senator George V. Voinovich, (R-OH) said. Speaking about the fact that the Democrats used the same tactics (such as not allowing a simple majority vote) when they were the minority party as the Republicans are using now, the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said, “It doesn’t pass the smell test.” Oh my! McCain is surely the wrong person to use that particular metaphor. His whole presidential campaign has not passed the smell test. He has lied, he has kissed the asses of the very people who slandered him in his first presidential campaign, he has made inflammatory pro-Bush statements, he has condoned malfeasance in the Bush administration, and he has flip-flopped on important issues. Now his campaign is bankrupt and he will probably have to pull out of the race, all because his campaign stinks to high heaven. If anything doesn’t pass the smell test, it is Republicans who are willing to talk the talk but who won’t walk the walk in favor of measures to end the calamitous war in Iraq.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Steve Lopez Nails LA’s Archdiocese

Steve Lopez writes a column for the LA Times called “Points West”. I remember Lopez from his 12 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer in the ‘80’s and 90’s where he nailed everything from the sewer system to drug dealing. Back then, he won the H.L. Mencken Writing Award, the Ernie Pyle Award for human-interest writing and a National Headliner Award for column writing. Steve Lopez can be hilariously funny and he always gets to the heart of the matter. But today, there was nothing funny about Lopez’s comments on LA’s Cardinal Roger M. Mahony. Lopez was simply on target. He wrote: “Roger the Dodger has already admitted — albeit without much detail — that he left five priests in the ministry despite complaints of molestation. And my newspaper has counted 11 other cases in which priests stayed on the job despite parishioners' concerns about inappropriate behavior with children. “Although the settlement agreement requires the archdiocese to turn over internal documents to a judge who will decide which ones go public, Mahony said he still considers some files "privileged" under the law. Prosecutors and victim attorneys, who have fought for years to get the good cardinal to come clean, don't necessarily agree.” It would be interesting to me to know who is taking lessons from whom. Does the Bush administration mentor the Roman Catholic Church, or does the RCC take notes on malfeasance, stonewalling and lying from the Bush administration? Or is it just a case of two corrupt and crumbling organizations coincidentally using the same tactics at the same time to save their high-placed officials from receiving the punishment they deserve? Lopez says Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley described Mahony's surrender of documents as "giving with one hand and taking away with the other." Lopez went on to say, “The archdiocese has spent untold millions on PR and legal fees, on top of the huge settlements. ‘Where does that money come from?’ asked Richard Sipe, a former priest and an expert witness on church scandal and clergy abuse. ‘That comes from parishioners, and they have a right to know.’ It comes from the hardworking employees of the archdiocese, as well.” Lopez quoted a June 18th memo he had in his possession from top administrators to department heads informing them "lay staff will receive no raises this year because of the seriousness of the financial crisis the archdiocese is facing due to the impending settlements.” Lopez had a few suggestions for the cardinal: “Perhaps the church could have avoided squeezing the staff — as well as the sale of property — if it hadn't spent a fortune on spin and legal fees over the last several years. But as I said, this was never about money. It was about protecting Mahony's image. ‘I didn't know what to do next,' Mahony said at a news conference this past weekend. ‘Everything I did, someone thought was wrong. When you're empty, the only way up is God.’ Still don't know what to do next, cardinal? Tell the truth, and all of it. Protect children, not criminals, and certainly not yourself. And if you still have to ask, maybe it's time to step down.” As I say, it’s hard to tell the Bush administration from the RC Church. But the idea that officials from either group might step down or tell the truth is impossible to imagine.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Why is Bush Prolonging the War in Iraq?

When pondering complex issues, the simplest motives, reasons, solutions or explanations usually turn out to be at the center of the matter. Although George W. Bush has given every indication that he is insane, is mentally challenged, is delusional, is narcissistic, is paranoid and that he believes God appointed him and him alone to eradicate evil from the world by whatever means may be necessary. Still, those flaws in the president’s hardwiring do not answer the question: Why is the president prolonging the war in Iraq? This morning, Frank Rich answered that question in his New York Times Op/Ed article. “This president is never one to let facts get in the way of a political agenda. That agenda is to avoid taking responsibility for losing a war, no matter how many more Americans are tossed into its carnage.” The Bush administration’s rationale for attacking Iraq has been a work in progress since the day the Prez announced his intention to “disarm Iraq”. Fighting terrorism is only the latest justification. And it’s “hooey, of course,” Rich notes. “Not only did Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia not exist before we invaded Iraq in 2003, but it isn't even the chief organizer of the war's mayhem today. ABC News reported this month that this group may be responsible for no more than 15 percent of the attacks in Iraq. Bob Woodward wrote in The Washington Post on Thursday that Michael Hayden, the C.I.A. director, told Mr. Bush last November that Al Qaeda was only the fifth most pressing threat in Iraq, after the insurgency, sectarian strife, criminality and general anarchy.” Protecting the United States from terrorist attacks is of no importance whatsoever to George W. Bush. If it were, Rich says, the Bush administration would be concentrating on the Al Qaeda havens in Pakistan and North Africa which actually do represent a threat to the US. Al Qaeda in Iraq and Al Qaeda being responsible for 9/11 are non-issues. And yet, Rich points out, there has been a “sudden uptick in references to Al Qaeda in the president's speeches about Iraq — 27 in a single speech on June 28 — and an equal decline in references to the Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence at the heart of the Iraqi civil war America is powerless to stop. Even more incriminating was Mr. Landay’s (McClatchy newspapers’ Jonathan Landay) discovery that the military was following Mr. Bush's script verbatim. There were 33 citations of Al Qaeda in a single week's worth of military news releases in late June, up from only 9 such mentions in May...From here on in, you can be sure that whomever we're fighting in Iraq on any given day will be no more than one degree of separation from bin Laden,” And the Bush script is, of course, bullshit. George Bush has one interest, and that is to prolong the war until he’s out of office. And the Republicans in Congress, who have based their careers on backing the Bush administration’s plan to take over the Middle East, have only one interest. And that is to make it seem as though the US has good reasons for having attacked Iraq and for staying in Iraq, in order that they may keep their jobs. And what about the 3613 American soldiers who have died for this bogus war? The president and the GOP have as little concern for our troops as they have for the millions of children from low-income families who have been given medical help through the Children's Health Insurance Program. The program will expire this year and President Bush plans to veto any renewal because it will cost too much money,

Friday, July 13, 2007

Good Grief! Bush is the Queen in Snow White

Yesterday, at a morning news conference, the Prez said he wanted to be loved. "I guess I'm like any other political figure,” he said. “Everybody wants to be loved.” Then he said he wants to look in the mirror and know he’s the fairest of them he’s done the right thing.” Yesterday’s sequence of events was bizarre. First, the Prez said we can “succeed in Iraq and we must”. Then he had a public private moment. The man who has fine-tuned the meaning of malfeasance in public office by lying every time he opens his mouth, by his criminal behavior and by his grand delusions said that after all he’s like everyone else and he just wants to be loved and to be able to look himself in the eye. Then the Prez proceeded to rail at the people in Congress who make our laws. Hr said Congress should butt out of any considerations on the war in Iraq. “I don’t think Congress ought to be running the war...I think they ought to be funding the troops,” the president said. And he amplified his statement that Congress has no business intruding its views on George W. Bush’s war by saying that Congress making war policy is a bad precedent for the future. "I'll listen to Congress,” he said, “but the idea of telling our military how to conduct operations, for example, or how to deal with troop strength, I don't think it makes sense . . . nor do I think it's a good precedent for the future.” A few hours later the House of Representatives voted 223-to 201 to require that the United States withdraw most combat troops from Iraq by April 1. So take that, President Putz. And of course, even if the House requirement passes in the Senate, which would be a miracle, the Prez has vowed to veto it. Last night on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo articulated a cogent prediction of the ultimate outcome of the president’s childish, stubborn and fanciful stance on the war in Iraq. Cuomo said, “I think you're not going to be able to resolve this as long as you don't have the president on your side, for this reason: Let's assume you've got 100 percent of the Congress, literally 100 percent -- all the Democrats and all the Republicans voting, Mr. President, our boys and our girls, our women and men are dying, you know? “He could still say, I'm the commander-in-chief. You can't tell me -- not even 100 percent of the Congress can tell me how to fight the war. “Then you go to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court says this is a political question and sends it back. “And so, in the end, you can't resolve it unless the president is with you. And I think the president will be with the Democrats because, as Senator (former Senator George Mitchell, D-ME) Mitchell has pointed out, he's losing Republicans. In the end, his terrible legacy is going to be capped with how he brought down the Republican Party.” Later on, Cuomo said the Democrats have made it hard on themselves by promising to get US soldiers out of Iraq when they only had 50 votes in Senate, knowing they needed 60 votes in the Senate. “They didn't have to say that. They could have said we're going to get our soldiers out of harm's way. That would have allowed for the Murtha type of situation (leaving some US soldiers in Iraq), where it's going to wind up anyway. So, we made it very hard on ourselves. We won by saying we're going to get them out. And I said before, you can't get them out, even if you got everybody, unless you get the president. And you will get the president because you're winning away Republicans and that will change the president's mind.” Which was a very generous thing for Cuomo to say about the President. Bush doesn’t really have a “mind”, as one thinks of the meaning of the word-- the seat of the faculty of reason. Bush has a set of preconceived prejudices. And of course, they will not be changed. But, as Cuomo suggests, the president’s rhetoric will change because the Republicans who make decisions for the little fascist will decide to pull most of our troops out of Iraq. And that will be that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

No Good News for the Prez or the GOP

Washington Post Headlines this morning: Top Aides Leave McCain Camp In GOP, Growing Friction On Iraq Gonzales Knew About Violations, Officials Say But is the Commander of the White House Insane Asylum worried? Not a bit of it. He’s running around the country cheerleading the war in Iraq. Yesterday, the Prez said, “We can accomplish this fight and win in Iraq.” How? He didn’t say. Although the Prez did say he wants Congress to wait until September to make any decisions. That’s when General Petraeus will hand down his assessment of the current strategy in Iraq. And exactly what will happen on that momentous day? The president didn’t say. He suggested that the US might change its strategy “in a while.” Bush addressed a handpcked friendly audience in Cleveland. He said, "They (the Iraqis) know we're kindhearted, decent people who value human life, and they understand that Americans will recoil from the violence on our TV screens...And I know, or I strongly believe, that if we recoil and leave the region with precipitous withdrawals or withdrawals not based upon conditions on the ground, it's going to get worse, not better." If the Iraqis know that the Americans who have attacked, murdered and oppressed them are kindhearted and decent, it’s more than Americans know. And I'm having trouble with Bush's rhetoric. It’s a positive sign when Americans recoil from violence, but it would be a negative sign for American troops to recoil? What am I thinking? I’m trying to make sense of the blathering of a madman. Here’s the key to George W. Bush’s lingo: Whenever he says “It’s in the nation’s interest” or “for the sake of your children and grandchildren”, he means, “it’s in my best interests for maintaining my vision of myself”. Yesterday he said, "I believe that (it’s in this nation's interests) it’s in my best interests for maintaining my vision of myself to give the commander (in Iraq) a chance to fully implement his operations...and I want to tell you, we must, (for the sake of our children and grandchildren) for the sake of maintaining my vision of myself accomplish this fight and win in Iraq.” Everything Crazy George does or says becomes crystal clear when you have the proper translation.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

China Executes Former Food and Drug Head

From 1998 to 2005 during Zheng Xiaoyu’s tenure as China’s Food and Drug honcho, his agency approved six medicines that were fake, pharmaceutical firms falsified documents to get approvals, one antibiotic caused the deaths of 10 people, and Zheng took cash and gifts worth $832,000. China’s Food and Drug safety track record is worse than ours. Last month China admitted that a deadly chemical was in China-manufactured cough syrup. Earlier this year tainted wheat gluten was found in pet foods from China. Toothpaste from China is sweetened with a toxic chemical found in antifreeze, drug-tainted fish from China are turning up around the world, a banned feed additive is in Chinese pork and China still uses a banned dye from Sudan to color egg yolks. China's Food and Drug spokeswoman Yan Jiangyang said the food and drug agency was “working to tighten its safety procedures and create a more transparent operating environment”. But to show its heart is in the right place, China executed its former Food and Drug chief. The United States does not execute government officials who have been convicted of crimes. We commute their sentences so that they see no jail time. It’s a cultural thing. However, China and the US are not so different where the bottom line is concerned. Neither nation endeavors to solve the problems it has made for the world. And both nations are governed by men who have no personal ethical center for knowing right from wrong.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Frank Rich Defines the Bush Presidency

Not to mention the Bush personality. The title of Rich’s op/ed piece in this morning’s New York Times, “Profile in Cowardice”, is perfect. Rich says that when Bush commuted Scooter Libby’s prison sentence, the Prez stiffed everyone. George W. Bush owes a huge debt to the diehards in the neocon think tanks (like the William Kristol “Weekly Standard” crowd), to the “grumpy old white guys watching Bill O’Reilly in a bunker”, and even to the talking heads who still believe Saddam got uranium in Africa. But none of them got what they wanted. They expected a full pardon for I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, not just a wimpy get-out-of-jail card. What the diehards never understood, Rich says, is that “Mr. Bush’s highest priority is always to protect himself...A commutation puts up more roadblocks by keeping Mr. Libby’s appeal of his conviction alive and his Fifth Amendment rights intact. He (Libby) can’t testify without risking self-incrimination. Meanwhile, we are asked to believe that he has paid his remaining $250,000 debt to society independently of his private $5 million ‘legal defense fund’.” “You know this president is up to no good whenever he hides behind the troops,” Rich said. The only time Bush took questions regarding his commutation of Libby’s sentence was during a visit to war casualties at Walter Reed Hospital. “This instance was particularly shameful, since Mr. Bush also used the occasion to trivialize the scandalous maltreatment of Walter Reed patients on his watch as merely ‘some bureaucratic red-tape issues’.” Rich writes that “the younger Mr. Bush’s cowardice is arguably more responsible for the calamities of his leadership than anything else... he professed support for the Vietnam War yet kept himself out of harm’s way when he had the chance to serve in it.” Bush could have halted stem-cell research in August 2001 by standing up and saying that he wanted stem-cell research stopped, but instead he “unveiled a bogus ‘compromise’ that promised continued federal research on 60 existing stem-cell lines. Only later would we learn that all but 11 of them did not exist.” “When Mr. Bush wanted to endorse a constitutional amendment to ‘protect’ marriage, he again cowered. A planned 2006 Rose Garden announcement to a crowd of religious-right supporters was abruptly moved from the sunlight into a shadowy auditorium away from the White House.” “Nowhere is this president’s non-courage more evident than in the ‘signing statements’ The Boston Globe exposed last year,” Rich says. The Prez claimed he had the authority to disobey more than 750 laws, but he chose not to veto them in public. “He signed them, waited until after the press and lawmakers left the White House, and then filed statements in the Federal Register asserting that he would ignore laws he (not the courts) judged unconstitutional.” The war in Iraq has shown, in spades, the Bush penchant for cowardice. Rich says, “If Mr. Bush had had the guts to put America on a true wartime footing by appealing to his fellow citizens for sacrifice, possibly even a draft if required, then he might have had at least a chance of amassing the resources needed to secure Iraq after we invaded it.” The one goal, maybe the only goal that George W. Bush has aspired to, is a rave review in the history books. He is going to have to settle for being an eponym. As in: Bushic, an era or person characterized by cowardice and mendacity.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Bush Lets Libby Off the Hook—No Surprise!

The New York Times, not noted for making hilarious or even ironic asides in its news stories, committed a howler to print this morning. In its story about President Bush commuting Scooter Libby’s sentence, the NYT said, “One big question is what role, if any, Mr. Cheney played.” Hahahahahahahaha! And, hahahahahahaha! The Littledecider’s Decider followed the orders of The Big Decider (in this case, I. Lewis Libby), and the word came down last night at dinnertime. The reason, of course, that Scooter Libby could decide his own fate is that he made a deal with Cheney/Bush that he would keep his mouth shut in exchange for not going to prison. Since Libby was Cheney’s chief of staff. Cheney has the most to lose if Libby ever tells the truth. But there is not anyone in the entire Bush administration, corporate America, or in the Pentagon that Scooter Libby could not finger and ruin. So now, we are hearing pious, treacly, hypocritical, shit-eating apologias from everyone in the GOP--“loyal aides” to very public and very vocal Republican loyalists. In his arrogant manner of pretending he’s the Commander in Chief, Bush said: “I respect the jury’s verdict...but I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive.” Charlie Black, a Republican strategist “close to the administration” was quoted in the NYT, saying: “I think he sincerely believed that Scooter was not shown proper justice...We can get into the whole definition of justice versus mercy, but the point is the president didn’t say justice wasn’t done, he just didn’t think the sentence was fair and therefore he showed mercy.” William Kristol (editor of The Weekly Standard), who is the man we have to thank for starting the War in Iraq back in 1997 when he wrote his neocon manifesto for the Project for the New American Century, said, “It became an issue of character and courage, really...I certainly think Bush did the right thing and I think he did something important for his presidency. I think conservatives would have lost respect for Bush if he had not commuted Libby’s sentence.” The Washington Post quoted House Minority Whip Roy Blunt: "President Bush did the right thing today in commuting the prison term for Scooter Libby. The prison sentence was overly harsh, and the punishment did not fit the crime." Good old Fred Thomson, sometime Senator (R-TN), maybe-presidential contender and all-time actor said: "This will allow a good American who has done a lot for his country to resume his life." WaPo noted that three national public opinion polls found seven in 10 Americans would oppose a pardon of Libby. Which counts for nothing when a politician needs to save his ass. And it was no coincidence that President Bush (that is to say, President Cheney) announced the night before Americans begin celebrating their most important national holiday of the year, Independence Day, that a tried and convicted criminal in the Bush/Cheney White House would not serve a day in prison. Cheney, who is known for saying, Fuck you! has done it again. I am off to God’s Country (Brooklyn, New York). Talk to you in a few days.