Saturday, December 29, 2007

So Ridiculous 2

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

Friday, December 28, 2007

So Ridiculous

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

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Let’s Get a Few Things Straight

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

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Unexplored Question Re 2008 Election

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Do I Believe Anything the Bushies Say?

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

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Here’s The Thing About the Steroid Report

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

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Astonishing? What’s To Astonish?

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

AMERICAblog and “American Prospect”

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

Sunday, December 09, 2007

In Philadelphia, We Have a New Mayor

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

Thursday, December 06, 2007

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

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

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Oh My Goodness! Bush Was Lying About Iran?

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

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I ❤ Gail Collins

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