Sep 112007
 

I suppose no blogger can let 9/11 pass without a post reflecting on what it all means. Unfortunately, the Bu$hCo Administration has done everything they can to tie the events of this day to Iraq. They have gone so far as to ensure that the Petraeus report is delivered to Congress so as to coincide with the observance of this anniversary.

The attacks of 9/11 were used to justify the invasion of Iraq, and ever since, Bu$h has been using the mantra to strike fear into the hearts of Americans and ensure continued support of his war. He and Dick have incessantly linked the words “al-Qaida” and “Iraq.” In a  recent speech about Iraq, Bush mentioned al-Qaida 95 times. No matter that the insurgents in Iraq are not the same group that attacked the U.S.

We all knew what Petraeus was going to say before he said it. He was going to spend most of his time talking about how great things are in Anbar…again, never mind things were getting better there long before the “surge” started. We need also to remember that progress has been made there only by striking another “deal with the devil,” Saddam’s Fedayeen. Bush arrogantly attempts to play the alpha dog Commander and Chief with his, “we’re kicking ass,” comment.

 Everyone in America who gets any outside input beyond Faux News knows the real situation on the ground in Iraq. Read some of the blogs of the soldiers that are there. So just forget the absurd debate about progress. The questions to be asked are much more basic–Why can’t we bring ourselves to end the debacle, and why did we invade Iraq in the first place?

Congress cannot bring themselves to end the Iraq war because they haven’t yet grown the backbone to question the basic assumptions on which Bu$h’s “War On Terror” is based. To this Administration, 9/11 justifies everything and ends all arguments. As Gary Kamiya wrote at Salon.com:

Bush’s reaction to 9/11 was to declare a “war on terror,” of which the Iraq adventure was said to be the “front line.” The American establishment signed off on this war because of 9/11. To oppose Bush’s “war on terror” was to risk another terror attack and dishonor our dead. The establishment has now turned against the Iraq front, but it has not questioned the “war on terror” itself, or the assumptions on which it is based.

We chose this go-it-alone vigilantism over reason and justice. We responded from our biological instincts –“fight or flight” – we were hit, so we had to hit back. We responded like a drunk in a bar fight, and combined with our preconceived notions about the Arab/Muslim world, we ran up against our prejudices. The problem is we allowed Bu$hCo to convince us that instead of taking vengeance on the people that attacked us, we should attack the guy standing on the corner watching. It’s a male thing. On the school yard its called “bullying,” and for conservatives it appears to be a necessary reaction. Hence their bully-ish name calling of war critics as “wimps, girly-men and appeasers.”          Continue reading »

Jul 292007
 

In his weekly radio address Bu$h demanded that Congress update the laws governing electronic surveillance. Now why would George give a damn about whether the law is up-to-date or not. It’s not like the Cheney/Bush Administration is following any of the laws anyway.

363 Tons of Cold Hard Cash Shipped to Iraq – No Kidding

 Congress, Corruption, Politics, Presidency, War  Comments Off on 363 Tons of Cold Hard Cash Shipped to Iraq – No Kidding
Feb 072007
 

This is why oversight matters. This is why having Henry Waxman as the Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform matters. We know that the Bush administration has been out of control in Iraq. We just haven’t known all the details because the Hill Republicans never bothered to find out. We just know the Bush team never had a plan. And, the things we’re learning now are shocking — like the one about how we sent 363 tons of cash to Iraq without any real idea what it was for:

“Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone? But that’s exactly what our government did,” the California Democrat said during a hearing reviewing possible waste, fraud and abuse of funds in Iraq.

On December 12, 2003, $1.5 billion was shipped to Iraq, initially “the largest pay out of U.S. currency in Fed history,” according to an e-mail cited by committee members.

It was followed by more than $2.4 billion on June 22, 2004, and $1.6 billion three days later. The CPA turned over sovereignty on June 28.

Paul Bremer, who as the administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority ran Iraq after initial combat operations ended, said the enormous shipments were done at the request of the Iraqi minister of finance.

Bremer really had no idea how the money was allocated. The Iraqis just needed it. How much of that money ended up in the hands of insurgents or other people killing American soldiers? Bremer didn’t think that happened, but managed to say that he “would certainly be concerned” if any money was diverted to the insurgents. Thanks, Paul, for the concern.

Wow.

You're Still Paying Mike Brown's FEMA Salary

 Corruption, Politics  Comments Off on You're Still Paying Mike Brown's FEMA Salary
Sep 272005
 

Mike Brown may have resigned earlier this month as FEMA director amid intense public criticism, but taxpayers are still paying his salary. Brown remains on the FEMA payroll as a consultant so that the agency can receive a "proper download of his experience." The Department of Homeland Security is already spinning the story; spokesman Russ Knocke says that "Brown is continuing to work at the Federal Emergency Management Agency at full pay, with his Sept. 12 resignation not taking effect for two more weeks." Whatever happened to Brown’s promise on the day he resigned? "[I]t is important that I leave now to avoid further distraction from the ongoing mission of FEMA" on the day he resigned? "[I]t is important that I to avoid further distraction from the ongoing mission of FEMA"." The Department of Homeland Security is already spinning the story; spokesman Russ Knocke says that "Brown is continuing to work at the Federal Emergency Management Agency at full pay, with his Sept. 12 resignation not taking effect for two more weeks." Whatever happened to on the day he resigned? "[I]t is important that I to avoid further distraction from the ongoing mission of FEMA"

It’s also been reported that we will be paying him to conduct an investigation into his own stupidity and incompetence as FEMA Head in the coming months. Can you believe the arrogance of this administration, and their determination for political payoffs at taxpayer expense?

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

 Politics  Comments Off on Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Sep 272005
 

Speaking yesterday at the Department of Energy, President Bush said, "We can all pitch in…by being better conservers of energy. I mean, people just need to recognize that the storms have caused disruption and that if they’re able to maybe not drive when they — on a trip that’s not essential, that would helpful." The good news is that Bush has acknowledged the value of conservation. The bad news is that the country, struggling under the burden of high gas prices, needs more than limp sloganeering. President Bush has consistently rejected legislative and regulatory policies that would result in significant energy conservation. (In 2001, Vice President Cheney said "conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it’s not a basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.") Nothing in his comments yesterday indicated that Bush is ready to change course.

Bush’s comments yesterday — encouraging the country to skip non-essential trips — raised questions about his own recent travel habits. Today, Bush embarks on his seventh trip to the Gulf Coast this month. (According to the Air Force, "fuel costs for Air Force One have risen to $6,029 per hour, up from $3,974 an hour in the last budget year.") White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the president took the trips because he needed "to provide support or encouragement to lift the spirits of all those who have been working around the clock to help people in need."

$1 Billion Stolen From Iraq's Defense Ministry

 Politics, War  Comments Off on $1 Billion Stolen From Iraq's Defense Ministry
Sep 212005
 

The Iraq Defense Ministry is the victim of one of the largest thefts in history. One billion dollars meant to buy arms from Pakistan and Poland was siphoned off, resulting in overpayment for inferior equipment such as "armoured cars…so poorly made that even a bullet from an elderly AK-47 machine-gun could penetrate their armour." The deals that resulted in lost money and inferior equipment were quick, awarded without bidding, paid up front, and signed with a Baghdad-based company, instead of directly with a foreign supplier. Officials are unclear where the money has gone, but have put out an arrest warrant for Ziyad Cattan, the defense ministry’s procurement chief at the time, whose appointment was approved by Paul Bremer, then US viceroy in Iraq. Iraqi officials say that, "[t]he carefully planned theft has so weakened the army that it cannot hold Baghdad against insurgent attack without American military support…making it difficult for the US to withdraw its 135,000- strong army from Iraq." 

Kerry Edwards in Florida

 Election  Comments Off on Kerry Edwards in Florida
Jul 102004
 
Wednesday night Lay and me attended the Kerry-Edwards rally in St. Petersburg. Wow, what a wait. We arrived at the St. Pete Coliseum (a very small venue) at about 6:40 in the evening. We got in the back of the line about one third of a block from the entrance. They finally started letting people in about 8:15, and we got in the door and through security about 9:10, and then only because we sort of sneaked ourselves up the line a little.

The candidates didn’t arrive until 10:00pm. They had a guy on an electronic keyboard do some entertaining. It was okay, but he didn’t do a lot to really liven up the crowd. I guess he just mostly kept us from getting too restless. The building got very hot with the TV lights and all the people. Everyone in line did not make it in.

It was a pretty interesting spectacle. This was the first time Lay ever attended anything like this. I’ve been to political rallies before, but never a Presidential one. We got fairly close to the front and were right in the center, so the view wasn’t bad. We had made our own shirts, and everyone really liked Lay’s. It said, “I like my politics like I like my women…with less Bush.”

The pilot of John Kerry’s Fast Boat from Vietnam lives in the Tampa Bay area, so he’d been invited to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. It was clearly being used to highlight Kerry’s military service, while giving Bush a backhanded slight. They had loaded the stage behind the candidate with a carefully chosen group. A few local pols, along with the right number of blacks, a couple of Asians, some college and high school students and a few people wearing union shirts.

Kerry started the evening. He introduced his wife, and they should not use her for much campaign speaking. I was 10pm after a grueling day, but she was completely out of it, and admitted to have a glass of wine. Kerry?s speech was the typical stump speech. He talked about ?no child left behind,? and the economy, and making America respected again in the broader world. It was all the stuff you?d expect, and this being a room of the party faithful, it was all well received.

John Edwards? wife is a great campaigner, and she really does know how to work and win over a crowd. She comes across as a very down-to-earth person. John Edwards? speech was the best and most rousing of the night.

I believe John Kerry increased his chances of winning pretty significantly by selecting Edwards. The guy is smooth, and knows how to get a crowd going. I think he brings a lot to the ticket. I love that the Bush campaign can only come up with the fact that he?s inexperienced in government as a criticism. Let?s see, what had George done to gain his experience?Oh yeah, he?d run three or four companies into the ground and executed a lot of people as governor of Texas.

Edwards, lets see, unlike George he wasn?t born with a silver spoon. He built a successful law practice, and served on the U. S. Senate?s Intelligence Committee.

I would have been interested to know how many people like Lay are concerned enough to be there for first time. I believe that would be a serious indicator of how the election might go. There were lots of younger people there, and a lot of them were part of organized groups. I get the sense there is a feeling among these party faithful that its never been more important to replace a republican administration. There was a lot of recruiting going on for campaign workers, and a lot of people seemed to be signing up

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