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Month: August 2005

Bush in Balance

Bush in Balance

Bush was keeping his life in balance when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Tuesday. He had some partying on his schedule that could not be interrupted by a hurricane. Rather than me rant about it here, I’ll direct you to Bob Harris’s blog where he has a post comparing Bush to Nero and a photo essay that juxtaposes images of what Bush was doing while Katrina wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast. Greg Saunders also has some things to say about it at This Modern World.

There’s also been quite a bit of blogging about how money that had been set aside to strengthen New Orleans’ levees and retaining walls was diverted to the War on Terror. This article covers it quite well and Bob Harris has some things to say about it on his site and on the TMW site.

Bush did cut short his vacation by two days and headed back to Washington D.C. today so that he could meet with FEMA officials to come up with a disaster relief plan. There must not have been any celebrations on his schedule for today and tomorrow.

Today was also the day that more poll results were released.

Rising gas prices and ongoing bloodshed in Iraq continue to take their toll on President Bush, whose standing with the public has sunk to an all-time low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found Bush’s job approval rating at 45 percent, down seven points since January and the lowest ever recorded for the president in Post-ABC surveys. Fifty-three percent disapproved of the job Bush is doing.

And you may ask yourself, has there ever been a president worse than the miserable failure we have now?

Where’s Andy’s Mojo?

Where’s Andy’s Mojo?

Have you seen the American Express ads promoting Andy Roddick in this year’s U.S. Open? You can see the ads here, but basically they’re about how Andy’s fun self takes his American Express card and goes out on the town to party hard while Andy’s serious tennis self stays in the hotel and rests for his tennis matches.

Andy lost in the first round to Gilles Muller, a player from Luxembourg ranked 68th in the world.

No doubt American Express was banking on high TV ratings for Roddick’s prime-time matches throughout the Open, so not only will Roddick’s loss go down as the worst in his career, but it may well be a colossal loss for AE.

Maybe Agassi can do something special this year and keep the Americans interested in the men’s game.

Expanding the Axis of Evil

Expanding the Axis of Evil

Robert Scheer wrote a column about the Iraqi Draft Constitution and those in power who are writing it. Here’s an excerpt:

“The U.S. now has to recognize that [it] overthrew Saddam Hussein to replace him with a pro-Iranian state,” said regional expert Peter W. Galbraith, the former U.S. ambassador to Croatia and an advisor to the Iraqi Kurds. And, he could have added, a pro-Iranian state that will be repressive and unstable.

Think this is an exaggeration? Consider that arguably the most powerful Shiite political party and militia in today’s Iraq, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and its affiliated paramilitary force, the Badr Brigade, was not only based in Iran but was set up by Washington’s old arch-foe, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. It also fought on the side of Iran in the Iran-Iraq war and was recognized by Tehran as the government in exile of Iraq.

My head hurts…

Who Are We Fighting and Why?

Who Are We Fighting and Why?

Mr. War President speaks ad nauseum about the War on Terror being waged in Iraq and how we are there to fight the “terrorists” so we don’t have to fight them at home. But who are we fighting and why? Are they all terrorists? Sean Gonsalvez has some answers in his Tuesday column:

Most experts agree the insurgency is made up of mostly Iraqi Sunni Muslims and Baath Party loyalists.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies recently estimated there are about 1,000 foreign Islamic jihadists fighting in Iraq (out of an estimated 40,000 insurgents and up to 200,000 native supporters).

Gonsalvez goes on to report why the insurgents are fighting

Council on Foreign Relations staff writer Lionel Beehner reports: ”Nationalism is… what motivates many of Iraq’s insurgents, many experts say. These include Iraqis who, after Saddam Hussein’s regime fell, were fired from their military or other government jobs but do not favor a return to Saddam Hussein’s secular form of Arab socialism.”

Most insurgents, Beehner writes, are Sunnis who fear a Shiite-led government, support a strong state run by Sunnis, and want U.S. forces out of Iraq.

No matter how many times Bush says it’s a War on Terror, it’s not. We are fighting a minority group of Iraqi nationalists that don’t want us there because they don’t like the government that is emerging as a result of our overthrow of Saddam. We are staying in the fight not for the altruistic reason espoused by the Administration-to spread Democracy. The draft of the Iraqi Constitution looks a lot like that of a Theocratic Islamic state, not a Democratic state. We continue to fight because Iraq has oil that we’d like to secure for ourselves. Bush admitted it yesterday when he said: “If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks; they’d seize oil fields to fund their ambitions; they could recruit more terrorists by claiming an historic victory over the United States and our coalition.” Okay so he said we have to keep it away from them. Read between the lines-That oil is ours!

War? What War?

War? What War?

Like our own nation’s founders over two centuries ago, the Iraqis are grappling with difficult issues, such as the role of the federal government. What is important is that Iraqis are now addressing these issues through debate and discussion — not at the barrel of a gun.

That’s a direct quote from President Bush’s Saturday Radio Address. I kid you not!

“Not at the barrel of a gun.” Is he really that clueless?

Here’s an excerpt from an Independent/UK article describing the “debate and discussion.”

Barring a sudden change of mind by the Sunnis, the stage is set for a bitter political battle ahead of the referendum when the bloodshed in Iraq is increasingly acquiring a sectarian character. Even the optimists who still describe the violence as an insurgency might be forced to acknowledge that Iraq is in the grip of civil war.

Just a few days ago I suggested that it might be a good idea to email a link to the Salon photo essay to the president so that he might actually see a tiny bit of the bloody conflict going on in Iraq. What? Nobody sent it to him?

Update on the most “gagged” person in United States history.

Update on the most “gagged” person in United States history.

In case you don’t know, the most “gagged” person is none other than Sibel Edmonds, a linguist hired and fired shortly after 9/11. Some background here and here.

After her testimony before congress in 2002, the unusual step was taken, 2 years later in 2004, to retroactively classify her testimony.

Here are two letters written in 2002, by Sen. Leahy and Sen. Grassley, as well as, the transcript from her appearance on the Oct. 27, 2002 episode of 60 Minutes.

Why would the government invoke a gag order under “State-Secrets Privilege” on this woman, when it appears she may have information relating to 9/11:

Some of these activities are 100 percent related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, and they are giving this illusion that they are pursuing these cases, but they are not. If the case touches upon certain countries or certain high level people, certain sensitive relations, then they don’t. But, on the other hand, they go and talk about lower-level criminal activity that boils down to people like Atta and Hamdi.

“Lower-level criminal activity” like Atta? Didn’t he pilot one of the plane’s on 9/11? Jesus Christ!!! What the hell does she know?

The AIPAC scandal is the big story, right? Well, not according to Sibel, who knows much more than she can divulge.

And believe me, once they lift the state-secrets privilege and once the court case actually begins and we have the witnesses and we can subpoena documents, it will be public. And it will be major. And it would make the AIPAC case look lame, actually.

More in the September issue of Vanity Fair.

Hand Slaps from the Right

Hand Slaps from the Right

Curiosity got the best of me today, so I went surfing around the right-wing web sites to see if I could find any outright condemnation of Robertson’s remarks. Granted, I don’t spend a lot of time on the wingnut sites, but I am familiar with a few of them.

I started at the web site for The Christian Coalition – the organization founded by Robertson after his failed run for the presidency in 1989. Roberston stepped down from his post there in 2001. I was curious to read what this religious organization might have to say about their founder’s call to assassinate Chavez. I found this:

“What Robertson was basically arguing is that it’s time to deal with this problem,” the MRC [Media Research Council] spokesman [Rich Noyes] offers. “I think ‘assassination’ was an unfortunate word [for Robertson to use]. On the other hand, it seemed to get this conversation going in a way that it hasn’t before.”

Not much of a condemnation…

Are any of you out there familiar with The Christian Coalition? According to an article by Bill McKibben titled “The Christian Paradox” the August edition of Harper’s Magazine:

The Christian Coalition of America – founded in 1989 in order to “preserve, protect and defend the Judeo-Christioan values that made this the greatest country in history” – proclaimed last year that its top legislative priority would be “making permanent President Bush’s 2001 federal tax cuts.”

I’d say they’ve strayed a bit from their original mission. I’ve already digressed, so let me digress a bit more. Over the past few months, Harper’s has published some excellent articles about the role of religion in America. I have previously commented on them here and here. Read them if you have the time…

I also visited James Dobson’s Focus on the Family site and found nothing at all. Same for Billy Graham’s website.

I then visited the Right’s equivalent of Common Dreams,, and found one column by Marvin Olasky in which he said:

The televangelist should have remembered Spiderman’s message that “with great power comes great responsibility.” By his blurting, Robertson aided Venezuelan autocrats such as Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel, who sarcastically said that assassination advocacy was “very Christian” and went on to argue that “religious fundamentalism is one of the great problems facing humanity.”

If you read the whole column you’ll find that Olasky doesn’t think Christian fundamentalism is a great problem, but that Muslim fundamentalism is a great problem. I have a problem with any kind of fanatical fundamentalism so I wrote him a note asking him to read Luke 19:27. I used this verse as an example of ahow anyone can cherry pick quotes from another religious text and make it appear worse or more violent than his own religion. Olasky actually responded to my email, but it was an incredibly lame response. (More about that later.)

So I did a little surfing to the right expecting to find outright condemnations of Robertson’s crazy call to assassinate the president of a country we aren’t even at war with, and I didn’t find any strongly worded articles. They were all soft.

Conservatives have no problem throwing roundhouse punches to the face of anyone on the Left, but they sure have a problem landing a blow on one of their own who really deserves it.



Please read this excellent column by Paul Krugman in the Friday New York Times. Excerpt:

For the last few months there has been a running debate about the U.S. economy, more or less like this:

American families: “We’re not doing very well.”

Washington officials: “You’re wrong – you’re doing great. Here, look at these statistics!”

(big snip… read the whole damn column here.)

You may ask where economic growth is going, if it isn’t showing up in wages. That’s easy to answer: it’s going to corporate profits, to rising health care costs and to a surge in the salaries and other compensation of executives. (Forbes reports that the combined compensation of the chief executives of America’s 500 largest companies rose 54 percent last year.)

Oh why does Paul Krugman hate America so much? Why does he work so hard to screw it up? Only Bernie Goldberg knows for sure.