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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Rotten to the core

Abramoff, Safavian, DeLay, Frist.... the perp walk is becoming a daily experience for the moral folks who run our government.

The indictment of Tom "The Termite Terminator" DeLay on corruption charges, and the investigation of Bill "The Pander Man" Frist on insider trading allegations reflect the fact that GOP could soon stand for Going Over (to) Prison.

The DeLay indictment (in true GOP fashion he blames the Democratic prosecutor and the media for libeling his honest moral, conservative roots) is especially pleasing. This sanctimonious moralizer represents the heartlessness of compassionate conservatism.

While proclaiming he is acting with the will of God, he has shaken down all of Washington's K Street lobbyists, telling them that support for the Democrats will get them cut out of the money grabs that pass for legislation on Capitol Hill.

In a spirit of ecumenism, he enlists Jack Abramoff as his bagman, to shake down Indian tribes.

David Safavian, an Abramoff crony and wannabee, handled the less reputable clients, according to this Washington Post account:

"The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee held up Safavian's nomination for more than a year, in part because of lawmakers' concerns about lobbying work for two men later accused of links to suspected terrorist organizations, according to committee documents. Safavian did not disclose his firm's representation of the men until questioned in writing by the committee's staff, and initially failed to tell the panel he had registered as a foreign agent for two controversial African regimes."

Yet this stellar background didn't stop the GOP Congress from eventually confirming him as chief of staff for the General Services Administration, the federal organization responsible for procurement of supplies for everything from pencils to hurricane relief.

OK, so Frist hasn't done the perp walk yet, as opposed to his estimable GOP cronies. But that one will be special. Harvard-trained doctors who engage in telemedicine without a clue deserve a special place in the pantheon.

The noble transplant surgeon turned neurologist in the cause of pandering to the red meat crowd in the Terri Schiavo tragedy is under investigation for insider trading of family business stock supposedly held in blind trust.

Because the Constitution says all Americans are presumed innocent until their day in a court of law (unless they are Democrats, liberals, feminists or other evil lefties) we should really withhold judgment.

But in those famous words of Megaphone Mark Slackmeyer, we know they are "guilty, guilty, guilty."

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Blame Game, again

Brownie, you did a heckuva job.

In the finest tradition of Bush administration self-righteous finger pointing, former Arabian Horse mogul and erstwhile FEMA director Michael Brown told Congress that Governor Blanco, Mayor Nagin and Tippie the Wonder Horse were responsible for the post-disaster disaster in New Orleans.

Showing a remarkable handle on the responsibilities of his job (he's still getting paid by taxpayers to "consult" after all) Brown declared "it was not the role of the federal government" to evacuate citizens in harm's way.

While there's no denying that Blanco and Nagin were lax (to be charitable) in not bringing in buses to evacuate folks, the utter obtuseness of the emergency management director is stunning. What are people suppose to do in an emergency? Drown? Huddle together en masse in sweltering shelters without food, water and sanitation?

Oh yeah, they did.

What must Scott McLellan be thinking now?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Do as I say, not as I do...

George Bush is one of the finest president we have ever had -- for saying one thing and doing another.

"We can all pitch in," W piously proclaims as he again scolds the American public about too much driving. This was on the same day he made his fifth Air Force One trip in three weeks or so since he discovered the damage of Hurricane Katrina -- by flying over it in Air Force One.

Naturally his words were like music to his friends in the oil bidness.

Let's see at $58,600 an hour, and his entourage of gas-guzzling vehicles, if George stayed home a little more and showboated a little less, how much would taxpayers save?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Now I get it...

George Bush names Karl Rove to lead the rebuilding of New Orleans. Karl Rove travels to Aspen for a "leadership" conference where he sees no evil (must have covered over the mirrors).

If only those liberals didn't send love notes to terrorists these darn hurricanes would not be a problem!

Malaise

Katrina. Rita. Nearly 2,000 U.S. soldiers dead in Iraq. $4 a gallon gasoline. Natural gas and electric utility rates soaring into the "heat or eat" category for seniors.

"Compassionate conservatives" saying we such cut Medicaid and the (flawed but something) Medicare drug benefit to pay for the Katrina reconstruction. W making sure the contractors (shouldn't we call them looters?) benefit from the reconstruction, in part by making sure they don't have to pay prevailing wage to those who will do the actual work.

Consumer confidence is at its lowest levels since 9-11, so our president is wasting expensive jet fuel flying back and forth to the Gulf Coast (not to be confused by the Arabian Gulf) to assure Katrina's victims that he really does care despite the reality on the ground.

Things haven't been this low since the 1979 oil crisis, an event that led Jimmy Carter to deliver his highly ridiculed "malaise" speech. Clearly, the more things change, the more they stay the same:

"As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning."

For that, he was pilloried. But one big difference is the folks who led the ridicule then, the conservative true believers who led the charge that ousted Carter a year later, are the ones running the show into the ground.

And while Jimmy's "I'll never lie to you" statement seems quaint these days, let's contrast that to the man who claimed he was a "uniter, not a divider." Let's look at just some of the lies of the Bush Administration:
  • Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden;
  • Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction;
  • Iraqis will welcome us with flower petals;
  • We don't engage in torture;
  • All Americans will benefit from our tax cuts;
  • No one could have foreseen terrorists flying airplanes into buildings;
  • No one could have foreseen the levees breaking in New Orleans.
That's the short list. You can add any of your personal favorites.

Those highly moral compassionate conservatives thought it was appropriate to impeach a president for one lie under oath (after spending $72 million in taxpayer dollars and failing to come up with anything of substance to back up their other allegations).

In hindsight, who is the moral president? The man who could not admit under oath that he committed adultery or the one who has sacrificed the lives of countless thousands of Americans, Iraqis and others in pursuit of ill-advised, mean-spirited and hateful campaign to appeal to the minority of Americans' driven by fear, greed or intolerance.

Just as Ronald Reagan's foolishly illegal Iran-Contra escapades avoided impeachment because the nation was scarred by Watergate, so too is George Bush protected despite a web of lies.

The sad thing is that the GOP is guilty of doing to the Constitution what Bill Clinton is guilty of doing to women. Yet only one is considered a crime.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Do as I say...

Count on conservatives to say one thing and do another.

What are the odds of the casinos getting tax breaks? A lot better than the pious intonations of Jack Kemp (one of the few who really means it) and Newt Gingrich making a difference. After all, where are the fiscal conservatives looking to cut? The very programs that could help Katrina's victims.

Do you believe Denny Hastert and Tom "The Exterminator" Delay? Didn't think so.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The sound you hear...

... is the collapse of a philosophy, brought to it heels by the harsh light of day.

"Compassionate conservatives" continue to spread the spin that the fault for the post-Katrina mess rests at the state and local level, not with the feds. Most refuse to acknowledge, as this letter writer does, that Darth Cheney's chilling denunciation of the Democrats' ability to protect America is just as applicable to natural disasters as it is the manmade ones. Particularly when you have the kind of warning that precedes nature's wrath. (OK, and certain manmade ones too.)

And of course, there is the inevitable straw man -- liberals are refusing to focus on local mistakes. Not true, there were plenty. For example, why didn't either branch of government order the evacuation buses in when it would have made a difference? That is an egregious mistake and others will undoubtedly be revealed as time goes on.

The finger-pointing at the Negins and Blancos ignores some basic truths. Government is not a respected institution in Louisiana and it is starved of resources (including resources from Washington). An effective government (combined with a strong leader) can produce results while waiting for the federal response.

Exhibit A is one of my least favorite politicians -- Rudy Giuliani. But when it was on the line, he combined personal leadership, with state and local resources to hold the fort until the cavalry arrived.

The "compassionate conservative" argument also ignores the cold, hard fact that a disaster the size of 9-11 or Katrina is beyond the resources of the lower levels of government. The organization I work for needs to have a comprehensive emergency plan and it does. But there is little doubt in my mind that in the face of a disaster, it would be overwhelmed and we would need assistance from other sources.

And let's not forget that even most conservatives would agree the federal government, at bare minimum, has a responsible for keeping the peace and security. I'd say the "government should do only a few things, but do it very well" conservative argument looks shattered like glass in a wind storm.

Then there's the compassionate part, hanging out there for all to see like drapes on those shattered windows. First let's look at the how it has delivered on the social safety net promise that dates to the Reagan administration. At least these folks fared better than those who were abandoned by nursing home owners in nearby Chalmette.

Then there is the basic fact of life exposed so shockingly: there is a caste system left over from the Old South that has not gone away. Think about this statement, and remember he's talking about playing second fiddle to a "have."

"The New Orleans crowd came in and changed everything," said Chris Deshotel, 24, an employee at a financial services company who had placed an offer on a $165,000 house last week, only to be outbid by a New Orleans family who bought the property with cash. "I'm sorry about their situation, but I'm sorry about my situation, too."

More reflective of open-minded "compassion": "I don't consider anything that's got the word 'decadence' in it to be normalcy," Joey Durel, president of Lafayette City-Parish was quoted as saying in The Daily Advertiser, Lafayette's main newspaper in reference to a gay festival looking to move from New Orleans.

So much for compassion, the conservative mantra of responsibility and the vaunted social safety net. Anyone want to clean up this mess?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Required reading

The best analysis I have ever seen on the foolishness of the Bush administration's headlong rush into doing exactly what al-Qaeda wanted us to do. This should be required reading for every would be diplomat, administrator or student in the future. And every member of that that ever-dwindling gaggle of "my president, right or wrong" most definitely should read it.

Let them eat petit-fours

Ah those compassionate conservatives...

George Bush rules out a tax increase
to pay for the extraordinary rebuilding required in the Gulf States. "But I'm confident we can handle it and I'm confident we can handle our other priorities," President Pinocchio tells reporters in a joint availability with Russian President Vladimir "I've seen in his soul" Putin.

Bush says the tax cuts will go forward and he doesn't identify where the necessary cuts will come from. Safe to say it won't be Iraq. Which basically leaves just one place: domestic programs of the type already slashed to the bone that contributed to the grinding, Third World poverty we saw on the streets of New Orleans.

And of course, let's recognize that the Iraq rebuilding effort is one of many big ticket items that our fiscally conservative leaders have taken off budget to avoid swelling the deficit even more than it is. Out of sight, out of mind. Sort of like poverty in the United States.

Now that that pesky Brownie got on his horse and rode away (notice George still hasn't fired one incompetent) the compassionate folks at FEMA is able to handle everything right? Uh, er, um...

Meanwhile, on the homefront, President Romney, apparently unable to see inside mosques from his 59th floor perch at the Hancock Building, is also unable to see closer to home. Yes Mitt, you did a good thing organizing an effort to house evacuees at Otis. But when the number of guests failed to match the outpouring of generosity, what happens?

A very sensible proposal from a group of Massachusetts rabbis to redirect aid to our own homeless is shot down by saying ''we can't redirect what isn't ours. That would have to be made by the charitable organizations." If it is Massachusetts volunteers and Massachusetts dollars for a Massachusetts-based enterprise, whose dollars and volunteers are they?

Friday, September 16, 2005

A bankrupt(cy) policy

The moral bankruptcy of the Bush administration -- on clear display in the failed effort to "rebuild" Baghdad or save New Orleans -- is about to be overwhelmed by its financial bankruptcy.

The Theocons who always dismiss Democrats with the epithet "tax and spend" have, in truth been the party of "no tax and spend." Starting with Ronald Reagan, the GOP fostered deficits as far as the eye could see for such follies as Star Wars and of course, the "liberation" of Iraq. The ultimate irony is that the Democrats are no truly the fiscal "conservatives" around here.

Republican tax cut strategies have been eloquently summed up by Grover Norquist as designed to "starve the beast." Money is like oxygen to government, they say. Take it away and government will die. And what better way to take it away than to give it to your friends and cronies, using names like "the death tax" to hide the fact it is an unconscionable giveaway to small percentage of people.

Never confuse Louisiana and New Orleans as models of efficient government, believers as they are in the idea that you can get something (services) for nothing (low taxes). But some folks, like those on the libertarian end of the scale, do believe government has some valid roles -- mainly in the area of defense and public safety, things totally lacking in the federal "response."

Katrina exposed the moral and financial bankruptcy of the "starve the beast" model. When push came to shove, public safety collapsed amid cronyism, incompetence and folly. Throw in some good old fashioned stubbornness and you have a recipe to bankrupt government, our children and our grandchildren. OK, maybe not the children and grandchildren of George and his friends.

And of course there is the "compassion" side of the equation -- a continuation of the Reagan philosophy of "I've got mine, f- you." That was amply on display in the words of Oklahoma Troglodyte Tom Coburn, who suggested the people of Louisiana must absorb some of the cost of the reconstruction. After all, he implied, they chose to live in the path of the hurricane.

Memo to Senator Coburn: you live in Tornado Alley. You live there by choice.

The morale GOP majority has already achieved compassion bankruptcy. The race for the bottom continues.

Addendum to an earlier post: The latest Bush straw man, witnessed by his New Orleans performance, is race. I don't believe anyone accused the Coast Guard of discriminating against African-Americans during their rescue efforts. Heck, the only people left to rescue were African-American. And that is the real issue -- not the straw man George drew up.

Because of the GOP's callous disregard for poverty, the overwhelming majority of the poor people left to fend for themselves in New Orleans were black. That's the issue, George. Nice try at changing the subject. You are not a racist. You are a faux populist and a third generation Connecticut Yankee who is clueless about how real people live.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Wish I'd thought of it

Politicians know they are in, as George H.W. Bush once eloquently proclaimed, "deep doo-doo" when the comedians take out their sharp knives.

George Walker Bush has been the object of a lot of derision lately, but this suggests that they ought to turn out the lights because the party's over.

Have you now or have you ever heard of the Constitution?

Mitt Romney says we should wiretap mosques. Obviously a close reader of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, our intrepid leader believes we should suspend our liberties in order to save them. That of course is the popular theory among conservatives who believe government should be unobstrusive and respect individuals. Of course the reality is conservatives believe government should get out of the board room and into the bedroom where it belongs.

And apparently our sometime governor has his own plan surveillance plan, at $50 per square foot. Note to staff: there are two cheaper options. The Skywalk down the street at the Prudential Center has neat telescopes. And you probably could have convinced the Hancock folks to re-open their observatory one floor up from your new digs. It would have been much cheaper.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Frankly, you just don't get it

Cathy Young's lament in today's Boston Globe is one of the finest example of the conservative screed around today: create a red herring, ignore the reality and forget history.

About the only thing that Young gets right is that Hurricane Katrina may probably be the worst natural disaster to befall the United States. But not everything would be just fine if those nasty liberal Bush haters just shut up and let him do his job.

The red herring: "Sadly, while people in this country and around the world have shown an admirable generosity toward the victims, this tragedy has also turned into one of the most sickening political spectacles in recent memory."

What does the generosity of the world -- and the American public -- have to do with sickening political spectacles. Create a false comparison, knock it down and claim you are right. Saddam is a bad man (true) who was behind 911 (false) so we did the right thing ousting him and his weapons of mass destruction (puhleeze).

Ignoring reality: While George has kept his record intact of never holding anyone accountable for their mistakes, "Brownie" had a flash of common sense and resigned after he had been reassigned and replaced by someone with some experience in dealing with emergencies. The critics of FEMA's response have come from both left and right. Bill Frist, for gosh sakes, has called for an investigation (not that he means it!)

Forgetting history: Republicans never second guessed Bill Clinton nor did they ever attack him. Only liberal Bush haters are that petty. What was that line about never critiquing a president when we have troops overseas?

Of course she singles out Michael Moore, for whom I have no great love. But I think Fahrenheit 911 was a well-documented eye opener. And of course she attacks Paul Krugman, that effete New York Times liberal economist. A man with well documents is very dangerous.

That's a GOP tactic going back to the McCarthy days -- perfected to a fare the well by Bill Safire and Pat Buchanan when they were government hacks, er, employees and not columnists.

Same old tired, worn out thin gruel arguments. It's time to hold the Radical Right accountable for their lies and distortions.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

I want my country back

Four years ago, 19 Saudis created a watershed in American life when they hijacked four airplanes and used them as weapons of mass destruction to bring down the World Trade Center, damage the Pentagon while ultimately failing to reach their final target because heroic passengers brought the plane down into a field in Pennsylvania.

The world rallied around the United States: The French newspaper Le Monde's headline read "We Are All Americans", The New York Fire Department, devastated by the collapse of the Twin Towers, became the international symbol of heroism. After Osama bin Laden was identified as the mastermind of the plot, the United States geared up for an attack on the country that hosted his terror training camps.

George Walker Bush, a president elected under murky circumstances, rallied the nation by climbing up a debris pile in New York and issuing a defiant promise that America would rebuild New York and avenge this attack.

Four years later, Osama is still in the caves of Afghanistan or Pakistan, despite Bush's defiant challenge to get him "dead or alive" and Republicans have temporarily stopped mocking the French and stopped eating Freedom Fries. We have had false heroes proclaimed and real heroes dishonored.

Four years later, Americans are still dying in Iraq, a sovereign nation invaded on the novel doctrine of pre-emption to oust a leader who had menaced the world in the previous Bush administration and who had slaughtered millions of innocent citizens in an internal reign of terror before, during and after an earlier endless war with neighboring Iran.

But history will record him at the time of the American invasion to be a man with more bark than bite, one who no longer possessed weapons of mass destruction and who had nothing to do with the planes crashing into the Twin Towers, the twin pretexts for war hammered home endlessly by the Bush team, often using questionable "evidence."

Four years later, the world watches with a mixture of shock and awe as the thousands of citizens of the richest nation in the history of the humankind are expected to be found dead after a cataclysmic hurricane struck New Orleans. Impoverished Bangladesh, which once was synonymous with flood devastation, offers relief supplies for residents left behind in Katrina's wake. Residents, who the images clearly show, are overwhelmingly impoverished and black.

How did it come to this? And why is it the anyone who questions the actions of George Bush is urged to watch what you say (or here) or is called a communist? The same fate does not await compassionate conservatives.

It came to this because of a media, once proud, fiercely independent and occasional irresponsible that has morphed into a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America, cowed by decades of a Big Lie that claimed them to be "liberal." Never mind that one of the most influential news voices, Fox News Channel, is run by the same man who ran George Herbert Walker Bush's successful -- and vicious -- presidential campaign.

OK, so they are still more than occasionally irresponsible, devoting endless hours of cable news time to the latest missing attractive white female (1.13 million hits at this writing).

Then there is Congress, that august body that chose to impeach a president because he lied under oath about marital infidelity (set up by a taxpayer-supported $70 million first-of-its kind investigation in US history) but doesn't concern itself with presidential lies about weapons of mass destruction. A body that made passage of tax breaks for millionaires one of its top priorities while ignoring the rape of working people. One that has unflinchingly passed legislation restricting free speech in the name of freedom.

It came to this because of the rise of the radical Religious Right, the Theocons, who began with school boards, and by doing something liberals failed to do, grew into a presence at all levels of government, buying the best lobbyists money can buy.

It came to this because of a conspiracy to topple a duly elected president; because of political operatives who manipulated elections and intimated voters in Florida and Ohio; states purchasing electronic voting equipment from companies run by major Republican donors.

What can be done? Let's hope the bungling, bumbling, criminally negligent response to Hurricane Katrina opens a few more eyes. It's up to liberals to demonstrate the true meaning of patriotism. No, not the faux, flag-waving, lapel pin-wearing variety. We must stand up for what the Bill of Rights and Constitution, call for and what Abraham Lincoln simply declared as a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

How do you do that? Start by holding elected people accountable, from George Bush and Dennis Hastert down to the local city council and school board, to act in OUR interests, not theirs. After all, just a few short years ago Congress thought lying was an impeachable offense.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Insomnia is good for something

Catching up on your reading for example.

Terry Neal cuts through the White House talking points campaign to obscure the truth in New Orleans and reminds us of some of the other outrages being perpetrated by FEMA -- like censorship;

Tom Friedman and Maureen Dowd (subscription required) make you feel good intellectually and emotionally;

Agreeing with David Brooks is scary.

And some TV news watching too, where it appears the gloves are going to remain off for awhile.

I rarely watch the cable nets, sticking to go ol' liberal CNN when I do. There was some potentially blockbuster stuff last night with images of mutilated corpses in the New Orleans Convention Center. And of course it was a joy to see Darth Cheney meet up with a relative of Pat Leahy as he toured Gulfport.

Keith Olbermann used to do sports in Boston and I've never fully accepted the shift. But some of the stuff on his MSNBC show, particularly airing large chunks of Scott McClennan's Nixonian performance at the podium, sparring with David Gregory among others, was priceless.

On the whole, I'd rather be sleeping.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

They're baaaack...

The Bush attack machine is back in full-throated cry after being temporarily knocked off their game by their own inepititude. The problem with this country, they say, is that Democrats won't roll over and die. Even there they have it wrong, but hey...

The Bush Propaganda Machine sent Darth Cheney down to the Levee to praise Bush and good 'ol boy Brownie at FEMA. Cheney, who never met a lie he couldn't utter (my personal favorite, given the circumstances, was the claim that only the GOP could protect America from a terrorist strike). And of course everyone is attacking Hillary for daring to speak up and speak the truth. Gestapo tactics in the halls of the West Wing, I guess.

The Washington Post's Dan Balz draws on history and looks at Bush's ability to divide the nation even while lying famously by saying he was "a uniter not a divider." Balz catalogues the moves the Bush made to widen the breech: moving a hard right agenda after a questionable if not illegitimate 2000 election; feigning bipartisanship by picking off a Democrat here and there on tax cuts; and most famously, the No Child Left Behind Law; and of course demonizing Democrats and liberals as obstructionists when they did not roll over 100 percent.

The biggest question is whether anyone is still buying this. Polls indicate the same old partisan divide is there with Elephants loving their boy and Donkeys unimpressed by his Gulf rescue and recovery efforts.

It's still way too early to say for sure what will happen in 2008, let alone next year. But it is interesting to recall they words of a laregly invisible Democrat these days as we watch the most dramatic example yet of the Two Americas. Where are you John Edwards?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Management?

Mitt Romney, the Massachusetts Legislature and thousands of Massachusetts residents agree on something (yes, Mitt was right. You are correct that this is an historic moment.) So what does FEMA do in the face of overwhelming support. Mess up again.

My one doubt about the Cape Cod airlift was that it would take people to far from home. But you would think FEMA would work through those issues before agreeing to accept Massachusetts as a safe haven -- or say thanks but no thanks, don't go to the trouble. Not our emergency management agency. Then again, they can't read a map, so why be surprised?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Fool me once, shame on you

George Bush is now on the case, promising an investigation into the administration's response to Katrina. Hey, all you need is a mirror.

Multiple photo-op trips to Louisiana should not be enough to shift the focus, unless the media opts to revert to its sad old ways of accepting everything coming out of Washington at face value. The Washington Post truly embarrassed itself by accepting administration spin that the Blanco administration failed to declare a state of emergency that would have cleared the way for federal aid. Apparently they forgot the first rule of journalism: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

The Post' Howie Kurtz did have a good look at the newly invigorated media's quest for the truth but you always need to worry about photo-op induced backsliding in the face of fear of not being "fair and balanced." Simple rule: if Tom DeLay says something, I don't believe it.

And farewell Maynard G. Krebs.

Monday, September 05, 2005

See, he can be decisive when he wants to be

Aid to Louisiana: five days. Roberts to replace Rehnquist: one day. Bush sense of priorities: priceless.

Odds are the decision to elevate John Roberts to Chief Justice was made a long time ago, probably back at the time his name was put forward in the first place. The decision to make the announcement within 36 hours of William Rehnquist's death probably passes as a suitable mourning period in the Oval Office.

The besieged White House figures it will now have some time to recoup and regroup after the Katrina Fiasco before putting forward another name. Will they roll the dice and go for a controversial nominee while their numbers are in the basement? Probably. But first and foremost, time for some strategizing by Bush's Brain.

But not too much time. After all Patrick Fitzgerald is still out there with nasty questions about who outed Valerie Plame and he George can use all the help he can on the Supreme Court to keep Karl on the job.

Baghdad by the Mississippi

Labor Day 2005 -- troops conducting house-to-house searches; contractors taking fire from snipers; politicians pointing fingers at each other with bitter recriminations; Condi and Rummy offering strong statements of support for administration efforts.

The question of who is to blame can probably be neatly wrapped up by saying that if New Orleans is starting to look by Baghdad the only common element is the MBA President who prides himself on his executive skills.

Thankfully the snipers with guns and those with words are so far equally ineffective. The Sunday talk shows brought with them the first volley of partisan sniping. While Louisiana's response to the crisis left something to be desired, you can't help shake the thought the Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff and FEMA boss Michael Brown represent the federal government's promised response in the wake of another catastrophe.

And complaints about "we didn't expect anything like this" don't wash. No one expected 9-11 either. Oh wait a minute, they did.

And let's remember that the hallmark of the Bush War Presidency is to insure its troops have what they need to meet the enemy. In keeping with this standard, reinforcements, led by General Rove, are fanning out across the TV landscape to do battle with the dastardly Democrats.

One problem, most Democrats are holding their fire, assuming the Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight will cause self-inflicted wounds. Of course that strategy has failed them before, but that's another war.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Rehnquist RIP

Only the truly cynical would question the timing of the death of Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist (you know those folks who claimed Vince Foster was murdered?)

Since I don't stoop to those levels, I leave it simply to suggest that the current political climate, based on the incomptent handling of Katrina and her aftermath, has changed the facts on the ground tremendously since the nomination of John Roberts for an associate justice seat.

Look for some signs when the Senate launches the Roberts confirmation hearing on Tuesday. But I think the administration that probably planned to go with a hard right ideologue to replace the Chief Justice may have to do some new calculations with his approval ratings in the tank.

The Blame Game

Bo, bo, bo borge, banana-fana fo forge, mi, my mo, Morge.... George

With Rovian-like speed it has indeed started. The reason that the disaster response has been so atrocious is because we trusted those darn Democrats to tell us something was wrong and they needed help and well, you know how those liberals are. Both Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ran as Democrats, although Nagin was a Republican until he realized it would be hard to win in a heavily Democratic city with an R after his name.

To the gang that couldn't pump water straight, "didn't know" is the mantra, whether the question was the existence of weapons of mass destruction or the presence of storm evacuees in the New Orleans Convention Center.

Brown, amazingly told interviewer after interviewer that the federal EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT Administration did not know there were evacuees in the center. Apparently he and his staff had not time for television -- too busy mismanaging an emergency response. Naturally, the Bush Administration, where no one has ever lost their job for incompetence, backed up the FEMA head, who was fired from his previous job as commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association, for praise.

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," the AP reported Bush as saying.

So naturally it is now the fault of state and local officials who didn't sound the alarm (uh, George, didn't you sign an emergency declaration BEFORE the storm hit?) Why? Very simple. The Bush Administration made it bones in the last election proclaiming it would do a better job defending the homeland when, as Dick Cheney so unsubtly said, another disaster hit (OK, so he was talking about another terrorist attack).

What the Katrina response has proven so graphically is that we are not, as a nation, capable of meeting the demands of another crisis. Yet another Bush Lie. Yet another reason to shift the blame.

And to prove I'm a hopelessly biased former member of the media, here's a different take. Washington Post political reporter/columnist David Broder apparently still believes in the Bush Miracle. It's going to take more than a couple of hugs to get the PR right. At least he has pegged Congress correctly.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Same Old Song and Dance

Well here's a first, George realizing that things are somehow amiss. Guess there should be a Medal of Freedom soon for the head of FEMA or Homeland Security.

And while I could not tell a rapper from a candy bar, three cheers to Kanye West for unadulterated truth. The fallout will be interesting to watch.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Don't buy gas unless you need it...

Armored personnel carriers driving through local streets, searching for snipers and looters. Congress and the President rushing back from vacation to pledge billions of dollars to rebuild infrastructure -- all the while insisting electrical service is improving and people are greeting the troops as liberators. Baghdad? Nope, New Orleans.

The chickens of the Bush administration are coming home to roost in the flood ravaged city in the heart of the Red States. For example:
  • The National Guard, traditionally the major source of relief for natural disasters, is spread thin in terms of both personnel and equipment with supply lines that run to Iraq;
  • Rescuers are threatened by gun-toting residents, some of who were armed courtesy of Wal-Mart, which abandoned one of its stores while failing to secure the arms for sale;
  • Money to shore up the levees was deemed too precious to spend with soaring war costs;
  • Oil company profits, already at record levels, head skyward again as profiteers send gasoline as high as $6 a gallon in Atlanta. Never mind that much of that gasoline had been in the tanks, purchased at much lower prices only a week earlier.
And how does our political leadership respond, besides cutting short vacations? By telling people not to buy gas unless they need it, promising to crack down on looters and taking a tour of the Gulf Coast.

In response to our "response," offers of sympathy and help pour in from around the world. The same world that roundly condemned our arrogant adventures in Iraq is willing to suspend its anger to assist our very own Third World struggles. Let's see how quickly we manage to turn the world off again, as we did after 9-11. Shooting a few looters will probably do it, particularly since the overwhelming majority of those left behind to cope in New Orleans are African-American.

The Bush Administration will no doubt eventually hire Halliburton to manage the cleanup and reconstruction, blame weak-hearted Democrats and liberals for allowing the situation to become so explosive and claim that only tough GOP leadership can save the United States from Armageddon. Karl Rove is already warming up in the wings....